Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011!

It's been a beautiful, calm year...filled with waiting and hoping and watching and growing and learning. It's hard to believe that it's over already, but we are looking forward to what 2012 will bring too. Regardless of the circumstances in which we may find ourselves, we know that God is faithful, and we can't wait to see what He will teach us in the days ahead!

Our December numbers were #31 for a girl and #22 for a boy. This year we have moved 53 spots on the girl's list and 40 spots on the boy's list. Last week we came so close to getting a referral: the family directly behind us on the waitlist saw their little girl's face for the first time. They turned in their dossier two days after we did, and we had exactly the same age parameters. So why did they get the referral instead of us, you ask? Well, there are a couple of answers to that question. First, their new daughter is somewhere between the age of 4 & 5...they don't know an exact birthdate. We can't actually go all the way up to our highest possible age of 59 months yet, since Yikealo is only 5 and a half, and there must be at least 10 months of age between him and his new sibling. Our agency didn't want to take a chance that this little girl might be too close to Y's age, and therefore the next family was called. However, I personally believe this far simpler and yet more profound answer: she wasn't "ours." She is not who God has planned for us, and she needed someone else. We are confident that God knows His plans for all of us, and we rest in that knowledge. His timing will be matter how long that takes.

To our future child: we love you, we miss you, and we can't wait until the day when we can finally see your face. Until then, we will continue to pray that God will hold you in the palm of His mighty, loving hand. Maybe 2012 will be the year...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Sister, My Friend

"One's sister is part of one's essential self, an eternal presence of one's heart, soul and memory." Susan Cabill
One of the greatest blessings of our second adoption journey has been sharing the experience with one of my very favorite people in the world: my little sister. I cannot begin to catalog the number of hours that we have spent on the phone over the last two years - comparing notes, asking questions, excitedly talking about which family just got their referral on our agency's waitlist. It has definitely strengthened what was already a powerful bond forged through our childhood.

Erica was born when I was 18 months old, and apparently, I wasn't too keen on the new intruder at first! I'm told that I attempted to bite her nose off at one point, although I do not remember any such behavior at all. From my earliest memories though, Erica was always there - someone to play with, share a room with, and most importantly to boss around! She put up with a lot from me, and we have some old recordings to prove it. We shared our clothes and our toys, read books out loud together for hours on end, and made up lots of silly games. We've had many of the same interests and hobbies for as far back as I can remember, and there is a very goofy side to our personalities that you probably won't see unless you happen to be around us when we're together.

Erica lived with David and me for a year and a half while she was in college, and I loved having her close. We live 3 hours away from my family, and it was so special to have one of them near for a time. I have loved watching her mature into a Godly wife and mother over the last 12 years, and it is amazing to be sharing with her the beauty and the pain of being an adoptive mother. It has been incredibly affirming to see God speak to her in much the same way that He has spoken to me, and I have watched in awe at the way that she has changed and grown spiritually during her adoption journey of the last two years. It is such a blessing to be able to ask her questions about the adoption process and to know that she'll have the answers, to have the shared experience of visiting Ethiopia, and to talk to her about what I'm feeling in regards to Y's birthmom and to KNOW that she understands perfectly.

Today, I want to wish her a very happy 35th Birthday! Erica, I can't begin to tell you what an encouragement you are. You are one of God's greatest gifts in my life, and I can't wait to see how He leads your life through this next year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

All About Me (as told by Mr. Y)

We've been making a book about Yikealo as part of his Language Arts class. One day he was supposed to tell me all about himself. This is what he said:
  • I like being with my Mom and Dad.
  • I like to wear costumes.
  • I like to chase the kitties.
  • I like to play with toys.
  • My name is Yikealo, and it means "God is able."
  • I do not like being sick.
  • My favorite food is macaroni & cheese and pizza.
  • My favorite colors are blue, lava color, and fire color. 
  • I like getting surprises.
  • I am five years old.
Then he was supposed to draw a picture of his family. Here we are, in all of our glory.
 (Why do I look like some sort of horrific alien centipede anyway?)

When asked to say one sentence about the other members in his family, he responded,  "My Dad likes to sleep a lot and play a lot with me. My Mom is always excited about how good her little boy is being." Hmmm...he was certainly accurate about his Daddy, but not so much about his Mama!

On another day, I prompted him with sentence starters, and this is how he answered:
  • If I had 3 wishes I would wish for a brother or sister, I would wish for more time to play with Dad and Mom, and I would wish to go to Disney World with my family.
  • The most fun I ever had was getting wet at "Neraggrer Falls!"
  • My favorite meal is spaghetti and Gogurts. (Not sure why his favorite foods aren't part of his favorite meal, but hey, I guess you're allowed to change your mind when you're 5!)
  • One thing I do well is learning to read.
  • One thing I want to get better at is counting.
  • It makes me angry when Quinn hits me.  (Suz, he DID have to think long and hard about this one!)
  • Something I would like to see is a lion that can talk and spit fire. (?!)
  • The happiest day of my life is when Dad doesn't have to go to work. (Awwww!)
On another day, we were supposed to read the old days-of-the-week poem and discuss how it related to Yikealo.
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day,
Is blythe and bonny and good and gay.

Of course, we do not know the day of the week on which Yikealo was born, so we just had a fun discussion about which of the attributes fit him the best.

Y: "I think that Wednesday might be right because I was sad when I was a little boy and didn't have a dad. Then, after you adopted me, I was sad when Daddy had to go to work."
Me: "Are you sad now?"
Y: "No."
Me: "So which other day might be a good choice?"
Y: "Thursday, because I had to travel all the way around the earth to get here!"
Me: "You're right...that is a good one. Any others?"
Y: "Well, you said that I'm giving, and I like to share sometimes, so maybe Friday?"
Me: "I do think that Friday would be an excellent choice for you, because you are one of the most loving people that I know, and you do share very well most of the time."

I love learning more about how my little guy sees himself, and I love that so much of his identity is wrapped up in having a family.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Entertaining Comments from the Boy

Yikealo, as always, has been full of wisdom lately. Here are a few of his most recent tidbits for you to enjoy:
  • "Mom, were you alive when Baby Jesus was in the manger?"
  • "If I was wearing my Spiderman costume, who would be faster - me or a cheetah?"
  • "Do turtles like to eat eggs like we do - I mean, all cooked up - or do they only like them plain and not crushed?" When I asked what made him think that turtles liked eggs in the first place, he replied, "Because EVERYBODY likes eggs!"
  • "When we get to heaven, will snakes like me?"
  • "If Mimi was here, would she have to help me make my bed?" (Just checking, apparently, that the division of labor would be fair if other children were in the house.)
  • When asked why in the world he needed to use QUITE so much lather for his bath this morning, he informed me that he was trying to turn himself into a snowman. Hmmm...I think someone is getting a bit desperate for snow.
  • While kissing my hand, "My ma'am, would it honor you to kiss me and be my wife?"
  • To David and me, "You are not allowed to kiss unless you feel sick or unless your neck hurts or your head hurts. Otherwise, no kissing each other!" (We do NOT follow his kissing rules, by the way!)
  • "When we get to Heaven, will God teach us how to walk on water?"
  • My parents have an old Bugs Bunny book that Yikealo finds extremely funny. He giggles hysterically at Elmer Fudd's speech impediment every time we read the book. Two days ago, while I was cooking supper, Y was sitting at the table putting a puzzle together...while carrying on a lengthy conversation with Elmer which Y was trying diligently to teach the imaginary little bald guy how to say "rrrabbits" instead of "wabbits." From the sound of things, the boy wasn't very successful!
Our waitlist numbers for the month of November didn't change much...we are still at #34 for a girl, and we actually moved back one space to #25 for a boy. On Sunday in church, Yikealo spent most of the afternoon service constructing buildings from magnetic blocks and songbooks. He informed me that one building was a church in "Ee-THO-pia" and the other was a church in America. He then folded up small pieces of paper into thin strips on which he drew faces - one for David, one for himself and one for me - and placed all of his "stick" figures into the America church. A fourth wadded up piece of paper became "my new brother or sister" and was placed into the Ethiopia church. Next, he made a paper airplane, placed the three figures representing us onto it, and flew us all over to "Ee-THO-pia", where we met our new family member and brought him/her home to the church in America. I think that someone is very ready to meet his new sibling! From the looks of things, though, he'll have a bit of a wait yet...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fun Holiday Weekend

Well, we're coming off of a crazy-full, fun couple of days, so getting back into the swing of school this morning should be interesting! Mr. Y always misses his Daddy so much after a weekend, and after four days of quality Daddy time, I'm sure that the behavior will be slightly worse than normal today.

On Thursday, following our Thanksgiving service at church, we spent the day with David's family, eating, talking, playing lots of games, and just generally having a wonderful time together. I love this family!
We had the chance to spend some quality moments with our newest family member: little Rhett, our first great-nephew. I'm not really old enough to be a great-aunt yet, am I?!

Yikealo got to go home with Uncle James and Aunt Susan that evening and spend the night with all of his little boy cousins, which has to be toward the top of his list of fun things to do.

On Friday morning, the whole family headed over to James and Susan's for our annual Christmas cookie baking day. We were there from 9 in the morning until about midnight, baking cookies, eating way too much, putting together puzzles, ordering Christmas cards, and playing lots of games. Let me tell you, when David gets together with his brothers, and everyone is starting to get a bit slap-happy from the late hours, things get a bit silly! We were sort of laughing ourselves sick by the end of the evening.

On Saturday morning, we drove out to Chris and Erica's house to meet their two newest family members. Yikealo was SO excited to meet his new cousins from "Ee-THO-pia."

Jalen and Jordan seem to be doing really well so far, and it was great to be able to spend a little time with them. The only small snag was when Jordan at one point confused me for Erica. Erica and I had just been discussing whether we looked too much alike to be confusing for the boys, and a few minutes later, Jordan tugged on my skirt and demanded, "Amama...PLAY!" Chris and I corrected him and pointed out that Erica was "Amama", and then he looked slightly bewildered as he glanced between the two of us. I guess that answered our questions pretty clearly!

The kids all spent quite a bit of time playing outside together on the swing set in the back yard. The crazy little boys kept trying to go down the slide while standing. At one point, after Chris had told Jalen "aydelem" (no) several times, the ornery little guy ended up in a time-out for a bit. Jordan immediately went to get his own time-out chair out of the playhouse so that he could sit beside his cute!

 Yesterday after church, we started decorating the house for Christmas...I love this time of year! It's even supposed to start snowing this week!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


First, as I'm sure most of you have heard by now, Chris and Erica's beautiful twin boys, Jalen Opiyew and Jordan Uchan are home from Ethiopia!

We even got to talk to them a little bit on Skype this morning. Yikealo was SO excited to see his new cousins - he has been praying faithfully for them every night since we first heard their names back in June. J and J were mostly interested in eating their "muz" (bananas) and seeing our "Meow" when David held a rather disgruntled Frankie up to the webcam, but it was so fun for us to hear their raspy little voices and see them moving around. Please continue to pray for their adjustment to their new life. They have had so many changes in such a short time, and it is going to take a long time for them to fully process everything.

I've been processing a lot too. Last Saturday, David and I helped with a food distribution project at our county fairgrounds. Every month a local Christian hope center combines with a regional food bank to distribute free groceries and services to families who fall within 200% of the poverty level. This was our first time helping, but we definitely plan on being involved in the future. The two of us were taking families through the food line, piling their groceries in a wagon, and hauling everything to their vehicles, where we helped load the food. In approximately 3 1/2  hours, we helped to distribute 30,000 pounds of food to 597 households (representing over 1800 people), many of whom waited in the cold for over 3 hours. It was heartbreaking and so good for me to see. I mean, this is my fairly prosperous midwestern county! Yes, they got a very nice amount of food, but as a friend of mine said, "I really don't think I would ever wait this long just to get this amount of groceries." I definitely wouldn't...but then, I've never known that kind of need, either. Most of the people were so grateful: we received lots of hugs and so many fervent "thank yous" and "God bless yous." One grandma came through with three young grandchildren. They were incredibly well behaved and had so much fun helping to push the wagon. Several times, they turned wide eyes up to their grandma and asked, "Is all of this really for US?" It made me cry. It's made me more thoughtful and more grateful this week. I've been praying for lots of new faces: Mary and Barbara and Rosaleen and so many others. I've been asking myself new versions of the same questions that I've been asking for the last couple of years since we returned from our own journey to Ethiopia: why have I been blessed with so much, and what does that mean as far as my responsiblity? What changes can I continue to make in my own life so that others don't suffer as much need? Why was I born into a wonderful nuclear family and taught the truth of the Gospel for as far back as I can remember, while so many others are trapped in Satan's morass of lies and broken homes and poverty?How can I be more effective in bringing light into the darkness?

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."  Luke 12:48

Friday, November 11, 2011

Huge Prayer Request

Today is the day that Chris and Erica leave for Ethiopia to bring home their sons! We are so excited for them, and we can't wait to meet our newest nephews, Jalen and Jordan, even though it may be quite a while yet before we get that pleasure. They'll arrive home next Thursday, but Chris and Erica will probably be "cocooning" with them for some time...keeping the boys' overwhelming new world as small as possible for as long as it takes J & J to realize that they belong to a family again, that their needs are being met, and that these new people aren't going anywhere.

Please pray for them...for safe travels, for Chris and Erica as they move from parenting 4 children to parenting 6, for Shana, Adrian, Ashton, and Malia as they adjust to 2 new siblings who will need LOTS of attention, and especially for Jordan and Jalen. Their whole world is about to be turned upside down once again as they leave their home, their friends, their country and their continent behind. They are coming to a strange place where everything will feel unfamiliar: few people will look like them, the smells and sounds will be foreign, and everyone will speak a language that they can't understand. They will be grieving so many losses, and they will be frightened. Sure, they liked these nice white people when they visited several months ago, but then they went away for such a long time. When is that going to happen again? What happened to their Mama, with whom they lived for the first several years of life? She said goodbye to them at the same time that they met the new people...did the new ones make her go away? What about that scary looking animal in the yard...the one called a dog? Is it dangerous like the hyenas in Ethiopia? Will it try to eat them?

You get the point...they need our prayers. They will need healing, but our God is a great healer. We have seen His hand moving all of the pieces together over the last two years, and yes, the story is sad, but it is also magnificent. We can all be part of the solution by lifting this precious family up to the Lord in prayer. There is great power in the prayers of His people. 

"...always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God..."  Colossians 4:12

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Questions of a Little Boy

Here is a sampling of the questions from our resident 5-year-old over the last couple of weeks:
  • "What does 'RAHR' mean in tiger?"
  • "Can dinosaurs that have wings fly faster than a racecar can drive?"
  • "Mom, is a truck bigger than 5 people standing on their heads?"
  • "When we get to heaven is God going to give all of us Jesus costumes?"
  • When I told him that his cousin Zavier had broken his clavicle and had to wear a sling for awhile, Y interpreted it this way for David: "Dad, do you know who broke his arm and has to wear a pistol?"
  • "Why do forks always have to be bigger than spoons?"
  • Near my parents' home, there are many new windmills going up, which prompted this question: "Mom, do these windshields help our lights or only these peoples' lights?" When I told him that most of the power being generated by the windmills was going to New York, he was quite excited..."So it goes to Big Bird?!?!"
  • While watching a video about China, "Mom, does this get to count as school because I'm learning about Chanada?" (Yeah, we're still not doing so well in history!)
  • "Mom, is Lion King only a veggie tale?" (I'm pretty sure he meant fairy tale!)
There are definitely times when the lack of vocabulary can cause some pretty interesting conversations. I had recently shared various stories about our trips to Michigan with Yikealo, and he decided that he needed some clarification from his Uncle Seth:
Y: "Seth, when you were in Michigan on those round things...Mom, what are those called again?"
Me: "Do you mean when he was roller-blading?"
Y: "Yeah...when you were doing that, did a fish bite your butt?"
Seth: (looking utterly confused) "Did a fish bite my butt while I was roller-blading?"
Y: "Yeah."
Seth: "No...I can't say that it did."
Y: "Well, did you get any goosebumps?"
Me: (with slowly dawning comprehension) "Oh, Seth, I'll bet he's talking about the time that you and I swam across the lake on the inner tubes. He didn't mean roller blades at all! Yikealo, are you talking about the big inner tubes that we had in the water?"
Y: "Yeah, and you and Seth were swimming in them. Did any fishes bite you?"
Seth: (laughing) "I don't remember being bitten by any fish, but that does make a lot more sense now!"

You just never know what Mr. Y will come up with next!

Monday, October 31, 2011

In the Doldrums

We've definitely hit the doldrums - no, not a place of depression, as the expression has come to mean in our modern-day language, but rather something like that stagnant place near the equator that was dreaded by sailors on the ships of a few centuries ago. The place that was known for no winds, no movement, and the occasional sudden squalls. The place where you could be stuck for days or weeks, with no real way to leave. The place where you could go crazy with boredom or illusion or where you could be sucked into crippling laziness. That's a bit how this adoption feels at this point. Our numbers for the month of October were #34 for a girl and #24 for a boy...not a whole lot of movement to the waitlists lately. It doesn't seem real to me any longer. I'm perfectly happy with my little family of three, we're in this quiet place with no winds, and the smallest things are starting to make me question my readiness for parenting another child. We've lost the momentum of the paper-pushing days of the homestudy and the dossier, and we're almost up to one year on the waitlist. This isn't ever really going to happen, right?

Yikealo is still actively praying for and asking about his "new little boy or girl." The other day in Social Studies we were discussing the difference between needs and wants. He was supposed to draw a picture of something that was a need and somethings that was a want. Under "Need" he drew a glass of water. Under "Want" he drew a smiling stick figure. I asked him if it was supposed to be a Lego guy. (He's recently discovered Legos and had just informed me that morning that he wanted to get some "guys" for his small collection.) He looked at me like I was a crazy person. "No, of course not!" he replied, "It's our new little boy or girl!" Oh yeah...I'd forgotten again.

It's a strange place to be at times: yes, I pray for my future child, and yes, there is a part of me that wants to "move on already." The deeper part of myself, however, realizes that in order for me to receive a referral, a child must meet shocking and severe tragedy first. I don't want that to happen. While I adore Yikealo more than I can say, and I am SO very thankful that God brought him to my life, I do not begrudge his first Mother one single moment that she had with him...not one. I'm so thankful that he had that time with her. It's the same way now. If my next child is being loved and cared for by his/her family right now...please, Lord, don't take that away from them just yet. Sure, if they're already languishing in an orphanage somewhere, let's hurry this whole process along, but if not...

These thoughts are hard, and yet they always bring me back to the same place of thankfulness for God's sovreignty. I'm so glad that I'm not the one in charge. I'm so relieved that He knows the future, that as we read in church yesterday afternoon, "...I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil..." He knows where this ship is going, and I do not. I can't control the winds, the storms, the doldrums, but He can. My job for now is to sit back and allow Him to take the rudder.

"From where I'm standing, Lord,
It's so hard for me to see
Where this is going,
And where You're leading me.
I wish I knew how
All my fears and all my questions
Are gonna play out
In a world I can't control...

When I'm lost in the mystery,
To You my future is a memory,
Cause You're already there.
You're already there,
Standing at the end of my life,
Waiting on the other side,
And You're already there."
Casting Crowns

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Neraggrer" Falls

We recently returned from one of the most perfect little get-a-ways that we've ever taken. David's vacation year is centered around his date-of-hire at his company, so it rolls over in mid-October. There is a "use it or lose it" policy, and due to our adoption, we had been hoarding vacation days all year until we knew for certain that we wouldn't need them for Ethiopia. We started using them up at the end of July, but as we moved into the fall, we still had 2 days left. David came up with the brilliant idea of heading to the Niagara Falls/Buffalo area for a long weekend. We were able to use credit card points for our hotel and for restaurants, so we were also able to do this little trip on the cheap!

We left on a Friday morning and stopped for several hours at a great outlet mall in Grove City, PA, where we managed to put a big dent in our Christmas shopping. Yikealo was less than thrilled about this part, but he did pick out a keen racoon-head hat at The Children's Place, which he then refused to take off for most of the weekend. All kinds of people gravitate toward this kid should have seen what the addition of the raccoon hat did! This child has some serious magnetism.
 The drive was beautiful. We were blessed to be travelling during peak leaf season, and everything was bright, colorful and gorgeous - even in the rain!

On Saturday, we headed up to see Niagara Falls...or "Neraggrer Falls" as Yikealo called it. It's always so jarring, somehow, to be at an American landmark (read: tourist area) and to realize that almost NO ONE around speaks English! We are pretty certain that most of the continent of Asia had relocated to up-state New York for the weekend. After all, it makes perfect sense that travelers to the US would be visiting one of the beautiful natural landmarks that our country features. We walked around for awhile down by the American Falls
and then took a ride on the Maid of the Mist. That was pretty incredible! We got soaked, of course, but it was well worth it to see that pounding water so close. David remarked at one point, as we looked up at Horseshoe Falls, "I wonder if this is a tiny taste of what it looked like when God opened up the "fountains of the deep" during the Great Flood?"
Following  Maid of the Mist, we caught an Imax film about some of the people who have gone over the Falls, and then headed back toward our hotel for dinner and some swimming before bedtime.

On Sunday, we headed back up to the Falls for some more sightseeing. We checked out an aquarium and walked up to the "Cave of the Winds." The actual Cave of the Winds was buried in landslides a number of years ago, but the current attraction is a series of wooden walkways that take you up to within 10 feet of the Bridal Veil Falls. When you are standing at the top on the "Hurricane Deck" it really does feel like you are caught in a crazy tropical storm of sorts...albeit a very COLD one! The following picture is not zoomed in at all:
Yikealo absolutely LOVED the Cave of the Winds walk. He splashed and stomped and shouted and got completely drenched. I loved it is always so exhilarating to see a tiny example of God's majestic power so close! I couldn't help but sing "How Great Thou Art" as we waited in the tunnel to go back up to ground level.

That evening, we went to see the musical of Lion King. We had really hoped to keep this activity a complete surprise from Mr. Y. He adores the music from this production, and has most of the soundtrack memorized, including the African words. We had no idea how we would be able to keep it a surprise until the famous opening notes began, but things worked out perfectly! We got stuck in traffic trying to find parking, had to race through the rain to try to find the theater, and by the time we picked up our tickets and found our seats, we really only had 5 minutes to spare. In our rush through the lobby, Y completely missed all of the posters with the huge Lion's head on them. He sat there looking around expectantly, while David teased him with helpful comments like, "Did you notice that there aren't any other kids here, Yikealo? That probably means that this won't be any fun for little people." Yikealo looked around and gave a little snort, "Dad, there are LOTS of kids here!"

I wish that I could have taken a picture of his face when Rafiki sang the opening note from behind the stage curtain. He recognized it immediately, and sat riveted through the next 2 and a half hours. We couldn't have planned the whole thing any more perfectly! Needless to say, we've been hearing Y's renditions of the songs ever since!

There is one song called "Shadowlands" where Nala sings about the pain of leaving the only home that she's ever known, while promising to always remember her people. I've heard the song many times, but this time, it brought me to tears, as I thought of my two little nephews waiting for their new family in Ethiopia. They can really have no idea what is going to happening to them within the next few weeks. "The river's dry/The ground has broken/So I must go/Now I must go/And where the journey may lead me/Let your prayers be my guide/I cannot stay here, my family/But I'll remember my pride..."

On Monday morning, we packed up and then left for one more day at the Falls. Although it was windy, it was also our first sunny day there. We walked over the bridge to the Canadian side, so Mr. Y had the chance to use his passport and visit another country. It was really the perfect complement to our History lessons of late.
We spent several hours walking around and taking photos of the glorious falls. We saw several beautiful rainbows, and enjoyed our time in Canada very much.

Getting back through to the American side was another matter, however. We had to pay 50 cents apiece to move through some turnstyles, and let's just say that they were not very cooperative with me! The first time, the machine ate my money without opening, and the second time, the turnstyle slammed shut and refused to turn again with one of my legs through and one of them not...yeah...awkward! I have some fairly massive bruises from the wretched thing, but I'm sure that the French guys standing behind us were highly amused!

After going back to the American side (finally!) we spent some time walking around Goat Island and the Three Sisters Islands by the Canadian rapids. It was a lovely way to end our time there, and it was a wonderful place to just spend a few extra moments in worship of the One who created it all.

Within about 10 minutes of leaving for home, I turned around to see this in the backseat:
Yeah, I think that a certain someone was just a little exhausted after all the fun! Farewell, vacation, for another year. We HOPE that David's recently refilled vacation time will be used for a couple of trips to Ethiopia before next October!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Wednesday was a bad day. Yikealo has been a bit sick with croup again, and the breathing treatments required to loosen his horrid cough have the unfortunate effect of making him crazy, out-of-control hyper. He completely loses any ability to focus or listen to anything that I say, and let's just say that I don't deal well with that. Add in the fact that we took a great little family getaway to Niagara Falls last weekend (another story for another post) that left us a few lessons behind in our school plans, and along with my control-freak, we-must-catch-up personality, we had a bit of a mess on our hands.

I held things together rather well, I must say, through the first half of the day, in the midst of some truly horrendous, uncharacteristic behavior from the boy. We had done all of our lessons but one, and by late afternoon, the majority of the hyperactivity had worn off. Okay...time to tackle the history lesson. We've been studying the various continents, with the last month or so being centered around Europe, and this was the final review. Yikealo has virtually no interest in the subject, and after 8 lessons on Europe, still cannot consistently name which continent we've been discussing. Now, I do feel that it's a bit lofty to think that a Kindergarten student should be able to place 8 different European countries on a map, along with naming them, recognizing several major landmarks in each one, and knowing what the flag for each country looks like. Seriously? Before starting this unit with him, I couldn't have done that...certainly not the flag recognition...and I'm 36! Why is this necessary for a 5 year old?  On the other hand, considering that we've talked about it on at least 12 different days, shouldn't he be able to say the word "Spain?" Keep in mind that we're talking about an extremely bright child who is considerably ahead of his age group in both reading and math skills. He has memorized a couple of chapters in the Bible, and he can quote verbatim almost the entire soundtrack from the Broadway production of Lion King. This is what Wednesday's lesson sounded like, however:

Me: "Yikealo, this is the map of the continent of Europe. Can you show me where Spain is on the map of Europe?"  (He points to the correct place.) "Great job! Now, what is the name of this country?" (I point to Spain again.)
Y: (blank stare) "Uhhhhh....I don't know."
Me: "It's called Spain. I want you to point to it and say, 'This is Spain.'"
Y: "This is Spain."
Me: "Good job! Now, what is it called again?"
Y: "Ummm....France?"

After about 15 minutes of this, I decided that we both needed a break. We'd come back to it after supper, and surely things would be better, right? An hour later, after supper, we tackled it again. It didn't go any more smoothly than it had earlier, and after about 45 minutes, I completely lost my temper. "WHY AREN'T YOU GETTING THIS? I'VE JUST TOLD YOU THE ANSWER! THIS IS NOT DIFFICULT, AND YOU ARE A SMART KID!" That didn't help at all, of course. Yikealo dissolved into tears, and I stomped away from the kitchen for a few seconds. Immediately, verses like "Love is patient, love is never fails" started running through my head, and I went back to grudgingly apologize for yelling. Yikealo snuggled up against me, wiped his tears away, and asked in a small voice, "Mama, is it your turn to lay down with me tonight?" My voice still hardened in slowly subsiding anger, I asked, "Why? Do you want it to be?"  I was positive that he'd say, "No...I want it to be Daddy's turn." Instead, he wrapped his arms tighter around me, and replied, "Yeah, because I just need some time with you." 

 I started sobbing, and he just held on tightly and whispered, "I love you, Mama." Oh my...I had just behaved so badly, screaming like a banshee , taking out my frustration in a harsh, completely inappropriate way, and Yikealo just wanted to be with me. I can't possibly live up to or deserve that kind of unconditional, surrendered love. But then, that's the thing about love, isn't it? We don't ever deserve it, do we? Certainly not the love that God is always a freely given, completely undeserved gift. It reaches inside of our cold, angry, dead hearts and changes us, transforming not only our lives, but the lives of the people around us. I stammered out another apology (a real one this time) and asked for forgiveness. Y leaned back, looked at my red, swollen eyes, and replied, "Of course I forgive you."

Later that night, as he snuggled up against me in bed, he whispered, "Mama, you're just the prettiest girl in the whole world. I just love you so much." I said that I loved him too. He smiled, closed his eyes, and said, "Now sleep tight, my Hunkin-Pun," as he patted my back. (I have sometimes called him my "Punkin-Hon", and now he often refers to us as his "Hunkin-Puns.") When I carried him over to his own bed and tucked him in, he whispered again, "I sure do love you." I spent some extra time just praying over him, thanking God for the enormous blessing that He gave us when He placed this child in our lives. We have learned so many life-lessons just through watching the way that Y loves and forgives, and I need those lessons so badly. Learning patience doesn't come easy for me, but I know that it is worth it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not Sure About These Teaching Methods...

A few moments ago, I discovered Y conducting "school" in the living room with his rescue hero guys. The "teacher" was dressed as Superman, and was reading Calvin and Hobbes to his students, as well as singing various bits from Lion King. He had written out a class list, which included such interesting monikers as Wvur, Poiloldad, Iol, Blov and Voo. He did inform all of them that they needed to "stop goofing around and pay attention"...hmmm....sounds familiar, somehow!

In all seriousness, we are loving the whole homeschooling thing thus far. I have enjoyed the time with my little guy, and it has been so much fun to watch him explore new things. I know that it's cliche', but I love the freedom that having "the world as our classroom" brings! A few weeks ago, we were at Mom's for the weekend, and Y's cousin Zavier enjoyed doing a couple of lessons with us.

Yesterday, our daily lessons included a trip to the Cleveland Zoo with Susan and Quinn.
We've been studying the various continents in Y's history course, so it was really fun for him to see things like an example of the Great Barrier Reef, and the South American Rain Forest.
As well as the lions, tigers and bears, of course!

A few Sundays ago, Y spent most of one service writing various letters on several small sheets of paper. When he was finished, he handed it to me, and told me that he'd been "blogging" and he had a "new post" that I needed to read. See if you can get more out of it than I managed to...

And finally, we heard the best news earlier this morning: my sister's family has passed court in Ethiopia!! Now their file will be forwarded to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, and they will wait for a visa appointment to be scheduled. Please pray that everything will move quickly...we all really want these two little guys to come home soon!