Sunday, May 31, 2009

Our first family camping adventure!

Tony and I love camping! However, the past two summers have not involved any camping fun. Two summers ago, we were building our family by preparing to travel to China to bring home Nora. Last summer we were building our family by preparing to travel to Ethiopia to bring home Ruby and Elizabeth. THIS summer, we are having fun and enjoying life with our newly-expanded family -- although we still miss our grown-up sons and daughter-in law and wish they were with us! So.....this weekend was our first camping trip with the girls, and it was a huge success! We camped at Melvern Lake in Kansas. It was beautiful, and we all had a great time! Here are a few pictures!

P.S. In case you're wondering... We don't have a camper. Yes, we camp in a tent (all five of us in the same tent, plus we have a play tent -- it's pink)!And we don't have a boat. Still, we found plenty of other ways to entertain ourselves, although it would be nice at some point to have a boat. Yes, it was almost 90 degrees during the afternoon, and no we didn't melt -- but it was pretty warm!

P.P. S. You would not believe the amount of dirt and sand I washed off the girls in the shower tonight. I think I will continue to get sand out of their hair for the next week! But, oh well, they had fun.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What a difference nine months can make!

I took pictures a couple of days ago when the girls were playing in their little pool. As I looked at the pictures, I started thinking about how amazing and new the whole blow-up wading pool experience was to Ruby and Elizabeth (and Nora too for that matter) such a short time ago. Everything was new then, and many, many things are still new to all three of them now.

Nora has been with us for one year and nine months; Ruby and Elizabeth have been with us for nine months. And still, every day brings new experiences. Every day brings some small losses too. Ruby and Elizabeth can remember songs and sing them over and over again -- but they can no longer remember what the words mean. Nora can remember that she loved watermelon in China, but she can no longer remember the Mandarin word for watermelon. They can see a picture of a friend or caregiver from the orphanage, but they can no longer remember the name.

As an adoptive mom, I try to help each of my daughters keep memories of their birth country and family alive. We talk about their life there, eat the foods they used to eat, and we say prayers for the people in their birth country who love and miss them. I must admit though, that although I feel sad for the things that are growing dimmer in their memory, I'm also glad for the fact that they are putting a difficult past in a different "space" in their mind and that the life they now live is their normal -- plenty of food, health care, clothing, warmth, learning, God, and most of all the unending love of a large and devoted family.

So, on this Memorial Day weekend, I remember many loved ones who I've lost, but I would also like to remember a mother and father in China, and a mother and father in Ethiopia. They gave my daughters life. And because they had to make the impossible decision to give them up, they are now a part of our life. We, in the United States, could not imagine being in a position where we had to put our children in an orphanage, or leave them on a sidewalk, and walk away. But our reality is not the same as the reality of parents in other countries.

Nine months ago...
And now...

My girls!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another Day of Gratitude

This has just been one of those days when I'm so thankful for my opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. Although some days are easier than others, I never, ever lose sight of the fact that it is truly a gift to be able to spend every day with my daughters -- an opportunity that was not available to me with my son. I get to be the one to teach my daughters, play with them, entertain them, feed them, love them, and watch them grow and learn. I'm so thankful to Tony for being supportive and working so hard to take care of us!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm sprouting!

This is so fun -- and tasty too! My sister-in-law, Katie, has turned me on to sprouting! So far I've sprouted broccoli, alfalfa, and mung beans. And since I've been eating a lot of salads, they're especially good to have around. However, in addition to having them on salads, I'm now addicted to sprout sandwiches. Seriously, this is so fun, simple, and quick (sprouts in about five days) to do that I think everyone should try it. Plus it's a great science experiment for the kids!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Camping, Fishing, Swimming, and Other Fun Stuff

Laura and Isaiah just left a couple of hours ago, and I'm already missing them terribly! We had such a great time together. The first night we did a little yard camping. We were even joined by Pa and Granny (who didn't sleep too well on the leaking air mattress I provided for them). We also cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmallows over the fire pit, but I didn't get any pics of that due to the craziness!The second day we went fishing, and everyone got to catch a fish! Pa and Granny also joined us for fishing and even dug up the worms. Granny baited most of the hooks. Ever been fishing with four kids age five and under?
Then the next day Summer joined us. I now know that in a pinch I can fit FIVE car seats in my van! Summer went swimming with us at the community center and spent the night. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew came over. They had been sick and worked all day and still made it over to see everyone. All of those pics are on Laura's camera, so I don't have one to include!
All in all, we just had a fabulous time! And now my sis has gone back home to San Diego, and I'm missing her terribly. But I'm glad we are able to get together as often as we do and that our kids know their cousins, aunts, and uncles.

A daycare?

Yesterday, my sister and I took all of our kids plus my granddaughter to the pool at the local community center. A nice, older lady was smiling and chatting with me and then asked, "Do you girls have a daycare?" How funny is that?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nine hours until I see Laura and Isaiah!

Can you tell that I'm excited? My sister and nephew will arrive at 2:45 this afternoon, and we can't wait to see them! I'm up at 5:00 in the morning, because I fell asleep at 8:45 last night. I think I was exhausted from getting ready and excitement!

This visit will be a bit different from our trip to see them in February. When we went to Laura's house, our activities included the beach, science museum, a boat ride, and the zoo. On this weekend's activity list: camping in the yard, roasting marshmallows, catching fish, and swimming at the community center's indoor pool. Not nearly as exciting as San Diego was, but I know we'll have lots of fun. The girls love playing with their cousin, Isaiah!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I made what?

A friend who traveled to Ethiopia a few months ago picked up some shiro for me. Shiro is an Ethiopian staple food; it's ground chickpea flour, and it's used to make shiro wat.

So today I decided to try out a shiro recipe for the girls' lunch. Having never made this particular dish, I didn't want to risk making it for dinner and having it be terrible. The girls had peeked in the kitchen several times asking me what I was making, and when I said that I was making shiro they asked what shiro was. Rather than explain, I just told them to wait and see.

So...I spread the shiro wat onto injera, put it on the table, and called them in to eat. Elizabeth was first on the scene (she always is when it comes to food), and she took one look at it and said, "Mommy, you made wuti!" Huh? I thought I made shiro wat. Ruby came in next and said, "Yes, Mommy, that's wuti." I'm guessing on how "wuti" is spelled, but I've never heard of it. Have any of you? Apparently I know how to make it, because all three of them loved it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ruby's First Up-Do

Ruby was so excited about this new "do." She said, "Mommy this just like big girls do in Ethiopia!" She looks soooo cute! And this actually took me less time than the usual ways I braid it -- probably because I didn't have to do beads with this style. I'm sure this style will look even cuter when she has a little more length for the puff on the top.

Now if only I could do Elizabeth's hair like this too, but she will not leave her sha sha (scarf) on her head at night and so her braids just don't last. I told her we'd try braiding her hair again when she wants to be a big girl and leave her sha sha on while she's sleeping.

What Mother's Day Is All About

The girls made these for me at church this morning.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Last Kiss

As I just finished giving each of my daughters their last kiss of the night -- while they were sleeping -- all I can think is that I AM SO BLESSED. I am so blessed in so many ways -- by what God has given me in my husband, our sons, our daughters, our family, our home, and so many things.

Tony is in New Hampshire right now for our brother, Billy's, memorial service. We loved Bill so very much, and he is gone from us now. He will not get to watch his son, Kyle (age 9), grow up. His wife, Pam, will not get to share everything Kyle does and learns with Bill. Pam will miss out on growing old with the man she has loved for so long. Bill was one of the most unique, loving, honest, true, devoted, and personable people I have ever known. Although I'm not there in person today to pay my respects to his memory, I'm there in heart. I hope Bill knows that his nieces are the reason I'm not there, and that he has a permanent place in my heart.

We all loved you Billy, and we will continue to love you forever. You left us way, way too soon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Talking about babies...

Today I told the girls that Samantha and Derrek (my son and daughter-in-law) are having a baby. They were VERY excited, and the news sparked lots of conversation. They wanted to know how the baby got in Sam's tummy, how it got out, and when it is coming out. Then Nora proceeded to tell me that she wants to adopt a baby from Ethiopia when she grows up, and Ruby stated very, very firmly that she is definitely not going to adopt a baby. Nope, she says she's going to grow a baby in her tummy, and it's going to be Chinese! "Mommy, I want to grow a Chinese baby in my tummy." Elizabeth didn't weigh in on the matter. My funny girls!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Soccer Girls

Today was the first day of soccer for Ruby, Nora, and Elizabeth. They've been so excited for the past week that they were even counting down the days! They had a really great time and all three did surprisingly well! And the best part? This "league" -- of sorts -- was formed by moms in our homeschool group, using volunteers and pooling resources. It didn't cost a cent, and all of the little kids get some great exposure to soccer. Here are my soccer girls!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No more high heels for me!

I need surgery on both of my feet for bunions! Seriously, am I THAT old? Aren't bunions something old women get? Oh yeah, I guess that's ME! I might as well just go ahead and buy Crocs in every color of the rainbow -- oh, and those winter Crocs with the fuzzy lining too.

I've been having trouble with pain in both feet for months, and it has worsened since I've been going to the gym frequently. So, I finally went to a podiatrist, and the verdict is that I need outpatient surgery on both of my feet if I want to correct the problem and, most importantly, prevent it from worsening.

Apparently, women get bunions more often that men because we spend years of our life wearing fashionable footwear with a "narrow toe box" and high heels. Yep, I did that for years. Does this sound familiar to any of my girlfriends out there? The first step in getting relief from bunions is to quit wearing said footwear, which I did about two years ago when I "quit working."

So, have any of you had bunion surgery? Was it successful? What was the recovery period like for you -- how long and how much pain? I would have it on one foot, wait until I'm fully recovered, and then do the other one, so I won't be completely incapacitated. If you have had this done or know anyone who has, please leave me a comment and let me know your experiences!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hope Adoption Agency Reunion

I'm wondering how many of my blogging friends are attending the Hope reunion in July. I would really love to go and take the girls, but flying there is out of the questions financially, so it would be a car trip. Hmmm. Eight plus hours in the car with three kids -- one who gets car sick on just about any trip that is over 30 minutes? Well, there are remedies for motion sickness, right? I'd love for Ruby and Elizabeth to see some of their friends from Ethiopia (and I know Nora would have fun too), and I'd love to meet in person some of my online friends. Trying to decide...