Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celebrating Jesus..6 times over!

Christmas day was filled with a lot of fun, including 6 celebrations and 5 stops... in a 12 hour window. The boys sang happy birthday to Jesus between each stop! Christmas really comes alive with children!

Celebration Number 1: Our House :)

The boys woke up around 8 or so and had no idea it was Christmas. Once they unpackaged their new Cars figures, they had little to no interest in opening anything else.
Their favorite gifts from Santa... CARS action figures... including Mater, which cost his elves only $3.50, but probably five times that in gas driving around trying to find him!
A T.homas puzzle brought P pure delight!

Stockings! Each boy received an O.livia book :) One of P's favorite characters. He sleeps with a stuffed pig (he named Olivia) every nite.

Celebration Number 2: Mamaw's House (Wes's Grandmother)

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and we got a chance to share our joys from the year. Wes gave a beautiful testimony about our time in Ethiopia. Afterwards, we were able to snatch a picture of the 4 great-grandsons together (there is a fifth, baby Oscar, but he was not here Christmas morning.) "Mamaw" has all great-grandsons and grandsons-- 11 boys total for her! Not one girl!
Celebrations Number 3: MomMom and DadDad's House (My parents)

Whew. By this time the boys were on present overload and were a little on the fussy side. B's favorite gift was a watch from MomMom. P loved his new riding boots and the boxes. Each time he opened a gift, he threw it out and said, "cool box!" Then he had enough and declined opening gifts all together.
B's new watch! So proud and oh so grown!
P sporting his new boots and running thru MomMom's house.
Wearing the stickers... this brought back memories from the time we spent with B at the care center in Addis. The kids like to wear the stickers on their skin, not their clothes, or on paper where they really belong! This kept him occupied for quite some time.
Celebration Number 4: DearMa Suzie's House (My God-mother, or as P calls her, Shoo-zie)

Unfortunately, I neglected to take any more pics Christmas day. I am a little angry at myself. But I will briefly descrive the rest of the stops. P napped in the car, but B managed to spend the entire day awake. We enjoyed some time with Suzie and her girls, Ang and Bekah, and Suzie grand-puppies, esp. Bilbo who loved playing with B. We watched the kids dance and sing and laughed together. I think we did all miss Tom. Suzie's husband, Tom, passed away just after Christmas last year, but I am sure he would be glad to know that we all were there to hang out, laugh, and eat delicious food!

Celebration Number 5: Medhanie and Mirihet's House, our Eritrean friends.

Earlier in the Advent Season we wrapped gifts and packaged household supplies for our Eritrean friends with the intent to deliver on it to them on Christmas. Although they are Orthodox and celebrate Genna (the birth of Christ on January 7th), we wanted to celebrate December 25th too! We missed Mirihet, as she spent the holiday with her friend, Teabe, who just gave birth. We did get a chance to see Medhanie and his son, Abel, who is the same age as P! Medhanie was particularly delighted to receive several pounds of spices we brought back from Ethiopia! I bet they will have some delicious food this week! Mmmmm...berbere :) We are so grateful for Medhanie and his family.

Celebration Number 6: Aunt Gloria's House! (By this time, we were running on empty...)

Each year we end the day at Wes' Aunt Gloria's. We eat...again. And the kids laugh and play... all ten of them! Whew. Payton graced us with a karaoke performance. He performed his greatest and most well-known hits, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, ABCs, Jingle Bells, and topped it off with a grand finale of Raffi's Mr. Sun. This child was born to perform. Every day I am overwhelmed by his spirit and love of life. I cannot wait to see just who he will become as he grows and matures! I hope this lively spirit of his is always a part of him!

As we re-loaded the car between each stop and took a few moments to process, I just kept thanking God for these little boys. Christmas as a family of four was amazing!

Thank you God, for so many beautiful gifts, including Your own Son, sent so many years ago to offer hope to a broken world.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pre-Christmas Festivities

Although we toned down the gift giving and such this year and tried to focus more on the Spirit of Christmas, the season was still filled with holiday festivities. We spent a day in West Virginia with Wes' immediate family. It was a relaxing day and the boys had a great time with their cousin, Bryden!

An attempt at a family portrait.
The boys cheesin'. They were so happy and eager to play with their new radio flyer toys from Ganma and GaGa! I need to clear out the basement some so they can enjoy them a bit more during the winter months.

The weekend of the 18th my mom's extended family gathered to celebrate at a local barn. The kids got a chance to meet Santa and hit pinatas and just have good time! It was a great chance to catch up with some of my family.

These pics are from my cousin's blog. She did a great job capturing the moment! B sat on Santa's lap with cousin Kathryn.
B stashed tons of candy. I found at least twenty pieces in his pockets. Payton even took a turn hitting the pinata.

As we got a little closer to Christmas, the boys wrote a letter to Santa. It was pretty easy because as I suggested a few items (like chap stick and candy and matchbox cars ), and that is what they said they wanted! Somehow I think they will have higher expectations next year, but we still want to keep it simple.

The stockings were hung.... the night before Christmas! ( I ordered B's stocking, but it did not come until just before Christmas so I did not want to hang the rest of them up without his. Anyhow, when it got here I realized I ordered the embroidering in a different type than the others...grrr... oh well.)
Santa did come... and brought each person one gift. We are trying to let the kids enjoy the "magic" of Christmas, but all teach them that excess, is indeed excess, and we we have more than enough. To help them understand this concept, we took gifts, including some of the kid's toys, to one of the local Eritrean refugee families we know. It was a blessing to us to share with this Christmas season with them.

We also hosted an annual chili dinner on Christmas Eve after church. We were blessed to have our families there. P and B posing with their grandparents - MomMom and DadDad.

We also added ornaments to the tree as B thought each branch needed one. I was waiting to finish decorating the tree until we had one special ornament that I ordered. P has a bunch of "baby's first Christmas" ornaments and others he has received over the years so I wanted B to have something special too. I ordered the ornament below from s.hutterfly. B loved it! He was so excited to put it on the tree!

Finally, we were able to visit a live nativity...complete with camels. The boys loved it and seemed to begin to understand the idea of Baby Jesus and the celebration of his birth. They talked about baby Jesus quite a bit and sang happy birthday multiple times on Christmas. B sang too, but I am not sure how much of what he said he understands. He is soaking up English soooo fast!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's just... different this year.





I am not a scrooge. I promise. In fact, I normally decorate a ton for Christmas. I love it! I have 30 plus department 56 village pieces, 3 boxes overflowing with ornaments, wreaths, 5 nativity sets, and more. But this year, my heart was not prepared to decorate or celebrate the Western, material, Christmas traditions. Heck, it hardly wanted to buy or accept gifts. Visiting Ethiopia changed me. It changed Wes. It changed our family. Well, Ethiopia itself did not, but God used our experience there to mold these selfish hearts of ours. I definitely think we have some serious survivor's guilt right now, but all that extra stuff of the material Christmas just did not seem important this year. I know that B's friends at the orphanage will not be getting Christmas gifts this year. I know that the surviving members of B's birth family will not either. I know the millions of children in places like Ethiopia and Haiti will not even have clean water or a meal on Christmas. The money spent on gifts should be helping these children and families. It can do so much more than buy a plastic toy or a holiday decoration. As I watched my kids, including one that just two weeks prior had no concept of ownership or toys that beep and flash and sing and talk, rip open their gifts at the family gathering this past Saturday, I was embarrassed. Not by my children's behavior, they were super-stars thru the 8 hours of marathon partying. I was embarrassed by our (as in Americans in general) excess. Don't get me wrong; I loved watching my kids faces as they opened new toys, especially B who had never had this experience before. Moreover, I love that our extended family welcomed B so heartily with very thoughtful gifts. But underneath my smile as they dug into the gifts, my heart ached for all of those kids around the globe missing out on a tradition many American children take for granted because they are busy trying to find clean water and a little food to eat. Perhaps it was this underlying thought that brought tears to my eyes when I received a special gift from my aunts. They handed me a water bottle and on the inside was a slip of paper informing me that a donation had been made in my honor to provide clean drinking water for life to someone in Ethiopia. They gave each person (in our VERY large family) a bottle and the same information. My eyes teared up. I wish I had thought of something so meaningful to share as gifts, but what a great way to honor B and his first home. I can't wait to explain to him what his great aunts did in his honor. Amazing.

This Christmas is different in many ways. And although my house lacks the decor and finishing touches that I once consumed my holiday hours, I am loving this Christmas season. I never imagined B would be home in time to celebrate. And just as they celebrated the arrival of a Child on the first Christmas, we too, will celebrate the arrival of a special child. Both of these children were gift from God. One, a tiny Babe who saved my soul. And the other a four-year-old delight to remind me of the Greatest Gift and the hope He promises.

This year there will be very few presents under our very first artificial tree, sparsly decorated with only 15 or so of my 200 plus ornaments. (We are die-hard real tree-ers, but P's asthma made it necessary for us to go faux.) The only other elements in our house the scream holiday are the two small nativity sets and advent candle. The rest is still boxed. And it will stay there for now. This year my heart understands Christmas with a new meaning and expectancy. And well, it's just... different this year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

HOME!








You know that overwhelmed feeling, whether it be work or house cleaning or writing a paper or... well, you get the point. That is kind of how I feel right now. It is too overwhelming to even think about starting to document everything. I have so many adoption-related posts running thru my head right now: dealing with grief, attachment, older child adoption, adopting out of birth order, parasites, sibling relationships, diet, schooling, ELL, and the list goes on. Every time someone posts on our agency's discussion board, I have something to add or questions to ask the veteran parents, but I rarely do. I am exhausted. But oh so happy. My boy is home. We've had challenges (grief when leaving his friends, dealing with the very cold temperatures, scared of the horses, mild medical issues) but overall the transition has been amazing and wonderful. Bunte is a joy. He very slowly coming out of his shell and I cannot wait to see the flower of child still waiting to bloom. Right now, the first outer petal is beginning to peel away from the stem, revealing just a hint of color. And I am pretty sure it is red, his favorite color. I cannot wait to see what is revealed when this flow is in full bloom and just how gorgeous this child will be. I have 3 more days of work and then I can take my FMLA leave and I will be home with him until March 7th. I am so excited to have some special time with both of my boys.