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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend 2013

 This morning my mother in law posted a photo of Jamison and Sierra last Easter.  I was shocked at how much they had changed!  It makes my heart hurt a bit.  It also makes photos all the more precious!
Easter 2012
Can you even believe how much they have changed in 12 months!  I thought only infants changed so much in a year!  I was wrong!
 One tradition I have created for Easter weekend is to have some of our very dearest friends join us on Good Friday for a glass of wine.  It is the only time I ask people to leave their kids at home.  Which makes it one of the only times of the year we have meaningful, quiet, relaxed conversations with adults in our home! 
Now, as I have confessed before, I have terrible taste in wine.  (Great taste in friends though!)  So when I buy wine, it is because the label seems somehow significant to me.  I had so much fun wine shopping this year.  I found these four bottles, which to me explained our life over the past year.
One friend was able to tell half of the story.
Can you?
I will help.
 Bogle - The events of the last year still "boggle" my mind!

 Unchained - I am beginning to feel "unchained" from the stresses of the last year.  And I am certainly unchained by Christ.

 Forefront - I believe we are at the "forefront" of some amazing things, in our family, in our business, and in our church.
Number 8 - One of the changes in the forefront may just be an 8th member of the Dietrich family.  (No! I am not pregnant.  We are also not in the middle of an adoption.  Just totally open to whatever God may have in store for our family.)
I know it is a super silly tradition, but that is what makes it fun!
We do have some normal traditions as well - like dying Easter eggs!
 Love to see these two working together.
 Brenna is our artist.  She has a way with color, line, and presentation.
 Joshua is growing in his desire to paint, color, and write.
I am proud of him as he would much rather play!
This Easter morning we went to church.
Then we had lunch at my mom and dad's house.
 Joshua took this photo of my dad and I.
I can't remember the last time I had a photo with him.
JG did  a pretty good job, too!
 Grandpa and Sierra
 Jay arm wrestling with Sierra.  He refused a contest with his dad or grandpa though.
 Sierra and Joshua twinning!
 SO! Stinkin'! Cute!
 Gotta love moments when these two get along.
They tend to fight.
For real.
Joshua can be quite the turkey in regards to Sierra.
It is mostly funny - but sometimes annoying!
Today they were just cute together!
  Brotherly love.
 I wanted my mom to take a photo of our whole family today.  I will need one to send to Ethiopia for Joshua's 3 year adoption report in the near future.  Joshua was not a fan of the idea.
At all!
(All kinds of feeling come up when we talk about sending things to Ethiopia.)
 We took a break and snapped a picture of Grandma and Grandpa.
Then Krissy bribed him.
If he would do a good job with a picture, she would agree to stay long enough for him to ride horse. (Krissy was not feeling well so we had decided to make it a short day.)
 Riding horse makes EVERYTHING better!
Look at that grin.
He loves, loves, loves riding horse.
 He was quite proud to show me how he can dismount by himself!
 Brenna is an excellent rider.
She wishes she lived with Grandpa all the time.
Her mom does not always share well! I tend to "hog" my kids!
When the kids ride, Grandpa stands in the middle of the arena coaching them.
Joshua makes sure to be Grandpa's shadow the whole time.
The whole time!
We came home by late afternoon.  I took a long nap, made supper, and went for a run with Chad.  Tomorrow, I am off!  I am beyond thankful for one more day at home!
There is no place I love to be so much as home.
Praying God's Blessings on you this Easter.  May we all fully understand what it is to be unchained by Christ and take the time to dwell on that blessing in the midst of our  busy lives.  May we live and serve as His people who have been set free.  May we use our freedom for His glory.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Joshua's Prayer of Praise

 This photo marks a new chapter in our family.
To me it says, we are home.
Late this afternoon, Chad and I walked the dog around the neighborhood loop.  Brenna and Joshua raced ahead on their bikes.  Joshua sang at the top of his lungs.  Brenna scolded him for being noisy.  Riley pulled on his leash with no manners, whatsoever.  Chad held my hand.  We chatted and joked. We were a "normal" family taking an afternoon stroll.
I know that does not seem historic.  But to my heart it was.  Last summer we worked. And that was IT.  To take the time to enjoy our neighborhood and our kids this afternoon felt like a major accomplishment.  It made me really, really happy!
Joshua Gebeyehu Chad Dietrich had a major accomplishment this afternoon as well.
He rode his bike - super fast - through the entire one mile loop that surrounds our neighborhood!
Once again, that may not sound historic.  But last spring Joshua was still so lacking in endurance.  He was able to ride bike.  The skill was there, but his legs got so exhausted so quickly.  He literally could not pedal all the way around one city block.
After 2 years of good nutrition and crazy growth spurts, a summer filled with construction work was exactly what Joshua's body needed.  (Much to my chagrin!)  Spending last summer climbing and pounding and digging and playing in the country, helped Joshua develop endurance.  He is now strong and fast and determined.
After we made it all the way home, I high-fived Gubs and told him how awesome he had done. When I told him he had ridden a whole mile, he said "That's why I got so sweaty I had to take my shirt off!  And my legs feel tired mom, but I DID IT!"
It really is a shocking transformation!
As I tucked Joshua into bed tonight, we talked about Jamison's favorite verse Phil 4:13.  I reminded Joshua what a great job he had done riding bike this afternoon.  I explained how strong he had gotten in the last year and how thankful I was that God gave him that strength. 
As we prayed, I said something like - Thank you God that you have made Joshua strong.  We know that he will be able to do all things through Your strength."
And Joshua responded, "God and Jesus, You are awesome!"
Joshua allows me to pray for/with him always, but he rarely chooses to pray.  His words of true praise made my heart leap this Easter eve.
He is so correct.
God! Jesus! You are awesome!

Track Meet (#1)

Jamison's long awaited freshman track season began this week!
I say long awaited, because Jamison ended the cross country season itching to race more!  He was totally dedicated to training all winter.  He worked hard, running outdoors and lifting weights almost every day, all winter long.  Many days I would wish to say, "Just skip today!  It is too cold."  But I kept my mommy-ing to myself and trusted the coach.  In the end, there was never a bit of frost bite, and "JD" (as his coach calls him) is sporting some bigger-than-ever muscles as a result of his hard work.
At the very end of winter training, Jamison's back started bothering him.  Pretty bad.  After a couple of chiropractor visits and the opinions of 2 physical therapists, we discovered that one of his legs has grown just the tiniest bit longer than the other.  This difference is really minor.  It would most likely never be noticed were he not running so much.  His legs will most likely even out as his growth continues.  (He has grown about 5 inches this school year!)  However, that tiny difference was enough to cause some back strain.  He took a couple weeks off.  Then he began running again, with a slight riser in his shoe.  He is seeing a PT twice a week.  She is working on getting his back muscles and quads to loosen up.  He is back to training hard.  His pain is not gone, but it is improving.
As a result of this injury, he was not able to run at the first meet of the year.  After all the work he put in over the winter, it was a bit of a bummer!  However, we are SO thankful to have found the cause of his pain.  We are totally thrilled with the PT who is working with him.  The first diagnosis he had been given was scary, so we are extremely grateful that the root of his pain is something so minor!
Adversity makes life sweeter, in a way.  Watching him with his toe on the line, ready to race - was really sweet!

He ran the mile.  Indoor.
 Pacing was tricky since they do not ever practice on an indoor track.
 He ran well.
Cautiously and thoughtfully.
Next time he will pace differently, but he was pleased with the event just the same.
 Jay and his team mate, Joey, discussing the race.
I have to tell you these boys are FAST.  I was not a runner in high school.  I began running (or jogging a Jay would tease me) after Sierra was born.  I have never been fast, but I have felt like I've been in pretty good shape a time or two.  Watching these boys run - is humbling!  The top speed on my treadmill is 10 mph - or a 6 minute mile pace.  I have rarely to never ran that fast.  Not even when I have been training "hard" doing sprint intervals.  These boys are running just over 5 min miles. (I think Jay's season goal is to break 5 min.) My tall son is running a whole mile faster than I could run one sprint interval.  It is crazy!  It is also awesome!
Even Chad has recently confessed that he will never be as fast as Jamison - even if he got into good shape again.  (That is a major moment in a father's life!)  It is such an incredible thing to watch our son slowly become a man.
And a GOOD man, he is becoming!  He did one thing that made me extra proud this meet.  Jay is a shoe lover.  He knows who wears what shoes.  He never wants the same shoes as a team mate.  He is not fussy or picky about other clothing items, but running shoes must be special.  He ordered his racing spikes online.  He chose them because you could not buy them in town.  They were well rated,  exactly the type of spike he needed - and they would (hopefully) be original.  He even ordered his second choice in color, because he thought his first choice would be the most common. Because he is not always so fussy, I indulge his racing shoe fetish.  I close my eyes to the price, knowing that confidence can be bought (to an extend) once in a while. Well, he wore those special spikes for the very first time at this meet.  And when Jay noticed a team mate who is new to track did not have spikes to race in - he allowed him to wear his own.
Makes me thing if these words:
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth." 1 John 3:17-18
Nothing humbles and inspires me more than seeing my kids live LOVE.
Jamison offering his new shoes to a new friend inspires me to give more freely - and to share the BEST of my stuff.
On a totally different note, being the youngest, is not always what it is cracked up to be!  Our little man is forced to endure many hours in the car each week waiting for the big kids to get done with one activity or another.  And when it gets really, really boring - I hand him my iphone.  (Parenting has gotten easier in these days of technology!  I used to drag a bag of stuff everywhere.  Now I just upload an ap!)
At Jamison's track meet, Joshua decided the camera was the most entertaining part of my phone.  He took hundreds of photos - mostly of himself.  He would take photos for 20 minutes, then I would delete them.  Then he would repeat the activity again.
Below is a sampling of his talents!

 (my personal favorite)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

When Balancing Turns to Juggling

Last week was pivotal.

It was the first week in our entire marriage, that Chad did all the cooking and the majority of the parenting - while I worked.

I am still trying to wrap my brain around it.

He kept the home fires burning.

And I worked.

Chad was incredible.  He got kids picked up and home.  He made dinner.  He got Joshua and Brenna tucked into bed.

And I worked.

I showed up at Sierra's concert - but enlisted my parents to drive her home, so that I could go back to work.

I drove Jamison to a track meet - but then went back to work, since he was not running anyway.

I got my kids to school on time every morning. (pin a rose on my nose)

I was home in time for supper. . . once.

This spring will be like that, I'm afraid.  Between some major projects at work, 2 kids in track, one in PT, and the "regular" activities that comes with a family of seven - there will be no balancing.

We will just have to juggle.

Pray for us.  Because my juggling skills stink!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It Was A Goooooood Day!

I am thankful tonight for simple pleasures.
Today has been a good, good day.
I woke up early, had a strong cup of Ethiopian coffee, read my Bible, and watched the sun rise while my family slept.
Chad woke up before all the kids, and we whispered and plotted about Spring projects in the early morning silence.  We finished one pot of coffee and started another one.
The kids slowly began to wake up.
They were all peaceful - mellow, happy to be home.
There was NO rushing.

Krissy has been working TONS.
(like 35 hours a week, plus school)
The rest of the week we have had to stop and see her at work when we were lonesome.  Joshua loves that!  She spoils him with (decaf) coffee treats! But today she was HOME!
I love it when my kids are ALL home.
Chad made breakfast.
I did laundry.
I gave Joshua a much needed haircut.
We measured windows and ordered blinds.
We took a nap.
We sold one of our campers!
I ran on the treadmill - and it felt good.
I am starting to feel(sort of)  fit again.
I did not get dressed until 3:00!
We snacked on fresh pumpkin bread made by a friend.
It was delish!
Chad made THIS for supper.
He is a pizza chef extraordinaire!
I finished a book.
We watched a basketball game on TV snuggled up on the couch.
It was the most relaxing, lazy, cozy day I have had in months.
HOME is my favorite place to be.
Days like today fill me up.
(Long, relaxed, very contented sigh.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Learning to Let Him Take Care of Me

It has been a year filled with lessons.
Big ones and little ones.
WAY, WAY, WAY more lessons than I ever anticipated!
One thing I have been forced to learn this year is that I can not take care of everything in our household all by myslef.  You laugh, I know.  But for me it has been a HUGE paradigm shift.

For almost 19 years, I took care of ALL the day to day needs of our family.  Chad worked outside the house.  I was the stability at home.  He helped when it fit into his schedule, but I really did not depend on his help.  I had it all covered.  If he wanted to help, that was fine - but I really did not need him to.

In all honesty, I liked it that way.

I like to take care of my family.

I like to pamper my husband.

I like to feel capable and in control.

So for me, needing Chad's help in order to manage our home felt like failure.

Thankfully, he has been gracious and persistent.  He has quietly chosen to serve our family in consistent and specific ways.  He did not say, "How can I help?"  He dove in.  He began making breakfast each morning.  He offered to drive the after 4pm car pool.  He chooses to tuck in the little kids some nights.  When I am cleaning up the kitchen, he helps - rather than witching TV.

That was hard for me at first.  I felt like I was not doing my job. I have always been the helper, to be helped was hard!

Key work - was.

I now love it.  I so appreciate knowing that he will make us breakfast, and I will clean it up.  I feel supported.  Noticed.  Appreciated.  We feel like a team, rather than 2 seperate team captains.

It is a blessing.

I have been really thinking about all the ways that I have denied Chad the opportunity to take care of me.  I am NOT good at letting him know what I want or need.  I am fiercely independent.  I like to carry my own weight - and then some.  Oddly in all the years we have been married, I have become more independent rather than more dependent in some ways.  Being married we share money - but since he makes most of it, I have always tried to make sure he gets what he wants first.  Rushing in and out of the cold, chasing our brood, I rarely wait for him or anyone to open a door for me any more.  I have discouraged little gifts because "it is just a waste of money."  My habit is to deny myself, and I have forced Chad (in many ways) to follow that rule.

However, I started wondering how my girls would learn that it is OK to be pampered if I never allow them to see me caring for myself OR allowing their Dad to care for me.  I want them to be self- sufficient, hard-working, and determined.  YET, I also want them to experience the JOY of being treated like the Princesses that they are.  Balance is good.  And their momma has been out of balance.

Especially because their momma is married to a really, really good guy.

So, I did something totally "un-me" this week.

One morning I was feeling stressed and cranky and overwhelmed.  It was cold, snowy, and dreary outside.  I had not caught up on office work from our vacation, so I was feeling pressured about getting things done at work.  I had many long days at my desk before the weekend - but I was longing for beauty and sunshine and hope and rest.

So I asked Chad to send me pretty yellow flowers.

I never ask for anything.  Especially anything frivolous.


He was shocked.  (In truth so was I.)

But, you know what?

Those silly flowers have made me smile all week.

Every time I walk into my office, I feel loved.  I feel warmer and more hopeful.

And Chad had fun sending them to me.  My asking for them did not make receiving them less special.  In fact, it may have made them more special.  You see, when I asked for something girly, and frivolous my sweet husband did not laugh.  He gave me what I asked for with joy.  All because making me happy makes him happy.

I am a lucky girl!

So my advice ladies is that it is OK to ask to be pampered sometimes.  It is OK to receive.  It is OK to need help. Needing help and being a "needy wife" are not the same thing.

"Needy" is not something I want to be!  Loved, supported, and sometimes pampered IS!

Thank you, Chad, for taking such good care of me this year.  I could not do it all without you - whether I like it or not!  Thank you for being gracious when I am not.  Thank you for partnering with me in a whole new way.  Thank you for taking joy in sending me yellow flowers on a dreary day.  You are a blessing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fear IS a Factor For Me

As God began to plant the knowledge that He had a son for us in Ethiopia, more than three years ago, I was nearly overcome with fear.  I was more terrified than I had ever been in my life.  The "what ifs" were overwhelming and too numerous to even try to list.

But God refused to let go of my heart.

He helped me find answers to each of my fears, and He extinguished them.

I am a very logical person.  I like to research things, count the cost, and make educated decisions.  I dare say that God chose to guide mypreadoption  research in a very specific direction.  (I may even think that He hid certain facts from me, knowing that I was not brave enough to proceed IF I were fully informed.)

And He was right.

I was NOT strong enough or brave enough to know "it all."

In the last 3and a half years, I have learned SO much.  I have read many books, attended a few seminars, gone to conferences via the Internet, read blogs and blogs and blogs, and networked with other adoptive parents.  I have parented in ways I had never heard of or would have thought valid, prior to our adoptive experience.  I have been complimented, questioned, and criticized for parenting in the afore mentioned ways.

And after all I have learned and experienced, future adoptions still terrify me.

NOT what you expected to read, was it?

When we were deciding whether or not to pursue adoption the first time, everyone I spoke with told me it would be "easy."  Their Ethiopian children were delightful.  They adjusted with ease. 

Those were the stories I needed to hear.  I was not brave enough to proceed had I known the entire truth.  Many kids DO have a fairly simple time joining adoptive homes.  All children are delightful (at times). 

But, the truth is that adoption is far from easy!  And some children (and thus their entire family) struggle profoundly for a very long, long time.

Now that things in our home feel steady, the adoption topic comes up often.  Once your eyes and heart and home are fully opened to the reality of the orphan crisis, it does not just leave.  We have not crossed off some box that says "love an orphan" and gone on with our cushy little lives.  We are all forever changed.  We all know we are called to serve.  We all long to serve.  Not one of our kids doubts that there are more children that will enter this crazy family.  They have been ready for a long time.

Me, too.

Except that I am terrified.

I fight doubts and fears all the time.  What if -
the next child is HARD forever?
he/she somehow "messes up" our current children?
I have to keep working and send another little one to day care?
there are needs to deep for us to handle?

How would I -
handle the bonding/attachment phase as a working mom?
find time for one more?
ever have ANY time for me?
stretch our budget further?
pay the adoption fees?
bond with an older child?

I have been praying a lot about all these fears.  We are planning to update our home study, so we can be available and ready quickly should God ask us to adopt again.  While there is a part of me that is SO sure we must do this; there is another part that argues. And argues. And argues.

I believe God showed me a very specific video this week.  It is loooong (40+ minutes).  I rarely consider a video that long.  But I decided to listen while I waddled along on the treadmill because the speaker is someone whose blog I follow.  She is an adoptive mom that I have come to respect.

This family has been living for 6 years in post adoption stress.  Their daughter is NOT doing well.  She is not delightful most of the time. This adoption HAS "wrecked" their home.  She and her family are, quite honestly, living my greatest fear.

She and her 18 year old son shared their story, in this video, with honesty and sincerity.  In the process, they broke my heart all over again for the lonely.

She said many things that touched my heart, but these two quotes in particular have settled in.

"When we say YES to God we do not get to choose what happens next."
"I don't believe that when God sees our struggles He says, 'I didn't see that coming."
Her son's testimony was incredible.  It was a huge blessing to me as a mom with big kids.
I do encourage you to take 42 minutes and watch the entire message.

After watching to her speak, I am challenged and inspired anew.  I am not positive that God has more children for our family.  If we do adopt again, I have NO idea what the ages, genders, skin colors, countries of origin, etc would be.  Maybe God is calling us into foster care?  Maybe foster adoption (which has been on our hearts for a long time)?  Maybe we will come home from Ethiopia in May and know we need to head back there to adopt again? Maybe. . .
All I do know is that God's plan does not include orphans.  We are all Biblically  commanded to care for them.  Since there are more than 1.5 MILLION orphans in the world, many of us must be ignoring His call to them.
I refuse to be one counted on that list.
Which means we will, ever so slowly, gather the documents we need to complete another home study.  We will pray daily, sometimes hourly, that if God has more children for this family (no matter where they come from) that He would make that plan clear.  I pray that IF He has more children for us, that He would break my heart to pieces once again.  That His plan would be unmistakable.  And that we may respond with the absolute assurance that He sets the lonely into families, and nothing (not even really difficult struggles for years and years on end) come as a surprise to Him.

Monday, March 11, 2013

May the Lord Determine my Steps.

Oh how I miss having more personal time!

I have three or four different blog posts bouncing around my brain - and almost NO time in which to record them.  While my thoughts are not incredibly ground breaking or inspired, my brain rests when I blog.  So when I have no time to blog, there are all kinds of thoughts ping-ponging around my brain - which makes me a bit crazy!

I think I will start with a "sequel" to this post.

It ended with these words:
"I do hope that amid the rest, and the sun, and the salt water, and the holding of my husband's hand that I have the chance to hear from God. I long for just the tiniest glimpse into His plan. I wish for confirmation that we are living as He wills - or clear instruction on how to move so we are. I hope to return with a quiet confidence, deep in my soul, that we are walking towards His will. Because while I know that some things never make sense, when I do know I am walking the path He has for me, it is all worthwhile."
My vacation "goal" after a year and a half of confusion and chaos was to come home understanding what God really wants me to be doing. I don't have big wishes, do I?
Well. . . I did not come home with a complete picture.
But, I do think He allowed me just the tiniest (and perhaps most confusing) glimpse.
I went into 2013 with two very basic aspirations.  One I have talked about a lot - REST!  The other is to read through the Bible, again, this year.  The plan I have chosen instructs me to read a passage from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and a Chapter from either Psalms or Proverbs each day.  I am LOVING this plan.  I really struggle to get through certain sections of the Old Testament (such as Leviticus! UGH!).  This plan keeps each passage short and mixes it up.  I am loving the daily Psalm or Proverb.  At this juncture of my life, it is those books that make my heart sigh.
So, it should come as no surprise to me that it was in Proverbs that God attacked my heart.
Amongst many other things - a couple of novels, some movies, lots of great conversations, my fair share of sunshine, rum, and tolerable food, more than my fair share of sleep, some beautiful walks on the beach, etc. . . God kept bringing these words to my mind.
"In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps."
Proverbs 16:9
In typical Alicia Dietrich fashion, I (sort of) ignored the constant replay of this verse, until on our final day on the island, I read these very similar words as a part of my daily reading plan.
"Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21
I have been carefully considering those thoughts ever since.
I have this amazing friend that allows me to email her and whine about my life process my thoughts.
Early this year I wrote these words to her:
 "One prayer I have had lately is that God will open doors, and I will have the wisdom and courage to walk through them.  Right now I really feel like I must rest. Rest my body and rest in Him. I hope I am not where I will stay. I hope at some point things will change job wise. I would love to work only one job (better still none!) I may even love to go back to school, but for now I am convinced I must serve where I am at and rest as I do so. Waiting for Him to direct me further. Waiting for doors to open. I feel the same way about future adoptions. I really hope that God sends us more children at some point.   I do not like the thought of being done. I long for Joshua to have brown siblings. I long for him to have siblings closer to his age. Brenna is 5 years older, and for now, that is close enough to play. But she will leave elementary school before he enters it, and that makes me sad. However, for now I must rest. I feel that in my very bones. Resting is not my strong suit, I find myself waking up singing “I had a dream my life would be so different from this life I’m living. . .” sometimes. But I think that is part of the lesson right now. It is not about me, my dreams, or my timing – "
I am not "living my dream."  And although it may appear externally, to some, that I have accepted where I am at in life gracefully, internally, I struggle.  Big time.
My heart is far from peaceful and accepting - it is
also sincerely grateful.
(Though I want what I want when I want it, I do recognize my blessings.  Amazing co-workers. Job flexibility. Healthy kids. A warm home. A husband who is learning to care for me in a whole new way.  Some friends who truly "get" me. Jesus, who loves me.  Me? For real!)
I have spent these last two weeks really considering those two Proverbs.  Though my heart has other longings, I want His plans to prevail. Truly.
I am struggling right now, trying to discern if I am in the wrong place and I should follow my heart, or if my heart is in a different place than God has planned.  I am not at all sure.
So, I have been asking God to make the desires of my heart mirror the desires of His. Pleading with Him to have His vision for my life, match my own.
And in His time, I have no doubt that He will.

Lord Jesus, may You and You alone determine my steps.  And may my heart's desire be Yours as well.  Please!


Monday, March 4, 2013

I'm Happy to be "Over" Joshua's Adoption!

I spent last week with the adult equivalent of  "camp friends."

Remember when you were a kid and went to summer camp?  There were those friends that you waited to see each year.  You did not talk or hang - outside of camp, but at camp you were "besties."

That is sort of what our some of our Chief trip friends have become.

One thing I discovered last week is that we have become "that young couple from ND. . . you know the ones that have 5 kids. . . and one is adopted!"

While I thoroughly enjoy being tagged as young and having 5 kids is what brings me more joy than anything else, the ADOPTED  made me want to gag!

I think you all know that I am totally passionate about adoption!  The fact that there are 150+ Million orphans in the world makes me shudder.  I long for them ALL to be in families.  We would (and may) adopt again.  I will talk about adoption to anyone who wants to listen.

BUT the way it was presented ALL WEEK was like we had either contracted a disease OR (worse) should be given some sort of a humanitarian award. 

Many introductions went like this, "Honey, you remember the Dietrich's.  They are the ones from ND - with 5 kids?  And one is ADOPTED!"

We smile politely as they continue with "Oh! We remember you.  How's the adoption working out?  Is everything OK?  Is he (long pause) all right?"

At first it was (sort of) amusing.

But eventually it became totally annoying.

You see, far too many people seemed to have an incredibly tough time believing that our young BLACK son who was born in Ethiopia (of all places) could be perfectly well adjusted. 

"Just wait until he is a teenager." I was told.


That made me laugh.


I have 3 teenagers.  They are delightful.  They were also delightful as preschoolers.  Along with delightful, they have each always been cranky, opinionated, rebellious, polite, active, inquisitive, articulate, and playful.  Some good traits, some bad - but ALL traits are exaggerated in my teens.  I am certain Joshua will be no different.  None of them have become totally different people because of puberty, and I have NO fear that puberty will turn Joshua into some sort of rebellious monster.  The idea, though, nearly turned me into a monster!

Anyway - what I realized this week is this:

We are SOOOOO over Joshua's adoption!

At long last, Joshua is just Joshua.  He is all Dietrich, our son through and through.  I feel no reason to describe him as anything in addition to our 5 year old son.

I get why that shocks some people.  I actually nearly belly laugh when we show our "camp friends" a family photo.  It is so stinking funny watching them try to think of an appropriate way to question who the black kid in the photo is.  (Cruel maybe, but true!)

I do understand the curiosity.  It sometimes leads to really good discussions.  One grandma described the heart ache her kids experienced in working toward an adoption through the US foster care system.  Really good discussion followed.  A few people know someone who . . . and I can help answer questions about the adoption process, attachment, how to help, give reassurance that adoption is a blessing - or whatever.

Others, well, they just do not get it.

And they never will.

But the good news it that we do.  And Joshua does.  This adoption is SOOOO a thing of the past.  It will always be a part of who he is, but just as a baby who is born extremely prematurely and hailed a "miracle baby" eventually becomes just another kid on the playground, Joshua is just Joshua.

For the record, I am not a fool!  I do know that there will always be questions.  He will always be a black kid in a white family.  That alone gives people the "right" to question, at least they seem to think so.  For me, being "over" his adoption comes with knowing he is as confident, as proud, as attached, and as "Dietrich a Dietrich" as any of the other kids in this home.

That realization is the best "souvineer" I have ever taken home from any trip!

Ironically, a story talking about adoption that mentions our family was printed in the local paper today.  It was originally a part of the CHS student newspaper.  I had no idea it would be run in the local paper - especially on THE day I write this post.

Life is funny!

If you want to read the story, click here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 2013

Be warned!
6 Days in the Dominican Republic, 1 blog post = photo overload!!!
Chad and I have had the awesome opportunity to be on several winter vacations via our building supplier.  Chad is a commercial contractor.  The majority of his business is in putting up metal buildings.  His building  supplier is Chief Industries.  They have an incentive trip each winter.  So if Chad sells enough steel, we get to go someplace warm and wonderful on our supplier.

This program has been a huge blessing for us.  As a part of it we have been to the Bahamas, Aruba, Cancun, Maui, and now Punta Cana - Dominican Republic.  Not only have our trips been free (we are 1099ed of course), but they have been planned and researched by someone other than me!  There is nothing we have to do other than show up at the airport when we are told to, follow the flight schedule we have been given, and look for Chief signs when we arrive at our destination.  They make things so simple and safe.  They also choose venues that we would never be able to stay at on our own.  The hotels are always quite ridiculously fancy.  The service amazing.

Each trip has been something we would never, ever consider under "normal" circumstances.  I am truly grateful for the opportunities we have had to explore new locations and relax together during these trips.
 This year we were lucky and arrived before dark.
This was my first glimpse of the beach.
I am a ND girl who LOVES the beach.
The smell of tropical breezes, the crash of the sea, and the sand between my toes makes my heart sigh contentedly.
 This hotel room is the most unique we have been in.
It was really beautiful.
(It also smelled like mold just enough to give Chad fairly major breathing issues all week. UGH!)
 My favorite feature was the Tahiti bed in the courtyard.
It was softly cushioned, surrounded by beautiful shady palms, and only for our use!
It was a nappers heaven.

My second favorite was the butler who left us surprising treats, made dinner reservations, and was "at our service, as we wished."
 It was a long, safe, beautiful beach to walk and run on.
 The Caribbean makes me adore blue, which is usually my mom's favorite color - not mine.
But there is no color more beautiful then the blues of the Caribbean.
 Chad walked with me one day.
He always finds a silly pose.

 Nappers heaven.
 Look who is texting!
When you own your own business, there is no such thing as a complete vacation.
 The grounds of this hotel were HUGE.
They ran golf cart with trailers that reminded me of a zoo train from place to place because it was such a long walk.

One of the "we will always remember that" mpments from this trip happened on the zoo train.  The DR is famous for its tobacco.  People smoke yummy smelling cigars all over, all the time.  It was late and several Chief acquaintances were puffing away near us.  They offered Chad a cigar.  He responded that smoking was a no-no with asthma.  So they offered me a lady-like vanilla cigar. I laughed and confessed that I had never smoked aneeething.  The oldest builder, a clean cut guy who is about 60 said in amazement, "Not even pot?"  Sorry builder dude, not even pot. LOL!
 I adore tropical plants.
I might even like yard work if I lived way down south!
Might. . .
(Chad insisted on this photo.  I told him I only like photos I take, but he won.)

 There is always a banquet one of the first nights there. (think boring)
We are pretending that we are Middle Schoolers in this photo - posing in front of a mirror.
As parents of a Middle Schooler who LOVES to take her own photo, we thought this was hilarious!
 Because Chad's asthma was really bothering him, we had a very low key vacation.  We had signed up to zip line, and we were considering one other adventure - but he just felt too crummy to even attempt it.  He did take me shopping though!  He knows I am NOT a shopper, so a shopping excursion never lasts long!
 There was a big ole mall in Punta Cana.
But, I hate malls!
So we went to the local flea market.
I was fun!
 It was also shockingly quiet.
We had lots of attention.
It was fairly harmless though.
We bought one painting, some jewelry, coffee, and a couple t-shirts.
One salesman had me giggling all day.  He asked me how many kids we had.  When I told him 5, he whooped!  Then he asked, "No have a TV in North Dakota?" 
 The other bit of adventure we had was taking a "sunset" sailboat trip.
(The sunset is in quotes because they had us off the water long before the sun set - but it was fun to be on the water.)
 I LOVE to be on the water.
I kept thinking this whole week, sadly, that we skipped an entire summer in 2012.  We did not play at all last summer, and I missed it so much!  I can not wait for boating weather this summer.
 This was the beach on the shore where it is less inhabited by hotels.
Some people on our boat snorkeled, but I fail at snorkeling.
So, I was happy to hang on the boat!
While we were hanging on the boat, chatting with friends, someone grabbed my camera and offered to take some pics of Chad and I.  She was a wild one!  Here are the results.
 (love this)
 (don't even ask!)

 (haven't posed to C'mon KISS her, since Aug 6, 1994!)

 There's the "sunset."
 The only beer served on the Island was the local brew "El Presedente."
It was cold -
not as good as the rum,
WAY better than the mamajauna (a crazy local drink that tasted like cough syrup gone wrong.)
I will be honest as say the drinks were the best part of this trip.  The coffee was AMAZING! The local Rum was yummy.  The food at this lavish resort was not too lavish.  Now, I totally admit to being spoiled on these trips.  I am very used to AMAZING, UNFORGETTABLE food.  This food was tolerable - but totally forgettable.  It was beautifully presented in tiny, tasteless portions.  BUT - I did not get sick, and I did enjoy the fruit!
 This gorgeous swing is what I wanted to bring home with me.
Chad promises to build me one, soon. . .
 And there it is one last time.
My final glimpse of the beach.
The airport was an unforgettable experience.
It was the craziest, most chaotic, departure ever.
But we made it.
Then we stood in line in US customs for 2 hours in Minneapolis and nearly missed our connecting flight.  We sprinted through the airport, in stocking feet.  Chad NEVER does anything in stocking feet, so you know it was an emergency!  We DID NOT want to miss our flight!
And we made it.
Thank God!
So - that's it.  Our winter vacation 2013 was not our favorite ever. Yet, it was still good.  Much sleep happened.  Much walking, laughter, silence, reading.  Time spent thinking and praying.  Time to soak up Chad.  Time to practice very rusty Spanish with delightful hotel staff.
And coming home - was delightful.
Where last year I was SO stressed about the year in front of me.  This year, I am looking forward to many things.  Ethiopia in May.  Small bits of yardwork this spring/summer.  (We have vowed to pace ourselves - working less and playing more.)  Fires in our backyard firepit, which is yet to be built. 
 Things feel comparably stable this year.  Long deeeeeeeep sigh.
I am thankful.
And the kids?
They did great!  I have one favorite quote of the week.  Krissy said, "Grandma is even worse than you are mom." (Yes. Major brownie points scored there.)
This morning, I broke a major parenting rule.  I woke my sleeping baby (at 8 am) because I missed him too much to wait for him to wake up on his own!  I was shocked that he did not come and find us in the middle of the night.  Last year he would have.  He would never have slept peacefully, wondering if we would really arrive as we promised.  This year, after 6 days away, we woke him up because we missed him!  Such a miracle!
Also a miracle, he spent the whole day alternating playing, cuddling, and saying "I love you soo much!  I'm so happy you are home!"
I am so thankful to all the people who loved our kids so well while we were gone.  The peace that filled our home today is proof that they were so well cared for while we were away.
We are blessed.