Sunday, January 30, 2011

Have I Mentioned...

that I absolutely adore this little guy! Lately Payton has just made us laugh and laugh. He is truly a charmer. Just the other night, after he finished his meal, Payton asked me to cuddle him. I scooped him up and he placed his not-so-tiny head on my shoulder, twirled my hair as he always does, and sang in his whispery cartoon voice, "You are mine shun-shine." And as he sang, I tuned out everything around me. How in the world was I so blessed to have this child for a son? Thank you, God. May his little heart grow sweeter and sweeter as he grows bigger and bigger.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

His name is NOT Bute!

Well, it is but it is not spelled the way it sounds.

Since B has been home, we have had doctor's appt after appt to try and catch up with his vaccinations, fix his teeth, etc. Anyhow, every single time we call to make an appointment or show up, the receptionist call him Bute, but pronounce it incorrectly. And each time they do it really irritates me because I think of the giant pills we give the horses to reduce inflammation (phenylbutazone, nicknamed bute). My child is not named after medicine.

His name is pronounced boo-tah.

We had to re-program our brains to say boo-tah instead of boo-tay, as we had practiced for so long in our heads while we waited to meet him. And we were not crazy for thinking his name was boo-tay as the kids at the orphanage called him boo-tay (because the Amharic-speaking nannies called him boo-tay). However, we soon learned this was incorrect when his birth father corrected us and informed us that in Sidmigna his name is pronounced boo-tah and it means "my crown."

I do worry about this a bit when B goes to school. I am a teacher and I know that kids are mean. When we complete B's re-adoption in VA we are changing his first name to Bunte (boon-tah) in hopes that we can spare him from all the cruel butt jokes his peers may tease him with over the years.

Any other APs get irritated with the constant mispronunciation of your child's given name?

So if you know my boy, please pronounce his name correctly. I am trying to be forgiving, but I am so over correcting people.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I cried.

P-man all hooked up.
Payton was admitted to the hospital on December 1 for pneumonia as result of asthma complications. Luckily, his sitter (one of my fab friends) rushed him to the pediatrician for me and then my mom rushed him to the hospital from the doctors office while I finalized some lesson plans at school and tried to get coverage for my classes. Of course, it was not convenient as I was trying not to miss work because I would be taking off soon when B got home. Of course, I was hard core nesting because Bunte was coming home in just three days and being stuck in the hospital was the last thing I wanted to do. Of course, I was in panic mode thinking of all things that needed to be done at the house toprepare for Bunte and Wes' arrival and how much our lives were about to change. Of course, I was missing my husband terribly as he was half a world a way in Ethiopia. Of course, I was at my wits end trying to contain a wiggle worm of a two year old in a hospital bed with all of his monitors and IVs. But none of that brought on the tears.

It was the thought of the mothers in Ethiopia holding their children, sick with pneumonia, crying out for God's mercy and miracles, but knowing that really these moments were some of the last they would have with their child. They were watching their child struggle and gasp for a few last breaths and listening to the gurgles and wheezing of the dying child. A simple round of antibiotics would have probably saved the child's life. But there aren't many drugs available in Ethiopia and there is only one doctor to every 200,000 + people and specialists are even fewer: one pediatrician for every 4.5 million people. Staggering. So in the wee hours of the nite I held my baby boy and sobbed. It broke my heart that he felt to miserable, but I knew his IV antibiotics would do the trick and he would be on his way home eventually. I was praying for sooner rather than later, given that I was supposed to pick up my husband and new son at the airport in just two days! But I was also praying and weeping for those mothers that were losing their children forever, right at that moment. Ethiopia opened my eyes. Hearing mothers plead for money to feed their children, watching kids dig thru the wilted scraps of produce left on the roadside, walking past grown men whose backs are so severely deformed that they have to walk on all four limbs to get about the city, and seeing the long lines of people, at least 1,000 strong, weave in and around the buildings as they waited fruitlessly to have a turn in the medical clinic. How spoiled are we!? How selfish are we?! We Americans tend to have an out of sight, out of mind mentality. We somehow justify our expensive homes and cars because we "worked" for it and "earned" it. Or we think just because we mailed a donation to some philanthropy that we have done our share. Or we think the problem is so big, what difference can I really make, so why bother? I am guilty of it. I know it. But God allowed my eyes to be open while we were in Ethiopia and it has freed me from *some* of materialistic dreams that really did limit my happiness. I am a work in progress and I have so much to be thankful for.

Picture of some of the kids we saw on the street in Addis when we were there in October.

My heart was stirred to write this post after I finished reading the book This is a Soul: THe mission of Rick Hodes by Marilyn Berger. We did minimal Christmas gifts this year an Wes so thoughtfully, choose this as my gift. As I read it, I was touched by this man that uses every moment of every day to drastically change and save lives of cancer, TB, and heart patients thru out the world, but mostly in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. He witnesses extreme suffering and loss every day, but still he continues. He is the personification of altruism. He truly is amazing. I also love that Dr. Hodes, an Orthodox Jew, embraces religion and the healing power of faith. God can work above the dividing lines of organized religion. He can unite. And when He does, it is beautiful. The book is titled after Rick's belief that his patients are not just a "case of _____" or a statistic, but rather a SOUL that deserves to be loved and listened to, regardless of circumstance. That is why he takes a picture of his patients along with their x-rays or labs. What if our doctors here, in the US, cared for us in such a manner. Would our health care be better? Think about it.

I cannot save the world, but I can send a few bucks to help Dr. Hodes, one of the few doctors in Ethiopia, provide antibiotics at $.50 a pill to a small child or an ailing mother, and save their life. If you would like to join me in supporting him financially, check out this website. I can send a little money to a fellow AP heading to Addis so she can purchase some formula for Drawn from Water while she is in Ethiopia. And I can and did bring home,raise, and love one of the sweetest boys God put on this planet. You see, as Marilyn Berger writes in This is a Soul, altruism can bring more happiness and joy to the giver. My heart explodes with joy when I hear of new adoptive families or families that are in the beginning stages of adoption. Not because one little boy or girl will have a family, but also because I know of the joy that comes from being an adoptive parent and walking thru this journey. They will soon taste it. And it is addicting. What does God have in store for our family? I don't know? But I have a feeling Africa has not seen the last of us...

Monday, January 24, 2011


is hard to come by these days. I love being a mama to these two boys, but this adjustment is hard. Some of the pieces I share on here, but much of it is private. B doesn't need or deserve to have all of his emotional stuff/medical stuff/etc available for the whole world to read. One of the greatest challenges right now (besides Payton being a typical two year old), is the language barrier between B and I. Because he picks up on things so quickly and he is very aware of EVERYTHING I sometimes forget that he cannot fully comprehend my long explanations of things. In fact, P's conceptual understanding is actually better than B's. Some of the cute things B's says these days that remind me he is not really fluent in English just yet...

1. He rolls his Rs.
2. Light means light, hot, dangerous, sun, moon, star, etc
3. Downstairs is upstairs and upstairs is downstairs... and I correct him every time, but he still says the opposite.
4. Shinte and kaka. Oh, how Wes and I hate this one! It leads to many stares when we are in public and he asks to shinte (Amharic for pee) and then Payton proceeds to copy him (because he copies EVERYTHING B does) by saying, "Mommy, I sh*t in potty, too!" Yep. We cuss in public a lot these days. Hopefully these potty words will go by the wayside soon.
5. Ferras. Amharic for horse. B's first language is not Amharic and I don't think he knows much Amharic, but he does use this word. It is kind of strange that he uses it because he refuses to speak Sidama-afoo (Sidamigna) if anyone but W or myself is present. He wants to be English-only. However, today he taught P to count to 10 in Sidama-afoo (Mite, Lame, Sase, Shole, Onte, Le, Lamala, Sete, Honse,Tonne).
6. Lightening McClean. Lighting McQueen has a new name in our house, no matter how many times we correct him.
8. Every object in our house has its owner identified multiple times a day. I think part of this stems from B's orphanage experience. He never owned anything before he came to the US. He constantly wants me to explain who owns each item. If I answer by saying "family" or "shared" or "all of us," well my explanation is lacking in his opinion. He is upset that we only have three dogs, so we don't each own one. He is upset that W and I share toothpaste and we don't each have our own tube. He upset when he and P don't have exactly the same toy or eat exactly the same thing. It is irritating and truthfully, grinds on my every last nerve when I am explaining that, "no, that one pen sitting on the desk is neither mine, or Daddy's or P's... it is just. a. pen!" Or sometimes I just lie and say, "Yep. It's mine." Just so hewill move on with life!
7. And the list goes on...

While many of these phrases are cute, it is troublesome when the issues are bit more complex than say, Lightening McClean, and we cannot give a solid explanation. These are mostly emotional issues. For example, B often wants to be baby-like, because he watches P. I don't indulge all of these behaviors (tho we did let our 4 y old sleep in a crib for two weeks before telling him now it was time to sleep in his big bed). I want to explain to him that me telling him no is not because I don't love him, but because he is the big brother. I guess he will understand in time.

Anyhow, back to the purpose of this post. Between Payton's two year old-ness (no real need for explanation there, if you have parented a two year old...) and B's constant need for explanations, I am trying to find new ways of simplifying our routine around the house to save my sanity. Honestly, the thought of going back to work terrifies me. I feel fairly overwhelmed... and I am at home all day which allows me to do dishes, wash clothes, make appts, get to the store etc. All of things that I will have to figure out how to accomplish in much less time when I return to work in March. YIKES! Anyhow, we are making some slow but steady progress in simplifying and re-arranging our house and routines before I return to "real life" where I will be getting far less sleep and having far less time for daily household tasks. I will be back to cramming in US history readings and AP lesson planning and essay grading into my evenings. So here is one of our few steps towards re-organizing, planning, and simplifying...
A big step was this:

A train table.

It may sound strange, but seriously it has returned a bit of my sanity. Why, you ask? P LOVES trains. LOVES them. A few months ago my sweet cousin Willow, now approaching her teens, let us borrow her train table from her more youthful days. We put his Thomas track up and he was in 2 y. o. heaven. The only problem is that when the train tracks would come apart, P would get terribly upset and pick up the track and throw it. This meant that for the last few months I spent much of my day re-assembling train tracks. I AM OVER IT! So, W took a trip to L*wes and bought a piece of plywood and green paint and WOOD GLUE. I took a trip to the store and bought a few more pieces of train track. We put the kids to bed and got to work. We painted, engineered, and GLUED down the track! (Much like the ones in the book stores, kid's museums, etc) Now my kiddos can play all daywith the track and the tracks stay put! It. is. AWESOME! No more frustrated tantrums for P! And a little piece of my sanity returns...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Bunte's Certificate of Citizenship came in the mail today. He officially became a citizen when he landed in D.C. on December 4th, but now he has the documentation to prove it :)

(I am only showing the top corner here so that none of his identifying information can be seen.)

Anyhow, the CoC had more importance than simply stating his new country of citizenship. I think it was symbolic for him. That he is here to stay! Before today, we told Bunte he was from Ethiopia, Payton was from Georgia, and Mommy and Daddy were from Virginia. When we opened the envelope, I screamed and clapped and said, "Bunte, before Bunte was in Ethiopia, now Bunte is in Virginia!" He took a deep breath, smiled huge, and said, "Mommy's Bunte?" Yes, you are Mommy's Bunte FOREVER!" He jumped into my arms and gave me a HUGE hug and kiss. He may not understand that this paper gives him the right to vote, the right to the protection of our Constitution, or the right to have a voice in his government. Right now, this paper is important to Bunte because it means he is with us. Forever. And in his words, "it's special."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Living His Dream

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's hoping we can all rise above our destructive selfishness. Just imagine what that would look like!

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thank you, Dr. King and other civil rights activists, for creating a better America and a better world.

Today we celebrated by making a hand print wreath and reading an age-appropriate book about Dr. King.

I thought this post about MLK day was great. I could relate. Maybe you can too?


I was sitting at the computer, glanced over my shoulder and saw my youngest son playing with his computer... with a bucket on his head? ODD? I think so.

This is Lulu's spot. This is how she sleeps. Often. ODD? I think so.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A little love goes a long way.

Little B leaving Ethiopia on December 3, 2010. He looks little, scared and intimidated.

Bunte looking confident today, January 15th 2011.

I know I just posted a picture of B's growth, but it simply amazes me. Just over a month and he does not even look like the same child! A little love goes a long way! I praise God for the work he has done in my son.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Watch Him Grow!

My, oh my, how our boy has changed! What a difference 6 months can make. 3 or so inches, 10 or so pounds, and a whole lot of love! I love that we were able to get so many pics of our boy while we waited! It helped us so much during our wait. Thanks to everyone who took pics of Little B when you traveled! I know how crazy it was to try and remember who was who etc... but the days when we received emails with his pictures were WONDERFUL days!

Watch our boy grow before your eyes!

Referral Photo: Taken June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
Early October 2010
Late October 2010
November 2010
December 2010

TODAY! January 10, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Today He Broke My Heart...

Today my son broke my heart. Not on purpose. He had no idea. You see, parenting a four year old that does not speak the same language or come from the same culture that you are familiar with can present challenges and heart ache. So far, our son has been such a joy, so well-behaved. But why? He is eerily well behaved. He never gets out of the bed without permission. He never leaves the table without permission. He never hits P (even when P takes his toys, pushes him, etc.) Why? I've never met such an obedient four year old. Is he just trying to please us or is there more to this story? I think there is more... and here is why.

P loves music. Like L.O.V.E.S. music. I am pretty sure he will be quite a musician one day. So, I used the $15 gift card my sister gave me for Christmas to purchase some "kid" tunes, including one entitled "Tap your sticks." I got out the music set B got for Christmas (thanks, Ann ;). We each grabbed an instrument and began marching around the house to the song "Parade of Colors." (Yes, I know, this is what my life has turned into... but no complaints from this temporary SAHM that returns to work in March... I am loving every minute of my days with my kiddos!) Anyhow, B, P and I marched proudly along, laughing and singing. Then the tap your sticks songs came on and I picked up the drum sticks to show B how to tap out the rhythms. He froze. Like would not move. Would not look at me. Tears streamed down his face. I could not figure it out. Finally, he pointed to the computer and I changed the song and moved on, no more drum sticks or tapping. I was miffed. What happend? It was one of those moments that I so wished we spoke the same language.

When Wes got home, I played the song for him, showed him the sticks, and explained what happened. As soon as Wes picked up the drum sticks, B curled up in the chair, covered his face with his hands, closed his eyes and said, "NO!NO! NO! Go Bez, Go Bez (good boy)." There was nothing about either of these instances that (in my judgement) would cause B to think that we would hit him. We were playing (I thought). I immediately picked him up and rocked him. I held him tight. Our family is not a hitting family. We don't spank. EVER. (Not judging other parenting styles, but we choose to use a "time out" or "think it over" spot, while we stand near by.) Will B learn this? Will he learn we are safe? Will he trust us? Clearly, he has seen or experienced something much more forceful than a timeout. I won't know until he speaks enough English to communicate these deeper emotions and stories with me. For now, I can only speculate. I hope my suspicions are wrong. Dear God, please teach him we are safe. Please, heal his heart!

Today He, as in my God, broke my heart for my son. He gave me new eyes for my son. His life, his experiences are more complex, perhaps more heartbreaking than I once imagined. But I am thankful that today I was able to really see my son.


Today many Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia and across the globe are celebrating Christmas! Unlike the America's commercialized Christmas celebration, many Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia will attend long church services with candle light ceremonies, bless their children with special prayers, and maybe exchange very small gifts (like clothing for children.) Some will also break their fast (from the Advent season) with delicious injera and doro wat and a day full of celebrations will continue.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Conversations with my Kids #1

At the dinner table...

Me: What is his name (point to his Daddy)?

Payton: 'Es (Wes)

Me: What is my name?

Payton: Dina (Diana)

Me: What is his name (point to Bunte)?

Payton: Big Boy

Me: What is your name?

Payton: Baaaaaby Payton.

He makes my heart melt every stinkin' day!