That's right- I am still alive! I know that many of you probably thought that I had dropped off the face of the earth. But I am still right here in my nice little house with my wonderful, ever patient husband, and four energetic little munchkins!
I have found that having four children means that I have much less time for things like this blog! Hence the lack of new posts. Additionally, I started my new teaching job two weeks ago, so my time is even more limited than ever before. Starting on August 1, all four children will be in school with me. I'll be glad for that because right now I am missing them like crazy while I'm at work getting the classroom ready for the students. I'd be lying though if I claimed that I didn't enjoy the change of scenery just a little bit. But I am definitely ready to receive all of those dirty, sweaty, sticky little hugs at the end of the day!
So, it's been four months now since Yosef and Mihret came home to our family in America from Ethiopia. Would you believe that we're already thinking of adopting again?!?! (Only on my good days....or maybe they're my crazy days....hmmmmm). Things are feeling more and more settled all the time. The children had a spell where there was lots of fighting as all four of them were trying to figure out what their roles and positions were supposed to be in this new configuration. But it seems that everybody has found their places for the most part.
Lucas is still my cuddling, snuggly little rambunctious boy and also the baby in every sense of the word. Those of you who aren't youngest children will understand exactly what this means! Mihret wants to be the baby, but realizes that she's honestly just more mature than that, though she's more than willing to shower me with affection any time day or night. Kaitlyn is realizing that having a sister has not lived up to her fantasy where the girls never fought and always played so nicely together. But, in her realization, she's also found some acceptance of this fact and is now moving on into reality. She spends more time playing by herself without Mihret than she did at first, which helps her so much with being patient and understanding. The girls often get along really nicely, and the other half of the time they bicker back and forth. So, I guess they're truly sisters! And Yosef is definitely the oldest in every sense of the word. He's such a sweet and funny little kid. He's had to be the man of the family before, so it's sometimes hard for him to be a kid. But, mostly he's just a great little boy who loves and coddles and humors and also teases his little brother and sisters. And Avery and I have learned that our house definitely needs to have more structure now that there are four of the little guys running around. We do more things "assembly line style" now and tend to have a routine for just about everything. But as the kids are learning the routine, they're falling into line more and more. Our house is definitely not chaotic for the most part, though we do have our days. Mostly though, things are running smoothly. Everybody is getting their fair share of individual attention and at night we breath a sigh of relief when everybody is quietly tucked in to bed and we can sit back and relax with each other. Life is good. I am so blessed by these children who call me "Mommy." What more could I ask for?
Lucas is healing very well from his burn this past May. He will definitely not need a skin graft and we are so thankful to God for this. The only concern is that a scar does not continue to grow with a child's growing body the way skin does. It merely gets stretched out as the child grows. His deepest scars are on his shoulder and the doctors are concerned that he is not developing enough excess scar tissue. Without adequate excess, the scar will become stretched very tight as he grows bigger and limit mobility in his shoulder. The only thing we can do is to massage the scar in order to try to stretch it while it's still forming. This is a very painful thing for Lucas and he screams in pain when we do it. Not a pleasant thing. Honestly, I need to do it more than I do because as painful as it is now, it's better than losing mobility in his arm later. Aside from that, he is doing so good. He's able to swim and be outside as long as he's wearing his special SPF shirt that a very precious family sent him.
Mihret is such a good little girl. We had problems at first with her testing the limits and not obeying. But once she understood the boundaries and the consequences, she fell into line. She still tries to test us, but what kid doesn't?! She loves to help me. Today we spent some time at my school because Avery was fixing some of my broken student desks. I was putting up bulletin boards while he worked and Mihret was just such a good helper with handing me tape, boarders, etc. She's definitely grieving though. She was about 3 1/2 when her mother died and she remembers it well. All of her memories of her mother are very happy memories, aside from the memory of her mommy going to sleep at night and not waking up in the "good morning." My heart broke the night that she sat on my lap crying as she told me about that sad morning when her mommy did not "stand up in the good morning." She has no memory of her mother not being sick in bed. But she must have been an amazing woman because both of the children love her so much and have told me so many stories about how she was funny and sang songs with them and played with them. But I know that grief is necessary if there is to be healing and I am so thankful that she is turning to me in her grief instead of shutting me out. I know that God will heal her little heart.
Kaitlyn is dying with anticipation right now for school to start. She is the entire reason that I even considered teaching at this school. It is a school for the arts and they are truly top notch. When we have gone to see their performances, I honestly felt like I had cheated the system because they didn't charge me anything to come in. Kaitlyn will be taking ballet classes as part of the curriculum along with art classes, dance, music, theater, and chorus. And the arts are also integrated into the academic curriculum. This is so right up her alley. I really think that she will thrive in this environment. I'm excited for her!
Yosef is doing well, though he's having a little bit of a hard time with certain aspects of the culture here in America. Namely, the respect that Americans give to women is very hard for him to understand and submit to. Most days are okay. But some days he just really struggles to respect women in general, but especially me. This is requiring lots of clear boundaries about what is expected of him and Avery has really had to enforce this on my behalf. The little guy has some deeply ingrained misogyny that has been passed down both generationally and culturally to him. Truly, we recognize that while we must set clear boundaries for him in this, only God can change a heart. So, together, we pray for our little son that God will give him a heart towards women that matches His own heart towards women. When Yosef isn't struggling with this, he's such an affectionate little guy with me. It took some work and time, but he is bonding well with me. I love it when he wakes up in the morning and says, "Why you not hug me today, Mom?!" and looks overly hurt until I hug him. Or when I pray for him in his bed at night and he grabs me around my neck and tries to not let go so that I will stay with him. Those are the moments that make all the struggle worth it.
God has been very good to us in all of this transition. In the moments where we have been just truly lost as to what to do, God has made it somehow okay. We have had dear friends support us and pray for us in this. I still cannot believe that we have experienced first-hand the miracle of childbirth AND the miracle of adoption! Both are miracles. A child coming into a family is a miracle. And we have been blessed to have experienced four miracles! And I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that there are more little miracles out there in the world not in need of a family yet, but sometime in the not-so-distant future, they will be waiting for us. So, now that I'm working, we need to first buy a newer van than the 198,000 mile van that we currently have. Then, we're going to start saving money for the next adoption.
This one will probably not be from Ethiopia, as I think the law now states that you can't have more than 5 kids in the family to adopt from Ethiopia. If we adopt more than one, then we'd be ineligible and I really want to adopt another sibling set that is less likely to find a family. Just as my heart has been drawn to Ethiopia, my heart has also been drawn to Uganda. But, Uganda has a requirement that you be a resident for 3 years prior to adoption. Would you believe that the very same day that I found out about Ethiopia's new restrictions, I found out that Uganda had lifted the residency requirement? I believe that my future children are in Uganda with their still-living mother. Time will tell...
I wish I could leave you with some pictures, but I can't find the cable to connect my camera to my computer! I will try to update soon though because my kids are sooooooooo cute! :) Yes, I'm a little biased.