"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Thursday, September 30, 2010

4 Months on my Hip

One Less by Matthew West (The Story Behind The Song) from emicmg on Vimeo.

4 months ago today my son discovered that the white woman pictured above his bed really did exist. His momma had finally come for him. As you all know that moment alone did not cure his broken heart, but it was a beautiful start.

***I sometimes skip videos because I am just too busy, but take a minute to scroll back up to this one. It is powerful. (Thanks Nancy for letting me know about this song. I love how it portrays so many things... adoption, orphan and widow care, and our own adoption by Christ all in one powerful punch.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Garage Sale

I have spent a bit of time this week pricing things and cleaning my garage. Saturday I plan to have my first ever garage sale. I usually donate all my extra stuff, it is simple... and tax deductible! But since the Haiti earthquake our homestudy agency has begun supporting an orphanage that was badly damaged, so I decided to try a garage sale and send the proceeds to the orphanage. I also asked a few friends for donations to add to my stash and my garage is filling up.

So if you are not busy Saturday between 8:30 and 3:00 stop by and take a peak!

Funny how as my kids help unpack someone else's stuff there is ALWAYS something they have to have! You better come early or my kids will buy all the good stuff!

You can read more about the orphanage these funds will go to and the children that need ND and MN families to claim them as their children at either of these two links.


Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Called him his "naughty name!"

This afternoon/evening was crazy!

I woke Joshua up from his nap at 2:45 to pick up the younger girls from school.
We went to watch Sierra run cross country. (She did super, placing 12th!)
We went to the grocery store to pick up snacks for teachers appreciation at the middle school tomorrow.
We went to another store for ring pops. (I promised Brenna...)
We dropped supper off for Jamison.
I made supper.
We went to watch Jamison play football - more kid chasing than normal, thought the ring pops that I went to 2 stores to find would help... not =)
Game started later than scheduled so finally got home with all 5 kids at 7:45 - bedtime is supposed to be 8 for the younger 2.
Helped Krissy with geometry while I rushed Joshua and Brenna through bath.
Did Brenna's homework and more geometry, heard Jamison's game highlights, and visited with Joshua during snack.

So in the mix of of 4 kids talking to me Joshua asks for a granola bar. I say, "Sure you can have a bar once you eat your apples." (the snack he chose first) I go on to help Krissy with geometry, something I am NOT good at. This is usually Chad's job but Chad is out of town for the week.

I glance up and Joshua is climbing out of his booster seat to reach for the granola bar he wants... before his apples are gone. Momma says, "Joshua Gebeyehu Chad D. NO! You need to eat your apples before you can have a granola bar."

The I hold my breath. Because although I did not yell, I certainly used a firm voice... and I am remembering back...

When Joshua first came home everything, even "no" had to be said in a very loving almost sing-song voice. He was so insecure that any amount of frusteration caused him to retreat. About a month after Joshua came home we had one very rushed morning. I needed to get Brenna to summer school and he was not wanting to be put down, even for a minute. It was a crazy, rush to get out the door and at one point I sighed, "Oh, Joshua" That is it... just a quiet sigh. Soon after that point he started to cry. He wept as I carried him to the car. He cried as I buckled him into his car seat. He did not say good-bye when we dropped off Brenna, he just cried some more.

After w dropped off Brenna, I told him (in my sing-song voice) that we were going to go for a run. Truly, I had HAD it! I decided that if he was going to cry all morning, I better go for a run so I would be in a better place to tolerate it!

I stopped the vehicle near a running trail and when I did a quiet voice in the backseat said, "Joshua too?"

My heart nearly broke because in that moment I understood his tears. He was not mad or sad because he had to do a bunch of stuff he did not want to do. He was terrified because I had been frusterated with him. He had felt my rushed, tense body and heard my sigh. What would I do next, his little mind and heart wondered.

So I opened my door and scooped him out of his carseat with a big, tight hug. I asked him to look in my eyes and I told him, "Yes! Joshua too! Joshua and Momma! Momma loves you Joshua!"

Only then did I feel him relax. He gave me a great big hug back, looked into my eyes and giggled. We went for a "stroller bike run" , played at the park, and eventually returned home happier!

So tonight when I called him by his "naughty name" (That is what my kids call it when I scold them with their whole name.) I help my breath. I have never done that before with him. Was he going to be OK? Or did I just blow it?

I was instantly irritated with myself because I really did not have the energy to repair any damage I might have caused to his heart. Plus reaching for a granola bar is really not THAT bad, I was just tired and doing too many things at the same time. Meanwhile the other side of my brain consoled me that it was not a big deal. I said his whole name, but it was not like I screamed at him. I would certainly have said the same thing to the older kids and have thought nothing of it. He had been told no, he did not obey, another verbal reminder was appropriate.

(Isn't it amazing how many thoughts can go through a woman's brain in a second and a half?)

So what happened... drum roll please...

He sat down and pouted.

I watched very intently, under the pretense of geometry homework, while he thought through the interaction - with his thumb in his mouth.

After a bit, he ate his apples.

The I cheerfully asked if he wanted the granola bar since he did such a super job eating his apples.

He grinned and answered, "Bar please!"

Then I put him to bed much later than usual but without a hitch.

Thank you God for the beautiful way you are knitting my family together. Only you could do this. Thank you for the confidence I see forming in my son. Thank you that you have created each of us with a spirit of sonship - not a spirit of fear. Grow us closer to you and closer to eachother day by day. Continue to knit our hearts together with eachother and more importantly knit each of our hearts with yours. You never stop amazing me, Lord. Your love and grace truly are enough. Thank you.

P.S. God please heal Jamison's battered and bruised neck. He is a hurting unit after today's game. Please, Lord, remove his pain, bruising, and stiffness.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Did you know...

they make mah tah mah tah clothes with SHOES?!?

I do not know who was more excited when Joshua chose footie-jammies, momma or Joshua! I love to snuggle a little one in footie-jammies! He was so excited to find pajamas with cars and shoes his two favorite things. He insisted we put them on as soon as we got home from the store... at 10 AM. (He did not have to twist my arm.)

They work great for sleeping, too!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I love my church. I was raised in it, married in it, and I have had my children baptized in it. I am thankful for the love, support, encouragement, and prayers of many, many of the members. However church has been the hardest place to bring Joshua since he came home.

What???? Why???

Because going to church combines SO many different skills:
  • You are a member of a big group. Big groups were intimidating to Joshua at first.
  • While it is a big group, it functions different than all the other big groups Joshua has been to. At church you are "supposed to" be friendly and greet eachother. That is super... but for a little guy who is trying to figure out relationships and master a new language, it is also very confusing!
  • This was made worse because Joshua's momma has a big mouth and talked about him a lot before he came home. So, many people at my warm friendly church feel and thus act like they know him. He gets totally confused when someone he has never met calls him by name and treats him with familiarity. His memory is truly remarkable and when he is greeted by name by a person he has not been introduced to by me he gets uncomfortable.
  • The rules at church are a bit odd... be quiet, sit with momma, but stand up and sing sometimes... and the order changes every time you go to church. Precise routines work best for Joshua.

We have eased into the church routine. We are always poor church attenders in the summer because we camp so often, but we did make it a couple times. Joshua and I would sneak in late and leave early to avoid too many social interactions because they just stressed him out.

This fall we have become regular attenders and have been arriving and leaving on time. The last two weeks I have wondered how long it would take my son to feel comfortable at church. Last week he was so overwhelmed (not freaked out - just trying to take everything in) by everything going on (and by the toys in the cool bags that our church has for kids to play with during the service) that he did not notice his Grandparents were sitting right behind us. When we walked Brenna to kids church in the middle of the service and I pointed out that his Grandma was walking right behind us he gave her a surprised and relieved kiss. Finally someone that he recognized was talking to him!

I will be honest and say I was not looking forward to church this morning. I spent the drive to church confessing to God that I was going because I knew it was the right thing to do, but in my head I just wanted to skip!

And you know what? Today was the day I felt my boy relax a whole bunch. We sat down and he took out his toys and played. He totally ignored a few people who came to meet him and I hope it didn't hurt anyone's feelings! I did not interrupt his play to make introductions because sitting on the floor playing with toys is what 2-year-old boys do. He did ask to be held and snuggled in to suck his thumb, just because snuggling feels good- not because he was feeling shy or overwhelmed. I love to snuggle this boy and I am grateful he comes to me when he needs a safe place to hide, but I am so thankful that church finally felt safe.

***On a side note, while this transition to going to church has been extra hard for Joshua, it has made me really think about how hard it would be to start going to church as a family. While it was new to Joshua, it was not new to the rest of us. We were comfortable and knew how things worked. Even so, feeling it be difficult for him made skipping a huge temptation. Afterall, why put us all through it? It is a lot of work and really couldn't we just have a relaxing morning at home? It is not like I get much out of church with Joshua wiggling and asking questions constantly.

If you are in that spot, I would really like to encourage you to hang in there! It will get easier and God will bless your faithfulness. Interestingly (or not) this is the verse our pastor preached about today. It is about the blessings future generations receive for our present faithfulness.

"You shall not bow down and worship them;

for I, the Lord your God,

am a jealous God,

punishing the children for the sins of the fathers

to the third and fourth generations of those

who hate me, but

showing loving kindness to a thousand

generations of those who love me and keep

my commandments."

Deuteronomy 5:9-10

I know that is a hard verse and we could discuss it a lot! It holds a harsh warning. It bears an even more ginormous blessing. I want to do my serve the Lord, and it is SO hard sometimes. So many things get in the way. I am often tempted to bow down and worship my own desires when I am called to serve. How cool is it that God promises to reward the people most dear to me for a thousand generations when I choose to obey him?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Way To Go #58!

Jamison played his best football game yet today!

This is my sweet, kind son, tackling a member of the opposing team to the ground with great force, strength, and enthusiasm!

This is my other sweet son, being 2!

Brenna is more into the concession stand than the game... she just might get that from her godmother!

Joshua asked me to take this picture. He snuck this ring pop from Krissy's purse. Fortunately she thought it was funny!

The kids were under a blanket because the sun was too hot on their dark jeans. It was our lucky day to be HOT at a football game way up north.

Mommy and the wiggle worm. He was actually very good. I am always so proud of how well he sits.

Now... back to the game!
Jamison is the first green guy. He played every single play of the whole game!

That is him pushing the black guy with the purple shirt tail. He was BIG and Jay did not back down a bit.
Jay is keeping #26 from getting to the ball carrier. (I really should let Jamison write the play by play! He always patiently laughs at my attempts.)

And once again the tackle I managed to catch on film. It was so super I chose to post it twice.

I know I sound like a crazy bragging momma, and I am. I am so totally proud and excited watching Jamison play this year. Not just because he is playing so well, but because he is playing with confidence. He has totally improved in the last year, but what shines through most is that he is so much more sure of himself. He runs hard, having fully realized how fast he can be. He hits hard, never backing down. He does a super job of predicting where the ball will be and what is the best path to get to it.

The first block Jamison made in this game he was ALL OVER his BIG opponent. He was totally in his face! The pushing did not stop quite as fast as I thought might be "appropriate." And I had to smile! My son has learned how to be aggressive! I laughed and elbowed Chad telling him that I have not seen my laid-back boy that aggressive since he threw all his toys AND his bed down the steps during a tantrum when he was three!

So Jay, I am proud of you! You did a super job today. Not only did you play football well and with a surprising amount of aggression, you played with your little brother with such kindness and patience. You are growing into an amazing, smart, multi-talented young man, and I am so glad that God chose me to be your mom.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Time To Call in a Professional

We are having family pictures taken tomorrow. My kids want to know why we need to have professional family pictures taken when I am always taking pictures...

Let me present exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

And exhibit C.

This is the best picture I have captured of all 5 kids...

Yep, it it time to call in a professional!

Any guesses how many pictures I have uploaded to my computer since June 6?
1601 (and that does not include all the pictures we took while in Ethiopia...yikes!)

Of those pictures I decided 718 had to be printed and put into albums. That is a lot of pictures!

My favorite Joshua quote of the day "Mommy, 2 hands!"
I am always moving around and doing something, but sometimes Joshua wants mommy to just hold him and stop wiggling. When my constant activity starts to bug him, he tells me "Mommy, 2 hands!" and moves my "busy" hand around him. Can I have a collective Ahhhhh? Yep, you are right, he is so sweet!

****Lastly, I really would love to hear your thoughts, always, but especially in response to my balance post.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


One thing I have struggled with since I have really realized how lucky I am, how many conveniences I have, and how much money we have is balance. How much should I give, or in other words give up, so I can give more away?

Did you realize that almost half of the world's population, 2.1 billion people, live on less than $2 a day? Of these people, 880 million live on less than $1 per day.

Today I went to Walmart to buy groceries and stuff. I spent about $200.00. The groceries I bought will feed my family breakfast, snacks, and supper for about 7 days. I also bought Joshua a new shirt and one for me, some cleaning products, a few office supplies, a decorative candle, and some make-up. Pretty cheap by "our" standards.

But as I get home and put things away, I start to doubt my purchases. The clothes and the candle were certainly not necessary. Joshua and I would not have gone naked without them. A candle?! All it does is make my house smell pretty. Sure I enjoy that, but that $5 is more than many people in the world have to live on for the whole day.

This dilemma about balance is fresh in my mind because of a discussion my family had over the weekend. Sierra was thinking about what to get me for my birthday - it is not until December, but Sierra is a planner. (Plus she knows I LOVE my birthday!) Anyway she told me she wanted to get me a day at the spa for my birthday. I said I did not want a day at the spa, I wanted cash so I could sponsor another child. Chad did not like that idea. He said, very kindly and lovingly, that sometimes it is OK to just be spoiled.

I struggle with that because in so many ways I am totally spoiled every day. I have all the clean water I could ever want. I have lights and heat and air conditioning. I have a freezer full of meat and a pantry full of food. I have a dishwasher, a clothes washer, and a dryer. My life is EASY.

I also understand that it gives my family pleasure to spoil me. My goal is not to constantly be nagging everyone about how good we have it. My goal is not to be so focused on the plight of others that I can not enjoy my own life.

However I have seen malnourished children, and I am more haunted by the vacant, lifeless look in their eyes than in their tiny size. I watched women hunched over cutting the grass with shears or their bare hands. I have witnessed a young mother and her tiny baby silently begging outside my taxi window. I have seen women hunched over washing laundry by hand for hours. Those are powerful images.

I do not want to ignore the beauty and possibilities all around me, yet there is so much beauty in sacrificial giving as well...

Balance... it is hard. Have any thoughts for me?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Play has been central to so much of Joshua's homecoming. It has served the regular old purpose of keeping a toddler busy, but it has also done so much more.

I have played for hours with Joshua. Playing and fun have helped us to bond. Our favorite thing to play is hide and seek. He loves when I hide from him. I sing, "where o where o where is momma" so that he can easily find me and he giggles and giggles as he gets closer to me. Then when he can see me, he turns and runs knowing I will catch him and give him big hugs. "More!" is almost always his response.

It has been really helpful for him to realize that mommy is FUN! Especially because Mommy is also the one who makes and enforces most of the rules. Because our connection was fragile in the beginning, I would make sure to spend some time playing, snuggling, chasing, and giggling with him after every episode of sadness. Reconnecting after "mommy caused sadness" also knows as discipline was HUGE in developing his trust in our relationship. Playing after holding him through an episode of grief related sadness was equally important. (It was important that this type of play time was just Joshua and Mommy, so that we could bond without distraction.)

Play has also helped him understand his world and face some fears. When going to sleep was so hard, he would ask to play mah tah mah tah, many times a day. This recurring theme in his play helped him practice going to bed in a fun, non-threatening way. Slowly going to bed for real got much easier and his request to play mah tah mah tah became less frequent.

Most recently he loves to play farm. My Joshua is not an animal lover. He puts up with the dog now. He is not a bit scared of him anymore, in fact pushing Riley into his spot at the top of the stairs, is one of his favorite activities. But it is not done in love. He just really likes to be able to tell someone what to do! Poor Riley! Life is not the same around here anymore!

Joshua has become fascinated with his farm set because he has been to Grandpa's ranch several times. He has seen the horses, cats, and dog. He handles it well, but it also scares him some. He pushes himself to be near the horses because Brenna loves them. He touches the kitties because Brenna and Sierra think they are great - but his heart races as he does it. He puts on a good show, not crying or even flinching much. However put your hand over his chest and you will feel his racing heart.

So in order to think through how to be at a farm, he has been playing farm every morning. He likes to drive the tractor and feed the animals. We practice opening and closing the gate. That is fun. He plays with the horses the most. Today he asked if he could lead the horses (he saw Brenna lead Grandpa's horse on Saturday) and he gave me the biggest grin when I told him I thought it would be safer if he waited until he was bigger. He truly amazes me ... and cracks me up! He did not want to lead the horse, but if he was "supposed to" he was going to start practicing with a little one.

Here he is, playing away.

***His farm play is quite realistic. The most memorable part of Grandpa's house last weekend was watching a horse go to the bathroom as we drove off the yard. Joshua could not believe his eyes. He yelled, "Momma, horsey shinty!" I respond, "Yes Joshua, horses have to go potty too." He tells me, "Yucky! Momma horsey shinty G-ross!" So yesterday morning all that happened on his ranch (other than driving the tractor) was the horsey going shinty.

I have really missed 2-year-olds!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Before I get to fingerpainting... I have a couple updates for you.

The older kids told me that I MUST post about Joshua's ability to speak and understand English. They said, "Everyone is always asking us if he can even understand English and it is getting really annoying, would you please post about it!" (I think I mentioned yesterday they are honest.)

So I tell you Joshua is speaking full sentences. His vocabulary is vast. He is constantly asking, "What's that?" He remembers almost every word we give him. Here are some examples:
  • Mommy drives an SUV.
  • Daddy has a jeep.
  • He also recognizes vans, cars, trailers, skidsteers, backhoes, firetrucks, garbage trucks, mail trucks, school buses, etc... He is moving onn to knowing what the parts of a car are names ie tires, wheels, exhaust pipe. Yep, he is detailed!
  • He knows all the parts of his body by name.
  • He knows what almost every animal "says"
  • He is working on colors - he identifies colors with objects. So when asked what color a yellow object is, he responds, "Krissy's yellow car" or "red like firetruck"
  • He repeats un-toddler-like phrases in conversation all the time. Like when asked if he wants more he has been known to respond, "No more, Joshua enough." When asked if he wanted to do something he responded, "maybe sometime."
  • The ONLY words/phrases he still uses in Amharic are shinty/kaka (potty/poop), mah tah mah tah (night night) coach a bell (sit down) and hi ya toot (look at me). In all cases he also knows and sometimes uses the American words. In fact today he yelled, "Mommy, Joshua potty" for the first time and I was almost sad to hear one more native word crossed off his list.
  • He does talk about himself in the third person all the time, referring to himself as Joshua never "me, mine, or I." Today we practiced "I did it!" instead of "Joshua help you."
  • He is also sometimes hard to understand, but he is very patient and will repeat or gesture to make sure you get the point.

OK, onto what you really want... pictures. Messy pictures of Joshua's first painting experience. (I LOVE to paint with kids so this was VERY fun for me!)

He was NOT such a fan of fingerpaint at first. Can't you just feel his thought of "yucky?"

He started painting with just the very tip of his finger. He is not a fan of messy.

He slowly got a little less timid.

By the end he was digging in all by himself!

I call this a VICTORY PHOTO! See my son proudly wearing his blanket as a cape?

What is so super about that?

He used to freak at the thought of a cozy blanket, and now it is a source of comfort AND imaginary play. In the last week he has used his blanket as a cape, a horsey blanket, a place to hide, a snuggly comfort on Mommy's lap and as a lovey while he continues to fall asleep by himself!

He will never know how hard I worked for him to feel this comfortable with a simple blanket and that makes me smile.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My New Favorite T-shirt

I am a sucker for adoption fund raising t-shirts. For me they are perfect, I get a new shirt without having to go to a store (I am not much of a shopper) AND the money goes to help bring children into families.

I have to show you my new favorite, because I think it is just so well done.

Cute, right?

Here is what it says:
We witness a miracle
every time a child
enters into life, but those
who make their journey
home across time
and miles, growing within the
hearts of those who love
them, are carried on the
wings of destiny and
placed among us by
God's very own hands.

Is that not beautiful?

Joshua likes to point to all the animals and tell me their names. He does NOT like it when I explain that the outline is Africa, where Joshua was born. To that he tells me, "Joshua NO AFRICA! Joshua - mommy, daddy's Joshua's house!"

I did decide this morning that I am either going to have force myself to go shopping or someone out there is going to have to start selling sweatshirts. My fall/winter wardrobe is pretty much non-existent. My girls have told me "it is time!" Oh, yes the wonderful (not) honesty of one's children.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


These are the girls we met when we visited Children's Heaven in June.

Wouldn't you just LOVE to buy a Christmas gift for her?
How about her?
Or maybe her?
You can!

Christmas (or Gena in Amharic) is celebrated on January 7. Most children will not get Christmas gifts, but you could ensure that one or two or five do.

Here is how:

Gena Giving Project - 130 backpacks to children in Ethiopia from Ethiopian Orphan Relief, Inc. on Vimeo.

You can email kim@ethiopianorphanrelief.org to request a child - girl or boy. She will send you a child's initials, gender, and age. Then you get to go shopping!

Or you can leaving the shopping up to her and just sent a $15 check. Did you get that? $15 to give a child what may be her first Christmas gift ever!

My kids and I will be shopping for D.A a 6 year old boy sponsored by FOVC (Friends of Vulnerable Children), B.A. (maybe DA's brother???) an 8 year old boy also sponsored by FOVC, a 9 year old girl M.T. sponsored by Children's Heaven, a 13 year old girl A.T. sponsored by Children's Heaven, and a 16 year old girl A.A.G sponsored by Children's Heaven. We will also be sending them a personal card/letter with our prayers and wishes for them.

If you include your address, they will send you a photo of the kids receiving their gifts. I love that because it becomes personal all the way around - they will see us and we will see them. So cool!

If you would like more information about this project email Kim, myself, or check out


to learn more.

Does this not sound more exciting than buying gifts for friends and family members that already have everything they need and you have to wrack your brain to think of something... anything to buy them? It sure does to me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Without a doubt the toughest parenting decisions we have had to make since Joshua Gebeyehu came home were in regards to sleep. I have absolutely down-played how totally difficult falling asleep was for Joshua at first. All day long, he would "hang-in-there" emotionally. Even when afraid or overstimulated he would keep it together. He rarely let his fear, grief, and uncertainty show. But when it was bedtime or nap time and his body was forced to slow down, he let it all hang out.

At first he cried at the thought of bedtime. When we would go toward his bedroom, he would cling to me and wail one minute then change his mind and push me away while screaming the next. His cry was not one of temper, but of trauma and fear and grief. He would fight sleep with all he had, crying twisting, turning, refusing to relax even a bit. When he finally fell asleep - which on the worst of nights could be up to 2.5 hours after we started - I would have to ever so carefully settle him in his bed and slowly peel myself away from him inch by inch. It was intense. It was heart-breaking. It was also healing.

Now, I realize I could have just let him cry it out. I am positive the nannies at the care center did not walk, rock, and sing to this boy. But, holding him through these storms was one of the first ways I could communicate that a Momma is different than a nanny. I would not leave him. Not when he threw a monster fit. Not when he pushed me away. His Momma would be there to hold him through his fear and grief, just like I was there tickle and play when he was happy and charming.

Now, I am no push-over. Mr. Joshua has not ruled this roost. He has been told no when necessary. He has cried and thrown fits because of those no's. At first his reaction to any type of discipline was one of total rejection. If I told him no, he cried for Krissy or his Daddy. I know this sounds normal, but it was not within the realm of normal. He cried for them because he was totally scared I had "rejected" him and he thought he had better find someone else to love him quickly. So while discipline had to happen at times, it had to be followed with one on one time with momma doing lots of fun things to rebuild his trust. (I am changing subjects and will post more about discipline another time.)

Discipline was tricky, but I was able to find a lot of resources about different techniques to discipline YET maintain a loving, nurturing relationship. Things like never putting him out of eyesight for time-outs. Working hard to avoid situations that would tempt behavior problems. Redirecting and distracting whenever possible. Those resources helped me feel more confident when I problems arose.

But I have not found many resources about how and when to encourage a newly adopted child to fall asleep on their own. So, I have prayed a lot and punted!

Because I have felt that Joshua's reaction to falling asleep was based in fear and trauma, I have been very careful to be patient, gentle, and nurturing. We have had a very consistent bedtime routine. This consists of bath, lotion massage, warm milk and snack, tell the older kids and Daddy mah tah mah tah (good night, one of his rare Amharic words), read a book, say prayers, and sing soft lullabies while rocking.

Slowly, Joshua began to stop resisting the idea of sleep. He accepted a blanket to snuggle. He would suck his thumb. He would head to his room willingly, but if he was not soundly asleep when I lay him in his crib he would wake with a start, cling to me, and scream! I would stay with him in his room until he was fast asleep, holding his hand or rubbing his head.

This nightly routine was exhausting. But, I felt it was really important that until I was confident that he felt safe and secure here that I not make him cry to sleep. I watched for confidence in his relationship with me during waking hours before I tested it at bedtime.

Some things that made me feel he was feeling more safe, secure, and attached were:
  • He was very comfortable with me leaving the room while he played.
  • When he was disciplined, he recovered quickly and without rejecting me.
  • He understood language well.
  • He woke from his nap without fear, but calling confidently for me.
  • He woke in the middle of the night, calling for me but not screaming in fear.
  • When he came to our bed he could sleep near me, but not wrapped around me.
  • He understood that the older kids fell asleep without momma.

Last week (after being with Joshua nearly 3.5 mo.) I forced him to fall asleep by himself when he woke right after I lay him in his crib. I was not completely confident that Joshua was ready, but I decided it was time to test it.

I told him that I loved him and he needed to go back to sleep. Momma would be in the kitchen and I would check on him. I left and he cried lay quietly at first. Then he realized that I was serious. He cried. He yelled for me. He begged me to hold him, hold his hand, stay near him. I was a wreck. But, I believe that parents have to follow through, so I followed through. I did listen carefully though because had the tone of his cry turned to the cry that I have learned signals deep insecurity, I most certainly would have grabbed him.

Finally, he fell asleep. I was not sure what he would be like in the morning. Would he give momma big hugs or push me away and run to Krissy. He woke up with a bug hug and a request for momma to "nuggle you more pleasie." And relief flowed through me. I snuggled with him and told him how proud I was that he fell asleep all by himself, just like Brenna. He giggled and we ran to tell all the big kids how wonderful he was!

That was 5 days ago and he is still doing super! We still follow a strict routine - bath, milk and snack, good-nights to family, read a book, say prayers, sing for 10 to 15 min, then lay him down. He cried a bit and/or called for me the first couple of nights. Tonight he grabbed my hand tight and made sure I would check on him, but there were no tears. He is doing so well and I am so very proud of him.

I do still let him come to bed with us in the middle of the night. I have decided to let that continue for another week or two, but he has slept until 6AM several nights which is morning around here. So, maybe that transition will take care of itself.

Most everything I have done in regards to sleep is by my instinct alone. I do not have references and resources to back me up. I only tell you all of this because I wish I had been able to find resources to tell me what to do and when. Rocking, singing and snuggling Joshua to sleep was hard. It tried my patience and cost me time with Chad and the older kids. But it was also very sweet. I could feel Joshua soaking in my love, learning my heartbeat, testing my love. And, oh how I love this sweet boy!

Tonight Joshua was tucked in by 8:22. Life is slowly creeping back to normal. What a wonderful feeling!

**I realize that this was long and detailed and most of you do not really care =) but I searched and searched for any type of sleep advice so hopefully this is helpful to someone.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Stellar Day

Today was a super day! That does not happen very often... especially on a Monday.

It began when Joshua woke me up to "nuggle" at 6:15 AM. He slept in HIS OWN BED until then!

We got everyone off to school with only minor drama.

Then my second favorite little boy in the world came to play.

It started like this.

Snacks! Always a great place to start.

Before I knew it, it looked a lot more like this!

Drew would gallop off in the lead and Joshua ran the fastest and hardest I have ever seen him run to keep up on his zebra. Then they would copy each other falling and laugh up a storm.

Then we played a little hide and chase... can you see them?
I had the best part in this game because when I caught them I got to hug them.
They ran really fast to get away, but I did not take it personally.

Then we moved the party outside. Joshua found this rocket thingy.

He was determined to make it work... but was not having a lot of luck... until

Drew came to the rescue! Yeah!! Drew!!! or "Good Jobbie me Drew" as Joshua said.

Joshua was making sure I saw that the rocket went a long way!

It would not be a super day with a lot of Joshua Gebeyehu kisses. Oh, oh is this boy sweet!

After a quick nap, we rushed Sierra to her first cross-country meet.
She showed Joshua how to stretch.

He loves to copy his kids. And they LOVE it!

And they are off! Sierra is on the far left in a bright pink shirt. The fifth grade girls run a half mile. They started off FAST!

Half-way through and working hard!

She did a super job! She was very proud of her 14th place ribbon.

Water... water... I need my water!

The final excitement of the day was supper. Since we got home late, I asked Chad if he would stop and pick up something. Taco John's "six pack and a pound" times 2 is a fairly economical way to feed our crew. But when he got to the window to pay, the stunned teller told him that our meal was paid for by the car in front of us. That driver left us this message, "Have a good week!" We have no idea who it was, but what a fun way to end the day! Thank you!

I have to wonder if they are KLOV listeners. I always hear them talk about "make a difference Monday" and have been touched by the simple stories of kindness. I suspect we have been the recipients of one such act. Either way it makes me want to plan ahead for next Monday!

Happy Monday friends! I hope you had a super day as well!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Melkem Addis Amet! (Happy New Year!)

Today, Sept. 11, 2010 on our calendar is New Year's Day in Ethiopia. The Amharic word for New Year's Day is Enkutatash.

Remember that the Ethiopian calendar is TOTALLY different than ours! Their calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind ours. So today's date is the first day of 2003 in Ethiopia.

Since traveling to Ethiopia I have not posted about their holidays and traditions because while in country I found that many of the things I thought I knew from on-line/book research were somewhat incorrect. (Things like popcorn being spicy, the popcorn we had was sprinkled with sugar!) But the truth is, the best source of information I have about Ethiopia is from books and the internet at this point. I have decided that even partially incorrect information is better than no knowledge.

So, here is what I have found about Enkutatash.

Enkatutash means "gift of jewels." It's orgin goes back to Biblical times. When Makeda, the Queen of Sheeba, returned to Ethiopia after her famous visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her with gifts of jewels or "enku."

Enkutatash is not just the celebration of the New Year, but it also celebrates the end of the rainy season - which lasts about 3 months. (We do not have weather to celebrate Jan. 1st way up north!) I can not imagine how yucky the rainy season is. When we were in Ethiopia there was a sudden downpour one afternoon. My mom and Krissy were out shopping at the market, and in just a few minutes of rain the mud was running. Krissy reported mud and water up over the top of her shoes. Imagine months of these rains, with the ground saturated, mud everywhere. In the city there is not a lot of pavement/sidewalks, in the villages there is none. Mud in and on everything, while having to haul water by the bucket to do your laundry and bathe your children. Talk about messy and yucky! Not to mention all the extra work it represents! The rainy season truly slows all of life. The courts in Addis Ababa close during the rainy season because with power being so unpredictable due to heavy rains, scheduling court appointments is pointless. (Courts are set to reopen Sept. 28 this year.)

At the end of the rainy season, the SUN comes out and the air is clean and fresh. The highlands burst into color as the beautiful and fragrant golden meskel daisies bloom everywhere. What a super reason to celebrate!

To celebrate, torches of dry leaves and wood bundled in the form of tall sticks are set on fire in front of houses while the young and old alike sing. Early in the morning everyone goes to church wearing the traditional clothing. After church there is a family meal of injera and wat. The girls goes house to house singing songs and the boys deliver pictures they have drawn. In the evening families go to visit their friends and elders discuss their hopes for the New Year.

Traditionally bouquets of flowers are given as gifts. Recently, the more well-to-do in the city exchange New Year's Greeting cards rather than flowers.

I found the following video which shows many of these traditions being practiced.

So Melkem Addis Amet!
***OK so I confess, we did nothing celebratory today. I did about 12 loads of laundry, cleaned 3 bathrooms, scrubbed the basement floor, forced the kids to clean their rooms, and cooked a couple of boring meals. Chad cleaned the boat. But, I am working at getting some of these Ethiopian holidays on my calendar and I will do better next year! I really love those daisies - might just have to see if I can find some to grace my home tomorrow.
And in case you are wondering about sweet Joshua and sleep, he is doing OK! He still loves me! I will post more specifics soon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

10:20 PM

OK it is 10:20 PM and my Joshua is asleep and his sadness and crying did not kill me. It came close though.

What I did find as I distracted myself with reading all my favorite blogs is a project I am so excited about. Check our Lory's blog.

www.thehowletts5@blogspot.com (I have a direct link on the left side of my blog if you want to follow their trip plans like me! She is bringing a team of people to ET this winter and I so want to be going with. But JOshua is not ready to have me disappear for 10 days, so maybe next trip!)

She posted about sending Christmas gifts (Gena in Amharic) to Children's Heaven. We were at Children's Heaven during our time in Ethiopia and I can not say enough good about the program and the amazing things they do. So take a minute and find out how you can help make sure kids in Ethiopia receive personal Christmas gifts.

By the way, my birthday is Dec. 29 and I would be totally honored if you would send a backpack full of goodies to a beauty in Ethiopia in my honor! I already emailed the coordinator and asked for 5 kids to send stuff to. I can hardly wait to shop with my kids for these kids.

Check it out and then DO SOMETHING!


Jamison played his first game of Middle School football this afternoon.


Jamison is number 58. He is playing mostly outside linebacker. It was not the most fun first game ever as they suffered a big loss. However Jay always has a smile on his face and a terrific attitude to match.

***I may blog or perhaps drink (OK joking) the night away. Joshua woke up a few minutes after I laid him down and I decided not to rock him back to sleep. I have seen lots of signs that he is ready to learn to fall asleep without me, but his crying is seriously breaking my heart. He is doing better than I had feared. He cries so sadly (but not terrified) for a while, then is quiet, then calls for "Mommy! Mommy!", "Mommy pleasie rock you", "Mommy no kitchen, Mommy Joshua room!"

I am staring at the clock and going in to tell him how proud of him, that I will never leave, that I am in the kitchen, that I love him I - at increasing intervals. Chad is watching football and reminding me that this will be hard for a while. My heart is shattering, but I also know that it is time... or at least I think it is time.

This was way easier with the older kids. They cried, but I knew they were securely attached. At this point Joshua is doing super, but is still on his way to being totally securely attached. The older kids also learned to fall asleep without me before they could talk so although they cried they were not begging for "Mommy!"

This is tough stuff people. Pray for his heart and mine. Pray for peace of mind and wisdom. Pray for rest and that he still loves me in the morning.

Working from home

Ever wonder how I get anything done working from home with Joshua underfoot?


I tie him up!

Joshua loves to pretend he is a puppy. This morning while I was trying to get some work done, he came up with a plan. Mommy should tie "the puppy's leash to her chair." He had a super time pretending he was a puppy and I got lots of work done while interacting with this goofy kid.

It really was too funny.

Another funny puppy/Joshua story happened a couple Saturday's ago. Brenna invited a friend to play for the morning. Joshua and I had been playing puppy when she arrived. Joshua likes to be very detailed and so insisted on wearing Riley's leash hooked to his belt loop. He begs me to hold onto the leash and walk the puppy. So thinking nothing of it, I answered the door with my leashed puppy/son on my hip. I visited with Brenna's friend and her mother a while and then the girls ran off to play. About a half an hour later, Brenna's friend came to me and asked if my little boy always had to be on a leash. Only then did it occur to me that her mother might have had the same thought!

OOPS! Nope, I do not keep him leashed all the time. Just when he asks to play puppy!