Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Our son has taught Wes and me to approach the Christmas season with a new attitude. It is such a beautiful time of year, yet the waste and excess in our American culture can be hard to stomach, especially when your own child asks why there was no Christmas in Ethiopia. This year Bunte has been very nostalgic about Ethiopia as this time of year also marks his first anniversary of coming home and joining our family. He has asked to eat injera more and asked us questions about Ethiopia. And I could go on about how Bunte is processing all of this, but I am focusing on just one of his recent reflections.
We celebrate our Christmas with Wes's side of the family early in the season. Bunte loves matchbox cars, partly because he remembers playing with the few that came to the orphanage and care center via traveling families while he lived there, and partly because he is a 5 yo that likes cars. Anyhow, his Aunt Camala knows how much he loves cars so she gave him a gift of 20 or so matchbox cars. As we left the celebration, Bunte turned to Wes and asked him if it "would be okay to send the cars to Africa because the boys at "sister's house" (what he calls his former care center) don't have cars and I have lots." We were so impressed with his sweet and giving heart. Bunte can get very wrapped up in materialism like so many other American kids. But he also knows what it is like to go without (and by that, I mean he knows not just about how to live without toys, but without a lot of the basics most Americans take for granted.) We immediately told him that we would find a way to get the cars to Africa. I came home that evening and updated my facebook status with what my sweet boy shared with us. And something neat happened. I began to get emails, facebook messages, and texts from people asking me how they could help Bunte send matchbox cars to Ethiopia. My five year old was the root of a chain reaction. A beautiful chain reaction with a giving heart at the center of it all. This is exactly what this season should be about: a loving God who sent a Beautiful Gift to earth for all of humanity and choosing to model our own actions after a gracious Father.
In response to all of the positive feedback, we have officially launched "Operation Makina." (Btw, Makina means car in Amharic, one of the most widely spoken languages in Ethiopia.) We are collecting matchbox cars and small dolls (the size of your hand or smaller, preferably wooden or plastic, not plush as that will transmit diseases more easily in crowded care centers and orphanages). We are also collecting monetary donations to cover the cost of shipping these gifts to a family traveling to Ethiopia in January who will deliver them to a care center/orphanage. In addition, the funds will help cover the cost of an additional checked bag on their flight. For those of you that live locally and contacted us and wish to help Bunte with this project, please drop off your donations by December 30.
Friday, November 18, 2011
1. For plenty of food to eat.
2. Tonight I read this post by Jen Hatmaker. She is one of my favorite writers and bloggers. Her honesty about adoption is amazing and inspiring. This post was about "being the village" for those walking through the adoption journey. Tonight I am thankful for our very small village that supported us along the way each time when there were so many others who did not. They were willing to understand and support us, no matter what. This is the ultimate post for friends and family of perspective adoptive parents to read. A guidebook, of sorts. I am grateful for our village and the opportunity to be the village so others in the AP community.
3.This evening we had the privilege of having dinner with a couple at the beginning stages of pursuing adoption. We shared our stories and heart for adoption. As we re-lived each of the journeys we walked to bring our boys home, my heart was filled with joy. What an amazing gift to experience. Learning to trust in His provision and timing was hard, but ultimately we were blessed more than we could have ever imagined. I am thankful for our boys, the journeys we have traveled together, and this special couple preparing for the ride of lifetime! This picture was taken on the first anniversary of Bunte's Forever Family Day.
4. For fresh water to drink... because so many people go without. We took this picture of the water (which many use a dump) in Ethiopia. We drove by this each day on our way to Bunte's care center. After a week or so of brushing my teeth with bottled water and putting tape over mouth while I took a shower, I had a new appreciation for just turning on the tap. Even though I was simply "inconvienced" by this, I had the means to purchase clean drinking water. Meanwhile, many others die each day from disease, such as Cholera, Giardia, and Typhoid, which are spread by contaminated water. When I first met my own child, he was suffering from preventable parasites and bacteria that he would not have had if there had been fresh water for him to drink.
5. I am thankful for my wonderful cousin Willow. She is truly a delight and has impacted me more than she will ever know. This year Willow rode Daisy, my pony, during the show season. Tonight was her night to shine as she and Daisy took the spotlight at the pony medal finals. They looked great, got ALL of their leads, and even took a victory gallop. A 5th place finish never looked so good! I am grateful for my sweet pony and the joy she has brought to our lives, but I am even more grateful for my wonderful cousin, Willow! I was so proud of her tonight!
6. Today is Orphan Sunday. It is estimated that there are 163 million orphans around the world. My heart aches for each little one waiting and hoping for a place to call home and parents to snuggle them to sleep. Tonight, on Orphan Sunday, my oldest son asked me to snuggle with him for the very first time. Payton always asks me for a "little tiny lay down," but Bunte has not...until tonight. I snuggled for bit, amazed at the changes in my son from 11 months ago until today. Our attachment journey has been a long one and we still have quite a ways to go. However, I am thankful for the breakthroughs, both big and small.
7. Bunte got his flu shot today. I am so grateful that we have access to basic medical care, such as vaccines. The flu could be deadly to Payton because of his asthma and it is deadly for so many in the world. It breaks my heart to think of all the people, esp. children, that die unnecessarily because they cannot get vaccinated. So grateful that my entire family is now protected from the flu.
8. For another great appointment with my midwife. She said all looks good! I am grateful that I have pre-natal care so readily available.
9. Tonight I am grateful for my loving husband. He had dinner ready for me when I walked in the door, then he cleaned the kitchen, and gave me a 1/2 hour long massage. Seriously, I hit the jack pot. And last night he had the boys fed, bathed and in bed when I got home since I had to work late. He is an amazing support for me and makes life so much more fun!
10. I am grateful for my precious fur-babies. They are a hassle to care for and can make me oh-so-mad, but they love us no matter what and are so loyal, kind, and loving to my entire family. They make us laugh every day with their silly antics. God knew what he was doing when He blessed humans with a "best friend." Jackie, LuLu and Carmen are a part of our family.
12. For a great big extended family. We aren't without our drama from time to time, but it was so great to grow up with so many cousins!
13. Today I am grateful that an adult adoptee that I had never met before chose to share her adoption story with us and ENCOURAGE us adoptive parents. What a blessing!
14. For a warm and cozy house.
15. I am grateful that today I was able to register with the public cord blood donation bank at Duke University. I hope that all works out well and that someone in need of this unique donation will benefit greatly.
16. Today I am grateful for family time. We have been VERY busy lately. Life just keeps passing by while we zoom from one thing to the next. But tonight we were all home for a "quiet" evening. (Ha, life with two boys is NEVER quiet.) Tonight is Wednesday, so it is "belly picture" night (31 weeks). I got ready for my usual photo shoot when the boys decided they needed to jump in as well. They stuffed their shirts and strutted over to stand next to me. It was so fun watching my boys tonight. I love them... all three of them.
17. Today I am grateful for God's protection. As I was driving home from work today a car hit me in an intersection. She completely blew through a red light. Half a second and I literally would have been smashed and most likely, killed. The only real damage was to the right side of the car and we both walked away unscathed. Immediately, one of my former high school teachers stopped to assist me, and my mom, godmother, and Wes appeared shortly thereafter. We spent some time ironing out the details with the police and insurance companies, then I headed home and called my midwife, per Wes' advice. She sent me to the hospital. I spent a few hours at the hospital so they could monitor Baby for any stress, and he appeared to be healthy and active. Wes picked me up and took me home. I walked in the house and tiptoed in the boys room and gave them great big kisses. I am thankful to be able to give them a kiss goodnight one more time. Life is precious.
18. Today I am so very thankful for my Payton. A child that knows he is loved and is comfortable with who he is. Payton has always been willing to be "his own" person. I had the privilege of picking up Payton from pre-school for the very first time today (I am usually at work). The children were studying Thanksgiving and made posters for all the things they were thankful for. On one poster every child (but mine) was grateful for either their mom or dad. Payton was grateful for "Lightening McQueen." On another, the children said which body part they were thankful for. All of the children responded their hands, back, legs, arms... but mine. Payton was grateful for his butt. Lovely son. So, there, proudly displayed on the wall, is the evidence of my very independent son. It is days like these that I am reminded that sometimes even though my child looks nothing like me, there is so much about him that resembles me. I love my Payton.
19. Today I am grateful for my best friends Erin, Meghan and Ashley. They hosted the most perfect baby shower for me today. It was low key and intimate, with all my favorite people. They even made all my favorite foods (crab dip, spinach dip, spring rolls with shrimp, strawberry icing topped cupcakes...mmmmmmm). So wonderfully wonderful. I am blessed that we have been able to maintain our relationship over the years, regardless of distance. And I am grateful for all the people who attended to show their love and support for our family as we grow...again. (And I would be remiss if I did not also add that I am grateful for all the ...diapers!)
20. Today I am grateful for our local Habesha community. We are so blessed that our tiny town has such a large community of Eritreans and Ethiopians. Today I watched Bunte playing soccer with a teenager from Ethiopia who has been so kind to him and such a role model. I am grateful that Bunte has so many wonderful, local Ethiopian families around to share their culture and love with him. What a blessing!
21. For a God that never fails me, even when I am weak, He is strong.
22. Tonight I attended our annual cross country end of season awards banquet. Although I am not a full time assistant coach anymore, I am grateful that I am able to participate, encourage, and coach when I can and give back to the sport I love so much. I am also grateful for the seven years I have been able to work with the head coach. She is a fantastic coach and a fantastic friend. Way to go, Coach Rinker and SHS CC!
23. Reconnecting with old friends.
24. Thanksgiving Day is here! This is our first and last Thanksgiving as a family of four because next year we hope to celebrate as a family of five. I loved that Bunte was here this year. Last year we were waiting on his embassy date in Ethiopia. He was able to watch the Macy's Day parade for the first time and to meet some extended family members for the first time. I was so happy and so grateful for my family. What a fun day!
25. Holiday traditions can be such fun for families. Bunte asked over and over again if we could put up our tree. Last year I refused to put it up until he was home and though he may not realize it, I think this was a milestone for him. It was one of the first "family" things we did after he came home. He eagerly decorated each branch and made our tree so beautiful. I am thankful for a little boy who is finding more and more comfort and security in what it means to be family.26. Today I am grateful that I was able to go to the UVA/Tech game. Although my school (UVA) lost, Wes and I had a great time together and enjoyed the view from a suite, courtesy of family friends! I was also able to get in some hangout time with my cousin Cristen and her precious little baby, Waverly.
27. A second Thanksgiving! We spent our evening dining with Wes's family and enjoying a second meal. We are blessed to have such wonderful families and delicious food to eat.
28. Today was our last child birth class. We toured the hospital and asked our last minute questions to the staff. As we walked around I just couldn't help but think about how blessed we are to have such wonderful medical care available. We are also thankful for a Wes's mom. She spent the evening with the boys and entertained them.
29. I am grateful for my mom who helped me iron out the details of the car accident with the insurance company and has been an extra help in dealing with some of life's unexpected challenges over the last few months :)
30. Well, I guess this is the last one. After school today I met with my long term. She is a former colleague of mine and it was so reassuring to have a chance to meet with her and prepare as I hand over my classes to her when the new addition arrives. (Baby boy, did you hear that? I am ready now... grow for another week or so and then make your grand appearance....) So thankful for the great staff at my school. They are FANTASTIC!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Everything about our trip was unexpected... everything. We thought our son was at his orphanage (he wasn't, he was actually at the care center). We thought we would not meet his birth family (we did). And the list goes on. Anyhow, we rode along the crowded streets of Addis, holding back tears. It seemed like the longest journey ever and then the van pulled into Bunte's orphanage. I thought he would be there. He was not (the agency had moved him to the care center a few days earlier). Anyhow, I took advantage of this time to see where my son had spent three months of his life. I was desperate to soak up any knowledge of his past, because I knew there were many parts that would be a mystery to me... forever (and they still are). We shared a few donations with the orphanage and took some pictures for families that were still stateside, waiting to meet there little ones. Then we hopped back in the van and left for the care center. At this point, my stomach was in knots and the silent tears kept coming. I kept telling myself I had to make them stop before we met him. He does need my emotions on top of his. God, please help me stop these tears.
And then they opened the green gates. The van pulled in and the children giggled and scattered. Where is my child? My eyes scanned frantically. Wes grabbed my arm and siad, "I see him! He is peeking out of the window." Sure enough, his terrified face was peeking through the corner of the window. We stepped out of the van and were ushered by the nannies to the "boy's room." All of the children were chatting away, but not my boy. Oh no, he is scared of us! The nannies took them all back inside and then brought Bunte out to us. He started to cry. And they told him to hug us... and I told him he did not have to. I need strength. My mommy instinct was to scoop him up, but my rational self knew to give him space. We were nothing more than strangers to him. While we starred at his picture each day and heard accounts and insights into his personality from traveling parents and prayed for him daily, he did not know a single thing about us. Nothing. How terrifying for him! They took us up to the porch where we broke the ice a little. Thankfully, I had a few bottles of bubbles in backpack. Slowly, we saw a few smiles cross his face. And just like that...we went from being strangers to forging our way into being a family. Each action, each word, each touch, each gaze, was intentional. Those three hours were exhausting. Then it was time to leave. No, it can't be. I can't leave. I just got here.
After the exhausting emotional journey of the early afternoon, we hired a driver and headed out to visit the restaurant at Desta Mender (part of the Hamlin Fistula Hospital). Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed. However, our travels allowed us to see much more of the city and its surrounding areas. We also stopped for a brief shopping excursion at ALERT, the leprosy hospital in Addis. It was a day we will never forget. On top of meeting our son, we also met some great people. Members of our travel group immediately became some of our most intimate friends. It was amazing how people we did not just one day ago suddenly shared a bond that would last forever. I am so grateful to know Lindsey and Branden!
Monday, October 17, 2011
The rat thing we saw on our walk through a nature path outside of Frankfurt.
Just an image to show you just how big this rat thing was. The kids were feeding them like they were dogs. And all I could think, "Hmmm....perhaps this is an RUS (Princess Bride, anyone?)"
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Oh My Precious Little Love Bug,
I cannot believe your third birthday is already here. It has been such a joyous three years with you. It seems that just yesterday we received the phone call that you would be born in just a few hours and instantaneously switched gears from being “Wes and Diana” to “Mommy and Daddy.” As soon as I could catch my breath from the excitement of that completely unexpected phone call, I immediately bowed my head and prayed some of the most fervent prayers of my life. Instantly, my prayers became those of a mother. Within hours of that phone call, you were safely born. And within 36 hours of your birth, we found ourselves sitting in the a hospital waiting room, for hours on end, wringing our hands and waiting to hear if you would be our precious son.
When it was finally time, we stepped onto to the elevator and headed down to the nursery. After a lot of security checks, I looked through the nursery windows at all the little babies wondering which one was my son. They were all beautiful babies. While I starred in wonder at the babies, my hand gently touching the window, our social worker chatted with the charge nurse while our hearts pounded in our chests. She returned after a few moments, but to us it felt like an eternity. They called us back to a tiny room behind the nursery. Daddy and I (along with three social workers and two nurses) waited for you in a room that was probably only 6 feet by 6 feet. We were crowded and it felt like we had an audience for what would be one of the most intimate moments in our life. And then they wheeled you in. All 5 pounds of you. You were calmly resting and wearing hospital-issued baby t-shirt that was WAY too big. Instantly, I thought you were the most beautiful of God’s creations. The nurse gently picked you up and placed you in my arms and tears gently rolled down my cheeks. Within moments you opened your eyes. It was as if those eyes of yours belonged to someone so much older. They looked right through us, to our hearts. You, Payton, were the unexpected blessing that we had prayed for. We were so in love with you then and still are.
After our nine days of travel and hotel living in two different states, we finally arrived home as a family of three. That very night we sat down on the floor of your nursery and read to you from Max Lucado’s children’s book, Just In Case You Ever Wonder. I don’t think I have ever wept so hard with such happy tears. As we read to you, our tiny babe, it was hard for me to imagine you being old enough to understand this simple little book. But now you, no longer a baby but a tiny tot weighing in at a whopping 26 pounds, do understand. And, as Lucado wrote in his book “You’re bigger now, and you do more things.” I love watching you master new talents and grow stronger and become the little man God created you to be. Over the last few months you have grownup so quickly. You started preschool, moved into your “big boy bed,” worked on potty training and have a vocabulary that could rival an 5th grader (seriously). It truly is incredible to me how much you have grown. You are an avid breakfast-bar (brekbawrs, as you call them) eater, a jumping enthusiast, a gifted dancer, a budding musician, a Spanish learner, a snuggler, an awesome little brother and soon-to-be big brother, an expert on all things Thomas and CARS, a grammer-correcter (is that correct?), an animal lover, a jump-in-every-mud-puddle kind of spirit, sensitive to other’s emotions, an artist, and my favorite, you are still a mama’s boy through and through. Nothing can make my heart sing like walking in the front door from work and having you run to me, leap it to my arms, and squeal, “Mommy’s HOME! I missed you so much, Mommy!” And then you squeeze my neck oh so tight and give me the most precious kisses. Oh Payton, please know that no matter how old you are, my arms will always ache to hold you and comfort you. “Because as you grow and change, somethings will always be the same. I’ll always love you. I’ll always hug you. … And I want you to that… just in case you ever wonder.”
Patey Kite, it is hard for me to imagine any other child of mine embodying my personality and heart the way that you do. We may not share the same DNA, but son, your attitude, your compassion, your boldness, your temper, your love, your passion, your loyalty, your emphasis on perfection, and your spirit are all so closely connected to mine that there is no doubt you are my son. Maybe your brothers will one day replicate some of these traits too, or maybe not, but you seem to have inherited my strengths and my weaknesses. God certainly knew what he was doing when he connected our families. I pray that you will learn to use all of these traits to bless those around you.
Payton, I love you to the moon and back,
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Yes, he is definitely a BOY!
This picture is my absolute favorite!!!! He was asleep for most of the u/s so she pushed on him a bit to get him to wake up and cooperate. When he finally did wake up he looked right at us and stuck out his tongue. Now this little man is starting to have the attitude it takes to be a part of this family! So cute!
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
We headed to the aquarium on another day. Again, I was disappointed in the quality of the aquarium. I felt like the tanks were too small and too crowded for the number of fish in them. However, it was very hands on and the kids had a great time.
I tried hard to get a good picture of the boys with the sea turtle in the background, but you can only do so much with a camera phone. If you look hard you can see the turtle behind Bunte's head. Payton was having a hard time sitting still because he wanted to get back on the train (the moving sidewalk thru the tunnel, under the largest tank.)
On our way down to the beach we took the opportunity to stop by my Aunt Meg's house. It was a fabulous visit! I love their dog, Duke. My boys enjoyed him too! They threw the ball deep into the woods and he was able to retrieve it every time. Good boy, Duke :)!
The first time Bunte's toes touched the Atlantic. A special moment.
Bunte catching his first real look at the ocean! That is a genuine smile! He is a beach bum for sure. Loved every minute of it!
So this picture was supposed to be a classic family pic with beach grass in the background. Ha. The sand was blowing so hard that we were all red from the wind and sand, Bunte had just sliced his toe pretty good on a sharp shell in the water and Payton is naked under the towel because he had just pooped in his trunks. TMI, I know. Just being honest that things aren't always what they seem :)
Ugly Brooke toes (my sister).
Cute Bunte toes :)
Look at him fly. I guess this is one advantage to having a tiny-tot. He is nearly 3 and only weighs 25 pounds, so he can still catch some serious air time.
Me and my baby boy.
Family time! Much better family picture. The smiles were genuine this time.
My sister and David with the boys.
Char and my aunt Linda with their daughter, Willow.
The boys loved tackling Daddy in the surf. If you look at Wes' face in the pictures below, I don't think he enjoyed it as much as they did...
Payton's "trick," as he calls it. He just balances there for a minute and then plops in the water. The he "pits" out the water in his mouth. (He still doesn't say the "s" sound at the beginning of words.)
Bunte's learned to swim!!!!!!! He is no expert, but took amazing strides in learning to swim at the beach. Proud mommy moment, for sure!
Look at him go!