Friday, November 30, 2007

What do you do to make a difference?

On the CNN news this morning Anthony Roberts did an interview with a young woman who spent time in Africa with orphans. I'm not sure if the orphans had HIV/AIDS or they were orphaned because their parents died of AIDS. She mentioned that she's had babies die in her arms and how devastating it was. Anyways one of her statements was that no matter how good the orphanage was, it didn't compare to a family. A family that the children have at the end of a long day. A family of their own.

For our family at this time we can make a difference for some children. We can't make a difference for every child, but we can for some. These children from Ethiopia have made a difference in our lives. These babies of ours needed love. They needed and stll need healing. They need to know that someone thinks the sun rises and sets on them. What are the benefits we receive? We get to see the adorable ear-to-ear smile of a little fourteen month old. We get to see her learn to love her daddy who she wouldn't even look at when she arrived. I've been able to see her go from a screaming baby who grabbed her ears those first few days because she didn't know what in the world was going on with her to a loving little baby who willingly puckers up and gives kisses. She claps, she crawls, she waves her arms in the air out of pure happiness. To Adah, we made a difference.

To Anna we have made a difference. This little one who went from mom to grandma to orphanage to care center and then to us in less than a year had no idea who we were or what was happening to her now. Her voice didn't count. We have found that she is very strong-willed and very opinionated, but she's had to be. She's had to be her own advocate when there wasn't any consistency in her life. She's learning to love and to be loved. She's learning that not one person who comes through our door is here to take her away. This is her home. We are her family. She has a voice. We are learning to listen. She's very smart, and I hope that one day she will return to minister to her people. Recently I read that there are more doctors in Washington, D.C., then there are in all of Ethiopia. How wonderful would it be for her to be able to help bridge that gap? E3 Ministries goes on mission trips to Ethiopia, what an awesome thought that she could go back and share the gospel? The possibilities are endless for her. She has drive and smarts and a look that tells you she knows what she's doing. We have learned patience and how to be there for her when she's crying and seemingly for no reason. I personally think she's grieving, just a mother's instinct, and she has much to grieve. Hopefully we can do her some justice and love her more than she knows what to do with. (I tend to smother my kids with my kisses-just ask them.)

So I know that not everyone can adopt. Not everyone is called to adopt. But! You can do something for someone else. Volunteer at church to work with children. The blessings will knock your socks off. You will have lifelong friends that will always remember you. Some of the first children that I used to work with are now mommies, Navy SEALS, students, etc.... When I hug one of them I am truly blessed. They made a difference in my life.

You can sponsor a child through Compassion Intl. You could do Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Volunteer at the local homeless shelter or pregnancy Care Center. Offer to give seniors a ride to the mall. Drive them through for a burger. (I had one older neighbor that used to have me drive her through Burger King on our way home.) Give a homeless person a coat or a sandwich or whatever you have. Several times I've seen homeless people and have gone home and went through our coats and raced back to give them a coat, food, blankets, whatever I though might help.

See, there's something you can do. You can minister to your own children and husband. Make them a priority. Do you consider your husband's plans when you make plans? Does he even like to spend time with you or are you so snarly that he would rather you stay busy? Do you play games with your children? Do you enjoy your children? Our family sticks together like glue. To this day our second son will come get one of the boys and take him to his house to play games on his XBox 360. He comes over just to hang out. Or our oldest son stops by for dinner while on his shift. Both boys like to go our weekend soccer games.

What you invest now can only benefit you in the future. At one time I couldn't stand to be home, and this was when I only had two children! If there was an opportunity to get out and away from them, I took it. I reaped those attitudes when my oldest boys were teens. I then found that only by losing my life, do I find it. Invest in people. Don't invest in things. Things don't matter. What would you take with you in the event of a fire? Would you take your precious dishes? couch? paintings? NO!!! You would make sure your family was out. They are what matters. Let's start acting like it. Let's devote ourselves to one another in love.

And! read your Bible. By God filling you up; you can then turn around and bless others. Do everything as unto the Lord. If no one else appreciates what you've done, that's okay. You did it for God and He knows what you've done. Give of yourselves and work together to further His Kingdom. You can't out bless Him.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I've tried to log in for several days now, but have been unable to. I have been busy doing mom stuff and pulling together adoption documents.

We sent in our application and the first half our agency fee on Tuesday for our next adoption. We will use Christian World Adoption again. Steve and I went to the notary and had many documents signed. We don't have to do as many as we did last time because those were all from scratch. We're using some of the same documents, because we had a second set ready to go and didn't use it. The ones we had to redo were really the updated forms from CWA.

Our homestudy update is almost done. Our social worker from Adoption Options is able to do it over the phone since she was just out to our house for a post-placement report on the girls. The homestudy update goes in our dossier and one goes to U.S. Dept of Homeland Security for our immigration documents. We'll just have to get fingerprinted which is a hassle. Last time it took all afternoon because there were so many people there. I went to the County Clerk's office yesterday and purchased certified birth certificates and a marriage certificate. I think I'll go downtown to the office and talk to the clerk in person and then head over to the State Secretary's office to have the "Official" seal put on our power of attny. So many details.

The mom stuff has kept me busy. Schooling, laundry, laundry, and more laundry, cooking, cleaning, changing stinky diapers, washing little girls, doing their hair even though they are loud and crying because they don't want their hair combed, and oiling/lotioning their skin. Adah still gets ashy when I use cocoa butter so I need to get some shea butter.

I did get my hair cut yesterday. I thought it was my imagination that it has been falling out, but my hairdresser confirmed it. So she cut to above the shoulder. We think it could be from the lack of nutrition when I had Giardia. I don't know. I'm thinking of going to Dr. Deckert who is an osteopath and specializes in women's care. Last time she loaded me up on some good vitamins. It's been years since I went in so I thought maybe I'll make an appt. soon.

Anna gets into EVERYTHING. Adah is crawling so she is starting to get to places we weren't expecting. The floor now has to be clean so she doesn't put things in her mouth. The doors need to be shut because if Anna can get to it she will and she brings it to Adah who puts it in her mouth. Ai yi yi!

I had a major blow-up on Tuesday afternoon/evening. Everything is okay now, but Tuesday I vented, and vented, and vented some more. What it comes down to: If you tell someone you're going to do something, then do it. Honor your agreements. Life becomes a hassle when you go back on your word or don't do what you're told and it inconveniences others. Do unto others as you would want done unto you. My mantra that my kids are sick of hearing: Do what I say, when I say, and how I say. Don't analyze it, just do it.

Jesse started a new job today. He worked for seven hours and likes it. It's probably only seasonal, but it gives him some Christmas money and some spending money. It's good for boys to become men and get out there and work in the real world.

The girls are in bed. Sarah is at youth. Jesse is at his girlfriend's basketball game. James is making a bacon sandwich for himself. John is supervising. Joel is in trouble and sent to bed early. Joe is watching tv. Me? I'm unwinding from the day in front of the computer. I'm taking a test for our adoption. It's a Hague Treaty requirement to have ten hours of training. We did go a whole weekend in April, but I guess that isn't good enough. So I have many more lessons to go and then I get to take another test on a book that is required reading. It's all good though. It's a good thing to be prepared with eyes wide opened.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving & Ethiopia get-together

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt and uncle's house. It's nice when our family can get together.

Jake and Arianne on Thanksgiving

Friday we had dinner at our house and I think it was the first time that all ten kids were there plus Miranda and Arianne! We had our table out to it's full length and it seats twelve. Maybe we need to add another table to it?

Saturday we went to a gathering with other Ethiopian adoptive families. It was so much fun to get together with others who have gone to the same place, gone through the process and love these children from Ethiopia. On the tv were Ethiopian dancers and the girls were having quite the time dancing to it. They love music and just move to it when they hear it. There was Ethiopian food and pizza. I met another Lakeside family and received tips on brushing/combing their hair. So far I've just kind of finger-combed their hair; not really knowing if I should comb it. Paula mentioned that it's good to toughen up their scalps. So girls, I'm comin' at ya! We found that there is a culture camp in the summer up near Santa Cruz and look forward to going to that. We met two other babies there too, lots of teens and in-betweens! We belong to a new community. It's kind of mind boggling when you think about it.

Oh! and Adah started crawling this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Piano Recital

Last Saturday Joel, John and Jesse had a piano recital. It was Joel's first one and John's second one. I didn't get to see John's first one so I was excited to see him play, and very proud of all three boys. They did a wonderful job. Sarah takes lessons, but hates piano recitals. To get her to start lessons again we made an agreement that she wouldn't have to do any recitals. She hates messing up in front of people.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Anna and Adah's Photo Studio Pics

This is our adoption announcement card. We couldn't get a good picture of the two of them together so we did individual photos and took a Christmas card setting to get this. We had limited space for wording. It says "Introducing our Ethiopian princesses Anna & Adah Grieshaber"

Spinal Tap

Arianne called late yesterday afternoon to tell us that Jake was undergoing a spinal tap. He started feeling numbness in his hands this week and mentioned it to the neurologist at his visit. He called him in yesterday to undergo a spinal tap to look for cloudy fluid. I'm not sure what that means, but I guess it will help tell them if he has multiple sclerosis or not. He is out of the hospital now, but has to lie on his back for twenty-fours hours. Pray for him please!


We went to Disneyland Monday and came home last night. We took our toy hauler and parked it at a local campground for both nights. It was a tight squeeze with eleven people one night and ten the next, but it served its purpose.

We started out Monday night by going to Knott's Berry Farm for dinner at Mrs. Knott's Restaurant. Pretty yummy! Of course we couldn't just stand in line and go unnoticed. Adah dropped her bottle and when it hit the tile the lid came off, causing formula to go all over the floor and onto the men's shirts in front of us. I apologized profusely and they were very kind about it.

We went to Disneyland and it was an instant madhouse. We walked in right when the parade was starting and we got caught in the whole cattle shuffle with a double stroller and eleven of us to manuever through the hoards of people. We did it though! Steve didn't kill anyone; he clipped a few heels when people insisted on jumping in front of him and then stopping, but he came out of it with his patience in tact. He and I ended up walking back to the campground with the girls since Jared was there with everyone else. He drove the van back to the campground about midnight.

Tuesday and Wednesday were fun, glorious, exhilirating, exasperating, patience-wearing days. There were so many people there it wasn't even fun at some points. Anna loved Dumbo, but cried on the carousel. Adah just took it all in; as long as she was close to mommy or daddy she was fine. Joel had a perfect birthday complete with a birthday pin. A nice employee gave the girls First Time Visitor pins to make their trip special. Joel was able to visit with Santa and have his picture taken. We didn't even go there with the girls since we didn't want a screamfest to take place. Steve just strolled them around outside.

We decided to head home last night instead of today. We were all pretty beat and tired of looking at other people. Nothing like your own bed at the end of a long day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Adopting Again!

We are happy to announce that our family is pursuing adoption again! We were approved by our social worker at our first post-placement report for Anna and Adah and then this week we passed the Review Committee at Christian World Adoption. We're hoping to add two more daughters between the ages of two-five. We just need to update our homestudy by the end of the year and a lot of paperwork will be avoided. We've just about finished up what we need to do on our end for that so then we'll work on the CWA part of it.

Two more daughters will bring us to twelve children total; seven boys and five girls. We'll have ten children in the home, five boys and five girls. Sounds like a great balance to me!

Another great thyroid appt!

I had my annual appointment with the endocrinologist Tuesday to check on my thyroid. My levels sustained by my medicine are good. My dr. did an ultrasound and there wasn't any evidence of cancer cells. So I'm free and clear until next year!


Monday night we went to bed as usual. About 10:30pm we were awakened by Sarah. There was a man at our door telling us there was a fire outside. He thought it was a barn, but it was a house. He was driving home with his girlfriend and she saw the flames from the road. The girlfriend thought it was a bonfire, but he knew that it wasn't a bonfire especially that late at night with the flames as high as they were. He tried calling 911, but his cell phone didn't work so they drove down our dirt road to find a land line telephone to use. Our house had lights on and the gate was opened so they drove up to our house to use the phone.

Steve drives off with the man and the gf to see what they can do. I call 911. After sending Jesse down to make sure we didn't need to evacuate I headed over there. Steve had left with no shirt or shoes on, but hopped the barbed wire fence so they could pound on the windows of the house in case anyone was still inside. The house was creaking and knowing that unsavory characters have lived there in the past; they decide to back up. They go wake up the neighbor whose house is right next door and let him know.

The fire truck arrived and Jesse showed him the way in with a flashlight. They were able to knock it down fairly quickly. I had someone go get the camera and took these although it was dark and they're hard to see.

Our neighbor told us the occupants had been evicted a week ago, but he saw someone there that afternoon on a quad. So now it looks like it's a crime scene because of the suspicious activity and the probablity it was arson. The sheriff's dept. was there yesterday. How ironic that just weeks ago we evacuated for several days and this time the fire is just down the driveway and we didn't have to go anywhere. Life is never dull on our little dirt road.

Jesse's soccer game

After church on Sunday Jesse and Sarah both had soccer games. Of course, I didn't remember that we had the camera until AFTER Sarah's game. We were able to get a few of Jesse and the girls at his game.


Awana Clubbers of the Month

Last week Joel and James made Clubber of the Month for their Awana groups. Joel is in Sparks and James is in T&T. Joel takes the whole thing very seriously and has already finished the first year book and was ready to review the whole thing in one night, but there wasn't enough time for him to say his verses. James doesn't take it nearly as seriously as Joel does, but he does do his best. When they received the award on Sunday during the worship service they both had "stone" faces, because they're not used to getting up in front of the congregation.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jake proposed!

Jake proposed to Arianne last night! She said YES!!! They're not setting a date until he knows what's wrong with him though. The doctors are thinking he has multiple sclerosis instead of Chronic Fatigue. He has more symptons than Chronic Fatigue and I guess they fit the MS. He goes back in January for another MRI where they can see if there are any changes from his last one.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jesse's Pics

Jesse-Class of 2008

Reading, Reading, Reading

I started The Color of Water by James McBride last week. I love this book! Jesse gave it to Sarah to read and I stole it from her. :-) I mentioned I was reading it to Adah's physical therapy teacher and she asked if I had read The Freedom Writer's Diary. No, I had never heard of it. So yesterday when Steve and I went to an early dinner like we usually do on Friday afternoon we went to Barnes & Nobles afterwards. I asked the guy where the "Interracial" department was. He gave me a blank stare. Okay, I tried again....where is the "Transracial" department? Another blank stare. Now I'm thinking I've grown a third head by the look he was giving me. He mutters that he'll help me in a minute, and it just so happens he was helping my daughter-in-law who I ran into in there. I meander around trying to find what I'm looking for, but no luck, so I head back to the info. booth. A lady is now behind the counter and I ask her if they have the book, "Black crib, White Hands," she looks it up and that isn't the title, but they do have Black Baby, White Hands: A View From the Crib." She tells me they don't have it, but can order it so I had her order it. I then ask her if you had it where would I find it. She politely explained that it would be in the African-American department. Aaahhh!!!.................I explain to her that I've just adopted two black babies from Ethiopia and I'm still learning about all of this. I make her laugh which I tend to do with people and she walks me over and shows me where it is. It was right next to the Cultural Studies and I found the original book I went in for: The Freedom Writers Diary by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell. I also found Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Don't Make A Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings by Tyler Perry. (The book by Tyler Perry has offensive language so be warned!)

It's always good to widen our horizons by reading a good book. Now I just need to find the time to curl up with my new quilt and a hot cup of tea to do so!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Jesse's Senior Pics

Jesse had his senior pictures done. He took his Bible and his soccer ball. His graduation announcement will be with him on his knees reading his Bible. Too cute. He takes great pictures and I can't wait to get them.

If you want to see them let me know. I can't give my email addy on line due to my last name being in it and my son being a law enforcement officer does not want our last name known to those who don't know us "in real life."


Yesterday we went to Penney's to take pictures of the girls. They, of course, looked absolutely adorable. In the first photos I had their Ethiopian dresses on. I thought we would have a problem with Adah, but it was Anna. She would NOT stay still to save her life. She was so overstimulated she was literally bouncing around the backdrop and falling on the floor. Adah did wonderfully and posed like a little beauty queen. I wasn't able to get any good pics of them together so after changing into their beautiful red and red/black Christmas dresses (I'm dressing them like girlie girls as much as I can, it's taken sixteen years and four boys to have more girls!) I climbed in with them so Anna would stay in one spot. I ended up kissing each of them in their individual pictures and they couldn't be more precious. I have one of all three of us, I'm kissing Anna and Adah is doing what she should be, looking at the camera. That Anna. Sometimes she's so naughty. Wait! That's most of the time!!!! (As a side note, when I went to the pharmacy an older lady waiting in line looked at Anna and said, "She's got mischief in her eyes or is she tired?" I answered her, "Oh, that's mischief all right!" That lady got the biggest laugh from watching her and all she was doing was sitting in her stroller. Just think if she had been loose! She's a character.)


I have it. I've had intestinal problems the last month. I've lost ten pounds. Hey, I've been able to eat whatever I want and still lose weight. I somehow got it from my travels to Ethiopia. It could have been the time I forgot and accidentally rinsed my toothbrush in the tap water, it could have been the ice I had in my drink on the way home, it could be from changing my daughter's diaper in less than ideal circumstances while traveling and not being able to wash my hands quick enough. However I got it I guess doesn't matter. I need to get rid of it! The dr. prescribed me an antibiotic and my tummy has already settled down. I was constantly hungry even though I had just eaten. My stomach was bloated and for those of you who know me in real life know that my stomach is the biggest part of me. (besides my thick head-quiet, Steve)

Now I'm on the road to recovery and will miss my "skinny" feeling. I've already made pumpkin spice muffins and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies just to even things up. I'm thinking of having the girls retested to see if they have it. Anna had it originally, but Adah did not. I wouldn't be surprised if Adah has it. I really don't want to know because knowing would involve giving her nasty tasting meds for ten days. But hey, that's what moms are for.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It Started So Innocently

Thursday night Steve and I were watching television. Huell Howser was on PBS and for you non-Californians, Huell Howser tours the state and visits differerent sites and cities throughout the state. Thursday night just happened to be on Julian which is about forty-five minutes from us. Julian is famous for their apple pies, gold mining and quaint little town.

So on Friday Steve thought it sounded like a good idea to take a drive to get some pies and drive through the fire that just went through our area. We did find out the fire was about two miles from us on our road.

We loaded the girls and Joel into the "big" van. (That's what we call the BMW.) (The BMW is the Big Mama Wagon.) :-) Two of the boys were at Jake's and the other kids didn't want to go. Joel didn't want to go either, but I was mean mommy and I made him. He was miserable and sobbing hysterically because he didn't get to go to Jake's. I thought a drive might distract him. Oh no.....that boy cried the whole forty-five or so minutes it took to get there.

We arrived at the pie shop, but we actually didn't go all the way into Julian, we stopped at the Julian Pie Co. in Santa Ysabel next to Dudley's Bakery. We bought two pies and other goodies. Our yummy pies were Apple Mountain Berry and Berry Apple or something like that. I have no idea what the difference is, but apparently there is one. They both have crumb topping, but one was frozen so we can enjoy it later this week.

We headed over to the bakery with just minutes to spare and Joel finally found treats worthy of his palate. He found a nice big cinnamon roll that he wanted to do battle with. Now Joel was completely happy on our way home and even burst out in loud six year old singing along the way.

Adah on the other hand was tired of sitting in her car seat and bucked the system. She had to protest and cry the whole way home, but we didn't go straight home. Oh no.....we had to go pick up the boys that were at Jake's. The crying persisted and we knew she was not happy with us in any way, shape or form, but what are ya' gonna do. A girl has to stay in her car seat. (Mom's received a ticket for that before, like, um......twenty-two years or so ago.) We drive through Del Taco and I thought maybe the quesadilla would appease her. Nope! Didn't want it. Fry? Maybe.....not too many though. Oh! John's Dr. Pepper, that will do the trick. I feed her soda through the straw knowing that at least she is not screaming anymore. We drive along with a happiness not known for the last two hours..........then it hits. She vomits, not once! but twice! her car seat needs to be washed and we have an 8:00am soccer game. Steve takes care of the laundry part and dissambling the car seat while I bathe the little monster. Yes, she is a monster at this point. A cute one though!

All is well, the pad is in the wash, Adah is bathed and happy. We are blissfull. I tell someone to bring me Anna's TB meds. I have to force feed her this and she has never thrown up on me..........until last night. All down the back of me, on the love seat in my room and all over her. I start barking orders, yes, my head was probably spinning around too.....Sarah changed Anna, Steve took care of the couch and I took care of me. The meds went into her bottle and that is how she will get it from now on. We just have to be very diligent and make sure she takes all of it.

Finally we're all cleaned up and they go down for bed. Until.................Adah starts screaming at the top of her lungs. The scream that says, "You can leave me in here as long as you want, but I'm still going to scream and you won't be able to rest until you come in here and see what I want." So Steve does. He brings her in......."She pooped" he tells me. Now I have to change a poopy diaper. (Yes, we signed up for this voluntarily.) :-) I get her all changed and then .....................she spits up on me AGAIN! This is not as much as the earlier vomit, but I still have to change my clothing. :-( I settle her down and I send her downstairs to rock with Sarah so her tummy can settle instead of sending her back to bed.

Finally all the little ones were in bed and all was well until 11:30pm when Joel decided for whatever reason he was climbing into my bed, on my side, with me. I had the privilege of snuggling up with my little boy who in not too many years away wouldn't think of climbing into bed with his mommy.

So for now I cherish all of this, the vomiting, the snuggling, the poopy diapers, the crying; knowing that this too shall pass and I'll wish that I had this busy, crazy life all over again.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dressing Up for Halloween/Fall Festival

Last night we went to our church's Fall Festival. The older kids helped set-up while I kept Anna and Adah out of their hair. Steve and I took some cute pictures. I have no idea why we don't have one of Sarah. I'll have to get one from a friend. I ran the fishing game while Steve walked around with the babies. There was a costume parade where Adah waved at everyone as she went by and then Trunk or Treat. Our church family is so wonderful. I wish everyone were as blessed as we are.

Adah the ladybug: Cute as a bug in a rug!
Anna the busy bee
Adah, james, John, Anna and Joel
Michael and Joe. (Joe's friend dressed as a girl and he was the date.) (This boy is really in ninth grade and on the football team. Who would have thought he could be so cute?) Joe had a fohawk, but you can't see it because it's so dark.
Jesse and Taylor as 80's tennis players