Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pictures, Lots of Pictures!

A summary of what we've been up to.....

 Eddie Joe ready for Easter.  He loves his vest and tie.

 The whole fam together for our first group pic

 Peaches and her friend Jaynie, setting the table for Easter dinner at the Beavers' house.

 Peaches always enjoys a good laugh with Jaynie!

 Peaches and her good friend Oksana.  Continents united.  An African orphan and a Russian orphan united as friends in America.

 Baseball in the beanfield behind our backyard.  Since the field hasn't been planted yet, it makes a great place to play ball.  Peaches' choice of shoes were her Barbie high heels.  I'm guessing she didn't play baseball in high heels in a beanfield in Ethiopia very much!  Welcome to Nebraska, Peaches!  Welcome to our family!

 The high heels had to come off for her to really dig in.  She hits the ball off the ground like a golfer.

 Our hope is that God's peace will cover her even to a greater extent than the peace signs that cover her shirt.

 I think she's getting ready to steal third base.

 Definitely the new trend for baseball players this Spring.

 Love to see the brightness of her face!

 The Big Fella is always having a good time when there is a baseball game going on.

 Shoes are set aside and now Peaches is taking a great whack at the ball.

 Eddie Joe is up to bat, Rye-Bread is catching, and T-Bird is bringin' the heat.

 The big swing!  I think it's out-a-here!

 Grandma came to visit to meet Peaches for the first time.  We were so glad to have Grandma, Grandpa, and even my favorite sister Rachel for a visit!

 There's always music when Grandma and Grandpa come for a visit.  Rye-Bread is playing guitar as we sing "Marvelous Light." 

 Grandma has waited a long time to hold her newest grandchild.  And there's no better place for Grandma to be with her newest little girl than at the piano.  
(Not sure what's on Eddie Joe's mind!)

 Here's my favorite sister Rachel with Grandma.  Grandpa was already in the car ready to go!

 More pink and purple items were purchased at Wal-Mart today.  I'm really not sure how those items keep getting in the cart.  I'm certain it's not my fault but that I am being subjected to some type of Jedi mind trick by Peaches.

 Thanks Anh for doing laundry again for us!!!!  You can't imagine what it means to us!

 Dad shopping with the youngest three.  The trip included a stop at Starbucks for some donuts (and coffee for me)......

 .....A shopping extravaganza at Wal-Mart where Peaches' brothers taught her how to ride on the side of the shopping cart.....

.......And a stop at McDonald's for Chocolate Shakes!  Now that's a fun day!

Peaches has been home with us for a month and 3 days.  We continue to settle in, we continue to struggle, we continue to grow in to one another, we continue to love.  We are reminded daily of her difficult past and reminded daily of God's healing touch.  This girl that was at an orphanage in Africa is now drinking milkshakes and eating donuts with her siblings.  She's playing baseball in high heels, and she's wearing the latest girl's fashion designs from Wal-Mart.  I'm thankful for how God has blessed her already, how He's placed her in our lives, how we are made fuller by having her.  I'm thankful that God allowed us to have room for more.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our Easter Afternoon.....

We were honored by being invited to the Beavers' house for Easter dinner.  I had great thoughts of taking some pics to be able to blog about our Easter afternoon.  But, I took very few pics - mainly because I was busy eating a lot of food and drinking a lot of coffee (both of which were amazing).  One of the best parts of the meal was eating the wonderful kartoshka made by Daria.  So while I was busy eating lots of kartoshka and ham, Mrs. Beaver was busy taking great pics and later putting together a great blog about the day.  Read and enjoy our afternoon by clicking HERE.  Thanks to the Beavers for inviting us over and allowing your continuously overflowing love to spill on to us!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Instructions for Rice Cooking? Well-done

So, Heather was making rice with her new rice making machine.  A friend recommended it as a way to make some easy food for Meddie.  It was the second time that she had used it and she noticed that it wasn't working very well this time just like it didn't work very well the first time.  And the crazy machine didn't come with directions either! 

I had just walked in the house from work while she was cooking the rice and I noticed a smoke smell.  I was mindful that my question might seem to insinuate something about her cooking, but still I wanted to know, "what is that smoke smell??? It smells like something is definitely burning???"  She said, yeah, she noticed it too.

So this new rice making machine that was recommended to make her life easier, didn't work very well, had a strange smell, and didn't come with any instructions!!

Here's a picture of the rice making machine:

So after fighting the smell through the second cooking of rice, she decided to dig into things a little bit.  After pulling out the metal bowl that the rice sits in, she was so excited to have found the instructions!!!

After turning them over, she realized what the burning smell was!!

The directions had been originally packaged in between the metal bowl that holds the rice and the burner that the metal bowl sits on.  The whole conundrum was figured out.  The directions were found, we figured out why it wasn't working well, and now the burning smell was gone!  Now, if we could just make out what those charred instructions say.......

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Latest Pics of Meddie

Some new pictures of our Konjo Meddie.  Enjoy the look into our lives with our little girl.

Wearing a "How to Train Your Dragon" helmet and a "Cinderella" bib and eating pasta and drinking chocolate milk.  Life is good and yes, she's probably going to get spoiled.

 A smile for the camera showing off her earrings.  Her ears were pierced at some time in her past and so she occasionally likes to put in a pair of Sunshine's earrings.

 Whenever we try to pour her a glass of milk, she runs to the fridge and points at the chocolate syrup and says, "this one."  She will even go to the fridge and get the milk and the chocolate syrup out and begin to make her own - as she's doing above.  She is much, much more independent and willing to fend for herself than any of our other kids.  It shows some of the resourcefulness that she had to learn earlier in life.

Fun games with her brothers.  T-Bird's not sure what game they're playing here.  He only knows that he is supposed to lie still...she has four amazing brothers.

I had to include this pic of the Big Fella......because he's the Big Fella!

 Peaches eating some peaches

Today she discovered some of Katie's dolls from many years ago that we didn't even know we still had.  She had a lot of fun with them and even brought them in her stroller today when we took a walk.

So thankful for an amazing group of friends from our church!  Elizabeth came over today to clean.....she dusted throughout the house and cleaned our floors.  We can't say thank you enough!

So how's the bonding going?  It's going better, though we have a long way to go.  She was willing to sit in my lap since she was going to get her picture taken.  She's still not allowing much closeness, but I'll take this any day.  In the 3.5 weeks that we've been home, I've only had a few hugs from her.  But I know many more will come with time.  We have many, many years to get to know each other!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A New Song

We attended church today for the first time as a family of eight - BTW, that's pretty much an entire row at our church.  Unsure how Meddie would respond, we proceeded cautiously awaiting a meltdown of unknown size and/or timing.  But to our delight, she responded quite well.  You could see the gears turning in her mind as she tried to process all that was going on around her - strange language, lots of people, many kind people approaching her closely with big smiles, etc.  She quietly took it all in.

Heather first took her to Eddie Joe's Sunday School class and sat with her.  After a short time, Meddie decided it would be good to rotate between Eddie Joe's Sunday School class, the adult Sunday School class, and the nursery.  Realizing that each one was somewhat boring after a few minutes, she would point to the door and turn to Heather and they were off to the next place in the rotation.  It's amazing how much can be communicated with eye contact, hand pointing, and small sounds.  I do think she enjoyed the ability to migrate and sample different parts of the church building.  I know that most eyes were following her as she was coming and going, rather than listening in Sunday School.

Once the worship service started, we were even more unsure how she would respond.  But we were surprised by her response to the singing.  We had a missionary speaking, a great man from Cameroon whom we have come to know quite well through his visits over the years.  The emphasis of the morning had a missions flavor and the songs that we sang also shared that message.  As Heather and I stood together, with Heather holding Meddie, we sang great songs of sharing God's love with the nations.  To our delight, we could hear our little African Princess humming along.  Though she didn't know the words or the melody, she was following our sounds in her own quiet little hum.  It was moving to consider our congregation singing together of taking the gospel to the nations while our little beauty who has come so recently from a faraway nation was singing in Heather's arms.  This, the very building where God had called us to adoption, was now where we were singing together as a family of eight, worshiping our great God, holding our beautiful girl.  It was a Selah moment to pause and remember God's goodness.

I often have to stop and take a moment to think of the work that God has done already in the life of this little girl.  And in our lives too.  We are challenged daily by the adjustments that are happening in our family, but not nearly as much as she is challenged by the changes that are happening to her.  She still has little to do with me during her sad or emotional times - leaving Heather as the single parent to work through the emotions with a sad or frightened heart.  It's understandable that she would reject one of us - after all, where have we been for the last 4.5 yrs of her life?  We enter her life, take her to a new world, and she's left to wonder, "what next?"  And it's in that wondering that we see the deep thoughts in her eyes and the pain in her little crying voice as she tries to process something that she can't understand or comprehend.  Even if we had language to share the words, the mind of a four year old is not able to grasp the depth of loss that has happened to her.

But the singing voice from this morning is a reminder that God is in control.  God called us to adopt, God led us to our little Peaches, and God can heal her.  This morning's song that she hummed was merely a repeating of the sounds she was hearing from us.  But, we long for the day when she sings a new song, a song that God places in her heart, a song of healing, a song of peace, a song of joy, a song of worship.

And they sang a new song, saying,
"Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood 
you ransomed people for God 
from every tribe and language and people and nation."
Rev. 5:9

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ice Cream, You Scream!

A very important food group at our house is ice cream.  Check out the video of Meddie enjoying her first bowl of ice cream.  I think she's going to fit in just fine around here!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Airport Homecoming Thoughts

Airport Homecomings are an amazing end of the "bringing home" part of the adoption.  It is the finalization of all of the effort that it takes to bring a child home from a distant country to be united with your own family.  It is a bringing together of all of the friends and family that participated in the adoption process and cheered you along the way.  It is the exclamation point that says "We're HOME"!

The Stauffers are a family from Des Moines that drove 3 hours just to attend our homecoming.  They are also with AGCI and are currently working on their dossier - specifically they are on the fingerprinting stage.  They got to know us through blog world and through our agency's email loop.  They were kind enough to drive all that way and kind enough to take pictures and even kind enough to post about our homecoming. 

So please take a moment and visit their website by clicking here --->  Answering God's Call to Orphan Call

Thanks Stauffers for all your kind words and for being there to celebrate with us!

We are so thankful for so many friends who attended our airport homecoming.  Even after 27 hours of travel, we were sky high as we looked around at so many friends.  We were thankful to the Beavers for their many pictures and their posts, we were thankful to the Schmidts for putting together an awesome DVD, to Layner (and others) who took our luggage and carry-ons to the car without even being asked, to Tess and family who made the many, many cupcakes, to those who made such colorful signs and brought balloons and brought smiles and hugs and joy.  We are so, so blessed.  It was a great celebration of the work that God had performed during an amazing 16 months of our lives.  Thanks for being there with us!  Thanks be to God.

I have linked to these before, but wanted to once again give a special thanks to be Beavers for these kind posts:
Kind Post 1
Kind Post 2
Kind Post 3

A blog post doesn't begin to thank all of the people to the degree that we would like to.  There were many that prayed, many that called, many that helped with our kids (and dog!), many that cooked, many that served in ways that we would never have imagined.  We can't thank everyone enough for your love and support and for just being there for us.  You have all perfectly demonstrated the love of Christ in ways that we will never forget.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Konjo Meddie

One thing we've learned in the ten days that we've been home is that adoption is not all about smiles.  The pictures we post on our blog and on facebook show a lot of smiles.  But many times, there just aren't any.  As it is with life, much of what we share are the happy moments.  The other times?  Well we'd rather just post pictures of smiles.

We've been going through a lot of adjustments here.  First, I'm reminded again of the changes that our Konjo Meddie is going through (Konjo is "beautiful" in Amharic).  She has left her culture, her country, her food, her language, her friends - they are all gone now.  She is now living life in the middle of a family that loves her dearly, but has its own faults.  Those are a lot of changes for a little 4.5 yr old girl to go through.  Even if she is extremely Konjo.

Her sleep habits have been good and have been bad.  Right now, they're not so good.  As I'm blogging, Heather is laying down with her, hoping she'll go to sleep tonight.  Last night, Konjo Meddie was up many times.  Naps?  They've been essentially non-existent.  Combine a tired, language-less 4 yr old with a tired mom, and well, you know how that goes.  There are many things that I've read about adopted children fighting sleep, and let me tell you, they are all true!  For a child to sleep, they must feel safe, they must feel at rest, they must feel comfortable with loosing control, they must deal with the thoughts in their minds since the visual stimulation of the day disappear, there is much that is going on.  Combine that with the fact that she is a 4 yr old that just might not want to go to bed, or just might not want to do what Mom and Dad says, or just might need to go to the bathroom (again), or just might really need a drink, or just might really be scared.........

Enough about sleep!  Food has been good.  Sleep and food are the two big initial battlegrounds, and the food has been (as they say in Africa) "no problem."  Though it is likely due to the passenger that she brought along with her from Ethiopia.  The "friend" within her will hopefully disappear soon as we are now dosing it with some type of liquid medication to eradicate it.  Thankfully, she is taking her medication with no issues.  We're through 7 of the 15 doses so far.  We'll see what happens to her appetite when she is no longer eating for two.

Bonding?  It's been great with our five other kids.  There have been virtually no issues with them over the last 10 days.  She has bonded beautifully with Sunshine our 17 yr old daughter.  And all of the boys have been magical with her.  In fact, Sunshine took all of the kids to Wed night church tonight while Heather and I stayed home with Konjo Meddie.  After about 45 minutes, Konjo Meddie wanted to know where her brothers and sister were....enough of the night with the parents only!  I am extremely thankful that Konjo Meddie's siblings are so patient with her.  They go out of their way to die to self daily with her.  God's grace and mercy have poured through their lives right into little Meddie's heart.

Bonding has also been good with Heather.  I am very thankful with that since I am at work during the day and Heather is Meddie's main link to the world.  Let me just say that Konjo Meddie has an amazing mom! 

Bonding with me?  It's only good when it's on her terms.  She dictates everything and it's very clear that she's doing it.  If it's playtime, she's all about dad.  She likes to be playful and have me chase her and push her on the swing and just have fun.  But if I correct her with a simple "no," then it is rejection time.  If she's tired and I come near her, it's rejection time.  If she needs help with something and I come near her unrequested, it's rejection time.  It seems as though she's chosen to reject one parent and that's me.  Her grief and her inability to understand what's going on around her is channeled into a vote of "I don't like what's going on."  She stays warm to Heather (most of the time) in order to keep the motherly love flowing to her.  She rejects me as a means of expressing her desire for independence.  It's a complicated flow of emotions that I'm sure she herself doesn't even understand.

This is why Heather is laying with her right now and I'm blogging.  Even if I wanted to go in and help, there would be rejection.  I tried to fight through the rejection two nights ago.  I was reminded once again that she was not ready and that a very recently internationally adopted child cannot be parented in the same manner that I've parented five other bio kids.  As much as my gut says to do this or do that, there are different rules that cannot be ignored.  I'm scouring books for wisdom, praying much, and talking with friends who have walked down similar roads.  Suddenly my parenting experience is not of much use.  So we desire to love her as Christ would love her and forgive her as Christ would forgive her.  Isn't that what adoption is all about?  Isn't that what parenting is all about?  Oh how we gain new glimpses into God's patient love for us.

Sleep and bonding.  Those are the two things we are battling.  They are tiring and can be frustrating.  They do not come through in happy blog posts.  But, that is where we are living.  Sure, there are many happy times.  Yes, things have gone extremely well in a lot of areas.  And certainly, there have been a lot of happy pictures and videos that have been recorded.  And we are extremely grateful for God's mercy that's been extended to our family.  But to leave the story just at happy blog pictures would be less than truthful.  Because we're tired and we're confused.  We know that this is a marathon we're running, not a sprint.  We know her problems and adjustments won't all be resolved in a few short days, or weeks, or months.  We know much love and wisdom will be required.  We know we don't have that love or wisdom, but God does.  We know that He's enough for all of our shortcomings.  We know that He will sustain us and He will heal her.

In the end, the reality of adoption is similar to the reality of life.  We are all broken vessels.  Whether we are adopted or living with our biological family, we all need to be filled with God's love.  We need to taste His goodness.  We need Him.  Because He is Konjo, and we are not.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Peaches and Eddie Joe.....on video!

Peaches and Eddie Joe entertaining each other......

(At the beginning of the video she is repeatedly counting to three...."one, two, sa-dee, one, two, sa-dee....." Love her accent!)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Latest Pics of Peaches

Home for a week now.  Here's a few of the things that we've been up to.

 Playing with Play-doh

Playing with dolls

Some of the signs that were made for our Airport party.  There were many, many more.  So colorful.   A lot of the kids put many hours into making them.  We are so grateful and thankful for the warm welcome.

Momma and Peaches dressed for the cold weather

Peaches has really bonded with Sunshine.  It's been great to see the sista love!

She's trying a carrot here.  The carrot - she didn't like.  Sunshine - always brings her a smile.

 Peaches and her buddy Eddie Joe.  He's an amazing big brother.

Watching a moving while eating some popcorn.

 I told her I wanted to take her pic, and she walked right over and put her arm around Eddie Joe and gave a huge smile.

 She enjoyed giving some smiles while wearing one of Sunshine's headbands

 Each time we'd take a pic, she'd run over to the camera to look at the newly taken photo and giggle.

She also enjoys sticking her tongue out when the camera's around.  Goofy!

You've been home for a week now Peaches.  We look forward to experiencing many, many more new things together.  We look forward to seeing that smile for many years to come.  But we also know there will be many days when the smiles aren't there.  And we want you to know that we will be there for you and with you whether there are smiles or not.  Because we are your family.  We are your Mommy and Daddy.  We love you.  You are HOME!!!