Sunday, January 19, 2014

A short video from the past...

Winnie set her alarm for 6:30am so we would have plenty of time to look at old pictures before church this morning.  We watched a short video, taken a month or two after she had come home.  It was so hard to believe, I have to post it!

Next is a picture of her taken this month.  A young lady who thoroughly enjoyed getting her hair done, eating Indian food, and playing Uno on this frosty January Gotcha day.

                                               (Photo by Fleur de Leigh photography)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Goal Accomplished.

The past bothered me.  This little girl, holding a ball, wearing a red shirt and a smile, "where did she come from?  how long had she been in the orphanage?  What was her story?"
I couldn't get her off my mind nearly 5 years ago.  She haunted me, following my path to work and around our home.  I prayed for a family that would be her's forever.  I asked God for health and protection as she waited for that perfect family.  I wanted her to find a forever home.

He answered my prayers 4 years ago today.  The three of us walked hand in hand out of her orphanage forever.  Although she was mine, and I was hers, I wondered how time would treat us.   I often looked forward to the time when I could declare that she had been with me longer than any nanny, relative or orphanage.  Wouldn't that be something?  It would feel like permanence.  

Today, my dear Winnie is ours more than ever!  She is somewhat "in charge" at our house!  She loves to organize.  She is learning to play the violin with her daddy.  She's rockin' third grade, just like I had dreamed she would 4 years ago!  Her heart is BIG and kind and  expanding.  She is dressing like Anne Frank for character day next week because she never wants to forget the way that others have been mistreated.  She loves to write in diaries, just like Anne.  Her brother is her biggest fan, wondering if it is possible to marry her some day.  She loves injera and tibs, our Ethiopian community, and her heritage.  Today, we made a cake with a BIG "4 "on it, celebrating our life together these past 4 years.  She shared her "story" of gotcha day with friends this week.  She explained that this time 4 years ago she couldn't wait any longer.  She ditched the other kids in line to see their parents and ran out to her family.  She met us and "walked away, ready to fly on that big plan and find socks and underwear in her new room!"

I look back on our lives thus far, and I am nothing short of amazed.  The little girl with a ball in her hand has been a gift.  She has taught me sacrifice, joy, commitment and hope for the future.  I guess that many who know our story have been changed by this girl too!

Celebrating today!  I couldn't be happier 4 years later!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Year with our Main Man!!

Over the past few weeks, Mesay has become very interested in numbers.  He excels in math, starting to do addition pages and writing in answers.  So, he did the math on how long he had been in the U.S. and was shocked, upset and shed tears over the fact that it had been zero years since we first got to bring him out of the HOME in Ethiopia and bring him into our family forever.  He cried saying, "but Winnie got to be here longer than me."  Then he got angry and said, "I'll be here longer than you someday Winnie, jjjjust you wait!!"  The beautiful, tearful little man wants to not be the "new guy" anymore! 

The fact that he is able to debate the facts of his timeline is truly amazing to me.  He speaks in full sentences, albeit his pitch is so high sometimes we wonder if it is English!  In one short year, he has mastered a new language, and lost 99% of his native tongue, Amharic.  At times, I add Amharic words into our conversation and find him asking me what they mean.  This makes me sad, but hopeful that someday we will learn Amharic together, and I bet the two kids will pick it up WAY faster than this mama.

He gives the sweetest kisses.  It knocks me off my feet when he screams out the door as he leaves, "I love you so much mom, I hope you know how much!" or "You look cute today mom!"  Sometimes, when he wants some affection he says, "Cccc-aa-nn, can you look for ticks in my hair?"  this means, "can you scratch my head and I will lay on your lap?"  The same defiant, willful spirit that gets him in trouble shows up when he wants you to know that he loves you.  It's never a lukewarm "I love you", It's a full throttled, loud jolt of "I LOVE YOU" that leaves no doubt in your mind.

As we celebrate this first year as a family of four, I can not help but reflect how far we have come.  I praise God for giving us wisdom on parenting our kids, mercy when we have had not so great days, and love to fill in the gaps.  God has used family and friends to make this last year work.  From emergency babysitting when Mesay was at the hospital with Rheumatic Fever to helping read bedtime stories when Tim had been gone a few nights, we have an amazing community! 

His curiosity demands answers.  His defiance springs from courage.  His energy is limitless. 

We Love You Mesay Daniel Shaw!!!   Happy one year.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sandy (Not My Mother-in Law)

I dodged out of a stuffy, boring financial planning meeting to pick up the babysitters.  When I came back, the financial planner and Tim were still at it.  Come on now!!  I was trying to catch Tim's eye and give him the "wrap it up, we're late" look.  Careful to look like I had important business to tend to with the kids, I marched up stairs with laundry in hand. When I came downstairs, I had changed into a little dress and put on some lip gloss.  I made the kids a quick dinner, vigorously shook the money mans hand as we showed him out, gave some parting instructions to the sitters, and WE WERE OFF...  RUNNING TO THE CAR!

Midweek date, party of two.  I had high expectations for our time together, JUST THE TWO OF US.  So, as we walked in to the restaurant, I was excited for the chance to be together alone.  We had a mediocre meal and chatted about high school experiences, nothing too crazy.  As we were walking out of the place, we were trying to make the choice between going elsewhere for a drink or on to a movie. We both just kinda looked at each other, having a hard time deciding what to do next while the babysitter's time was winding down.

No sooner had we made it out the door when a lady approached us asking for some money.  She was homeless, hungry and in need of whatever money we could give.  I tensed up at this point, noticing that she smelled like booze and slurred a bit.  "sorry, we don't carry cash," our usual, canned response.  She pointed to my left-over container and said, "what's in there?" This was the moment our evening changed.  We realized she truly was hungry.  I immediately handed over my box and went back to get her a spoon.  When I returned, she was in the midst of telling Tim that she sure would like a beer to wash it down with!!  "we can't do that," I heard him say, "but we can surely take you to get a proper meal and a drink."  Yes, I had just thought the same thing as I walked back to them.

So, our date night for two quickly grew.  Sandy hopped in the front seat of "Blued-sie" the station wagon, and we went down the street to another restaurant.  Sandy was astonished that we would buy her anything she wanted (except beer).  She ordered a large clam strips, large onion rings, large coffee, and a bottle of water.  She used our phone to call her family and tell them she was still alive.  We prayed for Sandy to be protected, and she prayed for us "to be healed of any diseases we might have and to stay married." She still had a huge grin on her face as we hugged and parted ways.

I share this story because I am reminded of how much fun it is to serve others together.  We both drove home laughing about how our night had changed.  Hearing part of Sandy's story brought us together as we discussed the needs of the homeless in our community and how we could do more and be more willing to help.  We will not remember our mediocre meal, but our time with Sandy will be a lasting memory.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

5, First American Birthday, Riding high

 That slide was his favorite.  He asked me on the way up if he could have another birthday the day after tomorrow...
 A handsome group of kiddos, lots from our African adoption group

 His one wish was to cut the cake himself and place the snacks at everyones seats
 Homemade cake tasted great!  He dugg his claws into it several times.

 Micah and Mesay look like old men squabbling over politics or football teams :)  I hope they grow old together :)
 Whhooops, Winnie really wanted to be the one on the throne...

 In fact, she didn't ever get down :)
Crazy eyes.

Tonight I was walking out of Mesay's room.  He said, "mom, MOM!!! I love you so, so much mom! did I hug you hard enough tonight to show you?"
He's been home eleven months.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

To skate or not to skate

Uggh, hip hop music.  Ouch, my back is starting to cramp from holding Mesay's noodle legs and dragging him around the rink.  PeeU, this place stinks like Tim's sweaty black flip-flops on a hot car ride with no air.  Man oh man, this place looks the same as it did when I had my 5th birthday party here (a long time ago!!)...
I felt my attitude seriously plunging as I hung out at the Skate Zone 71 tonight with the kids.  It had been in an effort to curtail a rainy week full of boredom that I agreed to it.  I had plenty to do at home which didn't help my mood as I dragged Mesay around on his dora skates.

Suddenly, I saw a girl crash into the emergency exit at the back of the rink.  Yikes, she got up and was going the wrong way into the oncoming skaters!!  I saw the stick in her hand and the cloudy film over her eyes, but I just sat there for a second in amazement...she was blind and she was rollerskating!!  DOUBLE TAKE.  I snapped out of it and said, "turn around quick and follow me."  She moved towards my voice, got going the right way, and had a huge grin on her face as she passed me.  For the next 2 hours, I watched in amazement as several blind ladies put on skates and whirled around the skating rink for the first time.  They were obviously having an awesome time, laughing and smiling as they occasionally took a tumble.  They weren't clinging to the sides but anxious to get going at a fast pace.
I bought Mesay a wheeled walker, and sat myself on the sidelines for a few minutes.  As I watched those ladies skate by, I thought about courage and adversity.  This to me was a perfect example of the two co-mingling.  Strapping on wheeled shoes and sliding out onto a slippery floor was scary enough, but imagine not seeing where you are going in a new environment, now that's brave (not to mention avoiding the 4 year old that zig-zag's back and forth and occasionally does cartwheels on the floor)!!  At any moment, any of us could experience something that changes us or limits us just like them...  Maybe it is being born blind or being diagnosed with a disease that limits your mobility or an emotional scar that stops you in your tracks or a loss too great.  What do you do with it?  Will you miss out on the things around you?  Do you sit on the sidelines and wish things were different or do you strap on skates and bump into a few things? 

Ok, so that's over-simplifying a bit, but I find it is so easy to limit ourselves, to build protective walls around impairments or imperfections which we all have.  Watching the blind skaters tonight moved me to joy.  I did not feel sorry for them at all!  In fact, I envied them.  The courage to skate when your expected to sit it out

Friday, July 5, 2013

Been There, Done That

Mesay struggles with admitting things are new to him.  For example, Winnie says "In Disney World, you get to meet all the princesses."  Mesay retorts, "I know, I've been there."   The discussion goes back and forth, "no you haven't" "yes, I have" until I finally step in and try to help him speak the truth.  Ahhhh, I know it's because he wishes he had done things, wishes he had been here longer, or probably mostly wishes he could say the exact same things Woineshet does.  In this particular situation, we were in the car headed to Circleville.  For those of you who have not attended the pumpkin show, you must realize it is a pretty small town.  Mesay looks out the window and says, "Is this Disney World?"  Irony abounding.

Another example would be the argument I overheard yesterday.  "I've been here longer than Winnie.  I have."  To which Winnie is getting testy and upset about, "YOU HAVE NOT!!!  You've only been her under a year and I have been here 3 1/2 years."  Mesay shouts back, "I have been here longer than you Winnie.  I came home first!"  This has her in a complete tizzy.  She starts explaining how she has been here longer and that she came with us to meet him for the first time one year ago.  All of her careful facts mean nothing to him.  He's screaming, "have too, have too, have too!!"  So, apart from earning a "think it over" time in our living room chair, Mesay managed to give me an idea.

I want to start out by describing things and talking about new experiences before he puts his guard up and says he's done them before.  Sparklers, for example:  We have discussed these "firesticks" and even though he says he's used them before, we say how special it will be to use them for the first time!
We shall see how it works.  For today, He and Winnie put on a play about Mary and Joseph.  He really wanted to be Mary but realized he got to wear Winnie's fur coat as Joseph, so he was cool with it.

While it's important to correct his behavior when necessary, it's pretty funny to see what he comes up with when left to his own imagination!!