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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

He lost a tooth!

 See the cute little gap in his smile?!?

Little man lost his first tooth!

It had been loose for a long time, but Joshua hardly noticed.  When he talked or laughed that silly, wiggly tooth was so distracting!  Finally, in an unusual act of "medical bravery," Krissy got so tired of the dangling tooth that she grabbed a napkin and carefully pulled it out!
 I adore his beautiful grin.
I adore his deep, dark, compassionate eyes.
I love his curls.
I love his soft, smooth, chocolate skin.
I never, ever, stop marveling at the fact that I am his momma.

The secrets of his past are always close to my heart as well.  Times like this, losing his first tooth, are especially pensive.  One person comments, "What?  He lost a tooth?  He is not even 5 yet?!  That is just too young!"  And I wonder. . . 

Another child just a couple of months older shows us her lost tooth, and I breath a big sigh of relief.

In all reality, I will never know exactly how old Joshua is.
And for some reason that breaks my heart.

Pre-Joshua, I had always assumed that having an accurate date of birth was a birth right. DOB on any form was as simple as gender, or so I thought.

Additionally, I LOVE celebrating my birthday.  I LOVE celebrating my children's birthdays.  I LOVE celebrating Chad's birthday.  I just LOVE birthdays.

So to me, not knowing Joshua's birthday, just seems like one more layer of unfair.

The other part of questioning his age that rips my heart to shreds is the thought that if he is older than we think, then he lived a very difficult life even longer than we think.  I CAN NOT stand the thought of any of my kids suffering.  Unfortunately, I know that Joshua's first years were very difficult.  I know that he was unable to walk until he was over 26 months old.  The dentist will testify, via decay spots in his teeth, that his Ethiopian mom was either sick or hungry (or both) while she carried him in her womb.  Those thoughts make me so sad.  He has needed to be a fighter since before he was born.

Thank you Jesus, that he is a fighter!

On the flip side, he also shows us all the time that he was well loved as a tiny babe.  He loves to snuggle more than any other little boy I have ever been around, and I am completely positive that he loves to snuggle because his Ethiopian mom taught him to.

He loves with a love that is unbelievably deep and perfectly true.  I am completely positive that he is capable of this depth of love because of the ginormous amount of love that was lavished upon him by his Ethiopian mom.  (And this is more than a crazy Alicia hunch.  Research shows that children that have been securely attached to a care giver are more likely to reattach to a different care giver.  Clinical proof that when we love our kids well, they are capable of loving others well in return.)

I wish each and every day that Joshua's Ethiopian mom could see what a beautiful job she did teaching her son how to love.  It is one of my greatest prayers that one day I will meet her in heaven, and we can swap stories about this amazing son we share.

But until that day comes, I will love this small son - gaps and all - to the best of my ability.

*** For the record, our pediatrician has always felt Joshua's age to be very accurate.  Developmentally, it is spot on.  Ethiopia has declared his date of birth to be November 27, 2007.  America agrees. And even though I have a wave of wonder cross my mind every once in a while, I believe that 4.75 is the perfect age for our Joshua Gebeyehu. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Photos of My Fabulous 5!

I took the kids for a quick trip to my Grandparent's farm in rural ND.  It was a quick trip - only about 24 hours, but I can not imagine a whole summer without a trip to the farm so I had to settle for a quick trip.  Even this quick trip was so refreshing.  There is just no place like Grandma's house, even when you are all grown up!

I recently bought a new camera, and my ever tolerant children allowed me to photograph them all over the farm.

Here are my favorite photos of all 5 together.

 We did not plan a photo shoot when we left home, but black and white or speia tones makes the miss match a match!
 Little man's "Sierra pose" cracks me up!

 You know you are a Mom when the beauty of your own children takes your breath away.
I am pinch-me-proud of these 5.
There is truly not a day when I do not marvel at the fact that I was chosen to be their mom.
 At this point Joshua could no longer smile nice.
So the kids started posing just like their goofy little brother!

I bet you wish you had been at the farm too!

It was SO wonderful to get away for a bit and visit one of my favorite places on the planet.  Thanks for fresh from the garden beans, long hot showers, a washer and dryer, and all the beauty a grand-daughter could ask for Grandma and Grandpa.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Construction Update - Sheetrock, Taping, and 2 Copper Roofs

It was a much better week.
Much better!

 All of the siding is in place - on part of the garage anyway!
I am thrilled with how it is coming together.

 Last night Chad and I had a hot date.
We worked on metal roofing - all by ourselves.
(Being alone with Chad is all it takes for me to call something a date these days.)

I actually loved metal roofing.
It was SO fun to watch the roof go from ugly ice and water shield to pretty!

As an added bonus, my honey took me for a ride in the lift.
It goes up 40 feet.

Yep, we know romance!
 Chad does not do much residential work as a part of his business.
He does do a lot of metal work.
So, I was truly excited to help him install a standing seam  metal roof on 2 areas of our new home.
Now I will have a slightly better idea what he talks about during roofing conversations.
(Pictured above, Chad is cutting the sheeting to length.)
 The trim goes on before the sheeting.
Chad designs and bends each piece of trim in his shop.
 He pays careful attention to make sure each piece is cut to fit the exact area it will be placed into.
 Jamison helped us today.

He was not stronger than me when the summer began.
He IS now!
 While Jamison is not passionate about construction, he is becoming a GREAT help.
I SO appreciate and respect that although construction is not his passion, he always helps willingly and works hard!
 One view of the finished family room roof.
 The family room roof from up above (in the lift.)
 The super cute front porch roof.

I do love it!
I can hardly wait to sit on a chair and watch Jay shoot hoops and Joshua ride bike from that very vantage point.

Also accomplished this week:
 The sheetrock is hung in the entire house.
The 'rockers return Monday to finish in the garage.

Sheetrock makes me really, really, really, really happy!
It gives rooms dimension.
It also gives me HOPE that this ALL will end at some point.
 Most of the house has had the first coat of mud applied.
AKA taping has begun.
In order to cover the seams and screws necessary to hang sheetrock to the walls, mud is applied by tapers.  Chad is beyond thrilled with the crew that he hired to tape out home.  It is really rare for him to be totally impressed by anyone in construction.  He works in construction every day, and he has great respect for many other contractors.  However, he is rarely surprised by the skill of other workers.  I am so thrilled to say, he is thrilled with the tapers.

We expect all sheetrock and all taping and texturing to be done this week.
I truly think I will be painting next weekend!

That is really good news!

The bad news is. . . I think it will be 6 more weeks until we are living in the new house.
Living in campers has gone really well.
So many people have helped with kids, meals, and laundry.
We have all we need.

But it is still hard.

I miss privacy.
I miss a comfy couch.
I miss long showers.
I miss a dishwasher, and an oven, and an ice maker, and a full size fridge.
I miss TV - especially with the Olympics going on.
I miss my dryer.
I miss. . .

I just get really homesick some days.

So know that we are doing OK.
AND continue to pray for us.

4 weeks down.
6 weeks (hopefully not more) to go.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Trying to Reconcile

One of the things I have spent quite a bit of time on this summer (other than the house) is VBS in McLaughlin, SD.  I have traveled with various teams of people from my church the last 3 Thursdays to present VBS on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation at a church called Freedom Fellowship. 

The basic "program" is simple.  Drive to McLaughlin.  Make lunch. Clear the sanctuary.  Set up tables for lunch.  Prepare a lesson.  Practice music.  Clean up here and there.  Send out vans to pick up kids.  Love them.  Feed them.  Teach them.  Play with them.  Create with them. Drive them home with a lunch sack filed with healthy snacks.  Clean up some more.  Stop at the gas station for a soda.  Drive home.

I have done quite a bit of children's ministry in my day, so being in charge of curriculum for this event did not phase me one bit.

But, it should have!

You see what I did not realize is that the approach I have ALWAYS used in children's ministry (and it has worked) was to assume all the kids came into the room knowing certain things.  Simple things like - the Bible is truth,  God made them, God loves them, etc...  I have also always been ministering to kids who are having all their needs met.  Some have more than others, but the kids that I have worked with in the past have all eaten before they arrive.  They have clean hair and clean faces.  Someone drops them off, making sure they arrive safely.  Someone picks them up.  They feel loved and cherished by someone in their life.

For "those" kids it is easy to happily proclaim scripture like "My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."  (Which just happens to be the central scripture from the VBS curriculum we had planned on reusing in McLaughlin.)  It is also easy for our white, middle-class, North Dakota kids to believe.  The things that they are taught are basic needs - food, shelter, and clothing - are plentiful.

However, as I tried to prepare that same lesson for the kids in McLaughlin, my stomach hurt for days.  How do I cheerfully tell kids who are not having their "basic needs" met consistently that God will meet all their needs?  It IS scripture.  Scripture IS truth.  Yet sometimes it is all so terribly difficult to comprehend.  Does God really meet all our needs when there are Christians dying of starvation each and every day?  Does God really meet all our needs when momma's don't have medicine for their sick babies?  Does God really meet all our needs when their is no water for miles?

I am still wrestling with all that - trying to reconcile in my mind and heart the Truth within the scripture alongside the unfairness I see in the world.  It is hard. 

I hate hurt.
I hate when children are hungry.
I hate more when children are abused, neglected, and unloved.

I DO NOT understand why God allows it. 

I DO KNOW that He sent Jesus because of it.

If there were no pain, no hurt, no sin - there would be no need for Jesus.  We could "save" ourselves.

It is the sin, the hurt, the pain, the brokenness that causes us many times to realize our need and beg for help.

And Jesus is always with us.  When we ask, He helps.  Sometimes He rushes in and fixes things in a mighty miracle moment, sometimes the fix is nearly unbearable slow as inch by inch His path becomes clear.  But always.  Always! He is with us.

I still do not have that verse fully reconciled. I continue to struggle.  A lot.  There is so much that I do not understand. (and I really HATE not understanding)

But, what I have decided is that our greatest need is to know Jesus.  So while I do not have many other answers, I WILL do my best to show the love of Jesus to everyone I can. (And to choose curriculum that is

I am going to close with a couple of photos of my kids.  Sierra and Jamison have been going with me on these mini missions.  I am so proud of them.  They know just what to do to help out - bags made (check), tables set up (check), chairs moved (check), play with the kids (check), pretend to LOVE the music, games, and crafts (check), show kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE - even when they are too clingy, or need a bath or say unkind things (check, check, check).

 This beautiful girl was totally attcahed to Jamison.
He did not get out of her reach all day.
And rather than hide in the bathroom (smile), he treated her like gold.
He listened to her words, praised her art, and allowed her to sit really, really close.

And Sierra - she is all sweetness, grace, and energy.
She does such a good job drawing kids out of their shyness and into whatever we are doing.
She loves to play, encourage, and be silly.

I have served with a team of many, many, many other people as well.  I see Jesus in each of them each week.  Whether they are coloring pictures, serving food, wiping tables, cleaning cupboards, vacuuming floors, handing out hugs, removing gum from hair, driving the bus, or playing a game - Jesus is shining through.  I am so thankful for the talents, gifts, and willingness in which each of them have served!  Each servant has inspired me, taught me, grown me.  I am truly honored to serve with you.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Construction Update: Insulation Complete!

I gotta tell you.  It was a HARD week.  It was so, so, so hot.  We had so, so, so much work to do.  It was miserable.  By Friday mid-morning this mother of 5 was throwing a fit any toddler would be proud to copy.  I was feeling quite a lot sorry for myself.  "It" was just too much.  5 kids.  2 jobs. Living in a parking lot. 3 minute showers. Playing construction worker in every spare minute.  Trips to the dentist.  Broken Brenna.  Hot.  Really, really hot!  I told Chad in no uncertain terms that I will NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER insulate anything again AND that we will NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER build another house.

That confession in place, let me show you what we accomplished this week.

One thing I can not complain about is the number of people working on our home.
One day last week, concrete was being poured, sheetrock wass being unloaded, siding was being hung, plumbing was being installed, electrical wires were being strung, and framing was being fine-tunes. . . all at the same time! 
 Siding has begun.
I am normally very decisive, but siding color had me a bit stumped.
I am thrilled with what we chose!  It compliments the shingles and copper accents beautifully.
 Concrete was poured under the front porch.
Chad and I and the older 3 kids, formed the sidewalk.
The guys will pour it next week.
 Here is Miss Sierra pounding in a stake in the nearly 100* heat.
 Chad and Jay are working on leveling the form boards and nailing them in place.
I know I keep saying it, but Jamison has been unbelievable during this process.
I am so thankful for his hard work!
 The big 3!
 Modeling the new sunglasses Krissy bought.
(This photo was obviously taken early in the week, before my melt down!  No one near me was smiling on Friday.)

 Here is what I spent way too much time up close and personal with this week - INSULATION.
Itchy, scratchy, yucky! yucky! insulation.

The good thing about insulation is that it is light and easy to cut, which makes it a perfect job for a weak, unskilled laborer such as myself.  The bad thing is that it is so itchy (yes, I know I have mentioned that)!  The itchy is so much worse in the heat.  The insulation just sticks to a sweaty body, and in order to not go bonkers, one must wear long sleeves, gloves, and long pants.  The exact attire that makes you sweat even more in the 100* heat.  It was a nasty combination.

I did learn to run the lift though.
 Check me out way up high, working away!

If I had not hated it so much I might be proud. . .
 It was a week for thankless jobs.
Sierra and Krissy were put on garbage patrol.  They spent hours cleaning up construction mess and sweeping up after all the subs in preparation for the sheetrockers.
 And Joshua?

That little honey can keep himself busy forever on a job site.
He is thrilled to find a tool to experiment with.

Although I had a hard time seeing them, there were many blessings bestowed upon us this week:
Blessing #1 - Meals!  My mom cooked for us several nights and delivered food to the house.  My Aunt Pat also brought us a meal. My friend Sharlene delivered washed and cut up fresh fruit! That helped me an immeasurable amount.

Blessing #2 - The sheetrocker asked to delay his start by a couple of days.  Usually a delay is not good, but in this case it was such a blessing!  The heat caused all the subs to work more slowly than usual.  It was so miserable they just could not move at their usual pace.  We were incredible short on time to insulate.  Honestly, we never could have been done by Thursday - but we did not want to cause a delay and be at the sheetrockers mercy.  So , when he asked for a couple days delay, it was such a blessing!

Blessing #3 - My Aunt Pat drove to town to help me choose paint colors.  My brain is too full to tune into tiny details.  I knew what I wanted, but choosing the exact hues was just beyond my capabilities.  She saved the day, for sure.  And it was so fun to be with her!  Fun has been in low supply around here, so I appreciated the outing more than you can imagine!

Blessing #4 - I took a real shower today for the first time in 27 days.  It was glorious.  I also used my mom's washer and dryer.  I have a washer at the shop, cold water only.  I have been drying on racks in the parking lot.  It works.  But soft instead of crunchy clothes is a treat! (Several people have offered to wash clothes for me as well.  I am just really bad at shipping my stinky stuff off to someone else's home!  And the shop washer is working well for the most part - but warm water and dryer sheets were a treat today!)

Blessing #5 -  Chad had his employees help us with the worst insulating jobs on Friday morning.  We both went in at 6am and worked with the crew.  The guys hung all the insulation on the ceilings, which was such a blessing.  One of the guys volunteered to stick around and help all day.  (They get off at noon on Friday.)

Blessing #6 - BUT without a doubt, the BIGGEST BLESSING of the week, came in the form of our friends!
 These two made my week when they walked into our house today!
Just when I was ready to collapse, they arrived infused with hope.

They worked for hours hanging plastic over the insulation!

(Quick explanation as to why we have been insulating for an eternity:  Step one was pink foam cut and placed between all the studs and spray foamed into place, Step two was caulking all the cracks in the framing - like between the concrete floor and the studs, Step three was itchy insulation, step four was the plastic barrier, Step five was insulating the interior walls for soundproofing.  That mini lesson is more than I have ever wanted to know about insulation!)
 Here is a sampling of Tom and Brad's work.  The family room (as well as many others) is wrapped in plastic, cleaned, and ready to 'rock.  It was beyond encouraging to have you helping today. 
 Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
 Pictured above is the sound proofing insulation.
Jamison and I spent hours and hours hanging this stuff during the last two days!


Blessing # 7 - We are done!!!!!!!!! The house is ready for the 'rockers arrival on Monday.  I have never been so happy to be done with a job.  Never.

Blessing #8 - My friend Sharlene.

I ran my tail off this week.  I worked at both of my  jobs. I spent a day in SD with a team from our church loving on kids at a VBS outreach.  I worked at the house.  I met with subcontractors.  I chose paint colors, and stain, and counter top, and glass, and carpet.  I tried to cook some and do a bit of laundry.  I was insanely busy, and consequently a terrible mom.

But Sharlene came to my rescue.  She had the week off and spent it doting on my kids.  They swam, they played mini-golf, they found kittens to cuddle, they went out to eat.  In short, they had fun.  More importantly they had someone show lavished love and attention on them when mom was crazed.

I am forever grateful.

Blessing # 9 - Brenna and Joshua are both pain free!  When Joshua's tooth was removed the pain was as well.  Brenna is still very bruised.  She needs to wear the sling most of the time until she sees the doctor on August 6, but she has not needed any pain medication in 30 hours.

Blessing #10 - Tomorrow I get spend the day celebrating the upcoming birth of my nephew.

It was a hard week.  I have no intention of ever repeating it.  But were it not for the many blessings in our life, it would have been so much worse.

Next week in construction - sheetrockers Monday, Taper Thursday, Siding continues, Concrete continues. . . (and none of it will be done by me!  happy sigh!)

Monday, July 16, 2012


Finally, after two weeks of phone calls and prescriptions, Joshua saw a dentist today.

The dentist took one peak in his mouth and understood just what the last 2 weeks have been like for our little man.  He quickly decided to break his own rule of never treating a patient on the first visit and immediately extract the troublesome tooth.

Joshua and I were both relieved.

Little Mr. who has struggled with fear of medical was SO tired of having a sore tooth that he happily slipped on the "space mask."  He quite honesty did not care what the dentist did as long as it made his tooth stop hurting!

He was a star patient.   He kept asking me to touch his hands so I could see how they feel.  The laughing gas made his hands feel "like balloons," and Joshua could not understand why I could not notice the difference.  It took A LOT of Novocain to numb him up - like more than 6 syringes full.  The tooth was really infected and according to the dentist that makes the nerves all the more sensitive which means all the more Novocain.  Although Joshua had already been on antibiotics for 10 days, the tooth was still visibly infected.  (Super YUCK!)

But once he was good and numb he hardly flinched when the dentist pulled out the biggest baby tooth I have ever seen. It was truly 3/4 of an inch long.  I had no idea the roots of baby teeth were so huge.   Some days mom's should get a good patient award.  Calmly holding Joshua's hand with a serene look on my face while watching the dentist pull this molar was as close as I will ever get to an Emmy award winning performance.
Joshua was a bit miserable as the Novocain wore off, but by evening he was all smiles.  His mouth is finally NOT hurting. 

I am SO thankful that is OVER!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Construction Update: Insulating Sucks!

Jamison's facebook status this afternoon was "Insulating Sucks!"

I'm not gonna lie.  He is correct.

It is crazy hot outside.  Miserable.  And we spent the afternoon cutting itchy, scratchy insulation and stuffing it in between studs at the house.  It was not any fun.
 This is the pile of insulation that needs to be installed.
 This is my wise and ever-helpful son.

He may have correctly posted that this job stunk, but he NEVER complained while on the job.

Once again, I am not gonna lie.

For the first time while working on the house, I did complain.

I decided that in hell everyone must be insulating because it was about the most miserable job I have had in a loooong time.

Jay took it "like a man."

I am humbled by his example.
 The older girls worked as well.

And Joshua.

Little man is always trying to find a way to help.

 While we used the icky, scratchy stuff - Chad ran the spray foam gun.

 Spray foam may not be itchy, but you need a respirator to spray it.
He also had to climb into small spaces and reach into tiny crevices.
His sweaty shirt bears witness to the heat.

I was npt loving my job, but I was certainly not jealous of his.
We also had our first construction volunteer wander onto the job site!

Dennis braved the heat and surprised us with a few much appreciated volunteer hours this afternoon.
Thank you, Dennis!
 Even on the hottest and most miserable of days there is always some fun on our job site.

Joshua proved his skills with the scissor lift, by taking himself on many rides up and down, just for fun!  (He also ran the lift for Daddy when needed.  He is truly amazing with construction equipment.)
 The oldest three could not let Gubs have all the fun!

They joined him  in the lift for a ride or two.
The kids (especially Joshua) had a bit of fun washing the itchies off with the hose.
We were VERY thankful for the well this weekend!
Grandma Donna provided the best part of the day, supper!

We have been eating on the run almost all the time lately, so Grandma cooked food is THE BEST.  In fact the kids talked her into delivering supper tomorrow night as well.  Because like it or not, The Dietrich Construction crew will be back on the job tomorrow evening.  We are trying our hardest to have everything in place so sheetrock can begin on Thursday as scheduled, so it will be a FULL week of work in the day and construction in the evenings.

I am thankful tonight for meals delivered, hard-working kids, helpful friends,a safe & fun placde for Brenna this afternoon, fresh fruit in my fridge, showers, and an air conditioned camper.