Monday, November 29, 2010

"Outside lights off"

In another installment of 
"funny things the kids say"...
#5's term for "it's dark outside" 
is "outside lights off"
or sometimes "no outside lights on".

Many times she says things a little backwards...
like "Me Mommy I love"
which means
I love you, Mommy.
(I'll take it!)

and Six will tell me:
"This no I love."
instead of
I don't like it.

It's amazing how much English they are using now!

As I was sitting and detangling Five's hair yesterday, 
she casually told her Daddy and I that: 
"In Ethiopia, outside lights off, doggies eat."
When we asked for clarification...
she made this low growling sound.


When we asked her what they eat...
she named herself and the other two littles.

Double yikes.

As they are speaking more English...
we are learning more about their life in Ethiopia.
Some things we can't even fathom here in the USA.
Our dogs don't typically pose a threat.
We don't have dogs coming to steal 
our children away in the night.

We don't have to worry about SO many things
that my babies had to worry about.

Have you ever had to worry if you were going 
to be able to feed your children in the morning?

Have you watched someone die of Malaria?

Yeah... me neither.

Their history is difficult.
Their stories are often hard to hear.
But watching them chatter in either language about 
the lights on the tree...
or hearing them try to sing along to songs on the radio...
I am SO thankful that I get to walk them through these things.
I get to be the one to hug my girls and tell them that they 
don't have to be afraid of the dark anymore.

And that our giant fuzzball won't EVER try to eat them.
She is a SUPER picky eater.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


(N) An event that sets off a series of thoughts, feelings, 
emotions or sometimes physical reactions 
based solely on a memory. 
(Dictionary according to Chrissy)

Before we adopted our three kiddos,
I had my own set of triggers.
It might be a smell,
a sound,
a phrase,
a tone of voice...
but there are things that "set me off".
And not in a good way.

I have a friend, Lisa, who knows a lot about "triggers" too.
If I am having a bad day, I can call her and say...
"There was this 'trigger'..."
and she understands.
Her advice?
Since she's one of the most Jesus-loving women I know...
she says "trap the crap".
(Which is a reference to the verse 
"take every thought captive" 2 Cor. 10:5)

I love my friend and her way of saying things
so that they stick in my head.
I sometimes need reminders to trap the crap...
especially when I have let the trigger take hold
of my entire brain and send me head-first
into a hurricane of emotion.

My problem is this:
my three littles can't identify their own triggers
and they can't communicate them to me
and I can't help head them off
because I don't know where they are hiding.

This morning it was raining outside.
Was that the trigger?
It was dark when 5 and 7 woke up.
#6 slept in until 6:05am.
Was the darkness the trigger?
Whatever it was...
wherever it was hiding...
Baby Boy had a big food meltdown this morning.

I know my babies know what it is to be "starving".
I don't allow that word anymore out of the mouths of my first four.
I guarantee they don't know "starving" like the littles know "starving".
The first four barely allow their tummies to growl... much less...starving.

Maybe he felt a little hungry and the hunger itself was a trigger.

Crying hysterically, 
Big huge tears,
Clinging to my legs,
BEGGING for milk, water, food of any kind...
it was PANIC.
I saw PANIC in his eyes.

It was horrible.

And it took me a minute to remember his past.
To remember that he knows starvation.
To remember that he knows the feeling of being hungry
and not getting food.
He knows drinking unclean water.
He knows...
WAY more than a baby boy should know.

So once I saw what was going on...
and identified the source of the problem...
He got a bottle of milk,
with a little extra cream,
a handful of cereal on his tray
while I made his favorite...
pancakes with apple butter.

And he ate several.

And we hit the "reset" button
on this trigger.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Career Day

Dear School District,
This past week my oldest child was allowed to participate in a field trip to a local Career Day presentation.
He was really looking forward to this field trip.He even wore a suit!
He was excited about seeing the abundance of career choices presented to him that day, and was looking forward to meeting people in the community who are the leaders in their respective fields.

Of particular note was the inclusion of the local Bail Bondswoman... Grumpy's Bail Bonds... in the career fair.
(Yes, bloggy friends... she was there... running the booth.)

While I am certain you weren't intentionally letting the kids know that you expect them to wind up in jail in their near future...
(*yes, that's a coupon.)

and I am SURE you didn't mean to appear to promote underage drinking by allowing the 8th graders to return home with lovely parting gifts such as:

(Beer Cozy)
I am just wondering... exactly WHAT WAS her inclusion in career day supposed to be promoting?
Do you think I want my son to aspire to Bail Bondsmanship as his career of choice?

Were there other lovely career options as well?

Were there professional "Hit Men" present with large breasted women hanging out of their shirts people handing out brochures and free beer can cozies?

How about the "Lady Of The Night" booth?? What kind of free gifts were they offering?

I hear there was some guy with a big scary looking snake...
I am hoping he was a herpetologist. 

My 8th grader wasn't sure.
He spent all of his time in line waiting for the free gifts from the scantily clad bail bond woman.


********EDITED TO SAY:
I do not NOW nor do I hope to EVER need the services of this or any other bail bonds person. Thank you for your concern over the fees... but this was simply a post written out of sarcastic outrage over this particular local character being included in the middle school career day for my child.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rare cooking post

Today I made fresh mozzarella!

This was actually the third time I attempted this recipe.
The first two times produced something akin to cauliflower shaped bouncy ball.
And you don't want to know how awful it tasted.
Hint: We unsuccessfully used it as mouse trap bait in the garage.

Having finally produced something yummy, 
I wanted to do this little pictorial cooking tutorial for my friends 
who like to try their hand at homemade stuff.

First, I started with one gallon of whole milk.
(not my counters, unfortunately, but I loved the picture at )

Then, pour milk into a large, non-reactive pot.
Next, get out a clean glass and put one cup of water in the glass.
To this, add 2tsp. Citric Acid. 
(mistake I made with batch #1 was leaving this out)
I bought mine at the local crazy health food lady's store.

Next, whisk like a crazy person trying to make whipped cream out of whole milk 
and pour the dissolved citric acid/water into the pot of milk in a tiny, thin stream. 
(mistake I made with batch #2...not stirring with enough vigor 
thereby allowing the citric acid the opportunity 
to curdle the milk prematurely)
Do not stop pouring or whisking. 
Grow an extra arm if you must... but do NOT stop whisking.
NEXT... heat the milk SLOWLY to 90 degrees. 
Once it hits 90 degrees, take it off of the heat and add
1/2 tsp of Rennet.
I used actual rennet from one of these:
but you can also purchase this:
or this stuff... but I'm not sure about the conversion:
Stir for almost a minute, being sure to get it all blended up well.
You can't SEE the rennet being mixed in... so you want to be sure to stir from the top to the bottom, then bottom to top, side to side... blendy, blendy, blendy... all nice and uniform like.

Don't touch the pot.
It likes its alone time.
Resist the temptation.

Come back in about 10 minutes.
It's still sitting there, doing it's thing....
that's fine.
What you should see now may look something like this:
Uh huh... 
yummy, right?
Okay... well, next...
you want to take a knife and cut little squares in the curds.
That's the money shot, baby.
Good stuff.
Okay. Now walk away again.
I know... it's hard.
Just do it.

When you come back in about 10 more minutes,
you will want to get a large bowl and put a colander inside of it in the sink.
I used my cheapest plastic one that never drains well.
Gently pour the pot of curds into the colander.
I let all the whey drain into the bowl to give to my dog, 
but you can also use this to water some acid loving plants if you like. 
Or you can dump it... to each her own.
 After I got the colander out of the bowl of whey, I started rinsing the curds with hot water.
This is where the magic starts happening!
I used the hottest water out of the tap and just tilted the colander around in a circle while rinsing it off, getting all of the whey out and it magically starts forming a ball!
I dumped it into a bowl of SALTY hot water.
Yeah... looks AWESOME, right?
Okay... just wait.

So, once in the hot salty water, I was able to stretch and knead the cheese, almost like making pizza dough.
It stretched quite well and became somewhat addictive to play with!
However, don't over-do the stretching.
Once I was happy with the consistency, I rolled it back around in the hot water till it looked like a log...
and plopped it on the counter to take this picture:
I know the picture looks like a roll of frozen bread dough, but it's cheese!!
And it was yummy!
Needs a little more salt, which I will try to incorporate next time... 
but its WHEY WAY better than store-bought fresh mozzarella!

Thanks to my friend Julie for giving me cheese pointers 
the last two times with the failed batches!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adoption Ethics

Back when we first got started in our adoption process, we discovered that out there in the world of adoption there are a bazillion agencies.

Each agency has their own set of fees, procedures, country programs, and application procedures.

Each agency has their own requirements of potential adoptive parents.

And each agency has varying levels of ethical practices.

We were blissfully unaware of the differences in the ethics of different agencies until after we were in process and  discovered different agencies handling situations VERY differently than ours.

Many things that were NOT okay with our agency were perfectly fine with others.

While we were in process, I felt that this may have been unfair and some of the "rules" seemed silly... but looking back from this end of things, I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that we used one of the most ethical agencies in this country for our adoption.

Now that we are done, I can tell you that there were times I was SUPER upset with the way they handled things. They have this reputation as being VERY CONSERVATIVE in all aspects. Well, this is all well and good until you are trying to discern if a rumor you are hearing online and in chat rooms about Ethiopian adoptions is TRUE or not... and you are told to wait while they sort it all out.

However, since we have been home I have seen many other adoption stories online via blogs and stories from friends. I have heard stories that make my skin crawl. I have heard stories that sound an awful lot like child trafficking. I have heard stories that sound like birth-parent-coercion.

If you found this post because you are researching agencies...
do yourself a favor.
If you read a negative review somewhere...
consider the subject matter of the review.

If someone is upset because they didn't get their photos when they thought they should (ahem... ME!), or they are upset because they didn't pass committee the first two times and feel like they are getting the runaround (also ME...)... those are issues with the way the agency is trying to make sure they are doing the right thing.

On the flip side of that... if the reviews have to do with not getting communication from the adoption agency, or unexpected changes once the parent arrives in country, or unanswered questions about the birth family, or ANYTHING that sounds even SLIGHTLY unethical...RUN.
RUN far away from that agency.
Do not look back. Do not be mesmerized by their promises, their shorter timelines, or their lower fees. Do not be in such a hurry to get started that you jump into a contract with an agency that you will then have to defend for the rest of your life. Don't do it. Unethical agencies need to be put out of business and the only way that will happen is if adoptive parents STOP SUPPORTING THEM.

As for our agency...

Did they do everything perfectly all the time? No. 
There are several families who feel like the ball was dropped with respect to their June/July embassy date mix ups, but they don't doubt the ethicacy (is that a word?) of their adoptions. They may have put the adoptive parents in the loony bin a time or two, but they never went out and picked out children to fill up their orphanages. They never coerced a birth parent into relinquishing a child. They have programs in place to help families stay together. They have a clinic to see sick children and parents and pregnant women to help them become and remain healthy so that they can parent their children. They are multi-faceted in their approach in-country. 

What could they do better? They could support parents better after they are at home.
They had many concerns regarding our adopting three kiddos when we already had 4 at home, but I have not had a checking-in phone call since we were home 2 weeks (which was more about our trip and our immediate transitions). Many would argue that's a job for your social worker and the post-placement visits... which I can see as well... but ultimately the success or failure of a placement reflects back on the agency, not the home study workers... so I think it would be in everyone's best interest if they checked in with families regularly for the first year home.
Could our agency have given us photos more regularly?? I believe so. There has to be a way to get waiting parents photos and/or video more regularly. Every 3 months is a HUGE length of time when you are waiting (especially for those adopting an infant or young baby). Some kind of secure website where waiting families could see the progression of their paperwork or see their number on the referral list or something similar would be wonderful.

I loved the in-country staff. They are some of the most amazing, called-by-the-Lord, passionate, children-loving people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. I can say without a doubt that those women genuinely LOVE the children in their care.

Don't be fooled into thinking "all those negative reviews are written by the same angry person". Maybe there's a reason why someone is so angry. There is no room for snarkiness and petty agency-bashing in adoption.
We are talking about CHILDREN'S LIVES here.
It's hard enough without adding to the drama with some allegations of unethical practices hanging over your case.
Just be VERY cautious.

If you want to know... here's our agency's website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Things that are hard.

Do you remember that show?
$27,000 Pyramid?
Or was it $270,000...
I forget.
I think it had a 2 and a 7 in the title...
but it was a pyramid.
*Edited** Okay... so I did some research and found out it was FIRST the $10000 Pyramid, THEN the $25000 Pyramid... but most times just called Pyramid. See honey? I am just BAD with numbers in ALL things... not just how much I spent at the grocery store! for more info.


On that show there were two pairs of people, one person from each pair was usually some B-list celebrity. The one giving the clues would say stuff like:
"I like to lick myself instead of taking a bath..."
and the person with their back to the pyramid of clues would say...
(to a chorus of laughs from the audience... )
"Gene Simmons!"
to which the person giving the clues would then say...
"Ummmm.... I make strange sounds at night when I am in heat."
(more laughter...)
"I have nine lives..."
then the clue-getter would say "Things a cat might say!"
Then the next block would turn over revealing a new clue.

Now that you know how I spent several hours of my youth...

Sometimes I think I don't give an actual portrayal of what life is really like with 7 children in the home.
Seven children, all VERY different, three dealing with adoption trauma, 4 dealing with my-family-just-adopted-three-kids trauma, and a husband who has been out of town for 8 of the days so far in the month of November.

Sometimes I think you click on whatever button brings you to this corner of the internet and somehow, magically, rose-tinted glass appears over your monitor and you see my life as I may have portrayed it in snippets, blurbs and anecdotes.

So, today, my dear readers... I give you...

"Things that are hard."
(This is my alternate title... it was going to be:
YOU-CAN'T-HANDLE-THE-TRUTH-Wednesday! but, that just didn't flow.)

You may be thinking to yourself,
"Self...Chrissy has older kids at home. 
That MUST make her life with 7 easier than my life with 3 toddlers."
(ahem, not calling any names, cough, cough... but her name starts with a J and ends in AMEY. )

Let me just give you a normal scenario that takes place on any given day ending in Y.

Hubby has been out of town for 4 days, the kids have barely spoken to him save the 20 seconds on the phone when it gets passed around, and its 5pm. You have just returned home from picking up one child who stayed after school for an activity, three children need help with homework, one of which is learning some kind of math with angles that you know you knew when you were in 8th grade but now have conveniently blocked out of your brain along with leg warmers, Rave-shellacked bangs, and your adoration of all things New Kids On The Block. Dinner is a nagging thought in the back of your head and the the little kids want to go out and play. Since your yard is not fenced in and you have many blind spots as well as very tempting things for children to want to explore in other yards, you decide that the best thing to do is to beg one child to skip homework till after dinner and supervise the littles on the trampoline while you throw something together for dinner and google "complementary angles" to help with the homework. Suddenly, a scream comes from the back yard followed by a chorus of crying young children. After a quick investigation, you discover that you clearly put the wrong child "in charge" on the trampoline. After fussing at that child, firing said child from baby-watching-duties, sending that child back to do his/her homework, you send an alternate in to pinch-hit with the littles. This seems to be working until one of the littles has to go potty while you are browning meat. 5 minutes later, you scrape the burnt edges off of whatever you were cooking, tell the copy-cat pottiers to wait, and give the older child the phone number for The Homework Hotline. After explaining that NO, you DON'T actually use this angle stuff in real life but you DO have to graduate high school to get to college and get to do what you DO want to do in life... and therefore the stupid angle homework IS necessary... there is yet another "emergency" from the back yard. At this point, it is more trouble than it is worth to have someone "watch" the littles... so you decide to pull them all inside (kicking and screaming despite their obvious disdain for playing outdoors) and turn on some kind of mindless entertainment on the TV. Thankful for the instant viewability of Wonderpets on the Wii, you return to the kitchen with a slight "100 yard dash" pep in your step as you remember... "oh CRAP! The chicken!!" Wondering why you don't just invest in a truck load of Ramen Noodles instead of trying to cook actual food, you throw some other ingredients into dinner and toss it into the oven to cook/wait till 6pm. This is the "help" that the big kids have to offer. Just in case you were thinking it's know who you are. (Just kidding, Jamey... I love you!)

Another hard thing??
Okay... since you asked.
Grieving your previous life is hard.
Well, once upon a time... my husband and I had this routine.
We would wake up at 6am during the school year...
get the middle schoolers onto the bus by 6:35, and have 25-35 minutes of uninterrupted time during which we worked our way through a couple's devotional book, prayed for our day and our running list of prayer requests, drank our coffee under a snuggly blankie on the couch.. and just enjoyed our mornings together.
Now? When he is in town we grumble something about how stinking early the littles wake up, how dark it is, how they wake up at 300 decibels and only go up from there, and how we miss our little bits of time together. We have NO time together. None. Not a bit. Now, I know what some of you are thinking... "aww, let me break out my tiny fiddle and play a sad song for Chrissy." YES. I know some women have husbands who are deployed, some have lost their husbands, some have husbands who work worse hours than mine and others are never going to try that route again because some man has destroyed their faith in the entire male population. HOWEVER, this was one GOOD routine we had put into place in our lives. We worked for over a decade to get it down, to get to the point where we COULD do this... and now its gone. Gone, gone, gone. I hear you saying, "well just stay up later!" or "well, just get up earlier than the littles!" or "just drug the children and lock them in a room for an hour so you can have some quiet time together!"  Let me just say..I can NOT stay up later because I get up early and I get up as early as my brain/body will allow. Sometimes earlier.

Want something else that's hard??
Taking three small children out by yourself.
Not just taking them out, because as if that's not already hard enough...
then there's the inevitable STUPID, IRRITATING, ANNOYING comments we seem to magnetically attract whenever we are out.
YES. There are three of them.
Yes, they are siblings.
Yes, they are close in age.
No, they are not triplets.
No, they are not twins either.
Yes, they were adopted.
No, I won't tell you their history.
No, they don't want to hug you.
No, you can't touch them or their hair.
Yes, they are adorable and I know two look more alike than the third.
And no, my hands weren't this full until you interrupted our groove by asking these questions.
Your unwanted attention has now freaked them out, brought me unnecessary stress, and made the fur on my neck stand up and my canine teeth show a little more. No, not really... but ANY kind of approach by a stranger lately has me totally on-guard and ready to tell someone to "back away slowly, and no one gets hurt."
If we could leave the house in a bubble, not be seen by anyone, and get our errands done without outside interference... oh my gosh.... I just can't even imagine how much easier that would be!!!
When did adult people forget that even if the child is friendly... you are still a stranger to that child!!!
Parents are supposed to teach children to fear strangers!! There's safety in this! Just because my children are really stinking adorable and you want to squeeze them... that does not mean that you can!!

And because I am partial to overly-long blog posts lately...
Want to hear another hard thing??
Sure you do.

It's hard parenting internationally adopted children.
You know those 15 books you read telling you how not to screw them up?
Yeah. I don't either.
I know I read them...
they kinda mesh together into a general warning about Reactive Attachment Disorder, angry teen years, and teaching children appropriate boundaries.
Parenting I.A. kids is a lot like parenting your biological children...
For instance...
when my #4 kiddo was a toddler and he got into the pantry and climbed the shelves to get to whatever forbidden food he wanted, simultaneously knocking over many difficult-to-clean-up products in the process... he got swatted on his well-padded, diapered bottom and was made to help clean up the mess. Afterwards, I assured him that I loved him and all was well with the world. Well... same scenario, adopted child with an unknown past, abandonment issues, previous trauma, and who is learning to attach appropriately to his parents...........
What do you do?
My instinct is to swat the well-padded, diapered bottom.
The books tell you NOT to do this as it will permanently damage the child's ability to trust you, and they will wind up sneaking a knife out of the kitchen drawer in the middle of the night to sneak in and kill you when they are a teenager. Or not.
The books tell you to calmly explain to the child that you understand that they must be hungry to have gone through so much trouble to get a snack, and that it must make him feel scared and sad to be hungry. You should then explain that you are in charge of feeding him and that you will not let him starve and that all he has to do is tell you he is hungry and you will provide a snack.

Uh huh. I thought the same thing.

It's SOOOOOOOOOO lovey-dovey-crunchy-granola-mother-earth-loves-me that it makes me want to gag.

But, what do you do?
Raise the kill-his-parents-in-the-middle-of-the-night kid? 
Or the well-adjusted, well-attached adopted child who 
is secure in his family and loves his parents??

And you know what else?? 
Spanking your kid or not spanking your kid... 
there are no guarantees that your kid will 
grow up all super well-adjusted and such.

It's hard. It's hard constantly second guessing every single stinking thing you do as a parent.
Should I continue giving another helping of this meal to this child? She is GOING to explode!
Is this an orphanage behavior or a toddler behavior? Is this an adoption issue or a kid issue?
Knowing the difference in what you are dealing with helps you decipher how to handle it...
but micro-tuning your reactions ALL DAY LONG is hard.

Lots of stuff is hard.
And I don't want to leave you thinking that we have it super easy 
and that life is always super fun and awesome and rosy...
because no one should make decisions like adoption without all the facts.
No one should enter into something like this without knowing that it WILL be hard.
We knew it would be hard. We were prepared. And it's still surprisingly hard.
And even on the hardest day...we wouldn't go back and do it differently.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The evil that is Daylight Savings Time:
Whoever thought of the sadistic idea of "fall back"... never asked me for my opinion.
My kiddos who are "like clockwork" 6am-waker-uppers... suddenly became 5am waker-uppers.
This simply will not do!
So, like any sane mother, I calmly stumbled into their rooms Sunday and Monday at 5am, begged them to go back to sleep, covered them up, mumbled something about it being super dark outside, something about an un-Godly hour, and left the room with a prayer tossed over my shoulder for 30-60 more minutes of rest.
Yeah, I didn't really think it would work either.
Last night I decided to try melatonin to "reset" their clocks!
HELLO, 6am! Woohoo!!
NEVER thought I would be happy to be awakened at 6am.
So, to recap... DST= bad, Melatonin= GOOD!

Kitty Cat Love:
#5 comes to me yesterday and says...
"Mommy, I like kitty!"
Me: "Yes, I know! Kitties are nice!"
#5: "Can I have it please kitty?"
Me: "No, kitty's house is OUTSIDE..."
#5 "Mommy, Kitty NO outside. Kitty, I like it."
Me: "Do you want a cookie?"
Yes... I am THAT mom. The one that changes the topic with sweet treats.
We will not have a cat.
And that is that.
And no adorable, wide-eyed, sweet voiced little girl is going to change that.

Speak and be heard:
#6 is learning to put words together to form sentences!
If you know me personally, you know this has been a huge struggle.
We are somewhere between the Amharic/Wolaytinga phase and the English phase of things...
and that means lots of things like "Mommy. Milk!" which makes my blood boil.
We are very much a "how do you ask?" kind of family.
Demanding milk is NOT how you ask.
So now she can stumble through "Please have milk?" and I am thoroughly pleased!
Her hair is also getting longer and allowing me to ALMOST do something other than our little puffs all over her head... stay tuned for some kind of cute style soon!

From the sleep deprivation files:
#7 - baby boy.
Well... Friday night he decided sleep was for wimps.
Not sure what was going on there...
but he was ALL THE WAY AWAKE
till after 10:30.
Jumping, playing, singing, talking, poking, running, jumping some more...
for 3 hours and 30 minutes PAST bed time.
He finally passed out in sheer exhaustion in the bed with us and proceeded to kick us all night long AND wake up at 5am.
He attempted to do the same thing Saturday night... which is when we discovered the melatonin.
Happiness is a baby back on schedule.

The "Processing" process:
#5 has been processing her adoption.
She tells me ALL THE TIME about stuff they had in Ethiopia, food in Ethiopia, clothes in Ethiopia... etc.
It goes like this:
while getting her dressed...
    "Mommy- this Ethiopia's!"
     Me: "Did you have a dress like this in Ethiopia?"
     Her: "Yes!"
While making breakfast:
     Her: "Mommy... this injera?"
     Me: "No, baby... mommy is making dabo - bread."
     Her: "No injera? Injera Ethiopia's?"
     Me: "Yes, Injera is in Ethiopia. Do you want some injera soon?"
     Her: "Yes. Injera soon."
While eating breakfast (chocolate croissants):
     Her: "Mommy, this NO have it Ethiopia."
     Me: "They don't have this chocolate dabo in Ethiopia??"
     Her: "Nooooo!"
     Me: "Do you like it?"
     Her: "Yes! Dabo good! I like it!"

And that's just three references in one MORNING.
This happens ALL DAY LONG.
It's a good thing...
She needs the freedom to process all that has happened to her.
Sometimes though I do get a little annoyed...
"No, you did NOT have a dress like THIS in Ethiopia.
Sorry. You didn't."
                  But I keep that inside my head.
                        I'm not THAT mean, y'all!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yesterday was Orphan Sunday.

Just the name "Orphan Sunday" brings up a big bag of mixed emotions for me.

I cringe a little at the title because I think any time we spend one day focusing on a cause, it gets forgotten the other 364 days of the year. Like a husband who only gives his wife a card on Valentine's Day and their anniversary... forgetting that she exists the rest of the year. This is a daily problem.

Why do we have orphans?
What makes a child an orphan?
There are many complex answers to those questions which have been written about extensively elsewhere... but suffice it to say... we have it pretty stinking good here in the USA. We have access to medical care which can't be denied. We can walk off the street into any emergency room and be treated regardless of ability to pay. We can walk into any drug store and buy medication (relatively cheaply) to treat any number of conditions which would kill an adult in an impoverished nation. We have clean water, a clean food supply, and the ability to work, earn money, and live pretty much however we like.

There are children out there who need families, this is true.
There are parents out there who will never consider adoption because it's

  • too expensive, 
  • too long of a process, 
  • they want a child with their DNA, 
  • they want a child who looks like them 
  • or they are scared of the unknowns.
1. It is expensive. No getting around that. However, there are many people out there who will support your decision to adopt, many ways to do fundraising, and many grants to apply for and receive. 
2. It's not THAT long of a process. It only starts once you get started and in OUR case it was no longer than a pregnancy. The timeline is different for each country program and even Ethiopia's timeline has changed since our process began less than a year ago... but one thing is for certain. Your timeline is WAY longer if you don't get started.
3. Some DNA just shouldn't be passed along... know what I mean? I met some of those people recently.
4. I get "wanting a child who looks like you". I really do. But please also know... this is a seriously over-rated reason not to adopt. 
5. Not gonna lie... there are billions of unknowns in adoption. Billions. There's more you won't know other than how your child got that scar under their chin. You won't know how, where, when or why the "processing" of their adoption, past trauma and sadness will happen. You won't know what will "trigger" the tears, the anger, the withdrawal, or the need to sleep for two days. You may very well adopt a child who has experienced more in their 3 years than you have in your entire lifetime. You may very well adopt a child who has been s@xually abused. You may very well adopt a child who has a hidden medical condition. You may bring your child home and find out they are a year older than reported. Or a year younger. You may spend 8 months looking at a photograph and imagining a personality, then arrive to bring your child home and discover they are filled with rage. It could happen. Or not. Those are things you have to weigh for your own family. It was worth the gamble for us. 

You know what else bugs me about "Orphan Sunday"? Thousands of people heard the message yesterday via Facebook, Twitter, Church messages, television, links on the internet... and how many of them actually put what they heard into action today? There are thousands of children waiting in the foster care system here in the USA. There are millions of children elsewhere in the world waiting for adoption. No, not every one of the 147 Million orphans are "adoptable". Some of them live in countries which are closed to international adoption. Not every family will qualify to adopt from every country. Our family, for instance, could not adopt from MANY countries because we already had 4 children and because we had children of both sexes.

 There ARE roadblocks. It's up to YOU to find the detour.

 It's not easy, it's certainly not glamorous, and it's not always fun... but we are glad we fought the committee... glad we stood in the monsoon rain having a yard sale... glad we sold t-shirts... glad we prayed and begged the prayers of others... glad we have our babies home now. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

3 Months Home

Today marks 3 months since we arrived back at home with the littles!

In a lot of ways it seems like much longer than that, but then again... like it was yesterday.

Don't read into that more than what it means... it just seems like some things are progressing rapidly, others aren't! That's just the way it is with children, not just adopted kiddos!

So, our daily routine from 10-weeks home hasn't really deviated too much... there are some minor changes.

One thing I had HOPED would change... our 6am wake-up call... has not changed.
It's pitch-dark in that bedroom when the girls wake up right at 6am like clockwork.
I don't need room-darkening curtains,
I use music in the background all night,
they go to bed at 7 - but we have tried all times between 7 and 9 to get them to sleep later... nothing has worked.
They don't have enough words yet to understand the clock situation and I have convinced them at 7pm that it's dark outside (see? dark! No outside light on!) and that we all sleep when it's dark.
We don't wake up or get out of bed until the "outside light" comes on.
No dice.
I even go in there some mornings and say "still sleep time" and get them to lay back down.
That doesn't work either.
I think Jesus must think this is funny because you have never met a more anti-morning-person than me.
I function on auto-pilot pretty well getting the big kids off to middle school Monday thru Friday, but until I have two cups of coffee in me,
I don't want to hear the Barney song,
I don't want to wipe hineys,
 I don't want to put sippy cups together,
 I don't want to hear screaming or fighting over a toy and
I CERTAINLY don't want to hear the chorus of electronic toys playing different songs.
Give me till 7am and the whole world is a more sunshiney, happy place to be.
The littles don't care about that.
I am SERIOUSLY WORRIED about what will happen the day we "fall back".
Oh my word. I think I will just cry if they begin waking up at 5am.
Enough about that...

Previously, I had a routine of leaving the house by 9am if we were running any errands. Now...
I just try really hard not to run any errands. The shock-and-awe factor we were previously exploiting which caused everyone to behave super well at any new location has now worn off and they are all about going to the "cookie store" (any one of several local grocery stores which offer free cookies to kids).
If I DO need to go anywhere, this is still the best time, however - if I can make it out the door right after the middle two get on the bus at 8am - its a much better arrangement.

Lunch - we do lunch earlier now. 10:45-11 seems to work well. Why so early? Well... the sooner they eat lunch, the sooner we can start getting ready for naps, which - since they have been up since the butt-crack of dawn wake up kinda early, seems to need to take place around 11:15-11:30am.

Nap - Baby Boy is getting a bottle at nap and bedtime.  And, NO... I don't want to hear about bottles and kids and teeth and whatnot. You come get three kids to bed at the same time, one with serious fear of being abandoned, and we will talk. He finishes the bottle before he falls asleep, usually in about 5 minutes, which gives me time to get the girls into bed, tucked in, prayered up, and back into his room. I then take the aforementioned bottle away, say "night night!" and leave. This works 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I wind up sitting on the end of his bed waiting for him to fall asleep because he is scared of me leaving. That makes me sad.

Nap time gives me a chance to catch up on whatever. Some days I bake, start dinner, read blogs, return emails, call a friend, clean the kitchen, or a rare treat - watch some movie I want to watch without interruption!

Around 2pm they start waking up. Around 3pm the bigger kids get off of the bus and at 4, everyone is home.
Most days we play outside after naps and once 4:30 or 5 rolls around I try to sneak inside leaving the bigger kids out with the littles for a few minutes so I can throw dinner together (if I have not already started it during nap time).

Dinner is normally at 6, but we are moving this a bit earlier so they can get up to bed around 6:30 instead of 7.
From several weeks ago, this still stands: dinner time. 800 reminders to sit on your bottom, 300 reminders to "eat", 290 reminders to chew with your mouth closed, and 287 reminders to use your fork

Bed time. Me and the three go upstairs, potty, brush teeth, do lotion, wipe some kind of hydrating cream through their hair, get pajamas on, tuck the girls in, put baby boy in bed as previously described, and hope everyone stays put. 

All in all... things appear mostly the same as they did right around a month ago. 
I think we may be progressing slowly towards being able to communicate more effectively.

How am I? 
Well, I think my biggest downfall is always second guessing myself.
The difference between parenting birth children and parenting adopted children is HUGE.
Not just in the lack of time you have had with them, but in the understanding of their past experiences and how that plays into their daily lives and your daily life with respect to how you respond to them - in positive situations AND in negative ones. 
We have had several snafu's in our parenting strides with these three. 
We can all be having fun when suddenly some "trigger" pops up and one of the three dissolves in a puddle of tears. I have had well-meaning friends and family members tell me how they would parent them if they were in our situation... but you know what? You didn't read a bunch of books on attachment parenting with internationally adopted children. You don't know all the facts about their past. You don't see the wheels turning when some "trigger" pops up and threatens to ruin the moment. I know what I would have done with my first four in any given situation. But take EVERY SINGLE PARENTING TRICK you THOUGHT you knew about raising your birth children... and throw it out the window... and THEN you have an inkling of how it is to deal with 3 children who have had immense trauma in their little lives and need discipline for some infraction. 

Then there's the whole "is this an adoption issue or a pre-schooler issue?" thing that I weigh 40 kazillion times a day. That's a whole other post.

So... to review...
basically no changes except for fine-tuning our daily routines, and it seems everyone is getting more comfortable in their surroundings!

So... if you made it this far...
Here's a funny-of-the-day from #5 this morning as your reading reward!
I went in the bathroom to assist in the post-potty clean up and she says:
"Mommy...No eat caca."
Me: "VERY true. We don't eat caca."

I believe this may become our new motto.
(Clarification point in case my social worker is reading this... No one has EVER EATEN caca around here.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

An October in photos

Hello blog reading friends!

No, I didn't take any Halloween photos last night.

Bad mom award.

The little three didn't dress up or go out  begging for candy at strangers houses  Trick-or-Treating since they are typically really afraid of any type of costume or stuff designed to scare them. The bigger four went out with Dad (1 was a Titans football player, 2 was a baby, 3 was a fairy and 4 was Mario- from Super Mario Brothers). 

I do, however, have OTHER October photos 
proving that we made it out of the house 
on more than one occasion! 
Woo hoo! Yay us!

So... here goes!

We played with chalk!

 We even got some on the sidewalk!

 #5 thinks she's funny leaving chalky hand prints everywhere!

 We tried our hardest to get pictures of #2... who HATES having her photo taken!


 We learned to swing!


 Even the little guy! (Who isn't always THIS dirty...)

 But he IS normally this happy!

 We learned that the slide is not the root of all evil!
We sometimes wore shoes.

We were given some GORGEOUS dresses for the girls!
They love them!

 We sat on daddy's lap and snuggled in the gorgeous fall weather!

 We LOVE this guy!

 We were often SHOCKED by what we saw!!

 We were not super excited about THIS swing.

 Some of us less excited than others.

 These swings were better.
The cheesy smile #5 learned to do, was not.

 We met our friend, Yishak, at the park to play!
We were at the care center at the same time and love to see him!
The girls say "Mommy! Yishak so CUUUUUTE!"

 Some of us got BRAVE.

Others.... not so much.

We got this cool new wagon! We love it!

 We went to a pumpkin patch!

 Deceptively innocent looking, isn't she?? ;)


Big sunflower was a fun toy! 

 #6 - She was so happy about her pumpkin!

 I think #5 was wondering what it was for.

 We did heed this warning.

 But there was no such notice posted on the big trailer.

 75% of the boys in our family:

And the missing boy...#1... playing with the littlest! 

Pushing him in the swings... 
which he THOUGHT would be fun. 
 #4 - who I never have to BEG for a photo!

Isn't he adorable?? 

Re-thinking the "slides are not the root of all evil" statement.

They ARE, however, the root of all static electricity.

They were having much more fun than it looks like. 

They were.

I mean it. Fun times. 

I love this man:

Another sneaky pic of #2! Mwoo Hooo Hooo Haaa Haa! 

And another one! Isn't she gorgeous?

I discovered Baby Boy doesn't like the bull-riding tires.
I also discovered I had multi-colored hair and have since rectified that. 

 Baby Boy DOES like it when Mommy pushes him on the swings!

Hee!! Another one! This time a SMILE! 

#1 saying "I don't know WHY he's crying!!"
Make that screaming. 

Found a way to make him laugh!
Pretend to be knocked unconscious by his swinging feet! 

What's fun for one child is not necessarily fun for another. 
Case in point: 

#3 takes after her big sister.
What's wrong with my girls and photos?? 

Thankful for telephoto lenses.

 Then we thought it would be good to try to take a group picture on this ramp.

 Almost... 5/7 smiling!

Ok... not sure what's going on here...

 Baby Boy trying to escape, #6 looking somewhere else, #5 done with standing on the ramp, #3 acting like she's in pain, #2 clearly irritated, and #1 can't believe he has to participate.
 It didn't get much better. I never got one usable shot. I took 14.

But I got some good individual ones!
#5 is a doll!

Here's #7 being cute...

And #6 decided the camera was her friend! 

All in all... 
We had a busy, fun, memorable and otherwise very nice October!