Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ethiopia...Older Children...Don't Be Afraid

A few days ago, I received this message on one of the adoption Yahoo groups that I am on....

Okay, I can't wait any longer! We are very pleased to announce that we have chosen to adopt a sibling group of three from Ethiopia. We are excited, anxious, and yes, even crazy! We hope to have Bisrat (12, m), Yeabsira (10, f) and Mihiret (6,f) home sometime this spring or early summer.
We'll sign the placement papers as soon as we get them. The staff at AAI are preparing our dossier to be sent to Ethiopia, and we are waiting for our "official" homestudy copy to arrive so that we can send in our I-600A. While we wait for the "powers that be" to review and approve our paperwork, we'll be getting rooms organized and prepared for becoming a family of seven!

I was so excited to read this news. This sibling group included one of the kids that Will and I had TOTALLY fallen in love with when we went to Ethiopia to bring Grace home. I quickly responded...

Is this Bisrat that used to be at Sele Enat, then moved to Layla in April or May this year? If so, we met him, and possibly his siblings when we went to pick up our daughter at the beginning of April. I have many photos, pictures drawn by the children, and a fun story to share. Please let me know. We have been praying for him since our trip. He is a WONDERFUL boy!!

I was so excited to receive this response...

Yes! My understanding is that they were at Sele Enat for two years before coming to Layla in April. Bisrat must be a great kid... I've heard so many wonderful things about him. I would love to hear your story.

I could no longer contain myself. This is what came pouring out...

Oh Bisrat! What a gem!! He was the star of Sele Enat. When my husband and I traveled to Addis this past April, one of the destinations we hoped to visit was Sele Enat. It was the 1st orphanage that our baby girl lived in, so we wanted to take pictures and meet the people that had cared for her. We connected with an AAI volunteer named CJ. She was from Denver, Colorado. She was a woman that had a plan. She knew what she was going to do, and when she was going to do it. She had trouble with the concept of "Ethiopian Time". The day we met her, we were running late. She was feeling impatient, as the delay would cause us to have less time to spend with the children. She was prepared to teach the children a lesson, and had all the supplies with her to accomplish the task. She only went there once a week, so time was of the essence.

When we arrived at Sele Enat, I could hardly believe we were at an orphanage. We passed many homes (if you could call them that), and hadn't seen a shop or business in quite some time. Even though Layla doesn't seem to be in the BEST neighborhood, this was so much different. There was nothing but squalor all around. Could people really live like this? Could there really be an orphanage here? Was my daughter (and all these other children) so bad off, that this was a better solution? Wow! When we entered the orphanage property, things improved a bit. There was some play equipment. There were happy kids. Who would have guessed?

Sele Enat is run by Hanna Berhanu. She is an amazing lady! She was dressed nicely, and always had her headset on, connected to her cell phone. This was a woman that is dedicated to the children she cares for, 24 hours a day. Even though our daughter had not been in her orphanage for over 4 months, she recognized her right away. She actually called her by name. My heart started to break that very moment. I guess I didn't expect to find people that actually cared. How ignorant of me! Hanna showed us Grace's first crib. She even posed for photographs. What a wonderful lady!

When we all got back to the main building, and the rest of the children. We got our assignments from CJ. Will (my husband) was to read a book to the children. Even though he is a teacher, he was feeling a bit intimidated at the thought of reading an English book to children that spoke Amharic. He need not have worried. The children were like sponges. They enjoyed the story, and loved drawing pictures about it too. Some were very young, and drew simple pictures. Some were a bit more mature, and had very well thought out ideas. All of the pictures were beautiful to us!

Next, we headed outside to have snack. Since the story was about growing watermelon, the snack was watermelon. Bisrat, being the oldest, immediately took charge. He cut the watermelon, handed out the appropriate portions, and guided the children when they needed to take care of the rinds and paper towels they had used to clean themselves up. What a blessing he was. When everyone was cleaned up from there sticky snack, it was time to hand out the drawings to the appropriate children. We carefully looked over each drawing to see if there was a name or some other identifying mark. We managed to match all the drawings to the right children. We followed by taking their photo with their drawing. So sweet!

After everyone had their photo taken, a beautiful thing took place. Bisrat brought his drawing to my husband, said "Thank you", and gave him the paper. He encouraged each child to do the same. We weren't sure what to do at the time, but quickly realized this was exactly what these children needed to do. Their very life was being provided for by the charity of others, and they felt the need to give back. We have every one of those drawings to this day. What a treasure!!

When we arrived home, we had the opportunity to discuss our trip. We went to Ethiopia to bring home our daughter, but there were a couple other children that we would have happily brought home. Bisrat was one of them. We did not know at the time that he had siblings. Honestly, it never occurred to us to ask. I am SOOOO grateful that God had a plan for Bisrat and his siblings. We fell in love with him, but that was as intercessors. I have prayed for him daily since April. Oh the joy when I found out that he, and his siblings, had a family this past week. I am absolutely thrilled. Praise God!!!

Please keep this family in your prayers. Even though I have never met most of them, they are precious to me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Counting My Blessings

As I cruised the web today, I have came across lots of reminders of the upcoming holidays. I'm not quite ready to face the fact that Christmas is only a month away, but Thanksgiving is tomorrow, whether I'm ready or not. So that got me to thinking. What am I thankful for? This has been a year of extreme blessing (Grace came home from Ethiopia) and some pretty tough times too (finances, stuff with some of the kids). So, what is it that I appreciate beyond the extremes? It took a little time to come up with this, but here it is...

1. We all woke up today.
2. We're all healthy.
3. We have food to eat and clean water to drink.
4. We have a much nicer, and larger house than we really need.
5. My children get an education at good schools.
6. We have access to pretty much any healthcare we need, at very little cost to us.
7. I can turn on my a/c or heat if the temperature is uncomfortable to me.
8. I can go through the drive thru at McDonald's if I have a busy day, or just don't feel like cooking.
9. My family and I all have plenty of clothes to wear.
10. I have a washer and dryer, right in my house, to keep all those clothes clean.
11. I was able to carve enough time out of the last couple days to get All. The. Laundry. DONE.
12. I will have the opportunity to sit down with family tomorrow to enjoy a wonderful meal (most of which will not be prepared by me).
13. Barring any emergencies, I won't be doing laundry tomorrow...YIPPEE!!!!!

Empty laundry hampers...a rare sight with a family of 7

She's 12

My oldest daughter turned 12 this past week. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. Have I really been a Mom for THAT long?! I remember the day she was born very clearly. I was so excited to be a Mom, but now I know, I was hardly more than a child myself. Kayla has not always been the easiest kid to parent. As a baby, she required every ounce of my attention. She was a happy kid, as long as she was the center of my universe. A lot of chores were left undone, but I learned to relish the experience of being her Mom. Even now, her will is strong, but that will serve her well. It just means I have to seek out lots of guidance and wisdom as she reaches each new stage. She is growing into a beautiful, bright young lady. She is excelling in school, and her maturity and compassion for others increase everyday. I can defintely say that I am proud to be her Mom.

Happy 12th Birthday Kayla!

Deep Conditioning

Grace's hair has really started to grow a lot lately. She has the cutest little curls. Unfortunately, this has not been a universal phenomenon. The front/top is shorter than the back and sides, and there is this funny strip around the back that has little more than peach fuzz on it. What the heck?! Well, in the interest of keeping the hair she's got looking the best it can, I decided to use a deep conditioner today.It left her hair feeling super soft, and the curls were nice and easy to comb through. I'm not sure I found the final solution by any means, but it took care of business today. Grace really enjoyed her bath in the kitchen sink too. 8^) She usually bathes in her baby bathtub in the master bathroom. She was totally fascinated by the big faucet, the bottle brush and even the dirty dishes on the other side of the sink (oops). I was worried that she might be bothered by the sprayer, or that she might get soap in her eyes since this wasn't "baby" conditioner. In the end, it all turned out just fine. The price we girls pay for beauty!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Too Much Fun!!

This is one of Grace's FAVORITE toys!

She loves to bring it up to one of her "big people" to have them push the right buttons. Unlike many toys that play music or make noise, it is fairly kind to the ears. It even has a switch inside the padding that can be switched to "off"; just in case the need to feign dead batteries arises so a little peace and quiet can be achieved. 8^) This toy counts, sings little diddys about colors, and even teaches about classical composers. That's right folks...Mozart, Chopin, Bach, etc. No dumbing down the babies (and their parents), with this toy. Grace's favorite setting is the "Musical Medley". It plays a sampling of all the different composers one right after another, without having to push any more buttons. It makes her feel like dancing every time. If I time it just right, that can buy me enough time for a quick trip to the potty without company. I like this toy too!!

TheLeapfrog Baby Counting Pal can be attached to the crib rail, the front of the stoller, or just played with on the floor. Although, the best use that we have found so far is lullaby singer....

Perhaps, The Most Patient Dog Ever...

What should a baby do after she locks the dog in the kennel, then splashes all the water out of the water bowl?

Share her water, of course!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Groundbreaking for King Memorial

I came across this article this morning as I was catching up on the daily news. There was plenty of the usual gloom and doom, but this article made me smile. It's about time!!

MLK-I Have a Dream

WASHINGTON (Nov. 13) - President Bush, appearing at a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for a memorial honoring slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said the National Mall monument will "preserve his legacy for ages."

Under overcast skies, Bush joined former President Clinton and a host of civil rights figures and members of Congress to celebrate the monument to be built not far from where King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech in August of 1963.

"When Martin Luther King came to Washington in December of 1963," Bush said, "he came to hold this nation to its own standards. ... He stood not far from here ... with thousands gathered around him. His dream spread a message of hope."

"An assassin's bullet could not shatter his dream," Bush said. "As we break ground, we give Martin Luther King his rightful place among the many Americans honored on the National Mall. It will unite the men who declared the promise of America and defended the promise of America with the man who redeemed the promise of America."

The memorial, to be built roughly a half-mile from the Lincoln Memorial, where King gave his historic speech, will be the first to honor an African American on the Mall.

Among those present for the ceremony were poet and novelist Maya Angelou, television personality Oprah Winfrey and the Rev. Jesse Jackson and several members of Congress.

Donations for the memorial, which have mostly come from major corporations, hit $65.5 million earlier this month.

Harry Johnson, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, said he hopes to have the site completed by the spring of 2008.

The location is flanked by the Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt memorials near the eastern edge of the Potomac River Tidal Basin. From a distance, visitors can see the stairs where King delivered his most famous speech during the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.

The entrance to the memorial will include a central sculpture called "The Mountain of Despair." Its towering split rocks signify the divided America that inspired the nonviolent efforts of King and others to overcome racial and social barriers.

"This project has been over a decade in the making," Bush said, thanking Clinton, who signed the legislation authorizing the monument.

11/13/2006 11:28:34 EST

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Park

Grace was feeling a tad under the weather this morning (she vomited twice in the previous 18 hours, and had a seriously runny nose), so we decided that church was not an option. The trouble was, everyone was up and ready for the day, and Justin's favorite part about church is the chance to play on the playground. He was heart broken at the thought of missing out on that. Will came up with a great solution to the problem. We went to the park. It was pretty much empty, so Grace wouldn't have the opportunity to share her germs. And...Justin, and all the other kids, had the opportunity to work off some extra energy. All in all, it was a pretty great morning!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Hero

In honor of Veterans' Day....

Viet Nam

KLIK - Lai Khe, RVN - 1967-68

Thank you, Daddy!!! I love you!!!!!!!!

Magic? Maybe Not

To learn more about what happened to this sweet boy's face, go visit Kerflop's blog. These injuries were caused by a Scotch-Brite(TM) Easy Erasing Pad, which is pretty much identical in its' chemical make-up to the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Pad.

I don't know about all of you, but I have had these products around at my house pretty much since they first came out. I have never hesitated to let my children use them. In fact, my 10 year old asks to use them on a regular basis. He's a bit of a neat-nik. 8^) Anyway, my biggest concern is the lack of warning or concern for public safety that has been shown by these companies. The boxes had no warning at the time of Kerflop's purchase, except "Do not ingest" (Um, can I get a great big DUH?!). This follow up post breaks down the reason that this burn, and many others, happened. I am pleased to see that the Mr. Clean company responded by adding appropriate warnings to their product's containers, but the 3M corporation continues to refuse to take this simple action, or accept any responsibility for the numerous injuries that have been caused by their product.

Shame on you 3M!!!

As for my future, personal use of this type of product....

We will not be buying the 3M product again...Ever!!! I will continue to use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Pads, but I will proceed with caution. I will wear gloves. I will not allow any younger children to use them. I have shared this information with my older kids, and will only allow them to use the product with gloves and under the direct supervision of an adult.

Consumer (and parents) beware!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Door Mat

Earlier today, my 4 year old went running by with the doormat that normally sits inside our back door, rolled up on his shoulder. I thought it was a little strange, but as a Mom of 5 kids, only blood or screams that sound like severe injury get my immediate attention most of the time.

A little while later, he came up to me and said, "Apparently, you didn't notice that I removed the Naughty Spot."

Yep! That rug by the back door is where he gets to serve his time when he has a naughty moment. Too bad for him that the rug was not the important part. 8^)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Baby in a Basket

Most of the toys at our house are kept up in the loft, aka "Kidland". Since Grace isn't allowed upstairs (see here), we keep her toys in a basket in the family room. They're easy for her to get to, and easy to put away when she's done. Today, she found a new use for the basket....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Wonderful News!!

Remember this? 8^(

Well, I am SOOOOOOO excited to say that there is much happier news on the White famiy's blog today!! Stop by and show them some love, OK?!!

Our Other SUV

When Grace came home back in April, I realized that Justin (then 3 years old) was not quite ready to be a BIG BOY. He had become fairly independent for a few months before she arrived, but regressed some when he lost his spot as the baby. He wanted nothing to do with riding in a stroller or shopping cart. That was for babies! Within days of Grace's homecoming, he suddenly seemed to have "tired legs and feet" just about every time we went somewhere. Since Grace wasn't a big fan of the hip carrier we bought, that meant we had to carry her, so Justin could ride. All was well if Will and I were taking the kids out together, but if I had to go somewhere by myself. Forget. About. It.

We realized it was time to go stroller shopping. I had a double stroller a few years back when I had to babies 20 months apart. It was a lifesaver. This time, however, I didn't have two babies. I had a tiny kiddo and a preschooler (he weighed about 45 pounds). That combination just doesn't work with most double strollers. For a while, I wasn't sure we were going to find something that would really meet our needs. Until I saw this....

It is the SUV of strollers!! I'll admit it is HUGE and a little impractical to store, but it works perfectly for us. Justin can switch from "tired legs" to independent and back again, and I hardly miss a step.

My favorite thing is that my big kids LOVE to take the little ones out for walks, and with this stroller, then can. The way I see it, anything that gives a Mom a little alone time now and then, is worth it's weight in gold.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Game called....

...on account of exhaustion.

4 Year Old Funnies

Said by Justin, as he sat poised to dive into his dinner before heading out to the Harvest Festival on Halloween night:

Pray fast, Dad! I don't think my burrito can wait much longer!!

What is Our Title?


A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself. "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job or are you just a......?" "Of course I have a job," snapped the woman. "I'm a Mom." "We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation, 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically. I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar." "What is your occupation?" she probed. What made me say it? I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations." The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written, in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire. "Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?" Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, I have a continuing program of research, [what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (first the Lord and then the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money." There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up and personally ushered me to the door. As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mom." Motherhood! What a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door. Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations" and great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates"? I think so!!! I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants".

The Great Debate

It's funny; last night when I was writing the post about Halloween, I specifically told my husband that I was trying to be kind of vague about the whole "debate" thing. I don't think I did a very good job. The truth is, we feel very unsure of exactly where we stand on the issue. We both grew up dressing up every year and going trick-or-treating. It was lots of fun, and neither one of us grew up to be mass murderers or Satan worshipers. For the first few years of raising kids, we (separately and together) allowed them to dress up and participate in Halloween activities. We have tried trick-or-treating with the kids, but due to the aggressive, scary attitudes at some homes, we have always fallen back on the church sponsored Harvest Festivals. That has been LOTS of fun, and the kids ended up with more candy anyway. Let's be honest, where the kids are concerned, it's mostly about the candy! It has been time consuming, but I have always taken great joy in making costumes for the kids. I like the challenge of finding a positive theme, and figuring out how to fit all the kids in. My favorite costume ever was my oldest daughter as a geisha. She even got to wear chopsticks in her hair that were really from Japan. That is sweet stuff. I have REALLY missed that for the last couple years.

I don't believe that there is any harm in carving a pumpkin. Especially when this is the design...


I have never done this before, but I feel the need to respond to the people that left comments on my Halloween post. The truth is, I agree with all of you to some extent.

Brianna said…

We did Halloween this year and I think we will continue to in the future. My kids loved wearing their costumes (ladybug, frog and bumblebee), decorating (and eating!) Halloween cookies, and going to two harvest festivals. Eventually I look forward to trick-or-treating with them.Yesterday Kevin and I were talking about the whole issue and both felt that whatever roots the day may have, it is now a cultural tradition and much of it is very innocent (though certainly not all of it.) Plus many other holidays have some roots in or connection to paganism, even Christmas and some of those traditions. Even doing a harvest festival instead where kids dress up on October 31st and get candy, to me is still "celebrating" Halloween since it's everything about Halloween except the name.Whew, there's my take on the great Halloween debate! I'm glad you guys all had a great time!!

I was just talking to one of my best girlfriends on the phone this morning, and I made this exact point to her. We absolutely are celebrating Halloween when we attend a Harvest Festival at a church. I believe Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name, is still a rose." We have always enjoyed the games and fun to be had at the church. I see no harm in it at all.

However, as expressed by DeAnna, Darci and Julie, cultural or not, the Halloween tradition has gotten out of hand. It has taken on a decidedly evil look and attitude.

DeAnna said…

…she had a white dress on with an apron that had "blood" on the front and was carrying a fake chain saw -- WHATTTTT? at 8 or 9? The same little girl that just a few months ago was pushing her little doll in a baby stroller and wanted to come by and play with Isabella?!”

Darci said…

"… when I was walking and seeing so many 'evil sights'..costumes, decorations, yards made to look like spooky cemeteries..”

Julie said…

“I must say I shudder when I open the door on Halloween night and there stands before me a child dressed as a demonic creature. I toss them a few pieces of candy and hope they leave my front porch fast!”

I know that we are called to be set apart as Christians. Just because the "world" does things in a certain way, does not mean that it is OK for us to join in. Sometimes, it is even a sacrifice.

1 Peter 3:14-16

My friends, I don't have the answer to this dilemma yet either. It is a tough one. So, until next year.....

Straight from the President....

presidential seal

National Adoption Month, 2006

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

During National Adoption Month, we encourage the adoption of young people in need, and we honor the adoptive and foster families who have offered children a loving and supportive home.

The best of America is reflected in the many citizens who have adopted children as their own. Mothers and fathers are the most important influences in a child's life, and children with caring, involved parents can better realize the full promise of America. Parents help their children thrive by encouraging them to aim high, work hard, and make good choices that will lead to healthy, satisfying lives. On November 18, loving families across America will celebrate National Adoption Day by finalizing their adoptions of children from foster care. This day will also raise awareness of the many children still waiting to be adopted and encourage more Americans to choose adoption.

My Administration is committed to helping place children with caring families. Through the Collaboration to AdoptUsKids project at, we are working to provide guidance and support for parents considering adoption. We are also offering tax credits to ease the financial burden on adoptive families, and we are providing funding to help strengthen State adoption services through the Adoption Incentives Program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program. Together, these efforts can help connect children with loving families and help provide greater hope and opportunity for America's children.

During National Adoption Month, we pay tribute to the parents who have opened their hearts and homes and helped provide love and stability for young people. By caring for the youngest members of our society, these families are helping our children grow into successful adults and building the future of our country.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2006 as National Adoption Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor adoptive families and to participate in efforts to find permanent homes for waiting children.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.