Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh So Helpful!

One of the things I love about my husband is that he makes me laugh. And he thinks he is funny which makes me laugh more. He has this great sense of humor and he catches me off guard so often. Here are two examples just from this weekend alone.

Example 1: Mark was heading in town to the store and asked if I needed anything else. I said if he found a good dose of sanity I could sure use some. His response was, "Well, I think you can buy that at the liquor store." Obviously, a glass of wine to sooth the nerves is not an option for me right now which made it even funnier for me somehow.

Example 2: We are getting ready for bed last night and I was doing the whole wash your face, put on eye cream (hoping they help the perpetual bags), moisturizing the get the picture. I made a passing comment like, "Just trying to preserve my skin which is kind of stupid because it really is a loosing battle." His response was, "I hear formaldehyde is a good preservative."

He is very, very good for me. He makes me slow down, focus on the what is important and lasting, puts no pressure on me to have a perfect home, loves me unconditionally and makes me laugh to the point of hysteria often which is exactly what I need to help keep my sanity. I am blessed and love my man!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our Week In Review

Our week started off by celebrating Shane's 6th birthday. He had been counting down the days for quite some time and was super excited when the day arrived that he was turning 6. His request for a cake was simple: chocolate cake with rainbow icing. It kind of surprised me that my little guy wanted something that didn't have monster trucks, football or dinosaurs but rainbow icing it was! His eyes sparkled from all the attention. We actually did his cake on Saturday since we had life group on Monday evening.
That is why he was still wearing his eagles jersey with pride although he has been wearing his McNabb jersey all week. He didn't care that they didn't show up until the second half of the game on Sunday. He is a loyal fan not swayed by their performance or lack thereof!
The boys spend a lot of time this week outside on a big snow bank that Mark made when plowing the driveway. He pushed extra snow from the front of our house to the back onto this huge pile. The boys got shovels and started making a fort which to their dismay has melted a lot in the past two days. They have holes, beginnings of tunnels and made a lot of memories this week.
We had two really nice and slightly warmer days in a row so one of those days I bundled the two little ones up and out we went. Judah and Shane had built big snowmen in the backyard so we went to investigate. Tristan wasn't liking how it felt trudging through the snow so we improvised by pulling them in the sled.
They liked it so much I ended up dragging them around the yard for probably 30 minutes. Every time I wanted to stop they would start giggling and I would have to make another lap. They haven't been outside in so long because of how cold it has been. Please just ignore the pink hat on Tristan's head. He insisted upon wearing a pink hat even though I had a nice boyish hat picked out for him. I have the sweetest close up shot of his beautiful blue eyes peeking out from underneath the hat but am afraid to post it due to his horror when he gets a few years older.
You have to admit, it takes a confident man to pull off pink and I think he is doing marvelous in his pink debut. I finally convinced the two younger ones to go back inside after being outside for an hour. It was a nice reminder for me of how nice it is to be able to go outside. Everyone feels better after getting fresh air and it made me anticipate spring!
I had to throw in a picture of Eden's new fun thing. She likes wearing this hat but likes it backwards so it doesn't fall into her eyes. You just have to excuse the bedhead hair that hadn't been tamed yet.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Falling Behind

I am very much aware that I am falling behind in my blogging. I have had a depletion in energy this week for some reason. Just wanted you to know that I am still here and all is well. I have some really sweet pictures from playing outside in the snow yesterday with the kids so I will make it a priority tomorrow to post those. We have had a good week - just went really quickly. So....until tomorrow......

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Birthday Surprise

Shane is rapidly approaching his 6th birthday. It is on Monday and he has been counting down the days since, well, I think since Christmas was finished. The boys love their birthdays! It is a day that we try to really celebrate them and their lives.

Apparently Judah had plans to give Shane a surprise birthday present. I'll fill you in on the story. Both the boys have been spending quite a bit of time outside after they finish their school work sledding down a big pile of snow Mark made for them when he plowed the driveway. Interspersed amongst the play in the snow Judah has been hunting with his BB gun (single pump-really no power) and actually killed some poor innocent bird the other day. He was extremely excited and could hardly wait for his dad to get home to show him.

The next day rolls around. He was still flying high (no pun intended) from his kill on the previous day so decided to continue his quest for more birds. His main frustration and one that brought him to tears more than once was the fact that the birds fly away as he approaches them. He just couldn't figure out why they would want to try and escape their demise for one more day. Shane filled him in on the fact that they really didn't want to die and that was the only reason they would take flight. I guess it was supposed to make Judah feel better.

Now....the reason for all this back story. Judah was out once again on a his hunting excursion and came in pretty much sobbing. I was a little alarmed thinking something may actually have gone wrong, which in his mind it did, but I quickly realized in true Judah fashion there was a lot of drama involved. Turns out he hit another bird in one of our pine trees and it didn't fall from the tree. He claims it got stuck in the tree somewhere. (we still don't know if the account of the story is accurate) I assured him that the only thing that really mattered was that he shot another bird - good job, pats on the back- you know the drill. The real reason for the tears though and the sobs was soon divulged: "I am just so upset that it got stuck in the tree because I wanted to give it to Shane for a surprise on his birthday." Uhhhh.....I'm thinking to myself, "A dead bird??!! For a surprise birthday present??? Whose body did this child come from?"

Somehow in my quest to marry a non-hunter, which I did, although I think that this is his last non-hunting year, we have also produced a son who is convinced that being a hunter is one of the best things in the world. Both Judah and Shane would like some 'dead animals' on the wall in their room at the new house. Ewww. But their cousin Tyler (thanks Steve and Sharon) has some dead animals in his room.

So, when Monday rolls around I am pretty sure it is safe to say Shane will be receiving more "normal" presents although in a child's mind normal is apparently relative because to me dead birds seem very gross not to mention rotten!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


This is what you get when you color your hands with a blue/green marker and then decide it is time to have a banana snack. Real appetizing!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Affirming Words?

This morning I had a little conversation with Tristan that went something like this:

Me: Tristan, please, please let me get that booger out of your nose. It is driving me crazy!!

Tristan:'re crazy!!

What, huh?? It's pretty bad when your 2 1/2 year old already has picked up on the fact that his mother is crazed!!! Or it is affirming. Take your pick. Either way, Mark and I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Staying Above Water

Today is one of those days. You know the kind I mean. The ones people don't like to talk about. The days where you feel like you are failing as a mom because if you stop and listen to yourself interact with your children it sure doesn't seem like they are priority. You hear a lot of, "Stop running....Don't talk to your brother with that tone in your voice........Quiet down while Eden sleeps.....Why are you continuing to complain about.....and on and on it goes. So much negative feedback instead of reassuring them of what they are doing right. But honestly, some days they aren't doing a whole lot right.

I have been working in the office this afternoon while Eden sleeps getting caught up on bills, purging files and getting everything ready for this new year. I am trying to get all this out of the way so I can get started on the billing from the crazy ice and snow storms we just had.

While working I am mulling over how I have been talking to my boys this morning and wondering how often God gets tired of hearing me. And thinking that even if I am doing a lot wrong (which I'm sure is more often than I would allow myself to believe) that God extends a lot more grace and love to me than I often extend to my children. Why do I expect so much out of them? Why can't I see that they receive so much joy just from running, romping and creating mayhem in the house? Why do I care so much about people's impressions of my children? As though other people matter more than the children God has entrusted and blessed us with.

I am finding lately that the older two boys seem to be withdrawing from me. It makes me feel half panicky. I am sure a lot of the separation is normal and healthy but I still wonder sometimes if they feel misplaced by the little ones. They prefer their fathers company over mine - of course. As Judah and Shane walked up the stairs last night to get ready for bed I said to Mark, "Where have our little boys gone?" Rarely do they need affirmation from their mom - it is almost always from their father. Rarely do they desire to snuggle with mom - they would rather wrestle and get run burns with their dad.

This is coming out very jumbly. Maybe it is a lot of pregnancy hormones. Maybe it is the natural tendency of being a mother to boys coupled with the quiet voice of my Father telling me to slow down and not waste so much time and energy on things that have no lasting importance. To instead see His heart within each of my children and call it out!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Exactly One Year Ago

Hard to believe that a year has already gone by since we first gazed on Eden's face. Just like a mother can usually recall every detail of the labor of a child a mother also remembers every single detail surrounding the day she gets the phone call telling her of her child who is waiting half a world away!
Last year on January 9th the weather was pretty mild. I know this because Mark and the two older boys were outside and on the garage roof when the phone rang. I never did find out what they were doing on the roof but some things are better left unknown. I was in the office looking out the window at the boys enjoying their fathers time at home when the phone rang. When I answered I heard Tami's voice on the other end. I was so confused. I thought "I am sure everything was okay in our dossier but maybe a document is out of place or there is a problem". Not even for a moment did I entertain the thought that it could be our referral call. When she said, "I have some news for you" I am quite sure my heart stopped for a moment. I told her to wait so I could get Mark. I am eternally grateful that Mark happened to be at home that day. It would have killed me to tell her we would call her after Mark got home from work. Of course he would have received a frantic phone call to come home right way but still....waiting 30-45 minutes would have felt like an eternity. He hurried and brought the boys in and we each picked up a phone. She started telling us all the details: 7 month old little girl - Eden Belachew, double orphan, only listed relatives where a fraternal uncle and a half-brother, had arrived at the orphanage in Addis Ababa the same day our dossier arrived, was being treated for pneumonia, yada, yada, yada.......She then said she was hitting the send button on her email so we crowded around the computer each jockeying for the better position. I was still feeling like this was a dream. How were we getting this phone call after only 2 months of waiting? It just didn't seem possible. And then we saw the above two pictures. We could not believe how beautiful she was!!! We finished up our phone call after making tentative arrangements for our court date.
We flew around the house frantically making phone calls to our family. I called my mom at work, my sister at work and just kept going down through my family. We had life group that night and so we called Mark's family and said, "Hey, since we are going to be in town for life group how about if we come in early and pick up some pizza?"
We got to their house and waited until all Mark's sisters got home from their different activities and then told them the news!! We pulled up her pictures and told them everything we knew! We went to life group and somehow were the last couple to share what was going on their life that week. We were about coming out of our skin!!! Everyone was so excited and again we pulled out the pictures!
Each update we received she was growing a little bit and changing. Especially her hair. I couldn't believe when they finally placed her in my arms how much hair she had. In 3 months she went from basically no hair to a beautiful head of hair!!
So, today I am remembering with great fondness all the details surrounding the "birth" of our daughter! She has added an amazing amount of life and laughter to our family! We feel blessed beyond measure! And to be completely honest....I kind of wish we could relive that day again.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Icy Weather

Because of the icy weather I haven't seen too much of my husband for the past three days/evenings. I'm not complaining that he is working. Just missing my evenings with him. Today he has been trying to get the ice off all of his accounts after applying ridiculous amounts of salt. It isn't going too great! But....he is staying positive. He is slightly disappointed that he can't watch the big bowl game tonight. I talked with him an hour ago and he had quite a few hours ahead of him yet. I got all the kids tucked away in bed and than soaked in a tub of hot water. It felt really very, very nice although I felt bad that he is out in this cold weather while I am nice and snug.

All this to say that after a few long days it seems Judah and Shane become more sensitive to helping me without asking. I really appreciate how helpful they have been and how well they have listened. It hasn't been easy for them being cooped up not going anywhere. After I realized Mark would be working a very late night I told the kids we would order a pizza instead of me cooking. I kind of loose interest in cooking when Mark isn't around to enjoy it. Plus, there is always at least one child who has some complaint about what I make and I wasn't really in the mood for that tonight.

When I took Eden and Tristan upstairs to brush their teeth and get their jammies Shane came along. I was working with Eden in her room and I had to run over to Shane and Tristan's room for something. I walked in and watched as Shane tucked Tristan in and started singing him his bedtime song - Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. It was absolutely the most precious sight. All on his own Shane was initiating helping me get the little ones tucked in and even singing the bedtime songs. I cannot tell you what that does in my heart. It is just nice to see the tenderness between siblings when it is so often not tender between them. You catch my drift! I hang onto any positive moment I catch between my kids and tuck them away in my heart!

Monday, January 5, 2009


Here is Eden in a somewhat summo wrestler type stance. The point of this picture though is not to exhibit her grace and beauty. It is to simply show you what her cute little dress looks like when worn properly! She is really into putting blankets over her head and walking around the house which results in multiple collisions with table, walls, entertainment center, refrigerator - you name it. I'm sure if you can think of a piece of furniture she has walked into it. I have drawn the line at having her head covered with a blanket and wanting to walk up the stairs - far too dangerous!!
She wasn't being all that cooperative when I was trying to take her picture but again you get the idea - this dress is adorable!! Unfortunately, she figured out that the dress is also very long and can fit over her head. And again, unfortunately, my pictures didn't line up the way I loaded them so the final picture is at the end.
In the meantime how about an extra dose of cuteness for your Monday morning. Except that if you could hear the screaming coming from the other room you may not think he is as cute! Wow!! He has never been a morning person.

This is what Eden's hair looks like after having her head under a blanket and getting pummeled by the furniture!
And finally.........dress covered head! It is her favorite right now! But check out the chubbo legs underneath. She was at the doctor on Friday for an ear infection and we found out that she is really only 2-3 pounds less than her big brother Tristan. She has put on 2 pounds in the last 2 months again!! I guess that is what happens when you have such a long lasting and fulfilling love affair with all things food!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I Saw What I Saw

I heard this song on a young woman's blog yesterday and was captured. Expresses my heart exactly! When I found the artists story behind the song I decided to post the song with her explanation. If you want to watch the video obviously you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page and pause my playlist. It is worth your time - trust me!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Walk To Beautiful

I have been wanting to watch this documentary for quite some time as it feeds into my heart for the women of Ethiopia. Mark and I took the time a few evenings ago to finally watch it after having it sitting on our TV for close to two weeks. I highly recommend it to any and everyone. You can go to to find out more about the documentary and to get educated on this easily fixable problem found in over 100,000 women in Ethiopia alone.

As a result of hard manual labor from a very young age and poor nutrition a lot of Ethiopian girls have very small skeletal structures. One of the problems then that arises is trouble delivering babies naturally without complications and horrible results. One of the girls at the fistula hospital looked about 10 years old when actually she was 18. She was well under 5 feet tall and her story was this: from the age of 2 she carried water strapped to her back and by the age of 8 was carrying more weight than most grown women can manage.

Back to what fistula actually is for those of you who don't know. In under developed countries, such as Ethiopia, there are many things stacked against a women who is preparing for labor and delivery. First of all, if you live in a village it is not feasible to get to a hospital to receive help. Secondly, even if you reach a hospital they are usually so understaffed and ill equipped that you cannot receive adequate help. Thirdly, if you have worked hard and not had proper nutrition the effects are nothing less than tragic. These women have very small pelvic's and so they end up with an obstructed birth. You can be in labor for 5-10 days. The pressure from the babies head bearing down on your cervix cuts off blood supply to vaginal tissue which results in dead tissue. After the baby is born (and they of course do not survive) the woman finds that she is incontinent. The dead tissue in the vaginal lining creates a hole either into the bladder or into the rectum and sometimes both! So...not only do these dear women (women exactly like you and I) loose their child but they are now outcast from society, their husbands and their families. Because they have constant urine or feces leaking down their legs which results in a very foul odor. There is a fairly simple surgical procedure which can reverse the effects for them. But...they cannot afford to have the surgery done.

A wonderful couple went to Ethiopia in 1959 and started a fistula hospital. They do somewhere around 30,000 surgeries a year. The cost of a surgery, post operative care, education on what to do if becoming pregnant again, a new outfit on discharge and their bus fare home is $450.00.

This surgery completely alters the course of their lives. They are given back their dignity and ushered back into society! The one woman they feature on the film was 25 years old and at the age of 19 was in labor for a week and of course developed a fistula tear. Her husband left her and her family kicked her out. She built a small hut at the outskirts of the village where she lived by herself. She said the pain of being alone all the time was enough to make you want to kill yourself. I cried at the end when she returned and was able to dismantle her hut since she would now be welcome in her home again!

I went to bed that night and as I do every night stopped to look at each of my children, pull their blankets up under their chins and give them one more kiss! I stopped at Eden's crib and just started weeping. For different reasons. Knowing that my little girl will be spared this humiliation was one reason. Knowing that there are thousands (more like millions) of little girls in Africa who will have to endure this heartache was another reason. Knowing that there is something I can do to at least help one woman a year was another reason. One woman a year seems so small but when you see the face of a beautiful 17 year old girl who has been given her life back you know to her it means the world to her!!!

So my goal in blogging about this is to raise awareness. Go check out the website I mentioned earlier and think about donating towards a surgery! And if you cannot find the documentary to rent think about purchasing a copy and after watching it share it with others - raise awareness!! We can make a difference!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bringing in the New Year

I had ample time today to sit down and blog but.....I laid on the couch with Tristan while he slept and Eden was asleep upstairs. I wasn't feeling the best today. We went out with some friends for dinner last evening and then stopped by another friends house to play some games for a bit. (Thanks for the invite Kim and Stacy) We made it home, I stayed up a bit to see the new year come in and promptly began to feel nauseous. I woke up multiple times during the night thinking I was going to loose my dinner but kept everything down. Needless to say I didn't feel the best today either but we again went to spend the evening watching the Penn State game with some friends. The kiddos enjoyed getting out but I am feeling the same nauseous feeling. Tristan and Eden haven't had great appetites this week and haven't been quite themselves so maybe I am just fighting off a mild bug.

Anyway, I have been mulling over so many things in my life. There are times I feel like God puts things in my life to open my eyes and draw me deeper into Him. One of my dear aunts sent me a link to a blog on Christmas day saying she thought of me. This woman has inspired me, challenged me but has been an instrument of God to call unto my heart yet again. She is candid, honest and I suddenly don't feel alone in my mothering of a lot of youngsters. I found myself sitting this afternoon in a quite house (Mark had Judah and Shane out with him doing some furniture shopping) and I was reading this woman's blog again. There is life in her words and an obvious giftedness in so many areas. The beauty for me is this: my aunt happened upon the blog, thought of me, sent me the link and as a result God has been speaking to my heart. Things I already know deep within but seem to need someone else to reiterate. Tonight I feel a peace at where I am in life. Mother to three beautiful sons, a beautiful daughter and another daughter on the way. A wife to a man who loves me, loves God, is deeply devoted to his children and who has allowed his heart to be demolished for the broken (especially Africa). I am okay and actually great with knowing that what I do on an everyday basis although seemingly insignificant carries great worth in the sight of my Father. I know I am loved and rest in the fact that I cannot do anything that would help gain favor with my God. He loves me just because!! Go check out the site at

I am hoping tomorrow to blog about the phenomenal documentary that Mark and I watched the other night called A Walk to Beautiful!! I'm sure some of you have heard of it but again - my heart has been stirred for the beautiful women of Ethiopia and long for the day we can return.