Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Soften a hardened Heart

I have been in touch with many adoptive mamas lately and I am not feeling quite so alone. 
Thank you for that, friends.
  This journey has been a tough, but beautiful one and we have been blessed beyond measure. 
I will never forget how many times God came through for us and His timing was always perfect.  
Having Faith when things weren't going my way....not easy. 
I struggle with control.  
Don't we all? 
Just in different ways I think. 


I want to control what my kids wear (I'm getting over it...slowly), how their clothes hang in their closet (don't mess with this :0), and you've probably never seen a more organized dresser/room (theirs...not mine :0( ). 
I am slowly letting go. 
I have had the control as a parent about what they put in their mouths ('cept when they're at school, of course, and even then I try), how long they sit in a car-seat (I'll push that as long as I can), and they always have a helmet on their heads when they are driving any moving thing (I would never forgive myself if something happened to them and it could have been prevented).  
all those things seem minimal when I am fighting for control over things I simply CAN''T control. 
 God places us where HE sees fit, 
where HE knows we can be instrumental, 
where HE needs us to be.  
This isn't always/usually the plan we have set for ourselves. 
Which makes it that much more difficult when it doesn't turn out the way we thought it would.
I am humbly announcing that I am going through a rough patch right now. 
From what I've heard this is very normal, but not talked about much in the adopting world. 
People have high expectations of us whom God has chosen for such a magnificent feat. 
We dare not let them down, right?
  Well, I am breaking my silence so that you may come forward if you are having a less-than desirable time too. 
I knew it wouldn't be easy. 
You knew it wouldn't be easy. 
And for some I guess it just is. 
For now.
I am praying a lot.
I am asking God to soften my hardened heart. 
  It is a full heart, 
but it is longing for His grace at the same time.
 I've decided it's okay to ask for help.  Some of my friends have already been soo sweet to listen without passing judgment and other adoptive moms have helped me to see that I am not alone.  And that some most times we need to reach out for help. 
Time may not heal as it does in many instances.  
We need to ask. 
So I am. 

Friday, March 25, 2011


yesterday i asked my brother if i could have his little guy for the day. 
 before aregash came home we spent quite a bit of time with jace. 
 the boys love him. 
 he plays like, well, a they put all of their wrestling moves on him and he doesn't ever usually cry.  and he's just a little thing so they think it's soo great to carry him around. 
 come to think of it, when jace comes over my boys fight over him.

aregash misses her brothers when they are at school and i have tried to have play-dates with other kiddos, but she seems pretty overwhelmed still.  
she ends up on the other side of the house while they play without her. 
 i think part of it could be that mommy usually has a friend over too and now she doesn't have
 my undivided attention. 
 soooo......i thought maybe just having one friend over, without a friend for mommy would be good.  

she doesn't know jace very well yet, but they had the greatest day together. 
 he stayed all day--through nap-time, then to get two boys from school, home to play some more, then to get cole from track practice. 
 there wasn't ever a disagreement (which is odd for two-three-year-olds :0) and jace actually really listened to aregash when she spoke. 
 i was amazed that he understood everything since she is just learning english. 
 i was always around the corner listening to them and it was pure joy. 
 jace is a real funny guy.  he entertained both of us.  here are a couple of my favorites.......

jace: "did she stay the night here last night?"  :0)

me:  "yes, buddy, she stays here every night--she's a part of our family now.  
she is my little girl and zach, luke, and cole's little sister, remember?"

later.......aregash came to ask me something.......
jace:  "she keeps calling you mommy."  :0)
(he has a very sarcastic tone)

me:  "that's cause i am her mommy. 
 remember how we waited soo long for her to come home?  
remember how we had her picture and we were soo excited to have her be a part of our family?  
she's a part of our family now and she'll always be with us."
aregash interrupts and pats herself on her chest......"yea, aregash mommy's baby".

me: " yep, she's mommy's baby.  
just like cole, zach, and luke"

jace just looked at me with his furrowed brows. 
pretty sure he still doesn't quite get it.

my cell phone was ringing and jace came running to me with it in hand. 
 he says, "it's somebody"...........but it's not me". :0)  ha!

funny stuff.....made my day. :0)

aregash learned the alphabet song in ethiopia, but they sing it differently than we do.
they repeat the l,m,n,o,p part once.
jace kept trying to sing it his way and aregash would say "no, no, dis"
 and she would belt her version out.
such a hoot.  
i needed the laugh.

dear friends, if you have a minute and could spare a prayer, i would greatly appreciate it. 
i have been feeling a certain "disconnect" that i can't quite put my finger on.
this should be such a joyous time.
i am grateful for every single second.
now if i could just get my mind and body to work together
to feel the happiness i long for.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Give Me Faith

we happened to stop by grandpa and grandma's house last weekend.  
shayna was there visiting too.
story-time was pretty cute.

 cousins at a family picnic at the park last weekend. 
 cousin dustin was in town so we celebrated.  
it was 55 degrees and windy....
not so much picnicking weather, 
but we had fun.

dic's side of the family

our big hike up "m" hill, which looks over our little city.  
beautiful weather called for happy family,
 more time at the park, 
and ice cream......mmmm. it.

seriously....control your dog. :0)

biggest brother...little sister

 "don't worry, i won't let you fall". 
 luke tells me all the time how happy he is to have a little sister.

from the top of the city looking down. 
 they're sitting on the big M.
 it was created by college students from our local technical school--
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.  
Ever heard of it?

life is good.
there have been many emotional days for this mama.
if you can imagine (many of you can) the love for a child across the world,
bringing that child home and all that it entails for her and her new family.
it's been hard.
but then I learned an important lesson.
i have raised three great boys thus far......
i can do this.
i will break through the gray line of adoption rules and wondering if i could damage her by doing something wrong,
and just parent her
 the way i parent them.
parenting them hasn't been easy either.
but it's worked.
she will be fine.
i will be fine.
they will be fine.
life is good.
thanks again to He who brought us thus far.
we are blessed.
i am a grateful mama.
thank you Jesus.
i am still looking to you.
please give me faith.
please give me faith.
please give me faith.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day

We don't celebrate St Patty's Day much....
just some green clothes and that's about it 
(Zach asked me for the little leprechaun-troll pin I've had since I was a little girl....couldn't find it).  
we did have us some green mashed potatoes with our chicken.  
Maybe next year will do something REALLY fun!!  Like maybe we'll paint our hair green or something! 

They're pretty cute in green, don'tcha think???
mommy didn't get to be in the picture cause i didn't wear the right color.

May the road rise to meet you. 
May the wind be always at your back. 
May the sun shine warm upon your face. 
May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, 
May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand. 

  Irish House Blessing 

missing you today gramma jo.....
and yesterday
and the day before that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh, sorry....were you talking to me?

I'd love to partake, it's too stink'n cold

I am posting today because for the first time in about a month, the sun is shining.  The temp is creeping up on 65 degrees and my mind feels clear for once.  It has been soo gloomy and I tend to get those gross winter blues just like my gramma (she took medication.....I just  yell a lot).  I can blame it on the weather, right?  And the sleep.  The sleep hasn't ever been good for ever. 
 Growing up I needed more than the usual child and there came a point when my parents just stopped letting me sleep cause they thought I was being lazy.  Let's blame them.  So I then have children, and they still don't sleep through the night.  Two out of three boys wander the house in the night.  If it's not the kids waking me up it's the dreams (or the night-terrors when I'm exhausted---yes, it can still happen when you're a big girl).  So I'm tired.

Another FIRST for Aregash--sledding

We have this new little toddler in the house now and although she's really sleeping well, I'm not used to having to get up in the night to go to my kids...they always come to me.  Last night she broke a fever a few times and called for me (great sign of bonding, by the way).  
So I'm just a little sleepy.

helmet on, but she hated the ride

And I want to take the time now to say that I haven't been a very good listener.  I pride myself on being there for my friends.  I haven't done a real great job lately.  You may not know it, unless I happen to ask about something you just told me in detail.....I know, sad.  I remember feeling this way most of my life.  
I've always been tired. 
 So I'm apologizing now to all of you who had something important to'll probably have to repeat it.

our infinite sledding grounds--love that i don't have to leave the house to watch

The sun is shining today and I can see the "light".  I'm hoping this is the last of the snow and the doom-n-gloom. 
I do promise to start focusing a little lot better....regardless. aren't the only ones I've neglected......
God's gotten the short end too.
Tomorrow I'll do better.
I promise.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Aregash THREE!!!! Happy Birthday Sweets!!

 That's how she says it as she holds up her three fingers.
This is "normal" (dislike this word) for the typical toddler, but for a little gal who doesn't even understand what a Birthday is, 
it's pretty cool.

I prepared her a little bit right before she went to bed so she would have something special to look forward to (even though going bye-bye seems to do the trick nicely).  I reminded her about swimming in the wah (water) at cousin Karsyn's Birthday where she got a chance to blow Karsyn's candles out a couple of times.  She remembered this fun day.  I told her that this was called a Birthday, and it was time for Aregash's Birthday.  
I told her she was three. 
 Cole is 12, Zachie is 10, and Lukey is 7.  
She says, "Aregash three!"  
So we know she doesn't understand what it means...that she will be turning another year older, but she does get that it sounds like fun and there will be cake and presents. 
She talked about it all the next day...even told the check-out lady at the grocery store!

My sweet friend Lauren came over with her little Ethiopian boys to help me cook up a special cultural dinner to surprise the Birthday girl.  She LOVES her traditional food and her mom isn't soo great about supplying it for her.  
Sorry, babe. 
 So we made dorowat (doro means chicken).  It's a spicy dish which includes onions, ginger, garlic, berbere' spice (from Ethiopia), and cayenne pepper with chicken stock.  
It is eaten with a hard-boiled egg.  
You should have heard her squeal when we brought it to the table.  
We had to serve her last so we could get a blessing in before she dug in.  

She LOVED it and it was quite delicious!
 I didn't think the boys would care for it at all, but 2 of the 3 ate it just like it was mac 'n cheese.  
I didn't plan far enough ahead to order (or make) injura to go with it, so we ate it with rice. 
 VERY spicy, but the rice soaked up some of the zap.  
So now I know what to make when we want a another special meal.

I didn't realize that I hadn't taken her to the grocery store before and she went crazy about the selection!  
She got the big-fat BUZZ about the candy, but I let her grab a bag of dabo (bread) to go with her dinner. 
Quite possibly her favorite food---another carb-lover in the house.

We kept her Birthday party very small...just our family of six. 
 We decided that it would probably be more memorable for her if she didn't have swarms of people around watching her.  
I'm pretty sure it was a good call.
BUT I still wanted to make it very special and get some real cute pictures to put in her album, so I asked her if she'd like to put a pretty dress on. 
 She said, "Yes, deans (jeans)". 
 Go figure. :0) 
 I said no to the jeans and brought her to her closet.  
I held up her traditional Ethiopian dress that she had been given and worn at her Goodbye Ceremony in Ethiopia.  
She did the hand-wave thing and said, "No, Mommy.  No dis (this).  Dis no, Mommy."  
So I pleaded just a little.  
"But it's for your Birthday party and mommy wants photos.  Pleeeaaassseeee?" 
 I did NOT want to throw her into shut-down mode right before her party, so I put it down and held up another outfit. 
 She stood for a moment and looked up at me.
 I said, "Yes, you get to have your cake and blow your candles out".  
She grabbed the dress (the first one) and said "OHHHH! Dis cake, Mommy?" 
Me: "Yes, you could wear the dress while you eat cake."  
"Oh, soddy, Mommy" 
 Me:  "What?"   
Aregash:  "Soddy (sorry), Mommy.  Aregash dis dress"

I'm a little bit in love.

And then it was time for presents.
One thing that I love about this child is that as sensitive as she is, she gets my humor.....
or sarcasm,
 whatever you wanna call it.  
She pointed at her gift.
I told her it was mine.
She smiled the I-know-you're-full-of-it-smile.
I gave her the box full of new air purifier cleaners and said, "Here, THIS is yours."
I am laughing out loud as I write this.
She opened the box and started jumping up and down.
"YAY!!!" she yells.

this is where i tell her this is really mine.
look at the face.
like, "You suck mom, give me my dang present".

Strawberry Shortcake and her Berry Cafe'.
 I have been a fan since I was little and never had one. 
I have been planning the perfect Strawberry Shortcake Birthday since I learned we were having a girl.  
Good thing she doesn't know if she's really in to it, or not. :0)

I'm pretty sure the boys loved it as much as she did. :0)

*cutest thing.....watching cole (my 12-year-old) set up the tiny little food on the little tray on the table. 
 he was soo proud 
(too bad my camera died before I could catch the picture that would embarrass him in front of his first girlfriend)*.

I LOVE that my boys were soo excited for their little sister...
and not too good to play with her toys. :0)

The Best Birthday party ever.  
And I was right.......
JUST as noisy as having a crowd.

Aregash, patting herself on the chest, says: 
 "Mommy, Aregash baby?"

Me: "Nope, now you're a bigger girl!"

Aregash, smiling and head nodding:
 "Mommy's baby"

That you are, sweet baby girl.

 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY with her cute accent) 
~my little love~

Aregash 3.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

to party or NOT to party......

after three weekends of fun at 3 different showers given in our honor, i am a little bit partied out.
 and tomorrow is aregash's birthday.....
she will be three. 
\ she knows she is 3....we taught her that  but she doesn't really understand that she's 3, as birthday's are not celebrated in ethiopia and i'm not sure if they even talk about how old they are.  because most babies are born in the home rather than a hospital, there isn't any documentation.  so age is usually a guess.  aregash's uncle seemed sure of her birth-day.  he was there at her birth and he named her.  i have never done this next thing with any of my other kiddos (because i've never had a child born in another country who struggles with our language and customs).  we are not having a party.  well, we are having a party but we have decided it will just be our family of six attending.  aregash has, after all, had three weekends full of gifts and cake and lots of people and we decided it was 
time to just take a break....
for us, and for her.  
even having our families over would be overwhelming for her.  most of them she hasn't seen more than a couple of times, and she isn't familiar with them.  but we are still celebrating this special day with our special girl.  i am making her dorawat....a cultural meal in ethiopia.  i think she will be thrilled, although the injura will be missing.  i'm sure she will notice.:0(  
and i am making a very small 6 inch cake, 
because i have planned a strawberry shortcake birthday for the last year of waiting.  
because it will be sweet to see her blow her candles out and teach her one of our traditions. 
because i need pictures of her first birthday home to put in her baby book. 
 we can whoop it up with our loud precious family! 
partying on......
(hang to come)

ps-i still plan to fast for ethiopia tomorrow.....
even through cake-baking (it's just that important)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fasting for Ethiopian adoptions (and other adopting countries too)

Ethiopian adoptions are having some hard times right now.  I have been thanking God MORE that we brought Aregash home when we did.  Things are soo uncertain there right now and rules are being pressed to ensure the safety and well-being of adoptions here, but in the meantime these kiddos could be in care in orphanages and care centers all over the country while they wait to be with their families who are longing for them.  Time is ticking away and every second means that more lives will be lost.  Please join me and LOTS of other people from all over the world while we fast for Ethiopian adoptions on 
I got the idea from THIS BLOG
 This is also the blog that has asked for clothing for the Street Boys in Uganda. 
 There is going to be a wedding.....of two sweet people who are following God's calling doing missionary work there.  They are inviting about 200 boys to their wedding and are asking for donations of dress shirts and ties.  This will be an amazing gift for these children.  Time is running out to send them as the group is leaving soon, but you can still take action if you feel the desire.  I have mine all packed and ready to go. 
Here is the address: 

Southside Community Church
PO Box 69
Cocolalla, ID 83813
Attn. Go Uganda April 2011

Join God's name.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

ONE month HOME

Today we had our one month post placement visit with our social worker.  I can't believe it's been a month!  Sometimes it seems like she's been with us for much longer.  And as grateful and happy as we are to have Aregash home, it hasn't come without struggles.  I won't bore you with all of the fine details, but I have been feeling like writing it out at some point....for myself, but also for the families who are in the process and want to know the truth.  Most blogs have the sweet pictures of their beautiful kiddos and life seems grand.  And it IS because we're home, but it has been one big roller coaster ride of emotions.  With that being said, I would like to say that things are sooooo much better than 2 weeks ago. 

One Month Home--FIRST time in a pool

I think we all know that there isn't any much discipline in the orphanages and care centers in Ethiopia.  Which is good to a point.  We know that children are valued and loved and they are considered a precious gift...which they are.  So when the kids come home WE get to undo all of that (the non-disciplining part, not the gift part :0).  That's okay.  WE know this and we do it with full hearts.  I thought I had prepared myself for the worst.  And it wasn't the worst, but I definitely wasn't prepared for what I would encounter.  I can only imagine what COULD be the worst. Ha!  We only dealt with food issues for a few days, and we had several other issues that we conquered quickly, but the tantrums/melt-downs were unexpected.  Aregash is a happy child and we were always told this when we received updates about her, but that happiness can change at the drop of a hat.  We seem to have a combo of toddler-isms, girl drama, and plain 'ole transitional hardships.  Like when I added conditioner to her hair, when I asked her to stop biting her brothers, but mostly when it was time to get dressed.  I posted about this before.  At first I thought it was about the look....too pink...too flowery....lack of jeans (her favorite).  But I quickly learned (and not quickly enough) that it wasn't about the look as much as it was about the control.  Why didn't I think of this???  THIS is something I knew we would probably encounter!  It's in every adoption book!  So once I figured that out I began to think of the tools I could pull out to get through it.  And the biggest thing to battle control issues are choices.  You know....Love 'n Logic.  I have taken soo many classes to re-certify for my teaching degree that I could probably teach it myself!  I just don't use it like I should.  And it works when you use it.  So I picked out two outfits I liked.....laid them on the floor.....and she got to pick.  As soon as she'd go to the closet to get something else I would say, "Uh uh, THIS one or THIS pick".  And she would.  Not always happy with my selection, but she would.  And guess what?  SHE got to pick, which gave her the control, and life was better.  
This doesn't mean that she would bounce around in delight, 
but she was satisfied.  
No melt-down.  
Score one for Mommy.

At  Watiki Water park for great- niece , Karsyn's 3rd Birthday

It "looks" something like this......
body goes limp, sullen eyes, long face, no response.  Then the moan...for quite awhile.  And next comes the cry...and then the scream.  It's not fun...they never are, but these meltdowns seem to come from nowhere.  Like the time(s) I was dressing her and had the bottom half done when she decided she didn't like the clothes.  And sometimes you don't know it's happening until it's in full swing.  One minute we're all smiles and happy, next thing you know we're in the middle of a "big one".  Kinda like the look a kid gets right before he throws's THAT look.  And there's nothing you can say, there's nothing you can just has to run it's course.  I can't/won't stop dressing her right in the middle because this will tell her that if she throws a fit mommy will give in.  I'm not THAT kind of mom.  I never have been.  I have learned through three boys with 12 years under my belt, that consistency is key.  You lay down the law.....sometimes that law changes, but you stick to your guns.  This way the expectations are clear and the kiddos know exactly what to do...or not.  

the water is coming...big brothers can't wait to see the reaction

insert screams here.....she loved it

Adoption Rules can be broken, or compromised.
Each child is different, every parenting-style is different, all adoption situations and backgrounds are not alike.  Here's an example:
Aregash bit her brother.  I can't remember why, or if it was playing or out of anger. So I say, "Aregash, your brothers are nice (because she understands this word) and that hurts.  It's not okay.  You need to be nice to your brother".  Sulky eyes. She walks away, sits on the floor and pouts....then moans....then cries.  For the first couple of weeks I did what I thought I was suppose to.  Granted, I NEVER would have handled it this way with my bio kids.  So I go to her and ask her if she would like mommy to hold her (because we should never let an adopted child cry, right?).  She won't even look up at me.  I'm not sure she can.  Adopted kids have their coping mechanisms and sometimes that means shutting down.  That's what this seems it's involuntary.  She doesn't respond so I go away and check back in a few minutes later.  "Aregash, are you ready for Mommy to hold you now?" Still nothing.  I go away, and come back.  This time (or maybe the time after) she leans a little toward me.  Okay, so I think this must be it.  I pick her up....her upper body limp and her legs stiff.  This is obviously not what she wants.  But I rock her.  After two weeks of handling this type of situation this way and being completely exhausted and frustrated I decided to try something different.  

A BIG STEP.......
Not just for her, but for me too.  Now when the sulking happens (depending on what it is) it is ignored.  I realized the more attention I gave to "it" the longer it went on.  Sometimes it will just go away.  Other times I may "check in" when the moaning or crying begins.  The other night she pulled a big loaf of bread off the counter and took a big bite out of it.  This may have seemed cute the first week she was home and she didn't know our rules, but now she knows (and consider the big knife in the same spot).  SO I reminded her to ask me if she needs something. She started the "zombie-like" state as I like to refer to it.  I came looking for her after a while and by then she was ready to move on to something different.  She even gave me a hug.  I consider that progress.  She is learning that I love her unconditionally even if she isn't perfect and that she won't get her way by making a big fuss.  My favorite is when I can tell her not to do something and she responds with "okay, Mommy". 
Now she needs to teach her big brothers! :0)

We're both learning and that's the fun and the pain.  The last month has been hard, but I see a beautiful transition happening with some true progress. 
No one ever said it would be easy.  
And that it's not..
I just want to be real.

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