Monday, June 30, 2014


Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of the day we met and took custody of Yikealo. I am so grateful for the way that God has knit us together over the last five years. We had fun reminiscing yesterday about those early days together. Both of my boys love to hear their stories, and we tend to mark special days by telling them again about how they came to our family.....celebrating the good after the hard.

Today is my 39th birthday, and also happens to be the day that I've been married as long as I was single. I was 19 and a half when we got married, and it has been 19 and a half years since our wedding. (It's kind of easy to measure time in halves when your birthday is exactly half way through the year and your anniversary is on January 1st!)

How in the world did we get from here....

to here?

Or even more so, from here....

to here....

to here?

Where in the world has the time gone? It all seems like yesterday in some ways, and yet I can't remember much more about our life before Yikealo than I can remember about my life before David. I'm amazed that two things I didn't think I wanted (marriage and children) have enriched, fulfilled and completed me in such a way that I can no longer imagine what I was thinking before. I am loving my life more than ever, and I'm so thankful that God isn't finished with me or my relationships yet!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Seeking Normal Again

The last month and a half has been a little out of control. We rushed to finish school a month early, and managed to get it all completed on May 10th. On the 11th, we attended the baptism of our nephew Jason, and then left immediately for an 11 hour drive down to Isle of Palms, South Carolina. David had business in Charleston that week, and he took two extra days so that we could make it a week-long vacation. We returned home late on the evening of May 18th, and then I had a week to pack, buy little gifts for the boys, repack tubs of donations, get together such necessities as mosquito repellant, anti-bacterial wipes, flashlights and malaria medicine for my nine-day trip to Ethiopia. I left for Ethiopia on May 26th, returned on June 3rd, spent the next three days sleeping, frantically unpacking, doing laundry and repacking, and we left on the afternoon of the 6th for our every-four-years Ocean Isle vacation with David's family.

We've had a great time, but life has been out-of-order for way too long. Combine that with trauma-versary time, and we have a perfect storm for Mr. Sintay. He is frustrated, and unhappy, and whiny to the extreme. He throws temper tantrums like we haven't seen in awhile. Yesterday when I told him to stop hanging on the fridge door, he went into his bedroom, slammed the door, screamed bloody-murder for about 10 minutes while heaving everything he could get his hands on. He's mouthy, and impertinent, and he hid under the bench on Sunday rather then walk into the Sunday school class that he's been attending for a year and a half. He bursts into tears at the drop of a hat. He kicked the back of my seat for 7.5 hours while yawning hugely but refusing to take a nap in the van on Saturday. This picture that Susan unwittingly snapped on vacation last week just perfectly sums up our relationship at the moment:
The thing that I can't allow myself to forget in these moments is that trauma has real, lasting effects. Two years ago this week everything changed again for my little guy. He saw his birth mama for the last time and said a final goodbye to her. Five days later, we took custody of him, and nothing was ever the same again. A friend told me awhile back that she learned in college that memory is actually stored in every cell of our body, not just in our brains. Smells, seasons, sights, sounds, etc can trigger physical pain that mimics the pain we felt when we experienced trauma. My children's bodies KNOW when we've hit a painful anniversary....even if their minds have no concept of the time of year. This isn't something that Sintayehu can master on his own, and this is a child that struggles with impulse control at the best of times. I need to constantly remind myself to have a little more patience right now, to be a little more loving and understanding.
The good news is that we have a long (hopefully uneventful) summer stretching out in front of us. At the moment we have very few plans scheduled. We have stacks of books from the library to read together, puzzles to work on, and games to play. We have extra time for snuggles, and popsicles, eating fresh strawberries, collecting bugs, and playing with Legos on the driveway with the neighbor kids. We remind him that we are a family, that no matter how rough of a day we've had, he is loved beyond measure. We aren't going anywhere, and neither is he. There are constructive ways to handle grief and frustration, and we are modeling what those are. We've been here before. This is not new territory for us. Slowly, slowly, things will come back into focus...and we will hold onto the good moments, which begin to happen more and more often. Peace is coming just takes a little more time....and time is one thing we have.