Thursday, December 23, 2010


Although Tarikwa refused, tenaciously, to smile, and though Taye would only get as close as Olivia's lap, I'd say this year's trip to the mall North Pole was a success. It certainly turned out a far....cry....better than last year!

Merry Christmas! We are all healthy and growing this year -- in more ways than we ever thought possible. I hope the same for all of you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Adoption Story

I ran across this video through another friend's blog and thought I'd share it with you.

God Story: The Howerton Family from ROCKHARBOR on Vimeo.

Did you enjoy it? So did I!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Three's a crowd! Five's a pack! Seven's a Family!

Today, we hit the park after picking up O and Jo. (These nicknames only apply to our pickup line chant. We don't call them O and Jo -- we just yell it out gleefully while we wait for teachers to march them to the car line:) A baby girl at the park (maybe 16 or 18 months old) took an interest in Girum, Tarikwa, and Taye, alternately. Tarikwa has a funny ambivalence about small kids outside of her triad. She's VERY nurturing. Very small babies, cousins, or children that seem unincluded get her full onslaught of empathetic tenderness. Other kids, though -- big kids or kids unfortunate enough to want a toy that Tarikwa has in her possession -- see a different side of sweet Tari...a silent, square-shouldered, eyes-averted tenacity that defies description. The little girl at the park was dancing on the line between compelling sweetness or stoic territorialism until Tarikwa played a little peekabo, and softened when it made the park baby laugh. I commented on their sweet interaction, "I think that little girl really likes playing with you Tarikwa." Tari smiled and then looked at me, confused for a moment, before asking, "Mama, where's her brothers and sisters?" It really struck me how much Tari's universe coalesces around her place in a constellation of family. Right now, she has only a limited understading of how intricate and peopled her constellation is. I'm just so grateful to be a part of it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Life is a Fairy Tale....(Guess which one!)

The other day, I grew frustrated with my two-year-old triplets. (I'm not sure why, but that sentence makes me laugh:) I'm not sure which scheme they were executing at the time of my frustration --- and they certainly know how to execute a scheme --- but it was something on the back porch, involving all three of them. Here's the part I'll never forget: After halting whatever danger may have attended their mischief, I launched into a moderate, but no doubt intense, lecture. (Let me characterize my toddler lectures, for clarity: pursed eyebrows, voice louder than normal -- though not generally a yell --, firm, punctuated hand gestures, etc.) Then, I turned away, and started to walk out into the yard. I turned back when I didn't hear six feet following me. They were all standing stock still with wide eyes and startled expressions. They, Taye looked over at Girum and Tari, began to stomp, slowly, with arms and legs stiff, wrinkled his eyebrows and said in a growly voice, "Feee, Fie, Fo, Fum...."

The other two stared back, and looked, then, at one another -- like they were agreeing with his assessment.

I cracked up.

It's good I can laugh at myself, because I never seem to run out of material!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Two Days of Famiversary Fun

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Love and Support, Josh style

Years (and years....and years) ago, I stared down the barrel of the biggest exam of my life. Pass it, and I would move on to candidacy toward my Ph.D. in English Literature. Fail, and the years (and years...and years) of coursework would fizzle into a post-MA trail of trials behind me, cheapening a million family sacrifices that had carried me so far. [One semester, when my work load was huge and Olivia (then just under a year) wanted no one but Mama, I often played on the floor with our baby while Josh read Jane Austen aloud (with character voices!) from the couch.] My amazing husband took my exam day off of work to care for our then toddler and baby, Olivia and Josiah. I woke up from a fitful sleep, dressed in "appropriate" clothes and a pair of shoes that I purchased for the occasion just because they said "Faulkner" on the sole. (Clearly, I was grasping for any edge I could get my shaky white knuckles around.) Just before I headed out the door, Josh stopped me, sat me down, and pushed play on our VCR. And this is what I watched:

Then, I walked out the front door while my husband and two babies clapped, slowly at first and then more quickly....until my car was out of sight. SO, as I crawl toward defending this dissertation, I run up against countless uninspired moments. Each meeting with my advisor becomes more critical, and I find my husband tagging inspirational speeches in his spare time...often. Tonight, he found one that I really enjoyed.

You can watch the original if you like, but I'm sold on the remake!

Anyway, if he doesn't have me screen Randy Pausch's entire last lecture (which he just might), I'd say the Miracle speech is an excellent contender for parting words before my next long walk to the car.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day Bonus

Some of my best friends moved away. This is sad. Their whole family still brings me such joy from so far away. This is wonderful. Check out my friend (and former bandmate!:) Scott and their FANTASTIC son Miles rockin out in their ultra-popular garage band! You'll be so glad you did.

P.S. The gorgeous woman in white as the audience gets panned (you know the one I mean!) is my friend Mary, and although I never caught a glimpse of their sweet Annalee, I smile just thinking of her and the hours we have all spent playing together. Thank you, Mary, for the lifetime of friendship that we've shared in a few short years.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Friday, June 11, 2010

Don't worry, Girum. Mama and Daddy are coming.

While Dad and Josiah went on a birthday celebration outing this evening, Olivia asked that we watched the babies' videos. (Our agency put together two amazing video versions of the story of their lives before we met, one of which includes our first meeting at the care center.) Girum was adamant about watching the one with Mama and Daddy in it, and so we watched the video together. The babies love to watch the video, though we only do it a few times a year. They love to identify themselves and each other (and some mystery baby they always call "Coco."). Tonight, though, Girum was less interested in finding himself and more interested in the story. He watched intensely (which is how he does everything). At one point, when tiny, little Girum was crying in his bed on the screen, my just-turned-two-year-old Girum sat up and said, "Girum is crying. Girum is sad. Don't worry Girum, Mama and Daddy are coming."

And we did.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hand, Foot, and Mouth

Hand, Foot, and Mouth is a disease, not a Dr. Seuss book, and my children have it (the disease -- but they also have a couple of Dr. Seuss books). It's just as gross and uncomfortable as it sounds but not as serious. 72 hours of fever, a few days of blisters ( you might have inferred, one's hands, feet, and mouth), and the virus expires. At least that's the prognosis. From where I sit, among blistered hands, feet, and mouths, and blazing foreheads, 72 hours feels long. But, I'll take it. I know I've spent three days in worse ways.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My life as a Mistint

Fact: I shop at the back of the store -- not a particular store, mind you, or any special store during sales or seasonal clearance -- every store -- all of the time. As a result, my walls are painted with other people's mistints, my favorite couch relocated from someone's front curb, my kids and I run around clad -- almost exclusively -- in other people's discarded clothing. My face wash, fancy shampoo, and hair accessories all came from either thrift stores or garage sales -- half-empty or expired. I buy torn things (because I'll likely tear them within a wear or two anyway) and stained things (because I'm the grossest person I know ....seriously......think: just months ago I had three babies in cloth diapers --- gah-rOHs). I splurge on snacktastic foods only when they're nearly expired and therefore half off. I buy ALL of the dairy-just-beyond-sell-by-dates, because, first of all, we consume more than 10 gallons of milk per week....but second, and more to the point, because it's cheap. Because I'M cheap. The walls around me gleam with the sheen of someone else's high-gloss not-quite-taupe, my dumpster-salvaged bookcases are crammed with thousands of children's books that have other peoples' names scrawled in the front cover, and my floors are littered with other peoples' discarded toys -- my kids' Christmas haul. This is not a political statement. It is a disease. And today, I realized while picking through overripe fruit, that I am sacrificing nothing to cater to my symptoms -- mistint is, and likely will remain -- my very favorite color.

P.S. Don't mistake my....mania....for a morality or martyrdom. I'm not frugal (frugal people buy only what they absolutely need at the lowest possible price -- I buy things I don't need just because they scream "low price!" I am the demographic targeted by the As-Seen-On-TV marketers -- I just don't call because they all involve "clubs," which I am notoriously bad at quitting (due to extreme laziness). And a martyr enjoys suffering -- I enjoy --- I THRILL at -- the procurement of extreme bargains -- no martyr here -- just a cheap-stuff junkie trolling store backs and ebay for my next fix.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Amharic for Olivia

I have ordered a couple of books for my Amharic-hungry 8-yr-old! I picked them up on the site, and I can't wait until I can go back and order more! She's been teaching herself phrases from our travel phrase book, and we all watch our Tsehai video (from -- and from Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas:) together. The babies can count to ten, and my big kids can make it to 20. They've also incorporated as many words and phrases as they can understand into our everyday vocabulary. Olivia, though, has taken a particularly avid interest in learning Amharic (and in all of the traditions of Ethiopia, for that matter). She is directing our celebration of Fasika (Easter) this weekend and is already making big plans for Meskal! We gathered with other Ethiopian and Ethiopian adoptive families last month, and I think the experience has had a profound effect upon her appreciation for a culture that she has adopted as her own. Ameseganalu, Olivia.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ethiopian Song and Dance

This is a song we found on Youtube that we've been enjoying. If you know anything about the lyrics or game, I'd love for you to comment!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Zoo Story

I love being out with my whole family!