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

Monday, January 31, 2011

This and That

Following are many mini-memories that I want to hold on to.

Brenna and Joshua watching Saturday morning TV.

  • Today while we were walking into the store Joshua noticed my coat does not have a hood. He pulled his hood up and out, insisting that "mommy and Joshua share Joshua's hood" (melt my heart)
  • It is really cold out today, like -6 plus windchill. When we got home from the store I noticed Joshua shiver. I asked him if he was cold. He responded, "No cold. Joshua freezing! Yucky outside!"
  • Jamison spent the entire weekend either with or texting a girl... ugh!
  • After lunch Joshua walked over to Riley (the dog) and invited him to lick the "left-overs" off his hands and FACE! I would have taken a picture but I was too shocked to grab my camera.
  • "WEIRD!" has been an expression Joshua uses almost like a swear word. I think it is the funniest thing. Today Brenna put her backpack on the seat between herself and Joshua in our SUV. He much prefers it when his big sister sits by him. He asked her to slide over and when she refused he yelled, "No like backpack by me! WEIRD!"
  • Despite my careful planning, Joshua has discovered toddler TV. D - D - D - D - D - DORA! is his favorite. (Jamison can not believe I am letting him watch a girlie show over and over.)
  • The highlight of Brenna's day yesterday was watching a movie with me! She watched "Cats and Dogs" while I dozed cuddled up next to her. We both enjoyed!
  • Sierra, while still totally delightful, is undoubtedly creeping up on her teen years. I observe her becoming more and more "moody" each day. If you have a fifth grade girl, be patient and understanding! It will get better... by eighth or ninth grade.
  • Krissy is a ninth grader, that is about as much as I am allowed to share! Next year she will be roaming the halls of the very same high school that Chad and I attended. I hope her first boyfriend is as wonderful as mine is and was!
  • Joshua is doing a super job sitting still and watching Jamion play basketball. Bleachers and a not overly coordinated three-year-old freak me out, so his rule is that he has to stay with in an arms reach of mom. That way I can be physically touching him at all times and do not have to take my eyes off the game to make sure he is safe. He is tolerating this really well. However, midway through one game he pulled my face over to look right in his eyes. Once he knew he had my attention he told me, "When we get home, mommy watchie Joshua p-lay basketball. Mommy sit down, watch you Joshua. Joshua turn!"
  • Joshua and Brenna were singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" at the top of their lungs this morning. Joshua was thrilled, he thought only Dora knew that song.
  • Krissy brought home a novel for me to read this weekend. It was titled "Afrika" It took place in South Africa during the post-apartheid truth hearings. So cool to share a love for Africa with her. I will be shocked if she does not live there (for a time) at some point. She asks me all the time when we will go back.
  • Joshua hates to walk up and down the steps. He slides down, really quickly, on his butt. He yells for me to "help you Joshua uppie-stairs, Joshua too tired walk! mommy help you Joshua!" when he wants to come back up.
  • Joshua no longer cares if I call him Gebeyehu. I often call him "Gubs" which was Jamison's nickname for him when we first came home.

I hope when you read this you can tell how much I totally enjoy EACH of my kids! I know I write about Joshua the most. It is so fun to have a little guy in the mix. Although I love my pre-teens and teen-agers, they do not always love me in return (at least not verbally!) It is really, really fun to have the mommy adoration and silly of a little guy in the midst of the eye rolls and temper tantrums of the older kids. (YES! Teen-agers have the WORST temper tantrums.) It is nice to have easy problems mixed in with the more complex ones of older kids. It is also really fun to have older kids laughing with me when Joshua says or does something funny. It is awesome to watch the older kids make good choices, manage their time well, and have deep meaningful conversations with us. While having kids all ages from toddler to teen is busy!!! It is also so fun. Each age and stage balances out the other!

I am blessed!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Date Night!

Chad and I went on a date tonight!

It was the first time that we had both left Joshua.

What did he think?

This is the look on Joshua's face when we told him that mommy and daddy were going to "eatie food together and Krissy was going to babysit Joshua." He ran and hid behind me.

He told us again and again, that "Joshua come on eatie food with mommy,daddy!"

When we told him that we really were leaving without him. He yelled, "No! No leave you Joshua! WEIRD!"

Poor little guy, we could not help but giggle at his choice of words! His choice of words was also part of the reason I felt certain that he was ready to be left with a sitter. He NOW thinks it is totally weird to NOT be with either mommy or daddy. When he is being held by or interacting with someone other than us, he is not longer giving me a look that says, "see... I don't need you!" He now checks in with me visually, making sure that I am paying attention to him. He is capable of maintaining some connection with us on his own.

So, it was time to test that connection just a bit.

Big tears at bye-bye time.
While Joshua was very sad when we left, like the babysitter needed ear plugs kind of sad, I was fine. I was absolutely sure that he would be OK. (And he was. Krissy let him play in her car and all tears were quickly dried!)

We had a lovely dinner out and returned in time to put Joshua to bed.

He was thrilled to see us, full of hugs and cuddles. He told us that next time we eatie food, he WILL BE coming with... which I was very happy to hear! While it was good to have a little break, I totally enjoy having my little sidekick with me everywhere I go!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A text from God?

I think when God wants us to take notice of something, He often repeats His message.

I have a phone ap. that sends me a scripture every day. Today I woke up to:

"The Lord will fight for you,
and you have only to be silent."
Exodus 14:14
Think maybe He is trying to teach me something?
(If this makes no sense, see yesterday's post below!)

Thursday, January 27, 2011


As I continue on my goal to read the entire bible this year, I was captivated by the story of Moses this week. If you have never read the story of Moses, I highly encourage you to! While I will briefly paraphrase the events that take place in Exodus, Chapters 1 through 15, you would be much more informed to read the actual account from the bible.

The story begins with God's chosen people, the Israelites, living as slaves to the Egyptians. Though they are slaves, God is blessing them. Their families are growing in number and the Pharaoh of Egypt fears the Israelites will become too powerful and overthrow their masters. So he decrees that all baby boys must be thrown into the river at birth. One brave momma hides her baby boy for three months. Finally, knowing she can hide him no longer, she makes a floating basket to place her baby boy into and places it in the river. She instructs her daughter to keep watch and see what becomes of her baby brother. The baby is discovered by Pharaoh's daughter. She feels sorry for the baby and saves him. She names him Moses, and he is raised as an adopted prince of Egypt.

Fast forward a couple of chapters and a young Moses (who has fled from Egypt) tending his flock of sheep in a remote field. He notices a bush that is on fire but does not burn. He goes to take a look and is greeted by the audible voice of God. Can you even imagine?

God instructs Moses to return to Egypt and lead His people out of slavery. Moses gives God several excuses as to why he is a poor choice (I have never done that... or so I wish!). But God is relentless.

So Moses returns to Egypt and asks the Pharaoh to let God's people go. The answer is NO! God sends many plagues as a way to convince Pharaoh to let His people go. First, He turns all the water into blood. Then the land was overcome with frogs, next came gnats, then flies. When Pharaoh continued to refuse to let the Israelites go God killed all their livestock. A plague of boils came next, then hail, then locusts, then darkness. To make it even more evident that these plagues were of God, they only affected the Egyptians. When darkness fell (for example) there was absolutely NO light in the Egyptian area but the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. Because Pharaoh continued to hold onto God's people, God sent a terrible plague. Every firstborn son died... all on the very same night. When Pharaoh woke to this disaster he let the people go.

The Israelites packed quickly and left. However before too long Pharaoh changed his mind. He sent all of his army after the Israelites. Imagine the terror the Israelites felt as they heard the thundering chariots of Pharaoh's army closing in behind them. Their fear only became worse when they realized that ahead of them was a large sea. They were trapped. They would be sent back to slavery. There was no victory. Their God had failed them.

At this very point of desperation and disappointment God spoke these words through Moses, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see here today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still" Exodus 14:13-14

God did an amazing thing next. He parted the sea in front of the Israelites and they walked through it! The Egyptians pursued. When the last of the Israelites was on the other side of the sea, God closed the path - drowning all of Pharaoh's army.


It is an amazing, exciting, adventurous story. (Much more so if you read all of it than my paraphrase.) I wanted to paraphrase it though so I could reflect on the verse in blue.

In the heat of the battle, when the going was beyond hopeless, God's instructions were to not be afraid, to stand firm and be still. God would do the fighting - and he did in an amazing way! Those instructions have echoed in my mind the last few days.

Do not be afraid!

Stand firm and you will see deliverance.

The Lord will fight for you, just be still!

So many lessons in those few words.

Don't be afraid - no freaking out allowed. No matter what!

Stand firm along with the promise of deliverance. How many times do I bend... just a little...to make things go more smoothly. How often does that bending become something I regret? Perhaps my bending deferred God's deliverance? Perhaps if I had stood firm just a little while longer the result would have been victory instead of defeat?

The Lord will fight for you - just BE STILL! Oh how tempting it is to run, to make decisions, to press on, to hide... But then WE are doing the fighting and we are just not as equipped for the battle as the Lord is. Be still, trust Him to do the fighting and the battle is won.

I most certainly DO NOT have this all figured out. I tend to stink at being still. That is why these words challenged me this week. That is why I am blogging about them. Perhaps in recording these instructions, I will remember them. Better yet, perhaps in recording these instructions I will follow them.

Here is a link to the Bible on-line. You scroll to the bottom of the page to click on the book - Exodus and then the chapters you would like to read. I can not imagine you would be sorry if you take the time to read (or reread) this story of deliverance.

Father God, thank you for Your word. Thank you for highlighting this lesson for me. Please help me to be fearless. Remind me to stand firm so that I will see You delivering me from the oppression of my problems. Hold me still so I may observe how You fight the battle and celebrate the glorious victory You will deliver. And widen my thoughts so that I may see the victory You provide even when it is a different victory than I expect.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Emotional Permanence"

One thing that I have been working on with Joshua is what I have deemed, "emotional permanence." ( There is probably a correct psychological term for it and if/when I run into it I will correct my vocabulary.) Emotional permanence is understanding that no matter the circumstance, mommy continues to love Joshua.

My older kids have always been confident of my love. As soon as they understood object permanence, they were not terribly concerned about being separated from mommy as long as they were with a safe adult. They were never concerned that if I left, disciplined them, or simply went to the bathroom by myself that I would stop loving them.

Not true for Joshua.

He totally understands object permanence. He does not doubt that if he leaves his blanket in my room it will be there later. He has an amazingly detailed memory and always knows where all his favorite things can be found. However, being confident that I will return is something we are working on. Similarly, being confident that I love him no matter what is difficult to believe.

To help him develop emotional permanence, he and I play a game. I call it "does mommy love you when..." It goes something like this:
  • Does mommy love you when we are snuggling?
  • Does mommy love you when we are playing toys?
  • Does mommy love you when we are eating food?
  • Does mommy love you when you are crying?
  • Does mommy love you when you have to sit in your booster (time out)?
  • Does mommy love you when we are playing "get you-get you?"
  • Does mommy love you when I am sleeping?
  • Does mommy love you when I am gone at a meeting?
  • Does mommy love you when you are throwing a fit?
  • Does mommy love you when we are reading books?

He loves this game! He says, "more! more!"

At first he would say, "No" to many of these questions. He did not think I loved him when he was throwing a fit. He did not believe I loved him when I was at a meeting. I would say, "Yes! Mommy loves you when I am at a meeting. Mommy always loves you." He was not convinced. But slowly and the more we play, it is sinking in. He now giggles when I ask him the tough questions. He is not ready to say, "YES!" He still wants to hear it from me, but he knows what the answer will be and excitedly waits to hear it!

I really believe this game is helping him. In fact, I believe tonight was proof. I left Joshua with Daddy tonight so I could facilitate a parenting class at church. I have left him with daddy once or twice a week for quite some time. Leaving him has not been pretty... think 9 mo. old emotions with 3 year old words. He cries, pushing away from daddy, and yells things like, "mommy no leave you Joshua", "Joshua need you mommy", "No mommy meeting, mommy e-stay Joshua!" Poor Chad feels like an ogre. Joshua totally enjoys daddy - but mommy leaving has been really scary!

Tonight I told Joshua I needed to go to a meeting. He started to get clingy and scared. He told me, "mommy no meeting!" I asked him if I loved him when I was at meetings? He tucked his thumb in his mouth and gazed into my eyes. I saw a tiny nod yes! I gave him a huge and very jubilant hug. Then I asked him if mommy would come home later. Another nod and even the words, "yes. mommy come home. mommy put you mah-tah, mah-tah." I told him how smart he was and gave more big snuggles.

When it was time for us to separate, Joshua did not cry! He had a great time with daddy. (He always does once he settles down.) He was happy to see me, excited to show me what he and daddy had been doing, and proud that he did not cry when I left. He did not ignore daddy when I walked in the door. He also was not detached from me. He treated us BOTH as if we had been with him all evening.

Hip hip hooray!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crock-pot Chicken (that my family actually liked!)

Well, I have shared that I do not love cooking. In fact, if I were really rich, I would absolutely hire a chef. I enjoy cleaning and laundry, so I would never hire a cleaning professional - but a cook would be wonderful!

I do however cook fairly well and ALL. THE. TIME! Eating out is too expensive, not to mention unhealthy, so we eat in. Because I am a planner by nature, my once a week cooking method has made cooking much less stressful.

This week Jamison has 3! basketball games. They all start at 5:15 so I have had to be very creative with my menu. I need several meals that will be ready to eat the minute we walk in the door after the game. Not such an easy task.

My "hot and ready" favorites are bbq's, tacos, soups, and stews. However, what my star basketball player craves is MEAT. So tonight I tried a crock-pot chicken meal. My family actually liked it - so I thought I would share the recipe.

Yesterday I filled my crock-pot with:
frozen chicken breasts, wrapped in bacon
sprinkled them with some pepper and garlic salt

Then I whisked together 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup sour cream, and 1/2 all-purpose flour which was poured over the chicken.

At lunch time today, I plugged in my crock-pot and we came home to really yummy chicken at 6:45 tonight. I made about 9 chicken breasts and there was plenty of sauce (there would be enough sauce for additional chicken breasts) .

I served this with garlic mashed potatoes, but it would also be good with rice or noodles. I made the potatoes yesterday and put them in the oven at 275* to reheat before we left for the game.

Because I had set the table before we left, we were able to eat within minutes of walking in the door!

Once in a while I get it right! I hope you enjoy this recipe, too.

Monday, January 24, 2011


One of the things we have worked hard at as an adoptive family is helping our kids answer the MANY questions their friends may have in a way that communicates Joshua's worth and value in our family. It is amazing the questions they have had to field.

Some make them mad. Like, "Why do you call him your brother? He's not really." (This makes my kids IRATE! I have never, ever seem more devoted siblings. On Friday night when I brought Joshua to the clinic, Krissy (at 14!) and Brenna insisted on coming with because they were worried. What is more boring then the clinic on a Friday night?)

Some are too intrusive. Like, "So what happened to his real family?"

Some make them proud. Like, "How did you get so lucky? He is soooo cute!"

Some irritated them. Like, "Where does his mom live?"

We have brainstormed responses to questions that will most likely come up ahead of time. For example, "What happened in Joshua's Ethiopian family is his story to share when and if he chooses. However, we ARE A REAL family. (smile and try to be graceful =) )" Some we have chosen to ignore with an indulgent shrug. Some have caught us by surprise.

Last week when Joshua, Sierra, and I walked into Jamison's first basketball game we caught the eye of Jamison's team mates. Maybe it was because Joshua waved like crazy to his big brother? The only unoccupied seats were right below the his team (they were waiting for the first game to finish so they could take the court), so we were sitting close enough to eavesdrop on their not too subtle conversations. Jamison definitely was given the third degree! "Is that your brother?" "Where is he from?" "Did you adopt him?" "How old is he?" "When did you get him?" It was the final question that caught me by surprise, "How much did he cost?"

Yes, I have read blog posts about rude people in the grocery store making snide comments like, "You have really cute kids. How much did you pay for them?" But I never thought to help my kids answer that question.

Jamison handled it well. He gave his buddy a weird glance and shrugged his shoulders, like who knows and who cares.

I was telling Chad about all I had overheard and he had the most wonderful response.

He said,"Anytime someone has asks me about the cost of adoption I tell them that our son's adoption was a bargain. He is worth so much more than we "paid" in legal fees and travel expenses. Joshua is priceless."


***I fully realize that adoption is expensive. In fact, according to the Dave Thomas Foundation, 40% of Americans consider adoption but most do not follow through. The number one reason is FINANCES! If you ever want to discuss how to come up with the funds necessary to complete an adoption or if you want to know about the financial costs because you are interested in adopting, please feel free to ask! I welcome ANY question from a prospective adoptive family. (It is the questions that are just asked out of rudeness and idle curiosity that bug me!)

Did you know that there are between 40 and 50 million children who are adoptable orphans in the world? (Yes, there are about 147 million orphans total, but many live places where adoption is not an option. However child sponsorships are in most cases. Hint, hint!) If 6% to 7% of Christians in the world would follow through with God's call to adopt every single one of these children would have a family. If God is calling you to adopt, do not let finances be your excuse. There are many options available from grants to garage sales. Also remember there are very few costs associated with adoptions from the American foster care system. If God has a plan, he can and will provide every penny necessary to complete that plan. It may not be easy. It may not be "in your comfort zone." But have no doubt, HE WILL PROVIDE!

"Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you (and the child He has called you to find) much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:25,26

(Not sure why that was the scripture whispered to my heart as I thought through all this, maybe it was a message just for you?)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Joshua's Big Birthday Bash

We celebrated Joshua's birthday, surrounded by family and friends that are just like family.
I woke up the birthday boy about a half an hour before the party began. He is so snugly and precious when he is waking up. He loves to have his cheek squished next to mine, his thumb in his mouth and his fingers stroking my cheek. Those moments are priceless treasures.
It did not take long and he was peaking out the front door waiting for his posse to arrive. He was very excited!

As our house began to fill up, he did get a bit overwhelmed. He did really well, but made sure to keep close to mommy. (I celebrate that sentence.)

The only downside of that need is that I do not have many good pictures of him opening gifts or of our guests. Daddy was busy visiting and watching the Packers game, Mommy was busy helping Joshua.

So I will give you a visual.

My boy is into detail. He likes to explore each detail of a new treasure before he goes onto the next treasure. I found him "hiding" in two different locations with his new four wheeler. He was trying to find a quiet spot in the house so he could hear what noises the four wheeler made! Poor baby is just like his mommy, he loves quiet! (Unless he is the one making all the noise that it!)

In our house we have non-traditional birthday desserts. We are just not a cake family. Joshua chose brownies! "Joshua no I love it cake! Frosting g-ross! Joshua, I love it brownies!"

So brownies it was! Before the party began, Joshua chose his favorite brownie to poke his candles into. He then hid this brownie in the pantry, to "save it for later." (He has learned that the yummy stuff disappears quickly around here!)

Near the end of his party, he was ready to eat his brownie. He did NOT want anyone to sing or look at him. He did want to blow out his candles. Then he wanted to blow out his candles again.

Finally when he had almost eaten all of his brownie, he whispered, "It OK sing Joshua. Joshua b-low candles more too.)

So I relit his candles and we sang to him.
His reaction to a group of people singing to him could be described as a "warm rock" - eyes closed to block out the too-much attention but wanting it just the same.
He knows the birthday song well by now. He popped his little eyes wide open when it came time to blow out the candles!

While Joshua enjoyed his party, his favorite part of the day came when everyone went home and he could explore his gifts all by himself. (If you were here to party, do not take that the wrong way. He loves each of you. Big social gatherings are just a bit stressful and he was much more relaxed when playing by himself. Not to mention he had much more room.)

(With the addition of the basketball hoop to our family room, Joshua has dubbed it a gym. He told me, "No basement! This is Joshua gym!")
Eventually the little cowboy with new spurs had to hit the hay. It took a long time for him to fall asleep. At one point I heard him fake crying in his bed. I went to check on him asking why my baby was crying. He responded, "Joshua crying! Joshua no touch four-wheeler! Joshua need touch four-wheeler!" I reassured him that the four-wheeler would be here in the morning and told him to go to sleep. He then suggested that the four-wheeler come with us when we drive his sisters to school in the morning.

So... I guess I will have an extra passenger in the morning!

Happy Birthday, sweet boy!


This week I read the book "This Is a Soul; The Mission of Rick Hodes" by Marilyn Berger. If curious you can read the first chapter here. If you then want to borrow my copy, let me know! It was an eye-opening and inspiring read.

Rick Hodes is an American doctor who has chosen to serve the poorest of poor for the past 28 years. He has served in refugee camps on several occasions, but the vast majority of his work has taken place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The book is filled with stories about the children he has treated.

It sometimes feels like the more I learn, the more shocked I become. There are so many things that I knew nothing about. There are so many things I have taken for granted. I am often embarrassed by my ignorance. For instance, did you know that untreated strep throat can eventually cause serious heart damage? Me either. In developing countries, mothers leave their village on foot to bring seriously ill children to doctors miles and miles away. They beg for food and bus fair. It sometimes takes months to get to their destination. Then when they arrive they wait some more to hopefully be seen and treated by a doctor.

Well, as if to make the plight of Ethiopian mothers striving to care for their children more real, my Ethiopian son became sick this week.

Friday morning he was clingy and needed to be held A LOT. I wondered if he was feeling sick or if the busy week was just catching up with us. He took a short nap and when he woke up, he felt the tiniest bit warm. When I checked his temperature he was just 99 so I figured he was just warm from all his blankets. He played nicely until about 4:30 and then became really clingy. I took his temp. again and it was up to 99.7. I gave him some ibuprofen and snuggled with him until supper. After supper I took his temperature again and it had climbed to 101, instead of dropping after the medicine. I was fairly certain that his illness was viral, but because his last fever had resulted in a middle of the night scare, I decided to take him into the clinic.

I bundled him up, jumped in my SUV, and we were at the doctor's office in 8 minutes or less. We live in a city with excellent walk-in clinics, so we were able to see a doctor 15 minutes later. The doctor kindly and professionally examined my son. He was understanding of my concern for Joshua's very minor symptoms. He did a throat culture and a nasal swab. He checked out Joshua's lungs and ears. He gave clear instructions on how to administer Tylenol and ibuprofen alternately every three hours in an attempt to control his fever and hopefully avoid another middle of the night scare. Then he sent us on our way.

I was home less than one hour later. I was still very concerned about my boy's raising temperature, but I felt empowered to give him the care he needed.

I gave Joshua a cool bath and soon after tucked him into bed for the night. At midnight when I woke him for more medicine his temp. had risen to over 104. Yikes! I was scared, but I knew I had all the correct medicine - so I gave him another dose. I was not comfortable leaving him alone at that point so I made us a nest on the floor. I spent the rest of the night putting a cool cloth on his hot head, which he promptly took off, only to have mommy put it back on. I made sure he had medicine every three hours. I rubbed his back and I prayed.

At some point in that long night I had the nerve to feel a bit sorry for myself. I was stressed. I was tired. I was uncomfortable. I was worried. It was just not "fair" that everyone else in the house was sleeping peacefully in their comfy beds, while I lay on the hard carpet. Then my mind flashed to the mothers in Africa that have no bed, ever. They always sleep on the floor next to their children. When their children are sick the ONLY comforts they have to give them are soothing words, soft caresses, and prayers. Doctors are too far away. Medicine is not available. Even cool water may not be easy to come by. I can not imagine.

Thankfully, Joshua is feeling better. He is still running the slightest of temperatures, especially when he begins to tire - but nothing alarming. By the grace of God and through the use of medicine, he is on the mend.

And I am grateful. I am grateful that my son is mending. I am also so very grateful for the incredible medical care I have at my finger tips.

I know this winter many of us will be awake at night with sick children. We may be inconvenienced by day care or school calling telling us to come get our sick child. We will more than likely clean up runny noses and (other) messes. We will surely wait in the walk-in clinic. We will absolutely stand in line at the pharmacy. We will be tired. We will be concerned. We will be stressed. Justifiably! (My friend reminded me that it is OK to feel a bit sorry for myself sometimes.)

But when you are calling out to God, asking Him to heal your sick child, PLEASE remember to thank Him for the doctor, the pharmacist, the Tylenol, the cool water, and the washing machine... all of the things that make being sick in America so much EASIER than being sick almost anywhere else in the world.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Because I suspect you need a chuckle as badly as I do by the end of a week:

Last night as I was putting supper on the table, Joshua called for me with total urgency.

"MOMMY! MOMMY! (scream) MOMMY!"

I rushed downstairs to see what was wrong. When I got downstairs, I gathered my son in my arms and asked, "Joshua Gubs what is wrong?"

He said very angrily, "Riley lick me mouth! Yucky! Riley hair mouth! Need mouthie-wash!"

(A quick swish and spit and Joshua was all better! I wish every emergency was that easy to solve!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It was a Double-Header

I am a first time basketball mom!

Jamison is playing basketball for the first time (on a team) this year. His first game was tonight. He played guard as #22 - and did very well. His team won 40 to 32. It was really fun to watch him play! His leadership, ability to be a team player, attention to detail, and athleticism were certainly evident. And my Jamison is so kind and thoughtful (I know he is only supposed to be fast and aggressive in a basketball post - but I have been blessed with a son who is both!). He left his buddies to sit by Joshua (and his mom) for a few minutes before the game. Joshua was so thrilled!

As soon as basketball was over, I rushed home to pick up a beautiful second grader for her program. Brenna and her friends did a marvelous job. It was a super-cute program called, "Three of a Kind."

Above is the entire cast, all the second graders at her school

The kids knew all the words and sang their hearts out.
Brenna had a speaking part as one of the three little pigs. Her daddy complimented her for speaking slowly and clearly. Chad says that I have mommy ears so I can understand ALL the kids, but he could only understand the ones that spoke slowly and clearly like BRENNA.

It is going to be an activity filled winter with Jamison playing basketball. He has up to three games a week. Sierra will take piano lessons and play volleyball. Krissy has a couple of choir concerts. We also have church activities Wednesday evenings. It will be a challenge as our favorite way to spend evenings is at home, but with the kids getting older I better get used to it! And I DO love to watch my kids while they do the things they enjoy most!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Turning 3 is FUN!

Before I tell all about Joshua's birthday playdate with his bestest friends, I must brag on my husband.

We bought Joshua a great big gift that came in a really little box. Great fun for Joshua - BUT lots of work for Daddy!

Joshua's gift before
Joshua's gift in the making
Joshua's gift completed!

Yep! I have truly mellowed with age. We bought Joshua a big, ugly trampoline for his birthday! It does NOT beautify my basement on its own... but filled with laughing kids, it is a thing of beauty! It also will serve the very important purpose of building Joshua's balance, muscular strength and endurance in a VERY fun (not to mention warm, momma does not like to play in the snow) way!

Here are Joshua's BFFs - Tesfa, Drew, Ageze, Ellie, and Abby

We had a lot of fun playing this morning.

It was loud!

There was a lot of running!

There was a lot of laughing!

There was a lot of jumping!

And because it was too cold to play outside... I found a way to play in the "snow" inside...
We covered the table with shaving cream "snow."

You can write your name in it!
You can make "snow piles."
If touching it is yucky, you can use a brush and paint the "snow."
It is very messy!
But the BEST thing to do in any snow is DRIVE A SKIDSTEER and make a BIG PILE!
Joshua's skidsteer got totally buried in the "snow."
Ageze really likes this "snow." It does not even make your fingers cold!

Yep! I have mellowed! This was messy, but it was also the calmest activity all morning! I will absolutely do it again. Shaving cream is easy to scrape off the table and into the garbage can and easily washes out of clothes. It even smells pretty good and my table is spotless after all the soap being scrubbed into it!

Turning 3 is FUN!

***Guess what came in the mail today? Joshua's birth certificate, pretty cool don't you think?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sappy Today, HAPPY Tomorrow!

Tomorrow we will celebrate Joshua's birthday. To some it seems silly as his legal birthday has been declared Nov. 27, 2007. But to me, his birthday will always (in some small way) be January 19. (yes, we will have his birthday party Nov. 27 from here on out - but I suspect we will have a mommy and Joshua party every Jan. 19)

Last year on January 19, Joshua Gebeyehu was born into our family. Seeing his face via an emailed picture was just as powerful as seeing the faces of my newborn babies as they were placed on my chest immediately after delivery. God had made Joshua so totally alive and real in my heart that when I saw my son's face the bond was instant.

I had agonized the days prior to "the call" about how Chad and I would know if the child that was referred to us WAS Joshua. We had come up with a sensible plan. We would look at the emailed picture, social, and medical information together. If we felt OK with it, we would bring the information to our trusted doctor and ask his opinion. If he felt good about the "match" we would commit and at that time share our news.

In reality I got the call around 10 AM. I called Chad and told him the bits of information our coordinator had told me over the phone and waited for him to return to our office before we opened the email together. I remember staring at THIS picture:

(now I am crying) and wondering how we could ever say no?

We dutifully looked over all the information and then I asked Chad, "What do we do now?"

He said, "You call IAN and tell them we would be honored to be this boy's parents. Nothing ANY doctor could say would change the fact that he is our son." (now I am crying more, oh how I love my husband)

I remember calling our coordinator and saying just that. She responded, "Do you love him?"

And to my utter amazement and delight I could honestly respond, "I do!"

I did love him! I did not even know how to pronounce Gebeyehu, but I loved this boy in a way that only God could ordain.

The next 119 days were the longest, saddest, most stress-filled, loneliest, desperate days of my life. If I had not lived them, I would think I was being melodramatic. Being separated from my Joshua was just as painful as having my newborn baby in a far away hospital without me. I felt like I could not even take a full breath.

Until, May 29
when God finally brought me to my Joshua. When I held him, I could breathe again.

It was not all easy, far from. But the HARD with him on my hip, has been so much easier than the time between seeing him and holding him.

So tomorrow, I will celebrate. I am so excited about a day filled with Joshua that I may not sleep tonight. I can not wait to celebrate Joshua's birthday!

And just look at how he has changed!
Last week he was sitting in his crib and I quickly took this picture because it reminded me of his referral picture. Can you even believe what a difference one year made?

He has gained almost 13 pounds and grown 5.75 inches!

He has learned to walk and run and jump!

He has learned to speak English!

He has learned to love pizza and chicken nuggets and fries!

He has learned to sleep on his own!

But beyond any shadow of a doubt, the most important thing he has learned, is that he has a FAMILY that loves him! (yep, crying again!)

And my Joshua Gebeyehu LOVES his family!

Happy Birthday, Joshua Gebeyehu Chad Dietrich! I love you more than I will ever be able to express. I am so thankful that God chose me to be your mommy! As Brenna told me tonight when I tucked her into bed, "Joshua is the perfect little boy for our family! God DID have a plan! I am so glad he brought us Joshua!"

Thank you God for the gift of my children. My cup runneth over.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Following up on Odds and Ends

In the last weeks I had many "fake friends" as my kids call them (they are people I have "met" through our adoption journey but have never had the privilege to hug) were in Ethiopia doing all kinds of wonderful, God-ordained things. You can read about their trip here.

I received confirmation today that the dresses that Krissy's sewing class made were delivered.

Pictured below is a little guy wrapped in the blanket Krissy and Sierra and Brenna made for Joshua last summer. He DID NOT like it! He told us, "send it to Ethiopia! Good boy Ethiopia have it!" So we joyfully did!

When I showed him this picture he said with a big grin, "Good boy Ethiopia warm! Yeah!"

I agree!

This team also delivered the project Gena backpacks we prepared. I am maybe, just maybe having a bit of "trip envy!" Maybe next trip I can go too!
*** On a much less important note, if you have the Wiphan cookbook, make the chicken tetrazzine. I loved it. My kids not so much, which is part of why I do not love cooking, but for the grown-ups taste buds - YUMMY!
AND - the "mystery of the pirate ship" was solved today! Joshua's BIG THANK YOU goes to cousins Addi and Ainsley!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Baptism in Ethiopia

Today Joshua and I met with the consistory of our church to present our request to have him baptized. (Chad was out of town, so he was unable to attend this meeting.)

Anyway, while I was driving to this meeting it occurred to me that I knew nothing about baptism beliefs in Ethiopia (other than that they have a very special religious holiday called Timket which celebrates the baptism of Christ.)

So I spent a little time researching what the baptism beliefs and baptism practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which is the predominate Christian church in Ethiopia.

Here is a very brief summary of what I read. (Emphasis on VERY!) While baptism in my church is a 5 to 10 minute ceremony, the ceremony in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is lengthy and very detailed.

A baby boy is baptized 40 days after he is born. A baby girl is baptized 80 days after birth. If a baby is sick and may die baptism takes place immediately.

Babies are annointed with oil to "undo the works of devils and their magic,and so become an annointing for faith in Christ."

Babies are baptized naked because, "undressing the child reminds us of the nakedness of Adam and Eve when they obeyed satan and disobeyed the commandment of God, so they were put to shame before Him and hid from Him when they realized their nakedness. Such is what sin and satan do to human beings, they strip them from all virtues and the protection of grace, and hence put them to shame before others."

If you would like to read in more detail, I found the beliefs of adult and infant baptism in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church here. You can read the entire liturgy for the baptism of an infant here.

The one part of the ceremony that most spoke to my mother's heart was when the priest asks the mother three times, "Do you believe on behalf of this child?" And the mother is given the chance to respond all three times with, "I believe."

I have no idea whether or not Joshua's Ethiopian family wwas/is a part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, another denomination of Christian church, or if they were/are Christians at all. I do not know if Joshua was baptized in Ethiopia or not. I do not even know if what I have found in my on-line research is what a rural Ethiopian baptism ceremony would resemble.
While there are many unknowns, the known is what is most important.

God has a beautiful plan for Joshua Gebeyehu Chad's life. He has been with our son through each and every moment. God will never leave Joshua or forsake him.

And until my son is old enough to claim belief in the Lord Jesus Christ for himself, I am most excited to proclaim "I believe, I believe, I believe."

We will celebrate Joshua Gebeyehu's baptism on February 6. That date is (coincidentally?) the 8 month anniversary of our family being united.

**If you have any real world Ethiopian baptism information, I would love to receive it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

What's on your "To Do" List?

Many years ago at a women's Bible study I was attending the speaker asked each of us to share one thing that we make sure we do every day. It was a simple barrier breaker question, not meant to be deep or meaningful, but instead it was intended to give each of us a glimpse into the lives of the other ladies in the room.

As we went around the room many answers were shared. Things like, every day I:
  • brush my teeth
  • drink coffee
  • work out
  • pray
  • read my Bible
  • eat chocolate
  • fix the bed

But one woman's answer changed the way I have planned each and every day since.

One meek, mild, and brilliant woman said, "I try to do one thing every day which will not be undone. You know, one thing that has an eternal impact."


Those two sentences have truly changed my to do lists (at least on my very best days). They made me step back and realize that the majority of the items on my to do list will be quickly undone. Yes, they still need to be done. Laundry, cleaning, paying bills, running errands all have to happen. They are important, and they absolutely necessary.

My fault is that I tend to give them TOO MUCH importance. I tend to think, when I get to then end of my list THEN I will...

  • send an encouraging card or email
  • call a friend to pray with her
  • play with my kids
  • really listen to my husband tell about _____
  • volunteer at church or school
  • have friends over for dinner
  • rock and cuddle
  • watch a movie
  • read my Bible and let it soak in
  • have coffee with a friend

I have finally admitted that I will never complete my to do list. There is always another pair of jeans to wash, another spill to wipe up, another meal to prepare, another bill to pay. If I wait until I have all the "important" things done, I will never do any of the things that truly make a difference.

So my goal for each and every day is to recognize the accomplishment in doing things with eternal significance. Part of why I like to do the stuff on my to do list is that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I have completed the task. I feel good when my floors are clean. I smile when my bathrooms are sparkling. I feel ambitious and accomplished when I tend to the tasks of life. However, in my task-oriented thinking, the eternal stuff just does not make me feel the same way. I can not see the result immediately, so it seems futile.

Typing the word futile just caused my soul to gasp! I almost changed the word because it hurt to admit it. To admit that the way I view myself and my life tends to be through how many measurable tasks I can complete in a day is not something I feel good about. It is too often true though. I have to remind myself daily (sometimes hourly) that the tasks do not matter but THE PEOPLE DO. I have learned to consciously ask God to direct my to do list. I ask Him to show me the meaning in the eternal. I ask Him to slow down my thoughts and steps so that I do not run ahead of Him when where I really want to spend my time is following His path.

So, do you want to change your to do list for the weekend?

I hope you (and I) have a wonderful weekend, filled with many moments with eternal significance.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mystery Mail!

Joshua Gebeyehu received some very exciting and mysterious mail this morning...

it came in a BIG box, what could it be?

He waited excitedly while mommy put it all together and
It even has a door to crawl out
and to crawl in!
We named his fine ship "The Joshua Gebeyehu!"
Now the only mystery that remains is who sent this wonderful surprise?

We owe someone a big Thank you!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Policie-man in my Kitchen

It was a very exciting morning. Joshua had a playdate with his buddies Drew, Ageze, and Tesfa. AND if that is not exciting enough... Drew's daddy, Officer Luke stopped by to say hello.

Joshua WAS THRILLED! He really likes Luke, and the fact that Luke has a policie-car makes him WAY more exciting that all the rest of the daddies.

It was WAY cold out - like 25 below zero - so we talked Officer Luke into pulling his policie-car into the garage so the boys could take a look. My car crazed Joshua was in the drivers seat immediately. Luke showed him how to turn on the lights. Oh, I wish you could hear Joshua tell about it. He was SO excited!
Look at that grin! (if you can see past the glare - those policie-cars have really bright lights!)
Hopefully this is the only picture I will ever see of my son in the back seat of a policie-car!
Luke came in and showed the boys all the cool stuff on his belt.
Joshua was totally intrigued with Luke's baton.
Luke let Joshua have a turn. Joshua told me, "Luke share Joshua! Good job sharing Luke." when he saw this picture.
This is Joshua trying and trying to flip his wrist hard enough to make the baton extend. He is not quite big enough, but he sure tried hard!

If you are in Joshua's world it does not get much better than having a Daddy that lets you ride in a backhoe and a godfather with a policie-car! Good times!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Once A Week Cooking

With 7 members of our household, I am always looking for ways to SIMPLIFY my schedule in order to allow more time to listen to, relax with, and enjoy my family.

One task that I do not enjoy is cooking dinner each evening. Maybe it has something to do with one family member or another complaining about my meal choice? Maybe it has to do with how busy the hours after school become with various activities to drive to, hearing about everyone's day, and homework? Maybe I am just out of caffeine by 5:00? But regardless of the reason, I do not look forward to cooking dinner!

So for the last month I have spent Monday morning preparing meals for the rest of the week. I make a menu and grocery list Sunday evening, then after we drop the older kids off at school Monday morning Joshua and I head to the grocery store. It is SO quiet in the grocery store Monday mornings - I love that!

When we arrive home, we unpack and start cooking. Sometimes Joshua helps, but he is generally so happy to play in our quiet house that he entertaind himself really well. (He adores his siblings, but he also LOVES to have the house to himself with no noisy interruptions!) By 11:30 we have 4 meals in the fridge waiting to be put enjoyed later in the week.

So what do my menus look like? I have actually gotten fairly creative. As I plan the menu for the week I take into account the evenings that we have activities or will be eating at different times - like when Jamison has basketball practice from 5:00 until 6:30, or Chad has a late meeting. On nights like that I fill the crockpot with soup, stew, taco meat, or sloppy joes. Some family dinner favorites are meatloaf, pot roast, pasta dishes - like lasagne, spaghetti, chicken tetrazzini, rigitoni. I also have a few one pot meals (AKA hotdishes) that my family likes. So I have come up with a good variety of things that can be mixed up Monday morning and cooked hot and fresh later in the week.

This week we are having:
  • Crescent Taco Bake - easy and yummy! Crescent roll crust filled with taco meat, Spanish rice, black beans, and cheese, topped with Doritos.
  • Chicken Tetrazzini - p.124 Wiphan cookbook
  • Marinated steak and veggies w/ rice - marinade p.135 Wiphan cookbook
  • Beef slow cookers sandwiches - p. 134 Wiphan cookbook

(Sounds like an add for the Wiphan cookbook, huh? I tend to pick one cookbook for the week. Just one more way to keep it simple!)

Friday night we have usually have pizza. On the weekends we have big breakfasts prepared by Daddy! Chad and I tag team the lunch and dinner cooking in a very disorganized fashion. Usually Chad cooks and I cleanup.

In the last 6 weeks, my once a week cooking experiment has helped to make afternoons much more relaxing. I have even been able to get on the treadmill a time or two!

I know many of you who read this work out of the house full time. Bless You! Truly! I only put in about 15 to 20 hours a week of "paid" work and I am tired! I know you could not cook Monday mornings, but maybe Sunday afternoons?

I am ALWAYS looking for ways to SIMPLIFY, so if you have any great ideas to share I would love to hear them!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Joshua speaks about waiting for his mommy...

As Joshua has been home longer and longer the way he processes grief and questions has changed. At first his grief was expressed in a certain "tone" when he cried - just like you can tell when your newborn is hungry or scared by the tone of their cry, I could hear Joshua's tone of grief. Holding him while he cried and cried was the only way to express my sympathy and love.

However, as his trust in me and his language skills have developed over the past months he is able to verbally share his grief, fear, and confusion. He is also able to accept my sympathy, love, and reassurances.

This weekend, Joshua found the picture below.

He has seen many pictures of our family before he joined us. He always asks, "Where is Joshua?" And I respond with either "you were not born yet" or "you were in Ethiopia." He has accepted either answer fairly nonchalantly.

But THIS picture he brought to me with tears in his voice. He said, "Mommy NO in this picture! Mommy get you Joshua! Joshua need you mommy!"

Those words expressed toward this picture nearly stopped my heart. This picture was taken while we were on our "American dream vacation to Florida" and while Joshua was being transferred from a foster home in Awassa, ET to the orphanage that would refer him to us. It was taken at a time when I know he was scared, confused, lonely, weak. He did need me.

While I did not tell him all those details, I did tell him that I was trying. I was trying as urgently as I could to get to him. I was praying for him. I was sad and lonely waiting, too!

I scooped him up and he cuddled under my chin sucking his thumb and considering the truth of my words. We sat there a long while holding each other. Then he got up and went to play.

That conversation has been repeated many times this weekend. He needed to tell me about how sad he was AND he needed to hear me tell him that I understand. By the end of the weekend the conversation was quick and easy, we both knew the "script" and that "script" has helped us both to walk one step closer to healing.

Someone asked me recently if I really thought small children "cared" that they are in an orphanage. Do they really know the difference?

YES. No matter how young, no matter how amazing the orphanage, they KNOW. We were made to be in relationships - close, nurturing relationships. Children were meant to have parents - mommy and daddy - not nannies. They know. They long. They hurt. Many wait.

In case the above story does not have ou convinced, here is another.

I was watching a video of a waiting baby with a friend. The baby was crying. Joshua came running to see what the noise was. He saw the baby crying. His FIRST question was, "Is that the baby's mommy?"

I told him, "No. That is a nanny."

He told me, "Baby is crying for mommy. No I like it nannies! Joshua cry mommy! mommy! Baby needs mommy! Mommy come, baby stop. Baby happy!"

Later I asked my son, "Were you happy when this mommy came? Or scared?" (I was wondering if he really knew I was coming. Or was it his Ethiopian mommy the mommy he cried for.)

He responded, "Joshua waiting thissie mommy. Joshua no scared. Joshua happy. Joshua no like nannies! Joshua I love it mommy!"

They know.

Has it been hard? Has he grieved? Has he ever been scared? YES.

Has he ever wished to go back? NO.

They know. They long. Many wait.