Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One Month Later

We've been home with Robee for almost a month.  I love how people keep asking how everyone's doing and then
they are like, how you you REALLY doing?  So, here's the good, the bad and the ugly one month post adoption...

Robee is doing awesome.  I feel like he feels safe and secure with us.  He is definitely attached to me and adores his big sisters.  There are fewer meltdowns from day to day.  We are establishing boundaries and a schedule, which make our days run a lot smoother.  He is gaining weight and eating like a champ.  Developmentally he is picking up on new stuff every day.  The language barrier doesn't seem to cause a whole lot of stress on any of us and he is picking up new words constantly.  We have been to several doctors appointments, had tons of blood drawn and right now we are just working to get his vitamin D levels up and watching a couple of cavities.  So, over all I feel like he is doing amazing.  Of course, I've never done this before and don't know what to expect (did I mention that I started reading several adoption books and then tossed them because I was on the verge of a panic attack with information overload?)  So, we are just winging it.  I'm sure I will have to get the poor child a shrink later.

The Hubby and Ro are starting to like each other more.  It was touch and go there for awhile.  That Ethiopian has tested every bit of patience the Hubby has.  There aren't many men that orphans come in contact with so they are more hesitant around them.  They tend to act out in different ways when they aren't sure about someone.  Ro whines when I'm not around.  Like, non stop.  And not like in a scared way, like in a I'm going to annoy the crap out of you until you get my momma kind of way.  Problem is, I work 3 days a week, which means Ro is with the Hubby on those days.  Let's just say that they both could use some prayers.

The other 4 seem to really like our Ethiopian.  Sophia has been so super helpful.  She adores Ro and loves teaching him new things.  She is constantly reading the translation book trying to figure out what he's saying and speaking in Amharic to him.  If she's feeling extra helpful that day, she will put him to bed and lay by him and sing him songs until he falls asleep.

Lola is our entertainer and I think that she thinks her job is to make Ro laugh, and teach him dangerous tricks.  She is constantly giving him food and has woken up early several mornings to make him eggs because he loves eggs for breakfast.  He is pretty smitten with her and follows her around yelling her name most afternoons.

Beckham has pretty much been a complete punk for the past month.  He is the victim and everyone is out to make his life miserable.  It's like I thought we had skipped terrible 2's and 3's and then they hit at the same time with a vengence.  We are working on his attitude.

Hendrix thinks Robee is his little pet.  He thinks everything Ro does is hilarious.  They play non stop and get into everything in my house.  They want to eat constantly but heaven forbid one of them takes a piece of food off the other one's plate, all hell breaks loose.  They talk in their little baby talk to each other and then laugh and give high fives.  It's the cutest.  If Robee is upset then Henny sits beside him and pats him.  They color on my walls, fight over toys, yell and destroy everything in their sight.  They will be best buds for sure.  Hopefully my house is still standing by the time I get them out of the nest.

Because and only because of my little Irish twins, I'm pretty much exhausted.  It's like I have these two Tasmanian devils running this show.  They never sit still, they never leave me alone, they are loud and obnoxious and poop a freaking lot.  They both wake up by 6:30 every morning (for the love) and are just ready to whip my ass.  They are both begging for food and need their diapers changed, but the second I change them, they are going to drop a deuce.  Then I change them again and put clothes on them.  Why do I even bother because before we leave to go anywhere I will have changed them at least 2 more times because I'm pretty sure they have a hidden bucket of snot and dirt that they just go and roll around in as soon as they have clean clothing.  Then we go to get loaded in the car and they take off running in opposite directions and think it's so cute and funny that I have to chase them all over the yard.  Yeah, mommy thinks that's super funny when we are running late, which is basically all the time now since I can't even pee in the mornings without one of the little devils breaking something or tracking scrambled eggs all over my house.

Let's not even talk about trying to take them out in public.  Besides the fact that the Tasmanian devils are horrible, I have Beckham who is mad at the world and insists on arguing over everything.  As if that doesn't make my Target runs stressful enough, there's all the onlookers and the people that like to point out the fact that I have my hands full.  No.  Freaking.  Kidding.  What was your first clue?  The lack of personal hygiene on my part,  the bags under my eyes or the sweaty armpits from my borderline anxiety attack?  Can a sister get some Xanax?

So when you ask me how I'm REALLY doing, the answer is my life feels completely overwhelming and I'm hanging on for dear life!  But.... every time I hear that sweet Ethiopian laugh or run up and give me a hug, or when I see the joy in his eyes when he accomplishes and new "trick", it is completely worth every single moment of stress.  Although most days I feel like I don't have one more ounce of energy, patience or love to give, the good Lord reminds me that he called us to do this and he will equip us with exactly what we need, when we need it. For now I am holding on to that faith....and upping my Zoloft.




Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bringing Robel Home Part 3

28 hours after leaving Addis, we finally arrived in Dallas.  Ugh, I never want to do that with a toddler again.  Ever.  We had a huge group of friends and family waiting on us with signs introducing themselves to Robee.  It was so sweet.  There wasn't a dry eye there.  Finally, our family was together!  2 1/2 years after starting this process, thousands of dollars, piles of paperwork, loads of stress and we finally had our family of 7 together!  To God be the glory for making this happen.  We will forever be grateful that He chose us to walk this path.

We have now been home 5 days and every day gets better with him.  We are learning his personality and quirks.  This is what we know as of now....

Robee does not like men.  In fact, if the Hubby was even in the same room with him when we got home, he would cry.  With lots of patience and perseverance, Ro is slowly coming around.  Let's hope this process speeds up because I go back to work next week and Robee will be stuck with Daddy.
He is a cuddler!  He loves to snuggle and loves to be held.  He gives the greatest kisses and high fives to people he likes.
He is a talker!  Unfortunately for both of us, I don't know what the hell he's saying.  But, he's picking up on lots of new words and using them and will repeat anything I ask him to...if he's in the perfect mood!
He adores his big sisters and probably prefers them over me.  When they are home, he is following them around begging for them to hold him.  Lucky for him, the newness hasn't worn off and they usually oblige.
Robee hates to be dirty.  He always asks for a napkin to wipe his mouth, hands and table off after he eats.  (My other kids should take notes)
He is very active.  He went from staying in the same little room with 8 other kids all day to having lots of freedom to roam and he's loving it!
He LOVES him some bread.  He's definitely an emotional eater.  If he's upset, give him a piece of bread and the boy is super happy.
He scratches his head and blinks super fast when he's tired and taps his feet when he's waking up.
He hates ice cream.  We keep trying to make him love it like the rest of us do, but he is not having it...yet.
He will share anything and loves to clean up his toys when he's done making a mess.
Robee's already learned how to tell on his brothers.  He runs to me and yells Mommy, no, Henny and points at Henny to tell me that he should get in trouble.

This little Ethiopian has stolen our hearts and we are just smitten with him.  He is a handful, but brings so much joy.  I'm so glad that I get to be his Momma and cannot wait to see what the Lord does through our little man!

Here are some of the pictures at the airport courtesy of Sara Hendricks.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Getting Robel Part 2

So we finally get to Ethiopia at 7am on the 23rd.  The Ethiopian airport is all sorts of disorganized.  We waited for over an hour to get our Visa, then stood in line for over an hour to get fingerprinted, then had to find the 3 bags that we checked on top of the 2 bags that we carried on.  So, we finally walked out of the airport at almost 10:00.  We checked into our guest house and decided to go grab lunch and do some shopping real quick before we had to be at The Thomas Center at 4 to pick up our little man.  Our driver/translator is just an amazing guy who definitely has a heart for orphans and is able to go into a lot of the orphanages with groups that come in to volunteer.  We talked over lunch about the things that he had been seeing and the rumors going around of Ethiopia closing adoptions altogether.  By the time lunch was over I felt like I was going to throw up and it wasn't because of the food.

The Prime Minister of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia doesn't like Americans adopting their children.  They are trying to encourage more domestic adoptions, which is making international adoptions slow down a lot.  The problem with this is that Ethiopians cannot afford to take care of more kids.  They can barely afford the children they have of their own, which is why there are hundreds of abandoned children on a weekly basis.  Now that adoptions are slowing down and the government can't afford to take care of these children, orphanages are overrun with children who get very little or no care at all.  There isn't money for food, formula, diapers or medicine.  There are babies dying every minute in government ran orphanages from simple colds.  Robel spent the first year + of his life in one of these orphanages and only weighed 15 pounds and couldn't even sit up when he was 15 months old.

I don't know how to solve the orphan crisis, I so wish I did.  Obviously, the best thing for the child is to be able to be taken care of by their birth parents.  That is the best scenario for every child.  However, if the birth parents cannot take care of that child, then someone else should.  Every child deserves a family.  Every child deserves that.  Every child should feel loved and wanted and cared for.  Think about if you weren't able to feed one or all of your children and you had to make the decision to give them a chance to survive.  Can you imagine your child being put in an orphanage with tons of other children and 1 caregiver for every 20 kids?  Could you imagine them barely getting fed and never getting rocked or hugged or their diaper changed more than once a day?  Could you imaging them slowly regressing in development because they are under stimulated?  There are MILLIONS of children that are living in these conditions with zero hope of anything else.  What happens to them once they age out of the orphanage?  They are put out on the streets with no survival skills and expected to survive in the world.  Well, they don't.  They turn to drugs or prostitution or kill themselves because they would rather die than keep suffering.  Can you imagine that being your child?  This problem isn't going to go away, it's only going to get worse.  We cannot sit around and wait for someone else to try and "fix" this problem.  If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, do something about it.  Find an orphanage to support financially, pray about adopting, go on a mission trip and serve others who need hope.  Advocate for these kids.

I digress.  So, we get to Robel's transition home and he was ready and waiting for us!  There weren't as many tears on his part this time, until we had to wait for an hour on paperwork and he slowly started realizing what was going on.  We finally got to leave with him and he loved the car ride.  We went back to our guesthouse and he was playing and cuddling and eating great.  I laid down with him and he went straight to sleep and slept all night.  I was thinking, we just adopted the most chill child ever.  I shouldn't of held my breath.  The next day went pretty well.  We had to take him to Embassy to get his Visa and we ate at a pizza place where an older Ethiopian kept telling me what to do with our fussy toddler.  That night he slept great again and I was feeling pretty good about everything.  Then came Friday.  I guess Robel finally realized that we weren't taking him back and he pretty much cried all day.  He wouldn't let anyone but me hold him and every time I put him down, he freaked out.  I couldn't do anything to make him happy and he wouldn't take a nap even though he was exhausted.  By 7pm, when it was time to leave for the airport, we were both bawling.  I took him out on the balcony to rock him and just cried and cried.  I told the Hubby that we were probably making a mistake and that we should just take him back to the orphanage where he was happy.  The Hubby talked me off of the cliff and we headed to the airport for our 17 hour flight to DC.

Honestly, the plane ride is kind of a blur now.  Robel and I did sleep some and we were able to keep him entertained with only a few screaming fits.  We found out quickly that Robee loves bread and eats it very slowly, so we basically just fed him bread the entire flight.  We finally land and we are all exhausted.  I've been holding a 2.5 year old for 17 hours and my back and arms are about to break.  We get off of the plane and wait in line for customs.  I decide that since Ro screams when the Hubby holds him and my arms are limp, that Ro can walk.  Well, he didn't want to walk.  Hell, I didn't either.  What does he do?  Throws down a tantrum like I've never seen before.  Not a tear in his eye, but kicking and screaming and pinching me.  This is when a lovely employee of Ethiopian Airlines decides that she needs to get all up in my business.  Our convo went something like this...

Lady- What's wrong with him?
Me- He's throwing a fit because he doesn't want to walk.
Lady- Why doesn't he have shoes on?
Me- Because he kicked them off.
Lady- Where is his stroller?
Me- I wasn't going to carry a stroller all over Ethiopia to use it for 2 hours in the airport.
Lady- Well, you shouldn't let him cry like that because he could get sick.
Me- Thank you so much for your help!

Well, we are in America now and when American children throw fits like this, they go to the bathroom and get a spanking.  You should be glad that I will give him some time to settle in before we do that.  Seriously?  Mind your own damn business.  I have just gotten off of a 17 hour flight with a toddler that doesn't understand or know me.  I'm exhausted and am about to pull my hair out, but you're worried that Robee might puke because he's throwing a terrible two's fit?  Maybe you should just get me a cocktail and shut up, ummkay?!!

Then the tears started on my behalf and I could not pull myself together.  The weight of the past 2 1/2 years finally caught up with me and I was done.  I cried for about 2 hours straight.  All sorts of strangers were coming up to me and Robee trying to make us both happy, no luck.  The Hubby kept asking what was wrong?  I couldn't tell him because I didn't know.  All I knew was that I was more emotionally exhausted than I had ever been and I had a little leech that threw horrific fits and with all of my years of parenting experience, I couldn't make him happy.  Therefore, I wasn't happy.  I prayed that God would remind me why I decided to do this and reassure me that I wasn't ruining our lives and you know what?  He did.  The Hubby fell asleep, so I had a couple of hours of airport entertaining to do.  Within a few minutes, Robee started to show his personality for the first time.  He started laughing and talking and running around and giving me kisses.  He started gaining more confidence in me and me in him, and started to actually like him!

The second leg of the trip home was in one of those super tiny planes that only seat about 60 people and are super bumpy.  Fantastic.  Our flight attendant was a real peach and told me that I had to put Ro in his own seat and buckle him.  Are.  You.  Kidding.  Me?  I calmly explained that he was super clingy and would lose all of his ever loving marbles if I put him in that seat and locked him down.  She said she didn't care.  I made sure that she repeated so that everyone around me heard that it was her fault their flight was about to be the most excruciating ride of their lives.  So, I lock Robee down in his seat and sure enough...he lost all of his marbles.  Screaming, flopping around, hitting and biting the fire out of me until...he wore himself out and slept for the entire plane ride.  Maybe that flight attendant wasn't such a jerk anyway.  So I enjoyed 2 glasses of terrible wine and soaked in the peace and quiet.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Getting Robel Part 1

Easter Sunday was the day.  The kids woke up to Easter baskets and we got ready for church.  There was tons of clothes drama because one freaking day a year, I get to choose what my children wear to church.  Of course they had coordinating outfits and number 1&3 griped about theirs all morning.  Shoot me.  I'm pretty sure that I lost my marbles on them in the car, on the way to church, and told them they were ruining my whole Easter.  I'm a really awesome parent like that.  After church sped to our favorite Mexican restaurant to try and beat the church crowd and savor the last good meal we would have for a week.

We left for the airport around 3 and there were lots of tears from #2.  She does not like for us to be gone.  She's a homebody and wants everyone in the family home with her.  She's a silent stresser.  We get to the airport and have a flight to Charlotte, then change planes and head to DC.  The Hubby and I were not seated together on the first leg of the trip.  I was in between a man and his 10 year old son.  We immediately started talking and come to find out, he had 4 bios and 1 adopted from Russia.  Then he goes on to tell me their whole adoption story and how they brought their son home when he was 2.5, like Robee.  He immediately started showing lots of anger issues and they couldn't get him to attach.  He was violent and harmed himself and others around him.  They put him in every therapy known to man and eventually, at the age of 8, sent him to a camp that works with children like him and he will stay there for 2 years and then they will re-evaluate.  OMG.  Why are you telling me this on the plane when I'm headed to pick my 2.5 year old, adopted son?  As if I wasn't already stressed about this whole process.

Then we flew from Charlotte to DC and checked into our hotel for the night.  Because we had already received our boarding passes for all 3 flights back in Dallas, I didn't even think to check on our flight status.  So, we get to the airport the next morning, go all the way through security and get to our gate only to find out that our flight had been cancelled.  Are you for real?  Apparently, there was a broken windshield on the plane or something.  Can't you just put some duct tape on that and take us to Ethiopia?  Apparently not.  So, the next flight didn't leave until the next morning and we had a whole day in DC.  Not gonna lie, I was actually pretty excited.  It was a beautiful day and the Hubby had never been to DC.  Impromptu date day?!

So we rented a car and headed to the city.  We saw all the sights that we could fit in, got sunburned and leg cramps from all the walking.  We ate delicious food, shopped, had the best cupcake of my life at Georgetown Cupcakes and enjoyed our little baby moon before our lives got rocked!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Almost Go Time

We finally, officially cleared Embassy!  Praise the Lord!  We weren't suppose to get word until tomorrow, which is when our finder interview had been rescheduled.  After being super frustrated with not being able to travel last month, I basically rode Embassy's you know what.  Like would email them every other day making sure that they were still on top of our case and seeing if there was anyway to appeal this step in the process or go about it another way.  Finally, our consular officer requested a phone interview with the police officer that filed all of the paperwork for Robel's abandonment.  It was suppose to be last Monday, then it didn't happen.  Tuesday I didn't hear anything and Wednesday I started bugging Embassy again about it.  Our officer replied back that they had conducted the phone interview, but were still requiring the finder interview on the 17th.  Keep in mind that we had already booked our tickets for the 20th.  Basically, on a scale of 1-10 my stress level was a 75.

Thursday morning I get up and am making breakfast for the kids when the Hubby comes in and asks if we cleared Embassy?, why would he even ask me that?  Well, he asked me that because Embassy had emailed HIM and told HIM that they were going to go ahead and clear us and were cancelling our finder interview based on having enough information from the police officer.  First of all, why the crap are they emailing HIM?  I send and receive all the emails, I stay in contact with all the important people, I did 99% of the leg work in this adoption but they email HIM the most important and exciting news EVER.  Jerks.  Second, it is only by the grace of God and the hundreds, maybe thousands of prayers that were being poured out on our behalf that we got cleared without a finder interview.  That basically never happens.  Ever.  To God be the glory!

So, this week is slightly stressful.  Here are the most common asked questions from this past week..Am I ready?  No.  Have I packed?  No.  Am I excited?  I don't have time for that yet.  Where is Robel going to sleep?  No idea.  Am I going to drug him on the plane ride home?  Absolutely. 

Pretty much the only things I can focus on right now is my ever long to do list and praying that we aren't on the next flight 370.  Can I get an amen?  No seriously, we updated our will just in case...
Pray for us.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Clean Eating

Ugh...the Hubby and I started 30 days of clean eating last week.  Neither of us needs to lose much weight, but we pretty much eat like crap all the time.  We love good food and trying new restaurants.  His weakness is salty foods and mine is sugar.  Like, I could eat a brownie sundae every day for the rest of my life and be sooo happy.  We have eaten about 95% organic for about 6 years now.  However, organic sugar and butter pack the same amount of calories and fat as non organic sugar and butter.  Anyway, it pretty much all boils down to the fact that my brother is getting married in a month and I bought a dress that's a tid bit tight and would really like to wear it comfortably.  Plus, I need to quit depending on sugar so much and form better eating habits.

So, I went to 3 different grocery stores last week and dropped about $300 on organic lean meats, fruits and vegetables.  Plus everything I needed for smoothies, because I need my sweet fix everyday.  The first morning I looked in our cram packed refrigerator and thought to myself that I had nothing to eat and was going to starve on this diet.  First world problems.  I ended up making some eggs and a smoothie for breakfast and within an hour was STARVING.  I mean, my body is use to bagels and PB&J's and banana bread for breakfast.  It was in no carb shock.  I crammed my face full of carrots and salad and fruit and nuts all day....and I was still in starvation mode.  Day 2 went a little better.  I slowly started realizing what my body needed and when.  Finding the right balance of protein and grains along with fruits and veggies is a science I tell ya.

Day 3 I was craving mexican food, because that usually takes up about 50% of my normal diet.  So, I went to Chipotle for lunch and got a bowl loaded with chicken and guacamole, along with all the other healthy stuff.  It melted in my mouth.  By day 4 I realized a few things about eating clean.  First thing was that I was sleeping like a rock without any melatonin help.  Second, the first week of clean eating will clean you out, no additional fiber needed.  Third, I had a ton of energy and didn't hit my afternoon 'Oh crap, I have to have some sugar and some caffeine and I wish I could take a cat nap so I can get through the rest of this day' mode. 

After 7 days I weighed and lost 5 pounds exactly.  I even cheated a little and had a couple of glasses of wine...and a few non fat lattes.  Don't judge.  So, needless to say, all those clean eating freaks aren't all that crazy.  I think I may forever be one of them!  I will keep you posted.  Off to make my kale smoothie.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Thoughts on Church

I grew up going to church every week, usually 2-3 times a week.  That's what you were suppose to do.  I have lots of great memories of my church growing up.  All of my friends went and there was Wednesday night youth events, camps and disciple now weekends.  I learned a lot about faith , the bible and God.  I learned how to navigate my way around the bible and was told how much God loved me.  I knew all of the words to worship songs and asked Jesus to be apart of my life.

I also learned that there was a long list of dos and don'ts and if you stayed away from the "don'ts" then you wouldn't be judged and you were definitely going to heaven.  Unfortunately for me, I chose the don'ts more than the dos so I was pretty much looked down upon and talked about by the people that were suppose to be loving on me.  So, as soon as I graduated high school I just quit going to church.  I mean, the judgy looks I'd get the morning after I'd been out all night drinking and hanging out with all those "sinners" on Saturday night just wasn't worth anything that I may have gotten from a sermon.

The thing about the Holy Spirit is that when you are a believer, He constantly tugs at your soul and will not let you run too far away from him.  Because of that, when the Hubby and I got married, I decided that we needed to find a church.  A church that we could both agree on and a church that would love us for who we were and fill us with what we needed starting our lives together.  We tried several.  The Hubby wanted a mega, non denominational church and I wanted a smaller church that had lots of newly marrieds that we could befriend and do life with.  We ended up at a mega Baptist church that had everything to offer.  We loved it there.  We made friends, we enjoyed going and serving and growing in our faith.  It restored my faith in the church and it's people.  Not because the church was just that awesome, but because I changed my attitude towards church.

You see, I decided one day that I was going to study the bible on my own.  Without any preconceived notions that had been imbedded into my head, I was going to study the bible all by myself and come to my own conclusions about church and faith and who God really was.  I realized through that that I could not look to a pastor or worship leader or Sunday school teacher to determine my faith or to fix my broken relationship with God, that was up to me.  I also realized the church is full of jacked up hypocrites.  I know that because I am one of them.  Who am I to judge the screwed up people inside the church when I'm one of those screwed up people?  I'm a sinner and I need Jesus and so does every one else that chooses to step foot through a church door.  People nowadays don't go to church because that's what they are suppose to do, they go to church because they are yearning for something that the church can offer.

After 10 years at that church, we felt like the Lord was leading us somewhere else.  We prayed about it and visited other churches in our town.  We kept going back to one in particular that was very different than what we were use to.  It's small and very laid back.  There's nothing fancy about it, in fact, we meet in a barn.  It's the kind of church where everybody knows everybody.  The teachings are solid, the music is raw and soothing.  The people love on each other and are all there to better their walk with Christ.  It's refreshing.

I most certainly do not think that you have to go to church every Sunday to have a personal relationship with God.  There are missionaries all over this world that never get the opportunity to ever step foot in a church.  At the end of the day, God knows your heart and knows where you stand with Him.  However, as much as the people inside the church are jacked up, they are jacked up together and are all working on their jackedupness.  Yeah, I just made that a word.  I truly believe that there's a church out there for everyone, you just have to find the right fit for you.  10 years ago, it was a huge mega church with all the bells and whistles.  Now, it's a tiny little Baptist church that meets in a barn.  No matter where you go, there will be things that you don't like.  Why?  Because there's no perfect church.  But there is a perfect God and everyone needs him.  The churches job is to love on people and help lift each other up to bring each other closer to Him.  It's job is to hold you accountable so that you can constantly grow in your faith and quit falling victim to the same sins that have a hold on to you.  It's job is to surround you with people that are jacked up like you, so that you can help each other be more like Christ and less jacked up.

There are lots of churches that offer all of these things and more.  Find one.  Keep going from one to the next to the next until you find one that works for you.  Then once you're there, jump in.  Build relationships with fellow believers, serve with your God given talents, give to further the kingdom and you will be so much better for it.  You will find your purpose.  My thoughts on church are that it's pretty awesome and you should probably try it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Travel Postponed

We received official word Friday morning that our finder interview had been moved to April 17th.  Even though I was expecting this, I had still been hoping and praying for a miracle and that we could still keep our original travel plans.  I'm not much of a crier, so I just immediately got mad.  Mad at the fact that we weren't leaving for another month, mad at the US Embassy for requiring a stupid finder interview anyway, mad at the fact that I had moved mountains to get my work schedule rearranged and the kids taken care of for a week while we'd be gone and really mad at our finder for being such a douche bag and not showing up for his original interview.  Why does this process have to take so freaking long?

I guess the weight of the previous weeks stress finally got to me when I walked into my favorite, local coffee shop for my daily latte, and my favorite barista asked me how I was doing and the tears started flowing....and flowing and flowing.  I could not pull myself together, for like 2 hours.  Poor barista didn't know what to do with me.  Can we say awkward?  So it was then work as usual with smudged mascara and a red face.  I guess that sometimes girls really do just need a good cry.  I feel better now.

So now we just wait.  Our tentative travel dates are now April 20-26.  We are trying to get the interview moved up and praying like crazy that our finder actually shows up this time and that we will get cleared easily.  It is comforting to know that Robel's life is the same.  He is too young to understand that he has a family in Texas and is in a wonderful orphanage where he has great care.  He is healthy and thriving and has hundreds of people praying for him every day.  What more could a momma ask for?  God's timing is always perfect, even if we don't understand it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The 11th Hour (adoption update)

There are these moments, while you are in the adoption process, where you feel like you got punched in the gut.  It's not that hard to do when you are dealing with the fact that your child is on the other side of the world and everything that you have to do to get him home is in other people's hands.  Every little, or big, set back just takes the wind out of you and proves just how little control we have.  This is exactly what happened this week. 

The ONLY thing we are waiting on in order for us to travel is Robel's finder interview.  The US Embassy has to interview either the child's birth parent, or the person that found the abandoned child.  The interview was set for yesterday at 7:30 am, which would be 10:30 pm Thursday night-our time.  Our finder would have to travel over 5 hours to get to his interview, but agreed and everything was a go.  We were expecting clearance Friday morning and then could travel as soon as we liked.  I started looking at plane tickets once the interview was set to get an idea of potential travel dates.  Let's face it, with 4 kids and a job, trying to leave the country for a week is like moving mountains.  There were very little travel options online, so I contacted our travel agent to have her look.  She was having a hard time getting us flights as well.  We made the decision based on faith and went ahead and booked our tickets for a week after the finder interview.

All day Thursday, my stomach was in knots.  Thursday afternoon we received an email letting us know that our finder couldn't make his Embassy appointment.  Punched in gut feeling times 100.  Unfortunately for us, Ethiopia is 9 hours ahead of us, which means that everyone there is already headed into their weekend.  Which also means that we don't have any answers as to why he couldn't make it, no answers as to whether or not he can reschedule or when that could possibly be?!  Can Monday get here soon enough?  We are suppose to board a plane in 8 days.  Stressed doesn't even do this situation justice.

After speaking with our case worker, we decided to keep our travel plans as is.  We are going to trust that we get this interview taken care of this coming week, that everything will go smoothly and we will get cleared to come get our son before we board a plane in 8 days.  Did I say that already?  Holy crap.  Please be in prayer with us that all of this happens, that we can keep our travel dates the same, and that God is preparing our sweet Robel's heart for us!  Good grief I can't wait to get our little man home!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Valentine

Valentine's Day was last week.  I love Valentine's Day.  Most men think of it as some made up holiday to make them spend unnecessary money.  Women think of it as a made up holiday that gets us a present for no reason.  Score!  The older I get, and the longer that the Hubby and I have been together (11 years btw), the less I expect on February 14th.  Just get me a card, write how wonderful I am in it and I'm pretty happy.  Don't get me wrong...I'd love to wake up one year to diamonds, but I won't hold my breath. 

The Hubby and I actually got engaged on Valentine's Day.  We've come so far in the past 11 years.  Up until about 5 years ago, I would have expected some big production on the love holiday.  I constantly needed for him to show me how much he loved me.  I would even pick fights over the dumbest things just to test him and see how he would react.  I was nagging and tried to make him into the person that I thought he should be instead of just loving him for the amazing man he was.

As the years went on and our lives became more chaotic (add children), the more stress it put on our relationship.  Like any new mother, I spent all day caring for needy children and had little left to give to my spouse at the end of the day.  When you're nursing a baby round the clock and have a toddler wanting you to hold them 24/7, then the hubby comes home and loves physical was enough to make me want to run away.   Add baby number 3, a case of post pardum depression and the 7 year itch all at the same time.  How we made it through that year, is only by the grace of God.

Here's the deal.  Marriage is crazy hard.  Doing life with another person that is completely different than you is super challenging.  Sharing a home, children, finances and making major decisions together takes a buttload of patience.  I don't know if there was a defining moment around that 7-8 year mark, but at some point I decided that my marriage was worth fighting for.  That divorce wasn't an option for us.  We could live unhappily for the rest of our lives, or figure out how to be happy together.  Listen, it's not my job to make my husband happy.  It's not his job to make me happy.  We shouldn't have to change who we have always been in order to create bliss in our marriage.  It IS our job to seek the Lord in everything and by his grace, he will work it out for His glory.

I don't want to be a nagging, annoying wife.  I want my husband to remember every. single. day. why he fell in love with me.  I don't want there to be resentment in our marriage and I definitely don't want to live as roommates for the sake of our children.  I want us to grow together.  We are not perfect, but, we are better than we were 11 years ago.  I know that there will be more hardships in the future, but the stronger our relationship is, the better we will be able to handle those obstacles.  I am by no means an expert on marriage, but there are some things that I think we do well...

1.  We seek the Lord's will for our marriage and family.  We pray, we go to church together, we are involved in a Lifegroup with other couples that are believers.  We are constantly growing our faith, because I strongly believe that marriages just don't work unless God is in the center of it.

2.  We have fun together!  We don't have much, if anything in common.  Therefore, we have to find things that interest us both.  We like to play games and sit on the patio after the kids are in bed and talk about life.  We joke around and have people over often for dinner to hang out and build relationships.  We watch Walking Dead every week because it's obviously the best show on TV.  Obviously.

3.  Date nights.  Enough said.  I know that it's hard to make time for date nights.  It's time consuming getting the kids worked out with sitters and it's expensive, but it's a must.  Period.  If we haven't had a date night in a month, we are both craving one.  It's so nice to get away without kids, try new restaurants or go shopping together, and just enjoy one another.  There are some months that the only time we even talk about anything important or catch up is on date nights.  I cannot tell you how much this will do for the well-being of your marriage.  Make it a priority.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for Keith.  He can annoy the crap out of me, but he shows me love like nothing I've ever known.  I am a better person because of him and even though he thinks Valentine's is a stupid "holiday", I'm glad that it's a reminder of how much our love has grown since he proposed and I said YES!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Robel Turns "2"

February 11th was Robel's "birthday".  I use quotations because we really don't know when his birthday is exactly?  When we received Ro's file back in July, there were 3 estimated birthdays listed.  I called our agency and asked which birthday were we suppose to use?  They told us to just pick one!  Knowing that he was underweight and developmentally behind, we decided that we would go with the birth date that made him the youngest on paper.  So, Ro turned "2" this week.  After meeting him, we've decided that he's probably closer to 3.  However, the more time I can get with him before kindergarten, the better!

Tuesday was a big day because not only was it his birthday, but we also got submitted to Embassy!  This is the last step before we can go and pick him up.  This part can take up to 6 weeks or more, hopefully it will be much quicker than that!  I'm not going to lie, this part of the adoption process has definitely been the hardest.

It's been 6 weeks since we left Ethiopia.  6 weeks since we got to hold, kiss and love on our son who is on the other side of the world.  The waiting in adoption sucks.  It goes against everything within me to be at other people's mercy.  I am a doer.  I get things done.  I don't procrastinate.  I'm type A to the extreme.  I knew going in to this process that there is no definite "due date".  It could be months, it could take years.  I prepared my mind and my heart for the waiting game and felt like I handled the first 2 years pretty well.  (Of course there was that unexpected pregnancy and screaming baby for the first 6 months that kind of kept me preoccupied.)  Then we got Robel's file and there was more paperwork, rainy season and then waiting on MOWA so that we could get a court date.  Those 5 months even went by fairly quickly due to the busyness of summer, school starting and then the holidays.  But then we met him...

Time is going by so slow.  The holidays are over.  It's cold in Texas, so there's a lot of staying inside and chilling.  Everything is done.  We are ready for him.  My thoughts are consumed with what he's doing.  Whether he's eating enough or sleeping well.  Whether he's sick or is getting enough TLC.  Wondering if he's reaching any developmental milestones that I'm missing...again.  I just want him home.

I most certainly don't think that it's going to be rainbows and butterflies once he gets here.  In fact, I've pretty much decided that the first 6 months are going to be absolute hell.  Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, right?  All he knows is that every person that he's depended on has left him.  He doesn't understand trust or security.  He is going to come from a quiet, organized orphanage to complete crazy.  Our house is loud, our house is messy, our house is busy and chaotic.  It's going to take time for everyone to adjust and get into the groove with a child that has had almost 3 years of life before us.  Almost 3 years of life and 3 different "homes".  Numerous caregivers that have came and gone, and the first year and a half of his life with very little attention.  Adoption will be the hardest thing we ever do, and the most rewarding.  I'm sure of it.  God doesn't call us to do things that are easy and comfortable.  When we do what he calls us to, no matter how challenging, it will be used for His glory.

So while we are waiting and while time goes by at a turtles pace, I will stare at this sweet picture and pray over that sweet face....and feel sorry for myself that we missed spending his "birthday" with him.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meeting Robel

I haven't had the words to write an appropriate post about our Ethiopia trip.  So many emotions, not many that I can accurately express.  It is such a surreal feeling flying across the world to meet your child.  Ethiopia is such an amazing place, I cannot wait to go back.  It's overpopulated, animals walk around everywhere, it smells like burnt gasoline and it's exactly what I imagined it to be.  I had prepared myself for the culture shock and knew that I had to look past that in order to take every piece of my son's home in.  I wanted to experience everything about the culture that I could possibly cram in the short amount of time that we were there.  What I didn't expect was to fall in love with the people.  Ethiopians, and I'm assuming Africans as a whole are the most content people.  They have a sense of peace and a calmness about them that is so desirable.  Their way of life is slow and meaningful.  They value relationships and community.  They enjoy life and don't get bent out of shape over things that just don't matter.  I want that.  I want to not feel rushed everywhere I go and I want to be content with the amazing life I have.  I want to invest in meaningful relationships and enjoy this life that I have been given.  I constantly prayed that God would permanently etch in my brain the things that we experienced there, so that the next time I take anything that we have in America for granted, I will be humbled by those memories.

Meeting Silas Robel did not go exactly as I had imagined.  We walked through the door of his room and all of the kids were playing in their cribs.  He was standing in his, staring at us.  I walked over, huge smile on my face, tears in my eyes and said, "hey buddy"!  He looked at me, threw himself on the mattress and started kicking and screaming.  Kodak moment.  The orphanage director picked him up and pushed him towards me saying, "Robee!  Mommy and Daddy"!  I scooped him up and we cried together.  The director reassured me that he reacts this way to all strangers.  I'm not sure if that's really true or if she was trying to make me feel better.  He eventually warmed up and we spent a couple of hours playing with him and all of his little roommates.  I left feeling pretty good about our relationship.  The second day I walked in his room and the second he saw me, he threw himself down and started kicking and screaming.  Wow, glad to see you too!  We've got some work to do.

The Hubby asked me what I expected him to do and I said that I expected him to throw his arms up and yell Mommy and run towards me!  Totally kidding.  Wishful thinking?  After seeing how nervous he was, I knew in my gut that I had to come back on the second trip.  We had planned all along that for financial reasons, the Hubby would make the second trip by himself and hopefully my brother would be able to go and document the trip for us.  Having met him, and can only imagine how hard that week with him in Ethiopia is going to be, we both agree that he is going to need his Mommy!  I also decided that maybe I should actually read one of the many attachment books I have ordered since starting the adoption process.  Looks like it's going to be harder than I expected.  But, God's grace is always sufficient and I am on pins and needles waiting to bring our sweet Robee home.  Here's the video of the first time I got to hold my little Ethiopian...