Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Can any stay-at-home moms commiserate with me?

Commiserate -- empathize -- sympathize -- identify with? I wonder if, before I was a stay-at-home mom, I ever asked a woman who I suspected stayed home if she "WORKED"? If I ever asked a woman that question I am truly sorry! I was an idiot who didn't know what a stay-at-home mom does.

Most days I go along fine handling -- and LOVING -- all of the challenges and demands of home and kids, so please don't judge me harshly. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be at home with my girls every day -- to teach them and help them and watch them learn and grow. I didn't have this opportunity with my son, so I am very aware of what a blessing it is.

But, honestly, some days I would love to lock myself in the laundry room (never mind, I would have to look at the laundry I need to do) for about fifteen minutes. Heck, doesn't some federal law guarantee all workers the right to two 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute lunch break if they work eight hours?

Case in point, this morning I just about went over the brink to insanity when I couldn't even CUT MY TOENAILS without one of the kids needing something from me. I think if I had the federally-guaranteed 15-minute break I'd use it for that...cutting my toenails in peace.

OK, better go...someone is calling "mamma" again. Thanks for listening. I feel better now.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Honestly, today is March 28?

This is just crazy! What the heck?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bragging on Myself

I'm usually bragging on the girls, but today I'm patting myself on the back! My braiding skills are really improving. This morning I braided both Ruby's and Elizabeth's hair. Although I've been practicing on Ruby for a couple of months, this is the very first time I've cornrowed Elizabeth's hair -- in fact, Elizabeth told me that even in Ethiopia she had never had her hair braided because she was a "little" girl. So, needless to say, Elizabeth is feeling quite stunning in her braids and beads...swinging her head around. And I think Ruby's hair is they best I've done yet!

Ruby's braids...

Elizabeth's new do...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are you wealthy?

Am I wealthy? My most immediate response would be not just “no” but “HECK NO.” But then, it’s all relative isn’t it? Sixteen ounces of water is worth a few pennies coming out of your tap; it’s worth $1.39 in a bottle at the local convenience store; it’s worth $3.50 inside the gate at the airport terminal: it’s worth every single dollar he’s ever saved to a man who is thirsting to death.

Since the current economic times have been tight, I think many of us find ourselves reconsidering our spending habits (I know I am) or feeling like maybe we don’t have enough or make enough money. Many have lost their jobs and are having to dip into savings, and many, me included, have lost quite a bit of their IRA or 401K. Tony and I say every year that next year will be the year we’ll build a new house on our property and get out of this old and way too small house with only one bathroom. But…we have a solid roof (well, mostly solid until a big wind blows off more shingles) over our head, Tony has a good job, and we always have food on the table. Our kids have everything they need and most of what they want.

Consider this: Yesterday morning Ruby was in a really chatty mood and felt like talking more about her life in Ethiopia. I just get this kind of info in small bits when she’s ready to talk, but she’s talking more frequently now and I’m piecing together what her and Elizabeth's life in Ethiopia was like. Yesterday she told me about how in Ethiopia she didn’t have any shoes when she was with Amari (her biological mommy). She said her and Elizabeth’s feet got burned and were bleeding because the ground was hot and things got poked in them that had to be picked out (maybe glass) because they were walking, walking, walking and had no shoes. She said Amari couldn’t buy shoes because she had to use the money for food. But sometimes there was not enough money for food. And she told me that she and Elizabeth and Abiya and Meeta (other family members) stayed to take care of the home while Amari went away and tried to get food. She also told me that Amari got her a white dress one time and it was pretty but she couldn’t wear it when it was a muddy day. If it was a muddy day she had to wear the “pink skirt clothes.” Those were her only clothes – no shoes. Then she acted out how Amari hand washed all the clothes and hung them on a line to dry.

I know times are hard for a lot of people in the U.S. right now, my family included. But will we ever be faced with looking into the face of our starving children or trying to comfort them because they have burned and bleeding feet because we can’t provide shoes? I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Amari to spend four years of her life watching her daughters grow into beautiful little girls and then come face-to-face with the reality of looking at their beautiful faces for the very last time, trying to memorize every feature, and walking away in hopes that they could have a better life – with plenty of food, clothing, and a home. The idea of what she must have been going through haunts me.

When I start to get worried about the economy, our finances, or if we’re ever going to build that new house, I look at the faces of my beautiful daughters and try to imagine Amari struggling to get food and shoes for her daughters; or I imagine what it would be like to be a woman in China, without a voice to speak out for herself, forced to put down her baby girl and walk away because a government dictates that she can have only one child and her husband dictates that she must have a boy.

Am I wealthy? I am not wealthy by most standards, but I am more than wealthy by my own.

A mom can brag, right?

Nora is such a smart little girl. Every since we came home from visiting my sister and her family, all three of my girls have been really interested in jigsaw puzzles (they played with a lot of their cousin's puzzles). They have all gotten a lot better at them now, but especially Nora. She put this 63-piece puzzle together completely on her own in about 20 minutes -- and she's only 4 1/2 years old! Can you tell by the look on her face that she's proud of herself?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

True Friends

I have a few very true friends that have always been there for me, even if I haven't seen them or talked to them on the phone as often as I should. Linda has been there for me through thick and thin, and I keep up with her life and family all the time. Another of my oldest and dearest friends is Desi. Desi and I have been friends for almost fifteen years. We don't always stay in touch as well as we should, but we're always there for each other. Yesterday Desi and her daughter, Sydney, came over to visit. It was the first time they met Ruby and Elizabeth, and it was so much fun. Sydney's friend, Alex, came along too. We had a great day. If you're reading this Desi, I love you!

Here are a couple of pics of the girls with Sydney and Alex. They were all over "fixing" their hair. It was too cute.

Sydney with Nora and Elizabeth...
Sydney and Alex with Nora, Elizabeth, and Ruby...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First Bike -- Multiplied by Three!

The girls each got a new bike today! I'm pretty sure there has never been a kid -- anywhere -- happier about getting a bike! They practically rode them out of Wal-Mart! Of course, they each have training wheels, but still it took a bit of time to teach them how to pedal. They kept pushing back on the pedal and putting on the brake when they were trying to go forward. And then, just as they would get going...oops, busy watching the feet and not where they were steering! They can pedal now and are VERY proud of themselves and their new bikes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bluebirds or a blue blur?

What are these Bluebirds doing?

Having a loving conversation with their wings around each other? Is her head on his shoulder?
Or is he protecting her?Or maybe it's a bird wrestling match?
If it's a wrestling match, it looks like he's the winner!

OK, I'm trying to be funny. I KNOW what they're doing! Spring has sprung in Missouri.

P.S. Did you know the Bluebird is Missouri's state bird?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dinner Conversation

Tonight's dinner conversation:

Ruby: Mommy you and Daddy live in this house and then get your girls?
Me: Yes, Ruby. Daddy and I lived in this house and then went to China and brought Nora home. Then Nora lived here for a while and then we went to Ethiopia to bring home you and Elizabeth.
Ruby: You wanted three girls because our room has three beds?
Me: No, honey, we got three beds because we wanted three girls. Our hearts told us we had a daughter in China and two daughters in Ethiopia. Se we just followed our hearts and brought you home.
Nora: Mommy, that's crazy. Sometimes you crack me up! (while waving her arms in the air)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

25 Random Things

I was recently "tagged" on Facebook to post 25 random things about myself. It was surprisingly hard to come up with 25 random, but important, things about myself. It took me about 4 hours...off and on. So, since I put so much effort into it, I decided to post them here too. Here are 25 random things about me:

1. I have been to four continents.
2. I have lived in five states.
3. I now live in the house my dad grew up in – the same house where I spent many nights with my grandma and grandpa.
4. I love wine.
5. I think lobster is the most delicious food in the entire world.
6. There are only a few foods that I know of that I don’t like – black licorice, celery, blue cheese, and creamed herring.
7. I love to swing. Tony has put up swings in trees for me at two houses.
8. I love to go camping.
9. I’m not a night owl. I have a hard time staying awake past 10:30.
10. I’m an avid reader and love books of all sorts.
11. I’m very clumsy. I’ve been known to break bones trying to do things normal people can do without harming themselves.
12. My iPod has 4,797 songs on it, in 24 genres. But no rap music!
13. Cooking has become my new hobby.
14. I was once on a Bud Light billboard in Kansas City.
15. I’m very punctual and hate to be late anywhere. I also hate it when others are late.
16. I have four Pug dogs.
17. I love Coach bags.
18. I consider myself one of the most blessed people in the whole world. I have only in recent years begun to understand that God has led me to where I’m supposed to be.
19. Five years ago I would not have guessed that I was going to be a grandmother before the age of 40!
20. Five years ago I could never have imagined that I would have three daughters.
21. Five years ago I would never have imagined that I would be led to China and then Ethiopia to bring home my daughters.
22. My prayers at night include the biological mothers of my daughters – two women I think about a lot. They gave me the most precious of gifts.
23. I’m very proud of my son. I look at him sometimes and am just amazed that this grown man is my little boy. I love him beyond belief.
24. I’m married to the perfect husband and father. It took me a couple of tries to get it right, but I finally did! He makes every day of my life special.
25. I can’t imagine life without my sister and brother. I love them beyond measure. I also happen to think they’re two of the smartest people I know.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If You Have a Sister

If you have a sister, you know in your heart what this picture means. :-)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Jonny!

Today, our youngest son turned 18! I hope Jonathan celebrates SAFELY tonight! Here's Jonny...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Veggie Friends

My sister gave us this awesome book, "Veggie Friends and Fruits Too!" by Anne Legge. I posted a couple of months ago about our butterfly snacks -- made out of yellow bell peppers, green beans, carrots, and green olives. Today we had dragonfly snacks -- made out of oranges, blueberries, raspberries, and kiwi! I improvised a little since I couldn't get the exact fruits, but this is a really fun book that gives lots of ideas for creating fun snacks out of fruits and veggies. All three of my girls love pretty much every fruit and veggie, so they eat up anything I make them! It's a great book and lots of fun!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

When I Was Younger

When I was younger I had smooth skin, hair that I colored because I wanted to instead of needed to, and no glaringly visible blemishes. I also had the ability to find every minuscule fault with the way I looked. I would happily correct any flaw I could find with whatever expensive cream or procedure was available – if I could. It all worked out so well that I felt pretty good…about how I looked on the outside. Is how you look really who you are?

Now, I look in the mirror at every wrinkle I wish I could erase and every dark spot that now graces my once smooth skin and wonder if there’s something out there to correct it. But, I don’t…correct it, that is. I wish I still looked like I did fifteen years ago, but I don’t and I never will again. I want to take care of myself, and I want my daughters to look at me and see someone they think is beautiful. But I also want them to look at me and see someone who is happy about the way she looks and doesn’t have impossible standards for what beautiful means to women.

I hope my daughters can each learn to love every single thing about their beautiful selves. They are each so unique and perfect – curly hair or straight, light skin or dark, tall or short, large or small. Yet I think as I grow older I will need to continue to remind myself of what I want them to understand about beauty. It all comes from within. Live a life that makes you happy, feel confident, and feel great about WHO you are, and you WILL be beautiful…to yourself and everyone around you. That's what I want to instill in my beautiful daughters.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dear God...

Our night-time prayers always start with "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen."

Then the girls like to hear me say a prayer, which usually goes something like this: "Dear God. Thank you for Derrek, Chris, and Jonny. Thank you for bringing Ruby Nigate, Nora Lynn, and Elizabeth Amsalu to me so I could be their mommy forever too. Please help me to take good care of my girls and keep them safe and be a good mommy forever and ever. I love them so much. Please watch over the people who loved them in Ethiopia and China and keep them safe too. Amen."

Then, each of the girls say a prayer of their own. I never asked them to do this, they just started it on their own. Each of them says something like this: "Dear God, thank you for Mommy and Daddy come get me in [Africa/China]. Thank you for good food and Mommy and Daddy kiss me and keep safe and love me forever. Amen." They also thank God for Granny and Pa, Ayi, their brothers, each other, and other people depending on the night. It brings tears to my eyes every time.

Friday, March 6, 2009

First Camping Trip

Last night all three of our girls camped for the very first time. They didn't have far to go...we camped out in the front yard! We love camping, but have not been able to go much because the past two summers we have been involved in adoptions and travel to foreign countries. Now our family is complete and we're gearing up for some family fun! Of course, we had to purchase a larger tent for our larger family. We researched a lot of tents and ended up with the Kelty Trail Dome 6-Person tent. It's lightweight, simple, and very durable in wind and rain. We got each of the girls their own youth-sized mummy bag for warm sleeping. So last night was a trial run in the front yard, but hopefully we'll be heading out for some real camping soon!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Country Living: Tonight's Big Adventure!

Pretty impressive title, don't you think? Oh yes, living in the country is quite an adventure. Tonight's excitement was going for a walk in the dark with flashlights. Now, these are not just any ordinary flashlights. They are really fun and unique flashlights that were a gift from my sister while we were in San Diego. The girls totally love them! There's a monkey that says "oo oo ah ah," a cow that moos, and a pigs that oinks. And they have a very bright little LED light. I should know -- it's often pointed at my face.

(check out the udders on the cow)

So...after dinner we put on our jackets and set off for a walk around our property. Some of the horses came over to the fence to check us out, but one of them was running around like a crazed nut. I don't think she was a big fan of the flashlights.

From Merriam Webster:

ad·ven·ture \əd-ˈven-chər\ noun

a: an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks (e.g., getting your retinas burned out by a cow with large, plastic udders)

2: an exciting or remarkable experience (I'm sure we were quite remarkable to the cars pulling into the church next door as we walked around in the dark with no general purpose shining very bright lights at absolutely nothing.)

3: an enterprise involving financial risk (Those flashlights were certainly an investment, and there is the ever-present risk of them being lost.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sha sha girls!

While we were in San Diego, my sister gave Ruby some old scarves to wear over her braids when she's sleeping. It helps keep the braids looking nice for a longer time. Anyhow, after wearing one of her "new" scarves the first night, she woke up and came to see me in the morning. She had the brightest look on her face when she said, "Mama, I remember this! In Africa this called sha sha! When you wake up you put under your pillow then wear again at night!" It's funny how small things can trigger a memory and then she gets so excited about the recollection. So, last night after I braided Ruby's hair she decided her sisters needed to wear a sha sha too. Here they are! :-)
P.S. I'm not even sure if "sha sha" is Amharic, Oromo, or Hadiya. If anyone has any idea, please let me know!