Friday, January 28, 2011

we JUST LOVE coffee

It's true. As I have added children to the household, coffee has become an important part of my morning. Sadly, my favorite coffee (the stuff I brought back from Ethiopia with me) is gone.

But now, thanks to the a fellow Ethiopia adoptive family's great idea, I can order freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee. Better yet, it's fair trade AND organic! And best of all, every bag of coffee goes to help support orphans. Part of the price from each bag is donated Kids' Care Orphanage (where I met our sweet Kayleigh girl). And, for every bag of coffee sold from our storefront, $5 will be donated to help us fund Kayleigh's adoption.

You can check it out at:

In Awe

My chiropractor's office is the BEST! When they heard about our adoption, they quickly arranged to organize a fund-raiser for us. Next week, they are hosting a patient appreciation day and all of their proceeds that day will go to us. And, if that wasn't awesome enough, Sally(the office manager) solicited donations and has put together a silent auction for that day, too.

Her goal is to raise $500. Every couple of days I hear from her about what donations are coming in, ideas she's had, etc... Yesterday I got home from the library and had a phone message from the chiropractor's office saying they needed to talk to me about something.

I called them, and Sally said, "You know I told you that one of our patients said she couldn't make it in on the day of the fund-raiser but that she wanted to do something to help? Well, she just stopped by and dropped off a check for you. Do you want to come pick it up? By the way, the check is for $500!"

I'll admit it freely. I went into the office and had a little cry. Then, I called Gareth at work and left what was almost certainly an incomprehensible message. Seriously, a complete stranger gave us $500! Turns out, she and her husband tried to adopt internationally before and their agency closed, then a domestic adoption didn't work out when the birthmother changed her mind at the last minute. God has blessed them with an unexpected pregnancy after years of infertility, and they are passing the blessings on.

This adoption thing is a big step of faith for us. For lots of reasons, international adoption is expensive (another blog post for another time). Having tightened every part of our budget, allocated all spare resources, and counted the adoption tax credit, we are still about $8000 short of what it will cost us to fund this adoption. We have gone into it believing that God has called us to be Kayleigh's family and that somehow He will provide.

Today, he provided through a complete stranger. Of all the ways that I have thought of that the money might show up, this was definitely not on my radar!

How awesome is our God, providing for our needs in completely unexpected ways at unexpected times. Reminding me that it's all His anyway and that He can do more than I could ever think or imagine!

Today, I am praising God for His faithfulness and thanking Him for the kindness of strangers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

From the Mouth of Nathan

One of these days I'm sure that someone's going to suggest that really this is Nathan's blog, as his quotes appear more often than anything else. But, in my defense, he just has so much to say right now (and most of it is really funny)!

Take for instance, my conversation with him earlier this week. I had just laundered the sheets and was getting his bed freshly made just in time for him to crawl into it.

"Right Nathan", I say, "I've got fresh sheets on and the bed neatly made. Now, how about not messing it all up and destroying it on the first night. Not quite so much wriggling and humping about, okay?" His reply: Mommy, that's REALLY hard to do when you're a Nathan!

Oh, I love that boy! What am I going to do with him, though? He's funny, and he knows it!

Thankfully, he hasn't figured out trying to use funny to get himself out of trouble, though. It wouldn't work, but it sure would be hard not to laugh!

From the Mouth of Nathan

Quote of the day, courtesy of Nathan: Sometimes, I think I'm a genuis.

Where does he come up with this stuff?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Heart Is Coming Home

Updated 11/15/2012:  The adoption is complete!  Sweet "C", who we named Kayleigh Elisabeth is home, so I am free to put back the posts that mentioned her.  No missing blog posts now!

I have heard before, that to be a mother is to forever walk around with your heart outside your body. The last 7 years have certainly proved this to be true. And for the last 2, a big chunk of my heart has been in Ethiopia.

Those of you who have followed this blog for some time will, no doubt, remember the blog posts about the little girl I met at the orphanage in Ethiopia while I was there to bring Rosie home. And, you'll probably remember that we worked for some time to try to find a way to sponsor her and get her some medical help or a care-giver to work with her one-on-one.

If you look back now, though, you'll see that those blog posts are missing. When I posted them, I had no idea that I would ever get to be saying this, but, "I can't share her picture or her legal name with you out of respect for Ethiopia's privacy rules for children being placed for adoption"!

Yes, it would seem that God's plans for sweet "C" were bigger and better than I had dared to believe they could be! And, it also seems that out of all of the families in the world, God has chosen us to have the privilege of being her family.

For those new to the blog, who have know idea what I'm talking about, or for those I haven't talked to in a while, the story goes something like this:

In 2009, while in Ethiopia to bring Rosie home, we visited an orphanage in Addis Ababa. While there, I met a little girl. She was sat back in a side room, desperately wanting to be part of the merriment going on out in the courtyard. She had some very obvious disabilities, but what really stood out about her was her determination to get to where the action was and her desire to be held. I spent my time there with her in my arms, head on my shoulder, as she rubbed my face. I lost a huge chunk of my heart that day. Setting her down and walking away was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

When I returned home, I couldn't wait for the house to be quiet. As Gareth and I crawled into bed that night, I tried to tell him about her and all I could do was cry. I so desperately wanted to bring her home with me and be her Mommy!

The reasons we couldn't were obvious. We had just adopted, we were completely broke, we had a newly-adopted daughter who was having a "challenging" adjustment period, and Gareth found disabilties hard to deal with.

But, I couldn't forget her. Each day I prayed (and many of them I cried) that God would send someone to love her. I prayed that he would send her a family. I prayed that each day God would send someone to hold her and give her the affection she craved. I prayed that she would have enough to eat.

I called our adoption agency and asked if she was adoptable and could be put on their "Waiting Child List". I was told that due to her profound disabilities, she wasn't really adoptable. So, I asked about options for sponsoring her and getting her some medical help. They kindly looked into that for me, and I liased with the orphanage director via e-mail to see if there were specific ways we could help her. Then, in a moment of desperation, I called our social worker and asked if she would approve us to adopt a child with "profund disabilities". The answer was, as it should have been at the time, that we would need to show some specific things before it could be considered.

Time passed, sponsorship options didn't seem to be working out very well, and adopting her was obviously not a possiblity because you can't very well adopt when not both parents are up for it. I believed that I wouldn't be her Mommy and began to think again about asking to be her advocate and try to find another family who could adopt her.

In July, I had several people ask about my time in Ethiopia and a couple of others ask specifically about the little girl I had blogged about. As I reeled off the list of reasons we couldn't adopt her and the other options we were pursuing to try to help her, I felt more and more like a hypocrite.

By the end of July, I couldn't take it any more and one night I nearly burst as I said to Gareth, "Why is this okay? Why is it okay to hear God's command to care for the orphans and the widows and expect somebody else to do what we're not willing to do ourselves? Why is it okay to try to throw money at a problem so somebody else can take care for it or ask to be her advocate and try to find another family to do what we're not willing to do ourselves? God made sure that on that day, in that orphange, I saw her. Not somebody else, me. He has ensured that I can't forget her, and I don't want to. I don't want somebody else to take care of her. I want to take care of her. I want to be her Mommy. God wouldn't call one of us to do something without calling both of us. I honestly believe that if He has laid this on my heart, then He'll lay it on yours, too. Will you pray, sincerely, for one month that God would show you the right thing to do. I'll pray, too, that if I'm wrong, that He will show me and remove this desire from my heart. I won't bug you about it, but in a month, I want to ask you if we can adopt her. If you've prayed about it and the answer is 'No', I won't resent it and I'll never ask you again. But, please, will you just agree to pray about it?"

Let me tell you, that was a DIFFICULT conversation. Poor Gareth. I cried so hard that I'm sure I was barely coherent, and, although after 10 years he's gotten somewhat used to my occasional hare-brained ways, I'm sure I couldn't have surprised him more. Thankfully, he agreed to pray about it.

One month later, after our monthly date, I sat in the van next to him and asked him if he'd been praying. He said he had, and then, just to torture me, he said nothing else. "Well", I prompted, "what do you think?" And the reply, "Well, I think we should go get her. What do we need to do to bring her home?"

And so, the discussions began. What were her needs? How could we meet them? How could we afford to adopt overseas again? How would we manage the medical bills? Could I cope with 4 children, 1 with "profound" disabilities? How would we cope with home-schooling? How much more income would we need? How would I cope with lifting and carrying a child who could nto walk with my already existing back problems? Were we completely crazy?

The last 4 months have seen us looking at finances, paying off our credit card, trying to finish off my nurse refresher course so we have a back-up plan for emergency income, moving to a year-round schooling plan that will accomodate breaks and therapy appointments, tightening our "budget belt" to make better use of our money, and has finally seen Gareth promoted to project engineer. The promotion yielded only a small pay increase, but it provides the potential for future pay rises and promotion.

And so, last week, we submitted the necessary paperwork and were officially approved to begin the adoption process again!

WE (yes, both of us) are SO, SO excited. Last night, as we looked at some new pictures of her that another family who had been in Ethiopia lst year sent us, Gareth said, "Can you believe, that out of all of the families who have fallen in love with her, God is going to let us be her parents?"

I'm sure that this journey has plenty of potential to be hard. International adoption is fraught with frustrations and hard things. But she is so worth it! It's been 2 years in the making, but now, in God's perfect timing, we're on the road back to Ethiopia. My heart is coming home!

P.S. Just in case you were wondering, we have chosen her name. And, I can share that with you. She will be Kayleigh Elisabeth. Kayleigh (modern Arabic) means beloved. Elisabeth (Hebrew) means consecrated to God.

Monday, January 10, 2011

So, where have we been?

I've been trying to get this post written for 2 weeks now, and it's just not working. Probably due to the high volume of photos I've been trying to add to show you where we've been the last 6 months.

So, I'm just going to give you a quick recap. Otherwise, I'm never going to manage to start telling you about where we are and what we're doing now.

Gareth says that this summer we were "too busy doing blog-worthy things to blog"!

June: June saw us playing in the sun-shine, attending VBS, and packing for a BIG trip!

July: July saw me celebrate my 32nd birthday-in ENGLAND! Gareth's parents were very kind and gifted us with tickets to visit the family in England. The kids loved it, and so did we.

We spent lovely time with Gareth's parents, sister, her partner, Gareth's Granny, and even caught up with Aunt, Uncle, and a cousin.

Granny had planned a trip to Legoland-Windsor, which was a huge highlight. We had fantastic weather and it remains one of the kids' "best things ever".

We made a quick trip to Bristol and spent a lovely day catching up with friends from our church family in Bristol. As most of us had added at least one more child in the 5 years since we had seen them, it was LOTS of fun and a special time of catching up with old friends. While over on the west coast, we took the children to visit the Atlantic Ocean. It was a very typical English day, and so we showed the children how to be very British and enjoythe beach even in the rain!

The children spent lots of time playing in Granny's back garden, including a really lovely day with their Great-Granny sat, aged 91, in a chair in the middle of them joining in the game of football (that's soccer to us americans). That is definitely my favorite memory of the entire trip!

Rosie had great fun going on a shopping trip with Favorite Auntie Keri and Uncle Sam, and the boys enjoyed a trip to an activity center with Grumpy and Daddy. Noah finally managed to scale the climbing wall!

Our last day, we visited Warrick Castle. It poured rain most of the day, but we had a great time. Noah and Rosie even had a chance to practice their archery skills!

We returned from England just in time to hand out invitations for a 5-Day club, which we hosted in our neighborhood. We had a great group of youth from our church come out to lead it for us and had loads of kiddoes come and hear the Gospel.

August: August saw us spending lots of extra time in the pool and enjoying the last days of summer with our best friends. It also saw us do a unit study on Egypt. We made pyramids out of sugar cubes, learned to write our names in hyroglyphics, studied Egyptian history and religion, learned about modern Egyptian culture. Our study culminated in a visit to the Philbrook Museum to visit their Ancient Egypt exhibit. The kids were thrilled to get to see a real mummy! Their Mommy was thrilled when Noah gasped in surprise and then said to one of the ladies supervising the display, "Wow, you have a real sarcophagus!" She about fell over in shock, and they went on to have a great conversation about what Noah had been learning about.

September: September saw my 3rd year of home-schooling begin with Noah in 2nd, Nathan in Kindergarten, and Rosie in Pre-K. September also gave us the opportunity to celebrate Noah's 7th birthday.

October: October saw us celebrating Rosie's 5th birthday, first with family, and a week later with a "No Boys Allowed" princess tea party with her little friends. Sadly, October also saw us having to admit that our sweet Inky -dog's cancer was spreading and that her time to be with us was growing short. In His goodness to us (and especially to Nathan who took the news really hard), God gave us the blessing of a new puppy-dog from friends who raise labradoodles, but had a batch that they had not sold as young puppies. We were able to adopt Oreo with out all of the expense that would usually be involved. Lastly, October saw me finally complete the on-line portion of my nurse refresher course.

November: November saw us celebrating all things Thanksgiving. One of our favorite activities was a "thankfulness tree". We drew a treetrunk with lots of bare limbs, then every day we took a construction paper "leaf" and writing something that we were thankful for. The whole family really enjoyed taking an entire month to be deliberately thankful. In November, we said good-bye to Inky. She was the perfect dog for my munchkins when they were young, and I am very grateful for the almost 3 good years they had with her. And, Oreo's arrival had been perfect timing. Her presence really helped to ease their sadness over Inky's death. November saw my "skills lab" refresher completed and the beginning of my clinical time at OSU's Medical Center begin.

December: December was a whirl of Christmas programs (for me, complete with Victorian costume and hoop skirt), parties, bronchitis, and a visit to Grandmas. It also saw Gareth's project that he had been pursuing awarded. He is now officially a project engineer, acting as a project manager with his 1st project. I'm thankful that, at least for this one, the project is in-state, so we won't see him jetting off around the world on business!

So, that's where we've been! I've been trying to put pictures into the right places, but it's just slowing the computer up way too much, so I'm afraid you'll just have to have them at the bottom fo the post. I needed to just get this written and posted so we can move on, 'cause I can't wait to tell you about where we're going!!!!!I

From the Mouth of Nathan

It is truly unfortunate, that this title couldn't be more accurate. A stomach virus has arrived at our house, and Nathan was the first victim.

But, on the positive side, being sick doesn't affect his sense of humor. Nathan's insight for this morning as he lay on the living room floor listening to Noah and Rosie upstairs: Well, Oreo (his puppy) acts like a labradoodle, and it sounds like Rosie thinks she's a BLABradoodle!

Friday, January 7, 2011

From the Mouth of Nathan/In the Mouth of Nathan

Okay, I know that I'm supposed to be writing a post to update everyone with what we've been doing the last 6 months, and I will get around to it eventually, I promise. It's been a busy week and I won't get it done today, but I couldn't let the week end without sharing Nathan's latest "funnies" with you.

While working at the computer desk this week, Nathan wandered up to me saying, "I bet I know what you wish". "Oh you do, huh?" was my slightly distracted reply. "Yep. I bet you wish you were me"! --Good to know there isn't anything wrong with his self-confidence!

Life as Nathan's Mommy is NEVER dull. He takes his self-appointed role of court jester very seriously. Unfortunately, life as Nathan's Mommy also has more than its' fair share of plain old nasty moments, too. Case in point, last night's bath time:

I had both boys in the shower. After seeing that they'd washed their hair, I told them to turn the water off while I got the towels. When I turned around, I found Nathan down on all fours in the shower, head to the ground. I should have known better than to ask. I think I'd have been much happier not knowing. But, it would seem that 5 3/4 years with Nathan have not taught me my lesson. "What are you doing", I asked. To which his very serious reply was, "I was trying to lick up all the water before it could go down the drain".

He never did get why Mommy was so upset....

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Dear Friends,

How I've missed blogging. Unfortunately, between the childrens' schooling and my nurse refresher course, it has had to take a back-seat for the past 6 months.

But, I think it's time to get started again. So, please stay tuned. You'll note from the new address that we're going to change it up. I think that we've completely outgrown the Many Mini Munchkins, so 2011 will find us attempting to update you on the last 6 months, as well as updating our look.

Oh, and some BIG family news that I'm very excited to share.

Please pardon what will undoubtedly be slow progress, as I will have to work on it in short spurts in-between other responsibilities.

I'm looking forward to catching up! Stay tuned ......