Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas pics and getting it off my chest

Our family this Christmas. Yep, my birthday is on Christmas and yep, I am 40 plus 5! I've included De in our family picture this year since in 6 months he will be our son-in-law.


Mihiretu, me and Katie enjoying our huge snowstorm a couple weeks ago. Katie was digging out a snow cave, I was shoveling the front sidewalk and Mihiretu just looks like he's in pain, doesn't he?? Haha:)


Aliya opening her box of ornaments. I bought them for her to catch up with the rest of the kids who have received one for every Christmas, so they have quite a collection. Now she does, too!


This years ornaments for the boys, Woody and an alien.


Making Christmas cookies during the blizzard.


The boys having fun in the snow. Just look at Blake's car behind them covered in snow. Awesome!


Christmas morning. This is Damien (De's nephew visiting from New York) and Blake.


De went deer hunting with Blaine this past fall and actually shot his first buck. De LOVED hunting!!! Blaine decided to get him his own gun for the years to come of hunting. Could this smile get ANY bigger???


Why, YES IT CAN! I like to call this picture, "De's GUNS." Kapow!!

I know...finally I post some pictures! It's about time. We had a wonderful Christmas and I'll share about that in a minute.

Some of you have been wondering why my posts have been so few and so far between in the last few months. I alluded to it some time ago but today feel like giving you a little of the nitty gritty.

They best way for me to explain the last year to you is to quote Dickens. Maybe it has been the last few years, in all honesty.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness;it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of dispair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way."

It has been up. It has been down.

We have been through a lot of different things in our lives. If you've read this blog for very long, you already know that. Lots of hard stuff. Among the hardest is adoption. I know that might surprise many of you but the year after we got the boys was personally my hardest year, closely followed by this past year. The year of the fire was a doozy, too.

All things considered, Aliya's adoption and subsequent transition has gone well. But we have had our way ups and our way downs, and the downs are just unbearable for me. I don't want to go into detail but the things we are dealing with are pretty typical older kid adoption issues. They all make sense to me and I understand them, but it seems that we need some professional help to learn how to deal with them and give us tools to help. I'm hopeful that they will be able to help us, as they deal with attachment in adoption exclusively. So with me hanging on by my teeth quite a bit of the time, it has been hard for me to find the time and energy it takes for me to blog.
I know that if we had never adopted our lives would be much less busy and stressful. We knew that going into it. Let's face it, both Blake and Katie are moving out this summer and we'd be 6 months from becoming empty nesters. Instead, we were obedient to the Lord's leading and brought 3 more children into our family and now it looks like 14 more years before we will be empty nesters! Would we change it if we could? No, NOT ONE THING!

Our lives would be simpler for sure but much emptier. We are thrilled to be used by God in this way and humbled that He would choose us to raise 3 more kids, whom He gave us for a purpose. Every day, we get to look into the faces of our children who would have certainly have had a very different outcome if God hadn't placed them in our family. I could give you details of where I think they'd be but I won't...because they are NOT there. They are here. With us. Safe. Warm. Fed. Loved. In a family, where ALL children should be.

So all that to say, I've been struggling and trying to keep it together. I really don't know how you moms of more than 5 kids do it! God has given you something He hasn't given me:) But I am blessed and thankful to have the 5 I have and will continue to learn to be the best mom I can be.

I am also wondering if Blaine and I have an adrenaline problem. Seriously! Here is what we have on our plates for the next 6 months.

-Planning our daughters wedding:)
-Katie and De are looking to buy a house
-Blake is looking to buy a house
-Blaine and I are going on our 25th anniversary trip to Korah, in Ethiopia!!

Oh, did I just throw that one in at the end??

Anyway, ALL big, huge stuff. I wonder if we just will not allow ourselves some down time because our bodies have a need for an adrenaline rush after all the stuff we've been through in the past few years.

Blaine surprised me on my birthday the other day with a handmade card. On the front, he put a picture of me and it said, "My beautiful wife and I are..." turn the page and there is an airplane and it says, "going on an airplane to..." turn the page and it is a picture of giant hands holding the world and it says, "GUESS WHERE?" turn the page and it is a pic of Ethiopia and it says, "KORAH." Oh, boy I bawled like a baby in front of our 20 Christmas guests. I couldn't even talk or see Blaine through my tears.

I never begged him or even mentioned it after he told me that going to a Korah would not be on his itinerary for our 25th anniversary. I accepted it. But he knows me and how much it would mean to me to go there. He also knows God wants him to go there and see it for himself.

You see, we know that God has a bigger plan for our lives. We just have to be willing and maybe go out of our comfort zones to see what that is. And that my middle school sweetheart (yes, I did say middle school!) gets that and wants to go to a leper colony for our 25th anniversary why the next 25 years are going to be a roller coaster ride!

Congratulations if you made it through this ridiculously LONG and way overdue post!

Happy New Year,
Laura














Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wants or needs?

The other day, Mihiretu brought home an assignment they had done in class. They are learning about goods vs. services and wants vs. needs.

It starts out with someone buying a CD. This is a 'good' and a CD is a 'want.' So far, so good!

Next, they paid for a car wash. A car wash is a 'service' and is a 'need.' WHAT?????

Then they buy a new outfit. This is a 'good' and a 'need.' Alright, clothes are a need.

Then they got a hair cut. This is a 'service' and a 'need.' Really?

Then they bought a pizza. This is a 'good' and a 'need.' Ok, food is a need.

I asked Mihiretu if he really thought a car wash and a hair cut were really needs. He told me they had a substitute that day and this is what she said! He hadn't really thought about it, just filled in the blanks. Ugh...seriously?

I brought him back to Ethiopia. He remembers some things still. I asked him if people in Ethiopia would think a car wash or a hair cut was a need. He looked down at the floor and replied, "No."

This led to a good discussion where we talked about thinking for himself and not believing everything the teacher says all the time. If he KNOWS something to be true, no one should be able to change his mind.

I don't know this substitute but maybe she has never been to a developing country to see the difference. We live in suburbia USA where we run our cars through the car wash whenever we want to. If our hair needs color or a cut, we make the appointment and take care of it. No problem.

These things are luxuries.

But 'needs' they are NOT!!!!!

So off base in America sometimes.

Let's teach our children the difference.

Count your blessings,
Laura

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What a week:)

I do believe we have had one of the best weeks ever!

This news actually deserves a post of it's own but I will insert it here. De asked Katie to marry him on Wednesday afternoon, at a beautiful park with big snowflakes falling from the sky! My baby girl is engaged! We love De like a son and are THRILLED to have him in our family, officially. We are not sure when the wedding will be but I'll be sure to let you know! The ring is beautiful (they let me be a part of helping pick it out!) and these two are very happy and excited! Sorry, sorry, sorry I don't have a picture right now but I will post one soon!!!
We have had full, busy days since Wednesday when we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family. Thankfully, I have 6 leaves to my table! Even with that all 20 of us were elbow to elbow, enjoying conversation, laughter and great food. We had all the usual family, but were especially blessed to have my nephew Brian and his wife, Sara, who were here for another special event that would come on Friday:) We enjoyed meeting Bader, Blake's friend from Kuwait very much. I'm pretty sure I've never met anyone so proper and formal and with such good manners! He kept putting his hands together and bowing slightly to me in thanks! He later told Blake that he had a great time, had never had food such as this but loved it and has never met any American's who were so hospitable. How sweet is that?

He wants to take in everything traditionally and culturally that he can while he's here in the U.S. to study, so we invited him again for Christmas dinner. He said he doesn't know much about the American Christmas tradition so I thought we could help him with that!

Bader told us that when he was a boy, they would receive videos and inevitably there would be one with Santa Claus on it. He said, "We did not understand who this man was who came down a tube in your house and deposited gifts under a tree, then left up the tube." His father explained it was an American tradition:) See what an opportunity we have to open our homes and share our traditions and ultimately the love of God with these young international students?

Thursday, I went with my friend Stephanie to work out which was a good thing since we enjoyed a second Thanksgiving dinner at Blaine's moms house with his family. It was equally as yummy and lovely. The little kids LOVE to play together in her big basement so they had loads of fun. I'm still trying to figure out why at the dinner table there was only one conversation going on at a time and it could be easily heard. At my house, there were 5 different conversations going on, it was loud and chaotic (in a fun way). Why is Blaine's family better behaved?? I'm really trying to figure this out:)

Friday was wedding day. My wonderful nephew was set to marry sweet Holly on Friday evening. We had to be at the wedding site for rehearsal at 9:20 a.m. and ended up staying the entire day doing this and that, until the wedding which was in the evening. Blaine and Blake were ushers, Mihiretu did a reading (I was so proud of him!) as did I, Katie did the photography with her Aunt Jenny and Aliya helped in various ways. It was beautiful and a complete blast! We feel privileged to have been a part of their special day!

Saturday morning, we went to the gift opening and then home to pick out the E Family Christmas tree. Everyone but Blake went and the girls chose a HUGE and gorgeous tree! This was Aliya's first tree picking experience and she did well!

In our family we have a tradition that each year, I buy each child a new ornament that is special for them. This way, when they move out they can take them all with them and remember why they were given them. Well, we got all the ornaments out and Aliya was enjoying looking at them all. I explained the tradition to her and then told her to wait a minute, that I had something for her.

I had shopped and purchased 15 special ornaments for her, wrapped each one and put it in a nice plastic tote with a handle. I brought them to her and told her to open them. It was very special and she LOVED them! She loves popcorn (they eat lots of popcorn in Ethiopia!) so I bought her a glass popcorn ornament. Since this year was her first airplane ride, I bought her a glass airplane. All were special and the other kids all oohed and ahhhed over her ornaments which I know made her like them all the more!

The tree is up and beautiful! The house smells like Christmas.

This week filled us up with much love, encouragement, family time, laughter, conversation, dancing, joy, beauty and sharing.

We are thankful indeed!!

I promise pictures to come!! Bug me if I forget!

Love,
Laura


Friday, November 19, 2010

Look who is coming to dinner!

Sorry for my lack of posting lately. Sometimes there are seasons in our newly formed family that are difficult and even though I have much to say, it is hard to know just what to say. I don't want to say too much but I want to be honest in our struggles. It's a very fine line and I err on the side of not saying too much.

I can say we had breakthrough the other night when we had a mom, dad and child meeting which exposed some brutally honest feelings and perceptions which I think shocked the child. It has brought about a very positive change in behavior, attitude and respect for me as Mom. Not sure how long it will last but I'm enjoying it for now. Continue to pray for a positive and strong attachment within this newly formed family. We'd appreciate it!

As many of you know, there is rarely a holiday that passes that we don't have an extra or two or more as guests at our table. Not sure how it always works out that way but we are thrilled to open our home and share our dinner and family traditions with someone who would otherwise be alone on a holiday. We don't believe anyone should ever sit alone on a holiday!

So...

The other day, Blake came home with a request...well, not really a request because he knows our feelings about people sitting alone on holidays. He'd already made the invitation and he was simply letting me know that we were going to have an extra guest at our table for Thanksgiving.

The guest is Bader, Blake's friend from the U is from Kuwait. He's only been here on a student visa since September. Blake met him the first week of school and they've been friends ever since. Blake's other friend at school is a Liberian girl so they all hang out together and have lunch together. Very international!

The other day, Bader asked Blake, "I am wondering something. I have asked some of my fellow classmates (he's very proper:) about the best restaurant where I can go to enjoy a traditional American Thanksgiving. They told me Perkins. Is this correct? Is Perkins the best place for me to go for a traditional Thanksgiving?"

Blake (now laughing) says, "NO! Perkins is NOT the best place for you to go for Thanksgiving! You have to come to my house."

Bader: "Really? You would have me over to your house?"

Blake: "Yes, we usually have someone extra at our table. My parents won't mind at all."

So guess who's coming to dinner?

Blake just told me that Bader wants to meet with him this week to discuss how things are done here and what he should and shouldn't say at our house! Blake told him he can say whatever he wants here. I am surprised and thrilled that he wants to come to celebrate a Christian holiday with us since he is Muslim.

What a great opportunity we have as American Christians to reach out to international students!! What an privilege to have this young man in our home to show him love, acceptance, fun, and how a typical American (ok, we're not actually typical) family celebrates a holiday. He will always have in his memory when he goes back to his country. He'll see how we behave as Christians, how we pray, how we interact. This is hugely impacting!

So let me challenge you. Is there anyone that you can have for dinner who has never celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas? Or do you know anyone who will be alone on these holidays if you don't welcome them in?

I can tell you from experience...you will be blessed as much as you will be a blessing!

Laura




Monday, November 1, 2010

Re-adoption final!

Last Thursday was re-adoption day for Aliya. When a child is adopted from Ethiopia, they must go through a re-adoption here in MN. It is a formality, really but an important one as this is the day she officially becomes a U.S. Citizen!

The judge was very sweet, as was our last one with Mihiretu and Misganaw's re-adoption. He and the court reporter were very curious about our family because we were adopting a teenager. They said they almost never, ever see that and that all the adoptions they see are for babies or very young children. The court reporter hung back to talk to me and try to figure us out. I told her that we felt that older children are just as deserving as the 'itty bitties' are but they just don't get a chance as often. She agreed and blessed us as we left:)

(Look who's around the judges shoulder! Misganaw is taking over!)



Me, De, Blaine, Katie, Aliya, Misganaw, Mihiretu and Judge Spicer. Blake is missing because he had to be at school. We took the boys out of school to be there. Aliya did well and because she is over 14, she had to be sworn in by the judge and answer his questions. When he told her to raise her right hand, up went her left and he told her, "no, your other right." He was so friendly...she told us the judges in Ethiopia are NOT at all like that. They are more serious. We told her the judges here are serious too, if you have broken the law but that they LOVE doing adoption cases because they are fun.

He asked her basically if she understood that she would be our daughter forever and did she want that? She said, "Yes." The judge and the court reporter clapped. So sweet!

We got Chipotle for lunch (Aliya's choice) and then back to school for the last couple hours.

I don't think she understands the significance and privilege of being a U.S. Citizen. I tried to explain it to her and how much work it is for a foreign born person to become a citizen here. I told her that many foreigners would do anything to have her status but by adoption, it comes automatically.

It is exactly like how we join the family of God. Everyone wants to go to heaven someday. It's a status everyone desires. When we accept His free gift of salvation, he adopts us into His family forever. You can't work for it, it is automatic because of His love for us. Such a beautiful picture!

Yesterday, Aliya wanted Katie to take her to Target. They came home and Aliya was hiding something behind her back. She had purchased me a beautiful purple bouquet. Katie said it was completely her idea and her own money!! Thank you, Jesus...more progress in our relationship!

I have so much to catch you up on but not enough time, once again. I do want to ask for prayer for our dear friend, Kim. We had dinner with her on Friday night, and even though she was having a flare up of her MS, she was doing well. We got a call on Saturday morning and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She is now in ICU. It's still a bit of a mystery but she does have some sort of infection, her heart has been effected and weakened and she was having trouble breathing. This is a very hard situation for her family and friends. Please pray for her complete healing, strength for her family and that God would be glorified in all of this.

Blessings,
Laura

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Aliya's parent-teacher conferences

I went to Aliya's parent-teacher conferences last week. It was such a positive experience for me and for her to hear how much her teachers love her!

I was told so many good things about her.

"Her English has improved so much since last year!"

"She advocates for herself in class."

"She is not afraid to ask questions in class."

"She asks until she completely understands."

"She always has a great smile."

"She is a hard worker."

Aliya has joined the after school choir that meets Monday's and Thursday's. She surprised me and skipped out of it to come to conferences with me. I'm sure it was so good for her to hear all the praises from her teachers!

Not to mention that she is getting all A's and one C (Algebra)! She just hates that she is getting a C and she needs to be reminded of how far she's come:) It is really amazing and mind blowing that she has come this far after only 8 short months in the U.S! We are really proud of her.

She loves singing and loves choir. The after school choir is preparing for the Christmas concert and she came home singing, "Mr. Grinch." Firstly, she has no idea who the Grinch is. Secondly, there are a LOT of lyrics in that song. Thirdly, with Aliya's accent, the song sounds really funny! So the other night, probably 50 times, she sang,

"He's duh bad banana, with duh grizzy block pilllllllllllll."
Translation-"He's a bad banana, with a greasy black peel."

She calls him Mr. Grich.

Pretty hard not to laugh!

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for our respect and attachment issue. God has been answering your prayers and things have been better this past week:) A work in progress.

Blessings,
Laura

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ups and downs

Do you remember the old DCtalk song, "Hardway?" It has been playing over and over in my head all day.

"Some people gotta learn the hard way.
I guess I'm the kind of guy who has to find out for myself."

Why has this been going through my mind all day, you ask? Let me tell you.

This takes us back to Aliya getting up for school. We've already had some struggles in this area, if you remember. Well, I have been having to get her up so that she has time to make the bus. Yes, her alarm goes off but she simply shuts it off and falls back to sleep. So Mommy has had to be the alarm, a job I despise.

Blaine came up with a good idea. If she misses the bus and I have to drive her to school, it will cost her $5. She did not like this at all and overcompensated by waking up at 5:45 (instead of 6:20, which would be perfect!), getting all ready and then falling back to sleep in her bed.

This happened yesterday and I waited until literally 2 minutes before the bus was to come before I went up to wake her. I thought this experience would be enough. She made the bus but wasn't one bit happy about how it all turned out.

I picked her up from school and she, without provocation apologized to me, hugged me and told me she loved me. Now THIS is PROGRESS!! Praise the Lord. I was really proud of her. It is a step toward our bonding process.

That brings me to this morning. I waited until I heard the bus go by and then proceeded to wake her and tell her the bus was gone. She had been up at her usual 5:45, gotten completely ready and had fallen back to a dead sleep.

We got into the car and I quietly asked her, "Are you ready to do it my way?"

"What do you mean?"

"If you just get up at 6:20 and get ready, it will work the best."

"No, Mom...I can do this! I really want to do it this way."

"It really didn't work too well for you this morning. Now you have to pay me $5. You don't want to do that too many more times."

"I won't. I really will do this. You will see."

And it starts playing in my head..."Some people need to learn the hard way. I guess she's the kind of girl who needs to find out for herself."

Why does she want to get up at 5:45? I don't know. I ask her and she tries to explain it to me but it is lost in the translation somewhere.

I printed a blog post from someone on my favorites that I LOVED. Sorry, I can't remember who it was to give them credit!! But here it is: (with a few changes)

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners love those who love them.

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.

And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to repaid in full.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.

THEN your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most Hight, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."

Then she puts it into the context of adoption...

"If you only want to adopt a child who is going to be easy, what credit is that to you?

And if you will ONLY adopt a child who will repay you with a thankful, grateful attitude and will love you back, therefore fulfilling YOUR need for love and kudos, what credit is that to you?

But LOVE these children and do good to them.

Keep on giving of yourself without expecting anything in return.

THEN

your reward will be great and you will be sons (and daughters) of the Most High

BECAUSE He is kind to us...

and He adopts us (ungrateful and wicked as we are) into His family."

Praise God...I know I do not deserve it!

Adopting a teenager is one of the most wonderful things we will ever have the opportunity to do. We have been blessed and so has she. God had a plan and this is it! Are there challenges and frustrations? YES! Are they insurmountable? Not with God's strength.

Just imagine...our Father God puts up with us every day telling Him, "I can do this! I want to do it MY way! It will work, you will see." Hmmmm...

I just wonder how many $5 bills it is going to take for her to learn and trust that I know best?

If she is as stubborn as I am with my Father sometimes, it could take a while:)

Blessings,
Laura




Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sweet text from Aliya

Word for word, here is one of the best texts I've ever received!

Aliya: "Hey mom i LOVE YOU SO MACH"

Me: "I love you too! But why are you saying that?" (This was a first...I just had to ask what caused her to say this)

Aliya: "Becaue you are mom!" (awwwwwww, my heart melts!)

Me: "You have just made my day! Thank you:)"

Aliya: What that mane (interpreted-What does that mean?)

Me: "It means that you made me very happy:)"

Aliya: "Ok"

How sweet is that??????

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Also, I just got a call from Blaine who is whisking me away in October to Cabo San Lucas for 4 days!! We are going with Todd,( his business partner) and his wife. We have never done anything like this before! So spontaneous. Blaine and Todd are determined to catch a huge fish!! I am determined to sit on the beach, drink pina coladas, visit with Mona and read some good books.

Now I HAVE to get serious about my workout!! Oh, my!!

Blessings,
Laura





Monday, September 27, 2010

Aliya's first birthday-at age 15!

We celebrated Aliya's 15th birthday yesterday. It was an exciting day!

Aliya has never, ever had a birthday party before. I really wanted this to be a memorable day for her and we wanted her to feel so special so I went all out (for me) and hung crepe paper, a banner and got a bouquet of 15 balloons + a Happy Birthday balloon! I never decorate for birthdays, just not my thing. We had 26 people when we brought together Blaine's whole family and my side, too. Lots of people brought her balloons, knowing this was a first for her. Here is part of her balloon collection!


Blaine modeling one of Aliya's new bracelets (or brasslets, as Aliya says!)


This is Aliya's expression when she found out this was a gift card to buy MAKE-UP!

Katie, Aliya and my mom in their birthday hats. Aliya had never seen birthday hats and thought this was really weird. She almost refused to put one on. But, as you can see, Katie got her not only to put one on, but two:)

Aliya and Grandma Joani, who gave her a pair of special earrings.

The family. (I look a little creepy but, oh well!)


Aliya ordered pizza and coffee cake for her birthday so that is what she got, with a chocolate cake to boot.

Her official birthday is Sept. 28, tomorrow so if you happen to see her or can facebook her, be sure to wish her a "Happy Birthday!"

I'm thinking about making her favorite Ethiopian dish, Shiro Wat for her birthday dinner tomorrow. We will see!

Blessings,
Laura

Friday, September 24, 2010

Trust

Trust.

I know it takes time to develop.

But waiting has never been my strong point!

I realize that I rarely share the stresses or negatives of adopting, especially where Aliya is concerned. As much as I want to be completely transparent and 'real', I also realize that she is 15 years old and we are trying to develop trust with her. There is nothing I would want to interfere with that. We respect her and want that from her, as well.

But today, I think I will let you in on our morning. I always appreciated reading other people's blogs who had adopted older children and learning from their stuggles. So here it goes.

It took Aliya a little while to learn how to wake up with her alarm. She used to get up at 6:15 in order to get ready and out the door by 7:01 to catch the bus. She felt that she had too much time in the morning and I agreed.

It was decided that she could reset her alarm and wake up at 6:25 but not a minute later. Well, somehow now it is 6:30 before I hear her feet hit the floor. We've had discussions about this to no avail. We know that she was very independent all her life (had to be) and it is best that she learns lessons on her own, not by us telling her.

The other issue in our morning story is that Miss Aliya is sick. She has a sore throat. She sort of let me in on that one, but then quickly denied that she was sick, saying, "I NEVER get sick." She even let me look in her throat with a flashlight and it was pinkish AND I can hear it in her voice AND she's not eating much AND is super tired BUT SHE IS NOT SICK! Just want to make that clear:) She did tell me that she was afraid to say she was sick in Ethiopia (even if she was BUT remember, she NEVER gets sick) but if she was, the housemothers would make her go to the doctor. I told her that I'm not the kind of mom who makes her kids go to the doctor if they are sick. They have to be really sick to go to the doctor.

Ok, this brings me to this morning.

She comes down the stairs at 6:30, saying, "I do not want to go to school today."

I say, "Why not?"

Aliya, "I have no idea."

I say (knowing full well she is sick), "Are you feeling sick?"

Aliya, "No."

"Are you sick, Aliya??"

"Nope." When you read this word, you have to emphasize the P and sort of make a popping sound with your lips to get the full effect:)

"Okay."

When I look at the clock, I see that it is 7:00 and she is still in her room. I ran upstairs to tell her. She came down and as she was getting her things together, we hear the bus coming. She gets her flip flops on and as she is running down the driveway (which is long and then she has a 1/2 block more to go) I yell to her that I will drive her. She keeps running. The bus waits and waits but she makes it. I'm sure she said, "No thanks" but I couldn't hear her with her sore throat and flip flops flapping!

Oh, my.

I feel so badly that she must feel so alone. She doesn't trust us enough to tell us how she really feels, both physically and emotionally yet. This is the MOST frustrating part of parenting an older adopted child for me. Just being honest here.

She also does not want to take advice about things like allowing yourself enough time to get ready in the morning. Because of her previous level of independence, she feels that she knows what she's doing. She doesn't need advice. She's handled everything fine before.

Ugh.

If she had said to me this morning, "Mom, my throat hurts and I didn't sleep well last night," I would have let her stay home and sent her back to bed, which she would have LOVED! I knew she didn't feel well but I had to stand my ground. She has to learn that there are advantages to share feelings with Mom and Dad. We are safe and can be trusted to handle things for her. We love her. We care about her. We want the best for her.

I know that she has only been home 7 months and she really is doing remarkably well in so many ways.

But trust?

We have a long ways to go.

My heart is breaking for her right now.

Blessings,
Laura


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

School updates

Sorry for the no-pic post today. Katie has the card reader so I'll try to add some pictures later.

The school year has gotten off to a good start. Aliya is now in 8th grade and officially turns 15 on September 28th. She is enjoying being on the soccer team at school. Her schedule is a pretty 'easy' one due to the fact that 2 of her classes are taken up by ELL (English Language Learner) class. The only 2 'hard' classes she has this semester are English (in which so far she's getting a B+!!) and Algebra. Other than that, she has P.E., Art and choir. She has an A in choir and an A- in Art. Way to go, Aliya!!!

I have spoken with both her English teacher and her Algebra teacher to explain her situation in having only been in this country 7 months and they have been wonderful in making assignments and expectations realistic for her to attain. I sort of have a feeling that she will surpass their expectations and do more than has been assigned just due to the fact that this girl is COMPETITIVE! She definitely wants to 'SHOW YOU!' But seriously, her teachers seem to enjoy having her in class and she has the same ELL teacher that she had last year.

In our state, we must do a re-adoption when we adopt from Ethiopia. It's a formality, really. I have our date scheduled for October 21st. The kids are off school so everyone, hopefully will be able to see Aliya become an American citizen! That becomes official when the re-adoption is granted by the judge. It was a fun and positive experience when we did it with the boys so I expect it will be again with Aliya. I'll share pictures when that day comes!

Mihiretu is doing well in school. Home schooling him this summer (and Aliya, too) really, really paid off. They made great strides in their understanding of phonics and are reading at higher levels. Mihiretu still gets extra help and will get ELL this year. He qualifies because English is actually his 3rd language spoken.

Aliya doesn't understand this at all! I explained to her that he spoke Hadiya first, then at the care center he learned Amharic and then English. So she began asking him questions in Amharic. He, of course cannot understand a word of it! He told her that he remembers one word-"birutkan," which means "orange." She told him, "Oh, wow." (Not in an impressed way)

I don't pretend to understand how the human brain learns but I do know that he has language and reading delays which I attribute to having his brain filled up with 2 other languages before the age of 4 1/2. Although you do not recognize it if you speak to him, sometimes he hesitates or forgets a word while his brain goes back a 3rd time for the English version. This takes time and effort on the part of his brain. The other thing that could be a factor is the degree of malnutrition he suffered before coming to us. If you see him now, you can see that 'big boy is definitely NOT malnourished now' but he was moderately malnourished for the first 4 years of his life, which certainly can have an effect.

But he is doing great in school this year and like I said, his reading has improved by leaps and bounds since the torture (I mean the schooling we enjoyed every day) this summer! I home schooled Blake and Katie - Blake all the way through high school until he went to college in 11th grade, and Katie until 10th grade so I'm pretty seasoned. But teaching these two stretched me to my absolute LIMIT! God gave me the grace I begged for and we got through it with wonderful results!!

Misganaw LOVES preschool again this year. Is there any way that I can keep him this age forever? Honestly, the thought of him going to Kindergarten next year is going to be a killer. But at least it is only a 1/2 day. What about the next year when he's gone ALL day???? What in the world will I do all day??? Yuck. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

P.S. "Lord, I need a little something to fill my time starting in the fall of 2012."

Hmmmmmmm......

Blessings,
Laura

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's too late





Remember that I mentioned about the changes taking place in Ethiopia regarding adoption? Well, I am very sad to say that upon closer medical examination, 9 girls have officially aged out of Layla House. ALL of the older girls are now gone.

Gone.

There are no more older girls there.

I cannot even comprehend this.

There were 3 girls who had younger siblings. They did not want to be split up but after some very unselfish thinking on their part, decided that they wanted their younger sib to have a *chance* at a family. So if the younger child is matched with a family, they will join their new family in America and the older sister will remain behind, alone.

An friend, who recently traveled to pick up her new son at Layla House gave me this sad report yesterday. I've been trying to digest it. Aliya hasn't been able to sleep. She's been on the phone, talking with some of the other older girls who did fortunately get families and are here in the U.S. These girls are their friends. They spent every day with them for a year or many years. They were their roommates. They were their classmates. They all hoped and longed together for a family to choose them. They rejoiced together when one of them got that highly desired 'welcome bag' telling them they had a family who wanted them.

Now these older girls' hope for a family is gone.

The two girls photographed with Aliya above are sisters who aged out. They are not just faces, they are girls around 15 or 16.

Please pray for them. Pray that Jesus would be their hope and that they would find that He is enough. Pray for protection and direction for them. Pray for God to provide a 'family' for them in Ethiopia. I don't know what this looks like but He does.

There are now several boys, ages 5-8 who are waiting. We need to redirect our focus on finding them families. Some of these are the younger sibs of the older girls who aged out. We cannot let them down. If you know of anyone who is interested, please tell them. Above all, pray for them.

This is the first time in Layla House's history that children have aged out. They've always been able to find homes for kids until now.

Pray also for the kids from Korah who should have arrived at boarding school today or yesterday, I believe. Pray for a smooth transition for them. Pray that the teachers and other kids there welcome them with open arms. Pray for those left behind and not able to go to the boarding school, that they will carry without their friends. Pray for hope for them, as well.

I have a heavy heart tonight for these kids who are struggling right now. I feel like I've let them down somehow. I know that I am not responsible to save every child (at least that's what I've been told) but man, this hurts.

Christians, we gotta do better.

Blessings,
Laura


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cheers!



Today is purple day in MN so my boys wore their #28 jerseys today in to represent. When I picked Misganaw up from pre-school, a mom asked him, "So who are you cheering for tonight, Misganaw?"

Without missing a beat, my little sweetie pie replied, "My mom."

That's right, buddy. Always cheer for Mom!

All the kids are doing well at school so far. Aliya is enjoying her classes and teachers. She seems to thrive in social settings. Soccer started for her last week and she LOVES it! Tomorrow she finds out if she made A or B team. She is hoping to make B team, and she probably will since she has doesn't have any real team experience. She loves the game and puts in her heart and soul.
I am so surprised at how much better she can understand and communicate this year with school. Much progress was made over the summer!

Mihiretu likes his teacher and seems to be enjoying school. No home work yet! He's in football and had a game tonight. They got creamed! My boy needs to keep his eye on the ball and quit dancing on the field! He really is a good player when he stays focused:)

Many blessings and cheers for Mom,
Laura

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We are all important

The Village of Korah - A short documentary from Session 7 Media on Vimeo.



You will want to watch this video over and over. It's so well done...incredibly sad and incredibly beautiful-all at the same time.

A quick update-252 kids have been sponsored to the boarding school! (It is at capacity)
-22 have been sponsored to a technical school (There are more young adults who are eligible to be sponsored to
technical school. The cost is $600 per year. This needs to be done fairly quickly as school is soon to begin)
-Just imagine what sponsoring a young adult so they can get an education at technical school would do?



Watch and enjoy!

If you haven't yet read my previous post about the kids who need you, please take the time to do so and then pass it on.

Much thanks,
Laura

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kids who need you



I've had something on my mind for a little while and since time is of the essence, I thought I'd better share it now.

See those gorgeous girls in the picture above? Just over a year ago, they had no family. They were alone, waiting, praying and hoping for one but they didn't have one. Most of us cannot fathom how this would feel, me included. I've always had a mom and dad who I could rely on and who always had my best interest at heart. They were there to give advice, give a hug, or a word of correction when I needed it. Thankfully, one now is my daughter and the other is her best friend who now has a wonderful family in Florida.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. You all know there are kids out there in this situation. What I need to tell you is that there are some changes taking place in adoption in Ethiopia and it is NOT good for the older kids. (This is my opinion but I think most would agree)

The agency we used to adopt Aliya, Adoption Advocated International has taken in children over the years who are more difficult to place. These include older kids, sibling sets and kids who are not perfectly healthy. I appreciate that they have given these kids a chance for a home, when others strictly deal with healthy babies and toddlers, who are much easier to place with families. So there are kids who have been waiting for families for years at Layla House.

Layla House is really a transition home for kids who are waiting for families to come pick them up. It's not supposed to be an orphanage. I think it has been that. But things are changing now. By the end of the school year, all kids age 8 and over will be returned to their original orphanages where they came from. I am thankful that these places exist but (again my opinion) these are not the best places for these kids. I'm sure they are not as nice a place as Layla House. But let's face it...most people do not want to adopt an older child. They want a baby or toddler, not a pre-adolescent or teenager. So these kids have waited and now they will have to make another huge transition.

To the kids who are being forced to leave, Layla House is their home. They have friends there who are like family. They have house mothers they love. This is the place where their hopes were raised every time they saw one of their friends go home with a new family. Now they will have to leave and I can't help but wonder what this will do to their spirits? Will they lose their hope?

My heart breaks for them. It is so wrong.

From personal experience, adopting a older child and a sibling set has been very rewarding for our family. That's not to say that it comes without a lot of work. I would be lying if I said that it was as easy as pie.

I haven't said this publicly yet but when we adopted Aliya, I decided that I would have no expectations of loving, mother-daughter relationship with her. She is 15 after all. It's not like I can hold her, give her a bottle, and do the things moms do with their little ones that naturally bring about bonding. Don't get me wrong...I do believe that will come in time and we're working on it. But I think it's a mistake to put huge expectations on these kids and then put lots of pressure on them to comply.

This relationship is NOT about us and what we can get out of it. It is completely about Aliya and what we can give to her.

She will now always have a family, support, love and a safe place to come.

Every child needs and deserves this but with these kids being transferred to their old orphanages, I think it is less likely to happen for them and for other older kids in Ethiopia. It's going to make it a LOT harder.

At this time, there are 4 older girls who are about to age out and will then never have the chance to have a family. If you or someone you know are interested in them, you will need to act fast and get your home study done in order to not see them age out. They are great girls. They are Aliya's friends.

Secondly, there are many kids who are age 8 and above who really need families soon! It is a situation that is really serious. I can tell you that their is a sibling set that Aliya thinks is amazing. The girl is probably 15 and is an excellent student. She stays up all night to study for tests. She is sweet and really wants a family. She has a younger brother, who I do not know but am told he is just as amazing.

Can you pray about and for these kids? Can you spread the word?

You never know who may respond.

Blessings,
Laura

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's happening with Korah?



Oh, those faces. Just can't get them out of our minds. I pray that God keeps them burned in our minds forever.

I haven't blogged much about Korah lately so I thought I'd write a little today to give you an update.

Teams are still going to Korah to work. Project 61 is the ministry from Sumer's church in TN that is wonderfully coordinating all things Korah at the time. Honestly, I am so impressed at the type of people who must attend her church. I'm in awe, really. People have rallied around her and her family, who now live in Korah. They have sent team after team to work and develop relationships. Many have become sponsors. ALL have become advocates for the people of Korah and spreading the word far and wide. Korah, a place that was barely on the map (figuratively speaking) is now known by people all over the world! Christians have been deeply and forever effected when they've seen the faces and heard the stories and are taking action. God's people have awakened! And they're on FIRE!

The first news I'd like to share is that all the slots for the boarding school have been FILLED! 250 kids, who formerly lived in a dump or other difficult situations (like having no parents) are leaving on September 12 for the boarding school in Shashemane, Ethiopia. They are living now in the dorms that Katie, Blake, De and Zach worked on when they were there getting prepared to attend boarding school. Can you even imagine the day they arrive there? I've seen pics and let me tell you, it is BEAUTIFUL. Lush and green, no pollution, a library FULL of books, lovely dorms and a dining hall just waiting for kids to sit down for a meal.

There are also children who will attend school right in Korah at the Great Hope Church there. The school is called Bright Hope School and many kids in the community will go to school there in the fall. There was an organization who was doing sponsorships to this school but that relationship has ended and now Project 61 is taking over these sponsorships. The great thing about this is with Project 61, there are NO administrative costs involved. So when you send $35 to sponsor a child, it all gets sent to the school and it's work. They are not equipped to send pictures of kids (the way Compassion or World Vision does) so when you send money, it basically goes into a pool for all the kids to go to school. (Correct me if I'm wrong please!) Because Katie developed relationships with Fasika and Beza when she was there, we are 'sponsoring' them to Bright Hope. The other little guy that Katie fell in love with is being sponsored to the boarding school by another family who also fell in love with him and made the decision to sponsor him when they were visiting Korah.

There are many people who have talked about different projects that they'd like to see done in Korah. As you know the needs there are staggering but God has sent very qualified people from different organizations and fields to research, talk with govt. officials and get the work done. I had the opportunity to be a part of a conference call the other day and hear these people talk about their area and what is currently happening.

I can't help but tell you, I was so excited to hear what they all had to say. Progress is being made! REAL progress. These are people who are not going to give up on Korah. These are 'get the job done' kind of people. One improvement I will share is the need for water in Korah. If you'll remember, people have to walk 45 minutes one way to a dirty river for a jerry can of water. Can you imagine doing this? I'll tell you, it looks very promising that water will be coming to Korah. The changes it will bring to the peoples lives cannot be measured or overstated. Please pray the the proper steps will take place to see this happen.

We have a couple other things in my mind that we are praying about and asking God to show us if we are to be involved in them. Please pray with us.

I wanted to share this encouraging update to let you know that your prayers have been effective.

I will update (I actually have a wonderful short movie I will share soon) when I hear more.

Keep praying,
Laura

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Home from the Black Hills



First, I wanted to share with you a picture of Blaine's office wall. These (except for Aliya's pic) were Father's Day gifts for Blaine last year. All he wanted for his birthday this year was a picture of Aliya to complete his wall. Katie took it...is it not beautiful??? He loves it so much that now he wants new ones of Mihiretu and Katie to update them! Every time he looks up from his desk, he sees these 5 beautiful children looking back at him. What could be better than that?




Ok, on to South Dakota. We got back a couple days ago from a 5 day camping trip in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We took the 3 youngest kids and had such a blast! It was weird not having all the kids with us but I guess with work and kids getting older, things must change. This is a picture of Aliya at Bear Country. I love it because she looks so happy and pretty:)




We had warned the kids that buffalo were dangerous and that they shouldn't be approached. These were in Custer State Park and were so far away that we thought it was safe for them to get out of the truck to take a look. Misganaw needed a little coaxing from his big brother that it was safe. Cute, huh? Mihiretu is very nurturing and sweet like that:)




We went to a cowboy cookout dinner and they had this jail there. Mihiretu is only pretending to be sad. Just such a cute picture!




We bought the all the kids cowboy hats. This is Misganaw in his. Adorable!




We all LOVED Mt. Rushmore so much!! So beautiful and patriotic!




Yummm! Cowboy cookout!

Blessings,
Laura

Friday, August 20, 2010

We're off again!



Here are some more pics of our week at the cabin. I LOVE this picture of Blaine and our nephew-in-law, Bryant. I love it because when I think back to last year at this same time, Blaine was still recovering from his being paralyzed in July. He was on mega doses of Prednisone which turned him into a completely different person. The guy in this picture...THAT is my husband!
Praise God for His healing! You should have seen these guys spinning the jet ski around just to get thrown off and do it again and again!



Misganaw and me. He fell asleep on the boat (again)! So cute!




This is my darling Mom, who even though this is only her second year fishing, has become a great fisherwoman! How cute is SHE? She's one of my greatest supporters and is always, always there for me.




This is my sweet sister, Pam. She loves my kids more than just about anyone! She's also a huge help to me and I love her bunches!


I'm waiting for Blaine to return with a part for the camper and then we will be on our way to "Mountain Smushmore." You see, Misganaw actually believes that we are going to a mountain made of "smushmallows." Poor kid, I keep trying to explain it to him but I guess he'll have to see it to believe:)

This trip will include only the 3 youngest kids, Blaine and I.

We cannot wait to get there but have run into many obstacles with the electrical system in the camper. Hopefully, these will soon be repaired and we'll be off!

Blessings,
Laura

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our week at the cabin



Aliya learned a new skill this past week. The CANNONBALL!!!




Splash!!




This is Mihiretu...I know you thought this was some 12 year old! Hard to believe this kid just turned 8 and is a 2nd grader...hmmmmm.




But here's the proof, Spongebob Cake and all! We bought him a little special cake just for him on his birthday.




This picture is of Mihiretu's and my foot. This was not taken to show you how badly I need a pedicure. It was not taken to show you that I cut my leg. It was definitely NOT to show you my tiny, stubby toes!! Ok, get your laughter out now!!! This picture was taken to show you that my little guy who just turned 8 and is going into 2nd grade has BIGGER feet than his mom!!

I have lots of pics to post in the days to come of everyone at the cabin. We had a wonderful time with my family this past week. We did lots of relaxing, floating, eating :) and jet skiing.

Sam and Nastassia's wedding was beautiful! I'm sorry I cannot show you because BOTH of my camera batteries were dead!! But I have friends who will get me the pics they took because you just HAVE to see Misganaw in his tux!!

We were really proud of our little ring bearer! He was a sight to behold, let me tell you. This kid was born to be a ring bearer. He could give classes to other potential ring bearers!

Without any rehearsal, he walked up with his new wife (or so he thinks) perfectly! After the ceremony, the new little couple :) was supposed to walk back down the aisle. Misganaw was rearing to go but his new wife was not. She was adorable but a little shy and she stood there looking at the ground shaking her head, "no." He stood at he front of the aisle motioning with his finger, "Come on, you can do it!"

After the ceremony, while taking pics, the bridesmaids got him to kiss her on the cheek during a picture. This poor girl, she screamed and ran away crying to her dad! The photographer and all the bridesmaids were laughing their heads off but I knew Misganaw would feel badly about this so I went over to comfort him. He looked at me and loudly said (with hands out to his side going up and down with every phrase) "MOM, she didn't....EVEN....like it!"

Then at the reception, he was so anxious to get onto the dance floor. I told him to wait until the father-daughter dance was done. Well, the second the music stopped and some rap song came on, my little man bolted onto the dance floor and began BREAK DANCING!! And I mean this kid can break dance!!!! Everyone formed a circle around him and he went to town! I sat there with my mouth wide open! I couldn't believe how this kid could dance. He went like this all night, even getting his new wife onto the dance floor. They had a blast together!

So I'm thinking...he's such a natural ring bearer that maybe I should make him available for other weddings. You know, like "Rent a Ring Bearer" where for $100 plus the cost of a tux, you can have the CUTEST, funniest, most adorable ring bearer AND then to keep your reception from becoming dull, you could have him for another $100 plus dinner and LOTS and LOTS of cake and punch until 9:30 or until he falls asleep, whichever comes first.

What do you think??

Blessings,
Laura

I promise...I'll get some pics!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A project for a summer day



This was a day project for Blaine and the kids. We have a cute little pond in our back yard and the project was to build a little dock into it. Mihiretu LOVES to work so he's a great help.




Aliya had a great time helping, too! A girl with a power tool and wearing waders!! She's got style:)





For some reason, Aliya thought the waders were a great fashion statement. She is holding Tia, the new puppy.




Mr. Muscle Mihiretu is putting in the last post for the dock.




Misganaw posing on the completed project.

I don't have pics of this but the following weekend, they built an adorable curved bridge to go over the river-like end of the pond. Super cute:)

Yesterday, I took Aliya to the make-up counter at Macy's for a little lesson in how to apply make-up. She's never worn make-up at all and really wanted to start but was afraid to tell me, so she told Katie. How funny! This is not something that would upset me at ALL! So we went and let me tell you...this girl loved every second! I'm sorry I didn't have my camera but you have to take my word for it...she looked even prettier than usual:) She LOVED her eyes so we purchased the make-up for that. We thought that was enough (OK, I thought that was enough!) to start with. She was so thankful and appreciative. We had fun together!

Last night, we all went to view our new family picture that we had taken a couple weeks ago by the same lady that did our original family portrait when we were a much smaller family of 4. It was a beautiful picture but it was lost in the fire. I really miss it as it was a central point of our living room. We decided to have her retake our pic since a family of 4 were are no longer! It is funny...when we had the first one taken, we decided our family was complete and it was a good time to do a formal family portrait. We had never before had one done but decided to splurge, just this once!

But God had other plans for our family!! Just when we splurge...God says, "Hey, I have some more kids for you!" This made our old portrait pretty obsolete.

Then we had the fire and decided we would spring for the sitting fee and the insurance company would replace the size pics we lost in the fire. However, these pics have ALL of us in it! So happy to have this wonderful gift. It is very hard to find the good in having a fire, but this is an example of a good thing coming out of bad:)

Many blessings,
Laura

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Next Saturday...a wedding



In one week from today, there will be wedding and THIS boy will be getting married!




Blake will be the best man...how can this be? Weren't you just little boys, jumping on our trampoline? Switching heads and other crazy boy stuff?




How could this kid be getting married??




But he is.

Sam and Blake have been friends since they were 3 and 4 years old! They played Legos together for countless hours. They built forts. They went to church together and lived next door to one another for many years...which made their childhood so wonderful since there was always someone to play with. They played in a band together and on worship teams.

And now Sam is getting married and Blake is the best man...in one short week.

I can't say that when they were little I ever thought about this day...Sam was always the crazy, funny, way out there kid in the group. His mom and I spent more time worrying about him breaking a bone or causing bodily injury to himself than any other kids. But now I have Mihiretu and it is like having a "Sam" all over again:)

I love you, Sam. You are like a son to me. You are all grown up now and you have found your wife. Sorry, but I'm a little emotional about this.

Many blessings to Sam and Nastassia on their upcoming wedding. May you always put each other first and love God most.

We all love you!

Little Misganaw is the ring bearer and we really can't wait to see dressed in a tux in ALL of his cuteness!

One more week.

Blessings,
Laura

Wednesday, July 21, 2010



This is the catch of the day! 18 fish!!!!! The kids had so much fun pulling all these fish in:) They are all bass, I think.




This is the catch of the night!! Blake caught this great walleye. Mihiretu got in for the picture. He won for biggest fish pulled in but Katie actually caught a HUGE walleye, got it up to the boat and it flipped and spit out the hook. Blaine was sick because it was close to 10# and would have been big enough to mount. So sad to miss that one:(




Misganaw caught this fish. Both the little boys LOVE to fish!




Mihiretu and Dad.




Aliya and her new found love...swimming. She's getting better all the time.


We spent the last week back up at the cabin with our friends and had a wonderful time! So restful and relaxing. God blessed us with good weather and good conversations. Blake, Katie and Zach showed everyone their pictures and video that they took in Korah. I know it was a blessing to everyone who saw them. In fact, there are several of us parents who are feeling the Lord saying, "Come to Korah." So who knows?? Maybe in a year there will be another trip with the kids AND the parents! Oh, how I would LOVE this!!!!!!!

Next June, Blaine and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. I know....awwwwww. I asked him if he would consider spending it in Korah instead of the cruise that had been discussed (we've never been on a cruise and thought it sounded relaxing). He thought a minute and then said, "No." It is a long trip for a guy who's been through as much as he has. He has lots of pain in his back and a 23 hour travel time and flight is a killer for him. So I get it. But a year is a long way off and we will pray and see what the Lord might have for us.

Summer has been wonderful so far but so incredibly busy! I have been spending 3 hours every morning doing summer school at home with Aliya and Mihiretu. Aliya needs help with her reading and English. She can read English at about a 2nd grade level but I felt that mostly she had memorized words and didn't know how to sound them out. This would be a problem as she progresses to more complex words so we have gone back to the basics. It has benefitted her so much. Our goal is to get through the 2nd and 3rd grade books this summer. Not sure if we will quite make it but we're going to try.

One problem that I have found is that with her accent, she pronounces her vowels differently we do in America. So her "apple" is more like "opple". It's been a bit of a challenge for us to reconcile this so that she can phonetically pronounce words. But we're figuring it out. She needs lots of help sounding out vowels. I think she has always looked at a word and pronounce all the consonants and just guessed at how the vowel sounds, like she had trouble with sit, set, sat. She'd say them all the same. That took work but I think we've conquered that.

Mihiretu is also making huge progress with his reading. I'm so proud of both of them to be willing to spend so much time doing school in the summertime.

I went for a walk with my sweet sister, Pam last week. When I'd gotten home, Blaine told me the story of their evening.

Blaine and Misganaw were going to take the new puppy for a walk, but Aliya and Mihiretu wanted to come along, too. First the kids fought over who would hold the leash. Mihiretu won that one. They had walked a ways down our street when noticed Mihiretu (the competitive one) who was in the lead, with his pants down, peeing right in the middle of the road! Now let me stop here and say, "WHAT???" Yes, he was peeing in the middle of the road WITH a car coming toward him. Blaine yells for him to get over to the side. After spraying everywhere and almost hitting the puppy, he finally made it over to the side of the road where he finished his business.

Right after that, Misganaw fell down, scraping up his leg and crying (more like screaming) especially after the puppy jumped on top of his already wounded self and began biting him!

Blaine decided to cut the walk short (for obvious reasons) and turned towards home. He challenged Aliya to a race and they took off. Blaine turned around to see how the little boys were doing. Did I mention that Mihiretu was competitive?? He is not one to turn down a race so he was in a close 3rd, with the puppy in tow, flailing behind him on the leash!!

All this took place in a 20 minute time span!

My sister and I had a lovely walk.

Blaine told us the story when we got home and can I say, I was a little more than upset at the thought of my almost 8 year old peeing in the middle of our road?

I said to Mihiretu, "DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT IT IS NOT OK FOR A PERSON TO PEE THE ROAD??? IN FACT, IT IS ILLEGAL. (Then I did what any Mom would do who wants to make her point. I brought the police into it.) YOU COULD HAVE BEEN ARRESTED BY THE PO-PO!!!!!"

I know they are not going to arrest an 8 year old but I'm trying to make a point.

Immediately after I bring in the police, Misganaw (who was way, way over-tired) breaks down crying and says, "Why does Mihiretu always get to get arrested by the po-po???????!?!!!!!!!!"

Oh, my goodness did we laugh!!

If anyone has any advice on how to get little boys to use the toilet in the house instead of watering the street, bushes or in boxes in the garage (don't ask!), please, please let me know!

Many blessings,
Laura