Wednesday, December 31, 2008

ode to anger

you disguise sadness
you build a fortress
around the heart tendered
by grief <---> you blame
when self is too weak to stand
in sorry <---> you find fault
where there is none
but natural imperfection

you power the passionate rant
and righteous indignation
against disappointment and hopelessness
you black-start the boiler of human rage
you hide many sins from the sinner

is there anything you cannot do
to cover over the pain of loss?
will nothing stop you
save the chisel of relentless love
the steady hand of compassion
the discriminating eye of wisdom
looking into the mirror
peeling away every futile mask
courage tames you

the humble receive you
as a message from the deep

-barbara l. walker
morgantown copyright 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting sad out of the way so I can have a happy new year.

I am avoiding my bills. In a little while I will leave this little house with three dogs in it and pick up the Benster to continue avoiding my bills by going to see Yes, Man. Otherwise, I would curl up with Amelie. The others are at the ski chalet... having some winter fun. I have work work work, and I'm supposed to be paying my bills and getting some papers together to go see a banker or two. But, it is my least favorite thing in the world to do. Well, maybe I could think of some things I like less than Quicken and looking at my bank account totals, but nothing comes to mind right now.

If things go well, we will be flying to Addis in about six weeks. I can barely think of anything else - there are numerous and long to-do lists in my head. Though, I am proud of myself for being productive at work. We have a deadline coming up, and there is nothing like a deadline for getting things going.

We had a slacker Christmas... the house is in full-blown construction zone with at least three seperate large projects in midstream, so there was no thought of having anyone over for anything anytime soon. We thought about decorating and retrieved the box of decorations thinking we would get a tree, but never got around to it. We spent Christmas day with Steve, and then a weekend with my family in PA, so we just let the house skip Christmas this year. We didn't even wrap presents until Christmas morning, thinking the girls would sleep until noon so why rush. But, T called and said 10:30 was present time, so we threw everything in reused gift bags, grabbed our dinner contribution out of the fridge, picked up Ben and off we went. Hey, at least we had the presents before the big day, right? We continued Slacker Christmas by consuming chocolate truffles made by T, though we did get on the Wii fit to see where we all were in the health zone. I'll simply say that my BMI ain't what it used to be. For the record, T did NOT have a slacker Christmas. She made 300 truffles in 12 hours. She doesn't really need college with her chocolate talent.

Guess I should upload my pics and see if there is anything fun to add here. Or not. I'm feeling kinda sad for no reason. Or maybe because it is becoming obvious that all the plans I've had for many months have no chance of coming to full realization, and my next big adventure will be as by-the-seat-of-my-pants as every other adventure I have ever had. So many books not read, so many Amharic words unknown, so much stuff still cluttering the house, so little cash flowing in the right direction, so few conversations had, so many items not crossed off so many lists.

Maybe Yes Man will help me out of funkytown. But it just may be that the secret way out of my funk has more to do with saying No, Man. I did say NO to the kitchen remodel (just move this wall out four feet, and totally replace everything in here plus build a mud room, yeah). And that is why there are not FOUR major projects in midstream. Yeah. Mon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Every Birth is Holy

This is a Christmas video for all, especially for anyone who has ever been pregnant and alone. [The song was changed, so open two windows and play this while you watch that.]

It reminds me of my first husband, Steve, who is a wonderful person. He fell in love with my son and me when the Benster was a toddler. He adored us and chose us as his family. He's a great dad to his three kids. He is a really good co-parent, who always puts his kids first. I'm so grateful for his willingness to be a family together post-divorce. I am grateful for his friendship. Thanks, Steve!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

note to self

things to do more of: sing, sleep, salad, walk, water, encourage, adore, compliment, breathe, see, thank, let go

things to do less of: cheese, TV, complain, lecture, "actually", whelm, want, busybusy, drive

things to let go of: papers, stuff, knick-knacks, broken things, perfection, resentment, haf-tos, pillsbury

things to hold on to: kids, songs, poems, sunshine, snow, hope, honeypie, deliciousness, goofball, kisses, laughter, mind, heart, soul

Monday, December 15, 2008

The BIG Three

No, not Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Puhleeez. $39 billion? Even $15 million? For spending the last few decades in bed with the oil companies? Let's invest instead in their employees, by using our taxes to create a center of Green Economy wherever out-of-work autoworkers are (and coal miners, too, while we're at it).

But really, let's think about the BIG big three. I'm talking HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria.

And while we're at it, could we combat that other Really really really BIG three? Classism, Racism, and Sexism.

Priorities, people, priorities!

I gotta find more time to write about these things.... right now my priority is to spend some snuggle time watching Grey's Anatomy with my Teegermeister. Yippee!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Pootiful Weekend

I helped Laird snake the drain yesterday.

"Why," you say, "Was it clogged?"

Well, not really. It's just that he is making what was a cinder block room with a toilet into an actual bathroom. With a shower. And towel racks! And tile! It is downstairs, formally known as the basement, now "the ground floor," with two bedrooms and what will be a family room. The end with the bedrooms has normal-sized windows, so it really is a half-basement with a walk-out door, like many, many houses here in West-by-golly-Virginia.

First thing he did was clear out the tool room, put in shelves and peg board and lighting and power strips... oh yeah. NOW it is a tool room. (This was many weeks ago.) He says he will do the same in the laundry room, but that is last on the list. Then he re-did the floors in the two bedrooms. You see, he finished those rooms top to bottom by working every weekend for about a year (he says it wasn't that long) and then a malfunctioning storm drain and lots and lots and lots of rain last July 4th inspired our insurance company to send an awesome demolition team to take away everything that couldn't be cleaned up, which included the amazing dri-core founded floors of the two bedrooms. Ouch. We got through all that, and the bedrooms are beautiful again. PLUS, there is a half-finished french drain going around the house now just to give us an extra measure of protection from wetness. Half-finished because it has been too wet or too cold or both for the last month to finish it. But it WILL be finished. Yes, it will.

Anyway, he was getting ready to make the new bathroom on Friday, and he can't do anything halfway, so he decided to fix ALL that is wrong with the upstairs bathroom, too. So, we've been without water and toities for much of the weekend. It's okay, Sheetz is just down the hill. And every time I wanted to complain about having to get in the car in order to go use a bathroom (planning, people, this takes planning!), I remembered the article I read last week that said about 64 percent of people in a certain country I love have no access to a toilet. None. Not one. Sets things in a certain perspective, dontcha think?

My brave and tenacious husband had a hard time carrying out his plan to rebuild and re-seat the old toilet in the upstairs bathroom (last night we heard many groans and other sounds of frustration coming from there) so now we have a beautiful new white low-flow comfy porcelain throne. I could not convince him to order the $500 flushing squat-style toilet, no matter how much I talked about the health benefits!

Don't you think our new kids would feel more at home if they could choose between this and the Western-style toilet? Yeah, me too. But, I have been out-voted by my hubby and my 14-yr-old. Who knew she would side with her step-dad?!

But really, this story is about ME! As I said, I helped him snake the drain yesterday. He rented the heavy duty, 65-ft-long snake, and I held the hose so that the snake would get cleaned off while he was pulling it back out. It was a tight space, so I was squatting and leaning against a wall while I did this. Not leaning my back against a wall, no, that would have been way too easy. No, I was leaning my head and knees against the wall, while squatting, and trying to be as flat as possible since immediately at my back was this loud, cachunking machine creating a good bit of torque and producing some wild action in the long metal snake. We did the 65-feet twice, once with the star and once with the scrapper, and the yuck got sprayed on me a bit (don't worry, I was wearing safety goggles!). Then moved to the other drain and did a bit of that one. (Yuck, kitchen goop.) At one point, the snake almost strangled Laird with his own shirt, but we got through it all without injury. He said I am the bravest wife in the world.

That squatting action really does a body good, I'll tell you!

What was really cool was that during this toil, Laird went on and on about what an awesome invention this snake is, how well it transfers torque over a heckuva long distance. I mean, just that high-tensile flex metal thing that the machine pushes down in the pipe, that in itself is a huge technological feat. Do you understand now why I would follow this man anywhere?

By the way, any of you who are planning to travel to Ethiopia or elsewhere in Africa, here are some good directions on how to use a squat toilet.

And here is an extra bonus special something-really-Beautiful.... My brother's newest painting. My sister-in-law went to Ghana for three weeks to work as a nurse. She worked really hard and had a blast. This painting is from one of the pictures she brought home. My brother has amazing eyes and heart. We would love to take him to Ethiopia with us.

I am so grateful for my creative and compassionate family.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Day!

We have a court date!!!! January 16th. This is the day an attorney (hired by our agency) represents us before the Ethiopian judge to make the adoption final in Ethiopia. So, if the judge approves, that is the day we will legally be parents to our three brave and bright children, who are waiting for us. Then, about a month later we will travel to pick them up.

Tonight I was reading Jenny and Matt's blog and they have a great thing they do for each birthday in their family. They pick a charity to donate to, and ask anyone who is willing to honor the birthday person with a gift to that charity. I think we'll start doing this with everyone in our family. This Christmas we are seriously downsizing the amount of stuff we buy, and amount of money we spend. We will give a gift to a charity. I think maybe we have a vote on Christmas morning for what charity to give to, and have each person in the family pledge the amount they would like to give.

Watch this video.... it is so inspiring:

Think about it! What kind of change do you want to make with your celebrations?


Saturday, October 25, 2008

People Who Think

My friends, please watch this video.


Also, when you vote using a machine, please make sure your vote is recorded properly. There are some machines flipping straight ticket votes from one party to the other. If the machine you use does not have a paper back-up, ask for a paper ballot. See this link for more info. Vote early if you can!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Be It

This morning, I read about the chemical attack on the mosque in Dayton, Ohio, during a Ramadan prayer service. News story here. More here. More here.

"Will our disbelief, confusion, and fear only be activated toward change when we hear the sound of killers at our own door? We must rouse ourselves, awaken to our predicament as humans, as people who know there is goodness in all of us." -Alice Walker

Please FIND A WAY to make some portion of your time, energy and money go towards creating peace and justice in this world. Somehow. Pick something to support. Pick some group of people to encourage. Pick some issue that moves you to action. Do it. Be Love. Be Justice. Be Peace.

The slide show below is Alice Walker reading her preface to the book "The Other Side of War: Women's Stories of Survival and Hope" by Zainab Salbi, available at Women for Women International.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Break In

Yes, I am trying to embrace my default status as a once-a-month blogger. I fantasize about daily pithy posts; for instance, I would have loved to give you a wonderful Happy Equinox and Happy International Peace Day bulletin full of inspiring words. Getting on my computer just didn't seem to be the way to honor such a day. And it would be fun to be writing about the Bible study I am doing called Hungry for Justice. It is a radical look at conversion, and I am being transformed. And the news for today, well I should have been shouting it all over the place last week.... but I have seriously entered into nesting mode because of it, and have been whirling through the house cleaning and getting rid of things we don't need and making plans for projects that will streamline the mundane and facilitate the fun of having three more kids in the house. I'm thinking and writing in run-on sentences because of all the energy I have towards this huge undertaking: Get This Home Ready. I tell you, freecycle is my new best friend.

YES! I said three kids. We have received and accepted our referral for three wonderful kids who live in Addis Ababa. Yes, we are crazy! Crazy in love with life! Crazy happy we get to become parents together! Crazy excited to be welcoming Blessings, Shining Light, and Breath into our home. Those are the meanings of their names. And there is a whole lot of all that shining out from their picture. They are 9, 9, and 8, all in third grade. They have been waiting for a family for two years. The same two years it has taken us to (1) mentally prepare to adopt and then (2) take the many steps to make the adoption happen. I'm sorry they had to wait this long for us to be ready to find them. And I'm sure it will take all of the next four or five months of waiting for our court date and travel date to get the house ready. Not to mention learn how to make injera and to braid hair. But, we are so glad the time is getting closer. We can't wait to get them home and head down to Positive Spin to get them bikes. Problem is, they'll be arriving here in the midst of winter, so we'll have to wait on the bikes. We hope to travel in February or March. We also hope we won't have to miss World Party 2009, but if we do, we think our guests will understand.

We've been learning a lot along this journey towards our kids, and one thing we have been learning about is HIV, because so many families in Ethiopia have been affected in some way by this virus. Along with poverty and war, it is a major reason there are so many children who need families in Ethiopia. Yet, there is such a stigma against people with HIV that people fear losing their jobs and homes if others find out they have the virus. About 6,000 children a day in this world lose a parent to HIV, because not everyone is able to get the medicine they need to manage the virus. And it can be managed! There is somewhat of a stigma here in the U.S., too, but things are getting better. Here, HIV+ people can get health care and medicine and are protected legally in many ways. I think it is really important for everyone in the world to understand HIV so I have added a gadget to the left with the basic info and a link to the CDC website. And, if you want to make a difference in the lives of children with HIV, so they can get medicine and education and create a happy life, here are some ways to help.

Lisa Qualls and her family offers beautiful AHOPE t-shirts to raise funds to support AHOPE for Children, a home and outreach service for HIV+ orphans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

They are now also offering bracelets like the ones in this photo.

Or you can sign up to sponsor a child at AHOPE or simply send a donation directly to AHOPE here.

There is also a new organization whose mission is to help families adopt HIV+ children. They have a great website with some cool ideas for getting your whole family involved in helping a child come Home.

May you be at peace.
May you be at peace.
And may you be transformed!

"Change your hearts and mind, for the reign of heaven is about to break in on you." -Matthew 3:2

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On our way on

Our homestudy is complete and approved! Yippee!!!! It has been sent to USCIS so they can pre-approve visas for the kids. We have also sold out lot and celebrated our third anniversary. Laird and I spend last week putting together our dossier and we will send that off to our agency tomorrow. Then we're going sailng for the weekend to celebrate. J is ready to start high school including four honors classes and volleyball JV - and a new puppy of her very own that is cute as a button! T is off to college, marching band, working and taking ballet. B is working, too, and almost has health insurance!

Next on the adoption front, we will get our referral and sign a paper committing to adopt the three siblings who jumped out at us from the Waiting Children video. And then we work to get the house ready, get our shots for travel, collect donations and clothes of various sizes, learn Amharic, and wait wait wait. We hope to travel in January - that is best case scenario. Could be more like Spring. If anyone would like to help us pull together World Party for March 2009, we are forming a committee now. It's pretty turn-key since we did it all last year, but we will need some committed helpers to make it happen, as we will be traveling close to the date. We especially want to add to our advertising effort.

Please take a moment to watch this video of Michelle Obama's speech. It moved and inspired me as a mom, as a woman, and as an American! The world is turning towards respect, dignity and love for ALL. There is Hope. Even if you don't plan to vote for Barack Obama, even if you would never vote for him, please just take a moment to listen to Michelle's words and to think about all the people of this country and feel proud.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Take the scenic route

It's been a long week. Worked extra hours to meet a deadline on a big project. Full-on thinking all day at work every day. Pretty intense. Couldn't ride my bike because of rainrainrain and needing to shuttle papers here and there for signatures trying to wrap up the homestudy. We are almost there! I did get to ride today - it was glorious. The sides of the rail trail were bursting with wildflowers because no-one has been able to mow with all the rain.

It's July and I miss dancing myself to exhaustion at music festivals. I did get to one with my girls, and it was fun to watch them totally enjoy being social. But, I didn't get to dance a whole lot. I was going to go to Thomas to dance tonight, but no-one responded to my invitation to go along, and I decided not to spend the gas money and time to drive somewhere to dance alone. Though, remember, one time I did that I met my husband. I wonder if tonight I was going to meet a soulmate friend. Have I messed it up by not heeding the call of the accordion?

Did I mention the homestudy is ALMOST done?!?!!????

Now, we get to gather documents for the dossier and get them certified by our secretary of state. I think then they have to get certified by other people at higher levels before they get sent to Ethiopia. Oh yeah, and there is the waiting to do. Waiting for visas, waiting for translation, waiting for a court date. But plenty to do while we are waiting: learn Amharic, find a translator, get our shots for travel, remodel the house, get the photobooks up to date, make room for the kids. I had a flood in my house and a root canal two weeks ago and I am still cleaning up from that. The flood, that is. My awesome dental care team took care of the tooth and saved my gold crown in a very timely fashion.

In the middle of my ride this morning, I was trying to decide whether to turn off the rail trail to try to get to work a little faster. I remembered someone's advice to me to always take time in some way each day to take the scenic route. It dawned on me that it didn't really matter what path you take, it is all scenic if you just wake up to the scene around you. In West Virginia, it is hard to go anywhere without experiencing the beauty of trees and hills. It is truly wild and wonderful. But even if you are walking through a place of destitution, you can wake up to the scene around you and be present in it. You can smile at other people and wish them well, even if in silence. This IS the scenic route, people!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy IndepenDANCE Day!

Oh no! I totally missed the entire month of June!

Well, actually, I didn't miss it. I lived it full and well. Just didn't write about it. Here's a quick summary:
---Worked my scientist buttocks off, as usual.
---Rode my bike 216 miles to and from work between June 10 and July 3.
---Made up five or six songs while riding bike.
---Got re-fingerprinted THREE times... one each for the three different agencies checking out my background.
---Filled out more papers and sent them to our agency.
---Joined up with others at Jones to start preparing for Vacation Bible School because I couldn't resist the Beach Party theme.
---Visited the fam in PA to celebrate T's graduation.
---Bought J a new bike.
---Attended Z and J's wedding and signed the license.... and was on the tent crew!!! Me Jane, me STRONG.
---Prayed every day for the three children in Ethiopia that Laird and I hope to parent. They have been waiting over a year for a family, and we are trying very hard to get all the p's and q's in place so someone can hand them a picture of us and tell them that we are coming to get them soon. We have many hurdles to leap between now and then. Please hope (and pray) with us.

Oh yes... we signed with a realtor to sell the lot. Please spread the word. We need to sell the lot to avoid getting loans for the adoption fees.

This morning, as I drove with my toothache towards Thomas to spend the 4th weekend with my honey, I listened to news of Jesse Helms death and Bush speaking at Monticello to new citizens and people protesting the war. An orchestra played the Star-Spangled Banner while rolling by my windows were gorgeous misty mountains and meadows and farmland and flowers and trees and wind turbines and forest. We have all kinds of people here, don't we? What a country.

Add to my list: Bought a Banjo! Wooooo hooooooo..... it's not here yet, but I am looking forward to learning how to play Cluck Old Hen. And the Boll Weevil song. And The Roving Gambler (Raging Acorns version). And that song I heard while driving through Mon Forest written by Phillip Bimstein who was inspired by Zion National Park. When President Harding Came to Zion. Recorded by Red Rock Rondo. "300 acres I nursed all my life. Why can't they let me live here 'til I die, 'til I die?"

Send news from your place in the world..... Life is Good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We Are the Powers That Be

The other night I had a long dream in which huge waves were crashing and rolling into shore - tsunami like waves that should have scared me, but I was just enjoying them completely. And last night, my dream was filled with horses and then I was some kind of superhero repelling off a bridge and saving the day. So... I guess I am learning to happily manage even the stresses that could easily be overwhelming now that I am 47! Laird turns 49 today so I am doing lots of things to help him feel special and loved. Example... I made a perfect angel cake last night. I wish I could post a picture of it right here. Wait, I have the power of the internets... here it is.... well, it looks a lot like this one.

We have completed our homestudy visits (whew, is my house ever clean!), and we finished our fingerprints for USCIS, and will start counting down the six-eight week wait for our I-600A approval as soon as we get the last few pieces of paper and a check to our homestudy agency, and our wonderful social worker finishes the report. Wooo hooo! Things are rolling. We hope to know who our kids are by the end of June. Hope hope hope. Still on course to travel in December IF my estimates are correct.

Meanwhile, the day we were in the 'Burgh for fingerprints, we visited Seifu at Tana, who generously gave us some injera starter. We ordered Teff flour, and are ready to start practicing our Ethiopian cooking as soon as it comes. We found a great resource for learning essential Amharic for parents and can't wait to get that in the mail. And we found some great resources at Amharic Kids for getting our kids ready for their new siblings. Next, I'll be looking for more Ethiopian music resources. I believe that to truly appreciate and celebrate someone's culture, you must delve into their language, their food and their music. Our goal is to have our home be a welcoming place for our kids, and to help them with their transition as much as possible by having familiar sights, sounds, and tastes in their new home. We don't want them to be the only ones changing when we all become a family. We are changing, too. And what a beautiful culture to be gathering into our lives. The people of Ethiopia have so much to offer the rest of us: their warmth, their generosity, their affection, and their joy for life are values needed in so many places in our nation and the rest of the world.

Here is a post I wrote for one of the adoption lists I am on, in response to someone who was feeling discouraged and asked "how do you get the world to care?" I received a lot of positive feedback on it, so I thought I would share it here.

Good question. A lot of times I feel this way. You caught me on a day I feel empowered.... so I'll write from this place instead of my ranting place. (I'm not sure why I feel so great today, as this week is filled with stresses like... oh, my home study home visit, an investigation for my security clearance at work, our DHS fingerprint appt, and my daughter's reluctance to talk about the adoption to prep for her interview with the social worker, and oh little things like that!!!)

How do I get the world to care?

Sometimes, I think of how others have done it.
Mr. King did it by inspiring people with words, and empowering them to act.
Mother Theresa did it by serving the neediest people around her with love.
Mahatma Ghandi did it by giving people the tools needed for non-violent resistance.
The Dalai Lama does it by speaking the truth in all his gentleness.
Mister Rogers did it by talking and listening and encouraging and validating.
My mom did it by telling us it is okay to be different and showing us that each person matters by telling stories of the kids in her classroom and how she met their individual needs.
My friend Mike does it by living his life as an example of sustainability, being involved in building his community to be greener and doing research on organic farming.
My friend Maggie does it by teaching one family at a time how to help their autistic child.
My sister-in-law does it by asking doctors to justify the treatment they are prescribing.
My niece does it by inviting friends and family to join in on a project to celebrate her birthday.
My brother does it by creating paintings he posts on his website with a link to information about what inspired the painting.
Sinead O'Connor does it by writing heartfelt songs and putting them out there in the world.
Jesus did it by accepting people just as they are, in whatever place they happen to be, and inviting them to be free.

I think people don't need to be coerced into caring. I believe human beings are born caring, are inherently caring. I believe that when people act (or appear to act) as if they don't care about others' suffering, it is generally because they themselves are suffering. There are huge amounts of human suffering that cannot be seen by neighbors and friends and coworkers and even family members.

Not caring is a learned strategy for coping with powerlessness.

In order for people to act to alleviate the suffering of others, they need to feel as if their actions actually would make a difference. They need to feel empowered to help. Most people in our culture have learned to discount their own power in order to survive. If a person does not feel that she matters on this planet, it is pretty hard to believe that anyone matters.

I honor you for wanting to make positive change in the world. I honor you for seeing what could be done if everyone were aware the way you are. I honor you for knowing you have the power to aid those in need. I ask you to consider what assumptions you are making about people when you label them as not caring. I wonder if there is any way for you to love them just they way they are, and accept them in whatever place they are. As if they mattered just as much on this earth as the widows and orphans. I know, compared to lots of people in the world, your neighbors and friends have it made. They have it made. But, do they know they have it made? Do they feel as if they matter in this world? I think most people are struggling, even those who are apparently "rich." Struggling to find meaning and happiness.

You can't get them to care. You can only care about them.

But why should you, when there are all these widows and orphans who need care?

Because they matter. Each and every one of them. When I think of all those people I most admire for being able to inspire people to act in the interest of those in need, I see one pattern: they are fully present with the person right in front of them, loving them in whatever way this one person needs to be loved.

Mister Rogers says look for the helpers. So when I am feeling hopeless about my power, or about the possibility that others will use their power for good, I spend a little time reading his words. And looking for stories about people doing the helping work. I Do One Thing. I find One Thing to do that will help raise awareness about how easy it is to effect positive change.

Hey, send this back to me when it's my turn to rant, okay?

Have a wonderful day,
"We the people, we're the powers that be." -Jeb Puryear

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wake Up Call

Good Morning! I got up early. I was lying in bed thinking of my first trip with our Ethiopian kids to the grocery store. Yes, I know, this won't happen for at least another 7 or 8 or 9 months. Yes, I know, there are so many things that need to happen before that. Like our homestudy being approved. Our basement being finished. Our kids' visas coming through. The impossible task of picking our children out of the many waiting kids. Our whole complicated dossier being prepared. Not to mention, passing court and getting on a plane. Yes, I could be thinking about what could go wrong with any and all of these processes, and coming up with solutions. But, my brain has latched on to a scene in the brand new OMG Kroger we have in town - yes, the largest Kroger on the East Coast was built here in the heart of Appalachia. The one I said I would never go to because of the way the Development of that particular piece of land went down.... destroying the beautiful green hills I used to drive past with my head out the window on the way to work. (Thank goodness, the community did prevent it from becoming a super Wal-Mart.) I am speaking of the new Kroger I didn't want to go to because I shop locally-owned, small stores and co-ops and such. Alas, I stopped in one day. Curiousity, you know, and what it does to my inner cat.

I was literally jumping up and down in the aisles. Okay, so I am easily impressed by large sections of whole and organic food products. And sushi chefs. And huge areas filled with fresh produce. What I really loved was the whole, gigantic Fact of all this Organic and Natural becoming part of the Mainstream. And then I discovered the big aisle of Ethnic Hair Care products. (Well, for this town, it's a big aisle.) Which I will need to buy for my new kids. Which brings me to the scene I was mulling over this morning.

It looked like this: My three kids who speak little English and have never been in an OMG store of any kind - though they have been through Dulles Ariport by this time - come with me for their first trip to the OMG Kroger. We start out in the produce section. At this very early point in my mind's meanderings, I realize I am going to need certain phrases in Amharic. Like "stay near me" and "we'll eat this when we get home" and "please come back." Oh my, what if they get lost from me? And, let me tell you, this is entirely possible in this store, where my son doesn't really want to go because it is so far from one end of the store to the other. My 23-yr-old son. My formally Army son. Then I think, first thing, I will take my new kids over to the info desk, and introduce them to the helpers there in case they get lost. And I realize I'll need Amharic phrases such as "Come here if you can't find me and ask for help," "If you can't find me, give the person here the paper in your pocket" (which of course, in my dreams, I have already filled out with all our names and cell numbers and, of course, in my dreams, my cell is fully charged) and "If you can't find me, find another mommy with kids and ask for help." Here, I picture myself signing HELP because, of course, Laird and I have totally followed through with our plan to learn sign language along with all the Amharic words and phrases that we no doubt learned by our trip to Ethiopia.

Oh, help. At this point, I can't take the scene in my head anymore, and I get up to write down all the words and phrases we will need as the new parents of two or three young, bewildered, overwhelmed, wonderful little people new to this crazy, over-the-top OMG culture in America.

It'll be alright. Really. No problem. Or in Amharic, chigger yeh-LEM.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Keep Moving Forward!

Spring is here and we are rolling!

We have officially sent our application in to our homestudy agency! Wooo hooooo!!!

Here is our Adoption To Do list up to our next Wait Time:
Finish paperwork for homestudy and send to AFS.
Set up appointment for first homestudy visit.
Finish I-600A application and send.
Finish gathering papers for AAI and send.
Do Hague training (AFS requirement).
Watch Attachment training dvd and take test (AAI requirement).
May: homestudy visits.
~ Wait for complete homestudy to be sent to AAI. ~

If we can get it all together AND if the Government Form Fairies are working with us, our approximate travel to Ethiopia will be at the end of this year. This is based on everything I know, so it could be totally off! But, we'll roll with the punches.

By the way, I HIGHLY recommend everyone who is becoming a parent, no matter how, to submit your self to the homestudy process. It is a really great way to get ready on every level for the important work of parenting. Seriously. I think everyone should do it. I think the world would be a much better place for children - and all of us - if EVERYone who parents would first put thoughtful, honest energy into convincing experts that they are mentally, financially, and logistically READY to be responsible, effective, loving parents.

On the parallel April/May Get the House Ready To Do list:
Finish porch and stairs.
Refinish the common area of the basement into a functional family room.
Sell the South Park lot so we can expand the kitchen!

Carpet and ceiling pull-out party on April 20th. If you have any aggression to focus on a destructive project that will ultimately lead to good, come on by!

Meanwhile, Laird is busybusybusy getting ready for race season and I am filling out lots of government forms at work. Good news is that now I really do know all five of my siblings' birth dates! The above adoption to do list - I'll be working on that myself from now until early May.... speaking of which... Cheat Fest! May 3. Be there!

Also, I am joining Jones United Methodist Church. It is a little church with big-hearted wonderful people. I will add the links to Christopher's blog, and to Meredith's blog. Christopher is the pastor at Jones and two other churches, and Meredith, his wife, is the pastor at two other churches nearby. They are wonderful.

Other news: Ben's working, Shannon's working, Tegan has been awarded a music scholarship for next year at Fairmont State, and Jordan's jumping hurdles and long jumping and running fast for Suncrest Track!

Flowers are blooming!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Life is a Party!

Okay, so I'm behind....

The World Party was a blast! Even though I had the flu. Thank you all for coming... I hope you didn't get the flu. Laird has it now, so that's why the thank you notes haven't been written. (Don't ask why the wedding thank you notes haven't been written...).

So.... we don't have pics or anything, but check out Becky's blog. She and Sandor and Brandy and John and Pat and Sue and Nikole and Tegan and Jordan and Shannon and Ben and Laird spent the whole day helping to get everything ready and decorating and making cookies and taking care of details and running sound and visuals and cleaning up. And they even had time to take pictures!!! My family is AWESOME!!!!!! Mom and Dad came, too, and it was wonderful to have them. And everyone! So many people love us and support our plan for growing our family. I was so moved I had to spend three days in bed. No, that was the flu. But I was moved.

Laird and I will post a financial report after this weekend.

Lateset news: we have to redo all our homestudy paperwork because we had to switch agencies for the homestudy. Oh, the tedium. But, I think it is okay, because we really want to travel in November or December, so Laird has as much time as possible without business travel for the bonding and adjusting time. I'm trusting that the timing will be right, no matter what bumps we find in the road.

Ben found a job, Tegan found a car, and Jordan joined the track team. Life is good!

Happy Easter!!!!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Few Small Stones

This morning was one of those mornings where Grouchyme slowly inturded and took hold while Happyme was trying her hardest not to let her. It is my only day off this weekend and I made a list of things to do, as usual, but I kept it shorter than usual. This was victory number one.

First thing I needed to do was get my money in order. I got organized, had a bowl of cereal, and entered Quickenland. This was big mistake number one. Do not - I repeat - do not allow me to approach the Money Computer without eating a hearty breakfast. This is just a big invitation to the Grouch to come on in.

Next, I moved on to doing dishes, laundry, and taking the trash and recycling out all at once. I managed to keep myself from yelling and screaming at the world (e.g. the people I live with, which this morning happened to be Laird alone) for making all the messes. My husband did notice Grouchifiedme and took on the vacuuming. This was a very smart move.

It was then I had my big victory for the day: I decided to take care of myself. I have finally learned how to interpret my Grouch: she is telling me in her strange language to take care of me. I went for a walk to mail my checks. Thank you, patch of blue sky. Thank you, playful Zimmerdog for chasing sticks. Thank you, little stream of water making your easy way down the hill you have been carving out for so many years.

I took a nap. Thank you, wonderful bed. Thank you, blankie. I took a shower. Thank you, Sabine, for the sample of coconut shower gel. Now, Happy is coming in the door.

Cleaning out the fridge, I found some green beans. Thank you for not being fuzzy. And two apples that were still edible, though not crispy. I chopped them up and added cinnamon and sugar and baked them. I steamed the beans and put butter, salt and pepper on them. Oh, simple food. Thank you. Oh, thank you, God, for apples and green beans.

All better. Meanwhile, Laird is out on a bike ride, taking care of himself. He was so patient and playful and wise this morning. Thank you, Laird.

The other night, I went to Ash Wednesday service, and during the prayer, Pastor left spaces so we could join in. I haven't done that kind of praying for a long time. I felt shy. I listed some things, but as the prayer went on, there were just so many people and places to pray for, I felt so inadequate and couldn't say any more words aloud. I felt so small and vulnerable, but it felt really good, too. I think that was the Divine Presence. I think that's what opening up to the possibility of connection does: it opens a door to the place where God sits waiting to take you onto her lap.

Mary Oliver wrote it this way in a poem called Praying:

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

What this has to do with the struggle between Grouchyme and Happyme this morning is this: I took some time the other night to meet with my community and to sit in God's lap. So, this morning, I had the ability to keep my mouth shut instead of throwing blame around the room. I didn't really know what I was doing at the time, I just knew I didn't want to blame anyone else for my feeling grouchy. When I went outside to move my body, I found something to be thankful for. I found lots to be thankful for. I found the love I needed to listen to the Grouch and take care of her. She is me. She is me, after I give and give and give, at work and at home, and she just gets depleted. She just needs to replenish. I didn't know this until after the fact. I just needed to trust my intuition, and let Love lead me there.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A New Day

I do have a long piece about something new I am doing, but I still have to fix it up a little before I post it. Today I was inspired by Clare over at 3 Beautiful Things (3BT) who has a new blog called Once Around the Park. Each day she chronicles her walk with thirty words. People all over the world have been inspired by Clare and she has a long list of 3BT blogs by those people. Check them out.

Well, I love reading her little poems of life and gratitude, and I obviously am not going to be able to have a long post here once a week. (To wit: last post was Nov 17.) I sit in front of a computer all day at work, so it is not something I like to spend a lot of time on at home. So, I decided today that whenever I take a walk, I would sit down and capture it in thirty words and post it here. I am hoping it will inspire me (and reward me) to get outside every day for at least ten of fifteen minutes. Or, I might just give you 3 beautiful things once in a while. Still, I will be posting about our adoption process and other things, whenever something presents itself.

Today, my walk was from my office to the credit union and back.

The sky is blue out the window. Boots, hat, scarf, coat, gloves. Sixteen degrees and snow blower noise. Deposit check. Hurry back to boring, warm cubicle. Forget to notice beauty.

Have a wonderful new day, every day.