Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2 years

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families.
Psalm 68:5-6

(I've shared this before.)

This morning

Anna: Yosef is dark brown, Binny is light brown. I'm peach, and you're peach, and Daddy's peach, and Kaitlyn's peach.

Me: Yes Anna, that is how God has made all of us!

Anna: I want brothers to be peach too.

Me: How come? Why do you want your brothers to be peach?

Anna: Because I want them to be like me! I want us to be the same.

Moments and conversations like these are so precious to me. I love that Anna loves her brothers and approaches life with innonence and honesty. I also feel like these moments are straight from God, because then I get to share about how God has made us all special, that God made Yosef and Biniam's beautiful brown skin, and our beautiful peach skin too. That God loves beauty and is a good, creative God.
I used to think talks like these would be awkward, but they're not--they're natural, and precious, and important.

Having a multiracial family is a blessing in countless ways. This is just one of them--having meaningful conversations with my four year old daughter about God's design, and knowing that most likely she will grow up free from some of the social, racial and cultural barriers that so many of us experience.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This picture says it all. No words needed. The relationship my sons have with each other is pretty much summed up right there.

You always hear people talk about twins having a special connection, and I thought that was only supposed to be identical twins. But I'm here to tell you that my fraternal-twin sons are eerily close, constantly tuned in to one another, and attached at the hip.
If I put one down for a nap first, I get to hear the ultra-concerned "Where's my Yosie?" or "Where's my Binny?" over and over. If one of them gets in trouble, the other's patting him on the back assuring him it's okay. They hold hands, hug, and if some sort of a spat occurs involving Anna, the boys totally stick together.

Sometimes I feel sorry for them because, being twins, they're always associated with each other and don't get lots of individual, one-on-one attention...but then when I TRY to give them that, they whine because they want the other one!

Anyway, here's to having twins!

Monday, February 25, 2008

My new favorite Quaker

I'm reading Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster and it is wonderful! I'm so challenged and inspired and I love all the background he gives from the Old Testament.

For awhile now Kevin and I have dreamed of living a more simple, organic lifestyle (no, I'm NOT talking about eating organic food again.) What I DO mean is living in community with others and where we participate in and are active members of our city...where we can live and work and worship God and eventually where the kids can attend school. Right now the only things we do in our zipcode are sleep and shop. We live on the outskirts and save for the dear Gibsons and the owners of China Wok (yes the fact that Kevin is pals with this man is proof that we eat a bit of Chinese take-out), we don't know a soul. Pretty shameful.

Jesus was incarnational and we believe He wants us to be, too. How can I reach my neighbor when I'm apparently too good for their church or to send my kids to their school? There's certainly no one-size-fits-all answer to how/where/why you should live someplace, but as we talk about our future and hopefully come closer to a solution, we're weighing a lot of pros and cons and praying that God will make it clear what He wants from us.

What I'd love to hear from YOU is, how are you living in intentional community? For parents of transracially-adopted kids, what "organic" opportunities are there for your kids to interact with others of their race? Does this matter to you? To them?

(Oh and Richard J. Foster is a Quaker, which I think is so interesting!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Encouragement for the day

I read these words today from Elisabeth Elliott on another (wonderful) blogpost--and it was SO what I needed to hear:

Today we may find ourselves summoned to a task which we know is quite beyond us
"Me, Lord?" we quaver, "Who am I?"
God answers, "I am with you."

Lately I find myself feeling a little discouraged when it comes to why won't my twin three-year olds nap, or why do they seem to want to make a mess I doing a good enough job, am I doing the right I instilling proper respect in my I consistent enough, or do I discipline too much...???

Can't we just drive ourselves crazy?! I consider myself relatively laid back, both as a person and as a mom...but I have to admit I have a neurotic streak, especially when it comes to my adopted children. Why is that? I guess I feel a responsibility to be an extra good mother to them, and I worry--are they properly attached? Developing right? Getting enough love? Being corrected enough?

But Elisabeth's words truly put things in perspective. When I feel like being mom to four kids ages four and under is "quite beyond" me, that's is! But the Lord chose to give Yosef and Biniam to me, and picked me to be their mother, and He will give me the strength and whatever else I need to raise them and love them. The same goes for my daughters. Sometimes I can't believe I'm a mom at all...that God has entrusted me with four precious children. Big responsibility? YES. But God is bigger!

I'm so grateful to have read those things today, and my heart feels encouraged. If you have the time, I'd encourage you to scroll up, click on the link and read the post in its entirety--it's a good one. (Side-note: Anna's middle name is "Elisabeth", spelled just like Elisabeth Elliott's name. That's actually where we saw it spelled that way, and loved it! I figure Elisabeth Elliott is not a bad woman to be sort-of named after, either!)

Friday, February 22, 2008

What we've been watching

Becoming Jane
The Kingdom

Who doesn't love Jane Austen?! I LOVED this movie, loosely based on her life--and the beautiful scenery totally made me want to move to England. (Now if I can just convince Kevin...)

The Kingdom was great (though I thought Jennifer Garner's character was really cheesy). I thought the ending was pretty powerful.

Fracture was full of suspense. Anthony Hopkins is great!

How about you--seen any good movies lately?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'll get right on that...

So my four-year-old daughter just informed me--out of the blue--that she wants "bunches of baby brothers, and bunches of baby sisters, all over the place." (Using hand motions.) THEN proceeds to tell me that they can "sleep all over the place, in Mommy and Daddy's room, in the family room, in the office." THEN, I guess to make sure I understood her wishes, she asked, "Okay?"

Okay, Anna. I'll do my best. (Right now I kinda ALREADY feel like there are "bunches" of kids "all over the place", but I suppose she's right, we haven't filled up ALL of the rooms of our house yet.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I might just give this one a try

I found this challenge and I'm thinking I'll give it a go! Lately I've really been wanting to be more purposeful/organized about what our family eats. I'm the type of person who, if I'm NOT purposeful about something, it just doesn't get done. Anyway, we don't really buy much junkfood, but I'd love us to eat even more fresh (or raw) fruits and veggies. Me and the kids (Kevin too) LOVE smoothies and these seem pretty darn healthy. I'd also like to do something active each day--take a walk, something. Will it happen? Only time will tell, I'm a habitual flake.

Oh and I think I'm pretty much sold on buying organic meat from now on. Thanks so much for all your input!

Mark a check in the "granola" column for me.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I have...

Three kids with fevers.
A bad cold, including pinkeye.
Some of the sweetest friends ever.
A wonderful husband taking care of us.

I have stuff I want to blog about, like how my little girl just turned four, or how we just had the two-year anniversary of Yosef and Biniam joining our family.

But for now I'm going to go drink some water. Hope you're having a happy, healthy weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Organic beef?

Does anyone buy it? I've seen it at Costco, and it's definitely more expensive, but after finishing "Fast Food Nation" (and learning far more about slaughterhouses than anyone really ought to know), and reading an article about how Atascadero Unified School District isn't serving beef anymore in school lunches because of nasty stuff going on in the meatpacking industry, I'm about ready to take the plunge.

Truth is we don't eat a whole lot of red meat. I DO buy ground beef to use in soft tacos, spaghetti sauce, and Siga Wat. I'll occasionally make pot roast (as in about twice a year). I don't want to give it up completely, but I WOULD love to support more ethical (and safe) means of beef production.

I was pretty skeptical about the book, expecting it to be a bunch of propaganda, but he documents everything and cites court cases, etc. where the major slaughterhouses WERE found to be at fault. So anyway, does anyone actually buy organic meat, and if so, just how much more expensive is it?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In honor of Valentine's Day

"I Do"

How long have you been together? Married for nearly 6 years. We dated for 11 months, and were engaged for 9 months.

How old is he? 27, man I feel like we're getting old.

Who eats more? Kevin. He also eats more slowly.

Who said I love you first? He did for the first time when he proposed! So romantic.

Who is taller? Kevin.

Who sings better? Kevin.

Who is smarter? Booksmarts--Kevin. Streetsmarts--me.

Who does the laundry? Me.

Who does the dishes? Me. Kevin will oftentimes empty the dishwasher however.

Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? If you're looking from the foot of the bed, me.

Who pays the bills? Him.

Who mows the lawn? Our neighbor (don't ask) or Kevin.

Who cooks dinner? Me.

Who drives when you are together? Him.

Who is more stubborn? Me.

Who kissed who first? I guess it was mutual.

Who asked who out? He asked me out. He said he was "quite taken with me" and wouldn't really take no for an answer. I'm so glad! :)

Who proposed? Kevin, on the beach in Cambria.

Who is more sensitive? Depends.

Who has more friends? Me.

Who has more siblings? Kevin. He has two, and I have none.

Who wears the pants in the family? Ha, that is so 1950's! Kevin is the leader of our family, but we talk things through and are committed to coming to a mutual decision that we can both live with.

Navel gazing, Africa, and blogging

I've been wanting to do a post like this for some time now. You know, why do I blog, what's the point, why I blog what I do. And then someone recently left a comment on one of my old posts that ended with these words: "then maybe you should just feel lucky, rather than navel gazing and wondering why you aren't a poor starving African." So I decided to go for it.

I fully had to look up the term "navel gazing" because I had no clue what it meant. (Surely they didn't mean me literally staring at my navel--I've birthed two babies and I can assure you it is NOT a pretty sight--or site!) Then I had to laugh, because I think a lot of blogs are for the PURPOSE of navel gazing, so you probably shouldn't read them if you don't like hearing other peoples' introspections or reflections.

Here's a little secret about my blog--are you ready for this? I'm not saying anything here that people aren't saying better on any number of blogs. My whole reason for taking up blogging in the first place was to chronicle our sons' adoption from Ethiopia. There were very few Ethiopian adoption blogs at that time, so then I wanted to be a resource for others in-process. Now there are TONS of blogs by Ethiopian adoptive parents. My sons' adoptions are complete. I'm well aware that my written words are not particularly unique or overly important. But I continue blogging because it's fun. It makes the world smaller. I'm addicted to my friends' blogs.

And I blog what I know. You won't find stuff like crafts or artwork or political opinions or celebrity gossip on here because those aren't things I can write about. (Sadly) I'm not crafty, I'm a terrible artist, politics drives me nuts, I'm not really enamored with celebrity culture. I'm a wife, a homemaker, I have four small children, two are adopted, I spent a week in Ethiopia, I love Jesus, I like to read. So I post about my life, my thoughts, my kids, Africa.

I do feel quite "lucky" to have been born into the comforts of America. I also feel a responsibility to help those that were not blessed in this way, to be real and open about what is reality for so many people in our world. (Because most of us are pretty sheltered, myself included.) Two of my kids were born into this reality, so I don't really have the whole option of just forgetting about it. When we watch old videos of my daughter being born and my son asks why we don't have a video of HIS birth, I don't get to just turn off my brain and emotions. When my daughter asks why my sons' birth mom couldn't keep them and who is helping her while she's sick, I have to come up with an answer. Maybe my blog IS too introspective, but that's why you don't have to read it. Maybe part of why I feel the need to work through some of life's questions is because my kids are asking them, and they're asking me.

I can assure you our home is filled with laughter, joy, and fun. No one sits around wringing their hands over why we were born here and not there. A day or two will go by where there's no mention of Africa. But hopefully we're fostering a sense of compassion in our children and teaching them to care about others and to thank God for His provision in their lives. And that if we see somebody (or millions of somebodies) in need, instead of worrying about or debating it to death, to take action and pray and give of our resources. You can sit and complain about world hunger or the AIDS crisis all day long, but unless you're ultimately seeking to meet those needs, you're wasting your time.

The comment itself didn't bother me, I just wanted to take the opportunity to address what my blog is, and what it isn't. One last thing--the other part of the comment was suggesting that life is left to chance, that maybe there is no God. I don't consider this to be a "religious blog" in the sense that I'm not purposing to evangelize anybody. A lot of people read it who are NOT Christians. As for myself, I DO put my hope in Jesus Christ. I DO have faith and hope that one day, all will be made right. And that God's in the process of making things right today.

So I'll keep "adding to the noise", and you can keep reading if you like.

Voice, thanks for sharing your perspective. Hopefully this better explains mine.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Proud card-carrying member

Need I say more?

I think fighting consumerism is a good thing. We own two cars, a 2006 Toyota Sienna that we bought used, through a non-profit, and a 1988 Toyota Corolla, which we have no intention of replacing anytime soon. Before we bought the van, our "family car" was the infamous 1988 Lincoln Towncar, may she rest in peace. (Read about our pet beast here and see some pictures here.)

Cars are such a status symbol. I think people thought we were really poor and felt sorry for us when we drove the Towncar, but in reality, we felt our needs were being met and couldn't really justify buying a new car "just because". (Granted the humilation factor was high, but not because the car was old--it's because it was HUGE!)

Just because we can afford to buy something, doesn't mean we have to or we should. I find it is so hard to find contentment in a world that is always telling us we need this or that new thing. Being in Ethiopia was so freeing in certain ways, throwing off the need to "have stuff", living day to day in simplicity. (Ultimately, I think fighting consumerism is good because every dollar we spend somewhere is a dollar not spent elsewhere--opportunity cost.)

Oh and I found the "Junky Car Club" on Margaret Feinberg's blog. So I'm in good company! (And if you have a junky car, join the club.)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Don't waste your life on fast food :)

I just finished the book Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, and am currently reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Lately when the kids go to bed, and the dinner dishes and kitchen are cleaned, Kevin and I sit and read. Reading is something we both love to do and think is important. I love reading to the kids and hope that they will come to develop a love for good books as they grow.

Don't Waste Your Life was good overall. I liked the second half better than the first I think, mostly because in the first part he's putting forth some of his foundational beliefs and maybe it's the way he puts it, the words he uses or the tone he sets, but something about it I just didn't like. But the second part, that talks about missions and your job and taking risks for the Lord, was wonderful. I think he has a message for America that is timely, and good.

Fast Food Nation is fascinating! For one thing I'm amazed by how much of this stuff Americans consume. On average it's something like four hamburgers a WEEK. Yikes. And soda? The average American drinks 56 GALLONS per YEAR. (If you listen reallllly closely you can hear Becky screaming.) It's also interesting to learn the history behind the industry. I haven't gotten to the part yet that talks about what's in those burgers and tacos but I have a feeling it won't be pretty. (We really don't eat much fast food--I cook each night and then maybe once every month and a half or so we go to McDonald's. My kids never drink soda, as I figure they'll have plenty of time once they're older to give themselves cavities. :) On a side-note, I worked at the Atascadero Taco Bell for three months in high school. You know, so I used to be part of the "industry"--ha!)

I hope you're having a good Friday. Kevin's at work and the kids and I are playing at home. I'm still in my pj's at noon (though all four kids are bathed and dressed), Kaitlyn just went down for a nap, and my three oldest are happily running around the backyard. Before long it'll be time for lunch, then naps for the big kids, and some alone time (and a shower!) for me. And lest you think this sounds too "idyllic", I'll have you know that Yosef just dumped a dumptruck-full-of-rocks in the HOUSE, and I hear Anna crying about how Biniam put her rocks in the lawn...

Have a great weekend! (Oh and these pics aren't from today, just of the kids playing together and watching their favorite movie, "Sleeping Beauty.")

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A (small) series of unfortunate events

  • Remember those books I ordered? And remember how yesterday I checked the mail to see if they came? Well, one came alright. What I THOUGHT I'd ordered--The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey--turned out to be the STUDY GUIDE for the book. Dangit.

  • Last night my soon-to-be-four-years-old daughter surprised us all by taking it upon herself to cut her own hair. She says she didn't want it long anymore. So now she's got some really choppy side-bangs. Let's face it, it could have turned out a lot worse...oh who am I kidding, it could have turned out a lot BETTER had she NOT DONE IT AT ALL! (Needless to say, we have now hidden the scissors. And I'm counting down the days until our van is back in commission so I can take her in for a "real" haircut. You know, by someone older than three.)

  • My kids are out.of.control. today. Assorted crying, disobedience, mournful wailing of the words "I'm having a rough day".

Yet God is good, the sun is shining, I've got a husband who loves me, four precious children, and a mostly-clean house.

I just read an interesting booklet on Lent and hope to one day incorporate some of the church-calendar traditions into our family.

We started reading The Jesus Storybook Bible with the kids last night at bedtime and it's precious.

And so even though it may be time for me to go break up an argument, I am blessed, and so life is good.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I'll have what she's having

I took this fun quiz that I got from Kristen, and lo and behold the movie it says I am is one of my all-time favorites! "When Harry Met Sally", always a classic! As annoyed as I always am at Billy Crystal's character in the beginning, he has me falling for him by the end. (I'm not a very sappy person and therefore tend to be critical of love stories, but this one gets me every time. Plus I've always loved the soundtrack--which I own, along with the movie of course.)

P.S. Two posts in one day, what a nerdy dedicated blogger. I'm off to go check the mail to see if any of my books from arrived, and then I plan to just enjoy my peaceful all four kids are napping. Happy Tuesday!

Mixed feelings part 2: "Why it IS good"

Yesterday I talked about this Newsweek article and shared some of my perspective. Now here's the rest of what I think.

Much as I wish that so many countries weren't losing so many of their children, the fact remains that these kids need families. Unfortunately, because of widespread poverty, government policies, and disease, these countries are burdened with more orphans than they can adequately provide for.

I think so long as adoptive parents are contributing towards their child's birth-country becoming self-sustaining, international adoption is an integral part of the overall solution. Yet I'm aware that some "experts" and some Ethiopians disapprove. I wonder though what Yosef and Biniam were supposed to do, at only one and a half months old and with no extended family or neighbors to care for them. God created children to be raised in families. I am of the opinion that a loving family across the world is better than no family at all.

In our day-to-day life, issues like these don't come into play. But eventually they will, at least to some degree. I want my boys to see how much I delight in them and in the fact that they're my sons, yet also see that I realize there is loss--both for them, and for Ethiopia. My heart's desire is to foster honest, open communication in our home where they feel free to ask questions or to be angry or sad--or to just plain not care. I hope to take them back someday and show them where they came from, and I hope they fall in love with it like I did, and I hope they mourn for it, like I did.

So many things in life come down to "good, better, and best". Certainly it would be "better" if orphaned children could remain in their country of birth--with extended family or in a loving foster or adoptive home. (Of course, best-case scenario, parents could raise their own children.) But right now, that's just not always possible.

And so international adoption is "good." And until experts who claim otherwise can show me a valid alternative where orphaned children are being fed, clothed, and loved, I will believe this--both for my sons, and for myself.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mixed feelings on international adoption part #1: "But I thought it was a GOOD thing"

I honestly wish that international adoptions weren't necessary.

No, I haven't lost my mind, and yes I'm very aware that I have two amazing children adopted from another country! I am blessed beyond measure. I can't wait to adopt again.

But deep down I wish that communities were better equipped, and birth families more able to provide for these kids. That children didn't have to leave behind their homes, siblings, parents, and grandparents.

Adoptive parents, adoptees, and child advocates fall all along the spectrum on what they think about international adoption. I recently read this article that was good food for thought.

So long as international adoption is necessary, I'm committed to adopting children who need families. I'm also committed to continually investing financially in my sons' birth country in hopes that more families can avoid poverty, disease, and the eventual relinquishment of their children.

While I want to be an advocate for children waiting for families, I also don't ever want to "talk up" adoption so much that reality becomes obscured. I never want to fall into trying too hard to put a pretty, inspirational face on something that starts out as rather tragic.

Anyway, that's some of what I thought about when I read the article. (I'll share the rest of my thoughts on it later.) International adoption is part of the solution to the orphan crisis, and one that I hope anyone reading this will consider being a part of. It will change your life. But there's more to it than Steven Curtis Chapman songs and analogies about God adopting us. It's life, and pain, and loss, and yes, by God's grace, even a little beauty.

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless...
You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them,
and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man,
who is of the earth,
may terrify no more.
Psalm 10:14-18

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Just for fun

Angela tagged me for this survey, so I thought I'd go ahead and do it...and anyone reading this, consider yourself tagged too!

8 Things I'm Passionate About
--Caring for orphans
--Ethical international adoptions
--Raising up my children to love Jesus and to love others
--Providing healthful sit-down meals for our family
--Loving and meeting the needs of the marginalized in society
--Investing financially in helping to make Ethiopia a better place
--AHOPE for Children
--Living at peace with others

8 Things I Want to Do Before I Die
--Meet Yosef and Biniam's birthmom and sister
--Travel more
--Adopt from AHOPE
--Write a book (ha!)
--Finish my psychology degree (and maybe go to grad school)
--Run into someone famous (don't ask, I have no clue why)
--Have my hair straightened
--Spend extended time doing humanitarian work in Africa

8 Things I Say Often
--"That's a time-out."
--"I love you to bits."
--"You silly goose."
--"Kevin, will you change that diaper?"
--"Mommy loves you."
--"I do a lot of laundry."
--"Hey babe."

8 Artists I Never Tire of Listening To
--Sarah McLachlan
--Tom Petty
--Caedmon's Call
--Bebo Norman
--Tracy Chapman
--Matchbox 20/Rob Thomas
--Tim McGraw
--Rascal Flatts

8 Things I learned in 2007
--How much I could love my new little baby girl
--Four kids isn't much harder than three
--Having a sick baby is really hard
--Colorado is a really long drive from California
--Las Vegas is really hot in August
--Getting the stomach flu the same time as your husband and daughters is really inconvenient
(That's all the randomness I could think of. I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner but if that's all I learned last year, I think I need to step it up! :) )

Friday, February 01, 2008

To be or not to be...

So Jeannett informed me on Wednesday that I am "closet granola." Is this true? I hereby publicly confess that I:

--Now make my own baby food, often using organic vegetables.
--Shop somewhat regularly at Trader Joe's.
--Use Burt's Bees baby products (and will never use anything else again; I swear by this stuff!)
--Use several Method-brand household products (laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, glass cleaner, and counter cleaner--that unfortunately smells like "Old Spice").
--Eat tofu.
--Have considered (though do not currently plan on it) eventually homeschooling my kids.
--Most closely identify my parenting style with Attachment Parenting (especially love baby-wearing, and co-sleeping is great for babies and adopted kids.)

So does this make me "granola"? (I even love to eat granola!) In the interest of full disclosure I DON'T own Birkenstocks, I DIDN'T have a home-birth, I HAVE vaccinated my kids (though I did just order Dr. Sears' book on vaccines) confusing...I mean my hygiene is impeccable, I wear makeup and I like to shop at impersonal chain stores like GAP and Costco! Perhaps this is the beginning of an identity crisis for me--how exciting! I will be sure to let you know if I find any answers to this most intriguing question.

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