>Good kid alert

>Warning: Shameless Mom Brag

Here is my 16 year old.
He is a typical teen boy.
Loves to make jokes.
Lives for his car and it’s stereo that he put in himself (now we are not talking hot rod, we are talking old volvo station wagon…still it has it’s own charm).
Is easily irritated by little sisters.
Eating us out of house and home (standard quote: “are you gonna finish that?”)
Knows everything….ahem.

However, when he needs to, this boy can pull it off. His work ethic astounds me.

This semester he had many strikes against him and his grades:
his grandmother died, necessitating a car trip across the country (w/ mom and 5 sibs, 21 hours each way, ouch) to attend the funeral,
he broke his knee in two places in an unusual ACL injury during a lacrosse game and had to have surgery (cast, crutches, brace),
and then we hauled him off to Africa and Egypt for 11 days (missing school and two days of finals),
not to mention the ultimate distraction – a new fun cute baby brother (he loves babies).

And still: he pulled all A’s for the semester.
We are amazed and proud and he earned every one. He worked his fanny off.

Way to go Booboo! We are proud of you!
And when a mom is proud, she happily embarrasses him, publicly if possible.

>Home Again: part two. Or, how to know when you are REALLY home.

You know, traveling is a funny thing.
It’s always great to go.
It’s always great to come home.

Adoption travel is even more so.

It is amazing to go.
And it is life-changing to both go and come home.

Whenever we go on a trip, I half joke about the hellish nature of “re-entry.” It’s somewhat akin to the re-entry of astronauts; burning through the ozone layers, possible cramping, careful debriefing and adjusting back to life on earth.

After a trip, with a big family, you have that sort of re-entry: debriefing, cramping, layers of laundry and chores just to breath again. Adjusting to life after a break.

Traveling around the world to adopt a child, we were braced for the worst of re-entry.

We had left our smallest (shh, hardest) three at home. For eleven days. An unprecedented amount of time. And they all grew at least a foot, I swear. So, as joyful as we were to be reunited, we were braced for major upheaval.

And….it didn’t happen.
They accepted the new toddler baby boy with joy and laughter.
My four year old accepted his mauling and baby wrestling with a smile and gentleness (only one small football body check in a crawling race to a car, easily corrected).

So then we waited for the meltdowns of temper and fussing.
It didn’t happen. The house exploded with the clutter of suitcases and unpacking and souvenirs. That was expected.
We waited for Gabriel Tariku to cling to me and shriek and wail or huff and puff at the unfamiliar faces and places. It didn’t happen.

Just when we started to think, “Wow, who’da thunk it, we landed in the twilight zone!?”……Buddybug was changing a light bulb as I was fixing dinner……and the water started streaming through the fixture. Raining indoors, in our hall bath. Then too the water started coming through the next ceiling light, in the hall. I ran upstairs to find my daughter in the shower (directly over the hall and bath) and the toilet overflowing and flooding her bathroom and her upper hallway as she sang away, oblivious. As I called to my

husband to come and help, quickly, my Little Man shouted from his room, “Mommy, my tummy hurts!” and ran into his bathroom. My son ran up, my husband ran up and we all grinned, “Ok NOW we are home.”


So, now, life has returned to normal. The kids grouse about chores and squabble with each other. The baby is still trying to wrestle his next biggest brother and Little Man loves it. Our lights and baths are fixed, for now I guess. Our dishwasher is broken and needs to be replaced. And now, we are home again. And happy.

>Notes from Addis: Indescribable

Notes from Addis:

How do you describe the indescribable?

You don’t.
Not well anyhow.

You can’t, of course. I guess it’s like being pregnant, you can read about it, hear others talk about it, ad nauseum (pun intended), and yet, you cannot fathom it, or begin to “get” it until you are yourself. That’s what it’s like coming to Addis to adopt a child. Indescribable.

So, all I can offer are moments of what I saw, here and there.

So many people. So many different people. All over. All over the streets, the alleys, everywhere. Rich people, poor people, suffering disabled people, happy laughing people, socializing people,
working people. Babies on their mother’s backs in scarves, children by their side, men walking arm in arm, women alone or laughing with a girlfriend, old people, young, strong and quick,
feeble. But always worth seeing people, real


The children. Big and small.

Dust. Construction, everywhere, from small shops to large skyscrapers to modern apartments to luxurious homes. Construction. With wooden scaffolding that boggled the American mind on how it held. Construction behind the scaffolding of cement stories; donkeys and burros with wooden saddles to hold cement for the building. Aluminum sides of homes and shops and roofs. Doors that opened for the day in shops by being taken off and leaned against the front wall.

Things for sale. ANYTHING for sale. Everywhere. Seems like almost anything available. clothing, shoes, electronics, music, goats, lamb, trinkets, pots, pans, flowers, cokes, juice, food, gum, maps, hats, balls, wood, rebar, tires, gum…..it’s all there. And if you need or want it, your driver will help you get it.

Gardens, lush gardens and gorgeous flowers. Color, everywhere so much color a feast. NOT a colorless dry land. A city and land FULL of color. From the sky and plants and flowers to the brightly colored tin shops to the beautiful colored scarves on the women. Color. Everywhere.

The poor. It is a city full of visible poverty. Seems like much much more than the U.S., but then again we tend to hide our poor (unsightly). Here it just is. Yet, there is great wealth here and it’s also side by side with the poor. It all just slips by together. It is a city of constant juxtaposition, which can make your head spin, almost literally. I suppose you get used to it some if you live here for a long time. Maybe.

The countryside. Beautiful. Breathtaking. As far as the eye can see: hills, trees, browns and greens, rolling terrain. YOu can see why people who grow here would never leave. Lakes outside the city, made from old craters; gorgeous views. Belay said he would like to retire here, I can see why.

Cars. Cars and trucks and cars. Everywhere. Honks and beeps. Buses filled with people, standing room only. Taxis filled to overflowing. Cars careening around streets with no lanes, swerving and braking and swerving again. And yet, no crashes. Roads that are fine and sided by gardens. Roads that are bumps and broken rock and patchy asphalt. Solomon, our driver, stopping for pedestrians who need a minute more to cross, the blind, the old. Solomon, shouting away men too pushy to sell through the window but buying gum from the boy with the big smile as he laughs. The dust of pollution and exhaust held in the valley of Addis downtown, a layer blanketing the city. The fresh air of the hilltops as you rise out of the city and open the window.

The traffic police at all the roundabouts that are spotted throughout the city. The armed guards at the Hilton Hotel entrance. The parking meter ladies who have turf from one light pole to the next and have baseball caps on over their scarf covered hair, writing on their tiny notepads and in their dayglo green plastic vests. The stark naked man standing bolt upright, holding a plastic shopping bag on a main thoroughfare, waiting to cross the road or something else. Hard to guess on that one.

The leper colony and rehabilitation center. Seeing them take tufts of cotton wool and then spin it and weave it on large looms and then decorate it into the beautiful textiles that are for sale, to support their center. Buying bunches of linens from them because they are beautiful and they are truly handmade and well, that’s a good spot to spend some money.

Haggling with street vendors, selling the same things in shop after shop. Or my son haggling with the man carrying the handful of fake sunglasses, being thrilled with the ultimate bargain.

The food. Terrific Italian food and pastas. Fantastic pizza’s from woodburning ovens. Italian pastries and french crepes and croissants. The Ethiopian cultural dinner with injera and chickpeas and music filling the room, eating from a basket woven table called a mesob. The beef tibs in a small black iron pot, like Ethiopian fajitas, to be rolled up in injera.

The coffee! The best coffee I’ve ever had. Fresh roasted in front of you, served in espresso cups and with a bit of crystal sugar. Smoother than espresso, richer without a bite. Fantastic. Served with popcorn, that somehow works.

The call to prayer. Morning and sometimes evening the call to prayer calling me from a sleep, just before it calls to wake my new son. Listening to it being broadcast, the sound of the words unknown to me, it becoming a cascading river of sounds in the background. The extra long, multiple hours, long call to prayer on Sunday. And seeing all the people dressed in white on Sunday as I too was called to prayer at Mass.

The bark of guard dogs. The creaking hinges of the iron gates at all the homes. The wraithlike men who sit all night next to or in a small tin hut by the gates to each road in the neighborhood, keeping ones who don’t belong there out and letting the drivers who do, in. A long lonely job.

The power outages. Most nights in a restaurant the power goes out one, two, three times, then comes right back up. Rolling blackouts throughout the city. People live around it. Power out often in the guest house, we use a small lantern or some candles and plan our showers for later if we can. Not a big deal, surprisingly. Quiet.

Safety. I never felt unsafe. Not once. Granted I had a sheltered pampered life while here. I am no fool. But even so, as an ignorant American, I suspected I might feel unsafe some of the time. I did not. Not once.

So many impressions. Even remembering conjures more. It will take a long time to process it all, if it is even possible. Ethiopia. It’s a big place, in so many ways…even the smallest ways are a universe of thought. This trip changes you, if only on the most superficial level to make you so grateful for the simple practical abundance in your daily life.

Images seared into my brain and heart. We have 1600 photos. We cannot post the most electric ones, the ones that grip my heart. The Ethiopian government won’t allow it. But they are indescribable. And without a doubt, indelible.

>Embassy and Last Monday, in Addis (the 19th)

>Well I am waiting for Tom and big kids to return from Egypt. {that side trip is a series of posts, in and of themselves! Soon soon.}

I have not heard from them so I am guessing their flight is en route. I hope so. It’s been fine here w/out them but I am ready for them to return. Wagayu and Solomon have fussed over me like mother hens. They have won me over! I am not really one to be fussed over, usually I am the fusser (so to speak), but it is sweet and has made me feel safe and snug. And I suppose, so far away from home and with my family in three different countries, unable to contact each other, that is an ok feeling after all.

Being a bad wife and mom, I have asked Solomon to go to the airport and let me stay here w/ Tariku instead of all of us going to greet them. Travis mentioned lines for 45 minutes just to enter the airport and then longer again to get through security to greet them. Considering that and the fact that they will once again have to pass through customs, I figured I would rather the baby goes to bed peacefully and myself too. We will wake once they arrive.

Happily, joyfully, miraculously, we passed through the Embassy date today!!! FINALLY!!!!!!!! Belay is a miracle worker. Truly. He is the man that makes things happen. Period. Our visa paperwork doesn’t get picked up until 2 pm tomorrow, and we leave for airport a little after 6 pm, so it feels like it’s cutting it close, but Belay doesn’t seem worried so I will try not to be as well. I am so happy to be going home!!! I have had an amazing trip here, and really think Ethiopia is simply beautiful and Addis is a fascinating city. But I need to go home to my other children who are needing me back. I need to have all my children together, with me. So I need to return home.

But Africa, Ethiopia, will hold a special place in my heart. THe people I have met, the few I have gotten to know a little, and the faces of strangers and the strangers who approached me to talk about this sweet boy…..they have carved a niche in my heart. The woman who came up to me at a restaurant and asked if this was my new child and was I adopting him? I said, happily, yes! And she complimented me and said it was a great thing for him and she was so glad. We had a nice visit for a few minutes and compared children (yes she spoke english). The several women who asked me, “adopting” and I said “yes!” with a smile and they said “thank you.” Or they said, “God bless you” and I said, “He did, this boy blesses us.” This humbled me. Made me blink and almost cry.

The faces of the people we passed in the streets. The faces of the children at the orphanages. Hugging the children who would nestle up close. The littler ones would casually lean in toward me until they were touching me. Except one sweet girl who just climbed up in my lap and wouldn’t get down. ANd I hugged them all. Tight. And kissed their heads. And blinked back my tears. And hugged them again. The older boys at Kolfe, who would come and practice their English, show me their math books, and just kind of hang around. They got hugs too if it looked like they might accept them. The girls at Kechene, Arazune, who came and sat next to me on the steps to say hello, and then showed me a card she had made with stars and hearts. We talked a little, what little we could and just sat together, close by. Then she said as it was time to leave, “Don’t forget me.” Oh. How could I???

So, my son is now on his way home. But I now have a part of my heart in Africa.

>Last Sunday in Addis: Mass

>Ok, if I wait for these to be put in nice order….well, I’ll never post. Perhaps that would be better for all of you. But well, tough. I’m just gonna put up what I can, so I don’t forget either. Bear with me. These will all be jumbled and not in trip time order. Sorry.

Today (last Sunday actually, the 18th) Tariku and I went to mass in Addis, at Holy Saviour Church.

It is (was…ok, I’m done now. Please figure out this was written a week ago..ahem: Buddy Bug!) Trinity Sunday, the Feast of the Family, and also vocations Sunday. A triple header!

And how perfect that this is the first sunday my new son gets to go to mass, his first.

My vocation is to be a mom. It might not be glamorous, but it’s what I do. Period. So, today was that in a nutshell. And the Feast of the Family, well, our family just grew. Perfect. And Trinity Sunday, where we celebrate the Trinity…where God so loved His Son that the love formed another: the Holy Spirit. Love become person, love not a frilly notion, love so real it has a name. And now we have another love so real, that he has a name, he is getting heavy to carry already and he scrunches up his nose when he laughs.

How cool it is when life mirrors what is most true and most real, how your life can parallel the liturgical calendar and life in the church, how each small family can parallel the larger church family.

Trinity Sunday, Feast of the Family. Mass with Tariku. Today is a good day.

These pics were actually from the Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral. I forgot to bring my camera to Holy Savior….because that’s how I travel. Doh.
Almost all pics of this trip were courtesy of my sons photo efforts. Thanks guys!

>That’s what’s fun about a brother

>I’m not feeling my best this weekend, so I am linking to my eldest’s new goofy blog. Where he disparages his mother but gushes about his new brother.

We are all super great. Gabriel Tariku is doing surprisingly well, really seems comfy and relaxed. Likes to be held best by mom, but also very gleeful to baby wrestle with his newest big brother, the very big four year old! More tomorrow, after hopefully I am back to my normal self. We are all just head over heels in love with this wonderful little boy! God is so good it blows our minds.

And if you’re wondering about the pic: That’s a baby Gabriel kiss and hug, that is! Who can resist??

>One of the Heroes

Notes from Addis:

“My Hero”: Solomon.

Solomon is (was) our driver. He carts us around, patiently, in a red toyota van. He has been trying to woo Tariku since we met….and he is winning. Tariku now reaches for him and plays with him. Solomon will help cheer Tariku if he is cranky. Solomon will ignore us if we are cranky.

He patiently answers our surely stupid questions that are the same ones he’s been asked hundreds of times before. He is a whiz driver, expertly maneuvering between trucks and buses and cows, coming within inches of all, and squeezing by. Even with the careening traffic in Addis, Solomon stops to let any person who might need a bit more time across the road – he hangs out the window and tells them something akin to “Hey, it’s ok, go now, I’ll wait for you.” He has done this with elderly, lame, blind.

He is such a gentleman. My husband and big kids left for a few days in Egypt, and I am alone with Tariku here for three days and nights. He has been like a big brother taking care of me {even as I am quite a bit older than him}. He has helped me find a bathroom where none would be found and waited a short distance away to escort me safely back. Last night, as we returned from a late dinner, he dropped off the Lake family. As I started to get out of the van to head to our guest house, Solomon blocked the door. I said “Solomon, the house is right there! We can walk!” And he laughed and said, “Oh no, it’s dark” and slammed the door shut and drove me the thirty yards to our gate. Today he earned my undying devotion: he stopped and bought me a coke, wouldn’t let me pay, just because I had asked about Coke’s in the market. That coke was much needed as I was flagging in the afternoon….and it tasted so extra good. So I told him, “Solomon, you are my hero today! Thank you!!”

Anyone who travels and is lucky enough to find Solomon as their driver: be very happy and tell him we all send our best!



We are home!!! I am waiting for my son to upload his pics onto my computer so no pics yet. But I’ll post a few things I wrote waiting for my family to return from their side trip to Egypt…and yes, I’ll post pics of that too, cause it’s my blog and about the whole family…..and explain the wild path that led them to the land of pyramids….

BUT, for now, We are home! We are so happy and grateful to be home, safe and sound. The journey took us over 30 hours of travel. It’s a long trip. But it’s worth every moment to bring home this wonderful sweet baby boy. He is a joy. He is doing great and better than I had thought he would on entry. We are all a little wonked out on our body clocks but otherwise it is just great to be home, all together again!!!
This pic is arrival on American soil, post 17 hours on the plane (so yes, that explains so much! ahem…travel is only elegant and glamorous in Ralph Lauren ads).

>More Pics from Addis!!!


Thought you’d all LOVE seeing this wonderful photos of Tariku with his new family.  Sounds like they are all hanging in there.  The paperwork issues are definitely causing stress, but while they wait on that they are being wonderfully cared for!!!  Your continued prayers for all the paperwork to finish through smoothly is greatly appreciated!  ~Shelly

>Have Electricity?

>Shelly again:

A mix of the power outages and waiting on paperwork from MOWA they have not been able to pass the embassy appointment yet.  Trying again for Monday.  Please pray for them as they wait for all this to come together and settle in more with their new little man.  I’ll post more once I hear from her again.

>Extra Bit of Info – Prayer Request

>Hello again! … I realize there was more info I should have posted.  I’ll copy and paste Michele’s email here.  ~Shelly

Tariku is doing better, still shell shocked and shy but warming to us all, a bit to dad, but definitely to me and that is fantastic.  We are very tired.  Our embassy appt today was cancelled, still no fingerprints and so we hope for tomorrow or it will be MOnday or????????  So, prayers would be very appreciated.
Thanks everyone! …. I know she’ll appreciate your love and prayers while they wait for things to process. 

>They have HIM!!!


Hello! … this is Shelly, a friend of Michele’s.  I got an email this morning from her as they couldn’t post from Ethiopia.  So I was able to reach her and am posting for her.  I know you’re all dying to hear how things are.  I had the absolute privilege of meeting precious Tariku recently when we traveled to bring home our daughter.  He is such an amazing little guy.  SO great seeing them finally together!  Enjoy!

We are here! It took forever to get here and we barely made our flight out of D.C.  But we did and 16hours later, ok, 18, ok, almost 30 hours total traveling, we made it to Addis! The guest house is great, simple but perfect for us, and everyone is super nice.  We are ok, jet lagged but fine.

And yesterday around 1 pm we finally met our new son!!! We were supposed to meet him early in the morning but he had to go to doc for embassy appt medical and so we had to meet him around 1, outside this local restaurant in Addis, Antico (Great food, pizza).  Weird, nervous, but then all fo a sudden there he was!!!!!!!!! Tiny, dressed in red warmups, and no he didn’t want ot just come to me, so I patted him, as i cried and cried, and cooed at him and then Travis (the in country reP) placed in my arms regardless of his feelings about it. He didn’t cry but was stiff and scared, which make me cry more.

But he felt SO SO SO good.  Perfect.  Perfect.  He felt just like my boy.  And he held on tight.  but he snuggled in and stayed there, all through a long lunch (all meals are LOooonnnng here) and then back to our house so we coudl all snooze and collapse a bit.  Finally I was playing quietly on mybed w/ him and a few toys.  Hannah got the first smile and laugh, and then he giggled. He smiled!!! And so, we think he has some great personality in there, but he is stilla  big shell shocked and so it’s gonna take a while to full bloom.  He is very watchful, but so sweet, and cuddly, and he hides his head in my shoulder or chest when he is uncertain, and he looks out of his corner eyes,.

So, we have a son.  Gabriel Tariku.  He feels just perfect for us.  He is gorgeous and tiny and wonderful.  we are all great and will send more mail when we can, but internet and email is all but impossible.  VERRYYY slow and very difficult to find.  we are doing this for fee at the Hilton downtown.  Hey, anyone who wants to call, Jean and Sarah P, at my house, have our cell phone number here and they also have a cheap calling card number for us.  So call!

Miss you all, can’t wait for you to see him,  MOm/Nanc…ok all of you: you’re gonna flip over this boy!

All our love, Ciao from Addis!

love M

>Stuck? part 2

>Ok, you guys are good!! Now, keep up those prayers a bit longer, pleeeasee!

They say that “maintenance is just running a few tests on the aircraft {again, not very comforting, but then again, better than not I suppose} and that we are hoping to board in the next 30 minutes. 
I hope I hope I hope.  
And well, it’s not every day we get to watch mechanics walk on top of planes w/ big drills and open engine hoods w/ big wrenches…..  So, here’s hoping and God bless mechanics!!!!!
Please keep up the prayers, we’ll take all we can get!  Thanks to all of you!
If we get the clear, we’ll post and or in D.C….. well, when I can.  I’d post a pic of the guy on the plane w/ the drill but I haven’t figured out how to yet…I’ll try to get my techie sons to help me out.  
Fingers crossed, prayers flying!


>Stuck,  we are stuck.  

We are still in Nashville, waiting for the past several hours for them to decide if our plane can fly.  
Brings such comfort on a stressful day…….but it’s our only hope to make it to D.C. and then on to Addis on tonight’s flight.  If this flight can go in the next 1.5 hours, then we can make our connection if we run.  If it can’t, then we have to take a later flight to DC and call the travel agent for a scramble of new routing.  
I don’t even want to think about the 16 bags we checked (only four of them our personal items…..close your mouths, don’t be shocked).  Happily even though we were six bags over, they only charged us for three.  That was a nice ticket counter gal!  
However, I have some worries, so I guess I’ll beg again for prayers.  Seems like a bunch of things keep snagging….  I guess God wants me to really give over control and stop being such a control freak, eh????  Sigh, I hate flying.
Just need to get there……
Still waiting……

>Ready to launch?

>SO….we are strapping ourselves to the rocket….erm….almost packed and ready to go tomorrow…

And we are not quite ready, but well, are you ever?
Not even if your bags are packed and counted, list checked twice.

But we are going.
It feels very much like strapping to a rocket to space.
Hang on tight and here we go!

My stress has risen some, there is a snag in paperwork for the embassy that will surely work itself out, but until it does, I’ll worry.
But at least I’ll have my boy in arms to wait for it…

In the meantime, I will shamelessly beg for your prayers, and for those of the saints, for a safe trip for all and for the paperwork to clear up. For peace.

St. Vincent de Paul, patron of orphans, pray for us!
St. Louis de Montfort, pray for us!
Archangel Gabriel, pray for us and my boy!

We are on our way!

Three, two, one…..lift off!!!!!

>Channeling my inner Isak Dinesen …..

I have a son in Africa…….

I hear that in my head, w/ Meryl Streep’s voice….unfortunately I don’t have the glamour or the elegance or the clothing budget, or heck, the farm…..

But. I have something better.
I have a son.
In Africa.
Gabriel Tariku.

And a friend who took many pictures of them and sent them this morning, despite jet lag and children of her own who are clamoring for her! Thank you Shelly!

So, two more days. Things are moving at warp speed here now. These pictures came at the perfect time, of course. They give me that final kick – the burst that you need at the end of a long run or race to make it to the finish (no matter how slow you go, ahem, stop laughing Buddybug).

You can see/read that my mind is zipping all over the place, not coherent. It’s the list. Running over and over in my head. What do we need to make happen before we go? Make sure we have? It’s relentless. It’s kind of silly.

All we need to do is get there.

Because we have a son in Africa:

Gabriel Louis Tariku

We’re on our way…..

{and sorry about the spacing, I can’t figure out how to make the layout work the way I want….}

>Things they don’t tell you about the wait….part 2

>That adopting, and the week before travel, is it’s own kind of rollercoaster!

That in countdown week, the run-up to travel…..you become kind of a schizophrenic mess.


What I mean is this:
People keep saying to you, and you keep thinking in your head, “Oh my goodness, you leave in (insert current number) days! Are you ready?”

And you think, or say, “Are you kidding, NO! I have million things to get done!”

But you also think, or say, “Are you kidding? I”ve been ready! Oh, I can’t wait, I need to leave now!”

And time seems to zip by at warp speed. And then it crawls. Stops. Drags. You find yourself multitasking ten things at once and then you find yourself drooping, trying to find a way to still your mind as you sit in a time lull.

And then someone says to you, and you think in your head, “Oh my goodness! I can’t believe you are adopting again! You have a new son! That is such a big deal!”

And you think, or you say, “I know, it’s unbelievable! It’s SO big!”

But then, you stop, and you think, “But then again, it is not big at all. It is the most simple thing on earth. It’s easy.”

He’s a little boy. He has no one else, we were made for each other.
So what’s so hard or big about that? It’s big, but it’s small in the most basic perfect way. He is a small boy. We are a big family. I am a mom. He fits in my arms. That is about as simple as it gets.

So, my head is spinning, starting and stopping this week…following my body and motions and emotions.

Stop. Start. Fast. Slow. Big. Little. Complicated. Simple.

This week is a rollercoaster.

And no one tells you about this part. Except maybe they do, in the pictures you see at placement….but we didn’t have the eyes to see it then. Now we do.

It’s the biggest ride of our lives!
And yes, four, no now three, more days! Whew!

>Still in the game

>This is one of the things that I love about my second son:
He is tenacious beyond belief.

This pic was sent me by the most awesome sports mom I know: Marcie – thank you!
And this I love about blogging: shameless, gratuitous posting on my kids, big and small.

It’s my Booboo. Sidelined w/ a blown out knee. But still fiercely watching the game, rooting for his team. My husband joked that “he’s channeling his inner Bond, James Bond.”

He’s loyal. He’s stubborn. He’ll be back on the field next season! And we’ll be there, watching his team too. Go Knights!

>Testing: one, two, three


Another day of preparation.

This time it’s for the summer season!
Gotta clean the pool and yard.
Gotta test the water and see if it’s warm enough to go in….
I know.
That’s silly: for these three, it’s ALWAYS warm enough to go in!
If the cover is open, (and adult present, don’t worry) the water is FINE!

So, summer begins. Today. At least for an hour or two….Dive in!

>ET Phone Home

Ethiopia, phone home, that is.

Ok, I am calling out for tips: how did you seasoned travelers call home from Addis?

Did you use an international cell? Yours or rented?
Did you use Skype? How? On computer or land line?
Did you have access to land lines (to set up skype sessions)?
Did you use an international calling card? Where did you get it? Cost? (the site suggested by agency doesn’t list rates for Ethiopia, thus seems like I can’t buy a card)
Did you rent a local prepaid cell? Where did you get that? How much did it cost (if you don’t mind saying)?

This time next week we will be traveling and we haven’t got the whole communication thing settled, which is of course making me stressed and nuts. I’m sure I’m just being stupid and missing the obvious.

We really need to be able to check in with the kiddos at home, daily. So, I’m hitting you all up for advice, experience, and tips: how did you do it? Phone home!!

>Preparing a place


Today is Ascension Thursday in the Catholic liturgical year.

It is the beginning of the preparation for the feast of Pentecost, nine days away (start your novena now if you are interested.)

And in my own distractable, self-absorbed sort of way, I have been pondering these days in a whole ‘nother light. My husband and I have had discussions about this and how these days, this year in particular, are suddenly even more meaningful.

We love being able to live the liturgical year. It gives a rhythm to the year just like another layer of seasons. And this year, we have the greatest gift of being able to live the liturgical year in the most real way ever, the most literal living of the domestic church possible for us.

Today is the feast of the Ascension. In nine days it is the feast of Pentecost. That is the night we arrive in Addis (it is also Mother’s Day, another bonus). Obviously, we didn’t plan to arrive on Pentecost. I’ve spoken before about the lack of control in adoption and thus you don’t get to pick such things as when you might pass court and be able to go and get your new child. You just wait impatiently (and anxiously) for it. Sometimes when my mouth drops from the shock of finding these connections and little gifts of grace I just as quickly laugh – knowing that we must really be pitiful doofus types to need such obvious bricks falling on our heads. It takes the almost slapstick-level obvious smack in the face to help us “see” what is really real. Slow learners, indeed! (But again, isn’t it SO nice to know that God will meet you where you are, come down to your level? Great comfort to me, I’ll tell ya!)

This feast in particular, the Feast of the Ascension, has always been an odd one for me to fully grasp. I mean, here the disciples have been relishing the time together with Christ after we was mercilessly crucified, and now suddenly, he’s leaving them again. So where’s the feast and joy in that? And what about his mom? She has to watch him die and then rejoice that it really happened – he came back raised from dead – and here he was again, and now, once more, accept his departure. That’s devastating. Just saying goodbye each time to my college boy just kills me. Every time. And that’s just saying so long for a bit, and knowing he is perfectly well and crazy happy there.

But. On this day He said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” And now, for these next nine days, in our house we are too preparing a place for our new child. And he too, sits as they sat, waiting and not understanding or even knowing what was to come. In our church, we are taught that the family is the “domestic church.” We model the greater church as a whole, ideally. No pressure, right? Ha.

However, this year, this feast is such a parallel that it makes tears spring to my eyes. This feast is a leave taking, but better; it is a promise. The best promise of all. The promise of preparing a place for the whole of God’s family to be together. The promise that he “will come again and take you to” himself. This is the promise we also have made to this child, who does not yet even know or understand. But we prepare him a place, in our family, and we are waiting at the gate to go and bring him to ourselves.

And so, now: in nine days it is Pentecost; the feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The comforter. God himself, again. Another promise of a feast, played out. “I will not leave you orphans” is the promise. Well, again, blessedly for us, we have been given the grace and gift to be able to live this out, as literally as we can imagine. We land in Addis Ababa on the night of Pentecost. The next morning we meet our new son. Our new little boy. Gabriel Tariku. We have prepared him a place. We will not leave him an orphan. And we will, with tears and thanksgiving and inner whoops of joy, take him to ourselves.

3 And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself: that where I am, you also may be. 4

18<!––><!––> I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you.

Image source, top painting by Giotto. Second Image from trip to Greece taken by husband.

>God bless visiting moms!


Here’s a brand new pic of our sweet boy!

God bless Shelly for holding and snuggling with him and sending pics and a long gift of email. It made me cry and started my day with a bang early this morning. This is such an emotional roller coaster – the countdown to go meet our son. But oh, it’s so great to get the views of a “mom on the ground” of your waiting baby/toddler! So great to have him hugged on your behalf! Bless you all who’ve stood in for us: Ted and Lori, Buttercup and Farmboy, the Albertsons, and the Schumachers! Thank you! Please keep Shelly and the travelers in your prayers, they could all use them.

Can’t stop staring at this boy.
She called him “Mr. Dreamy.” I think she meant Mr. Sleepy though…. How funny is that?

We are sure dreaming of him here!