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!