Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why You Do That To Me?!

Now that Abe's speech has really taken off, we're so entertained by what he says. Latest very funny thing is his reaction to not getting something he wants. Example:

A couple of days ago, I was trying to get ready to go somewhere and wanted to be alone in the bathroom for a few minutes. So I gently shooed him out the door and shut it. With an intensely injured tone, he wailed, "Mom! Why you do that to me?"

We had breakfast yesterday morning with some friends, and they got to hear this lament in full force, at several points during the meal.

I should write more soon about the adoption, I know I should, I know I should... but there was a death in the family (very extended family), and we want to go to the memorial service, which means a road trip. So we are leaving tomorrow for a few days of camping along the way, visiting an old high school friend of mine I haven't seen since we were 18, and meeting a bunch of family members for the first time, for me and Abe at least. We're having to leave paperwork unfinished, but we have until next Friday to do it.

Why next Friday? Our homestudy is scheduled for a week from Friday. No turning back now, right?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wagon Child's Birthday

Last night's conversation while Abe was in the bath:

"What you doin', Mom?"

"I'm looking at photos. What are you doing, Abe?"

"I'm thinkin' about you, Mom."

The little boy in the wagon is having a birthday today. This is maybe my favorite Rooney clan picture, even though it's only five of the nine kids here. Somehow, this image of four of the big siblings pulling baby Ted face-down and backwards in a wagon just screams "Rooney."

Happy birthday, Ted!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Million Miles Tour

Last night, we went to hear our friend Susan do her thing (and what a funny thing it is) at the Portland leg of Don Miller's Million Miles tour.

The tour is just getting started, and they're going to a total of 65 cities. If they come to your town, you really oughta go. Susan will make you laugh. So will Don. Ted actually guffawed a couple of times while Don was speaking (Ted, by his own admission, is a horrible audience so getting him to guffaw is a pretty big thing). It'll also make you do some thinking about the story your life is telling or the story your life may not be telling.

This is what was going on at our house while we were gone:

Abe and his cousin Matt perfect their cool-face while playing drums.

How great is it to have a live-in babysitter? Let me tell you: pretty incredible. Abe only asked about us once in the three hours we were gone. We also came home to the most awesome leggo airplane hanger imaginable on our back deck and an interesting story about the 9-year-old neighbor down the street taking Abe to go poop.

As for Abe's story, one thing for sure is that his life is already filled with some pretty wonderful and quirky characters.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Life, Conflict, Story

Truly, I will answer eventually the questions about this second adoption. I just haven't exactly been sure how to yet. And in the meantime, I'm reading the new book by Don Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, a book about story. I'm finding that the thoughts here relate remarkably to our family right now. I'm only 60 pages in and have cried four times already.

Between envious thoughts popping into my head every other page, wishing I could write as well as Mr. Miller, my mind is being blown by the simple ideas presented about life and story. After Rich Mullins died in a car accident in 1997, I listened to his Jesus Demos over and over, the music he'd been working on before the tragedy. One line in particular became a driving force in my life: "Jesus, write me into your story, whisper it to me, and let me know I'm yours." I think in the muddle of life, I've lost a lot of the wonder that comes in knowing that there's a bigger story we can be a part of, if we allow it. Allowing it involves risk. It involves danger and obstacles and being uncomfortable for long stretches. I'm not so much a fan of any of those things. As it's explained in the book, the essence of story is "A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it." Key word: conflict.

So this is the stuff currently on my mind, about life, about our family, about this next adoption. I'm going to keep reading and keep mulling over all this. In the meantime, I'll leave you with two of the passages from A Million Miles that have made me cry:

"If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you."

Can an artsy-crafty friend please stencil this onto the walls of our children's rooms?

And finally:

"I wonder if that's what we'll do with God when we are through with all this, if he'll show us around heaven, all the light coming in through windows a thousand miles away, all the fields sweeping down to a couple of chairs under a tree, in a field outside the city. And we'll sit and tell him our stories, and he'll smile and tell us what they mean.
I just hope I have something interesting to say."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"What you doin'?"

This is what conversation in our house is like the last few days:

Abe points to something, even if he knows what it is, and says, "What that?"

We answer. He then asks, "What that ______ doin'?"

Repeat this dialogue times a thousand, plus throw in a few Happy Birthday to You's and the theme to the opera Carmen, and you've got a good idea of what our house sounds like.

Abe points to the hand towel in the bathroom and says, "What that?"

"A towel."

"What that towel doin'?"

[You may choose to answer or not, depending on how nonsensical the answer could be.]

"Just hanging there."

Next one:

"What that?"

"A bagel."

"What that bagel doin'?"

"Being eaten."

[We use a lot of the passive voice]

Of course we also hear a lot of "What you doin's?" All. Day. Long.

"What that?"

"A puddle."

"What that puddle doin'?"

"Just sitting there being wet and getting stepped in."

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Everyone kept telling me that they could hear a Southern accent in Abe, which I couldn't really hear until...

The "I can't, Mama" whine seems to bring out the
twang in our boy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Memory

It had been one year exactly since the attacks. I got a text from an expat friend who used to work for the Peace Corps but had become so entranced with Slovakia that he stayed on past his PC stint to work for a central European nonprofit. Like me, he enjoyed the pace of life, the beautiful people, the beer and general quirkiness of the place too much to leave. We weren't the absolute best of friends but we ran in the same circles, so when he sent me the text, asking if I wanted to meet up at some point on September 11, 2002, I said okay. He said he just felt like being with another American that day. I agreed.

One year before, I had just gotten settled in to the new school year and was getting ready to leave work for the day when I got an email on the school system's intranet from my best friend from work, the quirkiest computer-teacher who ever walked the halls of any public high school in Central Europe. We pretty regularly left work together, meandering downtown with no real destination in mind, usually ending up sitting in a cafe, outside if the weather was nice, with a beer or ice cream or something crispy and fried. So when I got an email from him, I assumed it was one suggesting we take one of our walks. Instead, I read something about the twin towers, if I'd heard.

I was confused. He, J, is a jokester, so I just assumed he was making some joke. So I went to his office, where I found him and a couple of his colleagues sitting in front of the computer, transfixed by the news. I still thought it was a joke. I stayed on guard around my buddy since I hated when he "got" me with some joke. It took a solid five minutes for him to convince me that this time, he wasn't joking.

That's when I had to sit down. It was a little after 4pm. Dumbfounded, J offered to walk me to the apartment I was staying at so I could watch CNN. When we got there, my landlady/friend who lived right below me insisted I come to her apartment to watch there, so that she could feed me and provide me with as much becherovka as I needed. I continued to sit there on her family's expensive white leather couch, stunned, eyes glued to CNN, as she insisted I down that shot of becherovka, which I didn't really want.

Eventually, J left and I made my way back to my apartment, where I slept on the couch all night, with CNN on the whole time. The next day, the word got out that all airports were completely shut down, no one could come in our out of the country indefinitely. This was the part that, for me, was most bewildering. I, for the first time in my life, felt like a person without a country. If something happened to my family, if I needed to get back home, I couldn't. I wouldn't be allowed. No flights were going in anyway.

I went to work that day where I encountered such compassion, both among the staff and my students. The students only wanted to discuss what was going on, which we did. Everything, even in a high school in Slovakia, was at a standstill. In my final class of the day, one student asked me how I was. That's when I cried for the first time that day.

So on the one-year anniversary, during a long break I had in the middle of the morning from work, I walked down the ancient brick pedestrian walkway to the center of town to meet my expat friend. We hadn't planned it this way, but we were both wearing black. This friend, A, was also a huge joker with such an irreverent sense of humor. We just sat together at the high table and stools of the Slovak-style deli, with our open-faced sandwiches and coffee, and talked about our country, the day, the compassion of all our Slovak friends. He didn't make a single joke.

When we stood outside to go back to work, we hugged and agreed that it was good to be together. It really was.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Poking and Prodding Process

Eventually I'll get into the who, what, where, when, and why of this second adoption but for now, some thoughts on the process, in no particular order:

Doing the paperwork with a two-year-old running around is...a challenge. We have naptime to do it, and that's about it. People keep asking us if it's easier the second time, and in some ways it is (Ted says otherwise). It's easier because we're familiar with the process. We're not constantly saying, "They want to know what?!" or "Two sets of fingerprints?!" First time round, I went to my doctor for the three sets of medical forms a total of four times. This time round, I only went twice (the normal amount). I know now to be sure to ask the notary when her commission expires. I know this time to get an expandable folder to put each stack of papers in. I know lots of things this time.

That being said, I'm still left shaking my head at the literal poking and prodding into every tiny small intensely private detail of our lives. We are literally poked by doctors. We have to answer all kinds of questions about our medical history. We have to prove that we do not have syphilis or any other venereal disease. Ted has a good story about the poking and prodding he went through during his latest physical (hello? Chevy Chase and "Moooon River" ring a bell?). We have to say how much we have in savings. We have to name guardians in case we both die and also include how much money they earn. Our twenty-something-year-old nephew who lives in our basement has to be poked by a doctor as well, proving that he is "physically and mentally healthy."

So where are we in the "paper chase," what I like to call the "poking and prodding process," or PPP? As I write this, the final copy is being made of the documents we are submitting this afternoon to our home study agency. Soon (hopefully) our social worker, a shining light of a woman with seven kids who has an affectionate eye-roll, a "you can do it" outlook, and who didn't threaten to take our child away when we forgot to show up for our first post placement visit, is going to come by for our official home study. Yes, she just did our last post-placement visit for Abe just a few months ago, but I really don't mind another visit from her. She's fantastic.

We are also nearly ready to send to Gladney our first packet of papers. They divide it all into three groups, which was really handy the first time round since all of it was new to us. However, this time, I now have almost everything in the third group completed but am not supposed to send it for another two weeks. That's just how it goes, I guess. The adoption process is not neat and tidy but neither is much else in life, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is kidding themselves. Don't be fooled. Life is messy.

What's a blog without pictures?
First time officially seated at the big-kids' table. Big stuff. How lovely to leave him here, seated next to his friend Peyton who made sure to prod him to eat, while we sat in the dining room at the bigger kids' table.

Labor Day '09 with one of the many girlfriends in our life.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Few Things We're Excited About

1. This little lady. She is home and living only a few miles south of us. 2. Green tea. I've written occasionally here about what trouble I have sleeping. For the last several months, I have been taking an amino acid called l-theanine to help with mental calmness before I go to bed. If I can shut my brain off, I can usually fall asleep. I read in the health section of our newspaper a few weeks ago that green tea contains l-theanine, so I've been drinking 1-2 liters of it every day for the last few weeks. I have pretty much replaced water with green tea. I think it's helping. Also, I may never get cancer with all those antioxidants being pumped into my system.

3. The Oromo Church. When my mom was out here visiting last year, I saw a sign for an Oromo church that meets in Portland. I took down the number but was always too shy to call. It got put on the back burner. About a month ago, I was talking with a few of the young volunteers in the ESL class I teach, and it turns out that one of the best volunteers, he calls himself Dr. Phil, is the son of the pastor of this church. He gave me his dad's phone number, and we went to their service last Sunday. The ladies had prepared lunch and sent us home with two heaping plates:
We had to have a translator, of course, but we enjoyed what we could understand of the service. We'll be going back for sure. One of the cutest things I've ever seen in my life was Dr. Phil's sister leading a group of about 15 two-seven-year-olds in Sunday school, all seated politely in a circle in the parking lot. Abe loved it.

4. Pappy's visit. My dad is coming out to visit next month. Abe adores his pappy, being sure to ask God to bless him every single night during bedtime prayers.

5. The Max costume. Abe's current favorite book is Where the Wild Things Are. He would read it over and over and over. That and videos of Little Bear are the only things he will sit still for. I am so thankful that this crafty lady is willing to walk me through the process of making my own Max costume for Halloween. We went this morning to buy the pattern and fabric.
The last and only time I sewed was when I was 19. My mom thought I needed to know how to do it, so I made the ugliest dress you can imagine out of the ugliest fabric ever designed and came away from the experience with a mild case of carpel tunnel syndrome that lasted a week or so: searing pain up and down my inner arm from the wrist to elbow. No fun. We'll see how it goes this time 'round. Good thing I've got an excellent teacher.

6. Band-aids and trips to the doctor, bank, notary, post office, etc. Why is Squinty McSquinterson so happy about these band-aids on her arm?
Yep, we're starting again, God willing. Abe really needs a sibling. More on that later.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Welcome to September

Click here to get involved.