Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why Ethiopia?

I have to answer the question of WHY I would want to go {back} to Ethiopia. How do you put into words what is an unexplainable tug on your heart - or - "from" your heart?
Is it those eyes? All those sweet, sweet children who exude joy in the midst of so little. Or so much?
I have always been an adventurous soul...wanting to know what was over the next hill or around the next corner. I want to see so much of what I have yet to see. When we landed in Addis over 3 years ago, I was brimming with excitement in a land of suffering and desolation...wanting to breathe in what was so, so foreign to me...all the while KNOWING I would never experience it authentically....not from my position of privilege and undeserved blessings.
One of my absolute favorite experiences was our trip to the HIV+ orphanage. I went with people who were not sure if they should touch the children - but - God gave me this sense of ignorance and peace and genuine desire to reach out to them right sit down on the cool tile floor, let them climb all over me, kiss their foreheads and help them unwrap their daily vitamin supplements. Their sparkling eyes and brilliant smiles...without a single word crossing their lips...beckoned me irresistibly to engage them, to playfully tease them and elicit precious giggles. I did not want to leave and from that moment on, I have desired to return. I would have scooped them all up and held them forever if it were humanly possible.
How can a person from such a comfortable existence so strongly desire to return to a land of so little, a land of suffering and unanswered questions that plague the heart? Maybe I will ask God when I get to heaven....but I think I will know full well, once I get there.
Please consider checking out Kari's blog is inspiring!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pictures from My Porch!

This is one of my absolute favorite places...MY PORCH! I love it in the early morning...when no one else (well, maybe Pete...who is usually already up & GONE!) is up...and I can steal a few moments to read and sip coffee. It faces due east so - if I am not up late like I am right now - I can occasionally catch the sunrise!

I love it when it is like Grand Central Station with kids everywhere you look. I have an aunt & uncle who never had kids and they act like they like it that way....I think they are SO missing out! There is a unequalled pleasure in seeing my children run and play and laugh and jump in the leaves. My porch is "base" for the dart gun wars or exhaustive games of TAG.

I have collected a menagerie of mismatched furniture and decorations...and they are delightful! There is usually an uncurled black hose to greet you on the way to my front door. It really does not bother me. It's just part of the perennial garden I love so much. Plus, if it were neatly curled up and put away each day, it would be SO out of place in MY world!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Swallowed in a Sea of Need & Pulled from the Side by This World?!

I follow a few blogs and MOST of them have to do with orphans and adoption. I am so immersed in the need that I can no longer imagine what it is like to live the suburban American life and not think about this global atrocity...much less ACT to change it. I am livin' it 24/7 and I must admit...there are brief moments of time when I think, "What the heck am I doing?!"
I am 44 years old...and I have 7 kids who range in age from 20 down to almost 1. If I did not have "other people's kids," this would be the very first year all my biological kids would be in school all day. Isn't that supposed to be the mom equivalent of FREEDOM? Like serving your sentence and finally being released? Or...maybe it's an "opportunity" to return to that overrated work stand up and shed my Mom attire...if only for a few hours each day. To have lunch hours and commutes and a schedule with meetings and phone calls that have nothing to do with children...
I did the math the other day. If this youngest angel stays, I will be almost 88 years old when he is MY age. NO more math!
I look at other families with 2.2 children and sometimes I wonder WHY my heart was not content there. A house, cars, vacations....a life in sight that does not have handprints all over every surface, sticky floors, bats & balls all over the yard or laundry that can literally be scaled by mountain goats. Not doubling (tripling?) recipes? Not shopping in bulk? No refereeing squabbles? Not figuring out how to explain the subtle nuances that make up a child who SEES color - but embraces and celebrates it!?

Then I have a glass of wine, sit back and get all choked up thinking how blessed I am that I have kids who love each other, love others and mess up my life with laughter! They change diapers, they wrestle, they argue, they play....they learn the value of human life...EVERY human life. They learn to live for more than themselves. There is no car manufactured or vacation place on the face of this earth I would trade for any of THAT!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dude....maybe NOT!

Me: Brogan, do your friends call you, "Dude?"
Brogan: Yea...but I don't like they don't anymore.
Me: Why do you not like it?
Brogan: Because that is not how I talk. I don't call anyone, "Dude."
Me: Do you think it's a bad word?
Brogan: No...I just don't talk like that. Jack always wants to call me dude, but I tell him I am not a dude.
Me: Does he still call you that?
Brogan: No...but he has a Dude Club.
Me: A dude club?
Brogan: Yea...everyone in the club calls each other dude.
Me: Do you want to be in Jack's club?
Brogan: Uh, no. I told you - I am not a dude.
Me: So, does that mean you are not friends with all the dude club guys?
Brogan: No...they like me too much. It's okay if I am not a dude.

Gotta love the THIS.IS.WHO.I.AM attitude!

Wow...a lot has happened!

I love summer and I love the busyness of it that sharply contrasts with the days. Obviously, this blog has not been a priority. However, we have a Mac desktop that I have resisted learning to use. Now that it has been moved to a room I actually LIKE to be in, I will go for it. So far, so good. (I suppose I am dating myself....because, if I were YOUNGER, I would have grown up on Apple Mac computers in school - right?!)
My last post was on the day we went to court and the state of IL took temporary custody of our lil man. Things did not get better for his mom after that and she got herself in situations that prevented her from seeing him on a regular basis. We kept in touch and I sent her pictures. She saw him on July 28 and then not again until just last Friday, October 1. He has changed SO much! He is funny, he is crawling - FAST - furniture walking, fake laughing, eating lots of solid foods and TEASING the 2 year old who is living with us now.
Oh, wait! That is a whole new world since the last post.
We have THE most amazing and adorable little 2 year old ATHLETE at our house now. He has been in Safe Families off and on since he was an itty bitty baby. Mom moves him in and out of the program and - when he comes back - the previous families are not always able to take him again. I have known him for some time since I drove him in the van full of kids down to Chicago to see their bio parents every Thursday. His mom would often miss her visits, so I got to hang out with him. He is yummy! When he needed yet another home, I scooped him up. (My case coach KNEW I loved him already.) He has been with us since August 31 and he fit in perfectly right away. My mom heart wants to keep him forever! My Father in heaven will have to decide if that is the plan for him, tho. And - if not - I will trust Him to heal my heart....
We did have another lil guy for about 2 weeks. My coach could not find a home for him. The placement was supposed to be for the remainder of the summer. She said he was 6 months at the time that H was 8 I thought, "oh...I can do that...he will be smaller and less mobile than H" - who was not even crawling at the time. She said: "It will be like TWINS! It will be fun." LIES! They WERE indeed like twins - in fact, the newbie was 8 days YOUNGER than H....but POUNDS heavier and movin'! He was crawling and furniture walking and getting into everything. He was a sweet lil giant, tho. I was not sad when his mom was able to take him back early....she loved him and it was obvious. I am not sure I would have remembered the rest of the summer if he had stayed. *wink*

As a family, we took a road trip to New Hampshire for two weeks in August. It was nice...and, as usual, went by FAST! We were able to make it to the beach in Maine twice and took fabulous pictures. We had a lot of fun just hanging out with my big extended family. Our little bear was a great traveler. It helped that we did it in 2 days each way, stayed in nice hotels with swimming pools and stopped on the way there at the American Niagara Falls. Another story worthy of it's own paragraph!
Pete and I have our passports and I have certified birth certificates for all the bio kids - but - since Ali is an ADULT now (wince), she would have to have a passport or an "enhanced driver's license." She has neither and we do not have a certified copy of little bear's birth certificate. This meant we could not even consider crossing over into Canada....not to mention, as a DCFS kid now, H is really not supposed to leave the country with us without advanced permission from the higher-ups in Illinois' DCFS. (Picturing the firing squad we could have gotten ourselves in front of had we tried! Oh my!) So....we decided to make the best of it and check out the American Falls in Niagara, NY. 
TIME OUT! I simply MUST stop here to say:
I HATE......really, really, really HATE to the core of my being....being SO sickeningly close to those insane falls with my children....much less anyone else's children.
It is amazing and awe inspiring...and it freaks me out. I am not going into detail because it makes me nauseous. I will simply say you can get way too scary, stupid close to the river AND the falls.
We had a good time and have breathtaking pictures. Been there, done that...fine if I never ever go back. Not good for my WILD imagination. I had nightmares about one particular child. Gee, think it could have been the one who had recently asked me, "Mom - why do you always think the things I do  - and WANT to do - are dangerous?!" E-gad!
Baseball games, cookouts, camping, bike riding, teeth falling out (not knocked out!), tears worthlessly shed over a boyfriend, starry eyes over the next guy, fishing trips, lazy evenings on the beach at the lake, impromptu trips for ice cream, sleeping in, running barefoot in the grass, a whole weekend of birthday parties at our house (with a Safe Family placement of 4 kids!), fireworks, trips to the zoo, tag, and late evening sunsets. I do love summer.
So, fall....what HAVE you in store for us? (It's spring and summer I am REALLY curious about, tho!)