Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You might be a redneck if....

...you nurse your baby at the pig races!

Sunday we made the trek up to the California Mid-State Fair. I grew up going there, so it's always fun taking the kids.

After church we met up with Troy and Becky at A&W in Atascadero for lunch (does it get much better than 99-cent root beer floats?!), and then went to Paso where we caught the free "shuttle" (aka schoolbus) to the fairgrounds. (Anna LOVES riding this bus and it's probably one of her favorite parts of the day.)

Waiting for the bus, we discovered that it was HOT. Seriously, I thought I was going to die, especially considering that I was wearing a 15-pound baby on my chest. In spite of the heat, the kids enjoyed getting to see lots of animals, and the racing pigs. (I nursed Kaitlyn during the pig races, which strikes me as really funny for some reason.)

Early evening we went to the Jars of Clay concert. I didn't know very many of the songs but they're huge advocates for Africa so I'll go on record as saying I like them. :) Afterwards we ran into some people I grew up with, and bid farewell to the Hawkins', who had to go home and cook. :) THEN we met up with Mike, Katie, and their five kids and ate Mo's sandwiches and lemonade on the grass, yum! (I love Mo's.)

My favorite part of the day came next: the Heldt kids' first time on a carnival ride! We wandered around searching for something that wouldn't scare the kids too bad and finally settled on these trucks that go around in a circle. Biniam, Yosef and Anna squished into the cab of the truck and Kevin and I watched gleefully as they took off. The looks and shrieks of sheer delight from Yosef and Anna as we waved and cheered made me so happy...and the looks and shrieks of terror from Biniam had me laughing hysterically. Around and around they went, Yosef and Anna shouting and smiling, and Biniam hanging onto the truck for dear life, occasionally letting out a cry but generally too terrified to say a word! HA! One of my favorite "mommy moments" so far I think, getting to see (some of) my kids enjoying something so much.

Poor Anna wanted to do more rides (especially the dragon rollercoaster), but they cost a small fortune and we'd already decided that the kids would just do one ride this time. Next time we may do the bracelet thing, so they can do unlimited rides.

After the carnival excitement we met back up with Mike and Katie and family to watch Mike's brother's band perform (they opened for Aerosmith earlier in the week.) They were pretty good and our kids had a ball playing together. (At one point Anna made a beeline for the bar and was fully sitting on one of the stools!)

We finally trudged home after a long, hot, fun day, and I think we're still recovering! Here are some more pics:
Aunt Becky and Uncle Troy wrangling Yosef and Biniam at the pig races. It was their first time at the Mid-State Fair and after that heat, it may be their last!
Our kids getting on the ride

This picture says it all.....

Daddy consoling Biniam.

Monday, July 30, 2007

More Kaitlyn medical stuff

Today was "one of those days." I took Kaitlyn back to the doctor because her rash was not improving to my liking. We ended up seeing a different doctor than the one who'd diagnosed her rash as a yeast infection (neither doctor being our regular pediatrician). He took one look today and pronounced it a BACTERIAL infection (most likely strep, not staph). He also found some infection on her big toe, on the opposite foot than the one that had initially been infected (which could mean that her prior infection never actually went away). He prescribed some topical and oral medications and we had a really thorough visit with him.

THEN he said this is very unusual and if she gets another infection, we'll have to travel to a children's hospital and have a complex workup done on her, to test and see why her immune system is not working properly. The thought of my sweet little baby having some sort of compromised immune system is not really the greatest.

Anyway, she'll be on antibiotics (both oral and topical) for the next 10 days. Unfortunately this will be a little complicated with our trip to Colorado (the oral meds have to be refrigerated) but we'll make it work.

Being a mom can be hard. But I can see that God has taught me some things over the last few years--I've spent time with a roomful of HIV-positive children, dealt with developmental delay, infections, parasites, and lice with my own four kids...lots of doctor's visits, some misdiagnoses, learning how to be my childrens' advocate. Having my eyes further opened to what makes a life valuable. I have faith that God is using these experiences to shape me into the woman He wants me to be--it is a long road!

(Meanwhile sweet Kaitlyn is full of smiles and laughter. What a true joy she is!!!! Kevin will be home in awhile with a pizza and I'm hoping to get some things done around the house tonight. Today was not quite as productive as I'd hoped, but I DID get one of our cars smogged, and that must count for SOMETHING!)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Random Heldt goings-on

It feels like we've been busy lately--lots of fun things going on, and lots of fun ahead! Last Friday we had dinner with our friends Mike and Katie, and their five kids. So fun! They have a son from Ethiopia as well, and we attempted to get a picture of the three boys together--easier said than done. :) Saturday night some more friends, Josh and Christine and their two sons, came over for dinner, as part of our 2:42 dinner group.

Wednesday was Anna's last day of the library program for the summer! I think she really enjoyed it, and I'm planning on signing her up for the next session. She got to bring home her special nametag. That night we went up to SLO for "Grace Summer Nights". Always great to visit with friends, and the seminar Tim and Susie did was awesome.

Thursday I took the kids up to my parents' house. They got to play outside in the sun, watch the Jonah Veggie Tales movie (one of Anna's favorites), and get some good quality time with their grandparents.

Unfortunately, early on in the week I noticed Kaitlyn had a bit of a diaper rash. It got worse, and after going through impetigo with Anna last year, and Kaitlyn's weird foot thing, I decided to go to the doctor's. Providentially, Kevin overslept his alarm Tuesday, so I was able to take her without the other three kids. The doctor (not our regular one, who'd already gone home for the day) said it looked to him like a yeast issue so he prescribed some topical cream and said to come back if it wasn't better or getting better in 4-5 days.

Ummm...yeah, it is now much worse. AND a day or two ago she got this icky blister on her chest that is really gross. (Assuming it's somehow related to the rash.) SO Monday I will be returning with Kaitlyn to be seen again. She doesn't seem to be in any pain or anything so that's good. I debated doing the urgent care thing today but I have had too many embittering experiences there, so I'll wait it out. Being a mom is hard, I hate not knowing exactly what is going on with my baby. Kaitlyn is such a sweetie though, always so happy and ready with a smile.

We spent today doing stuff around the house, getting ready for our trip to Denver next week. It'll just be Kevin, me and Kaitlyn--my parents will be staying with the older three. I'm already so sad to be leaving them--they'll have tons of fun and won't even miss us, but I'll miss them! We're driving (nuts, I know, but we're cheapskates), and staying overnight in Las Vegas. It'll be our first time in Vegas! Then it's on to Colorado to stay with Kevin's brother, his wife, and their two girls. After a few days there we'll be with Kevin's cousin, her husband and their two girls (also in CO). Looking forward to some fun times and to exploring Colorado a bit, as I've never been. Also looking forward to finally getting to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant again, it's been too long!

Tomorrow it's church, and then we're off to the California Mid-State Fair. The kids are excited, especially about the racing pigs!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How the Heldts talk about race and ethnicity

Okay so I think race and ethnicity vocabulary can be really confusing. Plus it seems like it keeps changing. Not really something I ever worried or thought much about because it really didn't come into play much in my life. Having two kids from Ethiopia though I DO naturally pay more attention both to how I, and others, refer to people.

This post is about how I talk about my children. Different people use different terminology, and the terms "race" and "ethnicity" aren't real clear cut anyhow.

--When I talk about my sons' skin color, it is "brown." This should be kinda obvious, because that's the color of their skin, afterall. (It is inaccurate to say their skin is "black", because it is not.)

--If I was going to describe their race or ethnicity I would say they are either "black", "Ethiopian", or "Ethiopian American." They could also, by most definitions, be considered "African American", but because I know where in sub-Saharan Africa they come from, I can say "Ethiopian American." (If I wanted to get REALLY technical I probably wouldn't just say "Ethiopian", because they will identify more with American culture than Ethiopian, and part of what an ethnicity implies is cultural identification.)

--Some think that "African American" is just a politically correct version of the word "black", but that's not entirely true. Yes, some black people prefer AA, but actually not all black people would identify themselves as African American--black people come from South America, the West Indies, etc. (I don't think the word "black" should have any sort of negative connotations, but I can understand why some have come to prefer "brown", or "African American", if they or their ancestors came from Africa).

Whew, I told you it is confusing. Funny thing is when I see my kids all together I don't even think about how they look like they couldn't be biologically related (to me or to each other). I see two boys, two girls. Three toddlers, one baby. I'm not "colorblind" by any means: I see two children with beautiful brown skin, big brown eyes, and curly black hair, and two children with beautiful fair skin, big blue eyes, one with straight light hair and the other with a light-brown punky mohawk. :) I love who each of my kids is, and that includes their skin tones, hair, eyes, personalities, and quirks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kids and race (or, What Anna said at the library)

All I have to do when I have nothing to blog about is take Anna out in public...

We were leaving the library program today when a Black woman passed by us and smiled. Anna shouted enthusiastically, "That lady is brown!" Now the woman had already turned the corner, so I don't know if she heard, but several onlookers did. After getting over my shock and embarrassment I said, "Yes Anna, she had beautiful brown skin." Then I asked Anna what had made her comment on the woman, what was brown, and Anna's first response was, "her hair!"

Kids are pretty awesome. They don't have "baggage" associated with certain words or concepts, they just observe the world and call things how they see them. The woman's hair made more of an impession than the color of her skin (which makes sense since it was super long and in these stunning braids). There is an EXCELLENT book that all parents (adoptive or otherwise) of Black children should read called I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World: A Guide for Parents and Teachers. It's full of really helpful information about how children conceptualize race, how to explain racial issues to your kids, etc. The book has really boosted my confidence level in terms of being a transracial parent. Read it!

On the ride home I asked Anna what color her skin was, and she said, "like orange." Then I asked what color Yosef's skin was and she said, "brown." She started talking about hair color, and told me Yosef's hair was "brown, like yours!" Pretty awesome that children see similarities and things held in common where adults often only see differences. I am reminded of Jesus' words that "the kingdom of God belongs to such as these!"

After the library incident, we headed to Target, where we stood in a checkout line with a Black cashier, and behind a Black woman. I sat there wondering if Anna was going to share any more "observations", but no, she was intrigued by the receipts printing out and enjoyed chatting with the woman in front of us, who complimented Anna on HER hair.

I've been wanting to do a post on racial terminology for awhile now, so I think I'll do that next.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I picked this book up at the library a couple of weeks ago when I took Anna for story-time. As I sat reading the first few pages I was immediately drawn in and could feel myself getting choked up--I always see Yosef and Biniam's sweet faces when I read of African orphans, or of abandoned children.

I'm just now finishing it and its raw honesty has gripped me from page one. Not only me, but my dad--he began reading it at my house and was so compelled by it that I sent it home with him and he read the whole thing in one day!

Neely and Vita's hearts challenge and inspire me. There are millions of children hurting and dying in Africa...will my heart be stirred to action? God can use me to make a difference--and He can use you.

Definitely worth reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fun in the sun

My kids have basically lived in their kiddie pool these last two days. They eat their breakfast outside, hop into the pool, get out for lunch (pb&j and goldfish), and then come inside for naps. They love it! Yesterday I used the time they were swimming to weed our entire brick patio, and today I got some laundry folded sitting by the sliding glass door, where I can see them. We love Summer!

Anna and Yosef snacking on grapes in the pool. They got a real kick out of it!

On any given day, it seems at least one of the kids wants to eat their lunch "a naturale". Today it was both boys!

Tonight Jeannett, baby Henry, baby Kaitlyn and I are going up to SLO to Lisa's jewlery party, hosted by Kristen. So fun!!!! (I also hear that Becky will be there. Good times.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


So yesterday, July 14th, was my 26th birthday. I am suddenly keenly aware that I am closer to 30 than to 20, which feels really weird!

Friday night my mom and dad came down with a cake from the Madonna Inn. We all had dinner and then homemade vanilla ice cream and cake. I spent my birthday (Saturday) at Lindsey's baby shower (so fun!), then came home and took a glorious nap (you must be a mom--or an elderly person--when your idea of a good birthday includes a NAP!), then Kevin, the kids and I tried out Cool Hand Luke's here in Santa Maria for dinner. (It was pretty good, but my steak wasn't great--sad! The kids did great--Kaitlyn was a little fussy, until I nursed her to sleep. Works every time!) I got a super sweet phone message from Kevin's aunt Sharon--love and miss you!--and I also missed a nice birthday call from Kevin's parents.

The highlight of last year was, by far, the birth of my fourth child, Kaitlyn Jane. She is precious, sweet, and brings me so much joy. I had no clue how child number four would be, or how she'd fit into our family, but she is a blessing straight from God and honestly I can't BEGIN to imagine my life without her smile!

What will my 26th year bring? Not really sure. I'm not a goal-oriented person, but my hope and prayer for this next year is to become more comfortable in my own skin, so to speak. More and more I find myself longing to be more secure in my decisions, with who God created me to be, and with the works God has prepared for me to do.

So here's to being 26!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Being the youngest of four can be hazardous to your health

As you can imagine Kaitlyn has a rather exciting life, being the youngest in our crazy family. Here are some highlights of her day so far:

I got her dressed and put a hairclip in her hair before laying her down on a blanket in the family room. Biniam (who adores her and always seeks her out to play with) immediately came to sit by her, and I left the room for approximately three minutes. Upon returning, I found Biniam trying to roll her over ("Be gentle! That's too rough!" I shouted), and Kaitlyn all smiles (obviously enjoying the rough and tumble game with big brother)...without a hairclip. Upon asking Biniam where it was, I was informed that he put it in his mouth and ATE IT. Guess I'll find out for sure in a day or two...

Clearly Biniam is aspiring to be a dentist one day...and practicing on his baby sister, who seemed perfectly pleased to be getting a dental checkup. Becky must have inspired him! ("Do NOT put that in her mouth!" I admonished.)

Anna decided she wanted to do Kaitlyn's hair, and is attempting to put a hairclip in it. ("Anna, don't hurt her head please" I advised.)

And last night, we went to our church for Grace Summer Nights. There was this big, crazy human foosball game with beachballs we were all playing, and Kaitlyn got tagged in the head by a ball about three times. Do you think this phased her? Nope!

Never a dull moment for sweet Katie Jane!!! I cannot WAIT to see what this girl's personality is going to be like!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Good stuff

Read this today in Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest":

We are all capable of being spiritual sluggards; we do not want to mix with the rough and tumble of life as it is, our one object is to secure retirement...To live a remote, retired, secluded life is the antipodes of spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.

The test of our spirituality is when we come up against injustice and meanness and ingratitude and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritual sluggards. We want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of retirement. We utilize God for the sake of getting peace and joy, that is, we do not want to realize Jesus Christ, but only our enjoyment of Him...

This is so timely and convicting for me! I am learning more and more how important "community" is, how we need to continually reach out and take risks and fight the urge to live a "safe", comfortable life, avoiding the "rough and tumble" as Chambers put it. (What might this mean for me today? I'm going to stop procrastinating and finally make a phone call about volunteering, as well as attempt to set up our 2:42 dinner group).

My prayer is that God will use me and stir my heart to action for Jesus and the world that He loves.

(And of course Erika I always think of you now when I read this book!)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Kaitlyn update and parenting style

Well little Kaitlyn is four months old as of Saturday. She is super smiley, loves to laugh, and rolled over for the first time on July 3 (right when I had my back turned! Grrrrr!) It's funny because I feel like she's always been a part of our family--was there really a time when she wasn't here???

She is such a little trooper too, always coming along on excursions that I wouldn't think would be nearly as fun for her, but she always seems to have a good time. I think she likes being part of the gang!

She continues to be a great sleeper at night, but a horrible napper during the day. She'll sleep for maybe 30 minutes at a time. This is completely foreign to me as Anna, from day one, LOVED naps, and still does! Oh well.

I've been thinking about my parenting style lately (probably best described as "frazzled"!). Honestly when I had Anna I didn't do any reading on parenting, how to get your baby to sleep, etc. I just followed her cues and we quickly found a routine that worked for us. Then once we began the adoption process I read a lot about attachment theory, love and logic parenting (natural consequences), and so a lot of my parenting ideas I've gleaned from the adoptive parents community.

I've discovered that even though I don't follow all the tenets, I'd probably most fall in the category of attachment parenting in general (in the attachment vs. Ezzo models). I nurse on demand (hilarious to me because ultimately it comes out to be the same as scheduled nursing, since Kaitlyn wants to nurse every 2-3 hours), Kaitlyn sleeps either in a bassinett right next to our bed or in bed with us (usually just in the mornings), and we aren't really into the whole "letting her cry it out" thing (although she fusses herself to sleep sometimes, it's just how she goes to sleep.) Anyhow it's funny to discover you fit into some category when you never even knew about the category. Attachment parenting is GREAT for adopted children, especially (when they're light enough!) baby wearing. We did that a lot with our boys. I think co-sleeping would be great too, except we didn't do it a whole lot with our boys--two rambunctious little boys in bed with us didn't sound particularly restful! (In the beginning however they would often end up in our bed--they did a lot of grieving and would wake in the middle of the night crying so mournfully, really sad.)

The love and logic parenting stuff has been super helpful also. Especially with Anna who has a strong will sometimes. For me parenting has been such a learning process. You hope in the end your child will grow into a well-adjusted, loving person both because of and in spite of your parenting. So what's your parenting style????

(The above picture of Kaitlyn is from the 4th of July--with so many kids to tote around we sometimes have to get creative with how we carry everything. Heehee!)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Getting caught up with the Heldts

I have been out of blog-commission for awhile now! Kevin's parents and his sister (pictured here with Anna and Bin) visited us for about a week. It was fun to see the kids enjoying their grandparents, and Aunt Krystal was a huge hit--Anna couldn't get enough of her. She thought her aunt was just too cool!

We hung out around the house, Kevin's family took the kids to the park, we all went to the beach and McDonald's, and Kevin's dad put together an outdoors chair set that the kids love. Kevin, Krystal and I went with the kids to Red Robin one night, and another night after putting the kids to bed Kevin and I snuck out (with Kaitlyn in tow) to go visit some friends and then go out to dessert.

Anna started the summer library program last Wednesday. She did GREAT and LOVED it! Maybe because they read a story right up her alley, something like "Scary Green Monster Go Away". (She loves spooky things!) I totally spied on her and she was doing all the hand motions and stuff. She fell in line and went with the other kids, no separation anxiety there. I'm going to continue doing this throughout the year. I was able to chat for a lot of the time with another mom.

Kevin's family left July 3rd. July 4th we went to the annual church picnic up in SLO, came home for a couple of hours and then headed over to our friends' home to do fireworks. After that some other friends came over to OUR house with their extended family who was in town, for apple pie and smores. Yum!

Our kids loved the fireworks for the most part. At the very first one, Anna jumped up and ran and hid in the bushes. But after that she enjoyed it (she said her favorites were the purple ones). Yosef was giddy the entire time, he loved it! Biniam cried the whole time, that is until Kevin handed him to me--he instantly stopped crying! Makes me feel good to know that Biniam trusts me and looks to me for comfort. Kaitlyn sat in her carrier carseat the entire time, on the sidewalk, and fell asleep. When they busted out the sparklers, Anna loved it (at one point I looked over to see her grinning doing TWO at a time!) Yosef, interestingly, was too scared to do one, and Biniam allowed Kevin to force him to do one.

I am exhausted! But it is so worth it to see your kids enjoying and anticipating things. Yesterday I set the kids' pool up and they've been swimming ever since. I see one of my greatest callings as a mom to give my kids a fun-filled, magical childhood. Summer days spent swimming, eating otterpops, enjoying fireworks with friends all bundled up (and getting to stay up wayyyyyyyyy past bedtime), all the things that make for warm memories.
Tomorrow we get to go to a sweet friend's birthday party in Morro Bay. Life is good!!!
Anna, Biniam and Yosef enjoying the bench from Grandma and Grandpa Heldt.
Anna with her aunt Krystal.
Me and Kevin at the beach.
Kaitlyn all smiles at the beach.
Our little family before church on Sunday.
Kaitlyn napping at the beach--this picture cracks me up!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Vanity Fair and Africa

Yes bloggers, I'm still alive. :) We were blessed to have Kevin's parents and sister visiting us this past week so I haven't been blogging. I'll share some pics from their visit later.

For now I wanted to mention the special edition of Vanity Fair magazine that is all about Africa, and guest-edited by Bono. Be sure to check it out!!!

(But what is with all the seductive advertisements in there for perfume, etc.? Sheesh!)

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