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...

Kristen

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.
video
video

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!)

Kristen

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. :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Geta's first hair braiding



My sister forwarded me these cute pictures of Geta getting her hair braided for the very first time. What a precious smile!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Geta and Tamene are baptized

There have been many emotional moments during the last 10 months. The excitement of the referral, the nervousness of our court date, the overwhelming reality that our entire family would journey to Ethiopia, the insecurity of how to help each child (and Mike and I) through the transition, the bewilderment of those first few days when Tamene and Geta wanted to be anywhere but with us, the guilt, sadness, joy and honor of our meeting with their birth father, the exhaustion of the journey home, the sleepless nights in those first several weeks home, the cabin fever as we nested in our house, the joy of watching Tamene and Geta explore their new life in America, the amazement of how quickly they adapted to their new life and learned English, the pride of our older kids as they adapted to their new siblings without missing a beat... I could go on and on. Today was another one of those days.

Geta and Tamene were baptized into the Catholic faith this morning. While this is a rite I have watched many times, it took on a whole new meaning today. Usually, we baptize babies. But my kids are older and have far more life experiences. I didn't get their trust just because. I had to earn that trust. My goal was to prepare Geta and Tamene so that they weren't afraid of the sacrament. But little did I know that God had far grander plans. Geta and Tamene were not afraid. They walked into the waters of Baptism with eyes wide open and smiles bigger than life. Geta accepted her own baptismal candle with confidence. Thank goodness that Tamene's god parents were on the ball and quickly took his before he figured out what was happening. Courtney proudly accepted Geta as her God Daughter and our other kids showed such great excitement and pride for their siblings. Because we made a commitment to Geta and Tamene's birth father that we would raise them as Christians, I wanted to somehow make him a part of the baptism. During a prayer service with him in Ethiopia, he presented a candle to use when he entrusted his children into our care. So we used the same candle that he gave to us during the "entrustment" ceremony to light the baptismal candles for Geta and Tamene. While I thought I was quietly including him, it turned out to be such a concrete, tangible and communal statement in the progress toward our commitment to him. I was caught off guard by my emotions. It made us vulnerable to the entire community that celebrated with us. In that vulnerability came God's grace. That same vulnerability that our children accepted as they walked through the waters of Baptism, we accepted in testimate to our commitment to their birth father. God has blest us with wonderful family and friends and we could not be more proud. Thank you to everyone who shared this momentous occasion today.

Kristen

Monday, August 3, 2009

So many weeds... So little time...

I think I have hit an all time low as a parent. Our project this weekend was to clean out all the weeds from our yard and trim back all the bushes. As you can imagine, the rest of the Morin family was not nearly as motivated as I was. I must admit that Mike was a trooper. An the older kids (with ipods in hand) did their best to just get through it. Poor Tamene spent the majority of Saturday in the pack and play under the shade of a big tree doing whatever he could to get some attention. Every once in a while, someone would say hi to him. He didn't much care for the idea of being contained! But then his siblings didn't much care for the weeding either. So imagine their excitement when it started to drizzle. They all left their posts and ran for shelter. (ok here is where I hit the all time low as a parent!) I let them all know that weeding wasn't done and to get back to their stations. They thought I was from Mars, but we worked right through the rain showers and made great progress! (Mike did put the electric hedge trimmer away as a precaution, but there was plenty of other things for him to work on.)

Sunday was more of the same as we attempted to get more weeding done before Courtney and Patrick left for Grandma's house in Chicago. But I gave everyone a break and we only weeded through lunchtime. Once Courtney and Patrick left, the younger kids all took a bike ride and had dinner with Grandma and Grandpa Carlson. It was a fun way to end the weekend (until Josh fell off his bike and had to go the emergency room to get stitches!)

Kristen

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Heading to Washington, DC

So we loaded everyone into the family roadster at 7:30am this morning to embark on a 12 hour drive to Ashburn, Virginia (DC area) to visit with my brother and nephew, his girlfriend and her daughter, and some good friends who live in the DC Area. For those who have made this voyage, you might realize it is not supposed to be a 12 hour drive. However, with Mike behind the wheel of the van, we managed to take a few detours (including going to my brother's girlfriend's parents house instead of his girlfriends new house). Thank goodness my brother called to check on us and caught the error before we arrived on their front doorstep. We were literally minutes from arrival!

But aside from the extra time (and gas and tolls), we arrived safely. The kids were great in the car. We only stopped twice for bathroom breaks and for gas at each stop. Lisa had packed a bunch of sandwiches and snacks, so we just ate in the car to help pass time. :-) Even Tamene faired the trip like a champ. He learned all kinds of new animal sounds, sang some songs, played with his magna doodle and books and took 2 naps. He was thrilled to be able to run around once we arrived, but I thought he did awesome!

I will try to take some updated pictures this week since I have been so remiss in updating the blog. We are really looking forward to spending a relaxing week together and allowing Geta and Tamene to get to know Uncle Wally, Cam, Johanna and Jolene.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A night in the life of the Morin Family




OK, so first I must apologize for not posting for such a long time. June is a blurr at this point. We have experienced so much: our first weekend away from the kids, Grandma and Grandpa Carlson taking all 6 kids camping, kids visit to grandma's in Chicago for a week, my nieces Confirmation, a great weekend in Indy with awesome friends from Lexington and then a trip to my uncle's lake cottage in Michigan. How fortunate we are to have so many friends and family who have all lovingly and enthusiastically welcomed the newest members of our family!

In the midst of all of that, the laundry room was completed, guitar lessons for Patrick started and violin lessons for Geta, Emily and Courtney are underway. Life is truly similar to a whirlwind, but we are loving every minute of it!


During this month, Geta and Tamene have been swimming (although we still haven't mastered the difference between a swimming pool and a lake). They went on a speed boat and loved every minute of it. Geta even ventured out on the tube behind the boat with Courtney and strict instructions saying "I do NOT like fast!" Geta learned that we are just a "phone call" away at any given moment, and Geta has declared that she is "done with Tamene" and wants to move to Emily and Courtney's room.


Oh... but stop the boat, we have a story to tell about that. Geta and Emily go to bed at their normal bedtime, while Courtney stays up to read, plan book club and whatever else she does in her spare time. At 10:00PM when she is ready for bed, she notifies us that she is locked out of her room. We spend the next hour pounding on the door, playing trombone in front of the door, setting off the house alarm (intentionally) and making our way outside to pound on the windows: all in the hopes of waking our beautiful, sleeping cherubs. Did I mention it was all to now avail?!!??!?! So my darling husband goes to bed and I next contemplate calling the fire department to break my daughters out of their room. But, giving it one last college try, Emily finally wakes to use the bathroom. (note it has nothing to do with all the noise we have made, but thank God the bladder called!) We are able to enter the room to see Geta didn't miss a snore. Emily gladly used the "poo poo" and was back in bed as if nothing ever happened. I gained 18 grey hairs (not bad for just one night!) and was off to bed.
All in a regular night at the Morin house. Can't wait to see what adventure tomorrow brings....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Geta sees her first Tarantula

Yesterday, Miss Lisa took Courtney, Geta and Tamene to the pet store. (I must admit that I am not entirely sure why, because there will be NO animals coming to my house!) While they were there, Courtney spotted a Tarantula inside an aquarium. She called Geta over to look at it and, in full voice, Geta started singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"! It was pretty humorous!
Construction in the Laundry room is moving along. All the walls are up, electrical and plumbing done, subfloor is laid, skylight and hottub are gone and drywall and mudding are complete. Today they started priming the walls and tomorrow the tile floor will be laid. I am really hoping that by the end of next week, it will all be done!

Geta has started taking violin lessons from Courtney. Courtney's teacher thought it would be good experience for Courtney to teach violin, so she is teaching Courtney how to teach Geta. They both practice together everyday. It is pretty sweet. Emily will start with private lessons after school is out and then will join the strings program in the Fall. Patrick will start Guitar lessons next week. He has done a great job with the Trombone this past year. He has proven his sincerity and discipline in practicing. So we gave him guitar lessons for his birthday. He is very excited. (We are turning into quite the musical family, which does not bode well for the volume level in our house!) I am currently listening to Patrick on trombone, Geta on recorder, Josh on toy drums and Emily on the electric keyboard. Add into that Tamene screaming because he has no instrument! Ugh!!! Is it time to go to work yet?
Geta and Emily are playing soccer at the YMCA. Emily scored one of her teams 2 goals on Saturday to help bring her team to victory. Geta is still trying to figure out how the game is played, but did a great job staying in the action and making sure her foot touched the ball every once in a while!





This weekend, Mike and I head to Chicago for a weekend away with our college friends! We are so excited. My parents are taking all six kids camping, so please pray for them and their sanity!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The first "enlarged" Morin family camping trip


Mike decided last Wednesday that we should go camping over the Memorial Day weekend. The weather looked like it was supposed to be nice and we were all happy to not work in the yard for another weekend! So we spent the better part of Thursday night making a plan for meals and getting the camper packed. Have I mentioned that our poor Nanny had to work her tail off! And we are truly grateful for all her hard work (especially with such short notice)! I got home from work Friday to finish loading the cars. Courtney, Patrick, Mike and I successfully got the camper out of the garage (which is no easy feat since we only have about 1/2 inch clearance on either side of the camper).
As we setup the camper on Friday night, Geta was very inquisitive about what we were doing. I told her we were setting up the camper so we could sleep in it. She adamantly stated, "Me no sleep in car". As the camper went up and she saw the beds and sink, she said, "First it's car, then it's house?!?!? Crazy, Mommy, crazy!" But she thoroughly enjoyed camping and is very excited to go again in 2 weeks with Grandma and Grandpa!
We had an awesome weekend. The weather was perfect other than a small rain shower on Saturday morning as we were just waking up. Geta learned to ride a bike by herself which Mike was very grateful for. Courtney learned to make pancakes and bacon. Patrick learned how to grill hamburgers and setup the campfire. (Boy Scouts came in handy!) Emily had a crash course in chasing Tamene EVERYWHERE! And Tamene learned to be contained in the Port-a-crib when he stepped outside the boundaries set by mommy. Josh loved the freedom and took full advantage of spending time with his friend, Kevin. Geta loved the "big bathtub" (which most of us would call a swimming pool), except when she tried to drown and daddy thought she was just trying to swim. Thank goodness she is resilient and determined. She got back in and was a little more careful for the rest of her time in the pool. Courtney had 2 friends join us for Saturday night. They slept in the tent and spent the majority of the night studying for Oral Exams. (Yes, we gave them a very hard time!) :-) Grandma visited us for most of Saturday, and part of Sunday. Grandpa made an appearance, but spent most of the weekend at the fire station.
We also attended the Memorial Day Mass at Cedar Grove Cemetery. As we walked around the cemetery to visit all of our relatives, Geta tried to figure out what all this was about. She was very impressed with all the flowers, until she realized that they were for people who had passed away. She asked me, "You going to here, Mommy?" Without thinking, I said yes and then proceeded to ask her if she would plant pretty flowers for me. She got very upset and said, "You can't die, Mommy!" My heart broke for her, but I assured her that I was very healthy and the doctor had given me all my shots. (She did actually laugh at that.) But it was a good reminder how careful we must be with our words as she tries to figure out this new life. I still pray every night that she finds security and happiness with our family. There are moments that I see her genuine joy and others that I see a pain and fear that runs so deep that it brings tears to my eyes.

All-in-all, camping was a lot of work, but what a great weekend!

Kristen

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oops! Laundry Room goes over budget. :-)

Ok, did anyone not expect this to happen? :-) I tried to think through everything, but I missed a few details. So now we are about 15% over budget. Thank goodness, the Mortgage market is great right now, so Mike is bringing in more than anticipated! God continues to bless our family and we are truly grateful!

As of today, we have no more leaky skylight. I am glad I wasn't hear to see them remove the skylight, but I am more excited that I wasn't hear when they found the ants that were living in the wall. YUCK! How does that happen? We also saw the prototype of the new "locker cubbies". They will help so much in dealing with all the "stuff" our kids "need to have". I think the clutter stresses them out as much as it does me. They know I get upset by the mess, but they never had a place to go with it. Defined space that they are in control of will help tremendously. (At least it better!)

Lisa (our nanny) is thrilled to have the added space, and thank goodness, because she also has to deal with the constant noise and interruption that all these strangers bring to our life. It is funny to hear Tamene mimic the sound of drills and hammers or hear Geta get so upset at the mess that they are making. Tomorrow Geta will see Laundry done in the basement for the first time and I can't wait to hear what she says.

They expect another 3 weeks of construction. Ugh! I am trying to be patient, but I am ready for it to be done.

We will keep you posted on the progress,
Kristen

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I love weekends...

So I must admit, the work weeks are hectic. We get home in time for dinner and then it is all we can do to get the kids in bed at a reasonable hour. But the weekends! They are the times I cherish. Of course, usually not at 6:30am when Tamene first graces our presence, but by 8 or 9am, I am usually glad to have all these kids. This weekend, Courtney took 1st place in her gymnastics meet. All the older kids (including Geta) worked the meet, running the scores back to the main gym. Emily and Patrick had incredible patience with Geta, understanding that she was afraid to go on her own, yet wanted to get the scores there by herself! Patrick played Trombone at the school Media fair today and did an awesome job! Emily sang in the Children's Choir at Mass and Joshua shared his gorgeous artwork. What confident and loving children we have! I find such joy in watching them "be" a part of each others moments. Even Tamene clapped with such vigor when seeing his sister take her medals or seeing Patrick play his trombone. (ok, don't tell Emily and Josh, but he was totally oblivious to their accomplishments!)

Another Milestone this week... Geta had her last day at ECDC. Her teachers wrote a beautiful card to her thanking her being such a special part of the Kindergarten class. They said she was a flower that they watched blossom. She actually volunteered to announce one of the poems they recited to the parents. It was totally adorable! How far she has come in just a few months home.

I have posted a variety of pictures - Emily's 1st Communion, Courtney with the Bishop at confirmation, Geta with ND Buildings they built at ECDC and Courtney at her gymnastics meet.

God has blessed us with a BIG and wonderful family and I cherish every minute that we get to spend with our kids.
Oh, and by the way, Fr. Nate is grateful we brought everyone home from Mass today! :-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Construction begins

Today, we started a major construction project on our house. We are removing the "hot tub" room because the hot tub has not worked in over 2 years. We decided that, while Mike cherishes the hot tub, he prefers an outside hot tub. So we are regaining the inside space to increase the size of the laundry room. It also allows us to get rid of a leaky sky light and we will add 6 locker/cubbies for the kids to store their coats, boots, shoes, mittens, hats, and backpacks.
Before Pictures
I did my best to prepare Geta and Tamene for the demolition, but they were unnerved, none-the-less. Tamene spent the better part of the day nervously mimicing the sound of drills while Geta was not happy at the mess that these strangers were making. She was also very concerned about the missing Laundry machines and is unclear as to where her backpack should now be stored. (Thank goodness, her school is done at the end of this week!)

On the first day of construction, they removed all the cabinets from the laundry room (and relocated them to the basement because Mike can't part with anything!). They also removed the hot tub and and the raised floor around the hot tub. They were able to salvage some of the floor so that we can try to keep the kitchen tile and only replace the tile in the new laundry room. So far, I am "at" budget (not below or above), but we will see how long that lasts!
After pictures
They expect construction to last about a month, perhaps a little longer. In the meantime, I have no laundry, so we will be visiting Grandma frequently!

Also, we have finally picked names for Geta and Tamene. Geta will become Geta Etore Alexa Morin. Alexa stands for "defender" and also happens to be the name of our specialist in the adoption process. Tamene will become Tamene Etore Daniel Morin. Daniel is a biblical name that means "God is my judge". We felt this was very similar to how their biological father felt when he named Tamene (which in Hadiyissa means "God is believed"). While we always plan to use their Ethiopian names, we felt that it was appropriate to add a name for their upcoming baptism (which I better start planning now that Emily's First Communion and Courtney's Confirmation are over). But we also thought that if they ever felt "alienated" because of their Ethiopian name, they could use a more "american" name given to them in the same spirit as their birth name.
Thank you for your continues love and support,
Kristen

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Looking from the inside out...

So today, we took the opportunity to come home for lunch and play some Uno. Work has gotten busy for both of us and we have been enjoying a few days of lunch by ourselves in the last 2 weeks, so we haven't been coming home for lunch as often as in March and early April. Geta has started to notice, so I decided that we had to keep that effort going. Today, we both arrived home and ate lunch with Geta and Tamene. Geta asked if we could play Uno. Having the pressure of a 1:30 meeting, I told her I could play a little bit. So we hurried through lunch and then broke out the Uno deck. As we played 3 token games of Uno, I was reminded of this same spot 2 1/2 months ago. At that point, we had very few words, but much enjoyment. Today, the enjoyment was still there, but in a very different way. There was nothing "new" about it, but how we cherish our time together. Geta proudly displays her "ouch" cards that are all targetted toward Daddy. She protects Mommy at all costs. Daddy, realizing he is playing against 2 opponents, strategizes and still wins. Words are so much more prevalent. At one point, Geta said, "Daddy, stop talking!" Anyone who knows Mike has to laugh at this because he always expends endless banter. While Geta normally takes this all in stride, today it wasn't allowing her to concentrate on her strategy. I know this is not something that she would have said to her Ethiopian Dad, but she had learned our family dynamic and feels free to be a part of it! I am truly filled with joy at our progress. The ease of our relationships bring me such joy and pride. I have no idea how we got here, but I thank God everyday for our many blessings.

I had fully intended to put picutures of Emily's First Communion on the blog today, but it is late and I am tired and the camera is nowhere to be found, so that will have to wait til tomorrow. She had a wonderful weekend and was so filled with joy at receiving her First Communion. Please keep Coutney in your prayers as she prepares for her Confirmation this Friday. (It has been a big week for the Morin Family!)

Love to all our friends! Your words of encouragement have been such an inspiration through this whole process.

Kristen

Monday, April 27, 2009

Family Photo from Easter

So, many are wondering why we don't post pictures of our other kids on this site. I don't have a good reason. So I thought I would take this opportunity to put some family pictures from Easter. Hope you enjoy!


















Sunday, April 26, 2009

Went to church

Brought home 6 kids. One step at a time. Later, Mike

Oh, Tamene and Geta went to the fire station today to see Grandpa. Geta loved it, but Tamene wasn't quite sure what to think. Didn't love the lights so Grandpa and Grandma wisely skipped the sirens. He had fun, but not quite ready to take the big rig out yet.

Oh, and tomorrow, Tamene turns two. Man, last year my youngest was 6, and now I have a two year old. But am loving it.

I have another thing to story to tell you, but it needs a picture so maybe tomorrow. But don't get too excited, it can't compare with my last one. Later, Mike

Thursday, April 23, 2009

8 is enough, but is 6 too many

Okay, so I have been meaning to post this for a while now because in my book, it is too good not to share.  Don’t tell Kristen as I am not sure she would love me sharing (let’s hope she doesn’t read our blog).

Anyway, during our outings, when we are loading up in the car, we have now taken to roll call to be sure we have everyone.  It actually makes for some fun.  Do we need to do this?  Well, read on.

So, we are at church on Saturday and we have to leave relatively soon after Mass as Kristen and I have plans (gotta like that).  We, of course, stay after Mass for our typical 10-15 minutes after it ends, so we are rushing out of church.  We are all walking and Geta is holding the door for me.  I see all the kids but Josh, and Geta says “where’s Joshua?”  I said he is ahead of us and around the corner as I thought he was, and I yell to Patrick, “Do you see Josh?”  I know, nice use of quotes.  You feel like you are there with me, don’t you?  I, of course, get caught up in something else and never listen for Patrick’s response.

Flash ahead.  I like that segway too.  We are now home and I am throwing together some leftovers for dinner as we have maybe 15 minutes to get out the door and I want to have all the kids fed.  I am now 5 minutes in (the anticipation builds) and the phone rings.  It is Fr. Nate.  “Mike, are you missing something?”  It comes to me.  He says, “Joshua is here with me.”  I, of course, being quick witted as always, say “Can we pick him up after 10am Mass tomorrow?”

Geta tells Mommy she was trying to tell us.  Maybe we missed that one.

I find comfort in the knowledge that everyone leaves one of their kids now and then, right.  Isn’t that what happens on Kate plus Eight.  I have never watched but I assume so.  And next week, Kate plus seven.  Nice tag line, who wouldn’t watch.

Don’t worry Josh is home and well and we now know how very important roll call is.  I am off to count the kids.  Later.  Mike

 

 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Flat Christian gets a wardrobe

So, my nephew Cam, who lives in the greater DC area, has a school project going on where they sent "flat" dolls to family and friends. They read the Flat Stanley book and decorated flat dolls of their own. I had volunteered to do some fun things with "Flat Cam". Unfortunately, we received "Flat Christian". We have no idea if this was intentional, but we are trying to make the most of "Flat Christian's" visit. So far, we have taken "Flat Christian" on a bike ride to Grandma and Grandpa's house and to Redamak's in New Buffalo. We have big plans to take him to Barnaby's, Notre Dame, the Studebaker Museum, the College Football Hall of Fame and the South Bend Chocolate Factory. Today, the kids spent part of their spring break creating outfits for "Flat Christian" to wear. Of course, they all center around Notre Dame (i.e., football outfits with helmets, leprechauns and ND Fans). Geta did make a token Gymnast, but "Flat Christian" didn't seem to care much for it! "Flat Christian" will be visiting Aunt Susi at work later in the week and then is off to Las Vegas with Uncle Timmy and Aunt Aimee next week. It has been lots of fun having him visit us.

We have enjoyed Flat Christian, but missed having Flat Cam!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

2 days in a row!

Hey, look at me... I am posting 2 days in a row! While we spent most of today weeding in the yard, the highlight of our day came when we finally got to go bike riding! We got one of the bike carriers last weekend and decided today was the perfect day to take it on its maiden voyage. To make matters more exciting, we brought Flat Cam (or actually Flat Christian) on our voyage. The bad news is that Mike was riding them. (not sure why I did that, but I was slightly concerned about my ability to pull 80 extra pounds of kids on my bike!) We had originally intended to take Flat Cam/Christian (got the wrong kid's paper doll) to Notre Dame, but since we didn't leave until 5pm, we decided a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's was a much better idea. Geta and Tamene had a great time riding in thier new bike carrier (even though Grandma pinched Tamene's chin with his bike helmet clip!) You could hear them giggle and laugh all during the ride!
Have a good weekend! We are supposed to get snow tomorrow. I can't believe it, but the weather man keeps telling me the same thing! Oh well, perhaps we will visit the Studebaker Museum with Flat Cam/Christian!
Love, Kristen