Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 1 Continued- Travel to Ethiopia

So as I layed in bed last night reliving what I had written about my first flight to Amsterdam, I remember some other details that made me giggle. So I will quick add them to my Day 1 post...

Since I was NOT going to get the upgraded seating, I headed to my assigned seat only to find a man already in my spot. THAT IS SO AWKWARD! He knew right?! How do you not know you are sitting in someone else's spot? I am all ready to ask him to move BUT he was wearing a black clergy robe.... how am I suppose to ask a man of the cloth to "get out of my spot?!" Then he looked up at me and with a thick African accent said " You don't mind, do you?"

Um, well no I guess not.. So I sat on the aisle. Remind me if I ever take another long flight.. I hate sitting on the aisle. I love sitting on the window where I can wedge my blanket into the window and side of the plane and sleep!

So now I am sitting on the aisle, and next to me, in the middle, is a young man. This young man, based on what I am over hearing from his conversation with the man in cloth is a homosexual and does not believe that God is mad that he loves men. I spent the next 10 hours watching movies with my headphones on in the hopes of avoiding be dragged into the conversation between the man in the cloth and the young man next to me. I thought about this a lot last night.. why did I try my very best avoid this conversation? Well, probably because I was horrified at the abrasiveness of both people speaking.. and the fact that everyone within three rows forward and back could hear what was going on... for the entire 10 hours, they were quiet for about 1 hour.. as we deboarded the plane the man in cloth leaned over and said "Miss? I hope you love Jesus because if not, you are going to hell." He then handed me a napkin with his name and phone number on it asking me to promise to call him to talk about it more.. Ya, um, no thank you. I love Jesus lots, and I don't like when people think they are better than everyone else because they do love Jesus. For heaven sakes, I need Jesus more than most people, and because I am forgiven does not mean that I still don't need HIM and am any better than anyone who does not know that Jesus loves them. Anyway, off my soapbox.

Ok, I think that is really the end of my first flight. The next post will be about my Amsterdam to Addis flight... or so I thought...  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 1 - Travel to Ethiopia

So I have been procrastinating writing about my time in Ethiopia and up until recently I have not been sure why the delay. I am pretty sure I am having a hard time writing because I have yet to completely admit to myself how hard of a time that was.
I was ready. 
It was necessary. 
It was amazing. 
It was one of the hardest times of my life.

I have this picture... 
And I think it depicts what I was try to feel while I sat on the tarmac in Los Angeles. I wanted to be excited and not afraid of what was coming or what I was leaving behind.
The night before I had packed, and repacked everything that I thought I could possibly need for my unknown time in Ethiopia with two kids that I was not even 100% sure I knew what they needed. I packed clothes, shoes, jammies, toys, snacks, PediSure, and EVERY TYPE OF MEDICINE I COULD!

Since my flight left Los Angeles close to noon, the plan was to drop the kids off at school and then Ricky would drive me to the airport. I was prepared for what I thought would be an emotional morning, with tears from Mommy and the kids. What it actually was almost makes me laugh now. We got to school and I started walking the kids to class like I usually do, one by one, I dropped them off and got a half hug. I grabbed on tight and hugged longer... It wasn't until I dropped off Jakey that my heart began to sink.. how long would it be before I was home? How long until I could hug my little bubba? That morning was so hard on me, and although we have talked about it some since then, the kids have been pretty upbeat about it all. Focused on the end prize. 

Hubs took me to Red Robin for lunch, I love me some dirty bird! After a mix up about the terminal location we finally were able to get me into the ticketing area for prescreening of luggage and such. And you know what?! My baggage was overweight! SHOCKER?! LOL. After taking out some of bubbles I had packed to play with the kids, I was finally ready to take off.

Hubs and I walked together to the TSA line where we both knew that he would have to leave. You know that feeling like you forgot something... that is what is felt like to walk into the TSA line without my man. That sinking, something is not right... where did I put that... why can't I find it... I am going to go crazy without... ya that is the one. Oh the permanent damage that day of looking back at him and seeing his eyes wet with tears has done to my heart. I will never forget that moment. I don't want to forget that moment. In all the crazy of the past year, in the all the moments I cried "you just don't understand!" he really did understand, but the aching in his heart was for me... Since then, there have been moments of ugly (post placement uglies) where I have looked back into my memory bank and pulled at the memory of him watching me get onto a place and fly to Ethiopia.. my heart gets soft and no matter where we are in the moment, I want to hold and hug his neck.

Ok! Well, now that I am a mess...

I wanted so much to have the Economy Plus seat that my mom had offered to pay for (Thanks MOMMA!) so I ran to the boarding gate and waited...and waited. While waiting I met two very different men who were also waiting to see about an upgraded seat... Mr. Photo (I don't know his real name) and Mr. Nice (I am sure he gave me his card, but I don't know where it is or remember his name... gosh I am good at this! ) As we stood there in line chatting, the conversation turned to our final destinations. Mr. Photo was a... YOU GUESSED IT... photographer who was flying to West Africa to document a medical missions team that was already hard at work providing medical care to refugees across the continent. Mr. Nice was going to Amsterdam to speak at some kind of conference.... He was pretty discreet about it all, but was really a nice man. Then it was my turn.. I felt kinda weird sharing.. like they were going to think I was some kind of special person or something weird like that.. but I did and I was right. Oh those conversations are so awkward right? The ones that start out with "Oh wow, you are really amazing, God Bless you!"... I hate that conversation because I am not amazing and oh how I do need my God to bless me, but because I have sinned and fall short daily, not because we are adopting. Annnywayyys.... I shared briefly about our adoption and the horrible long delay that had happened between our last trip and this trip.. Mr. Photo asked "How long are you staying...?" I don't know, I said. Mr. Nice, "Well, where is your husband?" At home, with our other 4 kids... "Oh wow.. um.." total awkward silence. I laughed and said "Don't worry, I am gonna be fine and I will be home before too long.." Maybe that was for me more than it was for them.. cause why do they care?

Side note... This is more for me than anyone else at this point. I don't want the memories to get fuzzy of these moments in our life. I want to be able to look back at some point and have it well documented that moment when I left my family in the United States to travel alone to Africa to be with my kids who had waited a year for me to come back.. so if I ramble.. I am sorry =)

I then proceeded to watch EVERY MOVIE AVAILABLE for the next 10 hours and 40 min! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

I wish

Today I wish I could hide in my bed and come out on Wednesday... that is all. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

.....Staying forever....

All in all, I think I am shocked at how little of the post-adoption 'crazy' we have actually experienced. Oh how I fretted and worried about the months after coming home from Ethiopia, especially after we learned that Gedion was much older than we thought. In my wildest dreams we had tantrums, screaming fits, horrible words of anger, acts of defiance, physical backlash at siblings... you name it, I just knew Gedion would do it.

Oh how I was wrong about which child to worry about! 

Gedion has been like a dream! Often I am shocked that he has had the life he has. His spirit is so filled with joy, ALL THE TIME! He is constantly loving and hugging on Mommy and Daddy and loves his brothers over the moon and back. He has transitioned at school like a dream, already learning to read in English in less than 2 months. There are moments when he asks hard questions about Ethiopia, but we talk and cuddle and his heart is healing more and more each time. I honestly think he looks back on his time in Ethiopia with a mixture of feelings, but mostly, I think he has joy for the country he was born in. Recently he has started to say "Me Ethiopian" with a giant smile.. to which I always hug him and tell him "Yes, baby, your an amazing Ethiopian!" His healing is coming more quickly and with less painful moments that I expected. Praise God for that!

The only problems, and I really mean this, have been with our little Sassy Pants. She is testing the boundaries of our love for her.. I remind myself of this every time she quietly takes off her diaper in her crib and poops all over the mattress and her blankets. She is testing us, to see if we will leave her or will we be here for her, forever.

This week has been a doozy! Sassy has been sick for the first time since coming home. Nothing major, a slight fever and a slimy green junk running out of her face all the time. But for whatever reason, she has decided to couple her not feeling well with some major tests of Mommy.

Reminding myself as she screams at me for the 100th time today, she is a baby from a hard place. Her life has been filed with different people. Her heart has been broken a 100 times more than my own in just over 2 years. She has felt loss and hurt that most people don't feel in a lifetime. I am writing this now to remind myself of that next time I am cleaned smeared poop from slats in the crib. 

I am staying Sassy, Mommy is staying, forever. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Surprise Blessings at the Dentist?

This morning we went to the dentist... Dr. Bell... well we have history. I think I was maybe 5 or 6 when I started seeing Dr. Bell as my own pediatric dentist... and boy did we love him! Video games while you get your teeth cleaned... A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

So when we needed to pick a dentist for the kids I was pretty set on having him. Ricky had lots of funny things to say to me about how stubborn I was being about only having him for the kids dentist. We went twice last year and then this year with Gedion newly home and needing to know where things stand, I made an appointment for this morning.

 Thankfully my Dad was up for the task of coming with us to the dentist... just to sit with Sassy Pants in the lobby while I bounced from chair to chair of cleanings.. it was an amazing blessing.
 Carter is every so cautious... he was watching Noah get his teeth cleaned and was feeling a bit of concern...I love this kid and tender heart. I am reminding myself of that, because sometimes I want him to buck up and be a little tougher skinned... but God has made his heart tender and I can't wait to see all the wonderful things God does with him!
 Noah asked to go first... he loves to be the biggest littlest kid!

 Then Gedi... he thought all the water and sucking machines were so funny he could hardly contain himself! He laughed through the entire cleaning =)
 My poor little Carter... he has teeth like his Momma and needs lots of dental work.. but he is a trooper and was still smiling at the end!
 Jake got a cleaning and a few cavities filled this morning.. he was a little nervous but all in all did amazing! We had not planned to have the cavities done today, but it worked out and we did not have to miss more school, so we just went for it. For being a little planner, he did great with the surprise. 
 What is not to love about this!! Video games and teeth cleaned!

On a special note.. Dr. Bell is an adoptive Daddy himself! He has a little girl they adopted from Russia in 2001, so needless to say.. we are kindred spirits now.. or as he called it "family" and his definition of family has been a blessing we never knew would be coming... his office is helping us care for the kids teeth and plans to cover most of the out of pocket expenses that our insurance does not cover. WHAT A BLESSING!!! I love the adoption community..  it is kinda like the family.

In addition to all of that wonderfulness this morning... I got the final push I needed to overhaul the way our family eats. Carter's teeth issues are combined genetics and dietary. So off I go to never buy boxed cereals again... yada yada... become the most disliked Mom in the world j/k.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wow, hmmm... you have how many kids?!

So I recently took my oldest Johnny to get a hair cut, he is pretty particular about it all and we have finally after over a year found somewhere he likes. So we walk in and I nervously look around for the gentleman who seemed to please Johnny with his mad scissor skills the last time and to my surprise the skilled scissor man jumps right up and says "Hey man, glad you came back! Ready for a cut?"

As they walked over to the chair another lady sitting in the salon waiting area laughed and said "Gosh, so glad he liked his last cut and you brought him back." I smiled politely. In my head though I am thinking.. "How come these people are falling all over us? How do they remember us, we only came one other time...?" We will call this overly interested person "I was home schooled" and not because being home schooled is a bad thing, for heaven sakes I was home school and I am almost completely normal ;) anyway... but because I don't know her name and after every statement she made about her own life she followed it with ".... I was home schooled."

I sat there hoping for a few moments of peace. The little kids were home with Daddy and it was just me and Johnny. I started playing around on my phone and even closed my eyes for a moment. But "I was home schooled" was not having it. I then was asked every personal question in the book about our family.. how many children we had, how many of them were biological or adopted, how did we know what country to adopt from, what was the adopted children's circumstances for coming into adoption, what about Johnny.. what is his story? Why does he want to be here with you? and well keep going in your mind and that is what this woman asked me. But here is the kicker...she actually looked me in the face and asked me if I thought I could possibly love all these children... because she has one and that is just enough for her and she could never ever think of having more because she can hardly do it with the help of her own mother.. just loving one child.. it really takes it out of ya! (These are her exact words!)

I almost fell over... Was she really asking me if I could actually love all my children? Really?! Because sometimes my mouth gets the better of me I was ready with a quippy remark... but thankfully (for once in my life) my brain thought about it first and I kept my perfectly accurate remark to myself and thoughtfully replied "I know that not everyone understands large families, but if you understand the love of one child, the way your hear melts when those little hands grab yours or how you beam with pride when one makes a decision that is focused on someone else's needs above their own... if you love those moments, just imagine, I get to have them 6 times over... " She smiled and said "Ya I guess"...

Ya, I guess!! That was not the heart felt response I was looking for here lady! 

Over the last few weeks our family size has not only been questioned by complete strangers but by people who have been in our lives for a while now. It has caused me to take a closer look at larger families... and at moments I have questioned myself. But you know what, God has seen fit to allow Ricky and I care to for HIS children for a short time... and who am I to question the God of the universe? As I have thought and prayed for a good response.. I am left with my original response to "I am home schooled"... Yes, I can love them all.. and I do love them all.. each one of their precious little hearts blesses me each day. 

We might be loud and drink 3 gallons of milk in a week, but we can play 4 on 4 basketball downstairs at night in our pj's and have ragging dance parties without ever leaving the house! I love our big, awesome, amazing family and I would not change it for the world or even for a moment of silence.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"The least of these.."

Life is a funny thing... Over the past ten years my life has changed so dramatically. For those of you who know my story, you know the last ten years have been filled with heart ache and pain and love and laughter, forgiveness and grace.. full of new beginnings.

When I was in high school I was also so conflicted about what I wanted "to be" when I grew up. I just never could get it straight in my head or heart. Post high school I started down many career paths... always wondering if this was it? Different majors, different goals... never feeling the "YES! This is it!" About two years ago I had the honor of going to work with one of our dearest family friends, who had just passed the California State Bar and off he went to open his own law firm. I got to  be there. It was awesome. I love the law, I love advocating for the powerless, I love learning, and I love being able to help change something for the better. I decided to go to finish what I needed in school and pursue a law degree. Wild thoughts with three boys and two kids on the way.. but it felt right.

During our long and hard year between court in Ethiopia and being able to bring home Gedion and Grace, I needed to not be in school. It was too much for me, too much for my brain and heart to processes. I stopped AGAIN going to school. But here is the thing, I know I will finish. Even with 6 kids, I know I will. Because God is calling me to advocate for those who can't. He is calling me to speak for those who voices get lost. AND I AM EXCITED ABOUT IT! It might not be now, and it might not be for 5, or 10, or 15 years but I am excited about where God has called me to professionally.

And personally.....

I woke this morning with a heavy weight on my heart... it has been there since I was in Ethiopia, but I feel like I have pushed it away, not wanting to address the weight, wanting to be "happy" so I push it out...

But how do you push out the fatherless of the this world? How do you ignore the oppressed? How do you ignore the parent who parents alone? 


This morning God spoke so clearly to my heart during devotions.... you don't push it away, you don't push it to the back of your mind... because THEY are worthy of a broken heart. THEY are worthy of action. 

There are 477 kids on the a single adoption agencies waiting children's list... 477! Some of those kids have been waiting for a Mommy and Daddy for 3 years! 3 years they have lived without the hug of a Mommy when tears fall from scrapes and cuts. Three years without the encouragement of a Daddy to try the new things in life. Three years without someone to read to them. Three years wondering if tomorrow they will eat. If tomorrow they will get picked. If tomorrow someone will love them. 

So this morning I am thankful for this weight. I pray God never lifts it from my heart because it is who I am. The person I looked for all those years in high school and after.. I am God's child, who will follow where HE leads and do what I know God has called me.

Will you?