October 28, 2011

Here's to...

Flowers from strangers. 
I ended up having surgery just before Jason came home. Another soldier's parents sent me flowers.           
Who does that?

First day home. 

Fighting over his lap.

First day back at work. 
I woke up in the middle of the night to help a crying kid. I couldn't stop laughing that he'd written a reminder to himself to put toast on the plate for breakfast.

To really be able to say, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth..."

Kids not fighting, and saying, "Take a picture of me, too!"

Not needing pants to be cool.

October 18, 2011


Last year we jumped off our deployment cliff.
Now 4-10 soldiers (4th Brigade 10th Mountain Division)  are coming home.

Thousands of them.

I get a big stupid smile on my face every time I hear that a friend's husband has come home. That kids are hugging their moms or dads for the first time in months and months and months. That mothers who waited for so long, can cup their grown son's or daughter's face. Kiss their cheeks. Feed them and try to make up for lost time in calories. That fathers can shake hands and say things like, "I'm proud of you son" or "I knew my daughter would do well." That spouses can hold the one who left that cold, empty place in bed.  That the ones with children of their own can feel those precious little bodies against their hearts. Feel the whispers of, "I missed you dad " against their necks. Wrestle with their offspring on the floor. Learn the names of dolls. See pictures that were drawn just for them. Enjoy the presence of the people who matter most.

Some Fort Polk soldiers have headed out for deployments elsewhere.

Some families are being made complete.
Some have just separated.

Not all soldiers made it home.

Some families will never be complete again.
I hope they know they aren't forgotten.

Soldiers changed.

Some grew into someone they don't recognize;
were revealed for who they've always been...good or bad;
learned compassion, patience, loyalty, and forgiveness;
failed in ways they could not fathom;
accomplished what they didn't think they could;
 refused to become what they hate; 
 made it home by the skin of their teeth.

 Weariness. Trauma. Sadness. Temptations. Wounds. Fear. Hopelessness. Mistakes. Mind-numbing boredom. Infidelity. Pain. Stress that consumes every pore. Insomnia.  Illness. Loss. Depression. Rage with no viable focus. Enemies with no face. Loneliness with no easy remedy. Bone-tired body with no fuzzy slippers in sight.

 Whatever it was.

Some changes are good.

Some people learned there are more important things than him remembering to pick up his socks;
that whether or not you agree on everything in life-- you have a partner who sincerely loves you and wants to help make life better;
that you want to make his life better, too;
that to have him lie next to you in bed and hear his steady breathing is worth more than anything;
that the stress that was stress before seems like a walk in the park today;
that he wants to spend more time playing with his children;
that being "alone" for a year forced you to see that being "alone" would be a choice and not a reality, because your life was overflowing with people willing to walk with you;
that maybe we don't get second chances;
that life is finite, and opportunities to fill it with good are not always handed to you on a silver platter;
that sometimes they are handed to you on a silver platter and you should always keep a watchful eye;
that you might have to fight with everything in you to live the life you want to live;
that you should never stop fighting for that;
that you have been given opportunities to love --not just your family, but the people you meet every day--  and you hope you don't squander them;

some changes are good.

Life is complicated.

And simple.

September 16, 2011

Happy Birthday

Because I still can't believe he's mine.
Because I'm thankful for his friendship these past eleven years.
Because he had my heart the first time he pushed me down in the snow. The first time I heard him call his mother. The first time he met my family and was left for dead with all my brothers and sisters. The first time he laid those stolen tulips on my parent's doorstep when I had cold feet...

Doggedly loyal.
Idiosyncratically intelligent.
Funny. Loud.
Fiercely in love with his children.
Makes his wife feel like a supermodel.

Because I know his parents would be exploding with pride
 at who their son has become.
Just like we are.
Because he never gave up on me.
Because he has anchored his family to something bigger than who we are today.
Because he dreams big dreams with me.
Because he didn't let others determine his path.

Because I'm so thankful for the day he was born,
I wanna say,

Happy Birthday Jason.

We love you and can't wait for you to come home~


September 15, 2011

The Problem with Four-Year-Olds

The problem with four-year-olds is that they are so breathtakingly cute one moment. 
And the next moment, one might feel they belong in a kennel. 
In a straight-jacket.

One moment they might squish your cheeks and tell you what a good mom you are, how beautiful you are and how they never want to leave home. And the next moment, they might take advantage of your time in the shower to take a basketfull of your poor woman's no-bake cookies, crumble them to pieces, and then blissfully run through the house throwing those chocolaty crumbs of goodness into the air shouting, "Happy Birthday! You are married now! Happy Birthday and wedding day!" And, even though you vacuum like a mad woman, threaten their very life and pull out your own hair in penance...a fine, strong line of sugar ants will greet you the next morning to remind you of how thoroughly those crumbs were disbursed.

One moment, while walking into the grocery store for a late night milk run, they might comment on how beautiful the moon is. The next moment they might be lying on the floor screaming that it was their turn to sit in the grocery kart and that they never get anything they want. You will once again be the crazy lady with five kids in the grocery store, and why are you out so late anyway? And, are those all your kids? And, *ah* you poor thing...

One moment they will adoringly watch you put those groceries away, jabbering on and on about how thankful they are for the food in their house. The next moment, you might be gathering a search party for said four-year-old because they mysteriously vanished. You will panic. Then you will discover a locked bedroom door, with seemingly no inhabitant. After unlocking the door you might discover that the flattery from before was all a ruse. For all that time they were really planning on sneaking off with a chocolate bar, locking themselves in a bedroom, hiding under a bed and devouring the melting candy in minutes. If only they had thought to rid themselves of incriminating evidence such as the smears of chocolate on their face, hands and carpet beneath their belly. The candy wrapper clutched in their hands...

One moment you won't be able to stop looking at their impish grin and unabashed joy while they, "help" you wash dishes by hand. Cloaked in the apron of honor, bubbles up to their elbows, water haloed around their feet on the floor, absolute happiness radiating from their fingertips and ears, heart-shaped clouds filled with rainbows, butterflies and unicorns hanging over their head. They will assure you that they won't leave until every dish is washed. They will see rainbows in the bubbles and lose their concentration for minutes at a time. "O! There's another one! I see a rainbow!!" They will talk about how happy they are now that they are big enough to help wash dishes. You might laugh to yourself, knowing how long this joy in doing chores will last. But, even you will have to acknowledge  the wonderfulness of a child like yours. And then, the next moment they might fill every cup in a cupcake pan with dish soap, also engaging their younger sister in the experiment. They will tell you slowly  and seriously that they were pretending to be assassin spies, and the soap was poison for their cupcakes. You won't know what bothers you more; the soapy mess on hands, counter and pans or the toddler assassin spies.

And then, one morning you will wake up to the usual chaos and run a load of dishes into the dishwasher.

You might hear an unusual, muted sound. Like water spraying a wet blanket.

Something won't be right.

You will look and see that there are most definitely bubbles coming out of that dishwasher.

You will know how they got there.

You will see the bottle of dish soap. Hear the confession. Hope that it doesn't ruin your semi-new dishwasher.

Maybe stomp your feet.

Maybe laugh.

You will know that this time is short.

And, as much as you rail, "train," "discipline," dole out consequences, and take away *gasp* t.v. for the day.

You will know that this child is some of the best days of your life.

You will know that when this time is over, the moon might never look the same.

That the quiet, empty house with no messes will break you heart.

You will know that going to the grocery store without tantrums will be heaven.


Okay, so not everything will lose its luster in life.

You will know that depression, deployments, moves, messes, chaos, sadness, uncertainty. All those things were made worthwhile with the reality of living for something, someone, or someones bigger than yourself.

The problem with four-year-olds is that they trick you into enjoying  life.

They make you see the moon, share your love of chocolate, imagine cupcake assassins,  look for rainbows in bubbles, see washing dishes as an adventure, and view the dishwasher as a machine of wonder.

September 14, 2011


After spending over a month in Oregon,
it was nice to pull into the driveway and sleep in my own bed last week.

The bed (that is not in my driveway, but inside our home in a bedroom) was nice.

Being home was nice.

But do you know what was nicest of all?


Our little suburban outlaw chickens. 
The ones that remain after four, yes four roosters were weeded from the group. 
Three hens and one rooster. 
They started laying.
And, those chickens laid us some beautiful, perfect little eggs. 

And then they stopped.

 They were laying like crazy the first two days we were home. 

And now...now there is only silence where the soft thud of an egg should be.

They all walk around like it never happened.

Perhaps it's no longer worth it for them.

For all I know, they could have stopped laying.

An egg strike.

Or a rat.

Or a snake.

If it is an outside job; I do not look forward to discovering what it is.


Those were some beautiful eggs...

May 16, 2011

Seven months too many...

I only thought to get a couple pics, but Jason is home for R & R.  
He's checking out Kennedy's loose tooth in the last two. 
It's crazy to me how normal it feels to have him home again. The military prepares soldiers for their families to not need them, and for life to be different when they come home. 
And, life is different.
  However, there is a place for Jason in our family that can never be taken by anyone or anything.

Reagan hopped out of the van and ran straight into his arms. Which was pretty significant to us, since she has officially spent more time away from him than she has with him. Since he's been home, we have gotten in arguments over who the real daddy is. I'll say, "Where's daddy?" She'll point at the computer. When Jason says, "No, I'm daddy!" She'll giggle and say, "Noooo. *points to computer* Dat Daddy!"

Jack sat in the van on the way home and kept saying, "I feel like this is a dream." He had a goofy smile on his face for a whole ten minutes. Before the honeymoon wore off and his started bickering with his other backseat siblings.

 It is AMAZING to be through the bulk of the deployment.
 I know we still have a ways to go...and I can't predict the future. 
But, I'm feeling pretty thankful for what we have as a family. 

Can't complain.

May 6, 2011

Real Sportsmanship

Tonight I had been putting off playing catch with Lincoln. Had to make dinner. Had to chat with a friend. Had to clean up dinner...blah, blah, blah. So, I finally got that urgent feeling of inadequacy. That feeling you get when your kid is old enough to remember how you blew him or her off. When you realize they aren't two and incapable of remembering what they had for breakfast. I guess guilt and pride can be good motivators.

That, and I heard him throwing the baseball on the roof. Which was annoying.

So, I headed out to play catch. Something I think I've done maybe three or four times my whole life. He kept giving me  pointers. Which was annoying.

We had been playing for about 15 minutes. Him grinning ear to ear. Me having to run after the ball. Which was annoying. 

When...I heard a little kid saying, "Eh? Eh?"

That's Amharic for, "Hey, I know I'm too little and wimpy to play. But I really think I'd be an asset to your team."

Reagan had been standing there watching us play. Managed to put on Lincoln's batting glove...and stood patiently waiting to be included.



And, yes. I've pretty much given up on braids this past month. This is what her hair has looked like a lot lately. I try to fluff it up when we go out...but a majority of the time she has bed-head fro.

Don't judge me.

I'll get it right someday.

So, Lincoln and I included her in a little triangle of catch. 'Course she was no good at it. She was happily oblivious. Now, SHE was grinning ear to ear. And, if it seemed like Lincoln or I weren't throwing the ball to her often enough...she would emphatically pat her belly and say, "Eh! Eh!" Din-Din! Mah-Maaaah!"

So we played. And...it wasn't very annoying.

It was more...cute.



While we were outside...some other kid had a bathroom emergency and I had to go be the maid.

When I came out awhile later...they were still playing.

I know it's just catch. 
And, I know that families should love each other. So, I'm not sure I can put into words how good this makes me feel.

My son loves his sister. He loves her a lot. He includes her. She wants to be included. 

We are family. 

Sometimes that hits me randomly and hard. It's mind boggling.

 I get so caught up in the mechanics of having kids. The failures. The getting from point a., to point b. The feelings of inadequacy. Just being plain dog tired and sometimes depressed. Racking my brain on how to work better as a family. To have a home that isn't so chaotic. I start looking for validation ANYWHERE but home. When you are a stay at home mom...yeah sure, you know your job is important. But it's also just A dimension of who you are. I think being a mother will be one of the biggest investments and pouring out of self I will ever take part in. Still...still...it's not ALL of me. It's hard. And, it can seem WAY too big of a job.

 Yet, sometimes, if I would just get up...
Be humbled.

It would be so much more fun.

My tank was filled to the brim by my children tonight. It cost nothing. It was free. 
Waiting for me
I almost missed it...

It's hard for me to imagine...
But there are things in my life that are better than medication (I think). 
Better than organization (again--perhaps). 
Better than chocolate (just slightly).
Better than a nap (usually).
Better than calm.

Those things are...little glimpses of love in its most naked form. 

Oh sure. 
I see PLENTY of ugly, selfish, angrytattley, lazy..."normal," behaviors, too. Sometimes by looking in the mirror. Sometimes acted out by little people.

But on days like today...they are a drop in the bucket.

April 29, 2011

Adoption Journals

Adoption milestones are popping up every time I turn around. 
We just celebrated Reagan's 2nd birthday a few weeks ago. 
Around her first birthday, I spent more than one night boo-hooing the hours away. 
 Feeling absolutely sick to my stomach.
 There were times I felt if we couldn't, "make it there" by her 1st birthday--
nothing would turn out right
I was sure that our bonding would be forever screwed.
 That in those few weeks...she would be lost. 
Stupid--but true.
This invisible clock starts ticking away moments. 
I felt so helpless.
You get lost in the vagueness of it all.
So many unknowns.
February, March and April were miserable months for me in 2010.  

Looking back, I feel like I was pretty detached as far as our bonding went. 
There never seemed to be enough time to prepare for this new life.
When we started this process, Jason was taking a world record amount of credits at Eastern Oregon University.  Then, he graduated, joined the Army, left...and it was my job to sell our house, move the kids, and work on adoption stuff. I emailed him her referral picture while he was at O.C.S.

I loved her.

But, it seemed like...say, you've been separated from you husband (or whoever you love) for a long period of time...and right as he walks through the door, your kid poops their pants, dinner burns, fire alarms go off, and you stub your toe just as you meet him.

"I love you! I'm glad you're home! But...there's all this stuff going on. "


We had so much on our minds.
Where would we be stationed? What job field would he get? Would our house sell?
 I hear other adoptive mothers talk about how much it mimicked pregnancy for them. 
The preparations. 
The longing. 
My experience seemed so chaotic.

 More like a bad romance. 

A drive. 
A determination. 
No matter what--this child needed a home. We, "oooh-oooh-oooh-ed" and raised our hands to claim a child (in a non-materialistic sense of the word) whatever child we got, and that was her. We needed to do what it took to get her home.

What does that even mean?

 I kept thinking, "Just get her home...then you can bond."

It reminded me of pregnancy I guess. 
That last month, when you would push down an old woman in the street,  if that meant you could have your freakin' baby already.

Yeah, that's what it felt like.

I forgot to pray over her many nights before she came home. 
That made me feel terribly guilty. 
When I would pray, it would sound like this, "GOD!!! I don't know what I'm doing. I've always desired this. From my core. Why is it so hard?! So complicated. Please love her for me. Please hold her for me. Please. Please. Please make this happen--despite the chaos in our lives."

My kids would remind me, they would pray for her, talk about her...love her
That humbled me.

I'm still humbled and amazed that from point a. to point b., she made it into our arms. Into our home. Into our lives.

 Grafted into my heart. Breaking it and healing it all at once.


Since it's Spring Break around here, and we are still working on organizing this house *cough.* Since my sister's about to have a baby, my mom will be coming to visit, and hopefully sometime soon...my husband will be coming home for R and R. I thought I would post some of our travel buddy's journals. I'm not sure that's on the horizon for me. I wish I had kept a journal. But I didn't. 
These guys all have different perspectives of the same trip, same care center, same agency.

So without further ado, in alphabetical order:

Amazing, kind, beautiful family. 
In the process of adopting again, less than a year after their first adoption. 
Go see why...

Slightly (REALLY) jealous that these guys are heading back to Ethiopia soon. 
Really wish I could go with them. 
While we were in Ethiopia, I loved sitting near her. She was constantly asking our driver questions. So, vicariously through her, I learned much more about Ethiopia than I would have otherwise.
Drop by to read their story...

I would start at the very beginning. Then keep reading.
 I love her writing. 
I love the details of every day life in Ethiopia. 
She writes about things I had forgotten. 
She's funny. 

Finally, Jamey. 
The woman who writes about things that have rolled around in my head, but I haven't always given voice to. She's been therapeutic for me in my own adoption journey. 
Very focused on the what happened between child and parent.

 I tried to pronounce, "Zehlahlum," for the first time just now. 

Say that three times fast.

April 8, 2011

Happy Birthday

(A bazillion pictures to honor Miss. Ray. We love you babe!)


                               9 mo.?                                

                         13 mo.,Ethiopia, May 2010                          


Lousiana, May 2010

June, 2010

 (Reagan had just gotten in trouble for something, and Lincoln was trying to comfort her by sharing music. One of my favorite pictures. Her sad little tear, and him helping her the best way he could.)

July, 2010

  August, 2010

September, 2010

October, 2010

November, 2010

 December, 2010

January, 2011

February, 2011

March, 2011