Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Days to Remember

These are days you'll remember

never before and never since, I promise
will the whole world be warm as this

and as you feel it, you'll know it's true
that you are blessed and lucky
it's true, that you are touched by something
that will grow and bloom in you

when May is rushing over you with desire
to be part of the miracles you see in every hour
you'll know it's true, that you are blessed and lucky
it's true, that you are touched by something
that will grow and bloom in you

these are the days

that you might fill with laughter
until you break

these days you might feel a shaft of light

make its way across your face
and when you do
you'll know how it was meant to be
see the signs and know their meaning

you'll know how it was meant to be

hear the signs and
know they're speaking to you
to you

"These are the Days" is one of my favorite songs of all time and is the song playing as we told Julie and Steven goodbye, after a glorious hour of toasting their incredible day and their beautiful children. I couldn't stop crying at every glance of these children in the room and the two in the photos being passed around this evening, just as the tears flow as I write this.

I will always remember this day.

The Eyes of Their Eyes are Opened!

The exact same talented and brave Julie who I wrote about yesterday just found out incredible news this morning. Incredible. Blogland rejoices today.

Go see for yourself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Earthquake Weather" by Julie

I know I link to her page a lot, but after reading posts like this one, I just can't help myself. Julie has a way with words like few people I've met. She's the one who described Ethiopian children as being "lit from within" and our Abe specifically as being "seretonin in a pair of stride-rites," which is probably my favorite description of Abe to date. Julie is also a comedian, a thinker, and braver than most anyone I know, for a lot of reasons.

Okay, I'll stop gushing. Just go read this post.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Prayer to the One Who Loves Us Most

One of the pastors of the church we attend in Los Angeles spoke this weekend about prayer. For the first 2/3 of the talk, I felt like I was attending a lecture at Fuller Seminary. It was a lot of factual information from the Greek about the early church and so on. I guess my attention span isn't what it used to be because I had a hard time paying attention.

Eventually, the pastor broke into the third part of her talk, telling us a story about the first time she met her first grandchild. It was endearing. It was funny. She told us about how this grandson is now 8 years old and wants her to tell him this story every time he sees her. He now has a little brother, and they want to hear the first-meeting stories over and over, trying to figure out who Gramma loves best based on her reaction to their sweet, infant selves.

I found myself tearing up, thinking about the day I get to tell Abe the story of the day we first met him, how he'll get to hear about the times each of his grandparents met him for the first time and how loved he is. This pastor then said that this is what prayer is: our getting close enough to God to let Him retell the story of what it was like when He first met us, how beautiful and funny we are to Him, how much He loves us. As our pastor said, when someone is telling us about how much they love us, we all want to hear more. The older we get, the more we feel that we're supposed to hide this impulse to hear about our belovedness, but we do want to hear. We want the conversation to continue; we want to hear more.

This image of our pastor telling her grandkids about how in love she was with them upon first meeting will, I think, be forever connected in my mind when I think of prayer. And it makes me want to pray more, not to ask for things but to listen and try to believe that I am loved the way a grandmother loves her grandson, even more so in fact.
a beloved grandson and child of God, eater of dirt and sticks.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Language Instinct

Abe's recent construction of full sentences is making me want to re-read some Steven Pinker. This is Abe, straight out of the bath (hence the wet spot on the bed), telling me what he wants.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SoCal Again

We are back in Los Angeles, for one last "stint." Um, at least we think so. Unless we come back later. Which we won't really know for sure right away...or ever. But this is where we are for now. I'm working on a "Toddler Travel 101" post since well, we're on airplanes a lot.

Just finished The Color of Water. Cried. Inspired. Challenged. I'm moving on from this to a glittery paperback book with a bare-chested guy on the front, who I think might have some superpower. It was recommended by a friend whose suggestions I've always taken and always ended up loving, but... glittery bare-chested dude? I was slightly embarrassed for Ted to find it when I got home from the bookstore. We'll see.

"The plain truth is that you'd have an easier time standing in the middle of the Mississippi River and requesting that it flow backward than to expect people of different races and backgrounds to stop loving each other, stop marrying each other, stop starting families, stop enjoying the dreams that love inspires. Love is unstoppable. It is our greatest weapon, a natural force, created by God." --James McBride.

*if the person who recognizes the necklace I'm wearing here could send me an email, I'd appreciate it very much: Thanks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

That Merlefest Story

Our flight leaving Addis Ababa last spring didn't depart until 9pm, so we had most of the day to spend doing final things in the city. Ted had gone out that morning to take photos, and in the afternoon, we took that drive up to Entoto Mountain and back down. When we got back to Ayat House to gather our things, another family had arrived and moved their things into the living room to wait for us to leave.

We had a nice conversation with them, albeit a short one since we were on our way to the airport. They were really nice people. I almost forgot about meeting them in the chaos of that day.

Fast forward a year and a month to Merlefest. While in Addis, we were able to meet and take photos of little Samuel Albertson, and his mom Becca and I have become good friends since then. I really love Becca and have campaigned for them to move to Oregon. I don't think it's working. We agreed to meet up for the day on Saturday at Merlefest since they live only an hour away and dig the festival anyway.

This was our first time to meet in person, and I was excited. I already knew it would be awesome to hang out with Becca, and I was really happy to find out what a cool person Zach is too. I mean, these folks are fun, and what hilarious cute kids they have. Love all around.

So we went with the Albertsons to catch The Duhks show in the hillside stage, and we got all settled in to a shady spot really high up on the hill. Through the music, I can hear Zach and Becca talking to someone behind us and pointing our direction.

I turn around and notice a little girl there, Ethiopian. Her parents tell me their names. They are the family who we met in Addis at Ayat House on our last day. We all sort of flipped out so much that the guy sitting next to us got irritated, telling us he was trying to listen to the music (um...hello? it's an outdoor concert in the heat of the day at a crowded family-style festival...give us a break). What are the chances that we would, at a festival with seven stages and thousands of people, meet up with this family?

After the concert, we parted ways for lunch and said goodbye, with no plans to meet up again. We all have lunch and decide to watch the show at the Americana stage. My dad (who was not there for The Duhks concert and hadn't heard the story yet) took our blankets to claim a shady spot. We go to settle in to the place my dad picked out and find out that he had placed our blankets directly beside the same family. Again, in a festival full of thousands of people, we bumped into each other.

It's crazy, I'm telling you. We swapped emails and have decided to stay in touch. You never know.

Reason #642 to love the Albertsons: they love funnel cake as much as we do.

Abe kisses Samuel

Abe and Leah watch the mime at the Little Pickers tent. I loved how Abe sat here for a solid 15 minutes, hands clasped, mesmerized.

Pappy entertains the little ones at the Americana stage.

Beauty. We think this photo should be used for next year's Merlefest program.

Reason #1,209 to love the Albertsons: They think Ted is funny and not just really scary.

Later that night, Emmylou performed "Orphan Girl" while I sobbed.

Later, later, later that night, we goofed around back at the campground, listening to the pickin' session going on by our fellow campers. We also stayed up way to late listening to pretty incredible stories from my dad about the early dating days with him and my mom, and I thought, "This is what it's about."

We flew through D.C. to get home. Abe was, unfortunately, unimpressed while meeting our president.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Momma

There are a lot of things I love about my mom. She gave me and my sister a pretty incredible childhood with lots of Mr. Potato Heads, little debbie snack-cakes, movies at the $1 theater, Saturday night steaks and The Love Boat, and fun girls-only trips to the coast where we'd have burping contests with shaken-up bottles of Dr. Pepper.
Mother and Potato-head daughter, 1975? '76?

She also has always been the make-up queen and taught me how to gussy myself up for special occasions, like my big sister's wedding.
Mother and maid-of-honor daughter, 1991. Gotta love the "dusty rose" taffeta, right?

She's kept the bond really tight between all us girls, teaching me what it means to support each other through thick and thin, lean and plenty.

Three generations: Big sister, Granny, Lori, Momma, 2004

She loves Ted like her own son.

Mother and son-in-law, 2004

She's a doting grandmother who parades Abe around her workplace, tacks his picture up everywhere, and shows everyone the blog.

Maybe what I love best is symbolized in the locket she wears around her neck every day. She puts the names of children in there that she prays for, children who are sick or lost or who need to be prayed home.

She lets my friends call her to talk about motherhood, even if she was watching Idol. She used to be a foster parent for many years, always bringing in the most special needs babes out there, in need of an especially gentle touch. She taught me not to be afraid of any disability a child might have. She taught me that you survey the situation, pray, and gently yet determinedly forge ahead into deeper waters of compassion and patience. She's bravely allowed her heart to be broken by these little ones many times.

Over the phone, she says, "Mm-hm" when I tell her that the best Mother's Day gift I can get is simply to be Abe's mom. All weekend, I can't stop thinking about my friends who are still waiting to be "mom," and my heart breaks for them. And I hold Abe a little tighter, and my Momma gets this.

I also really like that she has been known to rock out to "Purple Haze," if it happens to come on the classic rock station while she's driving back-roads during a Mississippi thunderstorm. Momma's gotta rock sometimes, right?

grandson and Gee, 2008

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Indie Rock Moon Hugger

These guys are so going to form a Portland indie-rock band in a few years. I'm hoping they consider this photo as their debut album cover. Album title, anyone?

Abe decided tonight that he was ready to use the potty. Big deal here. He's been sitting on it for months now, but tonight I put his duck-shaped kiddie-seat on top (what are these things called?), and BAM: he went. Incredible. I couldn't believe it. Sap that I am, I fought back the lump in my throat at the wee bit of sweet yellow in the big bowl. I. am. a. dork.

Abe has also decided that he wants to hug various characters in his books, like little Bo Peep and in a very nonlinear fashion that I just love, the moon. He leans forward to the book and hugs...what is he hugging? I don't know. But our boy pees on his duck-pot and hugs the moon. Oh, we love him so.

Also, the eruption of air from any bodily orifice is hilarious, especially if while under-water, according to Abe. The boy's first official joke was last week: "Abe eat diaper!" so what else should I expect but an abiding love of potty humor?

I laid him down in his bed tonight and started to walk away. I hear, "Mom?" I tell him goodnight and keep walking. He calls me again (most nights, this goes on four or five times before he falls asleep). Finally, he pleads in a high pitch, "Hooooney!" I turn around to blow kisses one more time. He tries to play peek-a-boo but I have my limits.

More on that Merlefest story soon. Really.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What I Did on my Merlefest Vacation

Day One:
Abe and I left the house at 4:45 a.m. to catch our 6:00 flight to Chicago then Charlotte. People, that's early. I got myself ready, waking Abe up at the last minute. I rubbed his back to rouse him, and he looked up at me and smiled. I think he knew he was in for several days of fun.

He was incredible the entire flight. We weren't expecting that I'd be flying solo, but Ted had an unexpected job come up that shot the morning we were set to fly. C'est la vie (okay, really I freaked out when we first got that news that I'd be going by myself). Favorite part of this journey: as we boarded the plane from Chicago, Abe walked ahead of me down the aisle to our seat, blowing kisses at every passenger as we went past.

My sister picked us up at the airport and we drove the hour to Merlefest, where Abe met up again with his cousin:
Then we walked from the campground to the festival, Abe on Pappy's shoulders:
We went backstage to hear Travis Tritt sing "Here's a quarter, call someone who cares":

And made a stop by the playground on our way back to bed:Day Two:
Abe woke up asking where his Pappy was. This was his very first word of the day:

I dressed Abe in his Merlefest romper bought for him last year by his Aunt Tara, and the tradition of the morning golf-cart ride with Pappy began:

By noon, Ted had arrived after taking the red-eye and sleeping a few hours on the floor of Chicago O'Hare. We found out where our favorites, The Duhks, would be playing and settled in for an amazing show outside on the hillside stage, where I was terrified of Abe losing his balance and rolling all the way down that steep hill. We kept a tight grip on him:The Duhks are fun to dance to...or hula hoop to:

A thunderstorm and nonstop incredible music later, we were on our way back to camp to freshen up for the evening when we happened upon these guys:

This is exactly what I love most about Merlefest. The artists hobnob with the muggles. I was star-struck, borderline teary at getting to meet these guys, The Duhks, my favorite band for three years straight. Love, love, love these people. Two years ago, I got to dance on stage with them and John Paul Jones as they sang "Whole Lotta Love." And now, I got to say 'hi, I think you guys rock' directly to their pretty faces. Incredible.

Abe fakes us all out by falling asleep for a catnap during The Waybacks evening concert.
He wakes up right when we get to the camper, and is Up, Up, Up. So what else to do but another ride with Pappy before bed? Here he's blowing us kisses as he rides away while probably thinking, "suckers..."Day Three:
This is what my niece did all day, at least until her mom hid her book for a couple of hours in the afternoon:

The Hunger Games is really good. By the end of this day, right before bedtime, my niece was sitting alone in the camper, reading the last few pages and sniffling. She then appeared and declared it, "the best book I've ever read."

Yep, another day, another morning golf cart ride:
Here, Abe is wearing the "Half Full" tshirt I bought him three years ago at Merlefest. This was the very first thing either of us bought for our child once we started the adoption process. I blogged about it here.

I'll continue with part 2 later with the tale of that mind-boggling experience we had...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Smile at the rising sun

This is the song I want to have stuck in my head.