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!! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A World Away but Close

My children sat in crisp, freshly laundered cultural attire.  I wore the gauzy scarf around my head, sticking out like a sore thumb but trying to find a balance of respect and humility in the sacred assembly.  As I sat amongst the sea of gauzy white cotton clad worshipers, frankincense enveloped me.  I quickly became entranced, listening to what seemed like lightening fast Amharic to the slow, English speaking ear.  Occasionally, I teased a few words I knew to the surface..."small, don't worry, I'm sorry."  It was not enough to understand the service, these few fragments I understood.  The smile that lingered on my face was not understanding of the words spoken, but recognition of the people group represented here...  The culture that produces kindness and gestures of hospitality where there are no means to do so,  friendly handshake and kisses on the cheeks, bestowing greetings as a close friend,  the large hunk of raw beef hurled at me and offered to my husband who could not attend the celebration. I smiled because I had come to know and love these people as my own.  I could not convey the appreciation I felt in my heart for allowing me to be a part of the celebration.

As I sat in the church, I drifted back to this date one year ago.  The same sights, smells, and people who had led me to my son.  The high pitched music that drifted from the small shopping stalls, the friendly greeting and proud use of a few American phrases with big white toothed grins, the thick diesel fumes in the city replaced by fine red dust in the country, but mostly the welcoming strangers who became my distant relatives. I recounted my first time swinging Mesay in the court yard, holding his hand, hastily trying to find activities that we could all understand and enjoy.  Life had led us through so much over this last year, but in this moment, I was remembering our time there.  New friends had been quick to translate for us, happy to travel hundreds of miles to find long lost family with us, and had welcomed us into their homes.

What an honor to be among my family yesterday at the Saint Michael festival, showing my children how I admire and enjoy our Ethiopian culture.  To greet friends, new and old, with my shabby Amharic skills, eat some raw beef, and kiss cheeks with those I find precious.

I long for Ethiopia.  I celebrate my short time there.  I hope to return soon.  I am so grateful for my family rooted in this culture.

(Mesay was a little tired and sweaty, but we were all glad to have gone)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

To the best dad!

Dear   Dad,




Winnie Joy Shaw



Monday, April 22, 2013

"playfully mischievous cheesy crunches that add a little lighten-up moment to any day"

I found myself going to the grocery store just before midnight.  Serving cereal with water would not be tolerated again tomorrow.  I just bought a few basics, milk, bananas, WHAT, jalapeno cheetos!?!  Things hadn't gone as planned today, renovating the bathroom and kitchen impromptu style, cancelling an evening meeting when Tim sent a desperate plea for me to " come home quick, there's a problems," feeding the kids fast food on the way to our adoption group at church, twisting my ankle chasing Mesay, and then sitting in a mind blowing traffic jam at 9:15 pm!!! I turned off the engine in the driveway, I found myself too tired to get out of the car after the grocery store.  As I stared off into space and opened that bag of cheddar jalapeno cheetos that I randomly purchased, my mind recalled all of the crazy events of the day.  I laughed about some, cringed at a few, and came to terms with some of them.  There are many things we are, but slow paced isn't one of them! So, I ate and processed...

Before long my mind drifted to our time at the tile store the day before, picking out some new tile for our bathroom.  Sounds like a dull, boring trip to the store, eh?  Not for the Shaw's!  In our two hours there, I believe we actually caused them decreased revenues.  I wouldn't be surprised if they go belly-up!  First, it was the loud chasing each other around the store that probably scared the patrons.  Then Mesay started to build a "bug" house with marble tiles during a closing sales pitch with the fine staff.  As we sat at the freshly tiled presentation space, a tick fell from one of us onto the table.  Winnie and Mesay race to catch this tick (we were in the woods the past weekend and had a real tick problem, so we promised them a dollar for every tick they found).  Winnie proudly grabbed the bug first and yells:"I found a bug, a real tick!!  I GET A DOLLAR!  YAY mom, that means I'm up to three dollars for finding bugs!"  mortified, as Tim smooshed the bug in his hand, I tried to bring the attention of the sales associate away from the "bugs" we brought into her store.  Mesay feels slighted though, and says very loudly, "I NEVER get to find the bugs, Winnie finds all the bugs.  I want some too.  No fair"... he then does the bug check in Winnie's hair to see if he can earn a "bug buck" too.  At this point, I can no longer make eye contact with the employee.  I hand her the credit card and turn to sign the receipt.  My kids quickly get into the display of tile sponges and decided to give each other a brushing/exfoliating treatment inside the bin of sponges.  This turned their skin chalky white all over.  We exit quickly.  Many people were staring and, to be honest, smirking and laughing.  With my first handful of cheetos, I was laughing through tears thinking about the scene we made. 

Next handful of cheesy goodness, I came across a happy little thought.  Mesay had been doing SO well the last couple months.  He is boisterous and loud, bossy and silly, but I UNDERSTAND HIM MORE NOW... I understand more about what he needs from me.  I think he is starting to understand that we are safe.  We have a rhythm, and it is working!!  He verbalizes so much more about what he wants, and you can watch him actively reminding himself to do the right thing!  His most recent likes are as follows:  watching mommy and daddy kiss (he goes wild with laughter), telling others what the rules are, eating anything and everything with spicy hot sauce, copying Winnie's every move, praying for his papi and grandma Shaw's back every night (and God help you if you forget!! He get's on ya'), and talking very loudly.  He is beautiful.  So is his sweet sister who is quick to carry him around, slow to be annoyed, and eager to play with him. 

I contemplated for a second what the snacks were made of... If only Tim were here, I would already know the answer and more!  That brought me to a moment of reflection about my greatest earthly source of knowledge.  My husband.  Did he know how much I adored him?  My easily overwhelmed self was paired with a man who lets little bother him.  He dives right into new things and his excitement pulls me overboard into the waves of adventure!  I see God's hand in our matching.  Yes, I could have been a mate to someone else, and it would have possibly worked.  But...oh, the fun we have!  Ok, sometimes tears and gnashing of teeth, but mostly I was thinking fondly of our last 7 years as I quickly popped cheetos.

My mind wandered to the new car, the 20 hour ride home with the questionable decision to let the kids have rubber band guns from Cracker Barrel.  Tim reading me The Sound and Fury.  Winnie reading Henry and Ribsy.  Mesay wearing his "finger flashlights" and having a bladder the size of a squirrel.  I loved riding shot gun, just imagining out loud what we would do if we won the mega-million.

  I'd gotten a little less than half of a large bag of cheesy goodness down... I felt much better now.  I was not panicking at the thought of going back into my house that was covered in plaster and lath.  My thoughts were now turned to the job at hand.  When I walked in that door and saw the whole house covered in plaster debris, I would walk by it.  I would go up the stairs and not freak out at the toilet that was lying inside the bathtub.  I would find that husband of mine, lying on top of the laundry that hadn't been folded.  I would wake him up and tell him that he meant the world to me.  I would kiss those kids tucked in their warm fuzzy blankets.  The rest was nothing to worry about.  Nothing that a few cheetos and a little time in the ol' station wagon contemplating life couldn't fix.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The New Ride

This is how things go in our family:

We are all 4 in the car, driving out of church. 
I say, "Tim isn't that a sweet car!  I always admire that OLD diesel wagon"
Tim, without answering, looks the car up on ebay.  "Well, they are rare.  27 years old.  There is a nice one in palm beach.  Wonder what he would take?"
I just smile, this sort of conversation happens every day.
We are almost to the house when Tim says, "he accepted our offer.  He's removed it from ebay.  It's ours."

I'm in shock.  excited. panicked.  what if it is a piece of %&$*# junk?  What if our nice, safe honda accord with 41,000 miles doesn't sell?  We are about to find out and it's kinda fun!

Stop by sometime and take a ride :)
The Shaw's
p.s. if you need a nice 2009 honda, you know who has one!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Dear Winnieyay,
I could tell you "our story" in my sleep...
The way I couldn't wipe the smile off my face when I saw you that first time.  That little red poppy dress with the homemade headband you were wearing.  How you wouldn't wait to come out, and they couldn't hold you back any longer.  The way you felt in my arms, FINALLY mine!  How bad it hurt when we had to leave you that first night.  Your little chubby body in the bath bucket, pouring water into bottles for what seemed like hours.  The way your dad and I stared at you when you slept.

What you might not know is that I listen to love songs, and they remind me of you...
When I'm having a bad day, I tell a new patient about you, and I smile.  I crave bed time stories because I love to hear you read.  The days when you are sad, I feel torn up too.  When your brother isn't listening and you tell him he better listen to mom, I feel like someone's got my back.  Watching you learn to love God and others gives me hope about our future on this planet.  I'd rather be busy and worn out for the rest of my life, than not have you in it.  Your laugh brings me right back to that first day, when I fell in love.

I love you Woineshet Joy Shaw.  God knew what I needed when he gave me you. 


Happy three year anniversary,

Love Mommyay



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I'm a big boy now and other pictures from recent adventures

Every big boy must learn to give up naps and start down the long road to higher education...
Today was that day.

 Today was Mesay's first day at Overbrook Preschool, little did we know that promising him playtime on the playground wasn't really going to happen 'til March due to weather.  We had such a great experience with Winnie that we were excited for Mesay to start.  Every person we met today asked us about Winnie.  They all wanted her to come back to visit.  One teacher even bought an Ethiopian story and asked Winnie to come back and read it for her class!
 The first day at preschool seemed really great for Mesay compared to the little girl who pooped her pants and didn't have a pull-up packed, the boy who snatched Mesays toys and got reprimanded, or the girl who put sticky goo in her hair at the play table.  He's got a ways to go with sharing, but he did great!  At one point, he looked at me and said, "Mom, goodbye, leave now."  I spent a peaceful half hour by myself.
 He felt really confident today, he wore his firefighter shirt and his favorite camo undies! 


 Yesterday, at Gigi's house, he made a less than wise decision to drink his cousin's breast milk bottle.
 Justin Bieber fan with her new hipster gloves and twisted hair.
 First sled experience went very well.
 You can still look great sledding.

Buzz lightyear building a fort at Gigi's house
Gigi's first day babysitting the motley crew