Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good Mom

I know this is not breaking news or anything, but being a good mom is so much harder than being a bad mom. It just wears me out. We go out to dinner which, in my book, is a treat all by itself, but then it starts.

Can we have ice-cream for dessert?
No, you already had ice-cream after lunch.
Can we go to the toy store then?
No, we have some errands to do.
But we just want to look, not buy.
No, not this time, honey.
But I'm tired of our toys.
You just got a new lego thing earlier this week.
Well, how about ice-cream then? Can we have just a little ice-cream, pleeeeease?
No, not this time, Sweetie.

I'm not even kidding. This is the actual conversation that we had tonight. Sometimes parenting feels a little like petting a cat backwards.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just a few photos

I must be tired. I'm not coming up with any stories to share with you, no thoughts, no interesting links. Just a few photos today.

This first one was taken when we had our relatives visiting last week. Here are some of the cousins! Beck and Yogi kept referring to them simply as "our friends".
Here's Yogi on the beach on Vashon Island. He loves eating blackberries.

I posted a photo very similar to this on the blog last spring around Easter - the last time I was on Vashon with relatives! It was another beautiful day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ember at the Doctor

Well, our curly bear is growing! I took her to an international adoption specialist for a thorough check-up this week. When we arrived home from Ethiopia she was in the 8th percentile for weight and now she's in the 25th! She's 50th percentile for height and her development is spot on or even a bit early: she's sitting up with a straight back independently, she rolls in all directions, she's sleeping through the night, and she's started solids. Whew! That's a lot of changes for 6 weeks!

The one stumbling block we've had at the doctor is getting blood out of her. They want to do all kinds of tests on her blood, but she's still so little that the staff at the lab couldn't get enough out. So far we've been there twice and she's had 6 attempts to get the needle into a vein. They were successful only once, but they could only draw about a tablespoon of blood so it wasn't enough for all the tests. Our poor little miss has bruises on her wrists and I just can't stand to take her in again soon. I had to hold her while they poked around with the needles and I watched as she broke out in a sweat all over her head. Her screaming was intense.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Portuguese Bridge

Ethiopia travels continued...

Our last stop on our way back to Addis after our picnic by the Blue Nile Gorge, was the Portugeuse Bridge. The sky started to look bruised and swollen and after a few minutes of a strong wind, the rain started and everyone ran for it.

Here is the actual bridge. Apparently when the rainy season is in full swing the river just roars below the bridge. There was only a small trickle when we were there.

When we got out of our SUV and started walking toward the bridge I noticed one boy walking along with us. At one point when I stopped to enjoy the view, he approached me and wanted to sell a marble cross that he'd carved. It was beautiful and only $5 so I said yes. And then suddenly a whole group of boys appeared out of nowhere and circled me, all holding out their marble crosses and baskets, and all telling me they were students. Chris was off taking pictures so I was alone. (thanks a lot, Chris!) And my hands started to sweat and my heart was beating fast and I felt so uncomfortable. Now that I'm writing it, it doesn't sound like a big deal, but when it's your second day in Ethiopia and you don't speak Amharic and you're completely surrounded by people who want and need your money, it makes you want to get the hell out of there. At least that's how I felt -- even though the boys were actually very nice.

So beautiful.

Read it

I just finished a wonderful book: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. It was such a treat, but more like an elegant chocolate mousse in a crystal flute than a candy bar. His writing is spare and beautiful and his observations about his baby boys and his day-to-day experiences in Rome ring true. I wish I could write like that.

Here's a bit that I especially liked:

"...over time, we stop perceiving familiar things - words, friends, apartments - as they truly are. To eat a banana for the thousandth time is nothing like eating a banana for the first time. To have sex with somebody for the thousandth time is nothing like having sex with that person for the first time. The easier an experience, or the more entrenched, or the more familiar, the fainter our sensation of it becomes. This is true of chocolate and marriages and hometowns and narrative structures. Complexities wane, miracles become unremarkable, and if we're not careful, pretty soon we're gazing out at our lives as if through a burlap sack.

Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience - buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello - become new all over again."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Light and Free

Ach, it's been so hot here. Hot and muggy. Even my knees were sweaty today. Is that possible? Can knees sweat? Anyway, we've also had a lot of visiting relatives which is fun and a little extra busy which keeps me away from the computer.

Other than that, I've been busy just catching up with life. I put so many little projects on hold during the entire adoption year -- and some had been on hold since my first pregnancy. Now that Ember is home I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Finally we're done with having babies and recovering from it. We don't have to have any more conversations about whether or not to add to our family and how. Our family feels complete and I feel light and free about it.

I don't think I realized how much mental energy I was putting into the adoption - and before that, our pregnancies. And I'm not saying that it's easy or that I'm not utterly exhausted or that I just walk around glowing with happiness. It's just that for the first time in a very long time, I don't feel preoccupied. And that feels nice.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sweet Tooth

Earlier this week I mentioned to Beck that I had a sweet tooth. And then yesterday morning we were laying in bed chatting when we had this discussion:

Beck: Mama, you know there's something weird... (I always proceed with caution at this point because right after the boys say that I usually end up having to clean something up.)

Me: Yeah? What is it?

Beck: I looked in your mouth and I didn't see a sweet tooth.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Debre Libanos

These photos were taken on our second day in Ethiopia as we headed through the countryside toward the Blue Nile Gorge for a picnic. One of our stops was at the Debre Libanos monastery. A beautiful setting:

When we pulled up our guide turned to me and said, "They will ask you if you have mensblahblahblah." I had no idea what he was talking about so I gave him a blank look and said,"Uh, sorry?". He repeated,"You have mensblahblahblah?" I still had no idea. We went on like this a few more times until Chris got interested, listened for a moment and then looked at me and said very carefully, "MENSTRUATION." Kind of funny at the time and I'm not sure why he made such a big deal about asking me because he wasn't really asking - just informing me that women aren't allowed to enter during that time of the month. Then he went in and bought our tickets.You can see some people wearing yellow which we were told symbolizes hope. When we first stepped inside the light and air seemed so peculiar - as if we were looking though gauze. But then I realized it was just the combination of smoke from burning incense and the diffuse light. And then I heard the chanting. I would've thought it was a recording, but the floor was softly vibrating from the voices and drums. They came from below and the whole effect was other-worldly.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I think Beck understands where Ember came from and how she came to be part of our family. We've looked at lots of pictures of the people in Ethiopia and talked a lot about it. But then he'll say something that makes me think there might be some little holes in his understanding! Like this:

The other day Beck was carefully examining Ember's leg when he looked up and asked Chris, "Daddy, why are babies brown?"


A few days after we returned from Africa and I was so sick, our 5th wedding anniversary came and went without either of us even noticing it. This is not to say that I don't notice how wonderful Chris is, how he brings me a chocolate chip cookie from Specialty's Bakery when I need it most, how happy he is to see me after work, how he listens, how he encourages and supports me, how he makes me laugh! Of course, I often think about how lucky I am - we are - to have found each other. But, we missed it so now I'm thinking about it all the time! And today I found myself reviewing all that has happened to us in the past five years. It's a lot:

1. 5 pregnancies
2. 2 births, one adoption
3. bought a fixer-upper and underwent 2 extensive remodel projects, both requiring that we move out for a time
4. went from being single to having our own party of 5
5. traveled to Ethiopia for our daughter

No wonder I'm tired. And happy!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I was away from the family the whole day birthday lunching with a good friend while Chris and the kids and my father in law visited the museum of flight. It was so sweet to see Ember greet me when I returned. All smiles and giggles, legs kicking. It's the first time where it felt like she actually recognized me as someone special to her. Since she smiles at everyone and seems to feel comfortable with everyone I haven't actually felt like she knows me as her mom - until today!

Those White Bagels!

Yesterday at QFC in the bread aisle where you can also find boxed donuts:

Beck: Mama, see these white bagels?
Me: White bagels?? (He's pointing to boxed powdered sugar donuts.)
Beck: Yeah, those are my favorite bagels!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Round 2

Yogi is wheezing, Ember and Beck have colds. Here we go again. This week hasn't been the greatest and the colds are the last straw. Well, actually maybe the moving violation ticket that I got in the mail today because of a police camera at an intersection in Lynnwood is the last straw. Especially since I know with certainty I wasn't the one driving that day. Or it could be the picnic fiasco yesterday. Blah, blah, blah. Even I'm bored with my whining.

But then today it was just me and my three and we had fun together. The boys even rode their bikes while I walked the stroller with Ember to a "magic garden" a few blocks away. They are so fun. And tonight! It's Chris's turn to get up with Ember so at least the weekend is off to a good start!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Happy Tired

Ok, ok, I admit it; three is hard. At least one of them needs something all the time and sometimes it's all three. They make up for it by being so sweet and cute all the time, but still I'm dreaming of a hammock, a good book, a light nosh, and a cold drink all by myself.

Today was hot - white and fuzzy hot. The kind of day where everything looks over exposed and a little dirty which didn't help matters. Being trapped in a small exam room at the doctor's office for an hour and twenty minutes with all 3 of them didn't help either. I'm feeling pretty burned out. Happy, but tired.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lawn Art

Chris asked me to wipe the drool off of her face

so he could take this!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Beyond Addis

On one of the days that we hired the guide service, we took a drive outside of Addis on the paved road leading around the northern historical circuit. Our drive took us as far as the Blue Nile Gorge where we stopped for a picnic and then headed back with a few stops along the way.
As you can see in the photos the landscape was beautiful - wide open with columnar basalt outcroppings, dotted with trees and little clusters of circular mud houses topped with grass roofs. Out in the fields there were children with herds of goats or just children playing around together, men plowing small fields with simple plows and a pair of oxen, girls carrying loads on their backs along the road, people hauling water from the central pumps. The landscape reminded me of parts of Wyoming or Montana. The air was clean and the sky so big. I couldn't help but think that life out there would be all right.
We didn't see one tractor. Everyone seemed to using their own homemade plows with two oxen.Below you can see people visiting a place with holy water. They go there for healing and usually these buildings were near a church.
We were told the grass roofs need to be replaced every 10 years. I told you it was pretty!