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)

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!!!!!


  1. So fun to catch up on your family. We miss you and pray for you every time we pass your house.

  2. You are AMAZING! Kyle, thanks for sending me your blog link. Seriously, you guys are so awesome! I just took my blog private, but would be happy to add you, my email is: Send me a note, and I can add you.