Friday, March 30, 2012

One of those Proud Moments

I came home to find this note from Princess waiting on my computer. I had to share.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hello Spring Fever!

When I was a sophomore in high school, I have a very clear memory of being greeted by my mother with, "Well, hello, Spring Fever!"

Apparently the previous two to four months, I'd worn black and trudged out of my room in time to get to school. (OK, if I'm honest, my wardrobe for the preceding four months was likely a micro mini cheer skirt of the colors maroon and gold, but who's keeping track?) I may or may not be confessing to suffering from a titch of seasonal affective disorder.

I also may or may not have thought my mother was completely crazy. But I have a matching memory of practically skipping into school, past a blooming crab apple tree, wearing polka dots and a purple hair ribbon with my mother's words still ringing though my mind.

And they continue to do so, each and every spring.

I'm relatively certain I was created for spring. I love tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, lilac, pansies and crocus. I love flowering crabs, redbuds and even those stinky pear trees. I love to shuck the three sweaters and one pair of jeans that I make do with for months on end, in favor of my wardrobe of sundresses, tank tops and strappy sandals. I secretly harbor fantasies of rolling in the grass like a puppy. I love the smells, colors, textures, the feel of the breeze, the songs of the birds, the early sunrises and the amazing sunsets. I love driving though the burning fields at night and I love the thunderstorms. I love the budding trees and the new growth and the smell of the first lawn mow. I throw the windows open and revel in the fresh air as early and as long as possible.

So it is one of life's great disappointments to me that my son get sick as a dog in the spring. I sent him to school with scary red eyes, sneezing his brains out. I had to take the lilac back off my kitchen table and put it outside and tonight I will probably have to shut down my house in favor of suffocating, pollen free air.


Every year I forget block it out. And every year I go though mourning. And then, every year, I suck it up and be the adult and remind myself that he is much better than lilacs.

And turn on the AC with hepa filters.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I would write a new blog post, but I literally can NOT find five minutes all together in order to do so.

I thought I would get to this morning since Charming was up until 10:30 and would surely sleep until nine.

Alas, Eldest, home with a "stomach ache" yelled at me from across the house and woke [less than] Charming.

It is all over for the day.

Come back when he's 20.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

40 days: day 21-22

Oh Ethiopia, I'm so glad that your foods are diverse.
I know Italian occupation stank mightily for you, but the fact that I can serve pasta to my family and call it solidarity with you makes my life so much easier.
And potatoes.
And when all else fails, fall back on your coffee.

I know that mostly your people eat teff, but.....

You are on my mind and in my prayers, and I guess that is the point.

Where We Are

Today we found out that this little girl:

Is one step closer to coming home.
We were submitted (and I'm assuming accepted) to embassy today.
Which's all in my government's hands now.

Within two weeks they should notify me that they have our paperwork. Hopefully within a week of that, they will let me know they've scheduled an interview with her birthmother (probably three weeks out). And hopefully 24 hours after THAT, they will email and let me know I can come get her.

I'd be OK with skipping all the steps and proceeding directly to GO.
But today I rejoice, knowing we are one step closer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Inspire Me

I'm having a hard time being inspirational.

I feel like I am trapped in waiting purgatory.

I have zero power to hurry my daughter home.

I know I should have inspiring thoughts about the wait. How it is all in God's hands. I should probably have a verse or seven that get me through the day.

I should probably be starting my own non-profit. Or inspiring you to join one that is already established.

I should probably tell you how my latest Bible study is changing me or the last book I read makes me want to do/be more.

And don't think for a second that all that isn't brewing in my mind.


I'm fresh out of words to inspire others.

All I've got is this:
Girls at Kechene

coaxing a smile

Iris as Hannibal Lector; she did it to herself.

My last sunset in Ethiopia

Our World Vision Ethiopia family's view (little brother in the background)


40 days: day 20

I think this week will mostly be solidarity with the American poor. That is, eating what is in the fridge. As evidenced by last night's fare.

Sheepherder's breakfast. Basically potatoes and eggs with some bacon and cheese thrown in. All on sale last week.

I don't expect tonight's dinner to be much different. There comes a point when you just need to eat what is on hand because it makes no sense to spend money to buy staples to eat like someone else.

Or, if it makes you feel better, we had potatoes which is a staple food in many cultures. Like Haiti, the DR, Uganda and even Ethiopia.

And in the US where you can buy 15 pounds for $3, it should also be a staple here.

And it is in my house. Which makes it hard for me to pretend that eating a potato is having solidarity with anyone but myself.

Monday, March 12, 2012

40 days: day 17-19

The weekend was crazy. We had a birthday, we had the flu, we had a trip to the city and we had daylight saving's time. Solidarity was a big stretch, but as such was still on my mind as I thought, "how can I make this work for something?" The following is my leap:

Friday: Brent and I had fish and vegetables. I prayed for a Cambodian fishing village. I don't know if Cambodia has fishing villages, but there you go.

Saturday: Four of us met with a Ethiopian adoptive families group and two of us ate the buffet at an Ethiopian restaurant. (The other two ate Chick-fil-et) Obviously, Ethiopia was on our minds.

Sunday: I could take this two ways. We had gyros for lunch. Greece? Shoot, they've had their problems. Pitas? A lot like amboosh which they serve in Ethiopia. frozen pizza, America's poor and our poor taste. ;)

So, like I said, sagging a little here in the middle, but that's all I have. As next week is spring break there is a good chance I'll falter completely.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Rock the Red Pump

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

I'm not sure that a year ago I would have cared.

But like a lot of things this year, the things I care about have changed.

My daughter was not affected by AIDS. She is an orphan due to another killer: poverty. But her friends were. And because of AIDS, many more children will be orphans tonight, tomorrow, next Thursday and next year.

I think, based on the email I got, I'm supposed to encourage US women to get tested. So, if there is a chance that you could have it, go get tested. It isn't like we don't know where it comes from. If you live on the edge, make sure you aren't passing it around, OK?

But, I'm asking US women to become aware.

Aware of the devastation this disease has brought on an entire continent.
To be aware of the choices they make that could lead to their own devastation.
And to care.

That's all.

AIDS isn't going to just Go Away.

THOSE PEOPLE aren't going to die off and take it with them.

Those people, many of them, are children who did nothing except be born.

We've got to fix this.

Because THOSE PEOPLE are us.

If I can remember, and if it is warm, tomorrow, March 10, I'll be wearing my red strappy sandals. If it's cold, all bets are off. But I'm remembering some precious people in my life who have to stare AIDS in the face every single day.

40 days: day 16

Solidarity with: Ecuador
I ate: left over beans and rice.
I prayed for Malawi and our sponsored child Bupe. Before I realized they don't eat beans and rice in Malawi. Rice is very expensive and beans aren't even mentioned.


It's Charming's birthday. Charming's grandparents wanted to celebrate him and they were going to be gone today, so they had us over for dinner. A very un-solidarity type meal. I could find something if I stretched. We had salad. We had potatoes. We had corn. Any one of them would have worked for somewhere. But I wasn't sure, so I had leftover beans and rice for lunch in preparation.

Let me just say that it was better going down on Wednesday night than it was for Thursday noon.

By evening, I was gagging just thinking about it.

I worked up some really good solidarity on that one.

Too bad it was for the wrong country.

Though I would assume the people of Malawi and our son Bupe don't mind the prayers, anyway.

Charming is 5!

But what I want to know, is how we got from here:

To here?
And how fast the rest of it is going to go.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Catch the Vision! (Part 5)

Well, I just about dropped the end of this story, didn't I?
We had a couple hours to burn, so Kasaun and Andreas took us on a tour of the Wonchi Project. Wosson stayed behind to catch up on some work.

Every time we stopped the truck to take a picture, children came running.
Over and over again, I heard "Question in language I don't understand."
Answered by, "Wurld Vishin."
Translated, "I asked them who gave them their sweatsuits." or "I asked them if they went to school and who paid for it."

It became apparent that it was more than just dramatic effect, too. We drove up to Wenchi Crater Lake (conveniently on the project), where there was a cord raised to block out path. Andreas leaned out the window and said, "These are World Vision sponsors." The cord dropped.

Kids came up to us with hands out, Kasaun would say, "Who gave you your clothes?" (Wurld Vishin) "These people are World Vision, ask them for no more." Hands drop. Pose for photos. Hand out cookies. Kids grin.

Teens waylay us and try to charge us to take a picture of the lake. Guides ask the kids, "Did you go to school? How long? Which school? Who paid?" (Wurld Vishin) "These people are world vision. They have already helped you." Teens back off. We pass out crackers. Everyone disperses. No harsh words are spoken.

Everyone within 400 sqkm knows what World Vision has done for them. Or what they can and will do. And they are thankful.

Beyond thankful.

I've never seen anything like it.

I wished I has some new sweatsuits for them.

More kiddos coming running. By the time we came BACK down, they just stood at the side of the road and waited to see us.

Oh look, another child running to see us.

40 days: day 15

Solidarity with: Uganda
We ate:

Rice and beans. I, together, Charming, separate.
I'm sure the tableware brings out the utmost envy in your heart. Enter the plastic Wal-Mart clearance bowl and the garage sale melmac plate.

We prayed for the people of Uganda and our sponsored child Juliet. I also prayed regarding this Kony 2012 fiasco. I don't know who is right, but the people of Uganda could really just use a break from atrocity and could use some rebuilding years.

Interesting aside: When we were still dating, Brent called me and while on the phone, asked what we were having for dinner. I told him "beans" which we had often. Either cooked, mashed, refried, wrapped in a tortilla, with ham or without and sometimes with cornbread. It was very normal eats in my childhood. He asked what else and I told him just beans. He responded with something very near to, "If my mother ever just served me beans for dinner I would kill her."

That's the way I remember it. He will probably deny that conversation ever took place. It is also surprising, because he doesn't say things like that, so he might have said, "...I would be so mad." or "...I would go eat out." or... I don't know, he might have said the P word.

After I got to know him better and ate at his house a few times, I realized that his mother's version of beans would be pork-n-beans and even then are a huge rarity. They aren't a bean family. It makes a little more sense now.

Once we got married, I eventually gave up making beans because I'd have to endure Brent's comments about the smell of beans cooking "gross" and when we'd have burritos, he'd fill up a tortilla with a pound of ground beef and nothing else and there would be nothing left for the second burrito.


Then last year, he read a book that told him the solution to all his weight problems was beans. And suddenly he wanted me to cook beans. I gave him the "You have GOT to be kidding" look and lecture. But after 15 years of a nearly bean free existence, I can now cook beans and he pretends to be grateful.
Or maybe the solidarity thing is kicking in across the board. Because no one complained last night. (Charming did ask for a tortilla, as did Eldest. I complied.)

I found that beans and rice is actually very substantial. Where after eating spaghetti for dinner, we are usually all very hungry again by 7, I was satisfied all evening.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Surviving The Chaos

When I started my blog nearly seven years ago, my title was a fluke. I really wanted It's Always Something, but it was taken. I tried a zillion options and got a zillion takens when I looked over to the bookshelf and saw Brent's business/self-help book Thriving on Chaos.

Eldest was just five. Princess was three months into four. Frodo was four months into 2. I had written and was trying to sell a novel. I'd just turned 30 and embraced my inner pink. We were making ends meet-barely. I would not call what I was doing in that chaos, "thriving" so I tried "Surviving." Whadda ya know, it was available.

Which brings me to today.And this song.

While in 2005 I was just trying to keep my little family alive and myself sane, was trying to increase my own.....for lack of a better word.....notoriety *snort*, was trying to put forth the image that I had it all together, and if not all together, at least working towards that end, was trying to start an orphans ministry with many false starts and few steps forward, was trying to fit into the soccer mom, church going, classy cool slender yoga lady who was still politically aware...

Today, I am wrecked. In so many ways.

On James and Beth Moore: Do not, I repeat, do NOT do this study if you like yourself. James is my favorite book in the Bible, hands down. Has been since 1998 when I discovered it the summer before I started grad school. I can quote or paraphrase much of it.

And it is to my horror that I have been (figuratively) slapped across the face more times in the last month for my careless tongue (and typing fingers) that I can possibly convey. Humbled doesn't even begin to touch it.

If you genuinely enter into a Bible study expecting to learn and be changed, God will show up and help you. But it will probably hurt. And He will probably drag other people into it to point out the error of your ways.

On "7" and Jen Hatmaker: read it. Shane Claiborne tried in his The Irresistable Revolution, but.....he's an activist on a mission who went from poor college student to living with the homeless. Miss Jen went from figurative suburbian soccer mom to wrecked. Somehow Shane did it for her. While he made me think, she's making me do.

On A Place at the Table: well, we've gone from adding a food to the table to reducing the food at the table. It may be due in no small part to 7. And it may be due to staring at that bowl of rice, or that peeled orange, or that pot of beans on the table and realizing how much we have in comparison.

And that's only the tip of it.

I'm ashamed of how long I've let this go. How long I've recklessly spent, recklessly spoken, recklessly thought only of myself or my little family, recklessly my safe little bubble. 

And I have no idea where I'm going or how I'm going to get there, but this caterpillar is ready to break out of her chrysalis and try free fall.

I have almost quit giving a crap what people think. I have almost quit obsessing over blog stats. I have almost reached the conclusion that I don't have to share my opinion. (shocker, I know) I have almost quit wanting to be skinny enough for a bikini. (I still want to be a slim, strong yoga mom, but it is more about health and less about the pool now. I'm 36 with 5 children. WHO am I trying to get the attention of, anyway? All the other mothers?) I have almost quit caring if I annoy people on facebook for sharing too much about global poverty instead of annoying them with my gorgeous children, dinner plans or latest vacation.

And on the flip side of that, man, do I ever care what God thinks.

That has to be step one, if there will ever be a step two.

*to be continued*

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

40 days: day 14

Solidarity with: Haiti
We had:
squash, rice, oranges, and yes, Caribbean chicken.
Princess prayed: God, we are having solidarity with Haiti, so I pray for Estras, our Sunday school's sponsored child. And help the people of Haiti raise above their current circumstances.

So I left it at that.

When I googled "What do people eat in Haiti," someone responded with "after the earthquake, nothing, that is why people sent food."
Gotta love it.
But other people said rice, beans, yams and fruit. And very spicy.

I accomplished that.

The only people who really ate were Princess, Brent and myself. And it took a lot of water for me to get it down.

The last time I had this much angst

I was in the seventh grade.
And though even this song brings back moments of pure horror, it still makes me smile.

For you, Bobby McFerrin.

I miss these girls

It just takes too long.
And I know all the right answers.
And I know that when she gets here it will be 1000X harder than having her there.
And I know that I should fully focus on the ones here.
I even know she would rather go home with her buddy than with me.
And even knowing all just takes too long.
Because she is legally mine.
And a child belongs with her mother.
And since she can't be with her first mother, she should be with me.
And, dear Lord, it looks like she's going to be dumped in with us during the absolutely worst month it could possibly happen in.
I can't stand it.
It physically pains me to imagine her ripped from the life that she knows.
And it physically pains me to leave her there.
So pray with me to get her home.
Because living in the in between isn't good for either of us.
(Aside from the obvious Refiner's Fire that I am TRYING to survive.)
We need to rip that bandage off.

Monday, March 05, 2012

40 days: day 13

Solidarity with: Laos
We ate:

Oh my word, I wanted to stuff my face long past the time my stomach said "satisfied." I don't think we had solidarity with the poor of Laos (unless we were eating chopped stomach and even then (I'm guessing finely chopped chicken and no innards, but she was pretty vague about what we were eating other than, "eat with your fingers, kinda like lettuce wraps but with cabbage")) as much as maybe the middle class. Too much food. Too much meat. SO spectacularly GOOD.

However, it did produce some conversation starters, like, "where is Laos?" and "how did Mr Wendi meet Miss Wendi if he is from Laos?" and "what is that?" as well as immigration and refugees and wars and the fact that we don't know Mr Wendi nearly as well as we should considering how much time we spend with Miss Wendi. We need to rectify that.

Thank you, Wendi and Wendi's mother-in-law, preparers of our day 13 solidarity supper.Everyone should have a friend who marries someone from somewhere else. It makes the world more interesting.

Now.....who can make Ugandan flatbread?

40 days: days 11-12

Last Wednesday, Princess came home from school with a fever of 101 and a cough that sounded pretty fake, if you ask me. On Thursday, she was burning at 103 and still "fake" coughing. By Friday, her fever was down to 99.7, she was still coughing, but had enough energy to sass me.

Friday at noon, I had an irritation in my throat. By three PM I was coughing in a manner that sounded awfully fake. By 8 PM, I was hacking so bad, I put myself to bed.

This weekend I have basically drug myself out of bed to cook, eat, cook, eat, church, eat, cook. drink.

Last night, when I was coughing so hard I was vomiting, I decided this weekend was solidarity with all the people who die daily of Tuberculosis.

I have no idea what it feels like to die of Tuberculosis. I don't know if you cough yourself to death, or if you just drown in your leaky tubers. I think coughing blood up is a by product. But I might be confusing it with CF. I know that tubers have the consistency of cheeze whiz. I know that you can be exposed to tuberculosis and never get it. I know that the tuber is the germ encapsulated in the lungs and might never unencapsulate. I know that stress increases the likelyhood of active tuberculosis. But I can't, for the life of me, dredge up what the moments before death are like.

But last night I thought, "If I feel thisclose to death and I know I'm not dying, I'll bet that people with untreated tuberculosis are even more miserable."

Dramatic. Yes. I know.

Guess where people are dying of tuberculosis: underdeveloped countries. You get it in the US, you get treated. The treatment sucks, I understand, but you can get treated. In Ethiopia it is a death sentence.

All that aside....

Saturday lunch:
solidarity with: Ethiopia
we had: a very basic shephard's pie and sliced oranges
we prayed: for the children in the care centers/ orphanages/ schools that see oranges as a very special treat rather than something to be taken for granted

Saturday supper:
Solidarity with: Latin America
We had: burritos
The kids prayed, around the table:
Charming: Thank you God for this food and bless our bodies and let us have a passport and Iris
Princess: and since we have a passport let us be submitted to Embassy.....whatever that means
Eldest: and for the people of....Mexico...or South America....or wherever...

My kids are getting to where they demand to know who we are having solidarity with before we even set the table. This is good. Because I might have petered out at this point.

Sunday Lunch:
Solidarity with: Fiji
We had: Polynesian Chicken
Because: my mother in law is awesome. Otherwise it would have been burritos, again. Or maybe shephard's pie.
It is a huge stretch, I know, to call what we ate anything but yummy goodness. But there was rice involved and I know from House Hunters International that besides really amazing $350K houses on Fiji, there are also poor indigent peoples. Who probably eat rice.
We prayed something about the food and church and I sent good wishes to the poor peoples of Fiji for coming up with delightful combinations of food.

OK, OK they were only on my mind because I was desperately grasping for a way to make it work and I didn't even talk about it with my kids. I was coughing my head off and shouldn't have even been there.

Sunday supper: popcorn and fruit shakes
thank you Ethiopia for making popcorn my fall back.
we didn't even pray.

I beat my kids to bed.

Friday, March 02, 2012

In a really poor representation of solidarity....

Solidarity with: the border communities
we ate: taco salad
we prayed for: "the people of south Texas and South America"


solidarity with: people on a budget
we ate: what I could come up with without going to the grocery store.

I'm pretty fortunate, I am, to be able to come up with a well rounded meal without even really trying.

Weak in solidarity, I know, but it's what I've got for today.

40 days: day 9

Solidarity with: South Africa
We ate: Eggs, tomatoes and onions.
We prayed: for the children who, as a special treat, get one hard boiled egg a week when they come to church.
I knew about this because of my friend Meg who went a couple years ago. But just now when I went looking for the egg post, I realized she went to Sierra Leone. Which is nowhere near South Africa. Ah well, that's why God is God. He can take my wrong prayers and make them mean something anyway.

I'll have to figure out something about South African food and then pray for Sierra Leone.

And yeah, the tomatoes and onions are because they are in just about everything Ethiopian and I extrapolated.

We also had turkey bacon. And cheese. Neither of which are in much of anything in a meal of a person in poverty in any of the aforementioned three countries.

My heart is in the right place, I think, but the execution is pitiful. I know this is what I set out to do, have ONE side dish on the table that would be someone's main dish and talk about it, but the more I'm into it, the more I feel obligated to put more thought into it. Because how hard can it be to have rice on the table for 40 days?

My friend, Wendi, said she was bringing me Lao food next week. I hope she was serious. Better look up some facts. It's probably time for me to jump out of Africa and into the lesser known Asias.