"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know, and holds us responsible to ACT"...Proverbs 24:12

Sunday, March 24, 2013

living w/ grandma, candy & beds

I have learned so much from these girls- sometimes I feel like Im living w/ my grandmother who grew up in the great depression. 

They are very concerned about us not wasting our food.  The first time Jerusalem caught me scrapping the left over food  off of the dinner plates into the garbage- she shrieked, "What are you doing mommy!??!"

  Every once in a while I forget they are near and do that and I get scolded.  Recently I have had to throw out moldy bread- the girls have some type of sensors on them about food in the trash- the bread has been removed from the trash and mama has been brought into questioning!

 Of course I save our leftovers but  I know that left over pieces of burnt chicken and soggy green beans will never get re- heated for another meal but I have started to throw them into Tupperware for the girls peace if mind. 


The 1st time we went through a McDonalds drive thru and got ice-cream sundaes- the twins brought in their empty plastic containers into the house- rinsed them and put them away with our dishes.


The first few visits at a restaurant- the twins collected all the plastic straws in our cups to bring them home.


A few times I felt the need to give them medicine for some issue they were having- whether headaches or upset stomachs- they protest and avoid meds at all cost.  A couple times 2 of the other kids needed prescriptions and eveynight when the kids would take their medicine- they would say- "America Dr.'s crazy- too much medicine."


One thing I am very excited that they know alot about is naturalpathic type of home remedies! 

One night Mike was very sick- I was cooking diner and happened to be chopping garlic- they saw the garlic- grabbed some and ran to Michael telling him to eat it and that it would make him better :)


My friend was over making Indian food and she had tons of spices w/ her- the girls recognized most of them and 1 particular spice they told us that mommy's take to help make more milk for their babies (which is true.)


They told me that they would churn their own butter and use it for hair product too.


They happen to be candy phenes and I think they are literally going through sugar withdrawals sometimes!  They ask me for candy everyday- which I don't usually even have in the house.  They think Im crazy when I say that it's bad for you and no good.  They laugh and say, "yes good!"  I say- "yes- good on your tongue- but no good in your body"

They truly think Im nuts and they have no idea about candy and sugar being bad for you...they told me they had candy everyday walking to and from school...no joke when I think they went through sugar withdrawals...
                                            I hear, "I NEED candy" ringing in my ears somedays...
they are addicts in withdrawl I tell you!


They never had a toothbrush until they came to the orphanage...but amazingly they have no cavities and the most beautiful teeth.  They told me that they would clean their teeth everyday with leaves from a particular tree- those are some good leaves!


Since the girls came home we made a bit of a tradition of having a family camp out on the living room floor on Saturday nights.  I usually get the couch to myself while all the kids fight to sleep next to Mike on the large blowup mattress.  We put on a family movie and they really do all go to sleep after the movie...we've probably only skipped 5 weeks out of the 20 weeks they've been home (I know because they keep track!)


The kids also got into another strange sleeping habit that I still cant decide is good or bad.  They all don't like to sleep in their beds alone!  It started w/ the twins of course- they are not used to sleeping in their own beds- so Helen especially would always end up in either Jerusalem or Sova's bed.  Many nights when I go in to peek on them before I go to bed I find all 3 girls piled in 1 bed! 
 Strangely this flowed over into the boys room- and most nights I find the boys in the same bed too.
  Everymoring I ask, "wasn't it too squishy?" and they always reply- "no it's good!"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

money & modesty

They twins have a great concept of money...they think everything is too expensive :)

  All of our kids help around the house and have jobs that earn them a small allowance- the twins have saved up quite a bit- they don't spent a penny even when they see something they love at the store.  Jerusalem was holding doll shoes in her hand for $6...she had plenty to purchase them but she put them down saying, "Wow, $6 is too much!"  (good girls!)

While checking out of the grocery store for the 1st time Helen watched the lady ring up our food- her eyes were glued on the screen watching the numbers going up and up.  As I paid for the ridiculous amount of our weekly groceries she said, " OH NO mommy-  Oh my gosh!!!   NO more food!!"

They find it to be a strange custom that we give money to children who loose their teeth!  "What money?!  For teeth?!  WHY?!" and laughing.... 

Now I was trying to avoid them knowing this because- when the girls first came home- Helen was loosing teeth right and left!  She didn't know English and we were in survival mode- so when she lost a tooth- we made a big deal about it and I told her to save it in her box.  The toothfairy never came because that would just be...confusing-I was not up for toothfairy charades.

Well- when the younger kids teeth started falling out and some coins were being found under pillows- Helen ran to her special box and pulled out her 3 teeth that came out last fall- she soaked them in mouthwash and put them under her pillow :)

The twins told me that when they lost teeth in Ethiopia they would sing a song and throw the tooth up on top of their roof- Jerusalem said, "mommy, LOT's of teeth on top of my house!"  The kids thought that was awesome and said nextime they loose a tooth they want to do that :)


 I avoid the grocery store with them honestly because of the magazines at the check out isle.  Having the girls now makes us see how desensitized we are to inappropriate pictures.  I have always been annoyed at my boys having to stand in line facing girls plastered 1/2 nude on the magazines- all younger 3 kids act like they don't even see them.  Well...that's not the case for the twins!  It was quite a scene in BJ's! 

Helen thought it was a mistake or something- she picked up the magazine and ran to me laughing shoving it in my face- she was almost on the floor laughing!

 Once one of them picked a magazine to browse while I wasn't looking and dropped it in disgust.  It was a fitness magazine and there was a very inappropriate picture. 

 One day when we were in line they asked me why the girls where no clothes.


Somehow the girls found out that Michael was in the room when I delivered the boys- they were shocked and horrified, "What?! oh my goodness mommy!  In Ethiopia the daddy's are OUTSIDE!" 

They asked about the Dr.- when they found out it was a man- they almost fell to the floor...I don't know if I can ever redeem myself from that one in their eyes!


They also think it's weird that we have babies in hospitals.  "Home is good to have a baby mom!"  They have paced outside many of their friends homes (along side the fathers!) while women were inside having babies.  They even re-enacted the screams to me and 1 of the girls says she is only going to adopt!

Monday, March 18, 2013

reality check

One of the biggest things I would say about bringing home older children- at least in my daughter's cases- is their lack of reality.

Think about it- they grew up in rural Africa in a mud hut for a decade.  They went to school but their school did not teach about the 'world' (explained in last weeks 'school post')

They are taken in a car for the 1st time. Put on a plane and landed in America.

 They saw elevators, escalators, modern technology, and more in such a short time.

I always say it's like they went on a time wrap.

Sooooo....with that being said...


when they watch a cartoon about a space adventure and we explain that there are fast airplanes that have taken people to the moon- they were shocked.  But when we read a fictional bed time story of kids bouncing on the moon- they asked if we ever did that! 

Looking back- books and movies seem to be the culprit.  We never talked about santa or made a big deal about him- BUT they watched one of those cute santa classic movies and then went to the mall and saw 100 kids in line to see him!  Just yesterday (march) he got brought up and I said he is not real- "but mommy, I saw him in at the big store!!"

Disney Princess's- they LOVE.  Sova showed pictures of her standing w/ one of them in front of the castle.  They went nuts and said, "wow, mommy Ethiopia has no princesses."

They have asked me how Tinkerbelle can fly and Jerusalem who made gingerbread houses around the same time that she watched Cinderella- calls Cinderella, "Gingerella."  It's so funny because she loves 'Gingerellla' and talks about her alot!

A friend let them borrow some American girl doll movies- they are not cartoons they are real actress's...so when they asked me if we can ever go see them- and I said- no they are just in books- they protested, "no, I see in movie!" 

Even with words:  Sova was eating a hotdog  - "ewwww DOG! "  When Jacob said, 'no- it's not really a dog- it's pig!"  That did not help any...ewwww you eat pig!"  

Coming home in October it wasn't long before we started heating our house with our woodstoves- that 's our only source of heat and the only heating they ever knew too. 

So when we would go over nana's cold house (w/ no woodstove) the girls would say, "oh no- nana no fire!?!"

I have explained to them that some people  have hot air instead but to this day when we walk into a cold house or building (church and  gym class every time!)  Jules will say, "oh no- where's the fire?  No fire! Oh no!"  That just cracks me up every time!

They still find the washing machine to be the biggest mystery in the house...where DOES that water come from...

The kids play a game in the car- every time they see a yellow car they yell- 'skittles!'  Once day Jerusalem figured it out and after seeing a yellow car said,, "oh oh oh BINGO!!!!!"

We toured a Titanic exhibit at the aquarium- with all of the pictures and artifacts it was easy to explain to them what happened.  While walking out, one of them said, "See mommy, Ethiopia- no boats- we no die- that good!!"

  Oh no, it may take lots of convincing that there are no icebergs on the lake when we go on grandpas boat this summer!

One time the girls were going to play outside but I told them to jump in the shower first.  It was December and around 4 something.  They came out of the shower and I see Jules run to the window and say, "Oh my goodness!  Bed time!  No sun!  What happened!  America crazy- no sun!"  LOL  light going into the shower- dark coming out...just another ride in their twilight zone...

Friday, March 15, 2013

school stuff

After spending some time raising children from 3 different continents I have learned that kids are kids- they really are just the same. period.

When reading their school books they want to know where they are going to stop before they even start- so they can tab the page.


Day 2 in America I started school with them.  I didn't really plan it- they forced me.  When doing school w/ the younger three I wanted the twins to wander and play and just 'be.'  Not just for their sake but for mine- I was terrified of doing elementary school with five children- that's a private school!

  But they would wander in, sit down and ask for school.  Sometimes I would say, 'later,' but  Helen would always ask, "Why?"
                                         1st week home

Right now I have no idea what to call their grade- but it doesn't really matter now...they are sooooo bright I have no doubt that they will be graduating with their age peers.

They are doing 1st grade reading- Cat and the Hat books and those early readers (not bad for not knowing 1 word of English 6 months ago!!) 


They are doing 3rd grade math curriculum (addition/ subtraction and multiplication)

They see that Jacob does his 4th grade math using a computer program that they are so interested in- so after I explained to them that once they finish their 3rd grade math they get to use Jacob's computer math program- Helen started doing 3 days of math in 1 day.  She probably does 3 weeks work of math in 1 week because she wants to use that computer program so bad.  Im letting her do this as long as she keeps getting the answers right!  Talk about ambitious...(and she's the one who is contemplating being either a doctor or a nun...no kidding there;)


They are 1st grade spelling, and I have them practice lots of copywork.


They listen in to our history and science books but this is one HUGE gap that I see in their education.  It's pretty obvious they did not have these subjects- sometimes it shocks us what they don't know.


they have never seen pictures or heard about TONS of animals.  Sharks, whales, almost all sea creatures expect fish.  Bears- They had no idea about.  A kangaroo- they thought was hysterical- they cant wrap their mind around the whole pouch thing. 
 Mystic aquarium was a thrill for them- during the sea lion show- where the person commands the sea lions to do things- the girls  looked shocked and totally confused about how the animals can hear and obey....must of even been a little creepy!



Walking in our woods they have asked if we have tigers.  They have told us countless stories about hyeenas in their own area.  They are so scared of hyenas- they told me that when there mom was out at night they would stack things up behind their door so that hyenas would not push their way in! 


They have no geography or history education.  They  know very few names of African counties- never mind Europe, Asia and the Americas.  They are not familiar with maps and globes- which blew my mind again...I could have pointed to Vermont and told them that was Ethiopia and they would have believed me!

History is totally confusing and Im sure they are not grasping any of it- Im just glad they listen in to my reading- I know they aren't able to comprehend about Columbus or the Middle Ages right now when I read about this stuff to the kids- they never heard of England-  ...it will just be really interesting stuff for them when they hear it again later and actually comprehend it.

Food is still a daily struggle.  Helen hates everything dairy (except icecream of course!) her teacher would force her to drink milk with she said, 'but there was flies on it mommy, gross!"  So she wrote off all dairy for the rest of her life.

 Jerusalem doesn't like chicken- which is 1/2 of the meals I make!   Most fruits and veggies we give them are new to them and they are still scared to try lots of things.  They eat...so that s good...but with the girls strong aversions to many different foods, Caleb's food coloring allergy and Jacob's supposed to avoid gluten...it's no wonder why I hate to cook!?!

 It's a God miracle that their favorite food is venison- it make's Mike supper proud that the girls go crazy for it :)
to be continued...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

almost 6 months (part 1 ;)

On March 30th the twins will have been home for 6 months!

How did that happen?

Almost 1/2 a year down...that's just too crazy. 
 Because literally they are leaning something new everyday- it still feels like they just got here!

They still question everything and there is so much more that has not been seen or experienced.

I am soooo looking forward to summertime w/ them!!


If I think back to when we were about to go to Ethiopia on our second trip to bring the girls home I had so many crazy feelings!


Of course I was totally excited- I couldn't wait another second until they were home. 
 I also felt like I was jumping into a river that I had no idea where it would take us.  I had a lot of fears- how would my 3 younger kids do, what would going from 3 to 5 kids be like?  would the twins even like me? will they ever learn English?  how in the world am I going to home school them?   were they going to come home as trauma victims and need therapy?  I'll stop there because the list gets crazier and crazier!


If I had a glimpse into March 2013 I would not have believed it.



God is so good.  He is merciful.  He is peace.  He is healer.  He is love.


I look back at pictures of the girls from last year and they look totally different to me.  Yes they grew like beans when they came home but their whole faces changed-  the early pics we have they look scared- terrified even!  God broke down the walls so fast!


October was defiantly the Honeymoon.  All we did was tickle, laugh, and play games.


Then the holidays came- in a way it was a distraction from the craziness.   There were defiantly some overwhelming days for the twins but we all survived. 


The snowy months of January and February were a blessing.  The newness and culture shock passed- the holiday whirl ended- and we were able to just BE. 


These were the months were we all really melded.  There was  no need to lay with everyone in bed for hours.  We started enforcing vegetable eating and following through with discipline.  The novelty of cleaning things  wore off and the chore charts became my sanity saver.


I am astonished at how quickly they learned English.  I don't even know how it happened.  They were quiet for 2 weeks...on week 3 they started using a few English words here and there and we would smile- laugh and praise them for their effort.  Then everyday they just leaned more and more words and started putting them together.  We are still in the "me" stage- they don't speak 'proper English' - it goes like this right now,

"Jacob, me use your game first?"  "me go with daddy to store?"  "yuck, me no like chicken, why black?  smells bad" 

They have 100% comprehension, and if they don't understand what we mean they ask and we explain.  Once a day they will tell me something that I have to really think hard and try to figure out what they are trying to explain- and then the light bulb goes off and we laugh together about it.


I don't know if twins come as any more opposite- from food tastes to personalities they are extremes!  

(although part of the mystery was solved when they recently told me that before going to the orphanage they got spilt up- 1 girl went to their uncle far away and another girl went to their aunt far away -still in Ethiopia but different regions where they spoke a different language.  the twins didn't see each other for a year and they were raised in very opposite settings and had opposite experiences- which defiantly molded them into what we are seeing now!  I love when I get new pieces to the great puzzle!   I cant believe some of the things these girls had to go through already- they have so many stories!!)

I keep encouraging them to talk to each other in Tigrinya so they don't loose it. They mostly speak English to each other- which again amazes me that I have to remind them to speak their native language! I don't think they will loose it. They listen to the Bible in their language on an audio at night sometimes, and they read their Bibles in their language too- so as long as they are reading, listening and occasionally speaking it- I think they will keep it.

 Everyone knows Helen is the shy one.  She is the taller one.  She is ambitious- strong willed- creative/ artsy.  She's great at math and loves to draw.  She likes things fair and square and has a compassionate heart.  She cant stand sad things and refuses to go to bed if Mike has not come in to tuck her in.  She is the one that is usually holding my hand or pulling me out of the door to go home if we are out.  She has the most beautiful smile- it honestly makes me stop in my tracks.  I tell her she needs to use it more in public where she puts on a grumpy face to avoid outside contact w/ the world at all costs...although she is slowly progressing in this department ;) 
She is so girly- loves pink, dolls, ballerina's, babies, and gets easily grossed out...she's a complete princess.

  She is very affectionate- her favorite spot is curled up on one of our laps and I think she needs 10,001 hugs a day to stay alive...which I don't mind.  She is our lovely dovey who leaves daily love letters around the house for us!

snow lover


Jerusalem is...hysterical.  She is so fun and such a blast.  She is the most easygoing kid I ever knew.  She's supper coordinated- athletic and loves to play.  She loves to joke and laugh- she is constantly hiding and popping out on me, which she just thinks is hysterical!  Mike and I have cried laughing at her facial expressions she makes- I've never met a funnier kid!  She's thoughtful, considerate, and has great manners.   She loves to read and is so bright.  She's more social and is more willing to chat with you and make friends.   She loves music, singing, and reading her Bible.  She is so full of joy and she is such a blessing to us!

Jules favotite spot to be
to be continued ;)


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

touchdown in Addis!

My husband along w/ 4 other guys from our church are in Ethiopia for 12 days.
I'm living through them right now.

There were some mixed reactions from the twins about daddy going back to Ethiopia.  One of them was having a really hard time the day he left and finnaly she said,

"mommy, when daddy come back- he'll look different!"
  I was so confused and reassured her that daddy will look the same when he returns.

She said, "No!  When Azmera (birthmom) go to hospital and I no see her for long time- she come home- I go home to see her- I walk out crying because she no look like my mom!  I said, 'you not look like my mom! See!  Daddy come home as different daddy!"

Wow- what to say to that.  These girls have been through so much and I still have no idea of what crazy ideas and concepts are floating around in their heads.  Our realities are just so different- it's hard to reassure kids who came from hard places.

Her sister chimed in, "It's ok daddy go- he go help- he go do God's work!"


PS. Mike please dont get too tan, cut your hair or loose any weight for the sake of your daughter!

Here's the team's blog to see updates!