Thursday, February 28, 2008

Proud Parent!

My mother was here for two days. What a blessing! It was way too short though...MOM COME BACK....Anyhow, my mother got to witness first hand darling MATEA obsessing over clothing. We finally have decided to lock the girl's bedroom during the day so that they don't come home to clothes everywhere. My mom and I had separated all of the clothes into 3 different dressers according to child....all of the girls are in the same room now. So I have no desire spending another afternoon separating the clothing into the appropriate drawers. I am hoping this phase will pass. In the meantime, I fool the baby by placing about 3 or 4 outfits outside of the laundry room that she secretly FINDS (not suspecting I have planted them there)...So she can work on them all day. After school the girls come home and I open the door trusting they will keep the baby in control (they love keeping their room clean).

Jared had a doctor's appointment today. This was officially his first physical in the states. He saw the doctor a week ago to check on his ears. He has been on antibiotics for 8 days and it hasn't cleared up the stuff in both ears. So we now get to go to an ENT. Also dermatologist (he has 3 pimply things on his body that could be molluscum). He had the sweetest eye test. He had to stand several feet away and the nurse pointed to a circle...Jared said "o". She pointed to a hand and he said "finger". She pointed to a star and he said "coco" (means star). She pointed to a cup and he said "BUNA" (means coffee) ...she then pointed to a tiny cross...he said "Jesus"...So we both laughed but he passed the test.

THEN...he had to have a TB test, blood had to be drawn AND he had to then get 5 shots...It was grueling.. He freaked out when he saw the first needle. But he got on the table...cried and was traumatic...he held to me very tight and didn't bite, scratch or hit...he kept saying MOMMY another nurse held his feet down and another nurse held something else....I was hugging him the whole time...and then he kept saying Bekka...which means finished. I have to say that I was so proud of the fact that he didn't act out...he fought but held to me rather than attacking etc.....I couldn't believe this was the same child who would kick, scratch and even try biting when being disciplined a week ago and the prior weeks. AND I know this is sort of an embarrassing confession...but I had a weird kind of satisfaction with being able to comfort him while he was a human pin cushin ..I felt that we had really come far in our relationship through the past month and it made me proud....tonight...he had a little melt down and again rather than flailing about or throwing himself down on the floor...he looked for me, came to me and I cuddled with him in the rocking chair until he fell asleep. Of course Matea had found a pair of tap shoes which someone had donated to us (okay which one of you is responsible for that) and decided to tap on the tile floor while I was singing and saying SHHH to Jared. But I am in awe at how far these kids have come already. They are doing so well....we have seen them lower their guards down and now we are in bonding is really sweet to be able to help them heal and readjust..It really is by the grace of God.,

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


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Monday, February 25, 2008


We want to apologize for the lapses in posts but don't have our internet really set up here in the new house so have to find spots and moments to communicate.

It has been an amazing, funny, exhausting and simultaneously exhilarating few days. Saturday the kids played out in the driveway (the lawn was muddy and still doesn't have enough grass) while Mark and 2 helpers brought 3 truck loads of more stuff here to the house. But I really felt like we looked like the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. "Honey look the Clampets have moved in across the street" My friends pulled up with an open pick up with stuff hanging everywhere along with a trailer carrying more stuff (3 times). And there were 6 kids running around in the driveway all day making this otherwise quiet and pristine neighborhood come alive. At one point Matea (who takes over an hour every morning to get dressed looking for anything pink to put on-and changes 6x's a day- she's three almost) was in the driveway with a summer dress (pink), a red polka dot eye patch (for correcting her far sightedness), a striped sweater, bear naked legs and MY SHOES ( i had told her to put shoes on and she couldn't find hers so had mine on), she looked like a bizarre fashion conscious little pinkish pirate. Andrew my son was hitting balls OVER the houses, Jared threw a fit when I made him share the bike with his sister...I physically had to drag him into the house, and the girls were in dresses (it is Feb and was cold on Sat for awhile)pulling out everything from the garage while playing basketball, jumping rope and shouting in Amharic to eachother. Samantha pulls into the driveway keys in hand screaming "I can't believe you won't buy me a $150 dollar dress for prom. You just don't understand what it is like to be a teenager." (I am thinking OH YES I DO GET A JOB and shop at a consignment shop or use one of my dresses). At one point there were toys in every spot of the yard. We haven't met any neighbors yet. On Sunday we all stayed home from church because the kids were seriously over stimulated from their first full week of school AND moving. I was finally able to convince Grace to let me buy her sneakers. She was still playing soccer in her sunday school shoes(and white skirt---the one from GOODWILL) and preferring it. The concept of sneakers on her feminine frame was far too masculine for her. It was only after my Ethiopian friend Yemi came over looking like a model wearing her sneakers that Grace decided it was okay for me to buy some for her. So on sunday we unpacked and then I was ready to go to my girlfriends bridal shower. The plan was for the older girls to join me. I couldn't find make up to wear (hadn't even looked for a week), or jewelry and even had a hard time finding pants to wear (had been in sweats). Somehow I managed to pull something together. I get outside to leave. FIVE LOUD CHILDREN SWARM ME ALL SCREAMING LOUDER THAN THE PLANES TAKING OFF AT RDU. The girls were squealing in delight at the thought of joining me. Andrew my 10 year old busted out crying at the top of his lungs because he wanted to come too. The younger two cried and swarmed because everyone else was. Mark heard the noise which sounded like someone was being tortured and ran outside thinking he would be saving someone (that would be me) only to find that the five kids were all freaking out because I was going to the shower for 2 hours with only 2 kids. So he yells for the others to come in . He totally sounded like VINNIE FROM BROOKLYN...completely NY meets the Clampets in Ethiopia. I look in the distance and finally see a very well dressed couple (our new neighbors who we haven't met yet) waving....We have scratched the wood floors, peed on the carpet and used the beige wall for a coloring book. But somehow last night when I was cleaning up in the kitchen I became very nostalgic. I heard the kids screaming and laughing upstairs and shouting out grandmother's name. The house looks and feels in some ways like my grandmother's household home in Mendota IL and in other ways reminds me of my Grandparent's house in Steward. The noise, the chaos, the smells, even the insanity warms my soul. I wonder if my great grand parents had the same butterflies and worry in moving into their dream home on 806 Indiana Ave in the late 1800's early 1900's. I know they had to have heard their other children screaming out ELLA ELLA to the extremely personable and mischevious ELLA. These kids although not genetically related to my family have the same familial spirit. And I couldn't help but feel that same sweet family spirit embracing me. I have missed it and I guess in some ways am duplicating it in my own family. Unknowingly, the kitchen is set up the same. The railing has the same curve and the echos in the house from the wood we picked out remind me of the family holidays in Mendota or Steward. I am so grateful to God for family and for our home. We are living one day at a time like the Henry Zapf family, Ella and Arthur and their family....and like Grandma and Grandpa Jones and like my parents.....leaning on our faith and counting on God to pull us through and knowing that even though it feels so much like the arms of my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins around is really HIS arms embracing us....Hallelujah...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Practicing Faith!

We are here in our 3rd night in our new house. The house is beautiful and we love it. We have almost everything out of our old house but will need to paint it for touch ups. This has been an interesting week. It is easy to practice faith when you have a net but sometimes God asks you to jump and there is no you have to just jump and hope He catches you. He has caught me many times but for some reason this time I am really having to push myself. Building this house at the time seemed so right and it feels so right now....but we still haven't sold this other house and just taking it one day at a time. I have seen myself panic this week going to the 'worse case scenario place'....which wasn't so awful because I realized that no matter what happened I would still have my wonderful family, husband and health...which is so much. Still I try to avoid being caught by those WAVES of doubt and fear in the enormity of having a new and bigger house and mortgage and not a ton of work. But seeing how wonderfully my family is settling in I also say to myself "God can get us through this. And why shouldn't our family have this home...AND let's just take it one day at a time." Do you think Noah had moments of doubt and fear when God said "build an ark."? Do you think sometimes he said to himself..."was that God really speaking to me or am I just out of my mind?" I wonder too if Moses ever said to God "you have got the wrong guy." Or "how am I supposed to get those people across that river?" Sometimes I feel like such an unlikely person to have these 6 kids in this perfect house for us. And I wonder if God had the wrong guy...but then hold on to believing in His sovereignty and ALL KNOWING nature. SO..we are practicing faith. There have been times when things were easier when we even had the arrogance to think that maybe we had mastered the concept of FAITH...and then this week I am humbled by the realization that I totally do not have enough....I have shouted out to God with a longing to see Him and begging for forgiveness for being way to human to really believe sometimes. When the bank accounts are full, the houses sell on time and there is more than enough work we go to our churches and proclaim our faith confidently but then we really can see how strong we are when we are tested by this crazy world. I totally feel the same way I did when I wrote Feather in His Hand....reaching high and not knowing where we will land but knowing HE will catch us even when we are weak and fragile. I am reminded by the song I wrote 6 years ago when we left NYC to move to NC that God will indeed not let me fall but will 'lift me up" at the perfect time...

It's in reaching high that I take the chance to lose,
I pray I'll find the path that leads me to where heaven opens,
I'm floating in the air not sure of what's out there for me..
And then I land a feather in His hand,
I know now I'm safe captured by God's grace,
A feather in His hand even as the wild wind blows,
He's there is lift me up hold me high on faith is where I'll stand in His hand...

So I'm letting go though tomorrow I could fall,
Flying low I pray I'll hear the call to be uplifted,
Floating high above this world not knowing where the air is taking me.
And then I land a feather in His hand,
I know now I'm safe captured by God's grace,
A feather in His hand even as the wild wind blows,
He's there is lift me up hold me high on faith is where I'll stand in His hand...

It's in opening up where the angels let me go,
Out from their wings back to the arms that love me so,
I'm just a drifter floating back to His embrace...I know now there's aplace for me...
And then I land a feather in His hand,
I know now I'm safe captured by God's grace,
A feather in His hand even as the wild wind blows,
He's there is lift me up hold me high on faith is where I'll stand in His hand...

Monday, February 18, 2008


Okay we did it...we closed on the new house and now have the old one still on the market. So currently we own 2 houses. I am very nervous about carrying two mortgages. So the goal is to get out of this one and get it ready again to show for whoever is looking for a house. So far no interest offers since October. This time of year is known to be slow and compounded by the market it is really slow. We don't have to start paying the two mortgages until April 1st so I am hoping at that point we either book many new jobs or sell this house...So we appreciate all of the prayer and are just going to see what happens. The house is beautiful and feels right to us. My oldest daughter painted her room tonight. We have a mover coming this Wed to move most of our stuff but will move the rest via UHAUL from storage later in the week. Unpacking will be an ongoing thing..AND we do not have any phone or cable there until March 1s.

The kids are well but we are all exhausted. Matea our almost 3 year old has now really really regressed on her potty training. She was totally trained with the exception of night time. Now she has had an accident at least once a day since we have been gone to Ethiopia. Tonight was the worst where for the first time in a year she had NUMBER 2 in her diaper that was just put on for the evening. Sorry to be so graphic but just trying to SHARE..LOL! Andrew is stressed too. I took him to the new house without all of the kids to do his homework. It is very hectic around here. I also have to have a rule that after 7pm there is no chasing eachother, running etc. But it is a winding down period. It is super hard to pack anything.....and are just continuing to push through even though I have no idea how God is going to resolve all of this but we will see.

In the meantime, the girls are doing very well in school and Jared is getting slightly bored in the house with us . But his behaviour is very good.

So tired....going to bed now...


Sunday, February 17, 2008


So we had to leave on Thursday to go to Palm Beach (without the kids). I have to say that I both dreaded leaving them and really also enjoyed a couple of days with my hubby (even though it was a work week). Before we left we talked to the kids...we even showed them a map and a calendar to show them where we would be, when we would come back, what we were doing and WHO would be taking care of them (had the babysitter hang out with us the night before). So we thought they understood. The girls handled it really well. In the past week we had made amazing strides with Jared. We have seen him go from acting out in anger to having no fits at all. Part of it was due to our totally learning how to baby him and watch as he responded really well to affection and doting....The hitting etc had also decreased. But after we left he gave the baby sitter a really hard time. She put him in the corner. He tore the curtains off of the rod and ripped out a curtain rod that was hanging. We now have to do some serious work on that includes repairing a wall in the house we are trying to sell. Callie said he even spit ...but he did wipe it up (something we insisted on when he did it once before). So she spent the first several hours with this behaviour. After we had called to remind him that we are the parents that always come home and will always be there for him (we worded it that way so he would not associate us with the parents that both died)., he appeared to be much better. But I did return to also find Grace with a huge wound on her ear where Jared scratched a chunk of skin off of her ear.

Our gig was at a club in Palm Beach called Club Collette. We performed for a 95th birthday party for a man who is still dancing the merengue with his 90 year old bride. This man even at his age pretty much owns Palm Beach. And we had the pleasure of performing with Steve Lawrence and Edie Gormet. They were still really good. Any of you out there who do not know them, they were very famous about 30 years ago...or more....ha! And I believe I have found my demographic...the 90 ish crowd loved me...and the band. I totally was being flirted with my many 80-95 year olds.

We are closing on the house tomorrow. I am very nervous as many of you know because the house we are in hasn't sold yet. BUTTTT....we are moving forward and believing God will provide. The new house is beautiful and a perfect layout for our family. And honestly I know I am stressing but trying to keep a proper perspective. I have a great husband, health and a wonderful family. some ways my concerns about finances seem unimportant compared to the fact that we have so much already. would take so much stress off and we would sleep better knowing we had some money back in the bank.....which could happen once we sell the house.

Still today was so incredible. We came home yesterday afternoon. The kids were so happy to see us. I spent the day with 5 of my children following me from room to room. I would go to put my keys down...there they were...I would go and brush my teeth..there they were...I would go to get a glass of water...there they were...bathroom...there too...everywhere. I spent the end of the day taking braids out and washing 5 bodies (baths and showers). These kids literally squeal with delight when they shower. At the end of the day they all had their clothing picked out for the next day. Even Jared always choses the best clothing combinations to wear. I never have had to ask any of them to make their beds, wash their faces or get dressed. It is always done before I am even up. Before bed I notice that Ella looks like she has eye make up on. She had found Sam's mascara and I had to take it off....Grace laughed so hard at her. So this morning I see beautiful Ella...something is different about her. It would appear that where there once was a full eyebrow now only 2/3rds is left. She found Samantha's razor and had Jared shave her eyebrow when I wasn't looking. Grace laughed so hard when she saw her. I tried really hard to draw in part of a brow but she still looked like she constantly had one eyebrow up and one down because she had shaved the top part of her right brow. So we go to church and they meet Naty today...they were very low key but had a great time visiting with him. They enjoyed church but would not go to sunday school again. But Grace with thrilled with the sermon. Eventhough she had no clue what they were saying Pastor Lafoon kept saying the word GRACE...both her and Ella loved that.

Later in the day I baked a couple of chickens (only cost 3.85 for 2 chickens) and made rice, broccoli and SHIRO a famous ethiopian dish. Grace helped me. It was so much fun. They also were excited when they saw that I had bought avocado at the store. Grace told me that in Asela the babies eat avocados...I fed my babies avocados too. Grace made sure to set the table, salt the shiro and instruct me on putting more water in for the dish. We were totally a team and i really really enjoyed it. She is a very mature 9 year old. After dinner Sam and Ella cleaned.....WOW! the two girls together were great. I kept feeling as if I was in my Grandma Jones' kitchen. There was so much great female energy and i was totally feeling like this was what I signed up for with having a big family. The team work was great...seeing how these kids have already made positive changes to adjust in the family brings me to tears. They are really incredible. In the past 3 years they have seen their parents die, tried to survive with their grandmother, had to say goodbye to the only home they had known in Asela to move to an orphanage in Addis, prayed and prayed for a family, spent time adjusting to life in an orphanage, adjusted, found out they had a family, waited, met the family, had to say goodbye again to Asela, Layla House and Ethiopia, adjusted again, loved and trusted again, and still held on to believing that God is there for them. When I look at how far they have come, how far we have come I can't help but suspend my fears and disbelief and force myself to PUSH THROUGH...believing that the last step in selling this house has to be so minor compared to the huge hurdles that have already been cleared for this family...Thank you God...thank you God....We are elated....and feeling your peace and it is blissful. We close tomorrow and move on Wed. I haven't packed yet....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quiet at Layla!

Okay...I am convinced that the decibel level at Layla House (our kids orphanage) went down by about 60 percent when they left. There are about 140 kids at Layla but with the removal of our 3 children I am sure there is a HUSH over the compound there. Prior to going to get them we had some serious conversations with our three kids at home. We warned them that they needed to learn to not shout, be calm, not scream because our new children might be traumatized by it. ALL I can say is that I think the only one in this house traumatized is ME...I of course am kidding but I keep saying SHHHHH, BE QUIET (in full shouting voice)...My house is truly ALIVE and LOUD...And these kids fit right in....but we are teaching them the word CALM....

School was again great for the kids and we had a great day with the exception of my having to put the girls to sleep early again because they insist on not looking at me and laughing while gabbing on and on in AMHARIC laughing while I am trying to tell them serious stuff. Remember....the sat night live skit at the nail salon where the Korean manicurists are saying awful things in Korean about the girls nails and laughing...SAME CONCEPT...

But I am also learning. Here are my advanced parenting tips to myself now that the kids have been home a week and I am getting to know them.

If you want to decrease the volume...take the loudest of the pack and place them in a quiet separate place in the house.
ASSIGN chores---These Ethiopian children actually appreciate and thrive on something to do.
Don't allow the two youngest (Jared and Ella) to sit next to eachother ever.
When Jared sulks distract him with keys or some manly responsibility..."Do you want to open the door of the car? Do you want to press the button on the trash compactor? Can you get the remote control for mommy?
Sometimes ignore the innocent hitting that just is in play...(ie pick your battles)...only reprimand the angry dangerous hitting...
Don't let the girls shower together...they still have not figured out that there is NOT a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor.
Always make sure Ella is wearing a belt. Her little behind likes to stick out of her jeans and she thinks it is really funny.....and wants to wear little heels at the same time..not a good look for a 6 year old.
Remove any lotion from the house that you do not want to be used generously. The children LOVE LOTION.....but hate anything Lavender (buy lavender for yourself and you too will have lotion).

And a little sign of financial hope today....been praying about the house. Still haven't sold it but found out that we may have to come up with 7k less for down payment on the house which is really a blessing and will help a lot. So keep the prayers coming.


Monday, February 11, 2008


Girls did very well in school today. Grace was very happy when I picked her up and told me she now has friends everywhere. Ella's teacher told me she was very quiet which is hard to believe. Jared got in trouble again this morning for hitting. I then took Matea and Jared over to our friends farm to see the horse, donkey and mule. THey loved it.

After school....the girls were tired but started hitting, kicking scratching each other constantly. There is the normal sibling wrestling thing and then the DOING DAMAGE type of fighting which is what they prefer. I kept trying to tell them to stop. And when I tried to have a serious conversation with them about hitting they kept laughing at me. Eventually, they were sent to their room without eating (although they ate a ton right after school). THey ended up falling a sleep without dinner and right after I called my Amharic speaking girlfriend Yemi to give them a firm talking to. Not sure what she said but they were very quiet and fell asleep right after that. Jared pushed the phone away from his ear when Yemi was giving her talk. So , I think she knew some magic amharic words.....anyhow, all of that being said, they are doing very well.....and school was great. They will only go 3x's this week to ease into it. No news on any offers on the house yet. BUt keep us in your prayers.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Big Week!

Keep the prayers coming. Our realtor says that someone is coming this week for a second showing. Please pray his wife will be pleased and make an excellent offer this week.

Had a great day at a birthday party for Keziah and Keren. These are beautiful twin baby girls from Ethiopia (1 year old today). We really had a great time meeting other parents and their Ethiopian kids. Including Paul and Miranda who were on the plane with us to Ethiopia.

The kids came to church with us. We left early. The kids enjoyed the music but were really nervous about the sunday school classes. So we are going to sit with them in sunday school the next couple of weeks. Our friend Ban came with us to ss class with the kids to translate. Jared was very nervous. We think he is reliving being dropped off at the orphanage by grandma. So they ended up in the service with us and became antsy. We have to keep an eye on them so they aren't overstimulated. For reasons i am not sure of the church environment today was a somber experience for them. Not sure if their mother's funeral was in church or not. These children are amazing and I can't believe how blessed we are.

So, this week is over the top insanely busy. Tomorrow the kids go to school. I also have to arrange itineraries for 10 guys flying from NY to Palm, production details for our gig on friday 2/15. Mark and I have a walk through of the house on 2/13. Tomorrow I have to make sure we have the down payments for the house (still really praying to sell this house this week.....we need our equity). Plus have to cook and make sure there is enough food for when we go. And I also have to arrange for a mover for the following week... Kids will be here for the first time on TH and Fr with us traveling. We have a ton of support though lined up. NOT SOMETHING WE WANTED TO DO...the plan was to have me do all of the gigs for 4-6 months without Mark on the gigs (to stay with the kids). But this gig in Palm beach will just cost too much to bring a NY musician we are going together. We will be back sat at 2. Please pray for the kids. I will not have them at school Thursday and Friday.

Grace had her first meltdown today. She is a very reserved child who doesn't like to show her emotion. Even when she said goodbye to her friends in Ethiopia etc she kept it together. I kept telling her it was okay to cry but you could just see her holding back. The other kids have all had their moments (several of them). Today she cried over nail polish....I knew it was really all of the stress of moving here etc. She rebounded really fast. She is very sensitive and wants to please us (and she does please us very much). So when she is given even the slightest advice she is upset with herself.....And she has been so composed. I think she is finally letting her guard down...THANK he healing can begin.

Anyhow...we are learning....all of us...Keep us in your prayers.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Open House!

Boy...planning an open house with 6 kids is no picnic. Tomorrow will be the first time I have to get them all ready for church. After church we can't go home because there will be an open house. SO, we are heading to my friends house for her EThiopian twins first birthday. They have been home since november. So, I buy all of these adorable church dresses. I mean modern, cute and hip. In an effort to save time, we get the dresses out along with tights and shoes. When I bought these dresses yesterday the girls showered me with kisses. Today, one wants to wear a white skirt to church tomorrow that I bought for 1.50 at the Goodwill along with a tshirt. The other decided that since her sister got the preferable goodwill skirt she would like one rather than the Kohl's dresses that I bought for them......UUUGGHH! Tears and the silent treatment. Of course, being an experienced parent I comment to Mark that I really prefer the silent treatment though to tantrums. HA!LOL! So, I give them a lecture on how I am going to return the dresses if they don't wear them and that they have to wear the dresses to church. My dress is not a very casual church. Plus I prefer to at least have them looking great the first few weeks. Also, Jared was in trouble again today for hitting. But he is very obedient in sitting in time out. AND I am becoming more aware that he really needs some bonding. I have to carve out some cuddle time with him because I think that even though he is 5 he is more like 2 or 3 when it comes to his emotional needs. That is not uncommon for children who haven't had much one on one time with their parents. He is really delightful and sweet and we love him so much but need to lay down the law. I watched as Grace (ejigayehu) folder her clothes (the goodwill ones) methodically for tomorrow. She them got dressed in pajamas put on a shower cap to protect her hair, brushed her teeth, put lotion on her face. I couldn't help thinking what a sweet young lady she is and how amazing it is going to be to see her grow up. These children are all doing really really well and it it truly a blessing to have them with us. I am trying to teach them though about needing my personal space. Imagine having a swarm of kids everywhere you go. They don't want to let me out of their sight. And they are the same with their Dad, sisters and brother. "Where is samantha?" Being a teenager she is out a lot but they are constantly thinking of her. It is very sweet. Please pray tomorrow for this open house. We really need to sell this house. The closing on the new one is on 2/18 and we just really need to sell....than you everyone.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Quote of the day!

So Yared gets out of his shower and is sitting on the steps with only his underwear on and is right next to a football...Andrew is across the room and yells "hey mom Yared's skin is the same color as the football". I don't know why but we got such a kick out of that. We were able to keep them up until 9 tonight. We are hopeful they will stay asleep until 7....this morning they were so loud at 5:30. But that was an improvement to 3:30. My friend Yemi braided their hair and made them Shiro today. We were at Yemi's from 9:30-3. I brought them home and then at 5 went to MONKEY JOE;s ( a playplace my friends just for the grand opening). So they ran around until 7:30.....

Jared was in trouble 3 times for hitting today and then scratched me. But then later I caught him stopping himself from hitting his siblings.

Yemi tells me that Ella (Kidist) told her that she thinks her husband is handsome and she would like to marry him. Also apparently Ella is using God's name in vain in Amharic. HOW wouLD I KNow????? Anyhow, Yemi took her for a ride in the car to lecture her in Amharic. She came back and kept saying I LOVE YOU MOMMY...I guess it worked but to be honest with you I find her extremely cute and funny so didn't have any big complaints. But Yemi reassured me that if I could hear what she was saying in Amharic I would really appreciate her nipping it in the bud....

All the kids are so great. ...Everyone is meshing so well... They are going to start school on Monday for three days. With the move coming in a week I realize that until I can get settled and some structure..homeschooling is not going to work. But we will reconsider if things don't go well at school. Ella will be in Kindergarted and Grace (ejigayehu) will be in 3rd. The teachers reassure us that they will not put pressure on the academics. The girls will have ESL 4 times a week. Ella's assistant teacher rang our bell to introduce herself to us. She lives down the block. I am going to recruit her to baby sit....The school has been very encouraging....

All is well.....tired but getting better every day.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Amazing kids!

the kids woke up at 4am today. Tonight they went to bed at 8pm. Every day their English is better and better. I tried to make Ella Kidist's bed this morning. Grace Ejigayehu said "no mom...she" They are amazing. We have decided though to enroll them in school. We had wanted to homeschool first until the next season, but with moving into a new house in 12 days it will be impossible to get it together and be structured enough for them. So we have to rely on the school. I will keep an eye out though and see what we will do though next season. Jared got in trouble and had to sit in the corner twice today. All of the kids have a bad habit of really hitting each other. And he just hauled off and hit me when I told him "NO". Then he hit Mark too. He is a really good boy but has to work on that. He also gives us lots of love and seems to love Samantha especially.

I am a bit stressed because we have not sold this house yet and have to close on the new one which means exhausting all of our savings.....and living very close to the edge. Please pray our current house sells very quickly...


Here are some photos from day 1 to whet your appetite. But we are in the process of downloading several hundred photos so will give you our snapfish info then...


Monday, February 4, 2008

Departure day!

Friday all day...."go america now". "Go aeroplan" Well I explained to them that first we had to get their hair done. Pack and go to their going away party. The girls had decided they wanted their hair straightened. To me that was fine..but then again I didn't really realize what that meant. My friends Pucci and Getish picked us all up in the car. We go to the hair place. The girls were sooo excited. Pucci knew the entire staff at the hair place and their gym was next door. While the girls were getting their hair done we went to see their recording studio. We came back and the girls look gorgeous. I am told to just put a scarf around the hair and it will remain fine. Well we went back to the guesthouse to get ready for the party. Ella now has decided that she cannot resist putting water into her hair. THe entire top part of her hair frizzes up. She starts to cry. I have NO CLUE what to do. DO I put more water (I am thinking that is a bad idea),,,I have no oil, no spray and frankly the African hair thing is a mystery to me. I convince her to go to layla early and they will fix it. They put two pony tails in the top. We go to the party. All 140 kids ar there. There are cakes, drinks and candy. The kids sing songs, clap hands and then pray and celebrate their new family. After the party Melkem and Martha invite us into their room. They have decorated and arranged a private party with songs prayers and refreshments. I sing two songs for them. Grace Ejigayehu takes me by the hand and says "Come, America go now." I am unglued at this point. I thought for sure she would not be ready to leave but instead she walks out of her old life into her new with the poise and Grace that I have already admired. We walk back to the guest house. She keeps looking up at me with the sweetest smile. I am in love with these children. We go to the guesthouse, finish packing...Ella Kidist 's hair is now half frizzy and half straight. I am laughing inside because I have no clue how to fix it. Now Ella thinks it is funny and makes her hair look outrageous....I find a scarf but realize that we will be arriving in america with the most bizarre hair do. When we get to the airport Grace Ejigayehu says "is this the aeroplan?". This was just as we arrive inside the terminal....Grace did not sleep on the flight.....the other kids slept for about 6 hours. THese children are incredible and I cannot get over how trusting and sweet they are.

When we arrive in America it takes 3 hours to get through immigration and customs. we barely make the Raleigh flight. As we were getting on the plane to RDU an african american airline employee comments on how beautiful the family is , she looks at Ella and then says to me "DO YOU HAVE SOMEONE TO HELP YOU WITH HER HAIR?" I just about lose it with laughter and tears at the same time....HELP ME WITH THE HAIR...


Day Four/Asela!

We had heard that many kids want to change their names so we were prepared. But we also felt that because of their age we weren't comfortable just changing them without having their blessing. For Ejigayehu we were struck with her poise on the referral video during a very sad we chose the name GRACE. It also referred to God's grace in bringing us together. So her name Grace Ejigayehu suited her. Ejigayehu means "she has seen so much" add Grace to that and it defines her. For Kidist (means holy), we wanted to give her my grandmother's first name Ella. It means "she is holy and beautiful".. Yared's name would be changed to Jared Michael. But knowing that Ejigayehu had been very sad after the name conversation (even though she brought it up) we were going to leave their Ethiopian names as theirs. SO, on thursday we would endure a three hour trip each way to Asela. We had a driver and a social worker who would translate. The social worker also had arranged for a gentleman who knew the family and brought the family to Addis to come with us. He didn't show up. So we were left with the kids as navigators. The little ones knew very little of Asela but we depended on Ejigayehu who is only 9. All the way there the kids were very serious and quiet. It was as if we were heading to a funeral. When we got to Asela we had no clue where their home was. We were about to head to the social affairs office in their village when Jeri (our translator) asked Ejigayehu if she remembered a landmark. She mentioned one. We also had put her in the middle seat with Mark and I so she could see. She was very quiet but intently looking everywhere. She timidly said something to the driver. Then she pointed for him to go straight. Then she got excited because she recognized where she was and said keep going. The she said stop...dove over me, unlocked the door and ran out of the car. And then she screamed and ran right into the arms of her mother's sister and brother. There was so much screaming and crying and hugging. Then we were led into their great grandfathers shack. Dirt floor with 3 cots. We also met Yidnekachew their 16 year old brother. THe grandmother was in a far off village. We were told she could not come. We sat for an hour. They cried as the interpretor read the letter my friends had written into Amharic. I had promised to always remember their mother BAYOUSH and told them that her heart (the mother of these children) would always remain inside of me too. I also has told them that I believed that God answered my prayers in bringing us. I had only written it thinking the orphanage would mail it to them. Then we had tea...Then the great grandfather spoke. He said "It is by God's GRACE that you have come". Mark and I were stunned and looked at each other. Knowing that the family had just confirmed and blessed Ejigayehu's american name, naming her for a second time. THen I hear Ejigayehu scream...the grandmother had somehow made it. Ejigayehu ran with the other two children into the courtyard. The grandmother lost her legging and fell to her knees at the sight of her grandchildren. She was hugging, kissing her daughter's children. Then when we embraced I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. The greatgrandfather told his daughter not to cry. We continued. Then we sat with her...took pictures and then we got back in the van. An hour and a half had passed. The family was no longer crying but waving goodbye and smiling with joy in their hearts. The kids then changed totally and were laughing and joyous all the way home. These were new children and had clearly been healed and released to go to America. There was also a neighbor there who asked us what religion the kids would be raised Orthodox or protestant. I told them protestant/evangelical. She said "that is much better than Orthodox"

That night we had dinner. I asked Kidist for something. She said "No Kidist....Ella" I say oh okay...And then Ejigayehu now laughing and clearly happy said "No Ejigayehu , Grace" The translator had explained to her what happened with the so called coincidence with the word Grace and what it meant. She then said to me "tomorrow America we go???" I said "Yes" she said "Good."

Another funny thing was that during dinner Ella had totally opened up and was clearly proud of Asela mentioning to us that all of the world's most famous runners come from her town.....the day before she didn't want to go and now she had a pride regarding her town.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Day Three/Visa Day!

Wednesday was VISA day. First though we went swimming at the Hilton with their class. I thought this was great and had a plan for a hot shower at the Hilton in the locker room. I swam with the kids. We had all been brought there in a big red van. There were kids sitting on the floor of the car. They don't have strict rules on car seats or seat belts. The general rule is to fit as many people as possible into one car. We get to the Hilton. I swim and then head out to take my shower.....COLD WATER ONLY...I now am just about beside myself. But the swim was in warm water so it was refreshing. We have lunch. I take Yared and the girls to the bathroom. The kids spend forever pressing the button on the hand drier...Yared opens the door before we are done and runs. I come out with the girls. He has disappeared. We are very far from Mark. I look everywhere. But like that character FLASH in the son it no where to be found. Eventually I find out that he ran back to Mark. I punish him by not giving him the juice I bought for the kids to share. He was very upset by being punished. The waiter explained the situation and told him not to run from his parents. Eventually, yared smiled again. Next time, he did not run off but stayed by my side.

Visa appointment went very fast. I totally cried and cried and cried when we were given the visa. Gail reminded me that the adoption had been final for awhile. Side note : the official date of their adoption is 12/25/07 on christmas day. But I told her I knew but couldn't help myself.

we found out that day that we had an opportunity to visit Asela the next day to meet the children's grand parents. The kids seemed to not want to go. We asked someone to translate for us and found out that they just wanted to be sure we weren't going to leave them there and that they could come back with us. That night a girl in the guesthouse told our kids that she had a new american name. Ejigayehu said she would like an american name. So we brought them aside and talked to them about the American names we had saved for them. Yared had a talking Shrek toy and was holding it while we were having this very private conversation. When we would talk to each kids about their names he pressed the button and Shrek said "I'm an Ogre". It was a very funny moment. But then later about bedtime. Ejigayehu was very serious and teary. She then told us she had changed her mind. NO change name. And we said fine to her. But she still went to bed crying. We knew that this trip to Asela brought up many memories. This is where she had lived ...seen her mother die..been whisked away from there and to the orphanage. We also knew that they now wanted to go but were sad and nervous about it too.....they would be saying goodbye to the only family that is left in Ethiopia.

Day Two/Tuesday 1/28.

On the first day the kids made it clear that they wanted to visit Layla House again. It seemed to be a little security blanket for them. They ventured off to the guest house down the street but needed the security of the home they have known for 14 months as well. So we visited the next morning. But first the children had already made their beds, dressed themselves, brushed their teeth and went to the bathroom. Mark and I both commented on how our U.S. kids could benefit from a little training from Layla house. We took pictures and talked to the Doctor about Yared's repeated ear infections. Skin issues (ended up being scars from previous virus). Then we went over to AHOPE. AHOPE is an orphanage for HIV positive kids. We took pictures of some of the children for some of our online friends. Then we went to the Sheraton for lunch. We had no running water or hot water at the guesthouse since we had checked in. So, I had really wanted to at least wash my hands with hot water and eat at a nice restaurant. The funny thing is that the kids seemed to be naturally obsessed with cleaning. So, when I saw them gathering bread crumbs from the table and putting them on the plate I was impressed. But then Ejigayehu took the plate with the crumbs on it and threw it onto the marble floor at the Sheraton. Apparently, when you grown up surrounded by dirt floors that is what you do . I quickly corrected her. Then I took my girls to the bathroom. We washed our hands...they loved the warm water so much that they also washed their faces and wanted to wet their hair. There was water everywhere . I gave them the cloth wash towels from the basket in the bathroom to dry their hands. Kidist blew her nose in it and handed it to me. I had to laugh.. And I had to grab some more towels to clean up. I also had to teach them to lock the bathroom to the stall when they went....and what the toilet paper was for. After lunch...Mark ran up to check email. THe kids had been given another soda. This time it was an orange soda but same effect (my kids are now totally not allowed soda). While Mark was up checking email, I realized we were the only family there. Instead, most of the people were important African business men and diplomats. As we walked into the lobby, my giddy children(high on caffeine) all spread out into three directions ( a branch to my right, left and one straight ahead). It would later come to my attention that these children are from the same village as the most famous runners in the world. Asela is not only home to them but to Haile GIlberaise, Daratatulu and is known for raising amazing runners. So they run off laughing hysterically. As I say stop, they say NO and laugh and I am literally running in circles as the president from Uganda and Zimbabwe are being escorted by their entourage next to me. I finally find them and reprimand them. I also bring them to where Mark is and say GET OFF OF THE COMPUTER I NEED HELP. Thus the infrequent blogs.

That night we are picked up in a large car by Ban Sileshi's mom Selamawit. Selamawit tells them in Amharic not to run from me. She also takes us shopping and to a traditional Ethiopian meal with dancers and music. Kidist spit out her gum on the floor. I asked Selamawit to explain to them to not throw stuff on the floor. We didn't get home until 9:30. The kids were exhausted. But they said their prayers and thanked God for us. It was sweet.

Meeting the kids and travel to Addis!

So, I left very early on 1/27 from NYC to meet Mark in DC to Addis. As i left the hotel at 4am the check out clerk asked me where we were going. He had a beautiful Jamaican accent. I told him I was heading to Ethiopia to pick up my kids. He loved that and said he also would love to adopt. The shuttle driver was hanging out with him. As I walked away he said the cutest thing which sounded even sweeter with his accent . He was talking to the guys standing with him. He said "when God can't come, He always sends somebody." I obviously over heard him and it brought tears to my eyes . It felt like a sweet little blessing. I got to Laguardia and the woman was not going to let me on the plane because she insisted that I need the Ethiopian visa prior to going there. I told her that was absolutley not true. She said that she would not let me on the plane. I started to freak out a bit. Eventually after my insistence she checked with several supervisors and found out she was wrong. So the rest of the trip was uneventful. Because I had stayed awake the night before I was exhausted and was able to stretch out on three seats on the plane. I slept so much. We arrived in Addis. We were picked up by a driver and went right to the Ritmo guest house. Then Gail (the director from the orphanage) met us within 20 minutes to go to Layla to get the kids. I actually had wanted over an hour to prepare the room for them and clean up. BUt we were scurried off to Layla house. I had thought for sure that we would be in a room and then the kids would all come to us. Instead we followed Gail around the compound and we were led to Kidist's room ...She met us and looked radiant. She gave me a huge hug and then embraced Mark. She then grabbed my hand and started to speak to me in English. I was surprised because I didn't think she knew any. Then we walked around the compound. The women were yelling "ejigay", looking for Ejigayehu. Finally she ran out of one of the rooms into my arms and would not let me go. We hugged for a good three or four minutes. She then hugged Mark. Then we were all walking around the compound holding hands looking for Yared. We found him and he was in his class with 7 other 4 and 5 year olds. He came to us immediately. The kids were all more beautiful in person than in the pictures and were amazing. They walked us to their rooms to pick up their stuff. And then 1 hour after arriving to the guesthouse we all came back to settle in. First we gave the kids back packs. Yared was very quiet and kept the back pack on and grabbed things out of the suitcases to add to his backpack. He was especially taken with my belt. He hung on to it for 3 days. We unpacked...the kids then tried on all of their clothes. Yemi and Ban's sister Pucci and her husband Getish showed up and gave me their cell phone for the week. They had made a point of meeting the kids at the orphanage the week before. That day we walked over rocks, muddy puddles avoiding livestock in the streets and taxis and buses and beggars and went to have a soda and for Mark to check email. The email and connection was very slow. The sodas were a mistake. Apparently, the kids reacted to one Pepsi the same way others would to having 5 cups of espresso. That night we had Pizza..they went to bed at 8 and slept. Someone who bumped into us said the kids had looked like they belonged to us and had been with us for years.
We could not believe how beautiful, sweet and perfect they were. They kept saying THANK YOU and we love you mom and dad........

It's 4am and we are back...

So sorry that we weren't able to blog but we were staying at the Ritmo guesthouse and when we made it to a computer they were either so slow or offline.

BUT we are back and had the most incredible time. In the next couple of days I am going to add journal entries to fill you all in.

We arrived in Cary at 2pm yesterday. The flight left Addis the night before at 10:30 their time or 2pm our time. In a nutshell the travel was 24 hours. We were in immigration forever but all is well. The kids were wonderful. Ejigayehu was so excited she only slept an hour on the airplane. When we arrived at the BOLE airport that night (it is a very modern airport that could look like a spaceship to a child), Ejigayehu said (as we walked into the airport), is this the plane? I thought that was very sweet. Every this the plane? In the waiting area, is this the plane? When we finally made it to america...'Is this america?" In North Carolina, is this america? In her bedroom...We are in america now?

We were met at the airport by my kids and friends Lori and Blain and my sister Denise.

The kids were very tired but excited when they got home...ME TOO. I had only had hot water one day at the guesthouse so took cold bucket baths and one hot shower....I was PRAISING GOD for hot water when I got into the shower at home.

We all went to bed around 8 (the girls around 6)...and at 3am Andrew (or Andrewlee as the new kids call hime) woke me up telling me Jared wanted to play ball (kwas) at 3 am. I put andrew in my bed and then got Jared dressed...fed him,,,cleaned his room, brushed his teeth...(twice at his request) and now he is sitting next to me trying to figure out how to get a game up on nick jr.

So we are thrilled....and I have some amazing stories that I will get to when I am more awake. In a nutshell, we are sooooo happy and relieved to have the whole family together...