I've Been To War...

at the public swimming pool.

I had a revelation today. I love my kids. I love my friends' kids. I love my kids' friends. But the buck stops there. It felt like the pool was full of brats today, and I wasn't a very nice person. One boy spent a good 30 minutes going underwater and grabbing my legs. I told him in no uncertain terms to quit that but he just smiled (in an ugly way) and did it some more. I about kicked him!

Another kid spent a good chunk of time taking Lily's diving discs and tossing them out of her reach. I had to drag Z around with me as I defended her toys, her territory, her fun. Two girls would not shut up as they followed me around and told me all about every detail of their lives. I must have had SUCKER written on my forehead today or something.

And this was all in the first 30 minutes. What gives? Don't kids have manners anymore?


Ice Cream Therapy
Zinabu and Lily are pretty tight. Nine times out of ten, they are off playing together and being goofballs. It's not that they exclude Carver, it's just that Carver's usually doing something else or he joins them later after he's become bored with himself. So while Lily spent some time with David tonight, I used the opportunity to get the boys together. There is an old ice cream/burger joint here in town called The Drive In. It's been around since the 50's and is so incredibly retro. They still serve 79 cent cones! I love going there, and Carver and I have been known to sneak away on our bikes to ride there for a treat.

Carver and Z had an incredible evening together. They were two silly boys having a great time with each other. It was like a light bulb going off in both their heads.... "Oh yeah! I have a BROTHER!"


Looking Ahead

Until Z has been with us for a year, every month presents a new "first" for him. In July when it was my birthday, my family sang Happy Birthday to me. Because Zinabu had never heard that song before, he was pretty impressed. Occasionally you can hear him humming it quietly, and Carver and Lily have both had BIG talks with him about what his birthday will be like. Perhaps they've talked it up too much: mounds of presents, whatever kind of cake he wants, all the attention. Z is looking forward to his birthday in November like never before. And there's still Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc. etc. He still has so much to experience and discover.

As the pumpkins in our garden start to "pop" I went out to scar them. I read about this trick last year, and was so excited to try it. When the pumpkins are young and small, you take a sharp object and draw on the soft flesh. Over the next few weeks, it will scar as it grows. I drew a "C", an "L", and a "Z" for each child. I'll take pictures at Halloween to show the results. Hope it works.


Great Gifts

The next time you're shopping for a gift--or just need a little retail therapy--I urge you, beg you, implore you to buy a Product Red item. Just Google Product Red and you'll get an array of choices. Or go to your local Gap store and poke around. The profits from the Red items you purchase help fight AIDS in Africa. The T-shirt I own (and wear with pride) provided AIDS medication for several women. C'mon... get off your duff and get shopping!!!!



Carver: Mom, can we watch "Herbie"?

Me: No, let's play outside.

Carver: Awwwww. I want to watch "Herbie."

Zinabu: Yes. Herpes! Herpes!


More Camping
Am I a glutton for punishment or what? We took a few days to head to a state park in the mountains and just be a family. Camping will never be my favorite thing to do, but there are times when I can see the benefits. The fact that we live so close to so many great campsites. The fact that there is no TV. The fact that my kids play like crazy. Fresh air. Hikes. Bike riding.

So I make the most of it.

Yesterday we went to an old gold mining town and took a train ride. Zinabu about wet his pants he was so excited. He loved it. Of course I have no photos because sometimes I just want to enjoy the moment. He got to pull the whistle, and he was so happy to have a chance to see a train, let alone ride a train. Sometimes I look into his eyes--looking for glimpses of Ethiopia. This child that was born on the other side of the world and is now taking train rides on a family vacation. I have to pinch myself once in a while to be sure he's truly ours.


My eyes are so tired they feel like cooked spinach--watery, limp, mushy.

But it was soooooo good!


I am very blessed to have a caring and funny extended family. Yesterday some of my aunts and uncles came over for lunch. I was way too busy enjoying adult conversation to take any photos... I think one of my favorite pass times is sitting around and visiting with loved ones. Especially when they've known you since you were born! I also find it a blessing that they've loved Carver, Lily, and Z-man since day one. You hear horror stories of families adopting only to have all their relatives turn on them, say nasty things about the new children, and leave them out of important family events because the kids are not "real" family. Yuck.

It didn't take Z long to learn there are a whole bunch of adults that want to sit around and ooooh and aaaaah over him. He's got them wrapped around his fingers already.


It's been a hot week, and we took the kids to the outdoor fountain downtown. Z is NOT afraid of water at all. I actually wish he'd show a little bit of healthy fear, as his favorite game in the pool is Let's-Play-Drowning. He sinks to the bottom, swallows water, wiggles away from me, and goes under. He loves it, but really--it's just more grey hair for me. So today was nice because I wasn't saving him from his watery grave. Just spraying fountains.

Every once in a while, I find my mind going down a slippery slope of "what if." What if we hadn't pursued this adoption? What if we hadn't fought so hard to get Z here? What if he had to grow up in an orphanage? I find my throat closing up and my heart racing and I have to take deep breaths. It frightens me to think about "what if." But I cling to where we are now. Z is here, with us, out of the care center, out of extreme poverty. He is here.

Enjoy the photos. Especially the last one.


Disappearing Act

If this little boy weren't so cute...

Little Z has a funny way of losing things. Mostly items in the store we're purchasing. He insists on carrying things, which is the bulk of the problem right there. At the library, he found a book about trains that he was ga-ga for. Z would not let us carry it, and so when it came time to check out, he had misplaced it and we couldn't take it home. He needed a new toothbrush the other day, so he picked out a Cookie Monster brush (surprise, surprise) and demanded to carry it. And what happened when we got to the counter? You guessed it... it was gone. He set it down somewhere in the store. I don't know how he does it. I keep checking on what he's holding in his hands, and only at the last minute is it AWOL. Yesterday we were at Target getting odds and ends. We are completely out of coffee, so I put some coffee in the cart with Zinabu. I kept a close eye on it the entire time, making sure it made it to the cashier and into a bag. Success! But somehow between the store and our car, it disappeared. How does he do it?

Meanwhile, there is no coffee in the house right now and I am debating chewing on a tree trunk.



As a mom, I am overwhelmed by the choices I have. Just standing in the juice aisle is enough to put me over the edge sometimes. I have choices from necessity (I have to eat but I get to choose what I eat). I have choices in my opinions (I get to vote for a candidate in an election). And I have choices about lots and lots of other things that affect my kids and how I feel as a mom. For example, it's important to me that we eat mostly organic food. It's a choice I have made, but I don't think I should feel superior as a mother since I have been known to let my kids consume too much sugar. I love public school. It's where I want my kids. And that's my choice. But it doesn't mean I can't relate to my friends who homeschool or have their children in a private school. At the end of the day, we all want what's best for our kids.

What I don't understand, though, is stupid choices I see other parents make. I went to see the new Harry Potter movie today (yes, I'm a fan) and I counted no fewer than 11 three-year-olds. There were also several four-year-olds, and five-year-olds. All of it freaked me out--especially those tiny kids. Why is it that parents today feel it is acceptable to expose their young kids to so much? Why is it that our society seems to feel that if the media offers it, we should all take part in it? I don't get it.


Wow! A picture with all 3 kids smiling! Unheard of, really. I just had to post it. And another astonishing fact? A FINISHED piece of jewelry. A banner day all around.
It's My Birthday

Every year on my birthday, David and I go to a very swanky resort in town for brunch. They put out quite a spread, and they hover over you with refills of Starbucks coffee. I was in heaven. Even the bathrooms are spectacular. See photo below.

Of course, it surprises David and I that they let us into places like this. I always feel like we don't belong. When I went to use the bathroom, I noticed I had a hole in my underwear. Typical.

It was the first time we left Zinabu so the both of us could go out. Z was fine, of course, and I was happy for some alone time with David. We have not had a date together in almost 4 months. That's not at all how we want to live. We try to take time out for each other, but when you adopt an older toddler, life is just put on hold for a season. We're slowly coming out of isolation--but only what Zinabu can handle. I plan to spend the rest of the day reading the pile of books next to my bed...and working a little on some jewelry. It's a new "hobby" of mine. But if you have only approximately 3 minutes a day to yourself to work on a hobby, can you call it a hobby? More like a fleeting diversion.


We had a fantastic day at the aquarium. I LOVE the aquarium. I couldn't wait to see Zinabu's reaction... and it was worth it! He was speechless. It's the only time--EVER--that I've seen him quiet. He loved it so much. Here are a few photos from our day. Not the best quality since it's dark in there...


Off Biking

David is off for a 3 day mountain biking trip. He's by himself...which always makes me a little nervous. He's had broken bones and stitches before, so I'm praying he stays safe but has fun. I'm tired. It used to be when David was gone I would rent "my" movies and stay up late reading. Let's just say it was a miracle getting all the kids to bed by 9pm tonight and I'm pooped. Tomorrow I am taking the kids to the aquarium and I can't wait to watch Zinabu's reaction. He really wants to see the octopus! How cool is that?

I had a nice walk the other night with a sweet friend. It's always good to talk with other women/moms and get grounded again. As different as kids are, she and I share the same dreams for our children... and the same fears. When we talk, I always feel better.

And last but not least, I am so happy to say that we are another step closer to finalizing Zinabu's adoption. In the next couple days, our paperwork will be submitted to our county magistrate for processing. Ethiopia recognizes us as little Z's parents, but the U.S.A...not quite. It's just more paperwork, really, but I'm so thrilled we're almost there. We had our 3 month post-placement visit with our social worker today. Can it almost be 3 months? We feel so blessed that in all our talking with our social worker, we had only positive things to say about this adoption and Z's adjustment. It will be a joyous day, though, when we get to October 12. That will mark the day that Zinabu will have been with us for as long as he was in the care center.

Come on, October.


I am so, so grateful Zinabu loves to be cuddled. And not by just anyone. Mostly me and sometimes David. When he wakes up in the morning he is full-force action. I can barely keep up with him. But when he wakes up from his afternoon nap, he is groggy and timid and wants to be comforted. We hug and snuggle and bond. I love it.

Fast Cash?
In regards to my previous post about money (and the lack thereof) at our home... I'm thinking of hiring Lily out to do hair. Look at the lovely style she did for me? Aren't you jealous?



I've been summoned for jury duty. I do not have time for this. My doom's day is August 2nd. I can call on August 1st to see if the number they assigned me is going to be needed. I really, really hope not. Meanwhile, we have entered the realm of No Money Whatsoever. There's "flat broke" and then there's us. More like "concave broke." Lots of expenses due all at once: the co-pay for Zinabu's hospital stay, post-placement adoption fees, car insurance, lawyer fees for adoption finalization, etc. I have night sweats occasionally, but overall I try to keep the eternal perspective. We do not "keep up with the Joneses." There is a lot we do without. Compared to the rest of the world, we live in luxury. So we keep pressing on and squeak by for another month. It will get better.


Happy Kids

Carver has always loved to dress up. I've encouraged it because it makes life very fun. If you had to choose between going on errands with a boy in shorts and a t-shirt or a boy in cowboy boots, spurs, vest, and cowboy hat, which would you choose? My point exactly! I've made lots of trips to the thrift store to stock up on items my kids can dress in. You'd be surprised what you can find there. So guess who caught the dress-up bug the other day? Zinabu took one look at Carver in this Power Ranger get up and jumped in with both feet.

People continue to ask how Zinabu is adjusting. Zinabu has always been just fine. Other than being very ill the first 10 days he was home, he's been great. It's the other two kids that have had a very rough adjustment period. It's not easy having a 3 year old just up and join your family. The routine is different. The noise level is different. The lack of time with mom is different. Even little things like where everyone sits in the car is different. But after 2 and a half months, I can say that Carver and Lily are doing well and probably are at the point where it's hard to remember what it was really like before Zinabu arrived. Little Z is just part of their lives, and they're growing a little closer to him each day.


Oh Beautiful...

For spacious skies and amber waves of grain.
And doctors and nurses and angiograms that show healthy hearts!
Mom is home and well and resting. All her tests came back okay, so she'll have to follow up with her physician but they've ruled out major, major problems.

I sat and looked at this sign for an agonizing chunk of time this morning. It didn't help that a family came in, turned on the TV, and watched the national hot dog eating contest. They actually cheered for the contestants. Meanwhile, I was preparing myself for the worst--that they would find a lot of damage in my mom's arteries and they would need to do a major procedure. It was such a relief when the doctor came out and told me she looked pretty good! Hooray! Mom had to lie on her back completely still for the rest of the day, so I was with her so I could help her eat and drink and just have someone to talk to. I am so happy to report she is back at home. Here's to a normal day tomorrow. I am too tired to see straight right now. Bless my hubby who has entertained the kids with root beer floats, music, the slip and slide, and who knows what else! Happy 4th!


My mom is scheduled for angioplasty tomorrow morning. It was supposed to be this morning, then this afternoon, then this morning again... They're shuffling her around like a deck of cards. After all my "it's not fair" whining of yesterday, I feel a little more "blessed" today. Thankful she had warning signs. Thankful that she was not on the plane to Ohio for my cousin's wedding this weekend. Thankful I am here to be with her. Thankful for another day with her. I have much to be thankful for. She is in a little pain, but mostly bored to tears. I'll be at her house today cleaning up some things. Wouldn't you know this was the week she had work done on her house and it's a disaster over there. Tomorrow I'll be at the hospital for most of the day. Let's hope this is the last family member in the hospital for a long, long time.


Curve Ball
Life just isn't fair. Today my mom--my sweet, wonderful, best-friend mom--was admitted to the cardio unit at the hospital for a possible heart attack. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being death and 1 being nothing to worry about, I think she's about a 5. She had chest pains starting last night, but nothing too bad and she thought it was indigestion. Today they were worse, so she went to the hospital. I hate this. I hate watching my mom be sick. I hate the sick-in-my-gut feeling that something might happen to her. I hate that I already lost my dad, and I feel like I cannot let anything happen to my mom. My dad was too young and my mom is too young. I am too young to be left alone, and that's how it feels. It's not fair. So for now we are putting the trip to camp (see previous post) on hold and waiting it out. If she has a partially blocked artery and needs a procedure done, I want to be here. If she has an infected hangnail, I want to be here. Being at the hospital with her was difficult, and it dredged up yucky memories of my dad's brain tumor. So it was a joy to come home to this...
Gettin' Ready
We are leaving tomorrow for a few days at camp. I LOVE camp. Here in the Rocky Mountains, the YMCA has two huge camps that families can go to. We're staying for 3 nights and have access to the pool, mini golf, horseback riding, zip line, craft shack (my fave!), cafeteria if I don't feel like cooking, hay rides, archery, climbing wall, and all other campy things ad nauseam. Maybe when my kids are 100 I'll let them go away to camp for a week on their own, but until then, we'll go together. We did this last year for the 4th of July, and I suspect it will become a family tradition. We'll watch the fireworks in Winter Park and just enjoy being together. I'll let you know what Zinabu thinks of fireworks. I'm predicting he'll love them. He's getting better around dogs, strangers, car washes, and other frightening things. How bad could fireworks be?

So today we're packing. We just got back from the library. I scored Anna Quindlen's recent book and Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping. I'd read an article about the author, Judith Levine, who went a whole year without buying ANYTHING but necessities. Think groceries and prescription medicine. Everything else--nada! I'm looking forward to reading about how it went.

When we get back, I am beyond excited to start getting into my art again. Art, creating, and time to myself in general. People are always surprised to find out I was an art major in college. It just shows that having 3 kids takes time, and no time leftover for me. Well, that's about to change. I'll keep you posted. Have a great 4th!


Things I Love About Summer...

Playing outside all day long

Tea roses from the garden

And the farmer's markets, where I can get crusty bread, basil leaves the size of my hand, and juicy tomatoes. Yummmmm