Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our New Digs

We're here now. The dust is still settling, but we're in (and so is all of our stuff). I have LOTS to share...but I'm lacking the time to do it right now.

Christmas was wonderful. The boys really enjoyed the visit to "Tractor" Grandpa and Grandma's house, and especially loved the visit from Santa. Jellybean said he got everything he asked for...and Peanut said that he got ALMOST everything he wanted. ;o) His birthday is coming up pretty soon, so maybe mom and dad can make up where Santa was lacking.

The move to our new house was complicated by bad weather. What could we expect in December? The first day of our move we had really icy road conditions...and Zack had to do some serious work to get the truck into the driveway. It was dicey for a while...but thankfully no one slipped and fell on the ice. The second day of the move, we had snow to deal with (though, thankfully the snow didn't get heavy until after the truck was unloaded).

If it weren't for my friend Josh, we wouldn't be in our new place (or at least all of our stuff wouldn't be here). Our helping hands fell through (also pretty expected during the holidays) so Josh was our only extra set of hands. And to be honest, I was pretty useless for loading the truck since someone had to entertain the small boys. Once stuff arrived at the new place, I pitched in. So...thank you Josh...we owe you.

On top of moving, we had our readoption hearing yesterday. All went well and now everything is totally official and finalized. Whew!

We've been thinking a lot lately about what we were doing last year at this time. Zack is especially longing for Ghana...he totally fell in love with the country and since he was in Ghana at this time last year, he is feeling the tug to go back. Last year Zack arrived at Eban House on Christmas morning (wearing a Santa hat and bearing gifts, I might add). He arrived back home with the boys on January 6th. During the time he was gone, I spent time finishing the boys quilts and hanging on every word that Zack emailed me about our sons that I had never met, but who I loved so much already.

My what a year its been!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Normal (or something)

For those of you who don't know...we're moving. Finally. We are buying a house and moving out of our current place. Its a terribly exciting time, but also very stressful. After all...we're moving...over the holidays...and its winter. So not fun. You'd think we would have thought that out a little better.

For the past week or so, we've been slowly packing up our stuff and piling up the boxes. This means that we're living in even more cramped space than normal around here; as the boxes cut into our living space. I've been making tons of phonecalls trying to set up new daycare arrangements, getting our utilities arranged, and preparing our sons for the new house and a new school.

This morning as we were sitting down at the breakfast table (you know, after I moved the boxes off the table and put them in the middle of the living room floor so we could eat) Peanut declared, "Mommy, I just want everything to be normal!"

Hmmm...me, too.

Hopefully life will get back to "normal" relatively soon. And don't worry...once we close on the house, there will definitely be pictures! Though, it may have to wait until after the holidays when we are moved in...and we have the internet hooked up.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Why I'm so Busy

There's a new post HERE about why life is unusually crazy around here lately.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Peanut Funny

This afternoon we had to make a quick run to the laundromat. Yuck. Our dryer died again and I didn't have it in me to find a place to put two loads of laundry to dry. I loaded all the laundry, two kids, and a few toys in the van and headed off to the big, bad laundromat. Thankfully, Monday at 4:00pm is not exactly a busy time. I got the laundry going, had the boys sit down at one of the tables with their toys and let them entertain themselves. Not long after sitting down I hear Peanut singing

"Jingle Bells, Tinker Bells, Tinkle all the way..."

I think we'll have to work on the lyrics just a bit before Christmas.

Memory Lane

When I was a senior in college, I decided to take advantage of the great travel abroad opportunities available and headed off for a month-long trip to Tanzania. My advisor was leading the trip and I knew it would be the trip of a life-time. The course was "Natural History of Tanzania" which meant I would be spending a month on a camping safari in the African bush. I was beyond excited. It was the first time I was leaving the North American continent...it would be the first time I'd ever see the ocean...and my flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam on my way to Tanzania was my first-ever commercial flight.

The trip more than lived up to my expectations. It changed my perspective. It changed me. It is fair to say that my journey to adoption began during that trip to Tanzania.

I met some of the most incredible people in there. People who had so little, but who were willing to give it all to make this group of American students comfortable. People whose lives were hard, but whose smiles were the broadest I've ever seen. People who had so much to do, but who stopped their work to help us learn more about their culture.

One of my favorite people was our driver, A. He worked so hard making sure all of us had everything we needed, that we had the most comfortable ride possible, and that we got close enough to all the animals to get the good pictures. After driving all over Tanzania, A became a hero to many of us (those of you who have traveled on African roads will know why). He was an expert...and he always wore a friendly smile.

A few years after the trip, I re-connected with my college advisor and got caught up with news from the friends I made during my time in Tanzania. It was during this catch-up session that I learned that A had passed away; a victim of AIDS.

I was surprised to hear this news. A was a fortunate person in Tanzania; he had a good job with wonderful employers, and he made a relatively good wage. How could A have died of AIDS? Couldn't he afford the medicine he needed? Couldn't he have asked his employers for help? Couldn't he have asked some of the wealthy safari travelers he befriended for help if he needed it?

The truth is, the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS was so strong he couldn't admit to anyone that he had it. He couldn't ask for help. He knew that if people knew he had it, his family would suffer the consequences. So he suffered and died because of the stigma attached to HIV in his culture.

If A became a statistic of this disease, then what hope is there for the millions of children who are victims of this epidemic?

We have to be their hope. Did you get that? We have to be their hope.

When I think of HIV/AIDS, I don't think of a collection of faceless people who live somewhere else. I think of A's wide smile...I think of the beautiful faces of the children who have been adopted by friends...I think of stoic faces of birth parents who have surrendered their children to orphanages with the hopes that they do not have HIV and can have a life full of hope and promise with a new family...I see the faces of children who look just like my Jellybean and Peanut.

These faces are the faces of real people. People who deserve to have hope. People who deserve to be loved.

Please remember them today (and every day).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Jellybean Funny...

This morning, we were at my parent's house scrounging for breakfast before our long drive home. My mom mentioned that she had some Cocoa Krispies in the pantry and offered them to Jellybean. He's had them before and liked them, so he said that he did want some for breakfast. After one bite, he looked at me and said "Mommy...I think I don't want this breakfast anymore." Ok...I told him to try one more bite to make sure he didn't like it. If he really didn't like it, we'd find something else for him to eat. He complied...and concluded that he did not like it.

"Mommy...I don't like this cereal because its oval. I only like circles and squares and rectangles."

Hmm...I wonder what it is about oval cereal that is so unappetizing...


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with my family in central Minnesota. The drive was long, but the boys did great. We spent 4 nights at my parent's farm and after 2 the boys declared they wanted to "sleep at Grandma and Grandpa's house every night". We had a great Thanksgiving dinner...my mom makes the best dressing and cranberry bread (along with all the other standard Thanksgiving food). We shared in a family tradition of baking Christmas cookies on Friday. We went to the Christmas tree farm to pick out my parent's tree and go for a horse-drawn wagon ride.

All in all it was a great weekend. We're looking forward to our next visit up north.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Oh dear blog readers...I do apologize for my lack of posts recently. I promise to try to do better in the near future. We've had lots of things going on around here. There are lots of things I want to tell you all - like visits from friends from out of town - looking at houses and *maybe* finding our future home, *maybe* - and preparations for the holidays.

There are also other things going on that I'm not sure I want to talk about just yet.

And there are plenty of things ahead of us that I'm sure will provide lots of blog fodder in the future - like the upcoming holidays and visiting family. And, if we did find that house and we end up moving, I'm sure that will provide endless hours of blog compositions as I procrastinate packing that last box or vacuuming the ginormous dust bunnies that have accumulated under the beds in our current place. Oh, and I'm sure that finding the secret stash of matchbox cars under the couch will be pretty exciting for the two little boys in our house, too.

Basically, all this is to say that lately I just haven't been feeling very creative. I have lots to say (as always), but I just don't feel like its all that important at the moment. And to be honest, my free time lately has been spent with my nose in a book. Because sometimes getting lost in a good story is a great way to use your free time.

I'll be back.
With pictures.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I saw this on my friend Anita's blog and promptly decided to steal it and stick it here. Watch it. That's all I have to say.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Friend Carolyn

Back in July and August, I posted a few times reminding people to pray for my friend Carolyn and her daughter in Ethiopia. If you've been keeping up on their story, you know they are home now and doing great.

Carolyn's family recently took part in producing a video to advocate for the adoption of HIV+ children. The video is amazing and you can see it HERE.

If you are considering adopting a child with HIV, you need to watch it. If you have friends or family members who are considering adopting a child with HIV, you need to watch it. If you are someone who could NEVER consider adopting a child with HIV, you need to watch it. Adopting a child with HIV is do-able...and the stigmas attached to HIV are based entirely on mis-information and prejudice.

Carolyn is one of my heroes. Someday when I grow up, I want to be like her.

Monday, November 10, 2008


For the last couple of weeks, we've had that nasty autumn cold raging through our home. The resident Daddy seems to be mostly immune (so far), but Jellybean, Peanut, and the Mommy all have had our share of runny noses and coughs.

Its disgusting.

But even more disgusting is the fact that Peanut has decided that its not enough to just have to blow snot out of his nose...he has to look at it and react.

So, after each nose blow, he holds open the kleenex and walks over to show me, saying:

Yeah, kiddo...that's gross.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


For the past couple of weeks the boys have been telling me that they miss the "slow" (snow). They want it to snow so they can build a snow man and go outside to play in it. They keep reminding me that it "take a long time" for the snow. And I keep trying to convince them that we will be just fine if the snow holds off for a while longer. After all, if the snow comes back, then the COLD comes back, too.

Well, its November now and the cold is coming. A cold front is moving through. Today's high is 50 degrees (with rain showers) and tomorrow the high is 38 degrees, with snow flurries in the forecast. And I'm sure it will head downhill from there.

Its that time of year again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


This morning as we were driving around in the mini-van after we dropped Jellybean off at school, Peanut decided he needed to tell me something.

Peanut: "Mommy...I'm proud of Uncle Bama. Are you proud of Uncle Bama?"

Me: "Yes...I am proud of Barack Obama...and I'm proud of our country, too."

Peanut: "Is daddy proud of Uncle Bama?"

Me: "I'm sure he is...but you can ask him when you see him."

Peanut: "Ok. I want to ask him now."

Barack Obama is not a perfect man, he wasn't the perfect candidate, and he won't be the perfect president. But I can say, without reservation, that I am celebrating today. I cried when I watched Jesse Jackson cry, I cried as I listened to President Elect Obama speak last night, and I had tears in my eyes when my son said he was proud of "Uncle Bama".

I am thankful today. Thankful that I live in a country where a President Obama can be a reality. I am thankful that I live in a country where I can cast my vote without fear. I am thankful that I live in a country where I have faith in the fairness of the vote. I am thankful that I live in a country where people can disagree vehemently, but do so without violence. And I am thankful that I live in a country where the candidate who lost the election concedes with grace and dignity. The people of our country should be proud of both of our candidates.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


With hope and joy tonight.

Now on with the healing and the celebrating...change is coming!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween (the narrative)

For some reason, blogger isn't letting me see my pictures in the post editing page...so I can't write narrative between the photos. Oh well.

Our Halloween celebrating started (for Jellybean) one week ago Friday, when Jellybean's kindergarten class held their "harvest party". That weekend my parents came to visit and we decided to go to Living History Farms Family Halloween on Saturday evening. We went with Z's sister and her family and we had a ton of fun. The boys dressed in their costumes, did a little round of trick-or-treating, roasted marshmallows, ate kettle corn, listened to "spooky" stories, walked through a pathway lit by jack-o-lanterns and generally had a good time. Plus, it was really fun for the grandparents to see the boys experience Halloween festivities for the first time. All weekend, Peanut referred to my parents as "Grandma and the Cowboy" because my dad wears a Stetson hat this time of the year. Everyone got a kick out of that!

Last night was officially Halloween, so it was trick-or-treat night. Because Z is gone this weekend for Army duties, I convinced my friend Karen to go with us to "keep me company" (really it was so that I could use her hands to help me keep track of both of my super-heroes). We all had a good time, even though during the last 10 minutes of it Peanut kept asking "are we done yet?" Apparently, he'd had his fill of the activity (but Jellybean wasn't ready to be done). We didn't go for very long, and we didn't even go to that many houses (at least it didn't feel that way), but they came home with a ton of candy!

At the end of the night, we changed into our jammies and sat down to watch "Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". All in all, it was a great night (we just wish Daddy would have been home to join us).

Friday, October 31, 2008


Why can't it be easy??

Ugh. Life this past couple of weeks have been crazy. We've had a wedding one weekend, a visit from grandma and grandpa the next weekend, and a busy weekend this weekend, too. Add to that doing all the laundry that adds up, cleaning, cooking, housekeeping and looking at houses, makes for an extra-busy time.

Z and I have decided that we are going to look seriously at housing options for our family. Housing prices are down a bit...and it seems like it could be a good time to buy, for those who can secure a loan. We've been weighing our options and to be honest, I'm having a bit of a hard time. I LOVE the town we live in. I LOVE the school that Jellybean goes to. I would LOVE to find a home in our current school district to make our own. But the problem is that every home we've looked at in our current town (regardless of school district)in our price range has some serious issues. Either the house is a MAJOR fixer-upper, or its way too small, or there is NO yard. Yuck! Sure, if we had $50,000 more to spend we'd have a lot more options, but right now we just don't have that. So...we've started branching out...looking at homes in smaller towns in the area. We can get A LOT more for our money if we just go 10 miles from our current town.

But...then I get a tinge of sadness about leaving Jellybean's school district. For a town in central Iowa, this school is amazingly diverse. There are children from ALL over the world in this one school. And there are families who look like ours. There are children who look like Jellybean and Peanut. That's important to us.

All the schools in our area are good schools. I have no doubt that if we move to another town our kids will get a good education. But...the other towns simply do not have the amount of diversity that you can find in this university town.

So, I'm waffling...I'm flip-flopping. I want the best for my kids. I want to have it all (the nice house with the nice yard in the great school district). But, we're just not finding it.

I'm not sure what we're going to do...but I do know that we are SO READY to have a place of our own!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Their dad says they have a PhD in adorability....

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of attending Z's brother's wedding. The wedding was beautiful....and all three of my boys were included as part of the wedding. So this meant that I got to spend all day Saturday with 3 of the best dressed men around.

The boys did a great job being ring bearers. On Friday evening at rehearsal, we were a little concerned about how things would go on Saturday. Jellybean's job was to pull a wagon carrying the adorable flower girl, and Peanut needed to walk in front of Jellybean with the other (very handsome) ring bearer carrying a ring pillow. During the first walk-through, Peanut had a meltdown half-way down the aisle where all the confusion and nervousness came out in full-on tears and crying. During the second walk-through Jellybean tried to pass the other two ring-bearers while walking down the aisle pulling the wagon. Apparently, they weren't moving fast enough for him.

After some additional coaching the day of the wedding, the boys were ready. And they ALL did a great job! Everyone made it down the aisle (with smiles on their faces)! They were all so proud of themselves (and we were pretty proud, too).

They all lived through the picture-taking with only minor meltdowns. Considering they were all way more tired than a typical day and the fact that there was WAY more excitement than a typical day, I think they all did great!

Here are some pictures so you all can enjoy the adorability, too...

The boys ended the day by dancing the night away. They had SO MUCH FUN at Uncle Benny and Aunt Tanya's wedding!! It was so great to see everyone who was able to come and to catch up with people we haven't seen in ages (some the boys had never met...and others that I hadn't even met yet).
Thank you for including us in your special day Benny and Tanya!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Political Funny

Z and I are news and politics junkies. This political season has us all in a tizzie...its like its the Super Bowl or something around here. I make fun appetizers for debate watching nights...we tune in to CNN every morning and evening...and check the online news sources for news reports throughout the day. Its like an addiction, really.

But, it also means that the boys often hear us talking about Barack Obama and John McCain. They are definitely household names around here.

This afternoon, I was letting the boys watch a little Spongebob Squarepants when the Nickelodeon version of a political add came on during a commercial break. The "Kids Pick The President" add features both Senator Obama and Senator McCain. When the add was over, Jellybean turned to me and said:

"Mommy - look! Its Uncle Bama and John The Cane!"

It was too funny not to post for all of you to enjoy.

Jellybean Funny...

The other day at dinner we were all being a bit on the silly side. We were telling funny stories, making funny faces, and laughing like crazy. It was during this time that Jellybean decided to tell a joke. Jokes are new to this kiddo and he doesn't quite "get" what it is about the joke that is really funny. But, he so wanted to contribute to the conversation, that he pulled out something he heard at school (though he didn't remember it just right).

"Mommy! Make like a banana and leave!"

We all laughed so hard...and then I had to tell him what the joke was supposed to be (well, I told him what both jokes are supposed to be).

7 Random Things

Carolyn tagged me! Thanks, Care! And, she said I was "cool". Truth is...Carolyn is WAY cooler than I am. And she has a heart of gold.

So, now I have to come up with 7 Random Things about me. Hmm...
(I don't remember if I've done another random list like this before or not...so if you've heard some of these things about me already, I apologize.)

1. I got a tattoo - yesterday. This is a picture of the Adinkra Symbol that I had tattooed on my back. My tattoo doesn't look exactly like this (since the tattoo artist - Izzy - did some interesting stylizing and shading). Someday, perhaps, I will post a photo of the actual tattoo (maybe on the other blog).

This symbol is one that has special importance to me. During graduate school, I made the decision that I was going to get a tattoo when I finally finished my degree. I did my research on ferns, and so it seemed fitting that I should get a tattoo of a fern. Then, Z and I decided to move forward with our adoption plans and the tattoo idea got pushed to the back-burner. I knew I still wanted one and I knew that I wanted a fern to be a part of it, but I could never decide where to put it, or exactly what it should look like. Then, during the process of adoption, Anita brought the Adinkra symbols to my attention. And, right in the mix of them is a fern. A symbol of a fern from my sons' homeland. It seems perfect, don't you think?

2. I have my nose pierced. Mine doesn't have an interesting story like Carolyn getting hers pierced in Ethiopia, but its pierced none-the-less. I had wanted to do it since my sophomore year of college, but I finally did it during my last year of graduate school. Personally, I love it!
I also like to tease my big brother about taking his daughters to get their noses pierced when they are old enough. I think I just like to see the surprised/horrified look on his face. When they are older, I'm definitely going to get them "stick-on" piercings to scare their dad.

3. The very first time I ever got on a commercial airplane to go ANYWHERE was my senior year of college...I was headed to Tanzania. I was so nervous and so excited for that trip! I spent a month camping in the African bush (for a J-Term travel course offered by my college). It was a trip that changed my life, without question. Plus...there's something so totally cool about falling asleep in a tent and hearing lions in the distance. Scary at times...but totally cool.

4. I was a total tom-boy as a kid. I grew up on a farm and every spring and summer I would wander around outside picking up all kinds of creepy-crawlies to show my mom. My poor mom...she never complained about me walking around with snakes or salamanders or frogs. She just told me to keep them outside. My parents finally just gave up a stock tank every summer for my brother and I to put whatever we wanted into it. We'd keep all sorts of things in there. We'd collect frog eggs in the spring, watch them hatch into tadpoles, feed them, watch them grow, watch them transition to frogs, and then let them go. We'd put snakes in there. We'd catch minnows in the creek and stick them in there. We'd put turtles in there. We'd observe things for a while, and then always let them go.

5. On top of having the two kids in our lives, Z and I also have 5 pets. We have 3 cats (Paka, Crickette, and Mojo) and two dogs (Grommit and Oliver). Its a busy place...and I hate that we have to vacuum up hair so much...but we love all of our pets. They really are a part of our family. Z also really wants a bird - a parrot of some kind. But, I don't think a place with 3 cats would be a good place for a bird. Maybe someday.

6. I was born with two thumbs on my right hand. When I was an infant, the extra thumb was removed, so now I just have one. But, the one I have has a pretty ugly scar from the surgery, a deformed nail, and is back-wards jointed. Occassionally, its painful. When I tell people that I was born with two thumbs and that the extra one was removed, people almost always ask "do you have the other one in a jar somewhere?" No...I do not have the other one in a jar somewhere. I don't even have a picture of my hand with the extra thumb.

7. During my time doing research for my Master's degree, I spent two months on a National Science Foundation funded exchange program in Taiwan. It was an incredible trip! I got to spend two months in the rainforests of Taiwan (mostly at Fushan Field Station). Taiwan is beautiful...and the people of Taiwan are so friendly. I was nervous about spending two months traveling alone, but I NEVER felt unsafe during my trip. And, I did take some time to travel around Taipei...go to beautiful Kenting for a long weekend...and to Tainan for a weekend to see the incredible temples. I ate some really strange food during my time in Taiwan...and I ate a lot of really great food. I tell people that I would go back to Taiwan just for the food - and its the truth.

Hmm...now I am supposed to tag people.
Amy Fabu
Leslie (even though she was already tagged)
(sorry everyone if I've tagged you before...)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday, Monday

Today is one of *those* days.

It seems the autumn cold is going around here and at the moment I'm the only one in the family not sporting a runny nose and a sore throat. Which, of course, means that I'm the one making all the tea and wiping all the noses (well, I let Z handle his own nose). It also means that I get to bear the brunt of the tiredness and cranky attitudes.

Last night I was called into the boys' room 3 times between 11pm and midnight. It seems Peanut needed some extra assurance last night. I understand...he's not feeling well...and that's when you need a mommy most. First it was because he needed a drink...then he wanted to tell me that he was coughing...and then it was because he wanted me to rest by him for a while. As a result, I'm a bit tired myself today.

The cranky attitudes are getting tough to handle today. And to be honest, I'm not sure if its them who need the time-out, or me. Now that I said it, its probably me.

Let's hope tomorrow (or maybe this afternoon after nap time) is better.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Pumpkin Patch

Saturday afternoon we headed to the local pumpkin patch/petting zoo for an afternoon on the farm. The boys had a great time feeding animals, getting a pony ride, going on a hayride, and picking out their pumpkins. What a fun day!

Waiting on the Tooth Fairy

On Saturday morning, Jellybean lost his first tooth! Its been loose for a while...and by yesterday morning it was barely hanging on. But, it finally came out (and it didn't even hurt)! Jellybean was so excited to put his tooth under his pillow last night...and was definitely excited to see that the Tooth Fairy had arrived to put money under the pillow in exchange for his tooth!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Apparently this is all it takes...

At lunchtime today, Peanut declared that today was "the best day ever!"

Did we do anything "interesting" today? Nope...we just put the Halloween-themed table cloth on the table and put a decoration on the front door.
I'm starting to wonder if I should be happy that he's so excited about decorating the house...or if I should feel bad that most of our days are so boring?!?! We do MUCH more exciting things around here, I promise!
I guess Peanut is excited about Halloween?
After all, he's got a super hero costume to wear!
Mostly, though, I think he's just really excited for his big brother to get home from school and see what we did. Look! The House! It looks different from when you left! I did it!
I've never been the kind of person who decorates for every season (or holiday). I usually put a couple things out for Christmas, but last year I didn't even do that (not a tree, not a stocking - nothing!). But now that there are kids in the house? Yeah...I wanna decorate at least a little. I've been praying that we have a house by Christmas so I have a good space for a Christmas tree this year. I'm beginning to run out of hope that it will happen this year. And I'm bummed about it. But, we'll figure it out.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Way To Go

Kelsey has written another great post on her blog that everyone should read. You'll all know why I gave her the Smile Award after you read THIS POST.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Week in Photos

What's a mom to do when you hear a crash from the other room, followed by "Ouch!" ? Well, go to the other room and remind the kids that this is exactly why they aren't supposed to wrestle while mom is cooking dinner. I figured that since they wanted to wrestle and get so close to each other that they bashed heads, that they could share the ice pack, too.
Though, I was pretty sure no one was too damaged...
Hmm....I wonder what Peanut is dreaming about??
On Friday night, the boys had a special movie night in their room. This is a very rare treat for them...but the grown-ups in the house wanted to watch the presidential debate. For some reason, I didn't think the kiddos would be that interested in the debate...