July 30, 2008

Three Months

We had our first (of three) post-placement visits with our social worker last week. Yesterday was our official "these kids have been WITH us for three months" day. I believe in some circles that would be 'gotcha day'. Though gotcha day could also be our court day or the day we met or the day we arrived home? Very confusing. In honor of said day, here are some photos.

**I would have posted this yesterday but we have been visiting relatives (which could explain the previous post). Josiah doesn't sleep well outside of our home (anymore). Like averages 4 wake-ups a night. Last night was a special one for me, he woke up every hour from 3:30 on. Lovely.

On with the photos...

Referral picture of Salomae, mid-Feb (aka the grumpiest picture we have of Sally).

'Gotcha Day'--actually this is 'Metcha Day'. Sally missed most of Gotcha Day therefore we don't have a single picture of her on that day. Shameful.

One month home

Two Months home (after picking mulberries in the backyard)

Three months home (after a lady at the hospital said, "Honey, I'm gonna give you my number--I braid hair." So I went to the library and checked out some books and tried MY hand at braiding.)

Josiah's referral picture

Gotcha Day with nannies and bunkmates.

Sitting up at one month home.

Two months home (on the hammock).

STANDING UP at the water table last week. Slow down kiddo!


I'm pretty tired. I didn't realize how tired Eli was until I started talking to him and he didn't reply. This is what I found. Asleep. On the hardwood floor. With his head in the Bible. That he can't read.
So cute.
So sad.
So wish I could trade places with him.

July 21, 2008

Josiah crawls

I'm excited and devastated. I didn't expect it. Somehow he maneuvered his chubbiness onto all fours and...MOVED. Right for my coffee. The joy that I'm raising a fellow coffee lover is lost in the dismay that I will now have to baby proof the house.

Later he 'chased' Everett's legos while everyone shrieked and scrambled to get them out of his way. (Have I mentioned that there is a LOT of shrieking going on around here? The addition of daughter #2 has tripled the shrieking. It seems to be a contagious activity. Like laughing. But louder and more obnoxious.)

It's my 31st birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom, I'm about to make your life very difficult!

July 20, 2008

Cuteness Abounds

I'm parenting solo this Sunday morning. To my surprise everyone is dressed and ready to go (only a few minutes late) to church. And they look adorable. I know it will only last a few minutes. The new braids in Sally's hair will get plucked out, Josiah will undoubtably puke on his outfit, and Ella will brush against the dirty van with her dress. So I take a picture. No time for a photo shoot. Just one try and this is what I got. I know from experience that even after 14 shots one child will be doing what Eli is doing in at least EVERY picture. So, pretend he isn't searching for something in Sally's hair. Pretend he's looking at the camera being handsome. While you're at it, pretend Everett isn't about to drop Josiah on the landscaping blocks below.

July 17, 2008

Our Budding Libertarian

Otherwise known as 'The Day That My Son Actually Turned Into His Father'. We went to the park today. That in and of itself is not exciting. What follows is probably only interesting to those who know Seth. Pretty well.

When we arrived at the park there were all sorts of tree cutting services parked along the street. Felled trees littered the sides of the road--general chaos. Wood chippers are always high excitement to small children so I saw that we'd probably spend some time checking out the heavy machinery. Alas, at the parking lot the business had already been taken care of and all that remained were some logs and stumps.

I'm baffled, by the way, as to WHY the parks service felt like it was important to cut down trees at the already tree-vacant playground. But they made sure that every last tree along the parking area was gone. As we unloaded our madness from the van, I remarked on the tree removal. Expressing my bewilderment to the children, I said, "Why in the world do you think that they would cut these trees down?"

Everett, without missing a beat, replied, "Because the government told them to."

Seth's remark upon hearing this story? "Well, that IS the only logical conclusion. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Which is why he is a libertarian who works for the federal government (and loves a good conspiracy theory).

Like father, like son.

Helpful FAQ sheet

This is from a friend of mine who happens to be a funny gal. If she had a blog I'd read it. It would probably be about cats. I'd still read it though, because she is just so witty.

Her opinion is that I should type up flyers to pass out with the following printed on them:

Dear curious fellow citizen

Before you ask me any questions (especially in front of my children) please read the following FAQ answers sheet for helpful info!

No, we don't run a daycare
Yes, they are all ours
They are ALL our 'real' kids, we don't have any fake ones that we know of.
Yes, some of them have some obvious differences but if they don't mention it, why should we/you?
Thank you for your opinion that we are;
A) Brave
B) Inspirational
C) Generally Wonderful
D) Out of our minds
E) All of the above

Asking about our finances, reproductive abilities, or reasons for doing what we do is not appropriate unless we broach the subject.

Thank you for your interest in our family and God bless.

July 11, 2008


Salomae is four today!

We celebrated with the usual--dinner chosen by the Princess, presents, cake and ice cream. Dinner, eaten al fresco, consisted of hot dogs (Princess avoided them after the pleading for them), macaroni and cheese (or FASTA as Princess calls it), and baked beans (also avoided by Princess). She picked 'Fanta' as the beverage of choice for her birthday meal.

A little table dance by older brother as dinner entertainment. Quickly stopped (after photo was taken) as the three other Bangles were ready to join in.
Lacking time (and sitters), I had to take all five kids to Toys 'R Us to buy Salomae's gifts. We picked up a new kitchen (the wooden set was ruined in 'the flood') for a bargain. Since it was cheap, cheap, cheap, I also let her pick out a new doll. She's got an opinion on just about anything and I knew that if I picked out the baby she may not like it. She chose a Cabbage Patch that eats an ice cream cone. I can't honestly say if I swayed her or not in the choice. I think I may have. It came with a few free items (I guess ice cream eating dolls aren't the hit they should be). So I may have steered her in that direction. But the big, fat, kind of scary because-they-look-so-real babies were on clearance and I tried to interest her in one of those but she wouldn't even look at them (thankfully). The real question is whether I steered her to the brown skinned doll or not. When she opened the doll she looked happy, but sort of confused. She knew she was getting it and kept asking about it, but I think she wondered why we wrapped it up. The other items were a surprise and we are saving the kitchen for Monday when Rara and Popop (Seth's parents) are in town. Sad to say, she was clueless about the kitchen until I forgot about it in the back of the van and she caught a peek. I don't think she knew what it was even after seeing it (so hopefully I didn't ruin the surprise). A birthday isn't complete unless there's a little gift envy going on. Ella didn't partake in the "helping you unwrap" frenzy. She sat back and sucked her tongue (coping mechanism leftover from Ukraine) just watching. Then she silently got up and disappeared for a while. When she came back outside she had her favorite baby doll.
All three kids made Sally cards for her birthday. Eli (the sweet kid that he is, takes after his mom) put one dollar from his allowance in the card he made. I wanted to give him another dollar just because it was so kind. Here he is offering advice on how to ride a scooter, "Push with your feet." Salomae replies, "You push me!"
Sally still didn't eat cake or ice cream, though I slathered the cake with fresh strawberries and bought strawberry ice cream. While chopping the strawberries I started wondering why in the world I was TRYING to get her to eat sweets.

The Zoo

When we moved to the Midwest three years ago, I had to say good-bye to my weekly trips with girlfriends to the beach. We had a set date, time, and place we would all meet with our troops, towels, and coolers. The van doors would open and the three of us would just laugh and soak up the sun until late in the afternoon.

Oh, I loved it. On a bad day I would yell out to the kids, "Put your suits on!" I'd grab the beach bag and we would be on our way. Life is easier while sitting in the sand. The roaring waves drown out the bickering of the kids. Definite bonus.

What to do when stressed in the middle of the Rust Belt? Seth started his new job and I took the kids to the zoo. The zoo can't hold a candle to the Gulf Coast. The only thing the beach and zoo have in common is that they are unpleasant places to be 'in season'. Crowds stink.

I bought a wagon on the way there and a family membership once we arrived. That first trip was a little stressful because I didn't realize that the wagon was 'assembly required'. I had no hammer for mounting the wheels so I pulled Ella's prosthetic leg off and used that. Imagine the stares I got in the zoo parking lot using a leg to bang down wheels on a wagon. Who brings an unassembled wagon to the zoo, anyway?

The same kind of lady who brings five children to the zoo by herself.

Today is Salomae's fourth birthday (I'll do a birthday post later). Our plans for the day changed. I hate changing plans on the kids because they just. don't. understand. They usually blame me. So last night I just didn't tell Sal that the plans had changed. Then, she prayed and told God that "'kumorrow' see elephants, cake, ice cream...happybirthdaytoyou." I knew that I would have to brave the zoo on my own.

I brought the double jogger and the sling. We packed a lunch, got the camera, and pulled out of the driveway. Then pulled back in so that Everett and Sally could go potty. Then had to pump up the tires on the stroller. Then we were off. I was already tired.

The kiddos really are good or I wouldn't dare to do the zoo. They really were excited or I wouldn't do it either. Before we left, Sally kept chanting, "See the elephants!" I knew that deciding to go was the right decision. She is the princess today, after all.

Don't be deceived, that's just a picture of an elephant.

We saw the elephants, then added other animals as my the kid's energy level allowed. We managed 3 hours of zoo-filled fun. By the time we left, I had two kids in the stroller and Josiah in the sling. I was 'dewy' when we made it to the van. In my saturated state, I noticed how many people were gaping at us. The kids are oblivious, but I'm not. I generally just smile. One lady approached me and said, "That's a lot of kids, are you by yourself?"

I said, "Why? Are you trying to find someone to help you with your unruly child?"

Only kidding.

I said, "Yep. All five are mine, I'm used to being alone with them. They are pretty good or we wouldn't be here." I smiled. Because that is the kind and appropriate thing to do.

Then she said, "That sure is a lot of kids for one mom."

I smiled again at her and wondered if she plans on encouraging her husband to marry a second wife when their family grows. So she can have some help. I'm pretty sure polygamy is illegal, right? Probably should have told her that.

Jojo and I in all of our sweaty glory.
The rest of the clan obviously enjoying our last few minutes at the zoo. Don't the three littles look like I FORCED them to come on this excursion?

July 9, 2008


There are four AWAA families in Ethiopia right now. I wanted to share their blogs so you who are stalkers could check them out and pray for them. The Gibson's (password Kiki) had an error during court and are facing another 1-2 week stay in Ethiopia while paperwork gets corrected. We met the Raymer's boys at Kid's Care. I have pictures of Seth and their son doing a little shoe dance together. It's such a wonderful feeling to see these children united with their families.

When I posted about Salomae's back a few weeks ago, one of you kind readers gave me a link to another mom who has a daughter with Pott's disease (spinal TB's other name). I just read on her blog about a mom and her son who went into surgery this week to correct his spine. Go over there and read what her past two days have been like and start praying for her son Isaac.

I'm terrified of what Salomae's next year may hold. We visited the orthopedic surgeon today. He said that the brace is helping her to straighten up, but anticipates surgery before the 6 months on medication. Please pray for Salomae's health--that the medication would be effective and her back would be strong enough for us to wait until after the 6 month mark for corrective surgery.

On a much happier note--Josiah is 9 months old today! He's the wiggliest baby and trying to crawl (with extended family cheering him on). I discourage any crawling or pulling up that I see. It will only make my life more complicated. Maybe he can start crawling at about 2 years of age? Doubtful. He pulled up in the crib two days ago. Dear me.


You know that feeling on the way home from a week away? When you've been in the huge van with SIX kids for 14 hours? Climbing over seats to reach kids with drinks, snacks, books, dvds...for FOURTEEN hours. The anguish as an older child laughs loudly at a movie immediately after the baby has fallen asleep. The wonderment at your nephew's rare bowels that act up only on car trips, requiring that you toss his undies into the trashcan at the rest area and squeeze him into a diaper. The sheer joy at seeing the five older children running around trees at the rest area; enjoying themselves. They collapse at the picnic table as you are examining an unknown dark sticky substance on the baby's clothes. And your clothes. And you touch it and realize that his diaper exploded. Moments later you look down at three of the breathless children and spot dog poo on their shoes and ankles. Oh, the joy of excrement. And traveling in the midst of it.
Maybe you haven't had that feeling. Pulling into the driveway after a week away and a very long trip home. Still so much work left to do before we can truly relax, but we are home.

Home sweet home. Where the cats decide to use the bathroom mat for a litter box. And one of them thought it would be fun to try the armchair in the living room.

Home sweet home where the basement flooded while we were gone. And the cats couldn't use their boxes because they are in the basement. And the water saturated the precious schoolbooks we used this year for the little kids. Expensive, lovely books.

Dear friends come to our rescue that night with dinner and a shop vac. Tracy stayed until 10:30 helping.

Our mothers are in a car the next day. We must sound desperate. They come to hold the baby and scrub the floors with bleach. They do a wonderful job. Baby is content and floors are now clean. But we can't save the books.
Though we try with crazy schemes. They were all laid out on the deck when a storm blew in complete with tornado sirens. We grabbed the books shortly before we headed to the (now clean) basement. We've frozen them, baked them, and stuffed them with paper towels. It's unsure as to how any of that will work. So far, about 2 trash bags of books have been tossed. The fate of 30 is still undecided.