about two years ago the mister and i were on the other side of the earth meeting our youngest boy. so much of him was a mystery, and the canyons of everything i didn't know stood wide between us as he first walked into that room. but we bounced a beach ball to his high-octane delight, and we (he) dug through my bag and unearthed all sorts of treasures, and we got to know each other just the smallest bit of a little.
[please forgive the photo quality. it turns out that when i'm sleep deprived and emotionally saturated, i can't be bothered with things like shutter speed.]
he's grown up a ton in the past two years. in the early days i just wasn't sure how we'd swing this. he was into everything, and when i'd remove him from pounding on the computer keyboard, he wriggle out of my hands and run right back to resume his typing. he'd laugh and point his finger at me and scold me in his super cute almost-five-year-old voice, and although the whole thing was in amharic, i'm pretty sure i could work out a translation: silly mom-lady. you seem to think i'm going to listen to you.
(they did tell us he ran the care center and had all the nannies wrapped around his finger. we just didn't know to believe them.)
our boy is tenacious and funny. exceptionally bright. resilient and unsinkable and engaging and charming. he could very well make history, this child, and we're grappling with how to give him things like honesty and humbleness in a world that values rock stars.
we know each other now. and he trusts us and stays close and we're praying big, miracle-sized things for his life.
1. i am eating pudding right now for late-breakfast. (early breakfast was tea.) it's the snack-pack kind in the plastic cups that i almost never buy, but meijer had that 10 for 10 sale (the 11th item free!) and so of course i rationalized it as the free extra item. also, it feels like friday, and that is somehow related in ways i can't articulate.
(this, sadly, is neither of my breakfasts. this is a macchiato from ethiopia two years ago, and it was amazing.)
2. my good camera is broken (hence the recycled macchiato picture). the shutter doesn't close and i get an error 99, and yep i've tried cleaning the contacts, but no cigar. this gives me that sad, my-third-eyeball-is-broken sort of feeling.
3. as you may recall, my weight-management strategy is to never buy clothes in a larger size. right about now, when our nine months of winter turn into time-to-wear-shorts-it's-may, i have roughly two options: a) get off my hindquarters and exercise; and b) take up residence on a nude beach.
i don't think my two remaining eyeballs can handle b (plus nobody's eyeballs would survive me), so we are going with a.
which means that
4. with great sighing and internal vocalized reluctance, i started running again. that was two weeks back, and i took the 10 year old, who is just my speed. or actually he is not, but he waits for me and doesn't complain (whereas with the two oldest boys, after half a block it's just like running by myself).
with the homeschooling, my schedule is weird and i haven't gotten to run on weekdays, so i'm mostly walking instead. the problem with walking is that it's slow and i could be running and so i'm annoyed with it the entire time. sometimes i get the small guy to walk with me, which is way more fun (i am all about the walking with somebody, it's like conversation with a side-helping of exercise that i don't even notice), but mostly i let him play for recess in the back while i walk circles around our oversized yard. (let me explain. i have tried jogging around the yard, but it's uneven in a way that tricks you under all that grass, and i turned my ankle twice in the first lap.) (i kind of wish it had been three times, because i wanted to type 'thrice' right there.)
personally, i'd like to be a swimmer. you don't get hot, it's easy on the knees, and you end up with killer shoulders. this is totally the sport for me, as soon as i learn how to swim properly.
5. my padre, who is my best dad, has been having some concerning abdominal-organ issues. after another stay at the hospital, he is now home again, minus a gallbladder. he is still full of jokes and encouragement for everyone else, but he's not feeling well and eating continues to be a struggle. please pray.
6. i have a boatload of seriously amazing people in my life. some of you guys i see every week, and some of y'all are too far off for my liking, but you all are my people, and you show up for me in ways i don't even the smallest bit deserve. thank you. for the calls, words of affirmation, embarrassing college videos, care for my parents, unflagging prayer, notes in the actual mail, all of it. you all are so much light.
friday was a rare treat--i got to spend the evening with my girlcrush taylor swift (and twenty thousand middle school girls) in atlanta, courtesy of the ununcle. right about when we realized that this particular fan demographic has the gift of sustained shrieking at decibels that endanger your ears, i yelled to loren in my best ironic voice: have i ever mentioned you're my favorite relative? he didn't hear me.
now i know y'all are going to tell me how t.swift is pitch-challenged and flighty and whatnot, and maybe so. (i'm sorry, taylor. i love you forever.) but ALSO she is hilarious and adorable and everything i loved about high school, and that's pretty much all i require in a rock star.
it was different this time, traipsing in and out of the hartsfield-jackson airport knowing that, if God continues to lead and provide, we're jetting out of that place in three skinny months. i spent the whole time scanning the layout and cataloguing travel skills to rehearse with the small folk: airplane etiquette, TSA checkpoints, immigration, Sticking With Your Parents in Crowded Terminals.
also, thank you friends, for your steadying encouragement last week. i should have been clearer--while our homeschooling dynamics are far from sparkly, my prayer for hope was in regard to something else entirely. my dad had a health issue with potentially grave implications, and it was one of those weeks where you're stripped down to just having God, and you know for sure that it's enough. we have Him, and He keeps us, and the whole thing sings of redemption.
and he's checked out okay, my dad. i'm not sure exactly (or at all) why we are spared some sorrows and not others, but i know that it all shakes out beautiful because we have a God who's bled a way back to Him. and that's not just enough, it's everything.
every year i rally my best efforts in an attempt to enjoy spring. i'm a firm believer in growth and color and beginning again, but ninety five percent of this season ends up drippy and cold, and it plays hard to get in the worst way. ah, spring. i five percent love you.
as i type, the blue of the sky has been cottoned over with bright grey, and the world is wet and trembling with thunder. but still the trees look like this, bare-fingered branches asking for God. i'm there with them in the bald reaching, a beggar too needy to be tamed by fear or shame. Jesus, Son of david, have mercy on me.
i know what i'd like Him to do, to tidy and heal and fix our right-nows. but we also stand sure in the hope of life unending, and we want Him more than breath itself, so please God. give us You. at the beginning and end, we want You.
in other news, i am now homeschooling our youngest child. the shenanigans at school reached their saturation point, so now he has the unparalleled joy of mom as his teacher. (it is hard to slip by with sub-par efforts when your teacher knows exactly what you’re capable of, plus she lives at your house.) all in all, the days have been quite peaceful, and that's how i can TELL some of y'all have been busting your kneecaps in prayer. thank you.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
yesterday my math-professor friend introduced me to this holiday, which i vowed to celebrate with enthusiasm once i found out it involves lots of the other kind of pie, to which i am firmly dedicated.
i drove home from her place through swirling, snowglobed skies, the air feathered so thick with white i could barely make out the street ahead. a mile down the road i drove clean through the edge of winter and into full-bloomed sun and blue. it was bizarre in the most wonderful way, and i'm still wishing i'd turned around to pull it off again.
tomorrow my parents and aunty carol fly in.
there's just so much in that sentence, and i can't expand on it other than to say that i'm so glad. i wish nate and noel were coming too--the kids have been asking if they'll get to see the uncles, but my noel-brother is prepping for the philippine islands (i told him if he misses he could just keep going and hit kenya) and brother nate is sifting through pilot openings.
people have asked if it'll be hard to leave my parents, and mostly i've answered that they're already 4500 miles away, so what's another 6000? but then i got to thinking--right now if i need to show up lickety-split, i could be on oahu by tomorrow night. from kenya, it's more like three to four days out. so no one is allowed to have a time-sensitive situation. these are the new rules.
the kids have been loving the snow, though i found out they don't like to miss any actual school for it. on wednesday they were thrilled with the two hour delay until it turned into a full cancellation. the house erupted in general disapproval, while i said who are these people and what have you done with my kids? (no one even cracked a smile. my humor is underrated with this crowd.)
after a moment of silence, they headed out to muck around in the yard and had a grand time in spite of themselves.
even in winter my six year old is all about the swings. sans gloves. (ps how is it that you send a kid out with gloves, and then later when you look at all the pictures of him being outside, you realize that in none of them is there any actual wearing of the gloves?)
so earlier this week i had such a bad case of crabapples that even i was annoyed hanging around in my own head. but God surrounds me with good people who text small bits of encouragement and who tell me wednesday night jokes and who know how much it means that a whole church in uganda is praying for the very same things we're after. and today i have sunlight, a pair of thick socks, His word and His company, and it's so much, you know? it's just so much.
we've been circling through the wringer this winter. normally i think we owenses are made of pretty stern stuff, but either that was a grave misconception or else these viruses are getting meaner, 'cause lo and behold the mister and i were both out cold for a solid six days.
my older two boys made pasta and kneaded pizza dough and more or less kept the family eating through the week. (this is one of those times as a mother when you're mildly dazed + terribly pleased to find you've managed to impart Something Useful to your kidlets after all. who knew they were actually paying attention? it's undeniably sweet.)
but we are back up and running, hallelujah, and though i've scads of backlogged work, my tippiest-top priority was teaching my daughter to make these bracelets in time for her friend piper's birthday.
ps i adore the name piper. it is perfect and happy and just gutsy enough. i have been secretly hoping for another girl so i can name her piper, which is why it's probably good that elle has a piper-friend instead, so we can just invite her over and call it good.
but let's talk bracelets.
they look braided, but they're actually finger-woven and made from a long strip of upcycled t-shirt. remember back in the eighties when we all were making those yarn leis? was that a thing here? most of me thinks probably not, 'cause why would the rest of creation be lei-making, but my hawaii peeps know just the yarny guys of which i speak.
so yes. these bracelets are constructed just like that, except with old t-shirt. and sometimes you just use two or three fingers to make a skinnier guy, and you probably should visit vanessa christenson's tutorial, because her jersey bracelets are such perfectly summery hues that they'll make you forget it's early february and the flu keeps camping out at your house.
next up, this rainbow rug. alas, i should've been teaching my boys to sew. happy weekending, dears!
the small folk had a two hour delay tuesday morning, presumably due to outdoor freezingness. at 7am, when their trusty bus normally rounds our street, it was 4 degrees out. come 9am, 'twas a balmy 6 degrees. i have to think that perhaps the two degree gain wasn't quite worth surrendering a couple hours of education, but that could just be me.
kitchen counter visual:
that leftovers shot is actually from last week, when we made this cheesy bread plus loaded nachos, except i replaced their schmancy bean concoction with plain ol' black beans and went crazy with the romaine and lighter on the chips. the kids declared it a winner, although we still had negative feedback in the onion category. (the fresh onions were a little intense, but had we scaled back to a scant fourth cup i think it would've been just the right amount of bite.)
pull-up status: as you've hopefully forgotten about, one of my intentions for this grand year is to do attempt more pull ups. toward that end, we have this pull up bar in the doorway to the kitchen, and i've made this wretched agreement with myself that every time i walk under that thing i have to do a couple (cheater) pull-ups. (at this point in the game, i have to push off a little from the floor or there is no finagling up there.)
the added bonus to this arrangement is that i am discovering all sorts of muscles that i hadn't met before. like those guys lurking under my ribs--who knew they were even a thing? i thought it was mainly skeletal territory there, but apparently we have muscles all over the place, and most of my upper body ones are now quietly whimpering.
also, one of my favorite things about winter is speed skating around the house in socks, namely the part where you get to slide to a dramatic stop. it occurs to me that one of these days i am liable to grossly miscalculate and wind up on the floor, so if i ever tell you i have twisted my ankle 'on the treadmill,' we shall all know what truly went down.
there are many other things we should probably discuss, like my eyebrow situation and also why i'm hoping for more snow, but talking fluff is mostly my way of skirting the real issues. so for my fellow adoptive parents who pop in for an update on the little dude: it's the same stuff upcycled into new and improved shenanigans. should things begin to progress, i promise you i will post here. until then: you're not alone.
you've got us, and we've got you, and best of all we all have Him, and at the end of the day that's all we're really asking for, right? some decent, unflinching company in the middle of the crazy.