Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Ni Hao!"

We are slowly but surely putting life back together around here post-Christmas. Suitcases have been unloaded. Laundry is done. The grand playroom purge is finished - old toys out in the garage to be rotated back in later this year, new toys happily situated in their new home. I'm still working on processing a lot of the thoughts that I have been having lately related to my Christmas experience this year. I've been doing a lot of reading too - all Africa-related (not a huge surprise) which also has me doing a lot of thinking about the state of the world - again. The last time I did a lot of "thinking" about global issues we somehow ended up with two toddlers. Thinking is dangerous, especially if you are praying too.

I hope to share more on this later. For now, here are some pictures I am loving right now. Big Bear got a gorgeous turquoise Chinese dress from a cousin who lives in Asia. It looked stunning on her against her dark skin. She kept running around the kitchen laughing and trying to run right up to the camera lens. We also taught her to bow and say "Ni Hao" which caused her to laugh even more. Talk about cross-cultural. An Ethiopian child, now living in America as a legal resident (soon to be citizen!) wearing a Chinese dress saying "Ni Hao". That's globalization for you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ridiculously Cute.

Our sweet friend Raya, a professional photographer who also happens to be in our home group, took these amazing family pictures for us. I know I am partial but the girls look ridiculously cute in these pictures. I feel like I should send these to Gladney for promotional purposes! How could you not make room in your heart for precious children like these?

I included a few fun shots she took of us too. We make no claims to be "ridiculously cute". For better viewing of the slideshow, make sure to click on an image so you can enlarge the view!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

Just one year ago today, we celebrated a bit of a mournful Christmas having just found out that we did not pass court and would have to wait several more months to have our case heard again in Ethiopian court. Today, we celebrated our first Christmas as a "forever family" - finally complete (at least for now...) with our two precious daughters. Oh come let us adore Him who is faithful to complete the good works He begins.

There is much to be say by way of reflection on our first Christmas season together. That will have to wait for another post after we have slept off today's festivities. We have all been living in Boogerland (sick again thanks to preschool germs!) and are headed off to bed pronto. However, I can't close the day without sharing the one gift that brought tears to my eyes. My parents gave us this early this morning as a family gift. I had no idea what was going to be in the box and just started crying when I pulled this out (and that type of a response is unusual for me). I had been so hoping to find something like this but didn't have any luck locally and didn't have the time in the midst of everything else that was going on this year to scour the Internet before Christmas. It was touching to see a Mary who looks like my little girls and a version of the Christmas story that embraces my children. Thanks, Mom and Dad. We will cherish this always as a reminder of the first Christmas we celebrated Jesus' birth together with the children He birthed for us in our hearts. Merry Christmas to all of you who have shared in our story of God's faithfulness! Your love and support have meant so much to us over this last monumental year in our lives. Thank you for being a part of journey to family.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This week, we celebrate a few more "firsts". We had the fun of watching Junia "perform" in her first preschool Christmas show. Sitting there staring at my child through a camera lens with my husband in a parallel position next to me armed with a video camera (and Eden on his lap) while Junia waved during the song and yelled "Hi, Mommy! Hi, Daddy! Where's Eden?" felt very "parental" to say the least.

We also made Christmas cookies for the first time. It was a stretch for Type A Mommy (see previous post about this problem!) to just let the cookies look like kids made them, but I am proud to say that I kept myself from redoing them before we put them in the oven. We also got our first professional family pictures taken by a sweet friend of ours. The girls look beyond gorgeous - as usual. It must be my great genes! I can't wait to post these in a few days.

Another first was discovering, after Junia's first dentist appointment this week, that she will need to have a baby root canal (!) because of how worn and decayed the enamel is on one of her back teeth. Apparently, weakening of the enamel is a fairly common problem in kids that have been malnourished. This was something that I never even thought about - particularly because the girls are both doing so well physically now that they are home. It made me really sad to think about how many other children in Africa (and across the globe) have teeth that are literally rotting away because of lack of proper nutrition and dental care. For what we spent at Toys-R-Us this Christmas (thank God for good dental insurance), we will get her tooth fixed. But she is just one of so many - so many who need a Mommy and a Daddy to make sure they have warm coats and clean teeth and maybe even a tricycle. As always, I come back to the troubling question "But what about those who remain?" After having seen what we did in Africa, it is still so hard sometimes to just walk through the mall with cheezy Christmas muzak blasting in the background as I try to battle the crowds with my arms "burdened" with a few packages, toddler on one hip and green tea from Starbucks in my hand. It's hard not to feel shamed by the extravagence of what is my "normal" life here in the United States. As I think about Junia's tooth decay, in some ways it reminds me that our girls will always carry some "scars" from their past, some we see now and others we don't but may see later. It's hard as a parent to accept scars in your children's lives because they are physical evidence of hardships and adversity they may have faced. And yet, as one author pointed out, scars are reminders that you are one of the ones who of the survivors. Scars only form on bodies that are alive. And so, even a decaying tooth, is a reminder to me that my daughters are some of the brave children who have survived orphanhood and who march forward boldly (very boldly most days!) into each new day. And for that, I have great respect for my courageous little ladies and much gratitude to the God and selfless family who entrusted them to me.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thankful Thoughts, Lots of Poop and An Award

Thinking back on our recent Thanksgiving weekend, it's hard not to pause and reflect on the ways that our little family has changed in just 9 months. It's crazy to think the girls have been home that long. In some ways, it feels like yesterday that we were in the midst of praying (again!) to pass court, and in some ways it seems like my little sidekicks have just always been there in the back seat singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" over and over again in the effort to make sure their entire social circle gets included in the song. In some ways, my responsibility-free life feels like it just vanished in a blink (I find myself looking for it sometimes...when I feel that way, I just pop in Twilight for the umpteenth time and escape to the banal diaper-free zone of high school vampires). In other ways, I've just kicked into Mom-mode and somehow manage to get by one day at a time even if I often feel a bit out of place in Mom World. Somedays the daily chaos makes me feel like I may spontaneously combust at any moment and other days things seem to hum along just fine. Such is life as a mom, I guess. I am certainly still a "Mom In Training" but day by day I learn more about how precious it is to have someone in your life who calls you "Mama" (in my case - two little someones!) even when "Mama" comes with a whole lot of new responsibility and a lot less sleep. Here are some pictures from our first Thanksgiving together as a forever family. We have much for which to be thankful.

Eden was lucky enough to share her birthday month with her much-beloved Poppa. Over Thanksgiving weekend, they got to share a birthday cake made for them with love by Junia and Gammy. We also started a family tradition back at home this year of letting Junia make Eden's birthday cake (she was adamant that she wanted her present to Eden to be a cake). I'm not sure if there are any sprinkles left in our house now.

As our gift to Eden to celebrate #2, we took the family to Disneyland. Let me tell you - that was an adventure. We hadn't been in over a decade and it's not our go-to place for a "happiest place on earth" experience. We of the hippie persuasion would far rather find ourselves on a quiet hiking trail than trapped in the consumer-infused madness that is all things Disney. That being said, it just seemed like something you need to do with your kids. Because we are nerds and I have what will probably become a very-annoying-to-the-girls academic background in media studies, our girls haven't had much Disney in their media diet. Hence, they didn't have a lot of context to bring to their Disney adventure. However, Junia learned very quickly who Mickey Mouse was and waved at him screaming "Hi, Mickey!" during the Christmas parade. She and Eden also loved seeing snow fall on Main Street when they lit up the castle with twinkling blue lights before the parade. We both agreed that the bulk of the day was kind of like being trapped in hyper-stimulating video game but that the entire day was worth watching our wide-eyed girls during the Christmas parade, bundled up in peacoats and scarves, as they waved at all the people going by. That was the iconic "Disney magical moment".

We aren't sure if we have it in us to do Disneyland again anytime soon. Let's just say after a Disney day with two toddlers in tow, we didn't buy a season pass. We were also led to wonder, given the sounds of children all around us all the time in various stages of meltdown, if "happiest place on earth" is perhaps a misnomer. Another sweet part of our Disney weekend was seeing the girls in MY dresses from my first visit to Disneyland. My mom had been saving them for years (we won't talk about how many years!) and amazingly they are in pristine condition. The girls looked beyond adorable in them.

Speaking of gifts, Eden also had a special gift for Mommy on the day of her actual 2nd birthday. We were having a pretty good day and I really hoped that we would go the whole day with no time outs (etc.) as that would have been nice for her birthday. I put her down for her nap, which was greeted by much crying and fussing, as naptime was apparently not on her birthday agenda. Eventually, she stopped screaming and things got quite for awhile. It was shortly thereafter that I heard her calling for me. I went into her room only to see two huge mushy turds that had been thrown onto the white furry floor rug by a ticked off Eden who had opted to take her birthday revenge on Mommy by removing her diaper and throwing the contents of her diaper on the floor. There was poop everywhere - on her hands, her shirt, the bedding! It was seriously the grossest thing ever. I guess she was giving me some #2 on for her big #2 birthday. Very fitting. In retrospect (now that my blood pressure is somewhere back in this stratosphere), it makes me glad that I had a dog to break me in before I had kids. Our last dog licked himself and ate poop and barf on occasion - you know, all the usual dog stuff - and then used that same tongue to lick my face. In that regard, dogs and kids have quite a bit in common.

On another note, I have mentioned hair on my blog before. A friend sent me this link about Chris Rock's new documentary called Good Hair. While my girls seem to already be blessed with what some would term "good hair", I look forward to seeing this film as it looks like it will address the significance of hair, particularly for women, in the black community. This topic is one that as a mother of two African-American daughters I know I will have to continue to keep up on, especially as they get older as appearance becomes even more important.

Finally, thanks to Zoe at Chasing Saints who was kind enough to give me another blog award. I don't really keep up with this kind of stuff (or things like Farmville or Mafia Wars on Facebook!) but I certainly do appreciate her kind acknowledgment and am going to attempt to participate. I
am supposed to tell you 7 random things about me and then highlight 7 other blogs I like. Here goes:

1. I grew up in Hawaii as a minority for most of my life in school. I found myself in a bit of withdrawl in high school when I moved back to the mainland. I was shocked to see so many white people. Perhaps that's what my girls feel like now!

2. My first job out of college was on the corporate side of things for Girl Scouts. No, I didn't sell cookies but I did have to wear a uniform sometimes. Totally embarrassing. Why I took this job still remains a bit of mystery to me.

3. I have a serious issue with what Davis calls a "farm fantasy". Maybe I've just heard one too many country songs but I dream of living on a big ranch with a farmhouse that has a wrap around porch with a rocker on it where I will sit after I get done riding my green John Deere around the farm in white dress and cowboy boots. I won't actually do any work on the farm, mind you. I'll have workers for that. I'm just going to drive my tracker around. Also, no animals will be harmed on my farm. Maybe it will be an animal refuge farm and I'll raise corn - or my farmhands will.

4. I've realized I am addicted to the ellipsis and use it far too often in my writing. I prefer to end emails that way as I feel like it bounces the ball back to the other person and implies that the conversation is still in process. I use them way to often...

5. I really love almond butter. There is a place near us where you can grind your own fresh almond butter. That stuff rocks. I also really love boots. They are my favorite footwear and I have way too many pairs of them. I recently added a dusty rose colored pair to my collection thanks to Gammy and Poppa's generosity. Like almond butter, sweet boots rock.

6. I am the ultimate Type A poster child. It's so bad that I often annoy myself. Case in point: I was totally stressed out because several neighbors got their Christmas lights up a week before we did. I felt like a total slacker and was freaking out. It made me feel better that Junia was also troubled by why our lights weren't up yet and chose to also bug her Daddy about this until they got put up. Thanks, Big Bear!

7. I love travel more than just about anything and have been blessed to see a fair bit of the world with my handsome husband by my side. One of our craziest travel adventures involved getting thrown overboard when our speedboat hit a log and flipped over on the Amazon River deep in the Brazilian jungle. We would have lost everything - including our passports - if some kind locals in dugout canoes hadn't come along to rescue us. There were bloody dead fish in the bottom of their canoes and they spoke no English. It was a very hairy experience, to say the least, especially given that the river is known to have both snakes and piranhas in the water.

Random enough for you? So now I guess I need to tell you about some other blogs that I like to read. There are so many great ones out there that it's hard to create a short list. One of my #1 favorites is actually Zoe's blog Chasing Saints but I guess I can't give the award back to her. I also love Coffee Mom's blog but she too already got this award. So, here are some more great blogs I enjoy that are worthy of the Kreativ Blog Award.

Baby Dorr - This couple is very artsy and is bringing home a sweet boy from Ethiopia soon.
Meet the Lambos - Meggan is also working to help find sponsors for kids in Swaziland as a HopeChest advocate like me. Her adorable son Biruk is welcome to marry either of my girls!
Living Freely - Brandi is an amazing "warrior girl" and has a son from Liberia named Davis. Now, that is cool. She also works for HopeChest.
Ethiopia - Here We Come - Rebecca has some great candid posts and pics about life with her son Eli. She was also kind enough to take care packages from us to our girls in Ethiopia before we brought them home.
Finding Rest - I went to college with the savvy girl who writes this blog. She is a great writer and mom who brought home her son from Ethiopia just a few months before we brought our girls home.
Our Walk By Faith - Farm Boy and Buttercup offer very funny insights on their blog. Their newest addition was one of Junia's best buddies in the Gladney Care Center in Ethiopia.
PJ's Are Clothes - I just discovered this blog through Brandi and I love Jude's candor. Check out her recent post about overcrappage and Christmas. Love it!

So, there it is. The long post I have been trying to get finished forever. Here's a final picture to round out this ridiculously long treatise.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Photo Snack

If I were wearing a name tag right now, it would say "Hello, my name is Buried In Work". Given that, I probably won't hit my Thanksgiving retrospective blog post tonight either. So, here is one more to tide you over- another photo snack until the real post actually materializes - someday.

Little Bear watching her first Christmas parade - at Disneyland!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More to Come Soon...

So I obviously still haven't found the time to finish my latest post about Thanksgiving. Here's part of the reason why...

More to come soon, I promise!