The Doba-days

That’s one of the many nicknames for Dailah (Day-la, lots of people ask how to pronounce her name).

Well, it was her birthday yesterday. I’m kind of refusing to believe that this baby girl of mine, the one born almost a month early, has turned 4. How? What? Why do these years go by so quickly? Not a fan.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I never wanted girls. Not in the way other women do. I’m not really a girly girl. I tried Cosmos during the Sex and the City craze but it never stuck, the only mixed drink I’ve dabbled with is a Gin and Tonic (mama likey).

I guess I’m getting off point. Although moms around the world can understand how I could be talking about our children and naturally stray to talk of stiff drinks.

Anywho, moving along…Dailah, birthday girl.

She is funny, she is smart, she is spunky and sweet. She is a snuggler, she is beautiful, she loves being a little sister but probably not more than she loves being a big sister. Dailah revels in being the lone she-wolf in a pack of hairy, stinky boys. If there is make up or jewelery anywhere within a few miles Dailah can find it. She loves chips and chocolate (proof of her girlhood, obviously). Zach and I could argue for hours over whether she’s a mommy or daddy’s girl but the truth is she’s just naturally gifted at making people feel special.

Dailah’s not perfect, none of my kids are. But she is perfect for us, and I’ll take that any day.

So the birthday girl chose donuts (instead of pancakes, cereal, etc) surprise, surprise.

The boys benefited from her decision making.

We also did our annual measurements. Boy has she grown!

After a bit of play time we decided we could give her her first present. I bought this apron from the Water For Christmas etsy shop. Cute stuff for a good cause? Fuggetaboutit.

Oops, did I mention it came in a “mommy and me” package?

Then it was off to Dailah’s preschool doctor’s appointment. No big deal, though she did end up charming the pants of an otherwise uncharmable doctor (who I love, but is seriously dry). Oh, and got her finger pricked but after a sucker and sparkly band-aid she was ready for her close up again.

After this it was off to the birthday party. At Incredible Pizza. When running into the party, Dailah somehow managed to twist her ankle. It started to swell, she couldn’t put weight on it, good times. Other than that, it actually was a good time.

She opened presents (this one from Ethiopia. A shawl we bought from the Leper hospital). Oops, did I mention I have one too? I might have more than made up for the non-excitement about having a girl since bringing home 2 more boys.

Papa Frank got the girl a bike so this picture was more of a distraction so she wouldn’t see it being wheeled in but it’s cute enough to post.

After all of that excitement Grandma Connie took them all to Build-A-Bear. They were all a little tired, little hungry. The new habeshas specifically were kind of all over the place but we finished with some purty cute little stuffed animals.

Let it be known, I love this girl more than words can say. She rounds out the family in the most awesome way. So, so thankful I get her in my life. I love my sweet, sweet baby girl.

More than a Job

For about 7 hours a week I get to work. It does feel a little silly calling it “work” because I enjoy it so much. I need this, I really do. For those that don’t know, I teach a few fitness classes at a few of our local YMCA’s. It might be the best place on earth to work, and I do believe it’s the best job in the world.

I’ve met some of the most amazing people through this “job”, in fact, most of my very best friends have come to me through the Y. Not only this, but my “job” leaves me with a better spirit, mind and body so how can I complain about it?

One of the classes I teach is called Bodyflow. It’s a class that combines Tai Chi, yoga and pilates and is the bomb diggity. This class even more than the others has brought the core group of people who participates really close. It is 2 of the best hours of my week, working out and bonding with my ladies (and dudes).

So last Tuesday I walked up to my spot in front of the class and there was a little gift bag with my name on the front. I didn’t think much of it because, honestly, they are always bringing me little things I love. But when I looked inside I just started crying. They had gotten together and “showered” me with gift cards. Over $200 worth of gift cards to Wal mart and Target.

Just humbled, I suppose there is no other way to say that. They are some of the most generous, loving women. Right here in Iowa, you should be jealous.

I LOVE this “job”. Love it.

One of the other reasons is because I can just be funky, just be me. Every few months we get to re-launch for the new releases. My sister and one of my besties, Ann, recently got trained in Bodystep so we were excited to launch together. And…it was an 80s theme. So we did this to ourselves:

Clearly my particular look translates better to this decade. This head’s too big for a side pony.

And my Chrissy. My friend who I actually met in Bodyflow and have since talked her into coming to all of my classes. 🙂 She got all jazzed about the 80s too and just went for it.

Seriously went for it (I did get permission before putting this on the interwebs, by the way). If you had any questions as to why I would love her perhaps this is proof enough.

This “job” is a life-giving thing for me. It is the perfect pairing to being a stay-at-home momma.

Oh my sweet, sweet Tariku

I’ve been getting enough junk about not blogging lately that I thought I’d sit down and write one tonight. 🙂

It’s been awhile because:
-I have no pictures
-It’s been too hot to blog (have a hot computer on my lap for more than 1 minute).
-I’m really trying to stay unplugged to technology so I can be “plugged in” to my 5 babes
-By 8pm I am completely exhausted and spend the next 2 hours trying to talk myself into staying awake until 10.

When I kept thinking about what to write tonight, one issue kept coming up. Before I started this I sauntered over to Rebekah’s blog and noticed her post was remarkably similar to what I was going to write. About structure, about comfort, about feelings of safety.

Tariku is struggling. Struggling. Everyone else in the family is doing so well.

Tariku is in a tailspin. This boy who is the sweetest, most loving boy is just clearly feeling like he was put in the rinse cycle.

And it’s so hard, so, so hard to watch him work through this.

I mentioned here about Tariku’s triggers.

I’m trying really hard to keep a schedule, to give Tariku plenty of notice about what’s going to happen for the day/week, etc. But honestly, life with 5 kids has lent itself to a high degree of unpredictability.

Again, he’s still a remarkable boy. It’s not like he’s started to get aggressive or started to do things that are that horrible. But he’s started to make fun of Binyam for random things, play in his bed at night rather than go to sleep, etc. Random things, super random, (quite frankly) annoying things. But it’s not about what he’s doing, it’s about the fact that he continues to do them even when we remind him over and over not to do them.

This is not like him.

Even though my mind tells me he can’t help it, that he’s scared, that he’s trying to find his place in this new family dynamic, it’s hard to get through. Zach is gone a lot with work so it’s just me. And it was super hot last week, turns out I’m not nearly as nice in the extreme heat as I am in a more tolerable climate.

My poor, sweet Tariku.

I hate that I can’t do this one thing for him. I hate that his trauma of the past affects him still. I hate that I can’t heal these wounds for him. I hate that he has these wounds in the first place. I hate, hate that I love him so much and that love is simply not enough in this case. I hate that I can’t look at him and convince him that he will always be with us, a beloved part of this family.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the people who believe that just loving our babes will always be enough.

Because it takes work, it takes guts, it takes balls, it takes all of these things and more.

If you’re adopting and have these rose colored glasses on, you need to chickity check yourself cuz it’s not all flowers. There are some serious skunks in this flower bed of motherhood.

But I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. Because being a mother to Tariku has made me a better mother to the other 4. A better wife to Zach. A better auntie to my 3 nephews. A better sister, daughter, friend. A better everything.

And I love him too much. Seriously too much.

We’ll get through this, as we got throuh those first few weeks/months when I kind of, sort of, hoped he wouldn’t always be in our family.

We got through that and now we’re on the other side, when I need him in this family.

So I’ll hug him when I feel like screaming, I’ll smile when I feel like crying, I’ll whisper “forever” when he feels like “no more”. I’ll do all of this.

Because this is adoption. This is family. This is now, it’s then, it’s someday. It’s all of that.

Today, and everyday, we lean on Grace more than ever before.

It’ll come, it always will.

And when it does, he’ll know I’ll always be his mommy, and he’ll always be my baby. Always. Always.

Fun at the Lake

After meeting with Cindy’s family we decided to head to my parents’ lakehouse. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. It was a risk, we had only been home one week and we’d be without Zach for a few days. We knew all of that but, frankly, I needed to get out of my house for awhile. The house was dirty, it was hot (no a/c), Zach was working a lot, etc, etc. Plus I’m not good at sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

We were planning on just a day or so but then Zach surprised us and drove up for the day (3 hours one way!). So good to have the whole family there. And the kids LOVED it.

Zach, hotflawedmama and the new boys. Teaching them all about life jackets and how they keep you from dying. 🙂

The best darn daddy.

Just kind of loved this image. 4 trunks and 1 swimsuit.

This is the picture I like to call “attachment bootcamp”. I said before that Tomas struggles with his feelings towards me. He wants to love me so much, but his past has taught him not to trust women because they consistently fail him. So I thought maybe I could swim with him in the water, swim eye to eye. He rarely looks me in the eye and it’s hard to work on attachment with a 6-yr-old, let me tell you that. So I wanted him to be able to see he could trust me to keep him safe in the water, at the very least. 45 minutes (yes you read that right) 45 minutes after we started he finally looked me in the eye and smiled. It will be a long road but he is such an amazing little boy, whatever I need to do to prove I’m trustworthy and to prove my love, I’ll do it. This kid is worth it, I promise you that.

Marcus (my brother) and his mini me, Trysten. Their hair ends up the same way after a boat ride.

The kids watching Marcus and his wakeboarding tricks (he’s got mad skills). Loved all of their smiles and giggles. Tomas even gave a thumbs up-something I didn’t even know he knew about.

Here we have the whole family on 2 tubes. If you look closely, Tariku is probably the only kid enjoying it.

Here we have Dailah on a fake phone, bossing someone around. Classic Dailah.

This is better.

I mean, seriously. This boy looks right in my eyes and and breaks my heart nearly every time.

Babies in a boat.

3 Ethiopians in a lake in Iowa. I kept thinking this would be the beginning of a great joke but I couldn’t come up with a punchline. Any ideas?

Cindy and Fam

Last Thursday I finally got to meet a good friend. That sounds weird, I know, but I’ve “known” Cindy through the interwebs for over two years. The Burt clan was driving through Iowa on their way to the Minnesota Mehaber (which we were so very sad about missing, next year, we promise!). So we agreed to meet in Des Moines at their hotel. Mihiret and Tariku were buddies (by “buddies” I mean Tariku is biting/pinching poor Mihiret in the videos) in Ethiopia. It is so fun to see these kids growing up to be quite amazing little people.

Pictures were less than great, but worth showing anyway I think.

Mihiret and Tariku. Yes, proof that Ethiopians are too beautiful for words.

A picture from Dailah’s perspective. I put this on only to point out the necklace I’m wearing. I got it at the bead shop I spoke of in Ethiopia. Love it.

This is literally the best picture I had of the kids. There were 8 kids total so you can see our uphill battle in trying to get a good one of all of them.

And Cindy, a photo by Dailah. Notice her shirt. Do you see one of the reasons I might love her?

How Are We Doing?

So well, so, so well.

It’s hard to believe we’ve already slipped into a rhythm as a family, but we have. Of course there are some growing pains, there are bound to be, but I’m overall impressed with the 3 originals and the 2 newbies.

Truthfully, this is the first day that I don’t feel exhausted the whole day. I’ve been struggling with jet lag/time difference worse than ever this time. At one point a few days ago, mid dinner preparation, I dozed on Trysten’s bed for about 20 minutes. I woke up and the meat was defrosted, so it worked out well I suppose. But that’s how tired I was. Feeling more like myself today, after getting at least 10 hours of sleep every night and a 2 hour nap almost every day (I am so blessed, I know this).

But to the family…Tomas is actually taking the backseat pretty seamlessly. There are times when he is super quiet, and Zach and I feel so bad for him, but he seems to shake it off pretty quickly. I know he misses his friends and caregivers but he seems to be getting used to us. The only thing we struggle with when it comes to Tomas is indiscriminate affection. Tomas still loves to give random hugs and kisses (particularly to men) and shout “I love you” to anyone who will listen. He also calls almost every woman he sees “mommy”. I just make sure I’m holding his hand when we go anywhere we might be meeting strangers and have him stay close by me. After he calls someone “mommy” I look him in the eyes and introduce that person with their name and then point at myself and say “mommy”. Does that make sense? Anyway, this seems to be helping quite a bit in just a few days.

Binyam is doing really, really well. Honestly, it seems like he’s been waiting for a family even more than Tomas was. Every nap and bedtime I put him and Dailah to bed, give them kisses and then leave. Every time he yells “Mommy-ay”. I go in and he just smiles, I give them another kiss then leave. One more time, “”mommy-ay”, go in and he smiles. That’s it, no more after that. It’s quite clear he’s just checking that I’ll come if he needs me, that I won’t leave him. And I won’t. Binyam doesn’t struggle with the indiscriminate affection, if anything he struggles with all the hugs and kisses his brothers and sister force upon him.

The other 3 are doing well, only struggling from time to time with the whole sharing bit. For the first few days they only wanted the toys the 2 boys had (even if they hadn’t touched them for months/years). It’s getting better, probably because I had little patience with that kind of behavior. 🙂 Overall, they are seriously loving the boys. They are loving learning a bit of the language, loving helping them learn how to be in our family. Just. plain. loving it.

I am so, so thankful for that.

As for Zach, poor Zach. He had to go right back to working pretty much. He had Saturday off and then has had to work quite a bit since. Zach didn’t have time to catch up on sleep, didn’t have time to dial into the family dynamics yet. He goes from chaos at camp to chaos at home and, rightfully so, is seemingly overwhelmed. I am counting down the days until August for him.

But dang he’s a good looking man, right? 🙂

Oh, and this is pretty awesome too.

Baby Cash

My nephew was born!!! I am so happy Emily waited to have my nephew until I got back. 🙂

And he is precious, absolutely precious. Side from my biological babes (and probable Ethiopian babes, though I never did see them as babies) he is the most perfect baby I’ve ever seen. So blonde, so big eyed, so perfect. I love him already.

The happy, happy parents (Frank is Zach’s brother, in case you couldn’t tell).

The proud auntie.

The excited cousins (who couldn’t go in to see him at the hospital but are waiting with much anticipation to see baby Cash when he goes home).