Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Psalm 82:3

What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God?
What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?
(excerpt from The Hole in Our Gospel)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Christmas Photo

This would be our house in progress.  For those of you who haven't asked yet if we're officially settled in, the answer is NO.  When this hole in the ground has a house on it, then we can start the process of settling in.  Unless you've lived out of boxes for months in a smallish place while trying to acclimate five kids to a new everything, you won't really understand why we're not "settled" yet after three months.  For those who have done this before - and survived - serious kudo's to you!!!

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends!  We miss you :o)

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Happy 1/2 Birthday Surprise

Think we surprised him?

Everyone likes cake and presents, right?  And everyone knows when to blow out the candles, right?  WRONG!  When we walked out with the cake all a glow, he immediately blew them out - didn't even know he was supposed to wait for the singing to end or make a wish first.  Who made up those rules anyway?  That light-up card he's reading is a Hoops an YoYo b-day card.  He's still laughing each time he opens that one (so is his mother).  I heart hoops and yoyo.

Our little family taking a stroll...(thanks for cooperating, family...and by cooperating,
I mean not complaining TOO much)

When your teenage son gets big enough to wrestle his dad & wins most of the time, it's time to change the rules of "fair fighting".  For example, why not go ahead and lock your teen in one of these thingies while trying to punch him back?  After all, he started it!

The boys were trying to prove that goats will eat anything...but don't worry, mom stopped the "feeding" after just one rather large leaf.

Went to NC for the weekend (which is where all these photos come from)
to see my little brother and his cute wife.

This would be my LITTLE brother.  Pretty sure he could bench press me.

Played at a children's museum where MJ loved the pretend store.  My check-out girl just didn't like when I bought the fish.  Of course I had to buy it again and again because this face was just too cute to NOT see each "trip" I made to the store!
Never too old to play with Leggo' matter how many times you tell you mother you're bored. 
Sure didn't look bored to me!
Madam C loves to climb trees....
MJ...not so much! 
Too bad you can't "hear" this photo - she was screaming like a Corey!
(yes, it's called screaming like a Corey because his scream is so ear-piercing and annoying that it would be offensive to girls if we called it 'screaming like a girl.)
In other news, we finally have some regular activities in our life.  Of course they all revolve around athletics (surprise, surprise, eh?)

Chelsea is in gymnastics and loves, loves, loves it.  One of these days her mother might remember to take her camera and take some pics.

Miranda Joy is in dance and donning tap shoes once in a while.  Mostly, though, I think she just likes to wear her pretty pink leotard and twirl to music.

Corey and Jacob are patiently waiting for soccer season to roll around.  No indoor leagues here unless you pay $500. - which I won't!  So, they hang at the YMCA when we're there - which is at least 3 times a week - playing in the interactive "teen room", swimming and learning to play racquetball.  Surprisingly, neither of them are terribly bad at racquetball.

Jared made the JV basketball team this week - Yea Jared!  He's been going to open gym nights since school started, but this week he came home sore and tired and sore from tryouts.  That doesn't happen often, so they MUST have worked him hard!  Looks like we'll need the family season game pass to watch him play - I wonder how much a family of 6 will cost?  Yike$! 

And Mom and Dad are at the Y with the above mentioned kiddo's.  I am learning that treadmills aren't too terrible - mostly because nobody needs anything from me while I'm on it.  It's like I get into a zone...and it's almost peaceful (Tiffany & Elisabeth, I hope you were sitting down when you read that last sentence).  And playing racquetball with my hubby and teenage son is quite enjoyable. Sometimes I even win :o)

Still church shopping, but it's getting easier to just show up somewhere and go with the flow.  Have officially been invited to church by 2 different people now.  I honestly expected more than 2 people would have said the words "You should come join us at our church someday" given that we live in the Bible Belt.  Maybe 7 of us scare people?  Oh well, guess once we land somewhere permanent we'll be the one's going out of our way to invite people to church - because it would seem that very few people do that around here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Alas, an update

We made it here safely...and so did our "stuff".  However, before that bright orange moving truck showed up in front of our house, we were in a hotel for a couple nights, then were "camping" in the house with whatever we were able to squeeze into our luggage.  Ever had a house to live in with nothing inside it?  Ever tried to cook for 7 when you had no cookware or utensils?  Or get showers for 7 people when all you had were 3 towels and travel size shampoo's?  Fun times for sure!

I had shopped for a few groceries thinking I had easy to make meals, but when you can't open a can (oops!) or chop up food (no, plastic knives do NOT work), it sure makes life interesting.  Even bought Eggo waffles for breakfast thinking that would be easy...but forgot I didn't have my toaster yet.  DUH! And I won't tell you how much it costs to take a family of 7 out for meals...yikes!  We made due, but were really glad to have "stuff" when it showed up.  I'm glad to say that everyone missed mom's cooking and were glad to not have to go out to dinner anymore.  Shocking, eh?

The challenge then became squeezing the 7 of us it into 1900 square feet and finding what we needed.  After three weekends of opening boxes and re-packing them, we think we finally have the basics...for now.  Why get everything out when you're just going to move in 4-5 months again, and don't have room for it anyhow, right?  Right!

School started a little late for all the kids this year.  Here would be our elementary kids headed out for school after a nice breakfast at 6am in a hotel lobby.  Jacob is in 5th grade, by the way. 

If you ever try to call me between 2 and 5 pm (eastern time), I will probably ignore you.  Why?  Because that's when my afternoon turns into this:

Jacob has lots of homework every night and despite knowing it's okay to not finish everything (his teachers said so :o), he still wants too.  This kid's attitude about school is like his hair in a swimming pool; sponge-like.  His ESL teacher is awesome and after testing it was decided that if he were in school in Ethiopia, they would probably put him in a gifted program.  However, since English is so new to him, he tested about where MJ is or even a little lower.  He can read English but doesn't comprehend what he reads.  Why?  His vocab. is 80 to 100 words.  At his age, if a child has been in the US his whole life, his vocab. should have 5,000 words.  Basically he's doing above average for having such a limited vocabulary and understanding of words. Told you he was smart!

If you want to know how we do homework here, try to explain words like: government, constitution, scientific method, photosynthesis, balancing scales, adverbs, proper nouns, etc. to a 3 year old...or a cat.  Seriously, try it!  We draw pictures of things, tell stories about things he knows and try to relate it to what he's learning...and anything else we can think of.  My brain hurts by 5pm every night.  Fortunately he's eager to learn, wants to do a good job and has teachers who care more about him learning the material instead of memorizing some facts for a good grade on a test!  I am loving schools out here to say the least.  Even MJ qualified for ESL.  We all knew she was a little behind her same age peers, but since she technically learned some Chinese before English, she automatically qualifies.  I have a whole new respect for ESL teachers.  How they teach kids English concepts with minimal comprehension of the language is impressive.  Both MJ and Jacob get to go to this teacher's class every day and they love her.  Heck, I love her too!

Jacob is apparently very well-liked at school and the boys include him in everything.  His teacher said she thinks they don't always understand one another, but somehow they figure one another out.  She also said she has never had a student come from another country so willing to learn, cooperative, observant and polite.  Proud mama moment for sure :o)  People in Ethiopia are wonderful and I know his "roots" have everything to do with how he turned out!

Chelsea is getting used to having homework.  She doesn't necessarily like it, either.  Fortunately, learning about VA is more exciting than learning about UT (so she says...and me to, actually) so we google things on a computer to make homework a little more fun for her.  She's the only one having a hard time sometimes with the move.  But really, back in UT, she was the only one who had a hard time with lots of little things.  Pretty sure hormones and emotions are the cause of that, though.  The kids at school like her and she said people in her new school are WAY nicer, but she sure misses her Kaley!

The boys catch a bus in front of the house each morning (yep, that's a glimpse of our little place).  First day of school for them was after we got into our house...but the house was still empty at that point.  We had frozen waffles heated up in a microwave for their "back to school breakfast."  Can you say soggy?

Jared seems to be doing pretty well in school.  Grades are great as usual, but he isn't used to homework either.  He doesn't usually need help (not like I would know how to help him anyhow!), and just gets it done.  He has been going to open gym nights 2x a week at the HS and plans to try out for the JV basketball team.  We watched the movie "Forever Strong" last weekend, though, and he said "hey, after basketball, think I could try rugby?"  Of course his entire athletic career is being bogged down now with a knee issue.  He sees a dr. next week (insurance kicks in then, yea!) and begs us for x-rays.  It must be bad if he ices it each night and begs for a dr.  Sure hope it's nothing major. 
Jared has been a huge help around here with everything.  I can honestly say that we wouldn't be doing as well as we are without his help...with everything.  He just pitches in, takes charge and doesn't complain.  In fact, we usually try to NOT ask him for much of anything since he's adjusting to a new life here, but in the end, he just does it anyhow.  Sure love this teen of mine!
Corey loves middle school and middle school LOVES him.  His blue eyes catch everyone's attention - even the teachers - and he finally admitted it was "kinda cool...(but still annoying)."  Not sure I like having 8th grade girls walk up to him and say "you're SO cute", but at least it's positive I guess.  And you know what else?  He's been in school 3 weeks and has ZERO missing assignments.  If you really know us, you know how big of a deal that is.  They have A and B days here, which means he only has 4 classes per day and each class is longer.  I think it's helping reinforce what he's learning, giving him time to finish work in class AND have time in class to ask for help if he needs it.  He also has a case manager (yep, kids with an IEP have someone keep tabs on the kids weekly) and she actually calls me.  Wow, I never got attention or help or anything with him in Utah schools.  His case manager also compliments him, tells him he's awesome when he turns something in early (can you believe that?) and treats him like a normal kid.  Don't mean to bash UT public schools, but when you have kids with educational needs they are not addressed nearly as professionally, quickly and personally.  Did I mention class sizes are at 20? WOW!

Not sure what to say about that hair...(sigh).  Did find a barber today, though, and we're heading there this week. Don't tell him that.

This is what Kyle does every waking moment when he's not working.  Good thing he's a handy man!  We've had leaks, a small flood due to plumbing issues, hot water heater issues, broken and loose everything, windows put in backwards, etc.  All I can say is "It's and old house...and it's a rental."  The landlord is very nice, though, and I know he feels bad each time we call.  Thus, Kyle tries to fix most everything himself (which he can do now that he has his tools).  

A very cool perk of living where it's hilly (which is all of Roanoke):

This is our backyard.  The kids "explore" the little forest back there and make up their own version of hunger games (no, they don't try to kill one another).  A couple nights ago we had friends visit the yard.  It was VERY cool.

 Think we should name them if they keep coming around? 

Mommy's little helper hard at work.  This girl loves being in "big girl school" and is very social.  Sometimes too social, if you can believe that.  We checked out a church last night for a mid-week thing and Jacob and Clelsea came home and said MJ told them everything and wouldn't let them say anything and should have kept personal stuff personal.  When I asked what she talked about both Chels and Jacob gave me the rundown.  And since their stories match, I know they're not exaggerating!

Teacher: Why don't you tell us about yourself, Miranda?" 
Miranda: I am Miranda...Chelsea had surgery...I had surgery a whole bunch of times...Jacob, me and Corey are adopted...Jacob was in an orphanage, Mom and Dad got me from China, Chelsea's fish died, Lizzy (our former dog) is in Utah and Chelsea cried, Grandpa died, Hailey is dead, our house leaked....
Teacher:  (not sure what she thought...yikes!  probably that some psycho family just landed on their door step)

Oh, the innocence of children.  Now we get to try and teach Miranda to talk about things she wants to talk about, without talking about things.  Hum...not sure how that'll work!

And this is me...every M-F from 2:30 - 5:00.  Pretend you see me getting up and down and moving from computer to computer, from kid to kid and to the kitchen to start dinner before having to leave and get Kyle from work.  This is what I do for a living.  (sadly, we still have not had TIME to find a second car)

Random photo of "the twins".  Chels and MJ used to do this all the time (still do occasionally) and it looks like the boys are up to it now.  Even went to the library dressed like this.  I noticed a few stares...they didn't notice (or care). 

This photo is special.  May not look like much, but it's where our future home will be.  To the right it goes up a little mountain, so the kids have a quarter acre or so of forest to call their own.  Got the contracts signed, permits are being pulled...and February 1st ish SHOULD be when we will have a home again.

This is the view from where our future front porch will be.  We're at the end of a cul-de-cac and the top of a little hill.  Down the hill is a swimming pool and tennis courts, so that's a bonus!  Jared and dad already have the basketball hoop location plotted out too.  In fact, they knew where that was going before we knew the footprint of our house.  Priorities!

That's all for now!  Headed out to sign docs any moment to close on our house in UT - finally...or should I say again?  Paperwork issues on their end have held it up...and we've been just waiting for the e-mail to show up so we can sign, notarize and FED-X.  Looks like that time is seconds away...or so they say!!!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So long Utah...VA here we come!

We're moving to Virginia!
Yes, you read that right.  And yes, we know you're not supposed to do major life changes back to back.  But for those of you who know us (really know us), know that's just sort of how God does things in our family.  And though it's all a bit surreal at the moment, we're all surprisingly excited about it.  Yea, we will miss many Utah friends (most of whom are truly part of our family), but in the end, God has opened too many doors in the past 4 weeks for us to question what's He's up too.  

Kyle starts his new job on the 27th, the rest of us move out there on the 5th and yes, our house here is under contract - Praise God!!!!!  It'll be interesting, I'm sure.  We have no idea what's in store, but I know from many experiences that the crazier the path seems to be, the more joy we find along the way.
Jacob (formerly Habtamu) and Corey are virtual twins.  Just like Chelsea and MJ have a special bond, the boys have figured out one another's quirks and have more in common than we initially thought.  They started Karate for a few weeks here, can you tell?  Once we get settled they made me promise I'd find them a new Karate class.  (If you're wondering why Habtamu has a new name, it's because HE wanted one.  He chose it.  Apparently he likes the Bible stories about Jacob and said "I just like that name, can I be called that?") our other adopted children, his given Ethiopian name is now his middle name.  

Jared will start HS in VA.  He's excited about that part, and just wished we got moved before school started there.  He's really hoping there is a good basketball team there in need of a point guard! 

Corey will enter junior high out there, and thinks that sounds fun.  I'm not sure jr. high is ready for him, but apparently I don't have a say in that one!  Not sure where they'll start Jacob, but maybe he'll be there too.  If not, he'll be a 5th grader...guess time and some testing will tell.

Chelsea and Miranda are seemingly good with things.  Chelsea has been the only one to express some sadness at moving, but more often than not she talks about new adventures we'll have.  She looked through some VA books recently and thinks she's about to live in a rainforest...and this girl loves learning about the rainforest.  Miranda helped pack 3 weeks ago.  She gathered her Rapunzel doll, her Alvin, Simon & Theodore stuffed animals and each one's girlfriend, and put them all in a Kohl's bag under her bed.  When I went to tuck her in one night she said she had a surprise for me.  She smiled great big, pulled out the bag and said "Look, mom, I helped you pack my stuff!" 

Kyle is excited about his new job and I get to keep mine (i love my directors!).  We're also on the same page about school, home and kid stuff, so our anxiety level is fairly minimal.  That says a lot, too, since as of right now he's living in an Extended Stay hotel and we don't have a home to rent yet! Yikes.  He's got a week to start a job, find a lot to build a home on, get a rental in the mean time and buy a car. 

Some of you may be reading this and going "Wowa...I didn't know you were moving!"  Well, 4 weeks ago we didn't either and things have happened VERY fast. 

My next post will be more of a "good bye" post, but right now I have 5 kids waiting to head to the pool.  Their stuff is boxed, they're not starting school here and we need to keep our sanity :o)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Our first few days together, as a family. Pictures are better than words.

Our welcoming party.
How sweet are they?  Well, everyone in this photo is waiting for their future children too.  No joke.  Two families waiting on referrals from Ethiopia and one with a referral already from Haiti :o) 
Our Chinese Princess meets our Grasmatch Ethiopian son. 
This would be the moment Corey (in the hat) and Habtamu "meet" for the first time.  Starring contest??  
Hum...wonder what's going though his mind right about now? 
Thank you for making him feel welcome (and by welcome, I'm sure I mean a little shell shocked :o)

We went to the library for the first time with Habtamu.  He loved it.  We told him he could choose 2 movies for the week and he came back with 5.  I said "two is will be busy this week".  He put one back, and asked how many Chelsea could have this week.  I said "She can have two movies, too."  He quickly looked at the four in his hand, pointed to the first two movies and said "Habtamu's, Habtamu's" and then pointed to the other two movies in his hand and said "Chelsea's, Chelsea's".  HA!  Told you he caught on quick!  We all had a good laugh about that one (and he did finally choose only 2 movies).

Well, I guess the "boys will be boys" thing is starting at home.

He loves movies.  Not necessarily watching them, but he loves to look at the box, read the back and talk to our resident movie expert about whether or not he likes them.  He and Corey seemingly have a few things in common, wouldn't ya say?

He learned to ride a bike in 10 minutes and within two hours, he was off and rode like he's been riding forever.  He was not putting that bike away until he figured it out either. 

And he's off.....

Our 5 kiddo's.  Wow...did I just write that I have 5 kiddo's?

Before we came home, we spent a couple of days in DC.  Yea, we were a little tired, but we had the sweetest hosts!  They made it feel like we were at a bed and breakfast, catered to our every whim, had 4 fun kids to hang out with and we had fun just being there.  Thanks Owens family!  We would love to do that again sometime :o)  By the way...that IS the White House behind us.

The 5 of us...and the 6 of them couldn't fit into one vehicle, so we split them up according to gender.  That's the only way to make it fair, right?    

Hey Emily Anderson....the girl in the green says to tell you "HI!"

And this would be Habtamu on his first airplane ride (obviously I'm not blogging in order of events here).  He traveled great and slept only 2 hours from Addis to DC (sort of like the rest of us) - then stayed awake all day long when we arrived in D.C.

Our fun friends :o) who live in a fun city!

Yea, we walked a little.  Yea, we were tired.  But it was so worth it!

This would be at the WWII Memorial.  It's breathtaking.

Happy Anniversary, sweetie!  This will be an anniversary I'll never forget :o)

Today we went to a fun center for bouncing and swimming.  Habtamu loved it (as did the rest of the kiddo's). 

Ahhh...much cooler now.

First time down a water slide (well, we're pretty sure it's his first time).

Is he waving?  Yea, I think he is.  And Jared apparently won the race down.

Hold your we go!

Wow...that was fast!

Gotta love dad's face on this one. 

Tired and worn out...NOT!

Parents of 5 far so good!