Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Indiana Jones

One thing that can be difficult for kids who have spent time in an institutionalized setting is creative play. Thomas sometimes has difficulty amusing himself without direction from a parent or one of his sisters, so I am always happy when I discover him immersed in some game of his own making. Today, our young adventurer was practicing his skill with a "bullwhip" he made himself with a flute cleaning rod and a long piece of leftover fleece fabric.

The young Indy and his trusty whip.

Crack it!

Another family skill learned... pets are fun to cuddle.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


We have made Ethiopian food at our house several times since adopting the twins in 2009, and the food has always been good. Our downfall has been coming up with good, homemade injera. For Christmas this year, I got Tom an injera making kit from Village Thread. The kit came with a cute "Got Injera?" t-shirt, the ingredients for injera and the cookbook You Can Make Injera. I also bought Tom a cooker that I found recommended somewhere... it is a Silverstone Heritage Lesfe Grill and we bought it online at Target. The lid (which you need) is sold separately and you can order it directly from the company after you get your grill.

After carefully following the directions, Tom was able to make some darn good injera. It tasted just right. The hardest part was probably pouring it out and removing it from the pan. Tom watched the guest house cooks in Ethiopia make injera, and I think seeing how they did it was helpful.

Tom's injera

He also made a meat dish and a vegetarian dish to go with it.
It was all delicious!

The littles digging in... I'm always amazed how much
they eat on Ethiopian food night!

p.s. I think the injera kit from Village Thread was a seasonal item, but they have lots of other great Ethiopian items and the sales benefit two great charities... check them out!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Life goes on

I have posted much lately, because since my dad died, I just haven't felt like doing much of anything that requires a lot of thought or effort. But it is true... life does go on, and even though my sadness is still great, I don't think my dad would want me to be missing the small joys of daily life. Our children are with us for such a short time before they venture out on their own; it would be wrong to try not to enjoy every possible minute. (Thank you Kristen, for a timely reminder on your Facebook page the other day!)

So here are just some random moments from the last few days:

My favorite jeans got a giant rip in the butt... no longer appropriate on a woman approaching the age of 50, no matter how attractive she may be. These jeans are pretty ancient and have seen me through many a day... including being the one pair of jeans I took on my BEMM trip to Ethiopia in November of 2010. Good-bye, beloved denim friend. (Cue dramatic music here)

Sarah in rapt attention with her Nintendo DS

Candace said, "I wonder how come if I got a guitar for Christmas, I can't play it right?" We took this as a hint and Tom taught her how to hold it and how to hold the strings down with her fingers... I guess real lessons may be in order soon.

A happy future rock star.

Whenever I take a picture of anybody,
Thomas comes running over pleading "Picture me!"

This is just a gratuitous photo of the adorable
Miss Sylvia Kittywhiskens.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My dangerous pasttime

I read something recently in the Omaha World-Herald that got me thinking... "A dangerous past-time.." "I know." *


The article was written by local columnist Rainbow Rowell and it deals with gender roles and toys. I will wait here patiently while you read or skim it, which will save me a lot of time recapping the article. Lazy, yes. I've had a hard month; indulge me.

Okay. So what I was thinking today is that when it comes to gender roles, many people (and by this I mean mostly, but certainly not exclusively, women) seem to get quite bent out of shape by any toy, television show, product etc. that goes out of its way to appeal to girls by being... well, girlie. Some examples are the pink Legos mentioned by Rainbow, Disney princesses, Barbie etc. It's like being a girlie girl is letting down the people who worked so hard for women's rights or something.


I have boys and girls, and my personal experience is that they are just wired differently. Sure, sometimes my little boys played with dolls, or dressed up in princess dresses and jewelry. Sure, sometimes my little girls ran around the house hacking down imaginary enemies with their sword fighting skills. But really, I think that most girls are just naturally wired to enjoy "pretty" things and most boys are looking for some action and adventure. So why do so many these days feel embarrassed if their little girls want to act like GIRLS?

Maybe this is just another example of how the traditional roles of girls and women in society is just not valued as much as the traditional role of boys and men. We want our girls to go out and DO things. Don't just be suckered in by that cute baby or pretty dress, darn it! We are appalled that in the third world, girls are frequently treated as lesser citizens, not even worth educating in many places. But aren't we subtly saying the same thing about the worth of being a girl when we discourage girls from choosing a certain toy or activity or maybe even a career... just because of it's "girliness"?

Maybe I'm just sensitive since my career of choice is the girliest one of all... stay at home mom. I don't wear pearls and a nice dress while vacuuming and I don't want to... but I don't have a burning desire to be out in the wide world performing engineering time studies, either. (I did that. In another life... long ago.) I like to wear pretty clothes, I like to take care of babies and I'm a sucker for makeup in cute little packages. I totally would have loved My Little Pony (with combable hair!) and pink Lego sets if they were around when I was little. I remember my mom making me a Cinderella costume for Halloween when I was in the second grade, and one of my prized possessions was a coat that had a fake fur collar that I lovingly referred to as my "big buffy coat". I loved Barbies. I also had my own Tonka dump truck. And look, I grew up mostly normal.

If you have a daughter who happens to like trucks, Hot Wheels and ninja stuff, I don't have a problem with that. And my son loves his baby doll. Obviously, there is a lot of cross-over for both genders in their interests at any given time. But I think that we need to give little girls a break and let them know that it is definitely okay to be a girlie girl. Without apology. Because being a boy is great. And being a girl is great, too.

* See lyrics from Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Monday, January 9, 2012

All home!

In our first travel group for Thomas' adoption, for our court appointment in March, there were 11 families. Our second group in June had 10 additional families, some on their first trip and a couple on their embassy trip, like us. Twenty-one families. I am so happy to have learned yesterday that the final family from these two groups has brought their son home to the United States, as of late last week. Everyone has their family together for 2012! What a great way to start the New Year!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mommy fail

So... if you read my blog just to see the cute pictures of the littles, you should probably skip this one.

People say to me all the time, "You have such a beautiful family." They see us out and about, at church or shopping or whatever, usually with happy kids, both big and little, and a reasonably cheerful mom and dad. We look like peace and love and racial harmony.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Sometimes... not.

What I really have, in many ways, is three families: the family with the big kids, or the "original" family; the family with the littles, which is sort of like the "new" family; and the "combined" family, which is where everything tends to go to hell in a hand-basket.

I feel like the woman in the graphic I've attached to this post. I've had the big kid plates spinning pretty well, those original three, and I could keep the little kid plates spinning pretty well too, even though they are hard plates to spin, if I could just set those big kid plates down for awhile. But I can't, because their plates need spinning too so I'm spinning all six at once and I also have the husband plate and the the pet plate and it's really hard and then... maybe some outside clown cuts in on my performance, like a death in the family, and Mr. Death Clown starts messing with my plates and everything just comes crashing DOWN!

What we get then is mommy melt-down, and it isn't pretty. It's a screaming, crying, hysterical mess that makes everyone just want to get away. From her. In these moments, I honestly feel like pretty much the worst mother on the planet. The. Worst. I feel like I am just not giving anyone what they need and like I am a total failure and you know what? It sucks.

My kids range in age from 22 to 5 at this time. That's a huge difference in terms of wants and needs for a mom to be in tune with. Concerns are ranging from career choices to learning to tie shoes. I know of so many moms who seem to be able to do it, but I'll tell you something... it's hard. I'm not sure I'll ever feel that I'm adequate at this.

I love my family. Every single member, completely and totally. I love that the big kids have sacrificed for the littles. I also hate that the bigs have sacrificed for the littles. I just wish that I could keep everyone's plate spinning perfectly and that I would be a better, more consistent performer.