Tuesday, October 6, 2009

1 year ago today, I saw their precious faces

Wow, today has been filled with lots of emotion. In all the business of our lives, I had to take time out today to remember the one year anniversary of seeing the faces of my youngest children for the very first time. It is so hard to believe that just a year ago, I didn't know who they were. We have been through so much as a family and especially me as a mother in the last year. But the blessings that we have experienced, having opened our hearts to these two innocent children, have made me more of a person that I ever thought I could be. There have certainly been good moments and not so good moments during the process, but there is not one day that goes by that I don't say a special prayer for their birth family and thank God for bringing Geta and Tamene to us.

Geta, just today, was talking about how cold it is here. I told her that when she lived in Ethiopia, it was much warmer, but now she lives in "lovely South Bend, Indiana" where it gets very cold. She flashed that beautiful smile at me and happily said, "If you are here, Mommy, then I want to be here." I teared up as she wrapped a blanket around her and went on reading books with her sister and brother. Life is so normal for them and I know how different life is for her birth family. While I am not able to help them, I can give all my love to my kids and try to make the world just a little better.

So today as I remember all that has happened in the last year, I especially remember how small I am in this world, and how lucky I am to have the blessing that have been given me. And I truly thank God for all my friends and family who have supported me in this journey and who have so openly excepted Geta and Tamene into our lives. Together, we all have taught them about friendship, family and the gift of love. And we all have helped them know a life without fear. And for that, I am forever grateful.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another day in paradise (heck, I needed a title)

I haven’t posted in a bit and it is a little different posting without any huge events of late.  Geta and Tamene are hardly the new adopted children anymore, they are just two of our children.  The biggest event in my life of late is the ND loss to Michigan, but I am not going to post or even speak of that again.  It hurt, but I am over it, mostly.


We celebrated the Ethiopian New Year on Friday.  It gives us a great reason to enjoy and celebrate on such a tragic date for America, September 11th.  We celebrated with Sagawat (it doesn’t get any better than that).  We are also contemplating a trip to visit with Tumiso and his parents, Jim and Elizabeth Langemo.  It should be fun, but amazingly, our next free weekend is in 2014.  But we are going to pencil them in for early 2015.  We also got back into the very important things in life, yep, tailgating.  It was Geta and Tamene’s first tailgate and they loved it.  What kid wouldn’t love an all you can eat affair with a little extra freedom.  Heck, I claim not to be a kid, but tailgating should be my middle name.  Not great for my waistline, but I am learning to live with being “under tall.”


As for other events in our life, Courtney is enjoying soccer, with her father as the assistant coach.  Luckily, the head coach is excellent, so I can just hide in the shadows and put an ill timed joke whenever possible.  Patrick is in football full swing and loves it.  He also is getting good at guitar (acoustic thank goodness) and not getting in as much trouble, knock on wood.  Emily is enjoying life and the full house and Joshua is doing well.  He continues to tell me very elaborate detailed stories.  He loves to have an adult give him time to express himself.  It can occasionally be a long process but worth the wait.  Geta is loving school, and at church, she loves seeing her friends.  On the way to kids church today, she grabbed a friends hand and led her down to church.  Tamene probably knows a couple hundred words, but uses mostly 10-20.  Yet, he talks non-stop with the same words over and over.  Actually recently, the other kids were talking on the phone to Grandma Carlson and Tamene somehow ended up with the second phone.  He yipped and yapped for a good 10 minutes (no one else could get a word in edge-wise) before anyone let me know he had commandeered a phone and I put a painful end to his phone time.


Anyway, things are well but busy.  The kids are growing up but we have gotten into a routine.  There is still plenty of excitement, but today, I can’t report of any kids left at church or anything of that sort.  Stayed tuned, if I need to, I will leave one somewhere, just for the laughs that will ensue in my future story-telling.  T-6 until the next ND game.  Go IRISH.  Mike


Monday, September 7, 2009

My first ever cornrows...

Geta keeps asking for me to do cornrows in her hair. It is getting pretty long and I feel like I should be able to do it. So I spent my morning looking at YouTube videos and found one that explained what I was doing wrong. So I attempted it again tonight. I was able to braid her whole head! How about that!! To be perfectly honest, anyone who looks at it will know I am a true novice. But, hey, you have to start somewhere. Geta was thrilled and can't wait to show all her friends tomorrow. (Sorry, Amy. I bet Vivian will want cornrows next.) As she hugged me and kissed me before bed, she quietly whispered in my ear, "I knew you could do it, Mommy."

Worth every minute...


Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Timmy!

Ok, 2 posts in one day, but I forgot to say Happy Birthday to my little brother! Hope you have a great day.

Tomorrow is Geta and Tamene's first ever tailgating experience. I will take pictures and do my best to post before the weekend is over.

Also, I thought I would leave you with a couple short videos of our kids singing some Ethiopian songs. (Geta has actually forgotten the words ) :-( But I still love to hear what she remembers.

Back to School...

Well it has been a whirl wind couple weeks as the 5 older kids all headed back to school. First let me fully confess that with work so hectic, I was way behind the 8 ball with school shopping. So my kids were all lucky to have their supplies and some clothes to where! But they have all done great getting back into a routine. We have had the normal "beginning of year" discipline problems. But so far, no kids have been suspended, sent to the principles office or even gotten a detention. So I would say we are off to a GREAT start!
This school year brings the realization that our older 2 might need more "private" space than what our current situation affords. (did I a mention that I grew up without my own space and I turned out just fine!) But several smart people think my "pre-teens" need more space, so I am trying to heed their wisdom and figure out what this means to our family. I know many kids have their own rooms and cell phones and ipods and lots of gatchets. But I have never tried to be like most people. I search deep into my heart and think through the issue and use my experience and the wisdom of others to determine my course. In the end, I pray and go with my gut. So far, that has worked out pretty well for me. But there are many who are wiser than me and shame on me for not listening to their point of view, so I am reflecting now on what is really best for my oldest 2 as they embark upon these very difficult years. We'll see what happens.
I have to mention the highlight of my week though. I got an urgent voicemail from Patrick this afternoon. The message was "Mom, I need to talk to you right away. Call me as soon as you get this message." Click... This is quite out of character for him and there was such a sense of urgency, I dropped everything and called him back. It turned out his "sense of urgency" was really excitement. He won the election to be class representative for student government. He worked really hard to prepare a speech and outline issues that he saw as important to his class. It has his normal amount of "humor", but it was a very good speech and apparently, it was enough to earn the support of his classmates. Congratulations to Patrick on his great accomplishments. He really made me proud!
Tonight, I remember how blest I am to have such a wonderful family. I will give them all an extra hug and extra kiss before bed! (and I will try hard to not be disappointed when Tamene greets me at 6am!)


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Well, Kristen did her first ever post from her Mac, and this is my first ever post.  Okay, not really but it has been a while.  I feel I should reintroduce myself.  My name is Mike.


This all started as she asked for my input on her post and after pausing for a second, she said, “you weren’t listening.”  I know, just shocking, can you even believe she would say that?  That could lead in to a post on the beauty of lowering expectations.  Just kidding.  Of course, I was listening and had a small part to add, but we decided I should just put it out on the blog myself.  So, here we go.


I typically am not a huge fan of religious events and the whole concept of Sacraments, although very important, is an area where I tend to lien towards the Protestant viewpoint or at least have trouble with our Catholic concept of them.  But this baptism was just truly a special and amazing event for me.


The St Joe Community, as well as the Healy Group, the Trinity 7th grade girls basketball team, our families, our friends, our biological kids, Bill and Barb, just everyone has totally embraced and been engaged in our adoption of our two (not really new any more) children.  And St Joe baptism ceremonies are excellent to start with.  But for me, this was an event where the whole community embraced our newest members of the parish.  One very special moment for me was as the baptism ceremony was going on and I was just thoroughly enjoying it, I looked over and saw a fellow parishioner and friend who too also just recently adopted internationally clearly moved by the ceremony.  It was just great to see someone else feeling what I was feeling and knowing there were others there with me. 


But the absolute best moment for me was when the lighting of the baptismal candles took place and Fr Ed mentioned the symbolic path this particular candle we had had taken from Ethiopia (and from Etore, Geta and Tamene’s father) to St Joe South Bend.  I felt everyone was there with us at that point, just knowing and feeling the journey our two newest awesome kids have undertaken.  I felt Etore would have been and somehow had to be proud.  It also brought him back to the forefront of my mind.  I know he is truly happy that his two youngest children have a healthy joyous life full of opportunity, but I also can only imagine his sadness of the missing pieces in his life who are literally half a world away.  I am saddened to know that he is still struggling and starving, and also has two huge holes left in his heart.  But I know he must know what joy he has brought to us, and truly our community too.  Well I am not sure I have expressed what I wanted, but hopefully it came through. 


Needless to say, the baptism was just spectacular.  I was so proud of my newest kids, excited for their acceptance and truly felt God was there with us on our journey (and although I guess that is what baptism is about, it was amazing to truly feel it and also see so many others who felt it too.)


To conclude, say a quick prayer for Etore as well Geta and Tamene’s brothers and sisters over in Ethiopia, and heck throw in the whole wonderful nation.  And look for my next post, due out sometime in early 2011.  Kidding again.  Later,  Mike



The Baptism

This is my first ever post from my Mac. So bear with me if I screw it up. :-)

I wanted to post some pictures from the Baptism. It was a wonderful day for all of us. Many of you were there to share with us and for that we are truly grateful. For those who couldn't physically be here, your emails and cards were wonderful. Your love and support mean the world to us.

If you were at the baptism, you can skip right down to the pictures. But for those who weren't there, I thought I would give a quick summary of the service. Fr. Ed Obermiller, CSC performed the baptism. While he is a good friend of the family, he has only met Geta and Tamene once. He and Mary Nucciarone were so kind to take time the day before to do a "run through" of the baptism. Geta and Tamene were able to get into the font and understood exactly what would happen to them. So the day of the baptism, they had smiles on there faces, showed confidence in what they were doing and were histerical as they put their faces in the water. They eyes were so bright and happy. I think for Mike and I, this day was a big one. We made a commitment to their birthfather that we would teach Geta and Tamene to have a relationship with God. It is sometimes hard to see that relationship growing, but it was very evident in their baptism. They have started to accept the community that we worship with. They now know about how water cleanses us of our sins. (although Geta was a little concerned that you only get to do this once.) But the curious and trusting look that they gave Fr. Ed as he put the oil on their chest and the giggles when their faces actually came out of the water all three times and the determination Geta showed in accepting the light of Christ, knowing it was for her. She wasn't about to let her godparents take that from her. :-)

On the day we met their birthfather, we ended the visit with a prayer service. We, as adoptive parents, vowed to love our children unconditionally. Their birthfather lit a small orange candle and presented to us as a sign that God would be with us along the way. It was his prayer for his children that God help us however necessary. In order to somehow make him a part of the ceremony, we used the same candle that the birthfather gave to us to light the candles for Geta and Tamene. It was such a wonderful moment and I hope and pray that whereever he is, he has some peace. I live everyday with the guilt of his sacrafice and wonder why I am so blest. But on this particular day, I felt that unity with him one more time, even thought thousands of miles separate us. There is a very strong part of him who is now my family.

Courtney is Geta's godmother (even though the Church doesn't acknowledge her because she isn't old enough). Matthew Hutchison is Geta's godfather. Jeff and Cat Minaudo are Tamene's godparents.

All of our kids dressed in their Ethiopian outfits (unless they are already too small). :-( It was another way to celebrate where they have come from to get to this day. All-in-all, it was a wonderful day, more than I could have ever hoped for.

I hope you enjoy the pictures (thanks to my mom!) I forgot my camera. :-)