Friday, January 30, 2009


I present to you Abe's hero:
This summer at Kennedy School, Rhett helps Abe learn to walk by dancing outside in the courtyard.

Abe is so glad to be able to play the piano like Rhett played here back in September.

This evening at dinner, Rhett ate while Abe pretended to.

I love seeing Abe trail Rhett around, pointing and announcing his name, "Ett! Ett!" Rhett tolerates Abe's hugs and occasionally pecks him on the top of his head. We're thankful to be the lucky recipients of Rhett's blossoming big-brother skills...not long now, not long.

Check out the amazing idea that Courtney had this week. I mailed my mine out this afternoon.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just because...edited

Just because, my new favorite photo:
Here is my favorite election-related tshirt, which I went ahead and got today. You can get one by going to or email I got this at a tiny, independently-owned screenprinting shop in southeast Portland. The owner is a great guy who has already sold over a thousand of these for only $10 and is thinking of only making a few more batches, so if you want one, contact him now.


I just found these on Craig and Cindy's blog...amazing photos. Take a look.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Toddler Abe

I was talking with my friend Jocelyn last night about how people ask us if we miss the baby-stage that our kids have grown out of. Neither of us do. Sure, Abe was a sweet, sweet, sweet baby who slept all night and ate every single thing we fed him, and now he's a toddler who is picky and has tantrums that turn his lips blue, but I don't long for the baby Abe. This age is so fun. We are constantly entertained watching his personality erupt just like those dang molars that make him suck his thumb and drool. His imagination is coming to life, he sings, he runs, he squeals in delight, he makes us laugh, and he's actually more cuddly as a toddler than he was as a baby.

We heart Toddler Abe. Here's Abe playing with his cousin Matt.

Abe is still pretty obsessed with The Ting Tings' song, "Great DJ," which you can hear him sing at the very end of this video. He sings this all day long.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Something Hopeful and Beautiful

Be sure to click "play" on the song while you read.
Go here.

One of the nurses at Abe's check-up visit today noticed him looking at books and launched into a story about the first book she was given as a age nine, right before her family emigrated from Croatia to the United States. Her aunt was going to throw the book out, but she decided to stash it in her suitcase for America. It became a source of wonder and connection to Croatia for her. She still has it.

Abe already has his own pretty large bookcase full of books, mostly found by his cheapskate mom for $0.49 from Goodwill. I've never counted, but it's probably upwards of 50-60. He's only 19 months old. So far, reading books is one of his favorite things to do. I hope this wonder with books keeps up. I look forward to giving him a book on Croatia (one of my favorite countries) and telling him about this nurse who lit up at the mention of books.

On this last trip south, I took Ted and Abe to Natchez, the town my dad is from, to visit the family there. We walked the bluffs of the Mississippi River, drove by countless antebellum homes, and ate greasy sausages and greens made by my uncle. And Abe was dressed in hunting camo for the day, a gift from the deer-hunters.

My grandmother's house has changed not at all in at least 30 years. The same photos are hung on the walls, the same clutter on the "middle room" desk, the same smell, the same cookware and old bottles of spray-net in the bathrooms. It's like taking a step back in time for me. I couldn't stop myself from wandering and nosing about things. I found the boo
kshelves in the middle room, the room where my sister and I would sleep when we visited. I quickly grabbed three books from the shelves: Ralph Rides Away, What's a Ghost to Do?, and Little PeeWee. My heart was racing as I took them to the living room to sit on the couch and read them again. These moments on my grandmother's couch became one of the most emotional parts of our trip for me.

I wasn't expecting the tears. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I cry kind of a lot. Most of those tears are expected for normal tear-inducing things like a difficult adoption or songs by The Weepies or celebrations when my friends reach some milestone...not a book called Little PeeWee. But there I was, crying as I looked through these books, remembering the hours I spent as a near-sighted chubby girl who was no good at all at a
ny sport, reading and rereading and drawing in the margins and adding snarky thought-bubble captions to the illustrations.

My Maw-maw and Uncle Eric let me take one of the books home with me. I chose Ralph Rides Away, mainly because I thought I could fi
nd the others on amazon or ebay, which I can. I haven't ordered them yet but hope to at some point. I'm thrilled that we have a son who stares at books as long as he does, who points at the illustrations, who bobs his head as I read the ones with rhythm, who begs several times a day to read 'gooks', who seems already to get the joyful imagination that comes in getting lost in those worlds.

Notice how Abe blends into the couch here? That's because of the camo, people! Just doing its job!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What the Heart Chooses to Say

There was this distinct moment I remember a couple of years ago, before Abe, before we'd even begun the process of adoption where I found myself sitting at our computer desk in the office, crying, depressed, lost, and telling Ted, "I know one day I'm going to look back at this time and see that God was with us, that we're just in the valley, but right now in this moment, I just want it to be over. I don't want to climb this mountain. I want to be on the other side already. I've had enough." Enough, enough, enough, I'd had enough. Of being misunderstood, of being "other," of trying to find my way in a brand new city without a job and without a child in my early '30s, a very difficult proposition. I was tired and rain was getting to me and the insomnia was fully charged...

Things felt dark, very dark.

Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Months went by, we decided to adopt. The light came on again. I was pulled from the pit. I felt a little less "other" but still not completely in the club. I had a path to walk on. I could get out of bed again. I started a blog. My head was clear. Life felt hopeful.

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

More months went by. We heard of a little boy named Abenezer. I fell in love. My world expanded. My heart expanded until breaking. But Stop. Full stop. This won't happen. I made friends with two folks I named Knot and Dark Thoughts who had Jagermeister parties in the pit of my stomach. They were always with me. I wrote posts like this one and this one. I went to church and stood silently while everyone else sang. These words felt so real that I couldn't get them out.

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Now it's exactly one year later. A few nights ago, I was sitting on the basement couch, laughing at Tina Fey, eating peanuts, when that boy who is lit from within, put his arm around my neck, unprompted, placed his cheek on my cheek, and said, "Momma." He lays cradled in my arms, eyes in my eyes, sippy cup in one hand, thumb in mouth, and says "Bah-mm, Momma, Oh-ba-mama" and finally a slurred version of "Iwubbu."

So I stood up in church this morning, still unable to get the words out, remembering the valley, the mountain we crossed, the pit, the fear, the clinging to Christ, and this current state of streams of abundance with a strong man who walked this winding road with me and a magical, lit-from-within boy whose favorite words are bah-mm, dah-nn*, poop, eat, happy, Mama, and who just this morning came out with a beautiful groovy.

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

*bah-mm=bottle, dah-nn=diaper

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Visiting the Gladney Campus

The trip we just got back from included too many wonderful moments for one post. So I'll start with this one, near the end of our trip. We were in Dallas for a few days visiting one of Ted's brothers and his family, so we drove out one afternoon to Fort Worth to visit the Gladney campus. We'd been wanting to do this for a while, and I am so glad we did.

The moment I saw the sign with the address I'd written down so many times, I got teary. Then we walked in with Abe and after a few minutes Mary and Scott came down the stairs, and I was trying not to lose it. Mary was our caseworker, the one who made all those difficult calls with bad news...and then the one whose voice told me on March 3rd last year, "Lori, it's done!" signaling the news that we were Abe's parents officially. To meet sweet Mary in person was so beyond wonderful.
Abe meets Mary and does his teased "ooh, that's a pretty girl" routine.

I encourage any parents who travel anywhere near the Gladney campus to stop in for a visit. We had a wonderful time there, and I think it does the team a lot of good to meet the children they've heard so much about and worked so hard, long long long hours, to bring home to their families. They were so laid-back and wonderful, not even once threatening to take Abe away from us when he wandered off to find the fun toy-room down a long hall-way (seriously though--how ironic that we lose our child and send our former caseworker scrambling along with us calling out for lost the agency building through which he became our son? Not my proudest mom-moment).

The incomparable Mary, with Scott Brown, head of the Ethiopia program

Finally, we found out while at Gladney that there is a movie out there about Edna Gladney called Blossoms in the Dust, made in 1941, which won an Oscar for Best Art Direction and was nominated for Best Picture. Wow. It's now on our Netflix queue.

I'll leave you with some purposefully blurry photos of the next fun thing that happened on our trip to the South, which I'll write about next:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another little Oliver...

In this blogging world, we have favorites. It's impossible not to. Craig and Cindy have been some of my favorites for a while now. I've been out of the loop for the last couple of weeks with blogs. I put Abe down a little early for a nap today so I can catch up. Then I found myself fighting back tears at this post.

Please. Go read it. This is why people start blogs, for moments like this. What an inspiration for those just starting out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back from The South

Our son was dressed by my deer-hunting relatives in camo last week:
And he also learned three new words: gumbo, ash-tray, and Oba-Mama. We are so proud. But we're finally back in Oregon tonight. Here's the view of Mount Hood from the airplane:

More to come. It was a great, Obama-tastic trip.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Walking on Sunshine. Woah-Oh.

I was finding it hard to take January in Portland much longer, so when our friend Susan (who has a book coming out in March, which you can pre-order here) suggested we come down to Los Angeles for a stopover for a few days before the big trip to visit my family in Mississippi, this light went off in my head and we were on an airplane that afternoon.

It sounds like a cliche, but truly: I think I was forgetting what clear blue skies look like. Some images from our last few days:

A day so clear we could see Catalina Island from Mount Wilson. Unbelievably beautiful.

Who's a cheeseball? We are cheeseballs! Can anyone tell that Abe has had a haircut? (by me, while in the bath, unable to comb out the dreads).

This is why people live in Southern California: a morning in January.

It's Los Angeles. We spend a lot of time in the car. Abe naps here often.

Sweetness. Abe calls these "Oh-nos" (oranges) and eats at least 5 or 6 daily.

The other day in Target in rainy, snowy, wintry Portland, Abe started saying "happy." I've called Target my "happy place" for a while now, so what kismet this boy has. Here, he demonstrates his new word:

And now off to Mississippi for hushpuppies and fried catfish with my deer-hunting relatives. Yum.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

An Important Agency Question

This topic may seem like it's coming out of nowhere considering that it was this time two years ago that we were researching agencies, but since coming home with Abe, we've been asked a lot of questions by people interested in adoption about the process and how to choose an agency. Choosing an agency is a huge decision, one that took us four months of research to make. The decision is partly made by your gut feeling, but one black-and-white issue I always recommend people really look at closely is the issue of finances.

Agencies should have a crystal-clear breakdown of the expenses you will be expected to pay, with time-lines of when things are due, along with specifics about what each expense covers. I caution people strongly if they encounter an agency that asks their clients to pay everything up front. This should be a red flag.

Along these lines, be sure to ask the question, "What happens if our adoption is postponed for any reason?" There are couples out there who don't ask this question, get deep into the adoption process, and suddenly find themselves pregnant. This is life. Ted and I believe strongly that any agency should have a reasonable policy about this occurrence. It feels fair that the agency should keep what the client has already paid to use for whatever costs have been incurred up until that point.

Of course, it's also not fair for an agency to lose money when an adoption is postponed. But it also doesn't feel fair for them to charge "reactivation fees" (sometimes in the thousands of dollars) or to cancel your adoption completely with no refunds of any of the thousands of dollars already paid, as some agencies do. Agencies who choose to implement these policies are certainly entitled to do so. However, they should also be crystal-clear about these policies with prospective clients from the very beginning. Not all of them are, though, which is the reason why I'm writing this post.

So. While it's not the most heart-warming topic to think about when exploring adoption, it is certainly an important thing to consider. Any agency who hands you an expense report that leaves you scratching your head may not be the best agency to go with. Do your research. Compare the expenses of many agencies and ask specific questions about what each expense goes towards. Ask for a list of the agency's clients who would be willing to serve as references for the agency. If you are not given references or excluded from the agency's events, you might want to consider going with an agency that is more transparent with their policies.

It's often hard to see beyond the glossy brochures and heart-wrenching DVDs provided in agency literature. But it will be well worth your time to buckle down and do it.

...and in the end, after four months of research and almost signing on with another agency, we are so very thankful we found Gladney. They truly are the "gold standard."

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Ting Tings and Amelie Jr.

We're putting a bathroom in upstairs in our bedroom, so there's a constant flow of electricians and plumbers in the house early in the morning. I'm also trying to put the house back together after the holidays, in the midst of construction upstairs and a toddler who is hell-bent on gleefully destroying any progress I make. I have thoughts running around in my head that I'd love to write about. But I'm having difficulties finding time. So in the meantime, here is a video of the song that Abe most likes to rock out to. And by "rock out" I mean: simultaneous air-guitar and stomping his right foot repeatedly. We find it pretty wonderful.

Embedding has been disabled on this video, but I encourage you to click this link to hear the song that Abe loves most right now. He loves to sing the "Ah, ah, ah, ah, Ah, ah, ah, ah" part over and over. What I like about the song is that I can pretty easily mimic these dance moves.

Finally, we're entranced by Amelie Jr.:

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


My son takes my electric toothbrush and brushes his few teeth until the charge runs out.

My husband notices this. I find my toothbrush sitting on the bathroom counter, fully charged.

This fact fills me with warmth. I am blessed.

Happy New Year.

It was a year ago today that this happened. As awful as it was, it's still a benchmark in our journey to Abe, so I can't help remembering.