Sunday, December 27, 2009

Things I Like

John Piper's Twitter thing updates on Facebook; Storm Stories even though I can't watch them unless we're at a hotel with cable; the Weather Channel app on my phone; ice cream dessert with chocolate on the top and Oreos on the bottom; a working furnace; half price wrapping paper; Smartwool and Ice Breaker shirts; having my coffee ready to go at night so I just have to push a button in the morning; searching Craigslist for Ikea baby stuff; Ikea baby stuff; watching a fox eat a frozen rabbit right on Summit Avenue in St. Paul.

Things I don't like: unloading the dishwasher; lights left on; a van with a gas gauge that reads zero and I'm 6 miles from a gas station; being at Target or Cub after 8 at night; the use of apostrophe s when no apostrophe is needed; waiting for 2 girls without being able to manage the display of one single fruit of the spirit.

Maybe someone is selling self control on craigslist. And maybe, somehow, my little purchased piece of self control might look like it's from Ikea.

Well, off to eat some ice cream bar dessert, watch Storm Chasers on (next best thing to Storm Stories) and see if there is a FOTS (fruit of the spirit) that I might be able to have peek through as we inch our way to 8:30 Monday morning--the time our adoption agency is open.


We made it through Christmas through a variety of coping mechanisms: be busy; eat a lot; enjoy the family we have; not listen to any songs with titles like: "I don't have a home and it's Christmas"; "I'm alone in an institution and it's Christmas and you're someplace cozy without me"; "I have a hair fungus and no diaper and it's Christmas." We also made sure our furnace stopped working on Christmas Eve day so that we're not actually all that cozy unless we're in a lot of wool and sitting by the fire. Oh, and our final coping mechanism: buy two hamsters that are sisters.

I'm still feeling, however, the stirrings of The Crazies as I look at my World Clock App and find out it's almost tomorrow in Ethiopia. We're waiting to find out a court date. This will be the first actual date we've ever had in this process. We've measured progress or looked forward to milestones in rather generic terms: next week, a couple weeks, next month, sometime next month, etc. This will be a date so that I can focus all my energy on worrying about one 24 hour period, not nebulous timeframes. I, in the spirit of New Year Optimism, think that we will all enjoy me more this way.

The court date is a big deal because, at that point, if we pass court the girls will be ours. If we pass court, we get an embassy date. If we pass court, I can fly to Ethiopia about 3 weeks later and see them. If we pass court and I go...I can bring them home.

There are a lot of details that I will be able to include once we pass court (names, ages, I think even a picture). Please pray that all our paperwork will be in order and that we might pass the first time.

I'll write when we get a date. I'll wander aimlessly and unproductively around the house if we don't get a date. And I'll hover by the computer endlessly.

And I'll be thinking to myself that I have a new Life Verse:
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits;
and in His word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Psalm 130:6

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Report from a Missionary Doctor

A family from our church works as missionaries in Ethiopia. Both husband and wife are doctors. The wife went to visit my children and wrote of their condition. Overall, things appear to be good despite a "hair fungus" which makes me itchy just to type.

At the end of an email, Dr. Susan wrote this: "I am glad to have visited and the little baby's eyes were open and appeared straight. Let's meet up when you come into town."

I've read that sentence at least 6 times and every single time it makes me get a little bit teary. I don't even know why, but I love it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Maybe Close

We're hoping that we're not all that far away from Things. Things like more children and more diapers and more stuff and more clothes and more joy.

Instead of thinking about it though, I am being pecked to death by a duck named Levi who wants to play Pit. We play, just the two of us, and with an imaginary friend named Bob. Bob always loses because we pass him our losing cards. He usually scores in the negative 80's. Levi and I appreciate him for taking the bad hands and for making us look good. I appreciate him because he doesn't cry, have fits or want to keep playing or want to quit. Bob is my new favorite child.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New List

What I Do To Be Lame:
1. Scroll through craigslist for Pottery Barn stuff for baby girls

2. Scroll through pictures of Ethiopia.

3. Consider looking for contests where I could win 7 airplane tickets and a one week stay in Ethiopia

4. Make that a 2 month stay

5. Get sad that my children in Ethiopia don't know it's Christmas

6. Google "cute soft dolls" that I want to buy for a girl who doesn't have any

7. Consider lattes and monster cookies a food group

He will make the lame leap for joy.....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love and Power

I was feeling sad about something this weekend. I prayed that today's sermon might solve this particular struggle I was having. It did, at least in part.

I was struggling with the fact that God can seem to hold lightly the lives of orphans: they are starving, are sick, are neglected, are cast aside by almost everyone. Then He chose two of them, had their pictures pop up in my inbox in America and had me fall completely in love. The problem is that I have all the love and absolutely no power. God, on the other hand, has all the power but can seem to have less of the love if one focuses on the circumstances of an orphan. "I just need more power," I thought last night. "Give it to me and by sheer determination I will solve this court date, paper trail, embassy date issue. I need 24 hours."

Today's sermon addressed God's power being stronger than our will. Our pastor asked, "Do you really want it to be up to you?" That's when I realized, what if God did say to me, "Ok. You do it, Marty. This adoption is completely up to you." That would not be good news at all. That would be cause for real panic, as opposed to my frequent but often unfounded panics. (how will we pay for the dentist was one of the latest)

While I cannot solve the issue of orphan suffering in the plan of God (although my first thought is, "See Cross") I did have the issue of power solved for me. I don't want it. It is very clear that God has enough.

"Ah, Lord God! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. You show steadfast love to thousands...O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man..." Jeremiah 32:17-19

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I often imagine sweet times we will have with our children: a little one following Zeke around, the precious look of a baby who has finally recognized her mom, the laughter of siblings playing a game.

After today, I have two new imaginings. My new imaginings are grounded in new first hand facts. And that's a bit unfortunate, though there's nothing quite like a dose of reality every once and awhile.

Here are the two things I now get to ponder: explosive diarrhea and toddlers who spit.

That is so not a Holiday Gap commercial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adoption News

There are things happening in our adoption. Lots of things are happening. Blogging about it is always a little tricky. Kids can be assigned to us but not actually be ours. So, please know that as soon as I can give news, I will. Please pray for the safety of 2 children who, God willing, will join our family soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How My Family Thinks of Me (really?)

I like to dress "comfortably." That means I could almost be in my pajamas on any given day. Except that I can also go to a place like....Walmart, and look like I at least tried. I've tried to wear dressier clothes to perhaps be a better role model to my children or to fight against the I'm At Home All Day With Zero Adult Contact Wardrobe. However, I find that it is simply frustrating to reach for the errant potty puddle that is underneath and behind the toilet when my jeans don't do the reaching with me. A nice sweater can wreck my well intentioned Cook Indian Flatbread With Levi lesson when the flour and yogurt end up on the front. So most of the time, it's old jeans on a good day; sweatpants every other day. Tshirts, sweatshirts, etc.

It is this habit of dressing that must have caused Joel's comment on Sunday morning before church. I put on 50% of my Talbot's wardrobe: brown pants. I actually bought them last year before a party where I needed "holiday attire." What says Holiday like Talbots? Unfortunately, on Sunday, the Talbot pants were the only decision I had made. I still had on my extra large baggy slept in tshirts, with my Holiday Pants, when Joel looked up from the bed. "Is that what you're wearing to church?"

"Ummmm. These are my pajamas."

"Oh. I just wondered."

Tonight, Levi was looking at a stack of letters I had printed off. "Whoa! Who wrote all these letters?" he asked.

"I did."

"How did you make your handwriting look like THAT?"

For some reason, it makes me feel better that Levi would credit me with Times 12 font handwriting. Maybe I don't need to dress up after all.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


So far, our transformation into Tarahumara Indians is going well. Joel ran 2 miles barefoot on the treadmill, has about 6 blisters. I've eaten cabbage for breakfast.

This accomplishment of cabbage for breakfast, has made me look at our Ultra Running Magazine with a sort of spirit of comradery. I look at a description like this: "In the first half of the race, there's a six mile climb up Mt. Fuji that never fails to blow the race apart" and think, "That's not so far out of the realm of possibility." Or this: "Temperatures hit 96 degrees on Saturday...The only respite was for the 100 mile runners who made it through the torrid day and into the cool of the night; they got a reprieve from the heat during the few hours of darkness." Yes to 96 degrees! Yes to 100 miles! Yes to running through the night!

This morning I was trying to get in one last little doze before the breakfast-getting dressed-homeschooling all started. I stretched back to pull my pillow more firmly under my head when I heard a crunching sound and felt a crunching feel in the muscle between my right shoulder blade and backbone. I can't hold the phone between my ear and right shoulder. I can't fully turn my head to the right.

I injured myself.... in bed.

I'm thinking that perhaps the Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache, Alberta may not be for me. This year.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Don't Waste Your Wait

Sometimes I want to be done with waiting. All this week I have been waiting, fairly sure we would hear some news. Instead, I am still basically waiting. Then I wondered if I would ever actually miss this time and I wondered if I am wasting this time. A few years ago, our pastor wrote an extraordinary little piece called, "Don't Waste Your Cancer." I totally copied him but mine is called, "Don't Waste Your Wait."

You will waste your wait if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.

You will waste your wait if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.

You will waste your wait if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.

You will waste your wait if you think that adopting is just about your family and your child.

You will waste your wait if you spend too much time reading about adoption (and blogs and emails and youtubes and....) and not enough time reading about God.

You will waste your wait if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.

You will waste your wait if you grieve as those who have no hope.

You will waste your wait if you treat sin as casually as before.

You will waste your wait if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Joel is reading a book called Born to Run. It is full of extraordinary feats of a tribe of Indians who run hundreds of miles on vegetables and barbequed mice.

We decided to imitate them in one area for now: more vegetables.

That led Grace to ask if she could be a vegetarian for a week. I said yes.

This morning I heard this exchange:

Grace: Hey Levi, I'm going to be a vegetarian.

Levi: What? For Halloween?

Monday, October 26, 2009

There are Days...

Most days of waiting for an adoption are completely uneventful. They look maddeningly like every other day because they are. Today was not one of those days. And what I think will happen if more of these days come along is that:

1. I will completely relate to anyone who is ADHD.

2. Eli will never know what least common multiples and greatest common factors are because I taught them incorrectly today.

3. I will have 15 projects in varying degrees of doneness but nothing that is even remotely close to 100%.

4. Advil will be a food group.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Home Again

We went "up north to a cabin" this week. We don't own a cabin nor do we have an uncle, a parent or a brother who do. We have to do the next best thing called VRBO: Vacation Rental By Owner, an online site that has more rental places than one might think existed. And somehow, in the midst of all the choices, we happened upon a cabin 7 miles north of Lutsen owned by a wonderful family whose spokesperson is Joyce. Joyce sends us a key in the mail, asks us to clean up the cabin when we're done and off we go.

We went up for 3 nights. Had a fire in the fire place, had lots of soup and hot chocolate, watched the waves of Lake Superior crash onto the rocks, ventured to Grand Marais twice, had no cell phone nor internet service and loved it.

We got home last night, unpacked, did a Target run, got a movie for Joel and me, tucked everyone in and collapsed into bed. I topped off the whole experience by using Zeke's toothbrush. Yes, it was gross and it was unintentional. The last time I cross contaminated was when I put Joel's contacts in my eyes.

I would recommend cabins for family bonding. I would also recommend boundaries when it comes to personal items.

Friday, October 16, 2009


My friend and I are really good at waiting. Until we talk to each other. Which is every day and sometimes twice a day. Plus emailing.

Here is a statement from today's conversation, courtesy of my Really Bad At Waiting Friend who is a terrible influence on me:

"I just want to go to an Ethiopian restaurant. And sit there. And smell bad."

Me too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A verse

Everything is making me think about Ethiopia: Eli's geography lessons, Levi's social studies lessons on Africa, and now a song called "Glory Revealed." It's Isaiah 40 sung:

3 A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

I love to think that God will make a way, possibly through a desert, for our little girl to come home. And may all see the glory of the Lord.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Christmas Card Pictures?

We usually take our Christmas card pictures in October. This year, I have at least 3 major reasons to hesitate:

1. If we get a baby, I'll want to send out another card.

2. Levi just lost his fourth tooth. From the top front. He smiles and there are not any teeth to be seen.

3. The boys have not grown out of their home haircuts yet.

Maybe it's time for a new family picture called, "Everyone Sketch Themselves." Sounds like it has potential. Then I'll just crop in a beautiful, hot, dusty infant and we're good to go.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

American Shopping vs. Ethiopian Babies

I was in a store today that featured all sorts of things for a little girl's room: signs that said "I'm a Princess;" pillows that said the same thing, stuffed animals and fairy dresses and crowns and beds with matching dressers. I think all that would be all right except that today I also read about some things kids in Ethiopia face during their "princess phase:" rickets, malnutrition, abandonment. The contrast couldn't be more stark.

I read an article that said "infants are usually hot and dusty."

All that to say, I cannot wait to get my arms around a hot, dusty, abandoned, malnourished princess.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Joel's reaction

Joel read the post, "While the Husband is Away...."

He had two comments:
1. You didn't know that soap was for dishes in the sink? I knew that.

2. The word you were looking for in the soccer game was "foul."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Some Things Wisconsin

Two signs tonight on my drive through a part of Wisconsin that struck me as very.....Wisconsiny.

1. Meat Raffle--sign on a "tavern"

2. TOPLESS silo--sign hanging from a mailbox that preceded, yes, a topless silo leaning against a modest (?) silo

I'm originally from Iowa. I've even lived in the country part of Iowa where I was advised to "not wash my windows until after harvest." I was asked at the grocery store, "Who brought in these green beans?" But I've never seen a meat raffle nor a topless silo. And after this post, I'm pretty sure God will have me move near to both.

While the Husband is Away, the Wife Will....

5:30 am: Joel leaves to go on a 50 mile run. He'll be gone until at least 10:00 tonight.

9:30 am: I take a look at each boy and decide they might be easier to shape up than it will be to put away the laundry. They each come to the 47 degree garage in pj pants and sit on a cooler. I turn on the "professional" clippers and think, "How hard can this be? Really..." The answer is, it's not hard to cut hair. It is very hard to make hair look good. My best description is: put a wild animal on top of each child's hair. Let them chew on the hair for 5-7 minutes. Take wild animal off. Have child shower. Yes, that's the look we have.

12:45 pm: Coach Levi's soccer team. All was well until #12 on the other team, smiling, injures three of my players, Levi twice. Suddenly, I find myself yelling, as most professional soccer coaches and believers in Christ would...."HEY!"

The game stopped. I'm on my own private island of shrillness. "Ummmm. Him, #12. He's hurting other kids. A lot." I had more pairs of eyes fixed on me than at any other point in my history. "Ok, then," says the other coach. "Cougars throw in?" I don't know what I was expecting: "Yes, you're right Coach Button. Never been a better call."

2:00 pm: I'm home, decided to run the dishwasher. Decided to use my new little soap packet that I picked up for free at a running expo. It's marked "Dish Soap." I squeezed it into the dishwasher. Twenty minutes later, there are bubbles on my floor. There are bubbles filling the dishwasher. I re-read the little free packet. No warning label. Just a stick figure lady admiring her wine glass as she holds a towel.

I had nothing to admire. The basil smell that sounded good in print was not as attractive when it was a basil film covering every one of my dishes. So, if you're ever tempted, at Target, to buy the Meyer's Dish Soap, I would say don't bother. Don't spend the extra money. It may look good but who has ever actually longed for basil-milk, basil-juice, basil-macaroni and cheese, basil-apples, basil-waffles and basil-coffee?

I did wash our bath mats today. For some reason, that feels like a bigger accomplishment than it actually is but I'm holding out there nonetheless. A day like this needs a trophy and here are my bath mats to do the honors.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yet Another Pet Idea

In our history of marriage, we have had the following pets: cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamster, fish and dog. I toyed with the idea of pygmy goat until The Washington County Fair Visit changed my mind. Even the Grand Champions are not cute.

I wasn't ready to quite give up the goat idea however. I think because they are semi useful and semi cute and don't want to sleep in my bed.

And now, I may not have to because not one, but two friends have verified the existence of something called Fainting Goats. As soon as I heard about them, I had the following conversation with Levi:

Me: Hey Levi, I heard about something called fainting goats.

Levi: How do you do it?

Me: Well, I think that if someone scares them, they faint.

Levi: Could I faint the goat?

Me: I think we'd have to take turns.

Levi: What day would I get?

Me: Oh, probably the same day that you get to pray first for devotions.

Levi: What if I scared it, but it didn't faint?

Me: I'd let you try three times a day.

Levi: What if it fainted on the first try?

Me: Then you'd be done.

Levi: That's good. They probably don't want to faint all the time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

If You Can't Be Tough, At Least Read the Puritans.

I like to think that I'm in a class of people that some might consider rugged...or determined...or steadfast. I also think that if anyone lived inside my head, they would know I am none of these things, except maybe determined and that is not always in a good way.

To compensate, I have been reading the prayers of people for whom rugged and steadfast would be just the beginning. The book is called Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayer and Devotions. It has been really helpful in this journey of waiting for a baby. Here is an excerpt of my current favorite prayer:

"My sin is to fear what never will be;
I forget to submit to thy will, and fail to be quiet there.
But Scripture teaches me that thy active will
reveals a steadfast purpose on my behalf,
and this quietens my soul, and makes me love thee." (p. 85)

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Weekend Alone; Kind Of

Joel took the 4 older kids to Chicago this weekend. They saw a U2 concert. They said it was incredible. It looks incredible from the iphone footage I've just been watching. I admire Bono but his music makes me crabby in 4 minutes and 32 seconds. I know because I timed it once.

So, I stayed home with Zeke. It was really different.

1. The house stayed clean; well, clean-ish.
2. I did one load of laundry.
3. Most of what was in the dishwasher was coffee mugs.
4. I had complete thoughts.
5. I thought too much about the baby we don't have yet.
6. Only 2 places at the table were dirty rather than the entire 8 foot length.
7. Zeke doesn't eat all that much.
8. Zeke accounts for a lot of what is on the floor.
9. I had pita and hummus and cookies for 2 meals in row.
10. I'm really, really happy to see my 4 kids and my husband.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Qualifications of a Wife

Emma has been conducting a class with Eli (11) and Levi (7). She asked them last night what they think is important when one is thinking of a future spouse. Here are their answers:

Eli: I want her to have teeth.

Levi: She shouldn't bow down to idols.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Misfortunes at the Airport

We had been on vacation. More appropriately, we had followed Joel to Colorado to watch him do the Leadville 100. I did a lot of single parenting at a high altitude. This is, what I believe, led me to do two things: buy realistic looking cap guns (metal) and pack said realistic cap gun in Eli's carry on.

We were in the security line. Joel and Eli were ahead of me. I had my shoes off, my 3 oz. bottles of gel in a ziploc, Zeke's baby formula properly identified, when the line stopped.

"We have a situation up here," radioed a very alert looking security man. "Who still can't figure out what a 3 oz bottle looks like?" I thought arrogantly.

Joel began to frantically motion I walked up to the front of the line.

"Do you want to surrender this gun?" Highly Alerted Security Officer asked.

"The what? the huh? the oh..... the realistic looking cap gun. That I packed. In a carry on."

Gun surrendered, Eli crying, me properly humbled, we made it to our flight.

Two days ago, we were once again in the security line at the airport. Hand sanitizer, toothpaste, lip gloss out. Shoes off, phone out, purse in grey bin. Levi turned to me just before going through the detector and said, "What about my pocket knife?"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Things That Make Me Feel More Organized Even When I'm Not

1. A three hole punch.

2. Full bottles of cleaning solutions.

3. Full bottles of hand soap.

4. Freshly washed bath mats.

5. A plan for the next meal.

6. An unloaded dishwasher.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Keeping Busy

One piece of advice I got regarding the interminable wait for a baby was to "stay busy." To this end, I became Levi's soccer coach. We had a scrimmage last night. The other coach yelled (nicely) to his team, "Positions, everyone! Remember what I taught you!!"

I had just informed my team, "Run that way. Make a goal."

We won. 11-1.

I also decided to be busy making monster cookies. It had the following stunning list of ingredients: 2 pounds of brown sugar, 1 pound of butter, 1 pound of M&Ms and 3 pounds of peanut butter. I lightened it up a little bit by using 12 oz of M&Ms instead of the recommended 16oz and a mere 2 pounds of peanut butter instead of 3. I balanced it all out by adding 18 cups of oatmeal. That makes monster cookies fairly close to a whole grain biscuit. With a smattering of artificial color.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Three Things You Don't Want To Hear On A River

1. Where's Zeke?

2. This current is really strong!

3. Hey're floating away.

all said today. all true. all returned home.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Best Guess Timeline

I try to not call our adoption agency very often. Some weeks I manage to hold off; other weeks, not so much. I think that deep, deep down in the crazy parts of my being, I think that if I call them with some sort of casual question ("Soooooo, how do you fill out this government form?") they will then say, "Hey, we were just about to call you. Seems we've got a picture of a little girl here who needs a family."

That never happens. But I still call.

My latest call did garner a bit of information. It's still a guess but not a total shot in the dark.

Referral: September/October
Court date: November
Travel to Ethiopia: Late December/Early January

That information was filed away at an appropriate emotional level until I met a white mom walking out of Once Upon A Child with a 16 month old Ethiopian baby girl. Then I dreamed I had an Ethiopian daughter whose only word was Mommy.

Some things I have worried about today

1. Having buckthorn take over our yard

2. Getting poison ivy while taking out the buckthorn

3. Watching Joel watch a youtube called, "Sharpening Your Chainsaw At Home."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Little News

We have been waiting while families ahead of us get a court date. From what I understand, here is a little bit of the process:

1. We submit all our paperwork (done in April)
2. We talk with our adoption agency about whom we believe God is leading us to (baby girl)
3. We wait "our turn"
4. We get a referral which includes a picture and any available medical information
5. We accept the referral but the child is not ours until they have passed court
Passing court seems to mean that the child is legally declared an orphan, not always easy
6. After we pass court, we can announce our new baby to everyone and make travel arrangements

The families ahead of us have had to go through a number of obstacles before passing court: a new TB test that is required for all children, a ban on the adoption of children abandoned in Addis Ababa and the 3 week court closure. Now, these things seem to be getting ironed out and families are passing court.

I don't know what that means for our timeline, but I'm pretty sure it's good.

Time to start school.
Time to get organized.
Time to load up on groceries.
Time to make a really good menu plan.
Time to declutter.

Time to make a latte.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Random News

1. Our 171-h form is coming in the mail. That means our petition for an orphan has been approved.

2. The courts are closing for a 3 week recess in late August through September but not for the usual 2 month summer break.

3. I don't like pygmy goats like I thought I would. They look like small versions of something scary from Leviticus.

4. I am the Cougar Soccer Team Coach. We have our first practice on Tuesday.

5. I have a parent on the Cougar Soccer Team who is already trying to trade players with another team because he thinks we will be "annihilated" by other teams and then made fun of in school.

6. The aforementioned parent might be pleased to know that not only do we have an apparently unskilled team, but we have a coach who is equally unskilled or possibly less so.

7. Soccer teams in grades 1 and 2 do not keep score. That may have escaped his careful attention to winning.

8. I am trying to build an electrical circuit with clothespins, a foil ribbon, a battery and a light bulb.
a. It is not going well.
b. I am ceasing to care about circuits.
c. I can boil down the most important aspects of electricity: don't waste it, don't put a fork in a socket, don't stand under a tree in a lightening storm. Science accomplished. 15 seconds.

9. I was going to let Emma buy Taylor Swift tickets.

10. I don't like Miley Cyrus.

11. I want to see the movie "My Life in Ruins."

12. Joel is running to church tomorrow. It's 32 miles away.

Explaining the News

"Who's that?" asked Emma, pointing to a picture of Farrah Fawcett. "Was she famous?" I tried to explain Charlie's Angels: "Well, she was this detective, police, crime fighter kind of woman..." I drifted for lack of any more descriptors. Besides, it was obvious my explanation was not engendering any further interest.

Zeke, not one to be left behind, pointed to a picture of Michael Jackson. "What that thing is?"

I didn't answer. Lack of descriptors? Maybe. Actually, it was just easier to put the rest of my groceries on the belt and tell Zeke it was time to go.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wise Weather Words

We're currently watching large, purple rotating radar spots go over our house. We're sitting 1 1/2 hours away in St. Cloud.

I found the following statements very helpful:

1. "I hope you can see this blinding rain."
2. "Even though it's dark, the weather is still happening."

We'll just hope the lowest level of our home does not also have a view of the sky unobstructed by our roof.

A Song to Have Stuck in Your Head. By my really fun kids.

Friday, August 7, 2009


My husband can run an incredible number of miles: 50 miles in under 12 hours in Duluth; 86 miles around Lake Nokomis in 24 hours. Those are just the latest races he's done. But I have held firm: a half marathon. No more.

It is almost time for me to start training for the half marathon I do every fall. I make a very reasonable schedule, train for 8 weeks, practically ruin my family with my crabbiness, run my race and come home with my new autumn colored tshirt and a Lutheran Jar of Jam.

Joel had another suggestion: train like an ultra runner. "The body can do incredible things, Marth," he told me.

I thought about bodies doing incredible things. I thought about giving birth and I thought about going to war. The one has the advantage of an epidural; the other has the advantage of adrenaline surges when facing the Taliban.

"Ok," I thought. Without the advantage of epidurals nor the Taliban I went to Target, randomly bought a running skort and took off for a training run ala ultra runner: 12 miles without any training whatsoever.

I had a long time to think. I had a long time to pray. I had a long time to wonder if I had enough salt pills and little energy blocks. I had a long time to hope that the person riding a horse down the road was not a hallucination.

I made it. I took every salt tablet I had (8). I came home and ate corn chips. I dragged myself into the shower and then laid in bed to watch a PBS special: mountain climbers freezing to death on Everest. My legs felt like someone had set a slow burning fire to my ankles and stoked it all the way up my thighs.

I got up the next morning and decided... I think I liked it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Voice

As I type, there is a loud voice coming from my kitchen. I love that voice. It's John Piper on youtube. It's worth 2 minutes and 47 seconds if you have the time.

A Bit Confused

I didn't do National Night Out even though I have prayed that I would be more intentional in reaching out to my neighbors.

The reason I didn't do it is because my mind had translated the entire concept incorrectly. I thought it was National Coming Out Night. And it just didn't seem, from 4 years of casual observation, like many of my neighbors would have qualified.

I'll remember next year.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Itty Bitty Updates

Agitu, the director of our adoption agency, is leaving for Ethiopia on August 5th. She gets a lot done.

There are 18 people waiting for an infant girl; I don't know where we are in the line. The good news is that we are in line.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things I Have Made

Two of my boys were gone tonight so I decided to make a new thing for supper: a salad. I never make salads. They require a lot of chopping relative to how full they seem to make anyone. A salad's purpose seems to be to get people ready to ask for food for the remainder of the night.

This salad, however, had substance: ham, garbanzo beans, cheese, boiled eggs.

Joel was dutifully enjoying it and said, "This is really good except that the lettuce sort of gets in the way."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things I Have Learned

I canoed on a river with my 5 children and a 70 year old woman who is stronger than I am.

I learned that I am 23 times more likely to have a car accident if I'm texting while I drive.

I drove.

I didn't text.

I saw 3 deer, one of which made direct eye contact with me expressing something like this:

Deer: You wanna go?
Me: No, you go ahead.
Deer: Really? You won't smash me with your car?
Me: I won't, but you'd better hurry because there are more cars coming.
Deer: Well, warn them that I'm here.
Me: Ok, I'll turn on my headlights. Whoops, no, hold on, that was my wipers. Whoop, ok, that was my blinker. Hold on. Don't run.
Deer: You're an idiot. Are you texting?

The moral of my story: I am 23 times more likely to run into a deer no matter what.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weird Commercial

I took note of a commercial tonight. It claimed to make my life easier by something like 1000%. Which, I know isn't even mathematically possible but I took note nonetheless.

The commercial featured a woman and her laundry. She said how excited she was about the Purex 3 in 1 sheet. Her life was transformed by the fact that one sheet cleaned her clothes, softened her clothes and took out the static. Her final statement was: "Now all I have to do is fold!"

Tonight, I threw in my third load of laundry. I assessed how much trouble I had pouring detergent into the lid of the bottle and then pouring the detergent into the washer. I didn't have to assess how much trouble I had putting a dryer sheet in because I don't have any dryer sheets.

I have piles of unfolded laundry all, all, all the time. That is trouble. Potty training is trouble. Boys and lacrosse is trouble. Swimming in a hotel pool that someone had pooped in is serious trouble. (happened today) But when did pouring soap into the washer become so wearying?

Just let me know when the Folding Laundry Poop In Pool Alert Gnome is for sale. I'll take two.

Why Didn't I Think of That?

We just got home from a trip to Duluth. My boys each got a souvenir: a mood ring complete with a Pocket Guide To Your Moods Based on Color. Each ring cost $2.50.

This morning Levi looked at the color and then at his pocket chart. "It's blue. That means I am.... INCREDIBLY HAPPY! YES!!!"

Eli looked at his ring during supper. "Hey Mom," he said, sitting back in his chair. "I'm calm."

All of a sudden, it dawned on me. They weren't looking to see if their mood matched their ring, they were looking at the ring to see what mood they were in. My imagination went wild. What moods might I talk myself into if I could find my heart shaped mood ring from 1976: patient? well-mannered? organized? thrifty? all the fruits of the Spirit just by looking at my ring?

I now plan to buy mood rings for everyone in my family and then make my own Pocket Guide to go with them.

Blue: obedient
Green: content
Purple: servantlike
Yellow: scholarly
Orange: getting along with my siblings
Mixed colors: cook and clean for your mother

The possibilities are endless, and I may never need to discipline again.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Inner Being

I cleaned my face with Bath and Body's Uplifting Tamarind Nectar.

I washed my hair with Herbal Essence White Nectarine and Pink Coral Flower.

I put on clean pajamas that had been washed in Purex Cherry Blossom Vanilla detergent.

I brushed my teeth with Crest with Scope.

I climbed into bed and my husband said, "Hm. You smell like....warm bread."

The only possible explanation I have for that is that after 15 years and 4 months, the essence of momness has seeped into my innermost being and has trumped every scented personal hygiene product that exists.

I don't even bake bread.

I should be thankful though. There are a lot of other things I do that, if I smelled like any of them, (Kraft Macaroni and Cheese; Luv's Diapers; Mowed Lawn; What Is In This Tupperware; Walmart) my husband might ask me get up and do a little fragrance spritz. Of Warm Bread.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Getting Ready

One thing I have at least thought about doing to get ready to be a parent again-again-again-again-again-again is to try to eat healthy foods and exercise. To that end, I have been making soymilk smoothies with fruit every, ohhhhhh, 4 days or so.

At noon I ate carrots with hummus and drank a cup of green tea.

Just now, I polished off 4 pieces of licorice, half a Snickers bar and a hazelnut latte.

I'll go take a multivitamin.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Things I Have Done

A friend and new mom just wrote about locking herself out of the house with her "baby in tow." My first thought was that I would have locked myself out of the house with my baby inside. And that led me to try to encourage her with all the things I have done as a mom that might make her feel better:
*shut Emma's entire hand in the car door when she was less than 2 years old

*dropped Grace on her head in a parking lot when I tripped and fell over a piece of bright yellow CAUTION tape

*left Eli in a shopping cart in an aisle at the grocery store because I honestly forgot I had him

*started to walk out of the Marine General Store without Zeke because I honestly forgot I had him

*let Emma fall off a picnic table because I was busy being horrified at Gracie who was eating a cigarette butt

Well, that's the walk down So You Want To Be A Mom Memory Lane. I'll soon remember 10 more things that would get me fired if this job didn't have such incredible security. But that's enough for now. Hope everyone feels a lot better about their parenting.

A Great Addition

I got an email from our adoption agency about some new employees. Each new staff's qualifications is listed. One is a "mental health professional" who will be answering questions, helping people through the wait time, referrals, court dates and travel.

I thought my agency couldn't get much better, but they just did.

I think the only thing missing is an Ethiopian Time Machine Find My Baby Pilot and we'd really be set.

Ok, I guess I'm set anyway. I'm reading Future Grace for the third time. A couple chapters of that and I'm ready to adopt the entire country.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The News

Last night I thought it would be impossible to learn anything more about Michael Jackson. Instead, I learned a fact I might consider being in the Top Five Disturbing Things About Michael Jackson.

He homeschooled.

I may never be the same.

Now, in addition to incredibly disturbing images of him with umbrellas, a weird nose, a white face, pressed lips and a creepy, breathy voice, I have to wonder:

What curriculum did he use?
Did he submit report cards?
Did they go on field trips?
What did he do for science?

And the most important question:
Did he ever wear a denim jumper and french braid his hair?

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Territory

I just crossed into new territory today. I bought a skirt to go with my swimsuit. Not a skirt to go with a tailored blazer or a skirt to wear on Sunday or a skirt to go to an important meeting. No, this is a skirt in which to go swimming. My husband does not even know.

Reading glasses, coming soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trying to be a Good Mom

Three of my children went to soccer camp this morning. It gave me a chance to have a little date with Zeke. We went to the zoo. Gracie graciously accompanied us.

I have tried to balance the influence of teenage sisters on Zeke's growing up with having a childhood that a preschool teacher would recognize. A free zoo? Perfect.

We spent an hour there with me, dutifully reciting the proper names of the animals to a very wary Zeke. Maybe it's not so great being at the same level as the snow leopard who looks like he already knows what you would taste like if he could just get through the glass.

When we were done I asked Zeke what his favorite animal was. "The elephant," he said confidently.

"And what else?" I said, getting annoyingly similar to a Children's Zoo Expert Volunteer.

"The waterfall," he said.

And by the way, there were no elephants.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Today I went to Walmart (I know, again) where I watched my two year old lie down right on the floor. I got home and set him in a lawn chair on the front porch with a very blue, very Crisco-y sugar cookie. He got set outside on a lawn chair for two reasons:

1. I had to drink a cup of coffee before I had the energy to put him to bed. That's because I was tired from cleaning the kitchen to get rid of the ants that had decided to come to my kitchen and gather around food particles that I can't even see.

2. I didn't want Blue Crisco Walmart Cookie Crumbs becoming a meal for ant families who must lurk just outside the door.

I scraped the side of the van against a pillar in the Stillwater Library Parking Structure Made By Sociopaths.

I slammed my finger in the dishwasher.

I had to read a lot of my daughter's science to help her figure out the answers.

I thought I lost one of Zeke's doggies without which he will not sleep nor function.

I tried to order some school materials. The site spun and spun trying to calculate my shipping costs. The order was actually supposed to ship for free.

I fought with Joel about how to be sincerely helpful when I am drowning in the sea of futility and post traumatic Walmart stress syndrome.

Then I went on a walk. The heavens were declaring the glory of God. I chatted with my neighbor. My husband came and picked us up because he thought we'd been out for a long time. I had ice cream. I read my daughter's blog about how much she likes our family. I talked with someone about their newborn baby and realized that I have had the pleasure of 5. I have 50 junior high kids coming to my house tomorrow. I have 3 tablespoons of wine and 5 crackers with cheese.

That's a little summary of the day.
It got better.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Advantages to Cleaning My Room

I was getting ready to throw away a piece of paper. Until I read the back. There, I found a list of things which have the potential to change my life.

The list is called "Forms of Dying." It is by John Piper. It caught my eye because I know someone who is dying. Then it caught my eye because of how very much this list needs to apply to me.

Here it is. May it be a blessing to you.

Forms of dying:
-dying to the desire for an untroubled life
-Having no jealousy means dying to the desire for unshared affection.
-Not boasting means dying to the desire to call attention to our successes.
-Not acting unbecomingly means dying to the desire to express our freedom offensively.
-Not seeking our own way means dying to the dominance of our own preferences.
-Not being easily provoked means dying to the need for no frustrations.
-Not taking account of wrongs means dying to the desire for revenge.
-Bearing all things and enduring all things means dying to the desire to run away from the pain of obedience.

From a sermon called "The Greatest of These is Love" delivered on June 25, 1995.

More sermons and resources at Desiring God.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Was Right

I didn't think there would be much time this week to do anything but Fiddle Camp. I was right. The week was great and is now even better since my 32 hour headache has gone away.

Here are some things I did this week that I have never done before:
1. Make a pasta salad for 40 people

2. Make a taco salad for 40 people

3. Make O'Henry Bars, rice crispie bars, apple kuchen bars and brownies for 40 people.

4. Work with a fantastic group of women who all pitched in at the last minute and made numbers 1,2 and 3 possible.

5. Use pots and pans that were bigger than I am.

6. Order 17 pizzas for the 65 people we had at our house last night.

Here are some things I did not do last week:

1. Fold laundry

2. Vacuum

3. Cook for any members of my family

4. Obsess about my Ethiopian daughter

5. Blog

Click here for a link to Brian Wicklund/Fiddlepal. If you want to hear a really fun fiddle player, buy his CD "Big Twang." Or come to fiddle camp next year. There will be plenty of food to go around.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


We've tried to be a Pet Friendly Family: started with cats. Had a baby, shaved the cats, gave away the cats. Had more children, got a rabbit. Liked the rabbit, rabbit had babies. Rabbit had babies with her babies. Gave them all away. Got a guinea pig. Liked the guinea pig. Moved it with us to Minnesota, guinea pig had seizures, buried it in our yard.

Got a hamster. Liked it. Had it escape several times. Found it on the lap of Emma's American Girl doll. Kind of cute, kind of creepy. Hamster looked sort of flattish one morning. Died soon after. Buried it in the yard.

Got a dog. Liked it.... for maybe a day. Chewed things, bit things, yapped, barked, whined, pottied, ran away, smelled bad. 8 days later, gave it to our neighbor's grandma.

We are now petless. But I have been to a hobby farm. I have now felt new hope rise in me that we do like animals, we just haven't found the right one yet. I think part of the problem was that we've had housepets. Those 2 words do not go together for me. It's like having an indoor firepit. The other part of the problem is that we have had un-useful pets: none of them could pull things around, none of them could do yard work, none of them could make anything to eat unless we killed the thing and ate it. Which kind of defeats the purpose of a pet.

Meet The Pygmy Goat:
I could pull things, like a stick or two, out of the woods.
I might pull a small child in a cart so you could get important things done.
I wouldn't trample you if you came close to me.
I make cheese.

So, hope springs eternal. Because it just seems like good people also need to like animals. Plus, I wouldn't spend $4.89 on a tiny little log of goat cheese. I could just walk out the back door and....make some.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My New Job

Next week at this time, I will have spent 2 days as a Fiddle Camp Cook and Coordinator. (FCCC) This week, at this time, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed: how many cantelope does one need for 40 people? when will I put Zeke to bed? will a rogue hair fall into the Toll Oat Bars that are being made for the first morning? 

I expect there will be a significant lag in postings. 

Good news of the week: my boys' haircuts look really great and I got a lot of homeschooling prep done.

Monday, June 15, 2009

To What Will I Go Home?

We were in the car yesterday. My plan for today is to be gone for almost 12 hours in order to plan our year of homeschooling. Joel turned to me and said, "You know what I think I'll get tomorrow? A razor." 

"For you?" I ask.

"No, the kind of razor that Vern uses on the boys."

Vern is a gentle, experienced barber whom I have considered worth $45 every 10 weeks to turn my puffy, shaggy boys back into little men. 

Joel is a gentle, inexperienced barber who does not consider our boys' hair to ever be worth $45. 

"Do you know what you're doing?" I ask. 

"I've spent the last several years watching him. It can't be that tough," says Joel with a vision.

So, I relent. I put in my little "two cents" about the number of blade I remember Vern using and some advice about leaving their hair a little longer on the top. 

The last time we did something like this, we had our cats shaved. We were tired of their long hair, we had just had a baby, the cats fell victim to my nesting instincts. The outcome of having one's cats shaved is threefold: debilitating laughter, cats who hide, and cats who do not recognize each other (despite having been together for 3 years). I'm wondering if there will be any carryover to the boys.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I met a friend to go out for coffee. The coffee shop was near Waite Park as was A Store of Wonderment to Me: Crafty Planet. It was incredible. The fabrics were things I wanted to wear and decorate the house with. There were knitted hats, diaper bags, flowy shirts all from material that looked like it came from Pottery Barn/Ikea/A Preppy Part of Finland/I don't know where because, as you may have guessed, I have never seen anything like it.

So, last night I was full of ideas which have now overflowed to my daughters who want to take a sewing lesson there. And that's where my motivation stops. I really don't want to sew, I really don't want to take a class, I just want the really cool stuff that can be sewn. 

That made me think, "What would I do if I had the chance to be crafty/decorative, even if I had to take a class?" And I know: I'd build a retaining wall. I don't even know what I'd retain exactly, but maybe I could spruce it up with hand sewn lumpy cool throw pillows when it was done.

If you're wondering, there is no news on the adoption front. I think about it all the time but that doesn't really count. That's why I think about retaining walls.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I don't usually amaze myself, but today changed ALL that. People all over the world do this every day, many times a day, but I....I have just stepped out into a new world.

Marty: "I'll take a half caff latte with a shot of toffee nut."
Marty: "Sure. Would you like some foam on top with a little design that's almost a heart?"
Marty: "You know, I would. And how much will this cost?"
Marty: "Oh, about $.33"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Milestone

Today my husband is running around and around and around Lake Nokomis. It's his first 24 hour run that started at 8 this morning and ends, yes, at 8 tomorrow morning. The kids and I went to see him once. We cheered him on, the boys ran with him, I made sure his eyes were tracking and he recognized me. 

We came home, short on gas, food and patience. I sat down to plan out a lovely afternoon when the phone rang. "Mom, it's Dad."

It was 49 degrees and raining today. I knew why he was calling. Within 45 minutes I was back in the car with dry clothes, headed back to Lake Nokomis. 

I had a good 3 minutes with Joel before I had to go. It was time to see Addis graduate from high school. In order to get to her graduation, I had to drive past Children's Hospital. Only a year ago, if I had wanted to see Addis, that's where I would have gone. Tonight I got to see her walk across the stage. 

I'm including a picture from tonight--me a little wild eyed and in clothes that were very appropriate for the library, the bank, Bruegger's Caribou, Lake Nokomis and Lake Nokomis again. Graduation...not so much. Oh well. Addis makes up for it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Levi's Question

During our garage sale, a lot of people asked about our adoption plans. They also asked if we had adopted before. I told them yes, we had one adopted daughter. Levi was standing there and turned to me with huge eyes. 

"Gracie?" he said. "She's adopted?" 

There's a lot I like about that question.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weird Things I've Said Today

I think, that when I imagined parenting, I would be sort of Ivy-Leagueish in my conversations with and behavior toward my children. I don't even know exactly what that would look like except that the words dignified, sophisticated and upscale come to mind. 

But here were the two questions I asked today:

1. "Does anyone know where the yodeling pickle is?"

2. "Gracie, find out whose toothbrush Zeke is using. I know it's not his."

I'm pretty sure those questions alone cancelled the Ivy League Imaginings I had. Good thing those imaginings were, oh, 16 years old. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dirty Jobs

We don't have cable so I "net-flix" some of our favorite shows. "Dirty Jobs" is one of them. 

Tonight we watched Mike Rowe at an alpaca farm. He helped shave alpacas whose hair, by the way, can sell for $5.00/oz totaling about $700/alpaca. 

To top off the episode, the alpaca farmer showed how they increase their alpaca population. Let's just say, they don't buy more. I saw, for the first time in my life, alpacas mating. So did my 15 year old, my 13 year old, my 11 year old, my 7 year old, my 2 year and ("honey, is that the first time you've seen alpacas mate?" "Oh yea.") my husband. 

The only comment given during the entire graphic, scarring event was from Levi, age 7. 
"Are they married?"


I imagine there are a lot of us who feel as if we are busy every single day and, really, have very little to show for it. I have the solution. 

A leaf blower.

Our neighbor offered his to us. Joel set up the extension cords. I turned it on. No plan in mind, just harnessing the power of an F2 tornado with my bare hands. 

I blew things--rocks, sticks, ants, their homes all over the yard. Autumn of the Last 4 Years came bursting out from everywhere. When that was done, I discovered I could edge the lawn and clean the deck. Who knew? 

I finished up with a brush with death when I unknowingly dragged the extension cord into the pool. That's where really great husbands come to the rescue, not with hysterical screaming but with calm, holding up of electrical-cord-in-the-pool.

I don't think there is one, single place around our house that looks better. It just felt like the best yard work I had ever done and I wondered if it would work in the house.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Worthy Quote

A friend and I are what we call "last on the list." We turned our dossier material in the last days of April. There was a huge sense of relief and of accomplishment. Now, however, that we are on "a list" of waiting parents, we are experiencing something new. We are watching other families receive the joyful news that their babies have been found. We know very well that it is not "our turn," that we do not "deserve" to have our babies yet. We are thrilled for the families that have waited all this time. And yet.... we still want it to be our turn. Our minds chasten us. Our hearts ignore our minds.

I think she managed to put it all into one sentence:
"I'm going to eat a piece of pecan pie and wallow in self pity. And pray that my baby's mama has had enough to eat today."

Well said, my friend. Thank you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Date

I wondered why I felt so crazy about this whole thing until I talked to a friend. We were discussing why having a date, any date, for referral or court or travel or anything feels so important. It finally became clear that having a date makes this whole process seem real. I thought of it in terms of being pregnant. One of the things I loved to hear the doctor say was my due date: March 19th, April 25, January 29, October 26th. The due dates of my children. I can still remember them even though only one is the same as the birthday.

In an effort to sort through my craziness, I imagined going to the doctor only to have him say, "Well, we have absolutely no idea when this baby might come." 

I also likened myself to that little thing on the computer that goes around and around when it searches for mail. I felt just like it. 

So, in service to my dear family, I made up my own due date. While it is random, sort of, it had some thoughts behind it:
1.It had to be this year or it felt too discouraging. 

2.It had to be a multiple of 7 because God has done really amazing things on our behalf on the 7ths, the 14ths and the 21sts of the months. (wedding, the start of our dating, becoming a Christian just to name a few...)

3. The 28th was open.

4. Psalm 28 is really great.

5. My due date is December 28.

Blessed be the Lord! for he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. -Ps. 28: 6-7

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Sometimes I really want our baby to be here and sometimes I really, really, really want our baby to be here. Today is the latter scenario. I think it's because we went swimming. I got a picture in my mind of a bright pink swimsuit with polka dots and the little brown arms and legs that would go with it. Not that I don't appreciate the lime green frog swimsuit with pasty arms and legs to go with it....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Psalms Just for Me

I love that the Word of God comes alive in the midst of hard things. I read this last night: 
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love... (Ps. 17:6-7) 

I talked to a wonderful woman today whose Ethiopian baby has been with them for almost a year. She reminded me that God often chooses for us the hard paths of love. Their story was hard. But it has an incredible ending called A Beautiful Little Ethiopian Girl Who is Their Own.

I have a Handsome Little American Boy Who is My Own who is Not Sleeping When He's Supposed To. Time for me to go change that.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I was able to be a part of something wonderful last night. Addis was baptized. This spiritual landmark reminded me that one year ago, her faith was being demonstrated quite another way: cancer and chemo. One morning, Addis and I were in the parking ramp. She was bald, thin and going in for another round of chemo. We prayed and then Addis said this: "God is so nice to me." 

As I burst into tears, I told her, with a smile, "Don't ever do that to me again!!" She knew what I meant. She was brave beyond her years. She was a picture of a life laid down for Christ's purposes. She was almost more than I could bear at that moment. And I loved it.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Grant Applications

I'm applying for adoption grants. How does one sound competent ("I can take care of an orphan")and desperate ("Please give us financial aid") all at the same time? 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dinner at Cub

There are dinner low points. One of them was at Cub. We needed groceries but I had the boys by myself. We needed to eat dinner. I decided we would combine groceries, dinner and boys. I bought 4 chicken legs, a footlong corn dog, a yogurt drink and two bottles of chocolate milk. I plopped the boys in the eating/customer service/make your own pictures/rent a rug doctor section of Cub, cut up the corn dog, blew on the chicken legs, opened the milks, got the napkins, instructed Eli on choking prevention and said, "Find me when you're done."

I got all the way through produce, lunchmeat, regular meat, deli and dairy before they found me. Eli's status message to me was this: "Mom, we all have stomach aches."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Things I Have Washed

I washed the winter coats and snow pants this week. I washed them because I got a phone call from my husband who said, "I'm at Sam's house but we can't find Sam or Levi." With a call like that, I had to do what any mom would do. Empty a closet. 

Out came the mittens, scarves, snow pants, coats, hats, facemasks and heavy socks. Then Joel found Levi so the 4 foot pile of winter wear sat in the hallway for 2 days. When the regular laundry began to mix with the winter clothes, I decided it was time to start washing. 

I had everything done--washed, hung out in the sun, taken downstairs, nearly folded and in an airtight Rubbermaid container when I found The Lump. Hoping it was another hat, scarf or even package of kleenex, I reached in. It was a brownie. From February. In plastic wrap though not airtight. "ELI! I just washed a brownie that was in your snow pants!!"
"Oh yea," he replied. "I remember putting it there."

I washed 2 bathmats this week as well. 
I decided to fall down some stairs today. 

All is well.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Accelerated Science

I invented a new science program today. It is not for the gifted. It is for the pathetic. And that would be me. 

I have skipped, with a due amount of guilt, every single science experiment in our book. Until today. To make sure I did it, I called a friend of mine who has not one, not two, but three boys. I invited them over to do science with us as long as my friend provided lunch. She was more than happy to trade lunch for a half a year's worth of solar system science experiments. 

We did relative size of the planets (Earth is a tic-tac; Mercury is a sprinkle; Neptune is a jelly belly, etc.), we melted chocolate with magnifying glasses, made craters in flour and demonstrated a solar eclipse in the bathroom. 

And then, just for fun, we made a salt relief map of Ethiopia. I stopped short of requiring the kids to make a salt relief infant in the capital city.

Guilt gone; headache abating.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Email

We got an email today, one in a long line of emails that we will be anticipating. This one said, "Congratulations. Your dossier is in Addis Ababa and you are now officially waiting." I decided to take this one step further. MY email said, "It's sort of like I'm pregnant." And my very funny friend said that my uterus is on the other side of the world.

Ah, humor. We're going to need it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Question I Need to Ask

Who left the owl pellet on the kitchen table?

A Day for Realism and Dreaming

I planted the blue flowers yesterday. They have been stepped on twice now despite the big sign that says "Do Not Step on the Plants" and the big, poky sticks I put up around them to impale anyone who forgot. While my plants may "tolerate drought and a little crowding" I don't think they will thrive under boys' shoes. We'll see. I'll go prop them up again in just a minute.

The other thing we're doing is finishing off our blue and pink peeps that are sort of like...hmm. What is sort of like a stale, hard marshmallow? No matter what the consistency, I can't help but dream a little bit and think, "Next spring at this time, will we have another who thinks a Blue Peep is an awesome dessert?"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Children as Flowers

I ordered flowers from one of those catalogs. I must have placed my order back in the late '90s for I can no longer remember what they are nor where I was planning to plant them. I know I had a plan; I am not the type to order flowers spontaneously. 

Hooray, then, for the internet, which could enlighten me on exactly what is a "Cupid's Dart" and: do deer eat it? does it need full sun? will it come back by itself? do I have to dig it up in the fall? does it need water? can it thrive on neglect? The happy news is, I seemed to have ordered well. Here is the description:

Cupid's Dart are an attractive, easy to grow perennial flower. These blue daisies look great in a flowerbed, and offer striking contrast to other flowers in the bed.

Once established, Cupid's Dart plants will grow for years with little attention. They are drought tolerant, and don't mind a little crowding.

And there, thought I, is the type of children I wouldn't mind having around too. Most days. Ok, some days. It's the "don't mind a little crowding" part that I really like.

 Joel told me he had a dream that Agitu referred a child to us already. It made my legs go weak.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Saying No Thanks to the God of the Universe

Today I was reminded of when I responded to God in a "no thank you" sort of way. I cleverly disguised it: I heard Him wrong, He forgot how many kids we already have, Addis had had cancer, not a teenage pregnancy. So God pursued me. Thankfully. 

The first way He did it was when I was being grumpy at the library checkout. This particular library is "self checkout." That means that while I unsuccessfully place my books under a red laser that I'm not supposed to look at, the librarian stands on the other side of the desk staring at her computer. I think she has a tally on her screen of how many times per book it takes me to scan the bar code. When I had reached my limit, and then some, I tried to charm her into doing her job. "I don't think I have the touch," I said. Translation: "I will steal these books if you do not come over and help me." While she successfully scanned each book on the first try, I glanced about trying to look occupied. That's when it happened: a book called, "There is No Me Without You, One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue her Country's Children."

Because it didn't say anything about Ethiopia in the title, I picked it up. Had it said Ethiopia, I honestly think I would have left it on the shelf. There were no pictures on the front. I opened it to the pictures in the middle. Undoubtedly, Ethiopian children. Beautiful, haunting, parentless Ethiopian children. I handed it to the Scanning Librarian. "I need this one too," I said vacantly, knowing now that God had broken into my life and there was no going back. 

I read to page 23. I stopped and ordered my own copy from Amazon. I kept reading. I dreamed about orphans. I couldn't put the book down. I read paragraphs to my husband until he just sighed and put his book down. 

I hope this book is old news to many; if it's an unfamiliar title and you're interested in Ethiopia, don't even bother with the library. Just go to Amazon. Maybe buy a couple. Addis is reading my copy right now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Big Accomplishment

Sometimes I find things to do that don't get undone for, say, 7 to 8 weeks. This is one of them. Or three of them. HAIRCUTS.

Not the best pictures but I feel like it is a recordable version of the fact that I try to be a responsible parent. Now if only my blog could smell like bleach.

Monday, April 20, 2009

One little email

People who have adopted internationally will read this and think, "She has no idea how long this wait is actually going to be," and they'd be right. I thought about my anxious, excited, impatient, thrilled self and realized I may still be waiting in December. If I keep up this level of emotion, I will have aged significantly and may lose the sympathy and interest of my own family. So, yesterday was about calming down. 

And today I get an email that says we are days away from "officially waiting." 

Glad my coffee was half caff. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I ran a race today. I didn't race; just ran. I ran for so long I had plenty of time to notice things around me and then think about it for awhile afterwards. Here's what you get if you run with "my people."

1. Two people who discuss how many sirens there were when a friend of theirs had a heart attack.

2. Two men who ask each other how the knee surgery is affecting the stiffness of their knees.

3. A man in spandex running shorts with flames. Think Hot Wheel Car Zooba Pants shrunken and on a 50 year old man.

4. A man with a hat that had the word "Runner" embroidered on the back of it. That's because having running shoes, running shorts, a running shirt, a race number and running must not have been enough to alert us to the fact that he was a runner. 
a. I did think of one time when this sort of labeling would be helpful. I would wear something similar the next time I go to Walmart, only my hat/shirt/etc. would be emblazoned with the word "Shopper." That way, I wouldn't be confused with "Employee" as I have been. Twice.

5. A man who could have been my great grandfather say to me, "Are you all right? You doing ok?" accompanied by raised Eyebrows of Concern. Probably the universal signal for "Should I call 911?"

6. A description given of someone loud enough for me to hear and disturbing enough for me to remember: "Oh, you know Cliff. He's sixty years old and a gynecologist. He's very open about how much he loves women."
a. Note to self: Do NOT schedule an exam with anyone named Cliff.

I wasn't last. I finished. A glass of wine sounds really good.