Monday, January 30, 2012

A Clever Little Something to Think About . . .

Scroll down and pause the playlist at the bottom . . . .

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And Now For Some Humor!

As the days march on, we are settling well into a new routine.  Different forever than the old one, but not bad.  Just different.  Luckily, we are finding humor in things that otherwise may just push us all over the edge.

Things about America that African children find amazing:

1.  Washers and dryers.  Who knew?  All of the kids are fascinated by the bizarre American custom of throwing dirty clothes into a deep, dark hole in a large metal machine and having them come out sometime later (after much churning and spinning) wet and clean.  "MOM!  What???"

The dryer . . . rates even higher however.  Pulling warm clothes and towels out and holding them up to their faces just about did them in.  How is this possible??? they seemed to ask with their expressions.

It has also become a game for them as dirty laundry goes in and then comes out sometime later - warm and dry and smelling like Downy - to see if they can identify the owner of each item.  Phoebe especially, likes to stand when I'm trying to unload it and shout out with such excitement, "MOM!!!  Phoebe!!!",  "MOM!!!  Eliza!", "MOM!!!! Olivia!!"  (Which sounds like "O-Lee-Vee-Uh")  This is cute for about the first two minutes.  Then, after the first FIVE minutes or so and after about the tenth load . . . not so cute.  I have to keep reminding myself that she is taking such joy in what is such a mundane task for me.  It has actually helped me enjoy doing laundry.  Such wonder and pleasure in such a simple thing.

For Ben, our most mechanically inclined, these two machines completely captivate him.  When I'm in the kitchen, content knowing that the laundry is clipping along, my bliss is interrupted by the ringing of bells on the dryer.  I tiptoe down the hall and see him open the dryer door, close it, push any and all buttons and re-start the dryer on all different settings.  This little dance may happen five or six times in a five minute period.  He is dead-set on figuring out how this thing can be responsible for such magic.  Some days, I open the dryer and find his wet and muddy snowpants stuffed in with a load of clean and almost dry towels.  OR . . . I open the washer and find a load of clothing - already washed - sharing space with wet, muddy jeans. 

I started noticing that my go-to washer settings - Load size: Super, Temp: Hot, Task: Heavy Duty Wash - were mysteriously changed when I went to take a load out.  The dials now read such ridiculous things as Load size: Small (this has NEVER happened), Temp: Cold (very rare) and Task: Rinse Only.  The first few times I thought either I was losing it or the machine was malfunctioning.  I'm slow.

Utterly fascinated . . . but not yet comprehending the process!  Ha!  :-) 

2.  Ice.  Who knew?  Two love it . . . two hate it.  "Mom!!! (always with a LOUD volume and ended with an exclamation point!)  Water!  ICE!!!"  . . . or . . . "Mom!!  Water!  NO ICE!!!"

Also included in this category is ice cream.  I know this will sound so cruel, but I cannot tell you how utterly hilarious it is to witness someone's first popsicle headache.  And even MORE hilarious to see it happening to FOUR people at the same time!  :-)  Sick, I know.

3.  Volume controls.  Up.  Down.  Up.  Down.  "Um . . . Isaac . . . could you please go and see what exactly is going on in there?" 

This fascination also applies to remote controls of any kind.  Take the batteries in.  Take the batteries out.  Push all the buttons.  Hold it up to the ear to see if it makes a sound. 

Week number two, Zane came marching up the stairs from the basement - Jesse and Ben left in his wake - shouting at full volume, "YOU ARE FORBIDDEN FROM EVER TOUCHING THE REMOTES AGAIN!!!!!"  Followed by, "Mom!!!  Do I have authority over them???  They are touching everything and now they have PERMANENTLY ruined the XBox!!!"  Did I mention he is six?  He has no fear and thinks it is his sole purpose in life to point out to Jesse and Ben all the ways they are NOT acting like normal Americans. 

The unforeseen gift in this is that all of the kids, while completely annoyed at many and different points throughout the day, have also found great humor in it.  All 13 of us have had SUCH moments of side-splitting laughter over the silliest things.  It has helped us see how things that seem normal to us are completely weird to the new kids and we all just LAUGH.  And then we fall on the floor and laugh some more. 

And truly, laughter is THE best medicine for healing and growing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cuteness and Fun on a Warm Day in . . . January?

Yesterday was long but good and while still thinking through Part 2, I thought I'd post some photos of our day.  Such a strange, glorious block of weather we've been having.  I think it was almost 55 degrees.  Midwest, middle of January, should be snowy and COLD.  We are ALL really glad it's not!  :-)

Right hand woman.  :-)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Words Are Difficult to Find

It has been too long since I've updated, and for all of you who have been following our story, praying for us and BLESSING us with food and so many other good things, I am so sorry!

I have had profound thoughts swirling in my head since the very first day they arrived home, but then, as night comes and the last one is fast asleep (eleven kids makes for a serious bedtime routine!) I am so tired and also so deeply touched by the day and this crazy life and the ways God has been so real and right-here-with-us that I simply cannot find the words to do it justice.

I'm going to try tonight because I think it is important for two reasons:  one, because I don't ever want to forget these first days, and two, because I think it is really, REALLY important that you know the WHOLE picture thus far.  I am realizing that so many adoption blogs paint a one-dimensional picture of what this experience is all about, and, as with most all of life, it is so much more than that.

The first couple of days were mostly a haze for all of us.  Rob and the kids home from Africa were jet-lagged and probably completely overwhelmed with America, American Christmas, and snow!  Once we got through Christmas morning (Gifts for eleven kids take a LONG time to open when certain people insist we go one-by-one.  I won't mention who that certain person might be.) the reality began to set in for all of us that this is real.  Forever.  No take-backs, no do-overs, no pause and rewind.  The first few days were a novelty.  Everyone was on their best behavior, giddy over Christmas gifts, intrigued by all the gadgets that mark American lives, but by days three and four . . . well, the bio kids were getting slightly agitated with the noise level (it seems LOUD is a cultural norm in Ethiopia and I think especially when you've been one of so many kids trying to be first for food, first for the cute outfit, first for the nannies to fawn over) and frankly, sick of stepping aside and yielding to whatever wants and needs the new kids had.  They were sick of finding their 'stuff' messed with, sick of having to answer questions and explain every last minute detail of everything.  It was beyond difficult for them and they were clearly growing fatigued with the whole experience.  The language barrier was beyond exhausting.

For Rob and I, well . . . most of those same feelings were haunting us.  Add to that the immense pressure of making sure ALL of the kids were doing okay emotionally, ALL of the kids were getting some face time with Mom and Dad AND making sure we were setting down proper boundaries with the new kids.   Add some unnamed, very loud, very demanding little girls to that mix . . . one loud, demanding little boy who up until now had rather liked being the loud, demanding one (but was now being handily outshouted, outdemanded, and outeverythinged) . . . and you get the picture.  For about 90% of my waking hours I thought my head might.just.explode.  Really.  One of the days I'm pretty sure I was hitting myself in the head saying, "I CAN'T TAKE THIS ONE.MORE.MINUTE!  CAN'T DO IT!"  Pretty sure because after that and for about two days, my head hurt like nobody's business.  Felt exactly like someone had hit me repeatedly.  :-) 

Those days were beyond difficult and I want to be so totally truthful about that.  Fear and yes, even regret, began to creep in and I cannot tell you what that was doing to my heart and mind.  I have never prayed so much, begged prayer from others so much, and felt so totally out of control.   So totally aware that unless God reached down and gave us some sense that things were going to be okay, we might just have made the pivotal, worst mistake of our lives.  Does that sound horrible?  I know it does.  But I want to let you in on the secret that most blogs won't . . . it is the down and dirty truth.  Because when you decide to love and care for children that are abandoned and hurt, and bring them into your home forever, it is hard.  And so very messy.

Here's the thing though.  God.  HE is faithful.  HE is good.  And He heard our cries and at some point in that first week, we both had some supernatural peace come over us.  We down-shifted and moved into survival mode.  Do only what's necessary, keep EVERYTHING simple, get some play breaks for the bio kids and SURVIVE.  We stared at one another with glazed over eyes, asked one another, "Are you sorry?", and both knew way, way down deep that we were not.

Somewhere in all the craziness, God met us and we have all been given a measure of grace that is astounding.  Because in all of the scary adoption BOOKS, they tell you to not expect life to look anything close to normal for six months to a year.  I believed that totally the first week. (I was, however, sticking fast to the six month end of the spectrum.  Rob . . . well, he leaned waaaay toward the year end.  :-) )   The miraculous thing is that this week and most of last and every day that comes is growing exponentially better.  Life is taking shape, the day-to-day routine is coming back and there is ORDER in this house of 13 people.  The boys love school, love to help (who knew a vacuum cleaner could be so fun?), and LOVE to play.  The bio kids are back to their homeschool tutelage and back doing school with me, Rob is back to work, and very most, most beautiful of all?  ALL three of my little girls are napping AT THE SAME TIME!!!  Praise God!  :-)  There has never been a more appreciated hour and a half (two if I'm lucky!) and most certainly never a more enjoyed cup of coffee (made only better by the HEAVY CREAM added to it.  Let's get serious folks, the 2% milk just ain't gonna cut it!).

The weird and beautiful and wonderful thing is that over the past few days, there have been more moments of joy and awe at what God has done, and fewer and fewer moments of crazy.  Bad crazy. There will never be a shortage of good crazy around here!

Stay tuned for part two . . .