Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Road Rage.

     My 57lb four year old is clearly too big for the five point harness car seat.  Exciting day at Sam's Club, picking out a new car seat!  Etienne proudly showed anyone within shouting range his "Cars" model, the "big boy" seat like Blake. These things are so simple compared to the newborn carrier and the toddler car seat! All you have to do is take the thing out of the box!
     Etienne demonstrated his skill at hooking the seat belt all by himself.  My life just got a little easier; only 1/4 of the entourage needs to be buckled in!  Seemed like a momentous occasion except I should have known that it was too good to be true.  Can we say "freedom?"  AGH!!!! Etienne can not, can not, I repeat, keep his hands off the seat belt.  Driving with him has now become a game of which sibling is in charge of regulating how far out he has stretched the belt, if he is sitting sideways/hanging off the side/completely tangled within the belt; or if the boy has just stretched it so far it doesn't function. What do I do besides scold?  
     When Blake was 2, he wasn't easy.  There was a stretch where a friend actually used duct tape on his car seat during a road trip so that we could avoid constantly re-hooking him in.  I have done a little searching and there are car seats for very large kids but they are super-duper expensive because they are designed for children with physical disabilities. 
     If you see a black minivan with some Will Smith blaring pulled over on the side of the road with a blonde woman pulling her hair out, please don't honk.  Just keep moving.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Its bigger than us.

  This is a shout out to Etienne's Barber Shop, Cross Cuts, in Crossroads Mall, in Omaha.  Today, when they learned we had just celebrated our Gotcha Day, the entire shop celebrated.  I love these guys all the time because they embrace our family.  They are as real as an African American barber shop can be, and they don't care that I am a white mama struggling to maintain a healthy scalp and tight twisty curls.  Every time we come  in, they turn on something like "Drum Line," turn on some clean hip-hop and make E feel like a prince.  Today was no exception.  They all relived Etienne's first 2+hr visit full of tears, language barriers and kicking him; than showered him with praise at his big boy behavior now.  It makes me cry just to think about the love that these men give my son.
  After leaving the barber, we headed to the bank.  The teller, as always, from her little window, talked about to the boys.  Than she said, "I remember when you came in here, needing crisp, new $100 bills and I was amazed at what your family was doing.  We just adopted a dog and I told my boyfriend that he should no that someday I have to adopt a child."  I feel awful I can't remember the poor girl's name and she has witnessed some ugly reality of post-adoption life.  The leaky, giardia-filled diaper in her lobby, the repeated undoing of the seat belts in the drive-thru lane, the screams so loud we played charades.  But God  used our boys to place a longing in her heart. 
  I left our errands reminded at how BIG God is.  In my day-to-day struggles, I forget that our boys, our family, our look, they are still 'new' to the world. What an amazing opportunity to give   Him credit for the chaotic, beautiful mess of a life we live. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gotcha Day 2

Ezekiel and Etienne's Referral Pics, 9/2009
My Rwandan Boys have been home 2 years.
There aren't words for the depths of 
and more grace.

Zeke has gained 8 lbs and 13 inches
Etienne has gained 13 lbs and 8 inches
Molly has gained patience (a little) and empathy (a ton)
Blake has learned loyalty (a lot) and leadership 

Thursday, September 15, 2011


  I am cooking Rwandan Chicken and White Beans to celebrate "Gotcha Day."  Zeke and Etienne are helping (I use this term lightly) and we are talking about what it was like to bring them home.
Me: "......so than we brought you home forever."
Etienne: "Because my birth mom didn't want me, right?"
I froze.  We have never, ever said such words. Not even close. AAAHHHH!!!!! What did we miss here? How did he get that idea?
Me: "NO! It wasn't that she didn't want you. Your birth mom couldn't give you food or clean water or school."
Zeke: "Or a doggy, E."
    E is only 4.  Yet he has come to this conclusion on his own.  We have to consider developmentally, he can't grasp that a loving action is to give your child to another family.  He may think "love means giving me away."  So we talk about concrete logistics relating to birth moms.  The simple necessities of being a parent. Yet still we get to this thought of not being wanted.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Us time.

     This past weekend, Ryan and I went to Chicago.  I am required to keep up my CEUs and so I attended a Birth Conference.  We got to go with our dearest friends, Kevin and Carrie.  It was fabulous to have quality grown-up time.  Ryan's folks came to town to entertain the entourage: zoo, hot air balloon festival and movies.        They were too busy to notice our absence.
     Biblically, the bible commands that we love God first and submit to our spouses in love next(see Matthew 10).  We all know this is really, really hard to do. It is a challenge to raise Godly kiddos, run a household and maybe a career but above all, to love your husband most!   No matter the chaos that has followed our return home, it is sacred that Ryan and I get time to just be together; it has taken 10yrs for me to grasp the significance of time without kids. I am so grateful for our family that serves us well that we may do this.
     This year, E didn't lock anyone out of the house or car.  He was great for his Nana and Pops!  It's the aftermath for mommy, and now siblings, that is rough.  Please pray for Etienne this week.  We are better equipped and know what to expect (to an extent) after a change in our routine.  The lying, the hurting, the acting out are back.  Our poor boy knows the words "Mommy and Daddy are always your mommy and daddy," but he doesn't feel it.  I am at a place, as his mama, that I am overcome with grief when I think that E doubts my unconditional love.  Most of the time, the constant noise, the breaking/taking apart/losing/reinventing of anything and everything doesn't phase me.  Finding a turkey feather in the washing machine is normal around here.  I let go of order and said adios to a clean house.  I am even cool with all the kids waking up to stomping and chanting.  But there are still a lot of moments that doubt creeps in.  How long will it take to prove my love?  When will he not pee his pants?  At what age will we not have to buy diapers?
     The  cool thing about marriage is that God gave me a partner that doesn't ask those questions.  He doesn't mind if he has to move laundry to climb into bed and he never comments on the prize of diapers.  And that is why my other half totally deserves my undivided time and attention on a very regular basis.  If you are waiting for your child to come home, take note.  If you are struggling to adjust post adoption, schedule breakfast together or a midnight snack if you still working on attachment.  Make it happen.
On a lighter note, Zeke told me tonight "From now on, Mama Mia (that's me), I want to say 'I love you AND I like you."  I am so cool with that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

  Last night at bath time, Etienne had wet pants.  So ok.  We're not reacting with anger, no biggie at this point.  We were talking about how hard it is to be big when we are really tired and he started crying. 
"I feel like I am not normal.  I feel all alone."
  Those are the words of my preschooler.  Not a teen in angst.  A child in his family.  Molly and Blake both heard him and stopped in their tracks.  Blake laid his head on E's back.  Molly kissed his head and rubbed his face.  I just hugged him tight and the 4 of us cried.  I am so proud that he could articulate (see Spring of 2010 for "I feel happy, this is my happy face." days) his pain so we can share it with him.  I don't have words for this kind of sadness.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pursing Him

"For me, to live is in Christ, to die is gain. -Phillipians 1:21

So I heard a sermon regarding this text a couple weeks ago and it has been resonating in me since. To LIVE in CHRIST. I am living in Christ or am I just another Midwestern Mama with good morals and loud kids? I have been pondering that I live in my family. I live in my children. I live in Etienne and Zeke being my children, not orphans. Maybe pursuing my children has overridden pursuing my Father?
This has led to changing my prayers big time. I have been solely praying to live in Christ. To hear his whispers alone. You know what? Molly is happy. Blake is hysterical. Zeke has returned to his sparkly-eyed self despite his big bro going to kindergarten. And E is still struggling some days and other days, not. But my heart is lighter and it brings me back to where I was, on my knees in the pantry floor, remembering that I SO don't got this. It is not for me to control.
It has relieved some pressure too. I LOVE encouraging other mamas but I don't know day to day if my words, my writings, my hugs are helpful or harmful. Again, I don't got this, but my Father does.
Preschool is "like Sunday school all morning," per Zeke. He loves every minute. Etienne is the kid under the table or poking his neighbor. He is also the kid singing the loudest, praying his heart out and smiling ear-to-ear. Below is our accomplishments in play dough. Six months ago, he and I did our homework of sitting for 5 minutes. Now we can sit for at least 10!
In case you'd forgotten, Molly is the greatest. Exhibit A how she watches family movie night with her brothers.