Wednesday, January 31, 2007
This link was sent by my Mom. There is also an interesting story about the Fistula Hospital in Addis that you can read on the same page.
All Things Considered, January 30, 2007 · Independent producer Jake Warga visits the person he admires the most, his best friend Jenafir. She is doing medical research in Ethiopia. He details the sacrifices she must make and the odd situations she finds herself in while leading a team of ophthalmology students. They are working ceaselessly to treat trachoma, an eye disease eliminated long ago in the developed world. To Warga, she is a real hero. Listen to the article here.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
There is a wonderful topic at Danielle Bean's website today. It's about "perfect moms". Are you one? Do you know one? Secretly want to be one? Or like the rest of us have you found yourself perhaps, shall we say, lacking in a virtue here or there. Maybe the kitchen floor has more stick than shine or the children are asking, "Frozen pizzas, AGAIN?"
As moms, we are our own worst critic, aren't we? The house isn't as clean as everyone else's, the children are making a *fashion* statement--again...this time in public, the laundry is overtaking the laundry room (and anything and anyone in its path), mom's response to the children's choice of canvas for their artwork was less than charitable and those of you stationned in Germany might recall items fixed, in a fit of hormonal pregnancy rage, with duct tape which bespeak not-so-much the kinder, gentler and perfect mom seen in the public eye...and has anyone forgotten my own personal favorite entitled "Glue as lipstick" ? I think I like Danielle's topic just because misery loves company.
So, stop by her site and read the funny stories of these honest women who are striving for holiness, but know all too well that only in Christ (not in clean floors, folded laundry and well-behaved children) are we made perfect. And when you're finished reading, add your own.
Monday, January 29, 2007
If you liked last week's episode of Kids By The Dozen on TLC, here is the info on tonight's program:
Monday, January 29, 2007 at 9:00 PM EST/PST (that's 8pm here in the great midwest!) on TLC:Kids by the Dozen The Jeub Family Chris and Wendy are the parents of 13 children. This year they are celebrating a mega birthday for everyone- all on the same day. See how this family lives, plays and gives back- all on a tight budget.
You can also read more about the Jeub family here.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
We spent part of Saturday morning trying to call Ethiopia. We were trying to reach H and Baby T's Aunt A and her godmother (in Ethiopia). Neither one of them was available yesterday, but her Grandfather answered when we tried to reach her Aunt. They spoke briefly; a mix of English and Amharic when she spoke..."Yes, yes, I mean, ow, ow...sorry, oh no, English...Mooommmm...me no Amharic talking!" We did learn, however, that they should both be available on Sunday.
So this morning when we tried again. It was about 9pm local time in Ethiopia and H was bouncing up and down on the sofa as she waited for someone to bring her aunt to the phone. They spoke for 5 or 10 minutes or so, this time mostly in Amharic (H was very conscientious about that-although she said her aunt does speak a little English), when she said something, looked at me and motioned for me to take the phone. So, not knowing much Amharic, I took the phone from her.
The conversation went something like this:
Aunt A: Hello. I want to thank you.
Me: (feeling very embarrassed by her gratitude) Oh. No, thank you. H is good. She is very good. The baby is good also. Do you want to talk to H again? Goodbye-Ciao!
I handed the phone back to H, only to find out that her aunt's translation of my English was that the call was finished, and she had hung up the phone. So, we quickly called back for H to say goodbye herself. As I dialed the litany of numbers, a great sadness overcame me. I thought of H, home about 2 months, who was already forgetting words in her native language and *accidentally* speaking in English, which her Ethiopian family couldn't speak. I thought of sleepy Baby T, who had been in my arms through the phone call, who will never *know* that part of his heritage except through stories and pictures. His Amharic, whatever we can teach, will not be enough to carry on a conversation with them, and as time goes on, H's Amharic will fade, too--making conversation difficult, I would guess. I thought of the brief conversation I had with her aunt and my own lack of her language.
I thought of my simplistic English sentences which were painfully inadequate to convey what I wanted to say to her. I wanted so badly to tell her how long H's hair (cut short at the orphangage) was getting and what a good girl she is and how she helps around the house so much and how well she is doing in school and that she has made friends-real friends-already here and that the baby has gotten so big (a whole 4 pounds since he's come home) and that he has 4 teeth now and crawls everywhere and is starting to pull up on everything and how we love them so much and can't imagine the time when they weren't here...but I didn't know how, so I said they're good. Sigh.
The next conversation with her godmother left everyone on both sides of the Atlantic in tears. First her godmother, then H, then me when I saw H and then the godmother's son when he talked to her. But a minute or so after we hung up, H was skipping off to play the Dora memory game with CB. I stood and watched her just marveling at the strength she possessed to handle such difficult things. And wondering if, just maybe, she would share some of it with me.
H (kneeling in white shirt) and her family and neighborhood friends (her aunt is holding Baby T) and her grandfather is standing wearing the suit jacket in Ethiopia.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
We had such a beautiful day for H and Baby T's Baptism and it has taken me forever to get pictures gathered up to load and share. The Baptism that day was scheduled for immediately following the 11am Mass, which means that the Baptisms usually begin around noon or so. We had all gone to Mass earlier and took separate cars (mainly because we didn't all fit in our Suburban) but also because we had a few errands to do on the way. Figuring that it was easier to pick up the catering without the three youngest ark riders, I left with everyone over 8 and left Daddy home to wrangle the threesome with the help of the Boy. The plan was to meet in the church hall, where we were holding the reception and to leave all of our things there before heading up to the church for the ceremony. It is important to mention that this was the day of the Bears game to decide if they would play in the Superbowl playoff game. So, when two of the godmothers, myself, both sets of grandparents and an assortment of school aged children (including H and B) were still in the hall at 11:55, I thought nothing of it...until someone came in saying, "You'd better get upstairs. The priest is calling for H and Baby T and says he's ready to start!" Quickly looking around, noticing that the Baby T of that pair was conspicuously missing (as was his Dad and big brother-aka-godfather) we decided we'd better head upstairs.
What an unbelievable sight as I walked through the glass doors in the back of the church: faces, more smiling, wonderful faces of friends and family than I have ever had the honor to see in one place waiting (and at this point, I really mean waiting) for our children's Baptism. Slightly panicking, I told the priest that the Baby, along with his Dad and siblings, were still en route to the church. But, coming to my rescue, was H's Uncle Chickendance (aptly named for well, nevermind) who was already calling his brother to find out how far he was from the church. (ed. note: I'd like to think he was concerned about his missing brother, nieces and nephews, but I also know he had a date with a television set and the aforementioned football game) Needless to say, my husband arrived in the nick of time and the Baptism went off without a hitch.
Friday, January 26, 2007
For reasons unknown to me, Blogger is not letting me upload any pictures. Go figure, I finally have a block of time set aside to do it and it's not working. So, there are pictures to go with the two most recent posts, which I will try to update asap.
My darling husband is at the "Daddy Daughter Dance" fiesta tonight with his two senoritas, where he noted, he will spend much of the evening with the other father's standing by the punch bowl while the girls they brought run off together in a fit of giggles and dancing.
While they are away, however, the Boy and I enjoyed a quiet evening alone once the three little ones were tucked in for bed. We played a really neat game (given by my clever friend, A) called 10 Days in Africa. The cat actually joined us for the game (as shown below).
While we were playing the Boy said to me, "So, maybe I'll stay up and watch Murder, She Wrote (my most favorite geriatric-detective mystery show) with you and Dad." I informed him that there was no way that would be happening as this was a "date" for his Dad and I. To which he responded, "A date?! You're married, you don't have "dates"! And I, who has loved this quote since I heard our very funny friend use it at our couple's bible study said to him, "Of course we have dates...You know, we were husband and wife to each other before we were mother and father to you people!" Then I sat back smuggly just long enough for him to say, "Well, yeah. You're supposed to be." Touche.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Sometimes an uplifting thought presents itself in the most unusual place.
Today, I took out my hair dryer to attempt (for the 50th time in as many days!) to, you know, blow dry my hair. As expected, attempt number 50 was no more successful than numbers 1-49. It's really not an important thing, given that EVENTUALLY my hair will dry and HOPEFULLY it will have some semblance of a style when it does so, but it's one of many things that are just taking up space on my to do list. Add to that the absolutely have to do things like: change diapers, do the laundry, keeping a 1, 2 and 3 year old engaged in meaningful (read: non destructive) activities, prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner (oh and shop for these meals) for 8, help with homework, do the laundry, take down and put into storage the Christmas decorations (for the love of God, at least it's not February yet), and did I mention---do the laundry. And add to that the things that *should* be getting done like washing the floors, scrubbing bathrooms, vacuuming and dusting on a somewhat more routine basis. And not to forget the continuing sagas of the re-adoption process and the basement project...oh, and if time permits, sleep or spend time with my most wonderful husband (without the supporting cast and crew of the ark)...so you can see where hair drying ranks on the ever expanding list. So, while I was getting dressed this morning and checking the weather for the day, I caught the end of an advertisement for one of The Weather Channel's evening programs and I smiled to myself as the announcer said, "It hasn't happened yet. BUT...it could happen tomorrow!" So, if you trip over my Christmas decorations coming down the stairs, or better still, if you're wondering why my hair is perpetually wet, you've been forewarned---just stop back tomorrow!
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Thanks TBO for the heads-up on this one. The MMC alumnae network runs deep, eh? I had NO idea that these articles were out there. The woman who wrote the article, as well as the profiled book There is No Me Without You is Melissa Fay Greene. She is an adoptive parent through our agency Adoption Advocates International, as well as an award winning writer. The article you found, with the "Adopting Helen" title can be read here. Through the Wondertime site search, I also found an article reviewing her book There is No Me Without You. If you haven't read it, but are at all intrigued by the stories connected to the orphan crisis in Ethiopia, then it is a must read. It is an emotional read and the stories will grab a hold of your heart just as if you were walking alongside Haregowin herself. And don't let its length scare you, it really is a quick read and moves effortlessly between cold, hard statistics and warm, endearing characters who quickly make the story real; without ever having to leave your living room.
Monday, January 22, 2007
The Learning Channel, bless their enterprising hearts, has caught on that not all of America thinks that a large family is a curse--rather than a blessing. But for whatever the reason, whether financially motivated or not, they are giving lots of screen time to stories about plus-sized families! A while back, they aired a program about the Duggar family of Arkansas, who at the time were expecting their 16th child. They followed this family through another program as they worked to build their own home (everyone over 8 was assigned their own power drill!) These programs were so well-received that they are now airing a new round of programs called "Kids by the Dozen". One of them premiered last week, and another premieres tonight. The details are as follows:
Monday, January 22, 2007 at 9:00 PM EST/PST on TLC:Kids by the Dozen The Heppner Family Spud and Miriam Heppner are the parents of 16 children, 9 still living at home! Getting everyone together for a weekend at the lake is easier said than done, but to the Heppners, family comes first.
The first program in the series was very well done and gave an objective look at a larger family, rather than staging an "Let's all spend an hour to gawk at these freaks who just can't seem to figure out how that happens." So I'm blogging early today because tonight, I'm tucking my half-a-dozen (see, it doesn't even seem like that many kids by comparison) in to bed and hunkering down with a cup of hot tea and the remote to watch TLC! Let me know if you see it , what your thoughts are!
Sunday, January 21, 2007
We've were fortunate the week that Grandma and Grandpa were here to enjoy watching the Boy's last regular season basketball game. He didn't disappoint them either. He scored 10 points during the game and made us all (as usual) so proud of him! Baby T was quite interested in the game, by the way. It's a good thing he's not walking yet or the team may have found themselves with a sixth man on the court!
Somehow, we managed to squeeze 11 people around the dining room table for dinner the night before the Baptism. I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon shopping with CB and Moocher #11, while the turkey cooked itself (or, actually, Mom cooked it--thanks, Mom!) It was great fun to have everyone together.
Baby T, on the other hand, hasn't met food he doesn't like. He has earned himself the nickname, "Breadilu".
Auntie F, crowded by her adoring fans.
CB enjoying her self-selected meal of bread and little else. Who says man cannot live by bread alone?
Friday, January 19, 2007
Looking to read about more families who have (or are in the process of ) adopting from Ethiopia. You can check out a bunch o'blogs here. And if your family is an adoptive family, and you've kept a blog of your story, you can also add it while you're there.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Remember I told you we've been contemplating an even larger vehicle than the 8 passenger Chevy Suburban we've been driving? Well, yesterday on Danielle Bean's website she hosted a wonderful discussion about vehicles that large families drive. And lo and behold, one of the moms who commented on the discussion, also shared a picture of her families large vehicle on her blog. It would probably last us for a little while at least, AND for those of you looking for a bus to HA from Oswego...I think I may have an idea!
While you may not recognize our name from the NYSE--yet--but, there is one house in northern New Hampshire that recognizes this small cookie-baking operation's name on sight.
During Christmas 2005, the (then four) bakers decided to give their Grandpa "the gift that keeps on giving". No, not the jelly of the month club, silly-- cookies!!! Recipes are carefully chosen, ingredients purchased, and a flurry of baking activity ensues once a month in our little test kitchen yielding batches of love-filled (and sometimes otherwise filled!) cookies for Grandpa (and Grandma when he chooses to share). This past Christmas of 2006, the bakers decided it was such fun to do and their Grandpa enjoyed his cookies so much that they would give the gift all over again. As January brought their East coast grandparents here, they decided to "go live" with the first batch of cookies in 2007! Below are a few snapshots from the M & M cookie bakefest.
Two of the six bakers were present for the January cookie making. They were full of energy (and some butter!)
After watching hours (no, literally, I mean hours) of the Food Network, CB has decided that the only good egg is a slightly beaten one. I believe N is in her cookie making/cheerleading ensemble.
Things were starting to get cooking and everyone was happy when the recipe finally called for the M & Ms. I think a few of them might have even made it into the dough.
12 months of cookies...good stuff, picking out your favorite recipes...very tasty, snuggling with the chefs while the cookies bake...priceless!
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
We're back to business at usual here on the ark. We bid everyone a teary farewell on Monday. F (aka-Moocher #11--a nickname which I like so much here on the blog, it just may stick!) left early, early, Monday morning in a big, white stretch limo that B was disappointed she wasn't awake to see. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and she got off to work back East as planned. Grandma and Grandpa B left later that day and the car slowly dissolved into a hormonal puddle of tears as they did. As I was hopping back into the carful of sobbing little women, Grandma turned and said with a grin, "I'm sorry for you...but it sure makes us feel good!" Anything to make Grandma happy! Even H was genuinely sad about her new grandparents departure. I remember reading about a family who adopted a little girl (about 3) from our agency and how smoothly she attached to her and the rest of the family and her mom's comment that "...it was evident then, that she knew what a mother was and she knew she wanted one..." That's probably not as well stated as the original post, but the message really hit home that day. Our kids (the new and the old) are sad when Grandma and Grandpa leave because they understand, not just in their heads, but in their hearts, who and what grandparents are. This past week, they were the people who bailed them out of chores for the week, fixed them hot chocolate when they so much as mentionned it, purchased accessories (you haven't lived until you've watched two 8 year old girls running amok in the accessories department looking for hair pretties to match their new outfits), read stories, came to basketball games, heard them read school announcements (look for photo coming soon), and snuggled, kissed and hugged as often as possible. It was NOT a foreign concept for any of them. I even remembered during this week, a story H had shared with me about her Ethiopian Mom and Grandma (maternal).
We were in the kitchen together preparing sweet potatoes. By all accounts, H's Ethiopian Mom was a very good cook and passed her skills on to her only daughter. So, she was teaching me how to wash, boil, skin, season and mash sweet potatoes. As we worked our way through the process, it became time to fire up the burner and start the water boiling. With the blue flame flickering away, I set the pot containing the potatoes atop it. I then turned to H and said, "Is this how you helped cook in Ethiopia?" She said, "Yes, but that one my mother said no hot," she paused for a minute, as a secret smile crossed her face and her eyes lit up, "This one, my mother's mother, yes." Then, she went through a pantomine impression of helping her grandmother light the fire, put the pot on and cover it---all after her Ethiopian mom hadn't let her for fear she would be hurt. Someday, when her language is better, I will tell her that is a universal truth. We mothers live with the worry that something could happen to our precious children, and grandmothers allow our children to experience life without bubble wrap and a constant safety net. But at that moment, I nodded my understanding and then quickly checked to make sure she wasn't standing too close to the hot stove.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
So, the combination Christmas/Epiphany cards went out last Monday. I finally finished all the cutting and gluing and stamping and coloring, etc...It was totally my own "monster", if you will, that I take full responsibility for creating. Mind you, I was very pleased with the results, but it was an undertaking, and one that needed to be removed from my normal 9-5 staff of assistants. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that as I was putting the cards in the envelopes, one night after midnight, I had a few technical difficulties---some of which were discovered and some of which are being made known to me as cards are received. So, if as my good friend CC (or KW as she is commonly known) you received a card minus the actual letter portion, please take heart. It was simply my overtired brain and/or hands performing an act of love to my friends minus my full capacities. Fortunately, I have quit performing any kind of precise medical procedures in the last 6 months, so at least the world doesn't have that to worry about!
I also apologize for (in no particular order):
forgetting to include:
the picture, the correct postage, a mailing address (either to or from), or any combination of the aforementioned. You can feel free to add in any other things that you feel I might need to apologize for over the past 6 weeks based on current operations here aboard the ark. I might look to fire my COO if I was the boss, but then I would be out of a job.
Anyway, we're off to the Baptism this morning, so I'll be looking forward to catching up the blog sometime this week!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Not to disappoint (or confuse blog readers), I thought it wouldn't be right, to well, leave well enough alone. So, presenting the newly updated profile AND promising to post pictures as soon as the last of the moochers, that is house guests (and no, I am not referring to the 6 little moochers who reside here full time) are safely on their way home. But first, I'm waiting for moocher number 11 to arrive safely on her flight in tonight!
Monday, January 08, 2007
This is the week of visitors. My parents arrived today from New Hampshire (N keeps asking when we can see their new "hamster") after a long train ride all through the night. Everyone was so very excited to see them--even H and Baby T jumped on the Grandma and Grandpa are coming bandwagon. They are in town to visit for the week and to attend H and T's Baptism this coming Sunday (which I DID NOT have any forewarning would be in direct conflict with the Bears Playoff Game). Then, my dear friend, F (who is also Baby T's Godmother) arrives on Thursday night. So, we're looking forward to a nice visit this week with friends and family and will post pictures once things quiet down (relatively speaking) a bit here.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
In my email the other day, was a very sweet note from a friend of mine from church and school. Her (equally sweet) daughter, K, is the same age as B and H, but is a grade ahead in school. Over the Christmas vacation, we were invited to play (yes, all SIX kids and me) and to have lunch. We had such a wonderful time that day and H felt so welcomed by this kind and generous family. As a matter of fact, the morning of H's first day of school, as we walked down the primary grade hallway, K was one of the first faces who spotted us; and when she did---her face broke into a huge grin and she started waving fiendishly and calling, "Hi, H! Hooray--you're here!" If I was looking for any affirmation that this school was the correct choice for us (even without all the fancy ELL programs that our public school offers) than, I had come to the right place. Then, at the end of that first day, while we were in the car driving home, H was frantically trying to explain something to me. She said, "You me go you friend house everybody play biiiiiiggg fun today looking play outside." I was still trying to follow the thought process behind the string of words when B interrupted my thoughts by saying, "Yeah, mom, we played with K at recess today." Of course. Lucky for me B and H speak the same language (whatever it is!) H was welcomed by so many familiar faces this first week. She sits right between her sister and our carpool friend, N, in her class, and even the Boy's big ol' sixth grade buddies take the time to wave and call out "hi" when they see her. But, back to the email I received from K and her mom. K is one smart cookie and she leaves no stones unturned in the area of observation. She relayed this detailed account of her interactions with H on the first week and I thought it was just too cute not to share. With her Mom's permission (and my great thanks!) here it is:
(from K's mom's email to me) Here's what I have seen and heard:
Wednesday: I saw H in the parking after school. She hugged me. I talked to Miss M (H and B's teacher and K's teacher from last year) in the other parking lot, she said that she is very excited to have H in her class! H has her own locker, but it does not have her name on it. K is very concerned about the lack of the name label and hopes that this issue will be resolved soon.
Thursday: H had to come into K's room ( Mrs. M) to drop off someone's homework. K said that the transaction went well and H seem a little shy but fine.
Friday: K looked into Miss M's room and saw H and a few other children working on Math with Mrs. B(the teaching assistant). And later K looked into Miss M's room and she saw H sitting on the rug and Miss M was reading Wayside School - a book series. K also saw H in the bathroom and said "hi". H said "hi" back. K saw H on the playground playing with B and some other children. K was not sure what game they were playing.
Stay tuned for more stalking reports---that is, updates. Thanks to K and her Mom for sharing these stories with us!
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The first month on the ark found our family with lots to keep us busy. We have, in no particular order...
- celebrating St. Nick's Day, Advent, Christmas, New Year's and are currently preparing for H and Baby T's Baptism on January 14th.
- learning to speak broken Amharic and understand broken English--we have settled on Amhenglish as the ark's first language.
- trying to explain (and understand) why everything in America can be thrown away when finished. (paper plate-garbage, juice box-garbage, baby diaper (yes-even these)-garbage...and don't even get us started on elevators.
- trips to doctors, dentists, hairdressers, schools and many, many stores. Much of which has been met with an inquisitive, "We go in car---again?!"
- priming, painting, and carpeting the 1200 square feet in our basement to be ready for when H and Baby T come home (like we had nothing to do before they actually came home)
- meeting Dad's family (grandmother, grandfather and an assortment of 10 siblings, spouses and cousins!)
- developing a family dance (no, seriously) which is a combination of the "shoulder dance" that the Ethiopian children learn and the Chicken Dance...oh, and renaming one of Daddy's brother's "Uncle Chicken Dance"
- not blogging-you probably thought the holidays with 6 children (2 who just arrived from half way around the world) left me with plenty of time to myself...
- scheduling appointments for our first POST-placement visit, calling an attorney about re-adopting in Illinois, and visiting the Social Security office, again, all non-time consuming things...
But mostly, the last month, has been filled with basking in the joy of our newly expanded ark and the knowledge that God really, really, does have a plan bigger than us and when we are open to it-the blessings are too many to count.
Wishing you all a 2007 open to all God has in store for you!