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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It's been a long time!

Obviously, I haven't "blogged" in a long time!  But, I've got something on my heart and mind that needs to be addressed.  This might really just be for me to get it off my chest, but also hoping someone will read this and follow a calling they have been ignoring.

We get asked A LOT of questions.  Most do not bother me a bit.  Most people are good hearted, kind and are just curious - our family does look different.  The one that gets me more than any others at this point - is all the financial questions, especially those coupled with "I have always thought of adopting, BUT I'm worried how we would pay for college."  I hear vacations, sports, private school, cars, etc.

Well, let me tell all of you something - The MILLIONS of orphans in the world today are not worried about going to college - they are praying they get to eat that day.  They are are praying for a mommy to tuck them in at night.  They are praying for a daddy that will play ball with them.  They are praying for SOMEONE to love them unconditionally.  Please stop looking at our orphan crisis with an American view point.

Now what all the sudden spurred this venting after hearing this question for the last 3 years - I teach at a local university, started classes last week and after we had all introduced ourselves, I'm starting to teach, I literally have one of my students interrupt me because she is so concerned and has been pondering since I told them about my family, how in the world I afford to have "all those kids"  "have I thought how I will pay for college?"  "how will I afford cars, food, etc."  I did remind her that I was at work to help support our family.

This past week I have kept coming back to that moment because this student was all but a stranger to me and I know all her questions and concerns - I've been there!  They were my exact thoughts as I said no adopting for years.  Once my heart was opened, I have never considered those questions again.  I do know that one day college is coming for 5 kids and we will find a way for them to go to school if they so desire. We find a way to make it everyday.  But what deep down bothers me now is our society is so focused on the American dream that has become our point of reference.  We sit in houses bigger than we need, with empty rooms for those guests that come 2 times per year.  We have cars with extra seats in case we need to carpool one day.  Our pantries are stuffed with food and our refrigerators have left overs placed in them every night after dinner.

So how do I know that's what orphans are praying for - it's what I hear from my daughter, age 7, on a regular basis.  I hear the stories of her hunger, her fear, and her constant hoping and praying for a mommy to come pick her up and take her home.  She begs me not to forget those we left behind.  Saying "please say you will adopt again, there are so many."

Well, there are many and I can't forget!  So while I'm not called to bring another one home right now, (I will never say never, I've learned that lesson!) I can advocate for those who are lonely and want a home, a family, a place they feel loved and secure.  And someone out there has space in the home, the resources to take care of them and the love in their heart to take one more in.

Proverbs 31:8  "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves."
Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone - Andy Stanley

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home for 2 months! More pictures!

We have been home for 2 months yesterday! I can't believe how fast the time has gone by. We are all doing really well. Everyone is adapting so well. This month the oldest 2 got to go away for a week to church camp - 1st time! They loved it and everyone else did great at home! We have started swim team. (which is actually almost over!) Summer has been a ball! So blessed to have all the kids at home making A LOT of noise and and having fun together.

Most of the time these two are ALL smiles!! Aren't they gorgeous?!?!!!

Zak is talking so much now. He puts 2 words together a lot. He loves to act out what he wants as well. Too cute! Hope has really come along with her English. I say it is like having a little Yoda in the house. She talks in reverse which I find so endearing. We get a new story almost everyday now about Ethiopia. Things will remind her of her home country and things that happened there. I love having some pieces of her puzzle. She is very loving and happy girl! She runs up to me on her own now and gives me hugs and says "I love you so very much mommy!"

Water is favorite for everyone in our family and these 2 have fit right in!

Zak still loves the water. He loves to spray everyone else with the hose!

This picture was taken about a month ago, notice she is loving the water - WITH her life jacket and noodle! She has come so far with her swimming. 1 month ago she would sink like a stone, 3 weeks ago, she swam in her first swim meet and would swim short spurts with a coach from the swim team helping her and it took 1:31. 2 weeks ago she swam her first lap all by herself in a meet and swam it in 52 seconds. This past Tuesday she WON her heat and swam in 38 seconds!!! She was so proud - as she should be. This momma almost cried. (those pics are all on my phone, which I have not downloaded yet!) She has touched so many people on our swim team. The first time she swam a lap all by herself, everyone cheered for her! It was so sweet. All of my kids have been on swim team for years and last summer this team helped us fund raise during swim season to bring these 2 home and now to see her swimming they all have really supported her, they have been awesome!

Hope LOVES her big sister!

SB and Haley played in the concert at the end of the semester. SB sings and plays piano, Hales is an awesome drummer and really gets into her music!

The key to happiness for Zak - "dumdum"

These were just 2 pictures where all 5 kids are actually together, and all looking at the camera. I savor these! It does not happen often!

Loving on Hope!

Cousins came to visit! This is Thomas. He's got some serious curls in his hair too! We had fun joking about all the curls in this family now!
Carter has really grown into being the BIG brother! He went from being the baby of the family to the middle child. NOT an easy transition and he is definitely still in transition, but I'm so proud of him. He loves Hope and Zak! He and Zak love to wrestle and "beat" on each other like brothers should. Hope is warming up to Carter and now asking him to help her with some things. This boy has a heart of gold! He is very kind and it has been really cool to watch him growing into his new role in our family.

I caught Zak in Hope's Minnie Mouse!! They both love Mickey Mouse! Great way to get a few minutes of down time in the house.

Both still LOVE the bath tub!!! 2 thumbs up!!

ZAK turned 2 on June 8th!!!

Loved the icing! This is how he tells us he likes something - we get the thumbs up!

His new slide!!!

Zak's version of eating his birthday cake! Love it!!!

One more very big thing, for those not on face book, Zak had emergency surgery on Monday this week. He is recovering very well! He had an abscess that formed on his lower abdomen that grew very large in about 36 hours. We went to the emergency room Monday am and got some pain medicine, IV antibiotics along with Tylenol and Mortin to help his very high fever. He had surgery to get it drained Monday night. We got bumped due to other surgeries during the day, but finally got it done and were home about 10:30 Monday night. We can tell a big difference in him today. He is getting back to his old crazy self! Running around again and talking non stop! He hates to take his antibiotic. Other than that - we are on the road to recovery! Thank you all for your calls, texts and prayers! Hope did really well while we were away. She seemed to understand we were going to get him help. Zak was very sick and you could easily tell he needed to go, so Hope said okay when I explained it and did well playing with friends and with my parents for the day!

I do have some cuteness on my phone if I ever get them downloaded - including the video of Hope swimming, as must see!

Have a great weekend!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

We have been home for 1 MONTH!!!

Can you believe that? 1 month! Time has flown! I am loving every minute of it!!

The story of Zak: Zak screamed the first 24 hours he was in our arms. We could not do anything for him with out having the screams. Screamed when picked him up, screamed when we put him down. HATED changing his clothes. Baths sounded like we were torturing him. Bedtime made my heart hurt he screamed in terror. I just cried while I prayed for him that first night. (jet lagged and not sleeping on the couch!). Pleaded with everyone on FB to pray for our boy. And on day 2, there were so many glimpses of answered prayers. He cried a little less. Baths and bedtime were still torture and changing diapers was a dreaded event, but still I saw his heart was better than the first day. He showed so many signs of starting to trust in country I was thrilled and so thankful for prayers of our faithful friends - they had been heard and answered! Then the trip home - 17 hours on our first leg and all I can say is we survived. I would rather move on from that event. Once we were home he did scream with changing clothes, bath time was done standing outside the tub screaming and us washing him off with a wash cloth. He did love the "beep beep" from the very beginning, so we could always put him in the car to make him happy. Also loves those bubbles!!! So, first day home Daddy took him to Target in the beep beep and bought a bubble machine! That transformed bath time and play time outside!
Fast forward to today - he is the happiest boy! He gives big ole wet kisses. Laughs constantly. Would stay in the bath tub for hours if allowed. Happily will pee pee in the potty and gets his own diapers when time for changing. Tells everyone night night when time to go to bed and lays down on his own in bed! The light in his eyes warms my heart to the core! We are all madly in love Zak Sitota.

Hope! This girl has a heart of gold. I have no doubt God has big plans for this girl and she is going to impact the world in a big way. There is just something about her you can't put into words.
All the families who had gone to HH prior to us would refer to Hope's personality and the light within her. One older American lady who volunteered at HH even pulled me aside to tell me there was something about my daughter, she could see it, and there was reason she coming into our family. We did not see the real her until the last week or so. She has always been so kind and sweet, but quiet and reserved with us. There were many walls from the very beginning. She would not allow Jay to touch her and she would not be alone with him. She said no words. Never sang. Never laughed during the first week or so. She would play quietly alone with her dolls. She loves to braid and is very good actually! She wanted to be near me or touching me, but that is about all we got. Once home, she loved all of her clothes - changed clothes multiple times a day! Took 3 baths a day. Loved her sisters. Jumped and played outside with them.

She has transformed into the brightest, most kind hearted child. She laughs a lot now - cracks herself up! She loves to do school work. Very bright student! We are down to 1 bath a day and 1 outfit a day. She will try any food you put in front of her. She will let you know her opinion, but she always tries! She is an encourager. Now her light is starting to shine so brightly. She now runs to Jay for hugs and playing. She is teaching us songs she knew in Ethiopia. Teaching us words in Ahmaric. Loves to dance! And the girl has got some moves. She gives us so many hugs and kisses and I get to hear "I love you mommy" so many times a day.

I cannot imagine missing all of this. Yes, my life is crazy and busy with 5 very active children. There is so much laundry. Dishes coming out my ears. We eat more eggs and chicken than I ever thought possible. My house is SO LOUD sometimes! I am exhausted at the end of the day and sleep really well. In the worldly view of things I should feel the weight crushing my shoulders and stressed out, but I have never felt so free. Following God's plan and receiving His blessings through these children - I get more hugs and kisses, thank you mom, and hearing that sleepy I love you while cuddled in bed is better than anything this world could offer.

Wow, what a great first month!

Friday, May 20, 2011

What's been going on . .

Trying this post again!!!
So what have we been up to? Here's a glimpse of the last couple of weeks in pictures!!!

WE LOVE BATH TIME!!!!!!! Went from screaming to loving it in a matter of 3 days!

Still loving the beep beep! A constant source of entertainment (and source of a lot of fights! :)

I just think this picture is the sweetest, so had to share!:)

Mother's Day, this pic was taken for my brother's fam as a "wish you were here!"

Mother's Day lunch. I am present, taking all the pictures!

I finally hand the camera to Jay and say you have to get me in a picture on Mother's Day!!! How great is it to be surrounded by all this love!!!!!!! They are all so beautiful!!

Getting some lovin!

My girls LOVE each other. Lots of hugs and kisses going on most of the time between the 3 of them. The share a room and even right now are all in the same bed! They choose that! There are plenty of places to sleep, but they want to be together. They still love to be silly together also! So attractive.

Zak swinging!! Happy boy in his swing

Matching PJs!!!! How pretty are my two princesses?!!

Haley won an award at school for a book she wrote on "Our Journey to Hope and Zak." She won a silver medal. We were all there to congratulate her. So proud!!!

SB also won an award that day for her book on the State of TN. She won the gold medal!!! GO SARAH!!! So proud of her as well!

We had some friends over to grill out and swim. The kids are enjoying their popsicles in the hot tub after dinner. AJ standing in front was one Zak's good buddies at HH. They came home about 2 months before we did. Very fun for us all to be together in TN!!!

LOVING swim lessons!!! She loves the water and with a pool in our back yard and Hope wanting to get in without her floaties on a daily basis, we started swim lessons with a good friend. Those are the great arms of Jim Chapman! Jim has a ton of kids - 3 of them are from China. There were more adopted kids in this class than biological. LOVED it! Looked like he was teaching the United Nations how to swim!

Abby Chapman - awesome swim coach! Having fun teaching my 4th child how to swim!!!

Love this smile. Swim lessons have been wonderful. Jay took her almost every night and they would stay after and swim some more. Wonderful bonding!!! Water breaks so many barriers. It has done so much for Jay and Hope!

One last funny pic - because you have to see those eyes! Is that not the greatest?! When he gets excited those eyes get so big! It's priceless!

Love to you all!!! Have a fun end of school!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

First Week Home

My computer was acting up and would not let me type with my pics, so instead of trying to win, I posted pictures and decided I would tell you all about them separately! (see post below for some pics!)

Overall we have had a great first week at home. We landed on Good Friday - VERY thankful to be home! We did have a photographer at the airport that got some wonderful shots of our arrival - I will have to post those soon too! The 17 hour flight was one we were thankful to survive! That is behind us now, so we'll move on from that.
From the point we landed in the US, things have gone very well. We dreaded the car seat and them having to buckle in, but turns out, they actually like it. Hope loves that she can buckle herself and Zak just wants to go in the "beep beep."

They love baths! Hope started out wanting to bathe multiple times a day. We are down to 1! She loves those bubbles. Zak has progressed from screaming standing outside the tub and us washing him with a washcloth to loving the bath and splashing around in his bubbles. We have made huge progress in one week with bath time!

They both love to be outside playing. JUMP! is something we hear often. The trampoline has turned out to be a great way to expend some energy. They also LOVE the pool. They will ask for that even when it is raining and a little to cool outside to swim. Both of them just laugh and giggle while those teeth are chatting from the water I find a bit too cool to swim in yet. Mommy just takes the pictures!

We have a walking path and creek behind our house and walking on the path to a close playground has been very fun as well. The creek is big fun to throw sticks in on one side of the bridge and watch them come out the other.

They both love their new brother and sisters. All 5 kids are doing extremely well. Hope and Zak also are getting acquainted to my parents. Hope loves her Mimi. Zak has even let Papa hold him once. That's pretty big since he is really attached to his daddy!

Eating and sleeping is going extremely well!! We have no issues with either one. We go through A LOT of eggs! They both go to town on eggs in the am. Hope will try anything! She is the best eater! Zak is a carnivore. As long as we have some kind of meat and "dabo", bread - he's good. They are definitely getting their protein. They both sleep all night long for about 11 hours. Hope sleeps in the girl's room. I will lay down with her and she will fall asleep in about 5 minutes and sleeps the rest of the night. Zak is the same. He and Carter share a room. We can lay him in his bed, stay with him for a few minutes, he's out for a good 11-12 hours. So Jay and I are in our room with a baby monitor and loving that we get some sleep too!

Zak seems to be doing well overall. There has been nothing I would not expect out of a 2 year old boy. Hope also is doing well. She has her sad moments which is normal. She does let me hold her through them. Our only minor problem has been Hope does not really take to males, including daddy. If I'm here, she does well, but she needs her mommy around for security right now. She has started calling out to show Jay things, but she still won't go to him to give him hugs or hold his hand. Prayers for her healing, trust and growth with that would be very much appreciated.

There's my quick update. Thank you again and again for all the love, support and prayers. They have been felt and have made a difference in this initial transition.

Love to you all!

First weekend pictures

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