Quick Post
I have brief Internet access so I will quickly say that the picnic was wonderful. To feel a part of a community that has experienced what we have, and to celebrate the Ethiopian culture that is now a huge part of our family is hard to describe. Meeting people and seeing these beautiful children running around kept giving me goosebumps. I will need to devote an entire post to Lucy and Stacy, so I'll save that for when I can upload photos. I will also need to devote an entire post to the Ethiopian dancers. I can't fit it all in here.

We are doing well. We are tired and staying up way too late and eating too much sugar and--in general--doing all the things you should do on a vacation. I'll be back in a few days.



This is my 303rd post. Really? I actually had that much to say over the last 2 years? Hmmmm.

It may also be awhile unto the 304th post, because we are leaving for MINNESOTA (the homeland) in a little more than 48 hours. Although I am positive we will greatly regret it, right now we are planning to pull out of the driveway in our fully-loaded van at 3 am Wednesday morning. It's a 14 hour drive to my mother in law's home, and we had to weigh 3 kids whining and complaining all in a one-day drive fest or 3 kids whining and complaining spread out over a 2 day drive fest. I see it as a great excuse to drink as much Starbucks as my body can handle.

We are beside ourselves with excitement about the Ethiopian Kids picnic in the Twin Cities on Saturday. We will be with David's sister, which is wonderful. And to think I will get to squeeze Lucy in real life!!!! The kids get to dance in traditional Ethiopian attire, we get to eat Ethiopian food, and we can schmooze with all the families I so greatly admire and look up to.

I leave with you a photo of Zinabu and part of his nightly ritual. Spiderman pajamas and "the weighing of the books." He gets 2 books read to him at bedtime each night, and it is a very important decision! I mean, can you imagine him picking the wrong story??? Horror! He is so darling in his pj's I could just eat him up. But I try not to complain at how incredibly long it takes him to pick out his books. Sometimes I almost fall asleep sitting there while he chooses.


Recently Overheard:
Loud sobs and tears.

Me: What's wrong?

Zinabu: Lily made me MAD!

Me: Why? What happened?

Zinabu: Lily said babies can only grow in a girl's stomach and...that...makes...me...MAD! (great guttural sobs follow this.)

Me: Uh, Zinabu?

Zinabu: IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!! (he is now inconsolable)

I didn't have the heart to tell him that most women would line up to trade places with him.



This is the girl who...
Fed her rabbit
Cleaned the table
Got dressed
Played with Zinabu
Held my hand
Wrote a letter
Caught a ladybug
Changed her outfit
Swam 2 hours
Fixed her lunch
Changed her outfit
Pretended she was a dog
Played piano
Rode her bike
Changed her outfit and
Told me she liked me
And it's only 2:30!


I posted recently that I have 4 friends expecting babies any day now. Joyfully I celebrate with Chandra who just delivered a baby boy. Deirdre is due any second now, and Heather has a few more weeks to go till her due date.

And Anne... after waiting 44 weeks for an Ethiopian baby girl, Anne and Steve received their referral just a few days ago. Absolute joy and celebrating has been happening at their home! But it was also tempered with the reality that their baby was on the other side of the world and already struggling with survival. I just found out that Clara Zinash passed away. It is cruel and horrible and completely unfair.

Please keep Anne and her family in your thoughts and prayers. I am unnerved and sick to my stomach.


Yes, I Am Still Alive!

Been missing in action as we are battling strep throat here. It makes for a bummer of a summer (uh, nice rhyme) when we can't go anywhere because one child is so sick. First Lily, now Zinabu. Hopefully we will be on the mend soon.

Summer has been a time of great recovery for our family, though. While I love public school and have been so pleased with what we've experienced thus far, Carver and Lily certainly needed a break. A break from the work and the schedule (although we are the most under-scheduled family I know) and the routine and even the social garbage that goes on between 9 year old boys and 6 and 7 year old girls. We are beginning to suspect that one of our kids has a learning disability, and this was the year that school became tough for them. So having my kids at home has brought out the best in their personalities, caused them to relax, caused them to just play on their own and enjoy being a child. Yesterday we broke out the slip 'n slide and the squeals of laughter made me smile.

And in a final note, happy Father's Day to all the amazing dads I know!


Father's Day
It has been 5 years since my dad died, and this was the first time I was able to stand in front of the Father's Day cards at Target and not collapse in a sobbing fit. Progress, I think. Either that or I have mastered the art of out-of-body-experience shopping. The first few years after he died were terrible. Everywhere I turned the word "Dad" was looming at me, and I kept wanting to scream at the elderly people I saw, "Why not you?" Irrational, I know, but it made sense at the time. The past year or two I have acknowledged Father's Day for my sweet husband's sake, because he is an amazing father, but I haven't done much more than that. I wake up, tell David he's the best, make his favorite food, and try not to think about the fact that my dad never met Zinabu--in fact, never even knew we were going to adopt again.

Today I was able to stand in the greeting card section at the store and spend a few minutes browsing for a card I knew David would enjoy. I was able to banish the vindictive thoughts I had when I saw other people buying cards for their fathers--like, "Do you know how freaking lucky you are????" Not the kind of conversation you exchange with a complete stranger who is just trying to find a humorous Hallmark card.

But I still miss him so much it aches. A terrible ache that has not gotten better over time, as so many people promised me it would. It doesn't get better... you just learn to live with it. I mean, this was the man that hugged me after I accidentally backed into his car when I was 16. The man who encouraged me to go to Italy for the summer after college. The man who was able to answer any question I ever asked him. The man who helped me re-do two kitchens in two houses in two years. The man who loved the summer I worked at Baskin and Robbins because he got free milkshakes. The man who gave me away at my wedding... What do you do when that person is gone?



Have I mentioned I love summer? We just keep on having more and more fun.

Tonight I am redeeming my Christmas present from David. Remember he bought me a gift certificate for Supper Solutions? It's where you go and assemble 20 meals and package them in freezable containers, bring them home, stash them in your freezer, and then not worry about cooking on certain days. I can't WAIT! The menu I chose has delights like Asian Orange Salmon, Indian Curry Kabobs, and Italian Calzones--to name a few. I'll let you know how it turns out. Kinda pathetic, though, that it took me 6 months to organize a time to go. But better late than never...


The very best part of our summer (thus far... as it has only been 2 weeks since school got out) is swimming lessons. My children are fish. Seriously. I look behind their ears on a regular basis to see if they have gills. They love the water sooooooooo much it's crazy. Swimming lessons were cancelled this morning because of a thunderstorm and all three kids sunk into the depths of despair. It actually ruined their whole day.

We've done lessons in the past--the 2x a week for a month variety. It has given Carver and Lily the basics. But right now we are in lessons that meet every morning Monday through Friday. I have them signed up for the entire summer and we are thrilled. Zinabu loves the water so much he is always under water and missing the instructions his teacher is giving him. We're working on reminding him he is there to learn and not to goof off. But he's so darn cute it's hard not to laugh at him.

Another bonus? It wears them out. Each morning we're up, fed, dressed, and out the door right away. The rest of the day is playgrounds, library, trampoline, and making the house incredibly messy. They're positively crashing at night.

And the ticket system is going well. It's been an interesting study, actually. My kids have watched almost NO television. They have asked for computer time and are eager for their 30 minute slot. But it just showed David and I that the TV was being used when they were bored. Before, if they ran out of things to do they would request a video or watch PBS. Now they are not so eager to part with their precious tickets. I'll keep you posted on our progress.


Role Models...

It doesn't matter to me what your voting preference is... Republican, Democrat, Independent. That's the beauty of our country, isn't it? But for our family, tears of joy were shed at the historical event of yesterday. The first African American to be nominated for a major party presidential ticket. My kids are all about to get these T-shirts, and we've had talks about how exciting it is to see a man with brown skin like them running for PRESIDENT! Even more thrilling to me is that Lily will see images of a First Lady who also looks like her.

My sweet friend Stacy wrote it best here. It sums up what we as parents dream of for our children.


Carver at one end...

Zinabu at the other.

My boys stood at their stations for the better part of an hour just blasting each other. I wish I had a sound clip of Z's hysterical laughter. It was too funny. The water gun idea was so geared toward boys, as not one girl would go near them. Lily grew tired of having no one to play with and sulked on her towel. Exhibit A:

Keeping 3 kids busy (but not too busy) and entertained (but not too entertained) and challenged (but not frustrated) over the summer is a delicate balance. My kids are old enough now, though, that we can work on systems and charts and incentives. That goes a long way. For the summer, we've instituted the ticket system. You can buy huge rolls of red carnival type tickets at office supply stores, so we dropped $7 for a big roll. Each child gets 20 tickets at the beginning of the week. Each ticket is worth 1/2 hour of screen time (tv or computer). That averages out to an hour a day, plus some extra on the weekend for morning cartoons or a movie. Ahhh, but here's the fun part! They can lose tickets based on bad choices. They can earn more tickets by doing extra chores or reading for 30 minutes. For Carver, he can earn a ticket for extra schoolwork he completes. (There is one particular area he needs lots of practice, still.)
We're not battling the television so much as trying to teach our kids delayed gratification, budgeting skills, and consequences for rotten behavior. TV and computer are great! Lily's favorite website is Animal Planet where she can learn about science and endangered species, for pete's sake. But I do want my kids to learn that screen time is a privilege--not a right. And they can earn it or lose it. I'll let you know how it works.



My house smells like barbecue sauce. We did not eat barbecue today. Or yesterday. Which gives me three options:

1) I am losing my mind (a serious possibility).
2) I forgot a jar of barbecue sauce somewhere in the house and it has been opened but no one knows where it is.
3) A child was eating barbecue sauce in hiding and did not do a good job of cleaning it up, therefore I can still smell the evidence.

These are not good choices.