Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's going to be a big surprise!

She did it! Aliya learned to ride a bike! Blaine took her on Saturday and bought it...her first ever bike. She has been working hard to get the peddling down with keeping her head up to watch where she's going, and then there is the steering. So many things to remember! She began doing better when, left to her own devices, she decided to try on the grass, starting at the top of a gradual hill. This worked well.

Then, last night as I was walking to my neighbors' for a basket party, Blaine had her in the street and she took off on her own, doing great I might add!

I got home after she was in bed so she didn't get to show me, but I heard all about it. A car was coming and she ever so slowly, swerved and went off the road and down into a 3 foot ditch. She went head over heals and when she came up, she was completely covered with mud! Blaine said she got really mad, took off her jacket and threw it on the ground!

I was concerned that she'd never want to ride that bike again. But it seems that she just got right back on and tried again.

That's my resilient girl!! She had to show me her big bandaid this morning!

This morning, after Blaine had taken her to school and I was making breakfast for the little boys, the phone rang. It was Aliya's school. Actually, it was ALIYA!


Aliya (in a frantic, breathless voice)-"Mom, do you see my hormwork?" (I'm going to do the accent!)

Me-"Where is it?"

Aliya-"I don't know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is my mott and scieeeeeeence!! QUEEK!! QUEEK!!!!!"

Me-"Here it is, right on the buffet."

Aliya-"MOM, QUEEEEEEK! Please, can you bring it???? QUEEEEEEEEKK!!"

Me-"Yes, I will bring it as soon as I can."

Aliya-"Oh, mom! QUEEEEEEEEK!!! QUUUUEEEEEEEEEKKKKKK!" (This is quick if you haven't figured it out)

I load up the boys and run her homework to her school. She's waiting in the Dean's office. I hand it to her and she RUNS back to class. As I look into the Dean's office, one of the deans is laughing his head off!

I can just imagine her coming to the deans office for help this morning.

"Please call my mom...I don't know my phone number. Please, you call!!" Just her in panic mode like that would have been funny and then to listen to the conversation...no wonder they were laughing!

Forgetting your homework really isn't THAT big of a deal in America. It must be in Ethiopia! We'll work on getting all her homework back into her backpack each evening.

Now, for the fun part. Spring break...in Florida! We leave this Thursday. Unfortunately, we leave Blake at home as his spring break doesn't line up with the other kids'. It turns out that we will get to see Aliya's best friend, Anaya on Thursday afternoon!! Aliya knows about it and is overjoyed but Anaya is going to be surprised! So shhhhhhhh! I can imagine Aliya going to the door and ringing the doorbell and Anaya screaming when she sees her. SO FUN!

It will be 7 of us going (including De). We're going to hit Sea World and their water park. Disney is just so expensive for 7 people so we won't go there. That's ok, we'll have lots of fun. We are staying with Blaine's aunt and uncle who are wonderful hosts and have a house that is the PERFECT set up for guests, even 7 guests! We're so thankful to have a place to stay because traveling is NOT meant for a family of 7, if you know what I mean.

I'll have lots of pics to post when we get back. Can't wait to share them with you!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

She wants a dog

Aliiya told us how much she LOVED dogs while we were still in Ethiopia. I thought if we just ignored the topic, it just might go away!

I'm going out on a limb here saying this on a public blog but I'm not a big dog fan. SORRY to all the dog lovers who read this blog:(

Horses, I completely adore! I had a pony growing up and they were some of the very best years of my life.

When Blake was a little boy, he was afraid of dogs. Well, I wasn't going to have a boy who cringed when a dog approached him so I gave in to Blaine's request to get a puppy. It was for the betterment of my son, after all. I agreed but on the condition that I was not going to clean up the messes in the house caused by this dog. Maggie was a Brittany and ended up being a great dog and friend to the kids for many years. It took her several years to mellow out (and I mean years!).

She bolted away at every chance she got. Her nose drove her to do this. It drove me nuts, having to get in the car and search for her, worry when she didn't come home at night. Did she get hit by a car and how would the kids handle this? Well, she ALWAYS came home. Sometimes she had found some dead fish to roll in and one time she found a dead dear that must have been full of gravel because that's what came out of her all day after she came home. Can I say YUCK?

And through all of this, guess who cleaned up the messes? Guess who fed her every day? That's right, ME!

Katie will tell you that I loved Maggie and cried when she had to be put down. Love is a strong word that to me, can only be used when talking about another person. Dogs are not people...but I did like Maggie, sometimes a lot:)

So my daughter wants a dog. She doesn't yet know that her mom is a big pushover and will give in.

She said to me yesterday when I picked her up from school, "Mom, when I get a poopy (puppy!), will you bring her with you to school when you pick me up?"

Last night, she told me that she was praying for a poopy and God told her, "Yes." I told her He needed to tell me, "Yes".

She wants an answer right after church on Sunday and she wants the puppy after Spring Break.


I don't really want a dog, I really don't.



Friday, March 19, 2010

The kid cracks me up!

I am so quick to forget the hilarious things Misganaw says on a daily basis but this one, I have to write down so I don't forget.

At lunch today, Misganaw looked at me and asked me, "Mom, do you want to be a princess?"

I said, "Yes, I do."

He said, "If you were a princess, what kind of princess would you like to be?"

I said, "A pretty, pink princess."

To this he replied, "Know what kind of princess I would be?"

Me, a tad concerned what the answer to this might be, said, "What kind of princess would you be?"

He scrunches up his face and whispers, "Spider Man. Or Batman!"

I told him that those weren't princesses but superheroes. Phew!

"Yep, that's what I want to be...a superhero!"

I don't know about a superhero but Misganaw, you ARE super funny!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

A one hour snapshot

Before we brought Aliya home, Blaine and I took a weekend and went away to our cabin for a weekend. Remember, Katie gave us the weekend of babysitting for our Christmas present? When we went away, we made up a list of how we were going to spend time equally with each child in our home. We didn't want anyone to feel left out so we thought we'd be deliberate about it. Thinking ahead...not usually my strong suit.

Note to self: following through...also not my strong suit.

Well, we made this list but then we failed to follow it.

We know the upheaval that bringing a new child into a family causes, even when that child is wonderfully behaved and the perfect fit. Everyone must re-find their place in the family because everyones place and role changes in some way. It is stressful and needs to be worked out but it's necessary and normal.

So now we are working on that list again...not writing it but doing it.

I thought you might enjoy seeing this little one hour snapshot into the life of our integrating family.

All this happened between 4-5pm yesterday.

I tell Aliya to hop into the shower and wash her hair. She only has to wash her hair once a week, then I dry it and straighten it. I have to explain how to wash her hair and then rinse it and how to use conditioner and rinse it out. Duh, Laura...how would she know this? I plan to get it dried before supper then straighten it after supper.

I get the peppers and onions cut up and sauteing for the early dinner we must have since Mihiretu goes to choir on Wed. nights.

Discussion ensues with child who needs some attention from Mom and Dad. (Totally our fault, by the way! We should know better.) Lots of emotion and hugs needed.

Aliya gets out of the shower in the middle of this discussion.

Discussion ends...hugs and more hugs.

Stirring peppers and onions, making pasta salad.

Aliya, "Mom, can you get me on facebook?"

So I get her on facebook.

Mihiretu and Misganaw come in...don't want to be outside anymore. Get the Playdough out.

Aliya, "Mom, my friend is trying to talk to me on facebook. Help me!"

I try to help her but for some reason, facebook is not letting her chat with her friend.

Stirring peppers and onions. (Wishing someone would set the table, thinking, "I could get in my car and drive away for the evening.")

Aliya, "MOM, SHE'S SAYING PLEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASSSEEEEE TALK TO ME, TARIKWA." "I'm worried about her, maybe something is wrong!!!!! Mom, I need to talk to her, help me!!"

Mihiretu and Misganaw are NOT sharing. Things are escallating. Misganaw is screaming because Mihiretu took one of his Playdough toys. Mihiretu wants me to explain why Misganaw needs to share!

I try to send a simple facebook message to her friend. It won't work! I tell Aliya that I'm new to facebook and I don't understand why it is doing that. She will HAVE to wait until Dad gets home.

Aliya is desperate to talk to her friend, my peppers are burning, the bread I have under the broiler is burnt, smoke is pouring out of the oven and all I can think about is, "The smoke alarms are going to go off and I cannot HANDLE hearing that noise ever again!"

So I'm yelling, "KIDS!! Open all the doors!!" All the while trying to explain to Aliya that IF she hears a loud, ear piercing sound not to worry, but it is the smoke alarms...all of which means nothing to her so she's asking me, "What??"

It's now after 5. Where is Blaine???? Of all nights to come in late!! Aliya's hair is drying by itself and it is NOT straight.

He FINALLY comes in and sensing the tension, says, "What's burning??? Wow, everybody is crabby in here!"

To which I reply, "DO NOT SAY THAT RIGHT NOW! I need you to ASSIST!"

So there...if you think our life is like a story book, think again!! We got through it and after helping with homework, cleaning up , straightening hair, picking Mihiretu up from Awana, and getting kids to bed, Blaine and I finally sat down at 9:45 to watch the results show of American Idol.


I don't want a repeat of that hour but...our life?? We wouldn't have it any other way.

There...do you feel better?


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Home one month. Really??

Yep, it's been exactly one month since we brought Aliya home. Honestly, it feels like she's been with us so much longer than that. I mean that in a good way! She so naturally fits into our family that her transition has been almost seamless.

This is not at all what I had expected. I had expected that with all the things that we'd been through in the last year, God was preparing us for something even harder. But I was sure wrong!

Blaine and I are so amazed at this girl. She is open with us about things she wants to share with us. She trusts us and knows that we are her family forever. How can a child who has suffered such loss and undergone so many transitions trust us so quickly? How can she love or even like anyone? How can she not be bitter and angry and fearful? How can she not just cling to us for fear of being left alone again? Where does she get such confidence? How can she laugh like she has never had a care in the world?

God has healed her heart.

Don't worry, I'm not naive to the fact that things will come up down the road. We've seen little things, but absolutely no big things yet. Praise God for the way He worked out for THIS girl to be our daughter. He does know best!

Her English continues to improve each day. Her latest thing she loves to say is, "Dad, do you HEAR ME??" You have to imagine it with her accent and the way she rolls her R's. She has lots to learn but it is fun to watch her pick things up. Her sense of humor is a strong part of her personality. She cracks us up many times a day. Mostly, on purpose;) Sometimes when she's not trying.

She told us that she prayed for a family who had other kids because she really wanted a brother and a sister. I told her, "Well, you got more than that!"

Then she told us that she prayed for a family who was crazy, like her. I told her, "Well, you got that, too!" She said, "I know!" You can take that however you want to but what she by that was she wanted a family who could joke around like her.

She was often told, "Silence!" in class or by the house mother in her orphanage because she does have a tendency to talk a lot and goof off.

Yep, she fits right in here.

We are so thankful to the Lord for Aliya. She is a blessing to our family and a gift from God.

Older child adoption...actually teenage adoption...don't shy away. We couldn't have made a better decision. Actually it was God's decision. We just said, "YES."


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Orphan Summit!!!

I am SO excited that this year, Blaine and I have the privilege of attending the Orphan Summit.

Check out the website here http://www.christian-alliance-for-orphans.org/summit/

The speakers are going to be excellent! John Piper, Tom Davis, Dr. Karen Purvis, Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman are some of them.

I was planning on attending last year when it was in Dallas but then we had the fire so that put a big damper on it!

The breakout sessions look so interesting and informative. We're bound to gain knowledge on how to better serve and care for orphans.

I'm personally pretty excited to meet and speak to Tom Davis about Korah!

If there is ANY chance of you attending, we'd LOVE to meet you there.

Let me know...is anything planning on attending?? The dates are April 29-30...save the date:-)


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Teaching a 14 year old to ride a bike!

For some reason lately, blogspot is messed up in regards to posting pictures. The pictures don't show up so I can write under them. It just shows a milion characters! Anyone know why this is or how to fix it??

Anyway, you can see from the pictures that we had lots of fun over the weekend with our warmer weather! Blaine wanted to teach Aliya to ride a bike. He had only a little success with this. She tried so hard but kept tipping over. When you've never ridden a bike, it's so hard to get the balance put together with the peddling, then there is the steering. Yikes! We need to get her on a stationary bike first, I think just to get the peddling down.

The bike riding turned into a snowball fight. The picture of Blaine throwing a snowball at Aliya's HEAD, really wasn't as bad as it appears on the picture! Click on that one so you can see it up close. Super funny!

Aliya held her own in her first-ever snowball fight. There was lots of laughing and screaming!

The snowball fight turned into the making of a snowman. Isn't he cute?

5 kids is the best!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

That's what I said...Boody trap

We just had a laughing attack at our house. Blaine is working with Aliya on her Algebra (yes, you read that right...Algebra!) He just said the word, "Obtuse" and she couldn't stop laughing! Then Blaine asked her what a certain angle was and she replied with her Ethiopian accent, "90" which sounds like "nine-tee". Blaine said, "Not 19. It's nine-dee." She said, "That's what I said!" Which she did!

By this time we're all laughing! Blaine says, "I said Boody trap!"

If you haven't seen "The Goonies", there is a kid with an accent who loves to set up booby traps.

You may have had to be here for this one!

Sorry, I'm still laughing!

Her English is getting better but is still quite limited so we have lots of laughs per day.

Now he's teaching her about the word "mean" as it applies to math. Oh, boy!!

The language slip-ups are hilarious! I'll write them down on a daily basis so I can share them with you.

This girl cracks us up:-)


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Great day yesterday!

Thank you for all your prayers for my presentation at our women's retreat yesterday. It went really well. I wasn't nervous and actually enjoyed it! I ran into the main keynote speaker early in the morning and she was quick to point out to me that she was also wearing jeans, ON PURPOSE!! Love it!! We had a good laugh over that one:-)

I had the opportunity to share at two breakout sessions, 40 minutes each. At the end of the first session, I ended up with an extra 4 minutes and took questions. A woman said, "I have just joined the "persecuted church" team her at our church. I there a person who could be a contact person that we could get regular prayer requests from?"

"Wellllllllllllll, due to the 40 minute time constraint, I didn't think I had time to get into this, BUT since you asked..." And I told them all about Korah and Sammy in the 3 minutes I had left.

Now I need to regress in order for the rest to make sense.

When we were with Sammy at Korah, he told us some of the many needs they have. One of the things he mentioned was how much they would love to have some music (instruments) for their church. After we got home, God got me up in the middle of the night and my eyes opened and I thought, "Music??? BLAKE!"

I couldn't wait until Blake woke up the next morning to ask him if he'd be interested. You see, Blake (if you don't already know this) plays guitar, piano, and whatever else he can get his hands on. He writes music and has been in bands and on worship teams since he was a 6th grader. He LOVES music!

He jumped all over the opportunity to go to Korah, bring a couple guitars and whatever other acoustic instruments they can get their hands on, stay a couple weeks and teach the leaders there at Korah to play. He asked his old bandmate and friend if he would be interested and it was a big, fat YES, so Zach and Blake are going to Korah for a couple weeks in June, this summer!

Ok so now back to the last 3 minutes of my first presentation. After I shared those 3 short minutes about Korah, 2 ladies came up to me and told me they would provide me with 2 guitars!! 3 minutes...2 guitars!!! I was floored. This lady asked just the right question at just the right time and the Lord put all this together to provide the boys with a huge start to meeting their needs for the trip. (Purposely, I am not saying anything about who these women are as I know they want no recognition for their wonderful gifts) But God knows who you are and He knows about your sacrificial gift.

The boys will need to raise at least $2500 per person to make this trip happen. They will be creating a web site with pics and video. On it, there will be an opportunity to give. More to come about this when it's ready.

I wanted to include the picture above. The man you see in the photo is the pastor of the Great Hope Church in Korah. I know that I said that I was holding back posting any pictures of Korah, simply because of the book that will be created and for sale...but I wanted you to see a little bit. This picture is a front yard and door. Beyond this door is a room with 3 gorgeous kids sitting on a makeshift bed, holding their school books. If you keep walking, you will walk into another room (10 x 12), and if you keep walking you will go into another, and another and another. They are very sparse, no furniture, dirt floor, maybe a poster that was dug out of the dump for decoration. A family of 8 sleeps on the floor in each room/home. I didn't see any blankets. What do they cover up with? I don't know. When it is the rainy season, water rushes in. Do they sleep in the mud? I don't know. I guess they do.

If I'm being honest...this is unacceptable even for a dog or farm animal. If Animal Control in the US found animals living and sleeping in such conditions, someone would be arrested for their mistreatment of animals. The animals would be taken away and treated like royalty. They'd probably be on the news and people would call and flock in droves to be a part of saving these poor creatures.

I know this is not the US, it's Africa. Ethiopia to be specific. To be even more specific, this is the leper colony in Ethiopia. It's Korah, the cursed.

In this community, there are some of the most precious, beautiful and misunderstood people I've ever had the privelege of meeting. They need our help. They deserve our help. Not our pity but our love.

Jesus Christ lives here. You see Him on every face...from the sweet baby to the man with no fingers, masterfully weaving a rug.

There is so much to do...so much opportunity to help and demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.

I CANNOT wait to see the change and to be a PART of the change.

Can't wait for you to have that opportunity, too!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

My baby is at school

It seem like just yesterday that our Aliya became a member of our family and today, her dad drove her to her first whole day in 7th grade! How time flies!

She was met by her new friend, who just so HAPPENS to be Ethiopian at the front door today. This girl will take Aliya around and go to all her classes with her. Now just how like God is that to do such a thing? This girl is also a 7th grader and was adopted 6 years ago. Aliya met her the on Monday and was SO excited to have her as a friend. Thank you, God for setting all this up!

Yesterday, we spent the day at the International Adoption Clinic and things went very well. We had a woman interpreter who stayed with us the whole time. She was so helpful and it was great to get to know her. Aliya doesn't like doctors or dentists but did very well and it wasn't near as bad as she had expected. She had lots of blood work (I mean like 8 vials or so). She is one healthy girl and even though she is on the smaller end of normal for her age for height and weight, she is definitely on the 'normal' size chart.

Last night, after Aliya went to bed, Katie wanted to go up to her room and borrow a shirt. Thinking she was fast asleep, she went in and scared Aliya half to death! Katie came down laughing and telling us the story. This morning, when I woke her up (early) for school, she barely had opened her eyes when she said, "I scared! I scared!"

Thinking I'd scared her, I said, "I'm sorry."

She said, "No...Katie."

I laughed and told her I had heard about what had happened. Like a flash, she disappeared and I thought she bee lined it to the bathroom. I couldn't figure out where she'd gone, but she instantly came up from the basement, telling me of how she had gotten Katie back for what she'd done to her the night before.

When Katie got up, she told me that Aliya had come into her room, switched the light on and then off and RAN, I mean RAN out of there and up the stairs!

Good choice on the running, Miss Aliya...you sister is NOT a happy, morning person:-) Although, I do have to say that Katie had a smile on her face while she was telling me about this! So cute! SISTERS!!!!

Well, I must go work on my presentation now.


Monday, March 1, 2010

"I SOOO happy"

Aliya's hair was done with a gentle relaxer and then flat ironed straight. Our stylist said if I brought her most other places, they would do a super relaxer on her hair and it would be so strong and would dry out her hair. She did use 2 tubs of the relaxer because Aliya's hair was totally natural. I am told when she washes it, it will be curly like a loose perm but she will be able to comb through it. I also use a product that is an oil that protects her hair from the heat of a flat iron. I use it every day, maybe twice to get her hair into a good condition. It will take time since it's never been taken care of (for obvious reasons). We found a woman who also has the same hair type as Aliya. This is important, I think because you need someone who really GETS it to do it. Aliya is really happy with how it turned out. I'll tell her you all like it, too!

Remember some months back, I told you that I was asked to speak at our church's women's retreat? Well, it is this Saturday! I know I'm letting you know sort of late, as is my style;) but I did want to put it out there just in case some of you would be able to make it.

It begins at 8:30 and goes until 2:00. I'm sorry I don't know much about how things work, since it's my first time attending a women's retreat. But I know there is food, a brunch I guess. The cost is $15. If you are interested in coming, please call 952-432-7168. The church is located in Burnsville. I speak during 2 sessions: 11:15 (this one is full) and 12:45. They are 40 minutes long. I'm trying to get it all figured out what I'm going to say exactly. Blaine is getting my power point (just pictures...worth a thousand words, you know!) done tonight so I can practice and get it all together.

I was wisely reminded that God used Moses, even though he wasn't an eloquent speaker. I also, am NOT an eloquent speaker but I do trust that God will use our story to bless and encourage others. Pray for me!!!!! And yes, I'm still going in jeans! I'm there to be real (which I personally think is lacking in the church at large). It seems to me that there is so much 'trying to impress' and so much 'trying to look like we are perfect Christians' that it scares some people away. Well, let me be the first to say, "I am NOT perfect" and I will not be trying to be someone I am not. Hence, the jeans. It's what I wear. It's who I am. And I'm going to be real and transparent so there you go! Deal with 'dat!

Ok, all that out of the way. I wanted to share what Aliya said to me last night. We were getting her hair ready for bed (it gets wrapped) and I said to her, "I want you to know that if you ever are not happy..."

She cut me off, "I happy!" (enthusiastically)

I said, "I know, but we want you to know that if there is anything you don't like, like maybe you don't like something I make for dinner..."

Cut off again, "I LIKE!"

Me, laughing now, "I know, but there WILL come a day where you get mad at Dad or me or Katie or Blake or the boys or you think something is not fair. I want you to know that you can tell us...we want to know these things."

I told her, "Dad and I are amazed at you and how well you are fitting into the family. You are such an amazing and great girl."

Alliya, "Mom, I SOOOOO happy. I just SOOOOOO happy."

Me, "Me, too honey."

Ahhhhh, sweet music to my ears. My daughter is soooooo happy.

Praise the Lord,