Saturday, December 19, 2009

No, no, no! Scary Christmas!

This is the first year that the babies have been healthy enough to share in the glorious, much-coveted chance to sit on the lap of SANTA! Girum talked about the coming event with glee all day yesterday. He's crazy about "Sinta" and walks around in a Santa hat saying "Ho, ho, ho" and "Merry Christmas" a LOT (I should really post a video of that, shouldn't I?....Given my awesome gift from my little brother a few weeks ago, I ought to be able post one soon!). Tari and Taye were also excited, an excitement that only escalated when we came within view of Kris Kringle himself! Everything was fine, in fact, until the drop. Apparently, Santa's enchantment demands a three-foot viewing parameter...the magic turns to panic when that threshold is breached. So, for your holiday amusement, here's a photo and a little Christmas Quiz: Which of the people pictured below was most traumatized by Santa's Lap '09?

Here's a hint: We've had the same Santa -- a now retired Santa -- for 7 years running. This Santa is new. I believe this was his first foray into the world of jolly old St. Nick.

Did you guess Santa himself? If you did, you were correct! The minute Santa's helper whispered the word "triplets" in his jolly old ear, St. Nick began to look frightened and truly nauseous. As we approached, all semblance of character and mythology eroded, and a genuinely frightened old man told my children where to sit, whom to hold, and just how many pictures he was willing to try (2 shots). After we removed our screaming babies, Olivia's sweet letter (I wish we could have kept a was so sweet) and sparkling personality returned him to his moderately-Santabulous self (Josiah didn't stick around long to chat), but he kept muttering (seriously) for several minutes about the pitch of the screams and the number of children...and the volume..."the sheer volume." He was truly the fabled bowl full of jelly. So if your house gets missed this Christmas, chalk it up to Post Traumatic Stress disorder and send your best wishes to the north pole for a quick recovery.

On an upside (and there are a lot of upsides here), all of my children were smiling and fully enamored with Santa Clause by the time we walked through the exit gate of his....lair. And this morning, we've had an absolutely wonderful Christmas. I hope you and yours enjoy the same this year.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Still sick, or sick again? Tom(ae)to, Tom(ah)to.....PLEASE call this whole thing off!

I'm sick. But I'm getting better. But I'm sick. We seemed to have kicked aside our H1N1 long about last Monday, but Josiah came down with a formidable fever a couple of nights later, and I soon followed suit. (Thanks to our wonderful friends Christine, Kenji, Maika, and Reina for including Olivia in their trick or treat outing and to Grandma's candy run and Daddy's amazing energy and Netflix movie selection for redeeming the holiday for my housebound son). The consensus among medical professionals is that we (Josiah, Girum -- whose ears are infected, and me) have residual infections and not a resurgence of the virus. SO I'm being treated for pneumonia, and Josiah seems to be moving toward better health, and Girum appears to have conquered his ear infection. I will say that I'm spending larger portions of my day upright and alert than I was through the weekend, which is a good sign! Hopefully, we're all on the mend.

Now for some context: In the last week, our drier has broken, our cabinet broke, Taye's head sustained a stitchable (but ultimately glued) cut on the edge of the hearth, our vacuum belt broke, and -- most notably -- the pump, bladder, and pipes of our house-supplying well had to be replaced, leaving us four days without water == all icing on the swine flu cake. How about some input on this one!

I don't know how to create a survey, but if I could, I would ask: Do you think our strange rush of misfortune is:

A. A sinister attack by the forces of darkness to derail us from good?

B. Kharmic retribution for the choices I made and people I hurt between the ages of 16 and 21 (sorry, mom)?

C. Not actually misfortune at all.....seriously, consider the list of things that did NOT go wrong and people who did NOT end up in the hospital and jobs and relationships and hopes that were not lost, crushed, or otherwise mutilated and STOP YOUR WHINING!

I vote C! All things considered, life is pretty fantastic! Consider this the spring thaw in the winter of my discontent! My next post will be BLINDINGLY sunny:)

Saturday, October 24, 2009


That's right, seven out of seven of us have the bug, in various stages. I've moved two steps back from death's threashold to his front stoop. Josh shares the step with me. Josiah lags half a step behind us with Girum a half step behind him (both of those boys still struggle with coughs and fevers on and off). Tarikwa and Taye are in uncharted territories. Haven been treated prophylactically (it just means protectively, in medical terms) with Tamaflu, a dosage just upped to full strength since they've produced symptoms, I have no idea what their run will look like. Hopefully short and not so debilitating. Did I mention that Olivia is off the porch completely and playing in death's front yard? (This is, clearly, where the whole metaphor begins to break down...but you get the idea). She's not well, as evinced by her nagging cough, but she is not, by the standards of this household, sick any longer. Yay! Four kids a day are receiving breathing treatments right now, four times a day, and, thankfully, they seem to help a lot. We're holding on and holding together....and watching a lot of TV.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Five of us down, now, with the pig plague. Tarikwa (whose tender lungs are always my greatest concern when ever respiratory illnesses take hold) and Taye remain active and feverless. The rest of us.....suffer. I think this disease and its impact on our household is best expressed in the following mathematical equation:

(7-2) x 7(days)/103.4 = H1N1

I'm not including the fraction of stomach symptoms/two bathrooms, because my math's not so good, but you get the idea.

Take care, everyone, and avoid contact with cute snouts and curly tails. (I totally get that the illness has nothing to do with actual pigs, but how often do circumstances allow you to implicate farm animals in matters of personal dispair? Not often enough.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Days of swine [flu] and [stuffy] noses.

Yep. The fevers and the coughs and the weakness and the achiness and the plague flag flying above our home all come together in two letters and two numbers that never before seemed quite so menacing: H1N1!

A few days ago, I talked to an overworked but polite nurse, who, after listening to my description of Olivia's illness, offered this assessment: "It sounds like she has the flu that's been going around."
My (eyebrow raised) response -- "By 'that flu that's been going around,' do you mean the one that I keep reading about and seeing on television?"
"Her symptoms are consistent," she replied, followed by instructions on how to "treat the symptoms" and "watch for warning signs" (i.e., dehydration or respiratory distress -- neither of which we're seeing to any concerning degree, gratefully).

I'd like to quip, now, about the overblown, overexposed virus that has infested the airwaves almost as insidiously as it has infested our bodies....I'd like to joke about the bright side of sickness and the quiet of a household besieged....I'd like to offer you a candid glimpse into the lives of the two sweet, couch-ridden big kids whose travels abroad (to school and such) have underpinned those letters and numbers with such meaning....I'd like to, but I feel....a cough coming on. So I should sleep.

So far, no sick babies! Barring some seriously thick snot (which is only to be expected this time of year) seeping from their otherwise perfect noses, Girum, Tarikwa, and Taye seem to have staved off the scourge of '09! Let's hope they keep going strong!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What a MESS-kal!!!

THE DREAM: Each Meskal we will celebrate the holiday by purchasing daisy seeds to be planted the following spring, daisies that will be harvested during the following Meskal as representative decorations in keeping with the inclusion of Meskal daisies as traditional decoration during the important Ethiopian celebrations. Each year we will enjoy time around a backyard fire talking about new beginnings and the cross of Christ, correlative to the Meskal fires in Ethiopia that -- topped with crosses -- blaze across the countryside in celebrations of redemption and rebirth. (We won't, however, top our bonfire with a Meskal cross, as burning crosses on the lawn....just....doesn't....translate...culturally.) We will copy the family DVD that we create each year to send back to Ethiopia, for viewing by the adoption-related government officials and by our children's birth relatives, and distribute it with a Meskal letter to family and friends, in keeping with the tradition of our childrens' birth region to honor and celebrate milestone achievements during the holiday (elected officials and newly married couples are "presented" to the community during Meskal in the Hadiya zone. We will mark, like other families often do in Christmas letters, major transitions or milestones in the lives of our members in our Meskal mailings). We will, since our Meskal celebration and our Famiversary are so close in time, share memories, videos, pictures of, and gifts we purchased for our children in Ethiopia and will remember the people in Ethiopia with whom we are indellibly connected during the holiday season. Etc., etc., etc.

THE REALITY: The daisies we planted last spring grew beautifully in their starter containers but never made it into the garden and thereby wilted and died. We never obtained a firebowl in which we could legally light a Meskal blaze, and the law prohibits a lawn fire within city limits. My brother made an absolutely beautiful video of our family, which was sent to Ethiopia as a part of our Post-placement documentation this year....but it takes a while to make copies of that video....and we don't really keep DVRs around the house. Maybe we'll send a few out in the coming months with a late Meskal letter. I hadn't decided on gifts for this year, so the kids probably would have missed them altogether if Olivia hadn't insisted on wearing her Ethiopian clothes. Last year's clothes are altogether too small. I had figured on these outfits working a year or so from now, but I pulled them out at her insistence and am so glad I did! They fit well and would clearly be too small next year! We planned a trip to an Ethiopian Evangelical church service in Indianapolis. We made that trip. We arrived to find out that the service time had been moved back by several hours, and we had missed it altogether, so we played on the adjascent playground until we felt comfortable strapping our kids back into their carseats for the long haul home. Just before we strapped them in, dejected by our many failures to realize the Meskal dream, Josh mused, "so this must be the part where I voiceover....'and that's when we realized, that the true meaning of Meskal is just being together'."

So here we are, together on the Meskal that almost wasn't.

P.S. I'll try to find a link that describes the Ethioipian holiday of Meskal for a future post, but here's my understanding in brief: "Meskal" translates as "cross." The people of Ethiopia believe that they possess a fragment of the true cross of Christ, but the holiday itself, which corresponds to the mass blooming of millions of bright golden daisies across the countryside, extends its celebration to the rebirth and new beginning that the cross engendered and implies. In Ethiopia, it is marked by a gathering of family and time of celebration around a table and around Meskal fires (and it is the sole holiday that we were asked to honor and remember by the babies' birth father). I love it, and will try each year to honor it more fully.

Until then, happy belated Meskal!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Super Duper Soccer Man

I'd like to inaugurate a new Superhero in light of my husband's recent two-kids-playing-soccer-on-the-one-day-a-month-when-mom-teaches (note: it was also soccer picture day, and both kids played at the same time on fields a mile apart). GRACIOUSLY, my awesome mom made her way down to help field the insanity, but that terrific help in no way diminishes Josh's Superhero valiance.

Here's my mom's charge for the morning:

And here (by his own insistence) was Josh's:

Never, in the history of time, has a man looked hotter.

Joshua, you have my heart.

Little Babes on the Prairie

We ventured to Conner Prairie earlier this week with my sister and her two beautiful children. Jonah is just a couple of months older than our babies, and my kids ADORE Jonah and little baby Ruth. What a terrific family! (Note: my parents gained seven new grandchildren over the course of the last year...seriously....when we get together, diaper companies rejoice, bus boys cower, and our kids have a ridiculously good time!)

I'm not much of a montager -- I have no idea why this download cut off half of the montage.....clearly, I have no idea what I'm doing in general. But sometimes, a girl just has to montage.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Isn't she lovely?

Tarikwa tolerated my first attempt at a hairdo this week....well

my first vaguely successful attempt. Efforts one and two could

hardly even be called "attempts" because their results lasted a

total of three combined minutes. A VERY sweet friend brought

over some supplies on Friday and gave me the confidence to try

again. I don't know what I'd do without her.

SPEAKING of VERY sweet....

FIRST hairdo

Our first try.

Second attempt
The secont attempt.

Side view

And through all of this, Tarikwa was SO patient. She sat quite still

through multiple fingerplays through the first effort and part of

a Your Baby Can Read video during effort two.

(Thanks for the videos, Grandma! They have helped me shower,

cook, breathe, and now hairdress!)

Back of hair

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Enter Anne

Two nights ago I made an introduction I've been anticipating since the first weeks of my first pregnancy. Olivia.....Anne....Anne....Olivia. Red braids bouncing, eyes alight, she swooped into our evening and stole my daughter's heart as she stole mine a zillion years ago. Welcome, Anne...with an E. We were in the depths of despair without you, and now you've brought us such scope for imagination. (Josiah's not swept away, yet....but he has perhaps when he is able to process a little more oxygen......)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I am well. Josh is well. The kids are well. All is well.
Olivia's at her first sleep over with some very good friends after a wonderful last day of first grade.
Josiah's snuggled up on his dad's lap watching "How it's Made" on TV.
All three babies are sleeping soundly after a very full, fun day.
I just turned in my grades.
Sweet breathing in the bedrooms, comfortable laughter in the basement, a living room full of fun a few blocks away, and no further entanglements!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photos Phrom a Phamily Phriend

These pictures (above) were taken by a friend of my family and wonderful professional photographer, Angie Jackson. She was so comfortable with my kids and so easy going that no one even noticed all of the fantastic work she was doing during our visit! As soon as I have a web address for her, I'll link it here. Until then, look up Angie Jackson in Southern Indiana if you want phabulous photos like these! (I know I get a little....excessive....about the ph/f thing. It's just PHUN!)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter Pictures

My mom took some pictures of our family. The kids are decked out in outfits that My Mother-in-Law picked up for them, and I think the kindnesses of both grandmas make these pictures a lot of fun. So, I'm sharing them!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where IS tall man?

Each morning, a nice Episcopalian minister I met in the park stops by our house with his three daughters to take Olivia to school (one of the zillion kindnesses strangers have shown us since the triplets came home). Generally, I juggle babies, breakfast, and books while we scramble to make it to the driveway on time. A few weeks ago, Olivia and I had a rare seven minutes of alone time before the minister was scheduled to arrive -- no babies or brothers awake -- just bagels, fruit, milk and time together...

"Yesterday, my friend said that your middle finger is dirty."


"She did?"

"Why is it dirty, mom?"

Seriously, Olivia? Just seven minutes until the good reverend pulls up in his minivan, and you want to dig for the mother lode?

"Well, it's not...dirty...really. Not by itself, anyway"

"It's not?" Middle finger goes up. Further explanation NECESSARY. CLOCK TICKING.

"Let me think of how to explain this." P A U S E.

"Okay. The devil doesn't have any power to create...." Internal voice screams, You're bringing up the DEVIL?!? In all of Olivia's seven years, I cannot recall mentioning the devil.....ever.....until this moment....."And he's bent"...I forged forward...."on confusing people about right and wrong and good and fact...his whole job seems to be convincing people that bad is actually good and that good is actually bad. But, since he has no power to create, he"....apparently he's a 'he'...."accomplishes this confusion by mixing up the way people think about already created things. And since everything God created is good, he has a very big job. So, the best he can do is try to make the special, precious, and private things from God's creation seem....regular. For example, you know how it kind of annoys me when you go on and on about your 'butt'...and how we have always called it a 'bottom?' Bottoms are private and kind of special, and the word 'butt' seems so....regular....that it makes it seem rude."

"But we don't get in trouble for saying 'butt' at school."

I realize that I'm sounding very denim jumper at this kid just gave me the span of a commercial break to explain the denigration of physical love by a broken culture......which will INEVITABLY lead to the full blown TALK.....and THE CLOCK IS STILL TICKING.....

"Right. Because bottoms are just kind of a way. So making them seem regular with a word like 'butt' doesn't really seem that dirty...just annoying. The more special and precious something is....the more dirty and bad it seems when a word or a symbol or a hand sign makes it regular. Okay, so the middle finger....which is not dirty by a sign...a kind of symbol....that stands for a word that makes something SUPER precious and special seem really regular.....and so people think of it as really.....REALLY dirty"

Then, I proceeded to tell her the story about when I first learned that the middle finger was dirty -- I was in first grade and an older kid on the bus told me to stick it up. I got called to the front by the bus driver, who, once he figured out how my vulgar gesture came about, snarled, "ask your parents," and let me off with a very confusing warning.

Two minutes to go.

Confusion on her face.....staring with wrinkled forehead at her upswung middle finger.

"Don't ever stick it up."

How's that for cutting to the chase?

Internal voice scoffs, there's no way that's going to work.

Internal voice is right.

"So what's the word?"

"What's that, Olivia?"


"What's the word that the middle finger stands for?"

Parent, woman, parent like the wind!

"I'll tell you when you get home from school." Nice. "Mr. Bob will be here any minute" I'm using a pseudonym for Olivia's ride because I'm not sure that an Episcopalian minister would be comfortable with the theological liberties I've taken. "Get your coat, and grab your backpack. And don't stick up your middle finger today. We'll talk about it more this evening."

She turns to wave on her way to the van with all fingers extended.....except her middle finger.

(I call Josh.....)

That night, she asks. "So what's the word?" She didn't forget.

"What word?" Neither did I.

"The word that the middle finger stands for! I thought all day about asking my friends, but then I decided to wait since you told me you'd tell me. So what is it?"

"Okay, Olivia....let's go to another room so that we can talk privately"

Deep breath. Look at my daughter. "Olivia, the word is >>>>"
Yep, I said it.

And so did she.

"Yes....and never say it again."

"Really, I can never EVER say >>>>?"

"Never EVER"

"Can I say, 'Please don't ever say >>>> to me.' to someone else?"

"No, Olivia. You must never say it. No matter how you're using it, people will begin to think that you don't believe that the special and precious things are truly special and precious if you use that word."

"But can I at least say >>>> to Grandma? She KNOWS that I believe special and precious things are special and precious, and she would never think anything bad about me."

Which is true....but if Grandma heard this kid throwing around the BOMB like I was hearing it in this conversation....she might wonder (or at least laugh).

"No, Olivia. You cannot say it to anyone. Because it refers to something SO SUPER special and precious, people think of it as VERY VERY dirty. In fact, if you said it at school, you would get in a LOT of trouble."



"Just for saying the word >>>>?" Now that one was purely gratuitous, Olivia.

"Yes, just for saying that word."

Big pause. Internal voice starts congratulating me on my golden moment of mothering.

"So what's so special and precious? What does >>>> stand for?"

Internal voice chokes.

"You know, Olivia, I will tell you. And I'll tell you right now, if you really want to know right now. But this thing is so special and precious that I've always wanted our conversation about it to be special as well. I have always thought that I could take you out to a special dinner and talk with you and answer all of your questions when you turned seven." This statement is mostly true. The "seven" age was chosen on the fly because we were only four days from Olivia's seventh birthday....making the occasion momentous but not remote. "If you want to know right this minute, though, I will tell you. But if you're willing to wait just a few days, I'd like to take you out for a special date, just the two of us, and tell you all about it."

Long pause, "I'll wait."

"Good. I'm glad. And I'll look forward to it." That statement was also mostly true....

(I talk to Josh, again. He thinks we will probably be getting a call from her school about her foul mouth within the week. He's glad I'm the one taking her on the date. He thinks she seems very young. She is, I concede, but I'd rather have school friends competing with MY version of the truth than run behind them trying to convince her of it after she has heard theirs. Besides, I assure him, she already really knows most of it....I'm just filling in the logistical blanks.

Which is true. Both of my kids have a good grasp of their own physiology, the growth, development, and exit path of a new baby, and a general idea of the exigencies that demand the involvement of both a man and a woman.....they just don't it all......fits together.....

Until now.)

A week or so later, I sat in the backseat of our car outside of the Mexican restaurant Olivia had chosen (I hadn't really thought through the private nature of our conversation when I designed the "date"....which is why we ended up in the back seat......please, no jokes) and filled in the blanks.

And I was, as I am ever, astonished by her depth of understanding and maturity. After she had worked out the logistics of the process, she was most concerned with understanding how to go about choosing a husband.

We took that part of the conversation into the Mexican restaurant, where, I whipped out two containers of and yellow, I think....and did this object lesson they talked about one week at Mops while we waited to eat. She mashed the colors together while we talked about why I chose to marry her Daddy, at which point I asked her to put the blue play-dough back in the blue container and the yellow back in the yellow. When she looked at me like I was nuts (a look I was surprised she forestalled until THIS point in our talk), I told her that the same thing happens when two people come together....which is why this special precious thing is so worth keeping special and precious...(I did not go into the disgusting, nondescript color of playdough that has been mashed with a lot of other colors....or the way it gets crusty and dry if it's left exposed.....I imagine I'll bust the playdough out again when she gets ready to date and we really get down to business with THE talk:)

This post is a whirlwind, isn't it? So is parenting Olivia! While I was standing in our basement, hurling the Mother of All Curse words back and forth with my daughter, I kept thinking back to her tiny little voice singing "Where is thumpkin" and to the innocence of tall man. I miss tall man.

Incidentally, Olivia now waves comfortably with her WHOLE hand...all fingers extended. We worked through all of that...on another day.

Monday, February 2, 2009


My friend Christine (usually not a cat.....except every Halloween....when she usually is a cat:) shared some of the pictures she's taken of our kids together this year. When you look at the pictures, you'll find (as I have.....again and again...) how much more she has shared with me -- with my kids and my family -- than pictures. Every day (EVERY day), I am grateful for this friend whose heart inspires me, whose kindness overwhelms me, and whose gentle, ready, authentic smile makes me feel relevant and for her tremendously creative, fun, gorgeous girls who bring so much joy into all of our lives.

And since she shared these pictures with me, I thought I'd share them with you!

SO, here's the crew, ready to hit the streets for tricks or treats.....

And here are Olivia and Maika, Gabby from High School Musical and a Jasmine-whose-mom-makes-her-wear-a-t-shirt-to-cover-up-the-otherwise-scandalous-and-cold-places-revealed-by-this-costume deliberating over our route.

And one of my all-time favorite Halloween pairings: Reina/Cinderella, who sweetly and secretly revealed to each of us at some point during the evening that her fantastic hair was ACTUALLY a wig, and my sweet, sweet Big Bird, who (following a months-long stretch of constant fear for Josiah, fear....of everything, marked by spontaneous but brief -- but loud -- screaming) decided to overcome his run of anxiety by dressing as the most frightening creature he could conjur. First, that creature was a vampire, complete with lots of blood. Then, it was a supervillain. Then, a supervillain DRESSED UP as a superHERO (because, according to Josiah, "what could be scarier than that?"). The frightening creature evolved through the week, but the determination to scare remained constant. We have an enviable collection of costumes, thanks to the generosity and sewing prowess of fantastic grandparents, aunts, and uncles, which allows for a great deal of Halloween flexibility. So, when Josiah hit the dress-up closet with plans to emerge as something bloody and horrifying, I was braced for anything from the long list of possibilities he had accumulated throughout the week. I was not prepared for Big Bird. Big Bird with a raised eyebrow and resigned half-smile that told me Josiah was not quite ready to terrorize the neighborhood. He would rather be chasin the clouds away, on his way to where the air is sweet. I love Big Bird.

And how about these cuddly little cuties!? Tarikwa and Taye seemed to enjoy the walk and (at least for awhile) tolerated the fuzzy costumes like troopers.

And my wonderful Girum, who -- though he didn't get one of the plush garage sale costumes -- really works his puppy hat, I think.

And....the blowout! In the faces of these angels you may catch a glimpse of the intensity that accompanies a night of as much candy as you want to eat. At our house, we have a bucket of candy that the children get to choose one piece from every day -- it's the very creatively monikered Candy-for-the-Day Bucket (I'm trying to teach them indulgence in will probably land them all in therapy -- a statement that could probably caption most of my parenting inspirations). On Halloween (and a handful of days throughout the year), the Candy for the Day restriction is lifted, and they gorge themselves -- no holds barred. It's a very intense time.
Especially for Josiah, who goes on a tearing, tasting, twitching, crashing sugar trip each year on this very special day of days.
Someone is waking up, so I've gotta run. But just so you don't forget how sweet life really is -- Happy Hallow-rewind!