The Great Food Experiment
Thanks to his formative years in Ethiopia, Zinabu is by far my most adventurous and well-rounded eater. He loves Ethiopian food (duh!), he loves comfort food, he loves Mexican food, he loves Chinese food, vegetarian, Indian, middle eastern, and anything else you can come up with. Primarily this is because he loves food. Period. He is still pretty sensitive to when and where his next meal is coming from. He wants to know the food agenda every day. And he gets a tiny bit antsy when the pantry is low. So all in all, food makes him happy.

But his taste buds are seriously a mother's dream. He doesn't like cheese or pasta (my two favorite items in the universe), but other than that, he's happy about anything. He also goes through hot sauce like tokens at Chuck E. Cheese.

My other kids... not so much. Lily is better than Carver, but they still have their ten favorite foods and don't like to stray too far from them. Lily, at least, loves fruit and vegetables and I have no problem getting her daily doses of vitamins and minerals. But Carver.

He's thirteen and I'm still sneaking spinach into his smoothies. He loves white food. Bread. Tortillas. Cheese. He hates vegetables. Most fruit makes him gag. Literally.

But I'm ever optimistic and always wanting my kids to eat as healthy as possible. I used Pinterest this morning to find some interesting recipes... especially foods from other cultures. Here's my list for the week.

Saturday: Vegetarian tamales with salad. I found the recipe here.
Sunday: Falafels and fruit salad.
Monday: Tomato garbanzo bean soup with sandwiches and salad. Recipe here.
Tuesday: Vegetable casserole with pesto and polenta (for me), chicken for everyone else. I'm not stupid.
Wednesday: We have company that night, and I'm trying my hand at spinach and cheese enchiladas. One of my most favorite meals in the world.
Thursday: Tortellini and marinara sauce, garlic bread and salad.
Friday: I'm done. We go to our favorite New York style pizza restaurant.

I think I finally figured out why I hate to cook. For the most part, it makes a mess. A big mess. Between prep work, cooking, eating, and then clearing the table, I use a lot of our dishes, pots and pans, and the sink is full. I really would rather make everyone a piece of toast and call it a day. I also hate the amount of time it takes to make a meal for 6 people, plus clean up. Am I just incredibly slow, or does it take the rest of you two hours to do all that? Seriously, if I begin prep work around 4:30, make the meal, serve it by 5:30 or 6, we eat, then clean up... by the time I'm done it's 6:30 or 6:45. Yes the kids help (a little), and yes there are days when my meals don't take that long, but on average it's a production. I always plan my meals so we know what we're having, but I just wish the entire process was a wee bit easier.

And I just looked at the time. If I'm going to attempt homemade tamales (my first time), I'd better get moving. Who knows how long this will take.


This and That
Today is oddly warm. Like 60 degrees. I am cleaning the carpets and opening windows and you could easily convince me it is April.

David and I just finished the Jason Bourne movies. I loved them. I feel like running around the house, fists clenched in case I need to punch an intruder. We are a little slow in the entertainment department, and we like to watch movies that are a few years old. (That's a nice way of saying we have no time to watch movies and try to see what we can when the mood strikes.)

Carver is going to a laser tag lock-in with his youth group tonight. I have to drop him off at 11:30 pm. I don't even know if I am physically capable of staying up that late.

Someone I love very much is going to find out today the prognosis of her husband's cancer. It makes me feel sick to my stomach that they have to go through this. That they have to sit in a doctor's office to find out the future of their lives. We've been there and it is horrible.

Our extended family are coming on January 8th to celebrate Christmas and New Year's with us. Which means we leave the Christmas tree up until then. I am trying to be a good sport about that, but I get an eye-twitch every time I walk by the ornaments.

My mom gave me a gift card to buy some new clothes. She is so great. Now, I just have to find some time to sneak away and do a little shopping. That's a Christmas miracle all on its own.

David has been home for two whole weeks. It has been bliss. I think he needs to prepare himself to walk back into work on Monday with me hanging onto his legs, kicking and screaming. It will not be pretty. I just can't let him go.

Lily is dog sitting for some friends of mine. So we have Buddy (our dog), Gus (the friend's dog), gerbils and babies, plus a rabbit and a goldfish. All in all, there are 12 critters in the house. You can imagine that Lily is on cloud nine. She is.

I can not believe that we JUST got our tax refund from the IRS and it's almost time to do taxes again. Unfair.

Our computer software Net Nanny now blocks me from Tesi's blog because she likes to swear a little. I find this so hilarious for some reason.


Post-Christmas Blah
Those after-Christmas blues you sometimes read about? Well, I have 'em. All that wonderful excitement and joy leading up to the big day, and after the last present was opened and the last sugar cookie frosted, it dawned on me that life is still the same this side of Christmas as it was before Christmas.

You know that in your head, but it takes a while for your heart to catch up.

We had a small Christmas. Well, small by wealthy North American standards. Totally lavish by standards in other countries. My kids were fine. Actually, I don't think they really noticed. But how pathetic that I noticed and seemed to care. I had to give myself LOTS of lectures about not giving in to the pressures of consumerism. It was a wake-up call for me to do a self-check of our needs and wants. It was also a wake-up call for me to remember that our lives will be the same following a big celebration as they were before. Lily will still be sick. So I'm learning to lower my expectations. And that's ok. We had a fantastic day and we're all loving our break together.

To make life even more interesting, Lily bought gerbils for Carver for Christmas. While the pet shop ensured us they were both boys, alas... they are not. One girl. One boy. And the girl just had 6 babies.



Christmas Tree, 2011 Edition
We actually got our Christmas tree two weeks ago, but I just uploaded the photos to the computer yesterday.  We've been pleasantly busy this week. By busy I mean busy not doing dishes, busy not making our beds, busy not eating three square meals a day but snacking non-stop, busy playing in the snow, busy playing with each other and the dog, and the kids have been busy snooping for presents. (Mwahahahaha! They'll never find them!)

Every year our National Forest offers $10 permits to chop down your own Christmas Tree. (If you can't get to Bridget's house to get the one in her backyard, this is the next best option.) Every year we make the 30 minute drive, get donuts, and scour the woods for the perfect tree. The past few years we've been able to find a tree rather quickly. This year was a wee bit harder. It took some searching.
Zinabu, ready and excited.

Carver, a little upset he couldn't use a chain saw




Caught eating snow.

Finally found one. Carver begins to chop.

Lots of chopping. We helped by watching and cheering.
Back home with our super-sized Charlie Brown tree.

Our trees are tall and somewhat sparse, but we load them down with colorful kid ornaments. They're often clumped more on one side than the other. Heaviest ornaments are usually hung on small limbs so that the branches bend down and almost touch the ground. I love our trees. I need to take a photo of the finished product, but the memories created each year as we do this are priceless.


Stage Hand
This week was Zinabu's 2nd grade holiday play! Entitled "Melten, The Warm-Hearted Snowman," it was cute overload times 1,000. Zinabu, on the other hand, is not so into elementary school musicals. He's not keen on people looking at him--on stage or anywhere else, for that matter. So while all the other kids were getting excited to be elves and reindeer and snowmen and the "town's children", Zinabu was having panic attacks about being in "Melten." His teacher understood his frustration and understood that forcing a kid to do something they really hate is just plain lame. So she gave him the job of curtain opener. He got to stand behind the stage (where no one could see him) and open the curtain at the beginning of the play and then close it at the end. I was so happy that Zinabu was happy. Tuesday night we all went to his play and it was adorable. Our favorite part, though, was when the curtain moved.
Zinabu with two friends who were elves.

At the end of the play, Zinabu was called out on stage to bow. You can see that he bowed quickly and was already heading for the wings faster than you can say "Justin Bieber." I barely had time to take a picture.


Weepy, Whiny, Wednesday
I said I would allow myself one day a week to whine. You're in luck. Today's the day.

Things are in a weird holding pattern. As in... I'm holding my breath, Lily's holding together, my mom holds my hand, and David holds the boys. We're holding it in, holding out for a miracle, and holding our heads up high.

However, at night I weep. I weep into my pillow and wonder how on earth I will get up the next day and do it all over again. Lily is still not in school. Still not where her doctors want her to be. Still not okay. Still on medication that could cause permanent damage to her body. Still missing out on a lot of life.

I am not taking nearly as many photographs as I used to because I'm afraid that when I look back on them in a few years, I will remember only the pain and heartache of this season. I am ready for 2011 to be O.V.E.R. No guarantees that 2012 will be any better. It could be worse. But as far as 2011 is concerned, stick a fork in it. It's done.


Inside vs. Outside
On the outside I look a little like this.

Well, minus the map and binoculars. (I leave those to Meghan.) I am, unfortunately, somewhat rumpled. I wear a baseball cap out of desperation when my hair will not cooperate. I have a bag of crap slung over my shoulder. I am either coming or going and not necessarily getting much done. I am average.

But what do I feel like on the inside?

Curvy and strong. Smoky eyes. A killer voice that belts out the blues. Awesome hair that always looks nice. Strength and compassion and purpose fill my days. On top of everything. Eternally young.

No, I can't sing. And no, I would never wear that much eye make-up. But that's how I feel on the inside. I think as kids we feel a certain way on the inside and assume that's how we present ourselves to the world. At a certain age, we have to come to grips with the cruel reality that what we feel like on the inside is not always how the world perceives us or even allows us to be.

One of my kids has a strong personality, and I often feel the frustration of trying to contain him. But why am I containing him? Shouldn't I let him be who he feels like for as long as possible? So without further ado, let me show you who my kids are on the inside.


Long live childhood


What Have You...
given up for your child?

In the wake of the London Vacation Tragedy (as I now refer to it in my head), I find myself teetering on the edge of feeling sorry for myself and feeling grateful to be able to take good care of Lily. I allowed myself one weekend to feel all the pain about cancelling our vacation plans, and then I had to move on. I confess I still have to be careful not to spend much time on Facebook, because it feels like everyone and their third cousin has just traveled, is traveling, or is going to travel to somewhere amazing. If I dwell there too long, I feel a pity party coming on and I have to be super-duper careful not. to. go. there.

Over the past week, though, I've challenged myself to think about what I, as a parent, continually give up in order to be a parent. It's not just one trip to London. Parenting is a lifelong act of giving up. Everything from sleep to a trim waistline, from complaint-free meals to song choices on the radio, from financial abundance to worry free evenings, you give up a lot. But would I have it any other way? Certainly not. Despite the fact that I still spend way too much of my free time attempting to match up socks, I would be the most selfish person on the planet were it not for my kids and the lessons they teach me about letting go. Letting go of having things my way in order to embrace a new way of doing things.

And unless you grew up in a cave, someone gave up a whole lot in order to raise you. Regardless of your relationship with your parents or caregivers, you are a walking, talking, functioning member of society because someone sacrificed for you. Their time. Their money. Their season in life to travel. Whatever.

So London is currently off the table of things we're looking forward to, but my day-to-day bursts of joy are not. They remain ever present. Ever there. Ever reminding me that my sacrifices are not equal to the love I receive.

Besides, maybe someday the doors will open for us to go to Holland.


When Christmas Goes Bad
Just found this hilarious blog post on the worst Christmas Nativity sets... ever. Go here to view them yourself. But only when you have time to laugh out loud. I personally can't decide between the Irish Nativity or the Meat Nativity. I'm dying to know your favorites.


Highlights from Thanksgiving
Our Thanksgiving trip to the mountains was fabulous on so many levels. Mostly because we left "life" behind at our house and escaped from all our responsibilities and demands. Lily was feeling pretty good that week, too, so she was able to keep up with her brothers in the pool and in the snow. It's always hard going on vacation because our family feels so conspicuous. I don't feel that way at home. I guess when we're in our own town keeping to our own routine I don't feel as sensitive to people's stares and questions. But when we're away from home, I'm hyper-sensitive to it. It doesn't help that my kids were the only children of color within a 45 mile radius. The only African American we saw that week was our waitress, which is not exactly what I'm looking for in regards to diversity. But my kids get trophies for adapting to their environment, sticking together, and shrugging off long glances and stares. When you become a conspicuous-looking family, you sign up for a lifetime of being under a microscope. I'm not complaining about it, because we chose this. You do get tired, though, of the same personal questions from strangers over and over and over again. Is it bad that I hope one of these days one of my kids will just pipe up and say, "Shut up!" to the next person that asks if they're siblings?
Watching the kids play.

Lily comes down the sledding hill. 
My kids in a blizzard at the inner tubing hill. You can barely make it out in the background. It was ffffrrreeeezing, but they totally rocked it anyway.

A whole week of this view. Good therapy indeed.


Wordless Wednesday


Monday... Again?

Back from a great vacation. Truly heavenly. I slept in. I can't remember the last time I uttered those three words. Months for sure. Possibly a year.

Back to doctor appointments. It's always interesting when the specialist looks at your child, rubs his forehead, and says, "Hmmmm."

A prescription for new meds that are not generic. Lord have mercy.

I feel quite ill-equipped for this. Really, I do. This is borderline hilarious. The side effects of Lily's meds are nothing to sneeze at, and all I can do is pray they don't affect her in any way except positive. Wake Lily up with a kiss, hand her some juice and pills, watch her swallow them, pray for divine intervention, get on with our day, and repeat.

Our trip to London is 99.9% not happening. Oddly, I have not shed one tear. I'm pretty pissed off, but I haven't been hiding in the bathroom with the Kleenex. Yet.

Zinabu is pestering me to start the next Harry Potter book. I like to stretch them out and make my kids wait a while before reading the next one in the series. I think I've put him off as long as I can. He's begun to shoot me nasty looks while holding the book in his hands. I will give in.

Carver is done with the wrestling season. Hooray and amen and pass the extra hours I now have in my day. Love him and love the sport, but glad that's done with for now.

And how in the heck is it that Christmas is less than 4 weeks away? I. Am. Screwed. Don't look for Christmas cards from us this year. If I have a burst of inspiration or time, possibly. But don't hold your breath. Well, I'm sure you don't hold your breath over our holiday cards to begin with, but especially not this year. Today is Cyber Monday and I feel I should be snatching up all that free shipping and super savings, but all I'm doing is picking up stray socks and resigning myself to the fact that I'll be paying full-price for everything in three weeks.



We are outta here. Gone. On vacation. Off to the mountains to spend some much-needed time together. I can't wait to sleep in and spend time with David and watch the kids goof off. Happy Thanksgiving all. Be thankful for your health, your life, everything. "in everything give thanks."



First of all, you have no idea how close I've come to cutting my hair. Every day this week my finger has quivered over the phone number for Charity, my awesome hair cutter. I have hardly seen Charity over the last year and a half--except for the occasional trim. My finger quivers, I tell you. But I've restrained. So far. Still, with the trip to London currently curbed, what is the point in clogged shower drains, hair on my sweaters, and hair getting caught in my jacket zipper (that's a new one...)?

Rebekah just posted about music and its influence in our lives, and she encouraged us to do our own blog post about music. I had to think awhile about this one, because music used to be very, very important to me. Not that it isn't anymore, but these days I don't have a lot of time to sit and think about music like I used to. Music used to be a constant background. It defined the moments of my life. My friends and I would make mixes for each other, each one a soundtrack to our season in time. And you name any U2 album and I can tell you where I was when I first heard it, the people in my life when it was released, kissing my teenage boyfriend(s) while it was playing, where I was living when I saw them in concert, how many miles I would run to each song, what I was wearing when I met Bono in person, which singles made me weak in the knees, and the fact that my two boys play instruments because of my love for Adam's bass and Larry's drums... well, the rest is history.

These days, I try to keep up on new bands, but mostly I listen to Pandora and just let it choose for me. There's freedom in that though, right? Music is also a curse these days, because my husband works at a high school and is required to chaperon school dances. So music keeps me from time with my husband, and his evenings are spent separating kids from bumping and grinding to "today's" music. Not so fun.

Sometimes I hate music. When I am required to listen to it at the multiple doctor's offices we've been to lately. Sitting in a waiting room, waiting to see a specialist who may or may not have good news about your daughter's condition and you are forced to listen to Air Supply or muzak or (gasp) horror or horrors: country. It makes me feel claustrophobic and like I'm going to break out in hives.

And even though I am morally opposed to any kind of Christmas decor or advertising or lights while we have yet to celebrate Thanksgiving, I confess I get really excited knowing that Christmas music is right around the corner. I love me some Christmas music. It makes me feel 5 years old again for some reason. Plus, it has a magical way of making Zinabu's tone deaf rendition of "Jingle Bells" sound perfect and sweet to my ears.

I wonder what my kids will like for music. I wonder if I will have to redirect them or influence them, like if they suddenly find Weird Al fascinating. I wonder if they will even care. Carver so loves playing music that I just know he will be the kid who listens to indie rappers as well as show tunes. He is incredibly versatile in music likes. He will listen to music for the sake of music. I love that! Lily does not care one whit about music. She would rather be riding horses. However, she thinks Lady Gaga is unique. She's not allowed to see much of what Lady Gaga wears or listen to non-kid friendly songs, but Lily would rather go for someone who is pushing the envelope as opposed to someone safe. And Z? Who knows. He has his own soundtrack beating in his head. He has spent the last year and a half in drum lessons, and I am starting to see the effect of that when he's at school: tapping his pencil unconsciously in his lap, bobbing his head up and down while reading. He loves loud thumpa-thumpa music, and we have a hard time helping him wind down after a good dance party in our basement. I think for him music is all about fun.

Mostly I feel fortunate to live in this generation where I can access ANY music at the touch of a button. How fortunate we are. When Zinabu came to live with us, we had Ethiopian music streaming on our laptop for him. I can go from King Yellowman reggae to Frank Sinatra in one second while I'm making dinner. And I can pretend I'm an angry punk rocker while Pink vibrates the doors of my minivan. Music can be an escape for an especially hard day, and it can take me back to summer camp in one second flat.

Is there anything else in the world like it?


Happy Birthday, Zinabu

He is 8. My youngest is 8. My sweet Zinabu from the other side of the world is now 8 years old. He's been with us longer than he was in Ethiopia: 3.5 years there, and 4.5 years here. That's amazing. He is one of my greatest blessings. I love you, Z Man! Enjoy the photos. I had fun going through them all. And at the end, if you've been following my blog since the beginning, you might remember the classic "C is for Cookie" video that he sang when he'd been with us for only a few weeks. Still makes me laugh and cry all at the same time.
Our referral picture. The first time we saw his face.
With us for just a few weeks. He loved all things goggles and glasses.

Always smiling. Always. He even smiles in his sleep.
Totally a Daddy's boy.


No More Mrs. Whiny Pants
My family. Lily looking sweet while the boys ignore me. Please note my fab husband is in the
background doing dishes! Love him.

All right. Starting now I am back to my regular blogging schedule, and I will allow myself one day a week to report on the doldrums we're currently experiencing. One day a week to flame out and cry. That should be enough. The rest of the week I'll be blogging like it's 1999--or something close to that.

We had no school on Friday, but the girls Volleyball team from David's school made it to the state finals, so Friday and Saturday were spent at the Denver Coliseum watching multiple volleyball games. Our team placed second in the state, and we all lost our voices cheering them on.

Last night my friend Tesi hosted the Wine to Water event in her hometown. If you have not met Tesi, I recommend you find some time in your life to do so. She rocks the entire world. I can't wait to hear all about the event and hear how much money they raised to bring clean drinking water to those who need it most.

I have also, FINALLY, updated Bridget's link in my "Places I Go..." section. You definitely want to check in with her because she is DAYS away from going to Ethiopia for the first time and meeting her son. I am all aflutter with joy for her. Her adoption journey has been unbelievably grueling. It's a great occasion to break open some champagne.

Thanks for all your continued love and support. I love you right back!


Life is just so, so hard right now. I'm sorry to not have anything more exciting to say, but that's the truth. It's hard. I'm not saying I won't blog anymore, but how many times do I feel like sitting in front of the computer to face the reality of my very crummy situation? Um... not really. It's enough that I have to live it during the day. I'm not eager to re-live it when I try to blog.

We are waiting on multiple medications to make Lily feel better. But until we get there, it's just hunker down and make the most of each day. Sorry I have nothing else to tell you.


Remember When?
Remember when I used to update my blog almost daily? And I had high hopes of incorporating multi-cultural themes into the posts? And remember when I did book reviews?

I do. I miss that. Right now I have exactly 15 minutes to myself, and I'm going to tell you about an awesome little book. Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson. This sweet book tells the story of Sarah Hale and her letter writing campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. The best part of this book is that it really depicts Sarah as the strong, independent, fierce superwoman that she was. She did some amazing things in her lifetime--organizing a national holiday being just one of them. As the book states, "Superheroes work the hardest when things get tough." It's a feel-good story that introduces your kids to the history behind Thanksgiving, with a little "go change the world" attitude thrown in on the side. Totally awesome. I hope you can find it at your library right now.


Halloween was just what we needed: a night to pretend things are normal and ok around here. We were blessed with incredible weather--a rare event in Colorado. I think over the last 5 years Halloween has been cold or snowy. This year it was 70 degrees that day, so no need for mittens, coats, or snow boots over costumes. Lily was a cowgirl and Zinabu was the most hilarious looking werewolf. Carver (not pictured) went trick-or-treating with his best friend. It was our first time without him, and I was sad for me but happy for him that he got to go have so much fun.

Buddy's costume was from the vet. He got to be a cone head because he impaled his leg on a branch last week and needed a bunch of stitches. Just when we thought we wouldn't have any more unforeseen expenses, we got to pay the vet a big ol' pile of money for surgery. Whoopee.

I have been avoiding Facebook and blogs, only because when things are so sad here it's hard to read about other people's happy families. I know that no family is perfect, and that everyone is dealing with their own stuff. I get that. But I'm especially sensitive to the fact that things around here are crappy and it just plain hurts to be reminded of it every time I turn around. That's the great challenge in grief and pain, isn't it? To deal with it at home, let people help you as best they can, but still face the world with grace--even joy, as you then celebrate life going on in other people's lives. I'm learning how to do that. It's not easy at all, but I'm learning.


If you could sit where I'm sitting and see what I see...

This week was awful. And it's only Thursday. Sometimes I just want to give up. But if you could see what I see, you'd see a husband who loves me, a mom who takes care of me, a son who works so hard, another son who makes me laugh, a daughter who is the bravest person I know right now, and sunshine and blue sky and snow melting off the trees.

So even though my circumstances tell me I'm screwed, I look beyond them and feel blessed.

Faith. Hope. Love.


Oh Baby
It was 13 years ago today that I officially became a mom. Carver was placed in my arms and we celebrated becoming parents. Today is awfully special. Man, I love that kid.

Today is also crazy. Doctor's appointment for Lily, grocery store, bank, laundry, parent meeting at Carver's school, wrestling, pick-up Z at a friend's house, blah blah blah. When I tell people I live in my car they think I'm exaggerating. But I'm not. I really live in my car.

This weekend and today are spectacularly gorgeous. Highs in the 70s. Pristine blue sky. Yellow and red leaves everywhere. And on Wednesday it's supposed to snow with a high of 30. Which means digging out the jackets and gloves and hats and boots and I am so not ready for all of that. What's funny is that here in Colorado, it usually warms right back up again after it snows, so a lot of times I just tell the kids to grab a sweatshirt and remind them they'll be warm again soon. Mother of the year, right here!

We made some time yesterday to drive up a dirt road and find a secluded lake in the mountains. At 9,000+ feet, the leaves were mostly gone, but the sky and the water were gorgeous. My kids did what most kids do in this environment: get dirty, throw rocks, and goof off. It was awesome.

David's birthday is on Wednesday, so for all of you who are friends with him on Facebook, be sure to wish him a happy bday. He leaves on Thursday morning to go to Minnesota to visit his mom. He'll be gone until Monday, which means it will be a battle between me and the kids for who goes crazy first. I'm putting the odds on me.


What The...?
I am homeschooling Lily.
Bring on the alcohol.

This is crazy. Totally crazy. And yet kinda fun. Despite our best efforts to keep Lily in school, she was missing enough days that it felt unfair for us to expect the teachers to work around our lives. Their jobs are hard enough as it is without us coming and going and not knowing when she'd be able to attend. Besides, right now Lily wants to hunker down and stay home most of the time. (Don't we all?) So it felt like the best option.

For now.

Our long term goal is to get Lily back to school and keep her there, but a season of homeschooling won't kill us. And I admit I was a wee bit too giddy at the teacher supply store yesterday. It was so fun looking at workbooks and curriculum. Being that Lily is my middle child, we've done fifth grade before and I have a pretty good idea what gets covered and what is expected throughout the year. So we got a great 5th/6th grade math book, two social studies books on the American Revolution and Colonial life, and a writing book. Everything else I can supplement, because homeschooling aint cheap. Lily was very distracted by the books on Australia, and I had remind her that's why we go to the library. A lot of reading and projects we can do ourselves just by checking out different books. We are easing into our schedule, doing what Lily can handle. I'm sure there will be days when I am her least favorite person in the world, but we're making the best of a crummy situation.

Hence the alcohol.


Bike Ride
We were able to get out on our bikes yesterday. It was a bee-you-te-ful fall Sunday and we had "forced family fun time." You know what I mean. The kind where you have to make your kids go do something with you so you can be together as a family, and they drag their feet at first but once we get out there they have the BEST TIME EVER!!!! It usually goes like that around here. We let Lily take the small digital camera in her pocket, because she was going to take pictures of animals and document them. However, it turned out that she was mighty impressed with the yellow leaves and pretty scenery and she stopped her bike every 30 seconds to take photos. It made our bike ride a wee bit longer than we'd anticipated, but the results were worth it.
*photos by Lily, age 10


What Life Feels Like
Life disrupted, that's what it feels like. Over the last three weeks, Lily has been to school a total of 3 days. Fortunately, her teacher is amazing and she's keeping up with her work at home. She started a new medication today and hopefully that will help her feel better and get back into her routine. Keep her in your prayers--that the medicine will work and she won't have any crazy side effects from it.

It's the end of the first quarter school wise, which means tests, quizzes, concerts, assemblies, and David being gone most of the week. I miss that guy. Things should settle down a bit after today, thank goodness. I can only feel disjointed for so long before my eyes start twitching

We have extended family coming into town this weekend, which should be so fun. Seeing them always makes me happy. There may be a trip to the mountains for the boys, which makes them happy. And I plan to drink tea and read a mindless, trashy novel. Hooray!

Photos to come. They're just stuck on my camera. Too bad there are no "camera elves" to upload your photos each night onto your computer. That's what I want for Christmas. Photo elves.


Checklist for Monday

Up early to get blood test for Lily: check
Buy a donut for Lily because she had to get a blood test: check
Volunteer at school: check
Think about what we're having for dinner but not necessarily commit to anything: check
Ignore unmade bed: check
Wear new fuzzy warm boots because even though it's supposed to be 65 this afternoon it was 35 when I woke up and I hate cold feet: check
Stare at the pile of paperwork on my desk: check
Dream of taking a nap: check
Hug the dog (very good therapy): check
Try not to think about the fact that we may have to postpone our trip to London: check
Read Z's favorite Halloween book 20 times: check
Love on my family: check!


Feeling Low
I took this photo a month ago at the hot air balloon festival in our city. It makes me feel good when I look at it. And I need to feel good. I cannot remember the last time I was this tired and wrung out. I think it was when Zinabu came home from Ethiopia with the mumps and he was in the hospital. David and I have basically had the crap beaten out of us. It's not a good day when your husband is crying as hard as you are. Our life pretty much sucks right now. And it will for a long, long time. I know you're dying to know what's wrong with Lily. I understand. I know you want to help and you want to know how to help her. Maybe someday we'll share what's going on. But for now, just know that it's not cancer and we're keeping it to ourselves because she deserves to go through life without people pitying her or feeling sorry for her.

Feel free to feel sorry for me, though. I have no problem with that.

I am trying to live minute by minute. I pray. I get through each hour and try to focus on the positive. What else can I do? One thing that's been hard is eating. It's hard to want to eat anything when you're so sick and ill with grief. However... here's a list of good things:

Even though we've been handed a nightmare, I was able to admit that I am already a better parent for it. Gone are the frivolous worries and stupid hassles. Gone are the irritations and inconveniences. I poured myself wholeheartedly into my children this week and they are better for it.

We live in an age of medicine and doctors and specialists. Even 10 years ago we would be in a much, much worse place.

I don't work. This was the year I was considering going back to work. But Lily is going to need me round the clock for a while and I have the freedom to do that.

There is a very strong possibility I will be homeschooling Lily, which is so absurd it makes me laugh out loud every time I think about. I need to laugh.

We live with my mom. There aren't enough words to describe how this is going to affect us. It's the biggest blessing in the world.

I have a husband who is going to help me see this through.

Thank you, all, for your kind words. Thank you for just being there.


It Looks Different
I have a friend on Facebook (she doesn't read my blog so I feel safe saying this) who is insanely positive all the time. And I mean all. the. time. Her twice-daily posts read something like this:

"It's Monday! Time to rise and shine. It's gonna be an awesome day!"
"Woo hoo! 4:30 am run and my head is swimming with great ideas. Today is gonna rock!"
"Aahhhhh! Sunday! Time to recharge and relax. Love, love, love it!!!"
"Super excited for my conference this morning. Life is good!"

I'm all for a positive attitude, but sometimes I want to stick a fork in her eye. She's a wonderful person. Truly. And I certainly don't like the opposite--the whiny, constant complainer. But there is a balance, right? So if you're wanting a happy post right now, you might need to go elsewhere. I just need to process for a bit.

I had often thought that we would adopt again. I especially thought that we would adopt a special needs child. I was most open to a baby or child with Down Syndrome. But the timing never felt right, and waiting for that right moment to start the process or even look into it never happened. I've often felt a loss over the years, that I was missing out on that special someone. My desire to take care of a child that faced a difficult medical future never left. What I didn't know was that child was already in our home and her life would be difficult because of a medical condition. It just wasn't the one I would have "chosen." As if we have any choice in what our kids struggle with. That's me just being a control freak again. We see a specialist tomorrow, and hopefully we'll have some more answers and a direction to take--rather than this aimless wandering in circles, wondering what the heck is going on. So even though I'm not feeling very positive at the moment, and even though the medical condition looks different than anything I had ever anticipated, at least I'm finding some comfort in the fact that at one time in my life I was up for the challenge.

I'm hoping to find that energy again.


How Long Till An Arm Gets Broken?
When your son builds a race car out of a dolly, an old office chair, rope, and a scooter, you have conflicting emotions. First, you are incredibly proud. Such ingenuity! Such creativity! Such awesomeness! Then the other side of your brain takes over--the part of your brain that reminds you of your co-pay at the Emergency Room--and you think, "Good grief! How long until someone breaks an arm?"
Any guesses?


Last weekend was Homecoming for the school where David works. There are various activities leading up to the big weekend, plus the parade, football game, and dance on Saturday. It's a bid deal, because the entire west side of our city turns out for the parade. It's been a long-standing tradition for the school, and I feel pretty lucky that my family gets to be so involved in all the festivities.
Principal David, reporting for duty. Such a stud!

Hannah, Lily, and BFF Bailey.
Carver with his super wattage smile.
David, making the rounds with the Homecoming King and the Superintendent of our district.

Zinabu. Talking. As usual. But dang, he's adorable.

In the parade! There was no room for me in the car, which is typical. But I was okay with capturing the moments in film. And after they drove by, I popped into the tattoo shop you see there in the background. (Kidding)

It was a really fun weekend!

I had the stitches taken out of my knee the other day, and I am doing pretty well. A little more pain now that the swelling is down, but nothing I can't handle. I have the OK to start walking and stationary biking, so look out. (Whatever that means.) I have discovered that being vegan is harder after strep throat, surgery, and family crisis. I crave salt (read: cheese) and the more stressed out my life becomes the more lack of discipline I have over what I eat. I shouldn't be surprised, but I hope when life calms down a bit I'll be able to hop back on the vegan bandwagon. Let me just say that if one more things breaks or if I get any more bad news, I might start eating bacon.