Wednesday, November 4, 2015

One year for Lisle

One year ago today, Ethiopian Airlines flight 501 touched down in Washington, D.C.  After going through immigration, the USA had a new citizen, Festum Thomas Spears... a train wreck of a name; we'll be fixing that next month. To us, he is Carlisle Fitsum Spears; our Lisle.  It's been a wonderful year getting to know our new little boy, filled with many joys and many challenges.  He's done a ton of growing:  physically he's about eight inches taller and ten pounds heavier; he's also speaking English, going to school, speech therapy, occupational therapy and playing organized sports...growing as a little person.  We can't imagine life without him.

 Dulles Airport 

First snow

First Christmas home


 Today at our house

 Henry Doorly Zoo in September

Last month, hunting butterflies

Monday, November 2, 2015

The final firsts

It's hard to believe, but we are coming up on one year as a family of nine.  The end of summer and the beginning of fall leads to the last of the firsts for are some pictures documenting a few events.

Lost Valley Ranch in Colorado with our little cowpoke.

Lisle rode Astro everyday for a week all by himself.

Tubing with Thomas...Lisle was Mr. Cool until he was dumped minutes later.

Vala's Pumpkin Patch

The not-so-haunted house.


Danger at the Pumpkin Mine

Lisle and Sarah on the train.


The twins helped Lisle make a jack-o-lantern.

Ready to go...disco diva Sarah, vampire-businessman Candace, 
zombie Thomas, and Spiderman Lisle.

Super amazing spiderman.

Trick or treat?!

 The littles carved their own pumpkins this year.

More to come in an upcoming much is going on here ALL THE TIME...I need to make more of an effort to keep up.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On being a mom

Me as a brand new mom

On a hot summer evening over a quarter of a century ago, after hours and hours of grueling labor, a nurse placed a bundle in my arms, a son, and I became a mom.  Just like that.

I didn't really understand it at the time, but I had found my vocation.  Lots of people have careers that they find unbelievably rich and fulfilling and also manage to be wonderful parents.  That was never me.  Once they put Kenneth in my arms, nothing ever drew me in the way mothering did.  I gladly left my industrial engineering job behind and became a stay at home mom while my husband entered graduate school.  I had passing thoughts of entering this field or that when my children were in school, but Tom's very busy career and other circumstances came up, and the thoughts stayed passing.

Lots of times, it was hard.  I was alone a lot during some of the years... hats off to you single parents. That's tough.  It was hard when my kids were babies.  It was hard when they were school age.  Boy, was it hard when they were teenagers.

But I am grateful for every second.  Every second.  When my baby entered high school, I knew I wasn't ready for the upcoming empty nest.  God nudged me.  I nudged my husband...well, God helped.  We ended up adopting three more beautiful kids before Anna graduated from high school and just added a fourth.  Seven children!  My cup is full to the brim.

So I am now a mother of seven.  Tom and I would have laughed if you would have told us that would happen when we got married in 1986.  Our children run in age from nearly twenty-six to six years old.  Full-grown adults down to a kindergartner.  Guess what?  It's still hard.  I am a fretful person, prone to worry about things I can do nothing about.  It's something I need to work on with God.  Now my worries run the gamut from job prospects and study abroad trips and mortgages for the eldest children, and will they all end up with happy marriages; to making it to baseball and soccer and pioneer day to please can my child learn to use silverware appropriately before he goes to first grade.

I was thinking today that I have bitten off more than I can chew.  I am nearly 52 years old.  I am bone tired pretty much every day.  Wondering how my own mother managed to raise five kids and be so cheerful and serene all the time.

Then I realized that when I unloaded my troubles on my mom today, she was probably feeling the same things I feel.  I wish I could fix it for you, daughter.  I wish I could hug you, smooth your hair and tell you it would be fine and then it would be.

Because she's a mom.  It's her vocation, too.  I always tell people that we have a lot of pets and children because I have a strong need to nurture small things.  It's true.  And I know exactly where it came from.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I'm very like my dad in most ways, but I'm so proud and happy to have this from my mother.

Right now, I have three young adults negotiating the wide world away from the security of our home.  I have four energetic elementary school kids crowding every day with activity.  I have joy.

Joy that is the same...whether it came from a doctor's hearty congratulations in the delivery room after a long labor, or a judge's quiet words in a courtroom in a far away country.  "You are a mother"...again and again and again and again and again.

I am a mom.

My mom and my kids at Easter.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Three months in a family

Today marks three months home for our sweet Lisle!  I will admit, when we first brought him home, I was nervous...he lagged significantly in social skills, language, and maturity.  He has come so far!  He is speaking English in two and three word sentences, and understands much more.  He can write with a pencil, he can color, he can identify letters, and he can count to twenty.  He goes to bed and sleeps like a rock.  He eats well whatever we put in front of him.  He is happy, he is joyful.  He sings, he plays games, he is even wrestling with our local wrestling club.  He started kindergarten!  He behaves in a much more age appropriate fashion when he is upset.

I have never seen a child more ready to be in a family.  Lisle loves all of us so much.

He is such a joy, and we are thankful for him everyday.

Lisle celebrated his sixth birthday on December 27!

Lisle loves our dogs.

He is pretty much the cutest six year old around.

Lisle is a kindergartner!

Fun in the snow.

Lisle is eagerly anticipating his first wrestling tournament!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014


I didn't take a lot of pictures on Thanksgiving, because I was too busy enjoying my family.  We had all seven children, a grand-dog and a grand-kitty join us at home for a lovely day together.  The feast was delicious, if I do say so myself, and the company was even better.  My heart was so full as we sat around the dining room table, eating with the good china and just enjoying each other.  I never expected when we began the adoption process for Lisle that he would actually be here for the holidays.  God generously blessed us this year.

I will share a cute picture of the littles taken the weekend before Thanksgiving and an outtake of the Christmas card family photo.  Enjoy the season, everyone!

Thomas, Candace, Lisle and Sarah

The whole crazy gang.  And Harry cat.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One week home

So far, things are going grandly!  Lisle Fitsum was a trouper during our long hours of travel.  He has adjusted to the dogs, who originally terrified him.  He enjoys his siblings, especially Thomas whom he adores.  I had dental surgery today, so this is short, but I just wanted to post so my friends who aren't on Facebook would know that all I well.  Better than well...sometimes my heart just overflows when I'm holding my little son close.  God is good.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ready, set...

After finally getting the go ahead from the embassy, we leave Omaha on November 2 and on November 4, we will take our son away from the transition home to be loved in our family forever! We will board our return flight on the evening of November 5 and be back home on November 6. Yes, it's the quickest trip possible to Ethiopia.  :)

We are beyond excited.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


We received our PAIR approval last week, and today our paperwork was submitted to the United States Embassy in Addis, Ababa.  Now, we wait for a visa interview appointment date...then bring our boy home!  Very soon now.  :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

The unpleasant business of waiting

I was really hoping that by now, I would know when our dear boy was coming home to us...but I don't.  We recently found out some new information about his past that is very heartbreaking, and I have been tied up in knots ever since.  Anxiety is my new constant companion.  I am a fretful person by nature, but every possible thing that could be troublesome seems to be multiplied ten fold.  When anxiety strikes, some people find solace in energetic activity of some type.  Umm, not me.  When I am feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I tend to go into a sort of hibernation mode, where even the most trivial of tasks seems insurmountable.  Laundry, meals, cleaning...heck, even just leaving the house...a struggle.

This is me, unable to stir up enough energy to fold a load of laundry.

I feel lethargic all day, wanting to do nothing but nap, read, and obsessively check my email.  I still feel so exhausted each night...but then, this old friend pops in for a visit:


...and so, I'm not sleeping well.  So then, I'm tired in the morning, which magnifies my feelings of anxiety, which makes me listless, so I nap, then I'm restless at night, which makes me tired...

Aargh.  Please, oh please, United States Embassy/USCIS people.  Approve my baby.  I need some normal here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Things are happening, but all I can do is wait

Wow, Labor Day is this weekend!  Fall is right around the corner.  These kids went back to school:

Candace and Sarah, 4th grade and Thomas, 2nd grade.

These girls moved to their own little house in Lincoln and the older one graduated with a master's degree and started a grown up teaching job.  And she got my first grandpuppy.

Emily and Anna on moving day.

Tom and I with our master's graduate, newly employed daughter Emily.

Emily and her baby Mia, who is huge.

Of course, oldest son is still living in Omaha, working and going to school.  Tom is working on about fifty things at once, both at home and at the business.

Kenneth is 25!  How did that happen?

Me?  I'm just...waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.

For my little guy to come home.  Yes, this seems to be the world's speediest international adoption, I know. We applied to adopt him in February and we have already passed court and likely the entire process will be over by October.  But gosh, once you see that face and hold that little body in your arms and hear that sweet little voice call you "Mommy"...the waiting is painfully hard.  Adding to my angst is the fact that our boy is the only child left in his transition home.  It's just him and a nanny, all day and all night.  How lonely he must be, and how scared!  I am not exaggerating that not five minutes go by without me thinking about him.  I nested like crazy before we headed off to court, and now I seem to have lost the will to perform productive actions of any kind.

Praying that the embassy and immigration people approve his case soon.  My family needs a functional mom.  :)