Update (*With Edit*)
You'll be happy to learn I stood my ground on the trophy drama. Last night I took Zinabu to a T-ball game and found the woman who was collecting money for trophies. Very discreetly I explained that David and I felt trophies at this age was a little excessive (gross understatement) and she didn't need to order one for Z. I asked if anyone else had decided not to purchase a trophy.


So after the last T-ball game, we'll make a mad dash for the car while all the other 4 and 5 year olds are bestowed with goody bags, team photos, and trophies (insert puking noises).

**I just told a friend that I hope I didn't make anyone who likes rewards and trophies feel badly about it. I think it comes with the perspective we have from Carver and Lily. They've been rewarded for everything you can imagine in their young lives, and recently when Carver made the honor roll he asked, "Do I get a prize?" It seems they've lost the ability to work hard for the sake of working hard. Because Zinabu is our youngest, we're coming at this issue with a different mindset.

Zinabu can hit the ball off the T like a cannon, and he had a fabulous time at the game last night. He takes outfiielding very seriously, too, and treats grounders with the utmost attention. He's got a good arm, too. I'm surprised at how coordinated he is, given his gigantoid growth spurt his first year in the United States. He grew so tall, so fast, it's a miracle he can find his own two feet.

Our plans for the rest of the day are to CLOSE ON OUR OLD HOUSE and then go to Carver's baseball game. Can you believe we survived this housing market and are actually closing? We feel incredibly blessed. That means I can sleep well tonight and take more pictures of the new house tomorrow. For now, I leave you with this quote from Zinabu:

Mom, I didn't wear underwear today because I wanted to get a head start when I was getting dressed. But you were right... it hurts to not wear underwear.


The Post Where You Realize How Opinionated I Am...

So this summer, both Zinabu and Carver are playing baseball with our city's parks and recreation program. They both love it and are having a blast at the games and practices. All we want is for our kids to learn how to play well with others, know that winning isn't everything, encourage their teammates, and have fun learning a sport. I got a call on Friday afternoon from one of the mothers of Zinabu's team. She wanted to let me know that we'll be purchasing trophies for all the kids because, "you know... they love them so much." She quickly added this is an out of pocket expense because parks and rec. doesn't provide any trophies.
Duh, lady. They're 5. Why the heck do they deserve trophies????
I resent living in a society where my kids are rewarded for doing what is expected of them. I think it's completely ridiculous to give a bunch of kindergartners trophies for hitting a ball off of a T stand and running the bases. Please. If someone wanted to give Zinabu a trophy for traveling to a new country with a bunch of white people and blending into a new family that didn't speak his language and surviving a week in hospital isolation with the mumps, by all means--give him one. But for T-ball?
The part that really burns is that there was no vote among parents about whether or not we wanted to purchase trophies. I was just called and "told" that this is what we're doing. I need to bring $8.oo to the next practice for the trophy fund. I want to stand my ground, but if I do then my child is the only one who doesn't get one. And that's not fair because this isn't his battle to fight, it's mine. So I'm trying to decide how cruel and heartless I'll sound if I go to practice and at least suggest we nix the trophies--and have all the other parents whisper about me behind my back, "That's the cheap and heartless woman who won't even buy a trophy for her child!"
I just think the whole thing is stupid.


Melodie, after months and months and months and months, finally received her referral for a baby girl! Woo hoo! And my friends from JR. HIGH (that's hard to write) are in Ethiopia right now to pick up their 2 boys. Go Yonans!

Now, here's to J.C. and the Peep-Eye family passing court. Let's go, people!


Longest Post Ever?
I finally found my camera and (even better) cord to upload photos. Let's start at the very beginning, shall we? My mom's old storage room. You entered through the downstairs (at that time, only) bedroom--past the closet. We used all that storage area to create 2 new bedrooms for the boys.

Your basic cement floor and walls--no windows at all. Seeing the frames go up was wonderful and allowed us to start picturing what the bedrooms would look like.

Zinabu's room on the left, Carver's room on the right. In between we added a linen closet and small landing area.

Lily's room now. This was the existing bedroom in the basement, so the only work here was sealing off her closet that used to enter into the storage area. She loves blue. Loves it. I plan on painting some big circles on her walls in coordinating colors, and a big circle with chalkboard paint.

Lily's craft supplies. She is not into dolls or girly toys at all. She loves all things dog (um, you should know that by now) and crafts.

A reading chair! Every girl needs one.

Zinabu's room! Hard to believe this was once a cement room. When they put the windows in it was amazing how beautiful the room became. It doesn't feel like a basement room at all, because the windows are big. His reading chair--and you can see I went with an orange wall. The other walls are a light grey. I love the colors.

A beautiful view of the trees from Z's window.

Zinabu's bed and old desk. We have an old school map of Africa we'd like to frame and put on the wall.

Quite possibly my favorite features of the entire house. Double closets in both boys rooms. One holds clothes. One holds toys. Full of shelves and hanging rods, it makes me want to stand on a mountain top and sing Julie Andrews songs and spin around with joy. I am, uh, a bit of an organizing freak and get excited about closet space.

Carver's room. It's actually a big room that looks dwarfed in this photo. He has a ledge that runs around half his room, and he loves to put Star Wars action figures up there in various poses that reflect light saber duels gone bad. His room is also grey with one orange wall.

He got some built in bookcases that used to be the entry to the old storage area. On the other side of the bookcase is Lily's closet. Carver is a voracious reader, and when he's not reading with his eyes, he is listening to an audio book from the library. I love that he has a fantastic book collection already. It was with great sacrifice on my part that I allowed him the right to keep the Harry Potter books on his shelves.

In my room, the bathroom is being worked on. At least we have a toilet!!! David and I inherited the smallest bedroom and smallest closet, but we gain a bathroom. Remember at our old house ALL 5 OF US SHARED A BATHROOM!!!!! David and I feel like we won the lottery! (Cue more Julie Andrews.) Zinabu wanted to know what the plunger smelled like. What?

I am tired, but I am content. Tonight my mom cooked dinner for all of us. We love being together. And because we've renovated a lot of the house, it feels like my house too. It feels like we're living with my mom, but not that we're living in her house.
We're pretty happy.





3 Things I've Learned This Week

1. Do not drink 3 glasses of wine the night before you move. No, no, no, no, no.

2. Do not promise your better half hanky panky in any form whatsoever when you are exhausted from moving.

3. You can put anything on the curb with a "FREE" sign and someone will take it. Anything. I almost put Zinabu out there just to test the theory but thought better of it in the end.


2 More Days

I haven't updated much about our renovation/move because it's all I think about and I would just keep repeating the same thing over and over... that it's pretty crazy around here. We had hoped to have moved over to the new house last Saturday but the house wasn't ready yet. Well, it still won't be ready when we move, but it will be clean. Last Saturday there were still framing part of the back porch and there was sawdust everywhere. Most of the inside is 80% done. It's enough to make me start biting my nails again (which I'm doing) and not be able to sleep at night (again, I'm doing). It's 2 steps forward, 1 step back. For example, the light fixtures arrived with broken sconces so we have to replace them. The kitchen cabinet pulls I picked out don't work with some of the drawers that are close together. The bathroom vanity is on order. Bathrooms are not done at all. But the kids have their rooms and the office/guest bedroom addition is done and the upstairs living room has a new wall and patio door, so we are getting close. Our contractor promised that his cleaning crew would be there Thursday night and Friday morning to clean up what I'm sure is pounds of sawdust that is on everything. Our moving van is coming on Friday afternoon to load up our heavy furniture and beds. David and I have slowly been moving clothes, books, and small belongings to the new house all week, but as of Friday (that's 2 more days people!!!) we can begin sleeping there.

The kids are tired of it all. They're bored and I'm swamped. I haven't spent quality time with any of them in days. I feel terrible. Carver is in day camp this week, and the boys have baseball in the evenings, but Lily and Zinabu have suffered the most. I'll be happy when July rolls around and we're all settled in and the renovation is finished and I can wake up, make pancakes for the kids, and say "What do you want to do today?"

Our local thrift store has benefited greatly from our move. We've unloaded so much and been able to donate all kinds of items that we either don't need anymore or would be a duplicate of what my mom already owns. It has also been fun to begin putting things away in the new kitchen cupboards in the new kitchen. If you know me at all, you know that I tolerate cooking. Not really my thing, but I do it because my family needs to eat. But baking.... well, that's another story. So having all my baking supplies ready to go is wonderful.

I've promised to post pictures, but I need to actually take photos first. Maybe on Saturday? We'll see. In the meantime, think of me fondly while I slowly go insane.


these two.
best friends since age 3.
call each other "twin sister" and literally mean it.
do not see their skin colors.
see only how they are alike.
are blessed to live in a time when they are allowed to swim together.
thank you Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, and Jackie Robinson.
from the bottom of their hearts, thank you.


No Pressure

Yesterday we started setting up Lily's new room. Here is the note I received from her:

You rock.
Thank you for putting the stuff in my room and you did a asome job!
But now,,,, Buy me a dog!!!!!!

At least I rock.



Guess what the First Lady and her daughters are doing today???? Touring the Harry Potter movie set, meeting the actors, and getting the dish on all things Potter. Apparently the girls are "big fans." I knew they had great taste. I KNEW it. And I'm so happy that really great children's fiction is being read in The White House.


Conversations With 10 Year Old Boys

That sounds like the title of a depressing movie, but it is actually the state of my life right now. When your child becomes 10, you have them start really working on their phone skills. Carver is constantly calling friends to see if they can play, and they, in turn, are constantly calling him for the same reason. While we have attempted to teach the best phone manners possible, not all his friends have had the same tutorial. So when our phone rings and I answer, I am dealing with a lot of this:

silence..... "Um, Carver?"

"No, this is his mom. Would you like to speak to Carver?"

silence..... "Uh, yeah...."

And so on. I also get this:
"Can Carver come play?"

"Who is calling, please?"

silence.... "It's Nathan."

"Why hello, Nathan. I think Carver can come play. Is it all right with you mom?"

silence.... "Uh... um, yeah, I think.... Let me ask her."

Whatever. This is bringing back the dark days when Zinabu first arrived and he spoke only Amharic. I was home alone with him all day having meaningless and confusing conversations. My summer reading list needs to be more inspiring because I won't be having intelligent phone chats anytime soon.



Excellent news: the inspection is done and we are all agreed on the terms before closing. Everything is set and I don't foresee any problems at this point that would cause our contract to fall through... which means we are MOVING! We can begin moving some of our things over starting Wednesday (fingers crossed). We had the entire basement renovated and added 2 bedrooms down there, so that's where the bulk of the work has been recently. On Monday they are scheduled to lay the carpet and flooring. Once that's in we can begin filling up those rooms with all our things. All 3 kids will have their bedrooms downstairs, so I plan to move their things first. Maybe even by next weekend, we can move the beds over and begin sleeping there. As far as the upstairs part of the renovation... there's still more to do but at least we're on the last stretch. We can live with it, certainly. I cannot even begin to tell you how ready we are to get going. This past week Carver and Lily and Z acted horrible. There is nothing to do here because things are getting packed up and they are ready to move to their new home but it's not quite time yet. That resulted in a lot of whining, crying, poking, hitting, sneering, time-outing. They are pretty desperate for their new routine and new home. I'll try to post some pics soon.


Hardships On The Job
Humor me for a minute. Let's say you are a librarian and you're busy shelving books and a naked person walks up to you and begins chattering and bouncing around. You'd freak out, right? Or pretend you're a waitress and you approach your assigned table and all the customers are naked. You'd have a hard time concentrating, wouldn't you? Or perhaps you are a Target cashier and someone decided to sit on the checkout conveyor belt without a stitch of clothing. I'm guessing you'd run away as fast as you could.

Most days I enjoy my job of stay-at-home mom. But here's what I get when I try to put clean sheets on the bed. Where is the compensation?


He wanted to know if the president's hair felt like his. It does.
Do you know how much this means to my children?


The Best And Worst Of Colorado

On Saturday, David and I decided to take the kids to the Sand Dunes National Park here in Colorado. Even though it's a big drive from our house, it is so worth it. The Sand Dunes are exactly that: sand dunes. They lie in a valley where the wind has, over time, blown hills of sand up against the mountains. The best part of the year, though, is when the snow melt from the nearby ranges runs through the dunes and creates a Colorado beach. The water flows directly over the hot sand, making the water temp. feel like a bath. Also, the water flows in currents so you get the wave effect, but it is never deeper than your shins, so it's impossible to drown. All in all, it is a family paradise and very worth the drive. Here are some photos...

Building a dam. I heard my kids say the word "dam" way too many times that afternoon.

Lily's personal spa treatment.

My view from the beach chair. Love it.

Mountains and water and sand. Gorgeous..

The day was warm, even though we had a few clouds block the sun from time to time.


David enjoying a moment of relaxation while watching the kids run.
Now, to cap off our perfect afternoon, we drove about 15 minutes to the horrible tourist trap called Colorado Gators. It began in the 1970s as a Tilapia fish farm, and they bought an alligator to eat the dead fish. Someone, after a late night drinking too much beer, decided to turn the place into an alligator farm, so they acquired more and more gators. They also added turtles, snakes, various reptiles, emus, and donkeys. It defies logic, I know, but that's what it is. However, it is horribly obvious that they have not spent one nickel on maintenance or safety. I think whenever they have an extra $50 lying around they buy another snake. The place is falling apart and is a hodge-podge of corrugated steel buildings with alligators walking around. Needless to say, the kids LOVED it and had their moment of glory each holding a small crocodile (or was it an alligator? who knows!) The fact that the property backed up against a dump and tire heap completely escaped their notice. Ahhh, to look at the world through a child's eyes. Sigh.

A lovely family photo in front of a rusted out tank for snapping turtles. Too bad Carver was taking the picture because I look at this and it just screams "Christmas Card" at me!

Zinabu standing in front of one of the many gator pools. Can you see the rickety gate being held closed by a couple strands of wire? Lots of gators in the background, and though it's hard to see, there is an alligator right behind the gate.

Possibly Carver's favorite moment of his entire life! Guess who was scared out of his sneakers? I'll give you a hint: His name starts with "Da" and ends in "vid."

Only the best for this place. High tech signs at every turn, telling us where to go.

This sucker was huge. You could buy buckets of "gator food" to throw at it, too. You know, I've always found that throwing things at dangerous animals is a good thing.

David looking at me. You can't see the despair in his eyes because of his sunglasses, but it was there. Multiple "gators" on the other side of the fence. Discarded tire pile to our right. I wish I could make this picture a scratch and sniff so you could get the full effect.

Lots of big turtles walking around. They must be able to defend themselves well because they were on their own.
We pulled into our driveway at 10 pm and collapsed.