Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finally a moment to write...

Where has the time gone.  It's been over a month since I posted.  I have to admit, it's for selfish reasons.  A friend encouraged me to enter the National Novel Writing Month challenge, so for the past 29 days I have been pecking away at the keyboard to get to my 50,000 word goal.  I passed it last week and am still about 1/3 way from the finish line of a complete novel. : >)

Noah is doing well.  He is continuing to grow like a weed...has gained about 20 lbs since his arrival a little over a year ago.  And yes...his feet are still growing as well.  Fall was a year of not only physical growth for Noah but cognitive and emotional growth as well.  He continues to move forward in his 2nd grade class.  At this point Math seems to be his strongest subject.  His command of the language is also mind blowing.  He can express himself without any difficulty although at times we have to chuckle at his Noahisms.  For instance, tonight Hannah is going to watch Sam and Noah while the rest of us work at the homeless overflow shelter in Vancouver. He can hardly wait for 'baby take care of me' with Hannah.  
Translation:  Baby Take Care of Me= babysit : >)
Noah  has blended very well into our community.  The excitement of a new student from Ethiopia has worn off across the board.  That has been somewhat hard for Noah to adjust to the attention off of him so he has gone overboard at times to get some negative attention.  We have had to come down hard on him with consequences.  Another for instance...and in truth it is somewhat laughable...but...he just can't do this.
The hearing and audiologist came to the school to screen the kids for hearing and sight.  I happened to walk into the office a few minutes after Noah had his testing done.  

The school nurse came up to me and said, "Did you know Noah cannot hear or see well." 

I laughed, "No...what do you mean?"

"He failed both...according to the results he is sight and hearing deficient."

"He hears fine at school in Mrs. Smith's class.  He chooses NOT to listen to me at home but that's not because he is deaf.   He seems fine around the house."  Then I looked at the nurse and said, "He's playing you guys for attention."  

She was left wondering what was up.  I got caught up in life and forgot about the conversation.

Following week we get a letter in the mail from the Educational Service District informing us that our severely deaf and hearing impaired child needs further testing through a specialist provided to us through the ESD and we would need to call to make an appointment.

"NOAH," I called him into the room.  I read the letter word for word, accentuating the words severely deaf and sight impaired .  "What's this all about?  Do you realize we have to take  you in," and then I began to fib a wee bit,  "and now you are going to need to have to get glasses that are strapped to your head with a rubber band AND you are going to have to have a little box screwed to your head, behind your ear, with a wire running into your ear so you can hear better."  

He looked at me horrified. 

"It's ok Noah...it will make you be able to see and hear better.  It's what we have to do...for you."

He sat very silent and then looked to me with his big brown beautiful eyes.  "Can't I just do the test again?"

"Why would you have to Noah...unless..."

"I want to take the test again," he insisted.  "I lied."

"Why would you do that Noah?"  I explained to him the chain of events, the extra work these adults had to go through to get to the point of the letter I held in my hands. "Why?"

"I wanted to see what would happen if I failed."  

Logical for someone still trying to figure out this new world of his BUT not acceptable.

"Well...here's what would happend, " I told him.  "You go to your room....and no video games for the long weekend. You wanted to know what would happen...well...here you go."

Noah likes to wear the sweat pants that swish when he walks.  He quickly turned on a dime, knowing full well any form of argument would fall on my own self imposed deaf ears, and quickly swished to his room.



 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Clouds

The other day I took Hannah, Noah, and Sam to the park.  Hannah went for a run.  Sam and Noah played on the playground.  About 20 minutes into playing Noah came running over to me and pointed to the sky.  Excitedly he raised his hands to a cloud and outlined its shape, explaining to me how it resembled a Great White Shark.  After a few seconds I could see it...it was almost the perfect shape of the front end of an attacking Great White.  Wow...we stood together watching as the Great White slowly dissolved into a mass of rain clouds.  When it was completely blended Noah ran back to the playground to play with Sam.  I watched him run away...thinking...wondering...did he have time to take note of the shapes of clouds in Ethiopia? If so, what did his imagination see.  Not sharks, I am sure.   A year ago he had no idea such a creature was a part of his world.
 
How many clouds passed over his head the first 6 years of his life in Ethiopia that took on shapes of things he had no idea existed nor could he imagine would be a part of his new world?  
Did Great White Sharks appear in his Ethiopian sky?    

Monday, September 28, 2009

Noah's Homecoming Anniversary





We celebrated Noah's homecoming day this weekend.  He has officially been ours for one year!  Here are some pictures of the past few weeks.  It's been busy between soccer and all of his siblings activities.  He's also has learned about the lucrative business of a lemonade stand on a hot summer day. : >) We spent this past weekend at the beach...Noah  had never seen the ocean before.  He stood at the edge of the water, his arms spread wide, just chanting ETHIOPIA over and over.  We aren't sure why.  He is still so connected to where he came from yet so much a part of his new world in America.   

Friday, September 11, 2009

Family


Happy Ethiopian New Year!

This morning was the first time since school started that Sam, Noah and I were able to walk to school.  Hannah caught a ride with a friend so the 'twins' and I had the calmness of a beautiful NW morning to stroll to 2nd grade.
  
I don't know what it is about these morning walks, but it seems that every time we have a chance to slow down and walk Noah opens up about his life in Ethiopia.  Today's story, just as numbing as the ones before.  It all started when Noah asked, "What if the man (judge for finalization) told you I could not be your son?  Would I have had to go back to Ethiopia?"  I told him, honestly, that they would try to find another family for him in the United States.  Noah said he was glad  the judge said he could be in our family. He loved his family in Ethiopia but he knows he cannot go back.  He doesn't want to go back.   Noah started talking about his family in Ethiopia. On a regular basis,  he talks about his Aunt Genet.  Noah said he never really slept well at Genet's.  I asked if it was because of his baby cousin, Galiela.  
"Not always, " he said.  
"Then why didn't you sleep well?"
Then Noah spoke about what happened in Genet's shack soon before he was relinquished . A group of men came into the shack at night and grabbed Noah and took him away.  He described having his hands tied behind his back with a "thick brown rope".  The men told him he was going to be a part of their 'family' now.  Noah said he fought and argued but they kept him tied up.  They wanted him to join their 'family'.   They were a patched together 'family' of thieves. They needed a little body to sneak in to other's homes and steal for the 'family'.  This morning, when Noah spoke, he said he agree to join their family so he could be untied.   When they released him he bolted back to Genet's house.  The next night they came back and took Noah again.  The blanket over the door frame rendered Genet and Noah defenseless.  Once again Noah fought but in the end agreed and even stole a coin and brought it back to the men to prove himself, but still he had no intention of being a part of the family of thieves.  He returned to Genet's.  Genet alerted, what Noah described as, the local police.  The third night the police waited outside Genet's shack and when the thieves returned to snatch Noah again they were "caught."

Noah said it wasn't long after that that he was taken to Kombulcha, to the orphanage. 
 
Noah has experienced so many forms of family in his life thus far.  For a very brief time he truly was a family with his Ethiopian mom and a dad.  Tuburculosis ended it.  His 'family' shifted to a single dad and son.  Tuburculosis ended it.  Then his family was a wonderful aunt, a baby cousin, and a nephew.  Fear, hunger, and poverty ended it.  He became a family with the other orphans at the WACAP House, who were all waiting for placement.  My travel to Ethiopia ended it.  Today his family is my family is our family.  As we walked to school this morning I vowed again in my heart that Noah Musse is my son forever.  Nothing will ever end it.   

Friday, September 4, 2009

                               Noah, Teklu, Sam, Menywab and Megan at the WACAP picnic
                                            Teklu and Menywab spent the weekend with us
                              Noah insisted on dressing up when we went up the gorge for brunch
                     Finalization Day!!!  Noah officially became a Barclay and our family was complete
                            First day of school!!  He was ready...and very excited to start 2nd grade.

What a month we have had!  Noah has had a wonderful end of summer.  Probably the highlight for Noah was the visit of Ato Teklu (ET country representative for WACAP), his second 'dad' after he was housed at WACAP House in Ethiopia.  While Noah was waiting to come to our family Ato Teklu was an amazing comfort to Noah.  Teklu was in the states on the invite of WACAP.  He was able to see many of 'his' children who had been adopted.  Also visiting was Ato Menywab, the director  of Bete Hitsanat, the initial orphanage that housed Noah before he was moved to WACAP house.  We offered to have both men stay at our house during part of their stay and were very pleased that WACAP said yes.  We had a wonderful visit with lots of laughs with these wonderful men.  More importantly, Noah re-connected with Ato Teklu.  It was very special to see. 

Noah's adoption was also finalized this past month.  He is now 100% family. : >)  

Finally...two days ago Noah started 2nd grade.  His tutoring this summer helped him catch up to  his classmates for the most part.  We are confident he is going to have a wonderful year.   

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The question is asked many times over, "How is Noah doing?"  To be honest, at this point of the game Noah seems to be doing fantastic.  Really.  This summer, his first summer in America, has been full of a lot of adventures.  

When I was in Ireland with my daughter, Noah and the rest of the men of the family took a road trip north to Seattle.  They caught a Mariners game...something so foreign to Noah that according to Jeff the size and scope of Safeco Field blew Noah's socks off!   Jeff said by the 5th inning he was dancing in the aisles and singing along with the rest of the fans.  He really does live by the motto, "If you can't beat them...join them."    After a night at grandma's in Seattle they headed down to the Great Wolf Lodge...and indoor waterpark that basically could be described as what a casino is to adults...the Great Wolf Lodge is to kids.  Every day since then Noah has begged to go back.  He has no fear so he was riding the biggest rides they have.  One, my husband described to me, was like a giant toilet bowl.  Imagine 4 bugs strapped to a leaf spinning down a  toilet bowl vortex and that was Noah and his brothers on one of the raft rides there.  Let's just say I am glad I was half a world away.   : >)  I wish I had pictures of the whole adventure but Jeff forgot the camera...I guess I should'nt be too mad though.  At least he didn't forget to bring a kid. : >)
  
On the home front...Noah has been busy with tutoring and swim lessons.  Noah is now reading at about a 1.8 grade level which basically is equal to his classmates.  Phew...I am so so so very relieved that he has caught up in less than a year.  He still has trouble transferring information because of the language but he really has made incredible gains over the past several months. 
We have a pool at our house but have only allowed Noah in it with water wings.  Since swim lessons started 2 weeks ago however, he has proven himself to be a very strong swimmer.  So far removed from our spring break where he actually almost made the life guard at the hotel in Washington DC get wet!!  He no longer looks like he is splashing in an Ethiopia water hole but is actually using the correct kicks and strokes.  Check another thing off the list. : >)

Now and then Noah's behavior has a setback.  We expect it so we are ready to lay down the law. Today he missed a play date with a  friend as part of the consequence of some naughty behavior at swimming yesterday.  It really hit home with him and the tears fell.  As hard as it was I stuck by my guns...and I know for a fact he has learned his lesson.  Friends and playdates are his LIFE!!  

So...that's the lowdown on Noah.  This weekend we are very very excited to welcome Mr. Ato Teklu to our home.  He is the director of WACAP adoptions in Ethiopia.  He is in America for a short visit.  Noah is beyond excited and is counting down the days and hours until he can see his Teklu again.  What a special man...I am excited for my family to meet him as well.

Duty calls...back to work.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summertime!



This is a shot of Noah doing one of his chores...watering the garden.  He always forgets to take off his waterwings...

We have officially started our second month of summer vacation...so far so good.  Noah has had some trouble with the lack of structure summer brings.  I think he and I both crave the school year schedule.  He's become a huge fan of the tv show Avitar...and that has been my bargaining chip when he is choosing make waves.  Overall he's not a behavior problem...he just lacks the long term focus my other kids have so he is in constant motion moving from one thing to another.  There's usually a trail of destruction in his wake as well. : >)

Now that the first part of vacation is over I can slow down and reflect on Noah...and his past 9 months with us.  The physical changes are very obvious.  He has grown 2 3/4 inches since he walked through our front door for the first time!  He's also put on about 15 lbs. Needless to say, he is growing like a summer weed.  We took him to the dentist and it appeared that his permanent teeth were having difficulty finding their way down because of the unusual spaces in his teeth.  So with a quick trip to the orthodontist Noah got 'braces' or 'grills' :  >) on just his two front teeth to pull them together and open up the spaces for his canines to drop down.  It's made a huge difference his teeth are shaping up. 
    
Noah's teacher has graciously offered to tutor Noah this summer.  He goes to her house every day for 45 minutes of one-on-one.  It has made such a huge difference and come fall he will be just about caught up with the rest of his classmates.  We are so grateful to her.  Noah is now reading solidly at a mid first grade level.  He's making great gains all the way around.

The biggest test of Noah's summer so far has been my absence for 10 days when my daughter Hannah and I went to Ireland the first part of July.  Since his placement with our family he has never had a day/night without me.  He did great, although when I talked to him on the phone he would just say, "I'm sorry mom, I don't know, I just love you so much."  Very sweet to hear.   I am also very grateful that he had the ability to handle this adversity with very little problems. By the way...Ireland...WOW!!  Very very fun!
  
Yesterday Noah went grocery shopping with me and I let him get some ice cream cones sans the ice cream as we had 5 gallons back at the house.  The box showed the cones with dripping, delicious (or de-liss-shus as Noah would say) vanilla ice cream.  So last night after dinner, Noah runs up to the house and gets the box of cones out of our pantry.  He was very excited to share the ice cream cones with the family.  He opened up the box, looked inside, and then had a very angry/puzzled look on his face.  He looks up at the family and says, "Stupids...they forgot to put the ice cream on the cones."  He hasn't quite figured out the magic of refrigeration...nor the need for it when it comes to frozen foods. :  >)

He has spent many hours in our swimming pool.  He doesn't fear water but he most certainly does not know how to swim.  He said he swam in Ethiopia but the way he moves in water it would seem more realistic to think he splashed in a waterhole...or stream.    Thank goodness for waterwings!  Next week he starts his first official swim lessons.  We will just have to  see how that goes. : >) 

Next month Noah will be reunited with a very special man from Ethiopia, Mr. Ato Teklu.  He is traveling to the states and will be at the WACAP picnic.  Noah can hardly wait and truth be told, neither can I.  My entire family is anxious to meet this wonderful man Noah and I talk about almost every day.  

This Friday is the one year anniversary of Noah's court date.  The date he officially became ours.  How fast time has flown.  Never in my imagination could I have guessed how this little guy has changed our world.  When you are in the waiting stages of adoptions you try to picture your life with that child.  Now, a year later my thoughts of a year ago seem so minor compared to the "real" life with Noah.  

We are blessed...we truly are.  

 

Friday, June 26, 2009

A moment to reflect....


A friend passed on a wonderful book to me recently, Guide My Feet by Marian Wright Edelman.  It is a book of prayers and meditations on loving and working with children.  This particular prayer caught my eye...it's by Ina J. Hughes.


A Prayer/Pledge of Responsibility for Children


We pray (accept responsibility) for children

who sneak popsicles before supper,

who erase holes in math workbooks,

who can never find their shoes.


And we pray (accept responsibility) for those

who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,

who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,

who never "counted potatoes",

who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,

who never go to the circus,

who live in an X-rated world.


We pray (accept responsibility) for children

who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,

who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.


And we pray (accept responsibility) for those

who never get dessert,

who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,

who watch their parents watch them die,

who can't find any bread to steal,

who don't have have any rooms to clean up,

whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,

whose monsters are real.


We pray (accept responsibility) for children

who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,

who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,

who like ghosts stories,

who shove dirty clothes under the bed, and never rinse out the tub,

who get visits from the tooth fairy,

who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,

who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,

whose tears we sometimes laugh at

and whose smiles can make us cry.


And we pray (accept responsibility) for those

whose nightmares come in the daytime,

who will eat anything,

who have never seen a dentist,

who aren't spoiled by anybody,

who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,

who live and move, but have no being.


We pray (accept responsibility) for children

who want to be carried

and for those who must,

for those we never give up on

and for those who don't get a second chance.

For those we smother...

and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.


Adapted from Ina J. Hughes

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coming down to the end...



We are one week away from the end of the school year.  What a year it has been!
Noah had his end of the year evaluation for ESL etc.  He will still need at least another year of ESL (yeah...he needs it..Zak tested out after the first year and that kind of complicated things early on in his education) but in truth has made such great gains given where he was a year ago.  
He, of course, started off in October neither reading or writing.  Today he is reading and writing at both a first grade level...right where he needs to be!  I also was presented with an amazing 'gift' this week from his teacher...she has offered to work with him every day this summer to keep the 'fire' lit in him.  She more than likely will be looping as well, so he will be graced with her amazing teaching for another year!   Also, one of his 5th grade tutors will be hired to continue her work with him as well.  I truly feel blessed with the people surrounding Noah.  His spirit has created such an amazing network of goodwill.
 
Today we had a Thank You party for his 5th grade tutor/mentors.  I brought Doro Wot and injera and they feasted like honorary Ethiopians.  Some liked it...some didn't.  They all loved the brownies, however : >).  Marian Wright Edelman has written a fantastic book,  I Can Make A Difference, that we presented to each one of them.  They truly did make a difference in Noah's life!   

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One way to choose...



    How many major decisions have you made based upon eeny meeny miny mo or Rock Paper Scissor?  In your lifetime probably more than you can count.  Today, when we were walking to school Noah told me about a time he had to use his own version to make a big decision in his life.  Once again I have to add, every day I gain a new sense of perspective from him, and this morning was no different.

    We started our walk as we usually do, chatting about bugs and how tall the field grass is or whether or not the boys should have brought a sweatshirt to keep away the morning chill.  Today, Noah turned his backpack so he was wearing it on his front.  He made a little pouch and smiled, saying “This is how I carried Galiela.” (Galiela is his baby cousin who was given up for adoption prior to Noah’s relinquishment.  He still talks both his aunt and his baby cousin almost daily)  He told me how he would carry her all over Desse, his home town.  From sun up until sun down his aunt would go to the Teff fields to harvest the grain and Noah would be in charge of baby Galiela.  Noah said their neighbor, Mrs. Wordos, would be home so Noah would check in with her throughout the day.  Now and then Noah would carry Galiela out to the fields, in his front pack, to visit his aunt Genet.  When he would have to leave and Genet had to get back to work Galiela would scream for her mommy, like any baby her age, any where in the world would do.  

    Sadly Noah’s time with Galiela was short lived.  Genet had no way to feed the two extra mouths.  One day she took Galiela to the orphanage where she relinquished her.  Noah was devastate at the loss of his baby cousin.  Through Noah’s recollections Galiela was adopted to a family in Spain.  

    Things didn’t get better for Noah and Genet.  This morning Noah recalled a moment with Genet.  Genet told Noah she could not take care of him anymore.  She told Noah she had three choices for him as far as where he could go.  America.  Spain. Somalia.   Noah has an uncle in Somalia and Genet considered sending him to live with the uncle.  Here in front of  6 year old Noah were three options. America.  Spain.  Somalia.

    This morning...with his fingers...Noah showed me how he became our son.  He touched his pinky finger on his left hand and said, “America.”  He touched his ring finger on his left hand and said, “Spain.”  He touched his middle finger on his left hand and said, “Somalia.”  He continued this through all ten fingers and whatever country he said when he touched his right pinky finger was his choice... “America.”  

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Camper



 We took Noah camping this weekend.  He did awesome...then again if you think about it he 'camped' for the first 6 years of his life.  In fact...our 'roughing it' really doesn't compare to his every day existence in Desse. Regardless, Noah was the definition of "Happy Camper" over the long weekend.  We took a short drive to Silver Falls State Park set in the Oregon Cascade Range.  Noah's Godmother and her family, as well as another family, joined us.  All in all our camping party was 17 people strong.  Now that's a lot of mouths to feed. 
What was really cool about the weekend was of the 11 children camping, 7 were adopted.  3 from China, 2 domestic, 1 Korea, and 1 Ethiopian. : >)  They have their own special support group.  Really a wonderful thing. 
Noah's favorite part of the whole experience was riding his bike around the campground.  He probably logged in about 30 miles in 2 days.  He was exhausted Monday night when we put him in the bathtub.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Perspective and Happy Mother's Day


My perspective has never been the same since I returned from Ethiopia 7 months ago.  
I saw a lot.  I heard a lot. I touched a lot.  A lot touched me.
  
When the world started talking about swine flu last week I listened.  But with all the hype my perspective kept winding its way back to Ethiopia.  Why in our world would the deaths of 27 people in Mexico create a panic that would have hotels holding travelers hostage in Asia, citizens screaming to close our borders, jet planes changing their routes because a passenger has a cough, and schools shutting down because someone has a fever.
  
In the Sub-Sahara region of Africa, the soil from where my son comes from roughly 5,500 people die A DAY from AIDS.  That's right, in ONE DAY.  On the Ethiopian soil from where Noah walked one year ago ... 5 million children are orphaned... 1 million children are orphans living with the HIV/AIDS.  On the African soil from where Noah's family still lives today almost 7,400 people are newly infected with HIV A DAY.  

Imagine living with those numbers day to day.  So I ask a question...what if Ethiopia or Uganda or Zambia were our neighbors to the south...neighbors knocking on our door for help.  Would the world notice?
  
Here's a little something I found this week.  Some bullet points from the Federal Ministry of Health in Addis Ababa for the past week while we have been washing our hands with Purell. 

  • Given the late start of belg and the approaching hunger season (yes, their ministry has a name for the time of year when famine could strike) food security  and nutrition conditions may deteriorate rapidly in some parts of the country.
  • Since the beginning of April admission rates of malnourished children have increased rapidly and are alarmingly  high in some areas.
  • Over 1000 children have been admitted to health care centers in one weeks time due to malnutrition.
  • The average price of cereals is still high and the price of livestock is increasing.  No rainfall from belg producing areas so prospect of belg harvest is not promising due to inadequate land preparation and late planting due to erratic nature of the rain.
  • 26 deaths have been reported due to Acute Watery Diarrhea  last week.  Due to lack of proper drugs, poor water supplies, poor hygiene and sanitation, and inadequate human resources they only expect these numbers to grow.  
   Oh, and one more thing....
  • No reports of Influenza H1N1 (swine flu)  Phew!!
You see...Perspective. 


May 7 is World AIDS ORPHANS Day.  May 10 is Mother's Day.  May 12 is the one year anniversary of Noah's relinquishment...the day he said good-bye to the only world he knew and started his transition into our world.   Mother's Day is bookended by two very sobering reminders of life outside my walls. 
  
A friend of mine adopted an HIV+ child from Ethiopia.  We met in Addis last September and spent a week together with our new children.  It was the AHOPE orphanage that Melat was in that left such a strong imprint on my mind.  This month Jessica was honored by having an essay about adopting an HIV+ child published in Seattle's Child Magazine.  Within the article there are some great ideas for Mother's Day gifts that Support AIDS orphans.  I would highly recommend checking the article and the ideas out.  


So let's see...for Mother's Day this year I think I'm going to ask for a bowl of peppermint candy ice cream and some micro-roasted coffee that will help support AHOPE.  

Happy Mother's Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Running


Today Noah ran to school.  Another beautiful morning in the Pacific Northwest.  When the sun comes out,  regardless of the  temperature, we are outside seizing the moment.  This morning Noah, Sam and I ran (ok... Sam and I walked briskly...Sam doesn't run unless there's a reward at the other end of the finish line) to school.  I would tell Noah  to run ahead to a cluster of mailboxes and then run back to me.  When he caught me I'd tell him what to run to next.  To the stop sign and then back to me.  To the crossing guard and then back to me.   Noah ran twice the distance Sam and I walked.  This helps Noah settle into a day of learning at school. 

Every morning I spend between 45 minutes to an hour getting Noah settled into his routine of the day.  It frees up his teacher to be with her class and it also gives Noah a jumpstart to what is ahead for the day.  Most days 30 minutes of this time I monitor his tutors who work 1 0n 1 with him.  All of this takes place in a private room off of the main classroom.  Today his tutor couldn't make it so I had Noah ALL to myself.  

I'm not exactly sure how the topic came up but we got on the topic of his dad.  More specifically his dad's death. According to the records his dad died 2 or so years ago from TB.  I asked him if he remembered that day.  When he began to talk about it his teacher came in, for a general question, but soon was sitting down next to me while Noah spoke.  She has become his second mom, and her interest is as invested as my own. 
 
Noah was in school on the day his dad died.  He said his Aunt Genet (he calls her Gunny) came to his school and quickly pulled him out, telling him his dad was dying.  They must run.    He said they had no car so he and Gunnie had to sprint to the hospital through the streets of Desse. By the time they got to the hospital it was too late.  His dad was dead.  He was too scared to see his father's body.  For several seconds Noah sat silent with his teacher and myself.  I reached over to touch Noah's hand and said, "We will never forget your dad.  I have his full name and we will talk about him whenever you want."  Then I said, "I bet your dad was a handsome man."  He looked at me somewhat puzzled.  I asked, "Do you know what handsome means?"  He gave me a sly cock-eyed grin and answered, "Awesome face."  Absolutely 100% correct. :  >)  I told him his dad had to be handsome because he (Noah) was so handsome.  Noah grinned from ear to ear.   

I love to watch Noah run.  His perfect form, his long legs, the smile on his face. Noah was literally born to run.  So  many times he asks to be dropped off at our mailbox (which is 1/4 mile from our house).  I let him out and he starts his run.  After I get the mail I take off down the road and soon am driving right beside him, my window down cheering him on.  He glances across his shoulder at me and smiles with his entire face.  More times than not when I am Noah's 'support vehicle driver'  I flash back to my time in Ethiopia.  Driving the dirt road into Debre Lebanos and the children running....begging by the side of the car.  Driving into the weavers market and the children running...begging by the side of the car. Driving up to Mt. Entoto and the children running...begging by the side of the car.  Noah HAS run...begged by the side of a car in Ethiopia. 
 
On this beautiful Northwest morning Noah ran.    He didn't have to run a race to beg for his survival.  He didn't have to run a race to beat the last breath of his father.  Today he ran for no other reason other than because he could.  

Friday, April 17, 2009


I've come to the realization that Spring Vacation is not a vacation to rest up from what has already occurred but more so it is a rest up before life becomes almost too crazy to control.  We hit the ground running April 6 and have not stopped.   Keep in mind Noah is only one of 5 children in the house. : >)  
  
Here's the lowdown.  We decided that Noah has been doing pretty good with school and the family so we extended his life experiences and put him on a baseball team this spring.  Noah's a RiverDog (whatever that is).    He's got a great arm, he's fast, and in Ethiopia he use to bat rocks with a stick...so the hand/eye coordination is there as well.   

Three games down and he's held his own.  Ok...so he's had to be told to hush up the "goat call" when he's bored on the bench (it's an amazing sound he used to call his goats in ET, it gets quite the rise out of his bench warming buddies and soon the entire bench is trying to call goats instead of cheering on the team..this would be ok if we lived in the city but we are country folk and there are goats within earshot of the ball field...Ha ha...imagine if the real things escaped their fences and came to the ball field...a horror movie in the making...then again Noah would probably grab a bat, call the goats and get them back into their pen before dialing 911 was complete!)
  
What is more gratifying than anything to Jeff and I is how Noah has been included by everyone. When he got his first hit this past Saturday the entire crowd stood up and cheered for him. They know his story and are blown away that 1 year ago he WAS herding goats in Dessie, Ethiopia AND hitting rocks with sticks.  Now, here he is in America playing America's game.  



We also celebrated Easter this past Sunday.  Noah understood Easter from his Orthodox teachings in Ethiopia. Once again however, we Americans had to confuse his world by throwing in a giant furry bunny hoping around the country delivering eggs to children.  For one thing he informed us that bunnies do not lay eggs and it should be a giant chicken instead.  Second, why does the bunny put 'gross' stuff like candy inside and egg when the real stuff inside a real egg is so much more 'delis-shious' than candy. Spoken like a true survivor of his hungry world in Ethiopia Also a reminder to us that so much of our traditions are just routine mindless excess.   : >)  He's got a point on both topics.  I don't think he believes in the Easter Bunny...or Easter Chicken.  He believes in just the facts.  

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Hobaba's House"


It's been awhile since I last posted.  

Last week was our spring break so we flew out to our nations capital for a week.  Even before Noah came to the United States he was fascinated by Barak Obama.  He knew Obama's face and everytime he would see news of him (on Aljazzera TV while staying at the guest house) he would jump up and excitedly cheer... "Go Hobaba".  On the night Obama was elected president Noah watch with great excitement...the Ethiopian/African passion had carried over from the streets of Addis Ababa to our family room.  He did not want to go to bed and although he didn't understand a word of Obama's acceptance speech he refused to go to bed until Obama spoke his last word. 

On the evening of November 5th (day after the election) when we were settling down to watch tv as a family he asked if we could watch the "Hobaba Show" again.  He thought the pomp and pageantry of the night prior was an everyday occasion in America. : >)  It was then we thought we should think about a trip to DC.  All of our kids are at the age where this would be an exciting and educational trip.  I have to say...it truly was a fun, tiring , educational, unforgettable week. 

The weeks prior to our leaving we prepped Noah with what was ahead.  We said we were going to see "Hobaba's House" far far away.  We said we would stay in a place where he could swim in a swimming pool.  Somewhere along the way he fused those two together so he was telling everyone that he was going to swim at "Hobaba's House".  We figured we'd just cross his disappointment of that not being a reality when we got to DC.  Fortunately our president was on his way out the door to Europe so we just had to tell Noah "Hobaba" wasn't home.  He accepted it with a shrug and said, "Next time."  

So we did DC last week.  We walked many miles every day.  Saw amazing museums, rode bikes around the tidal basin to the Jefferson Memorial while cherry tree pedals rained down on us, looked Abraham Lincoln in the eyes at his memorial, honored my dad at the Korean War Memorial, became experts on the Metro system, watched a Panda eat bamboo, had a snack on the Capitol steps, climbed a tree by the Washington Monument, road tripped to Gettysburg, had dinner at the Hard Rock cafe, saw Hobaba's House.   

This was Noah's first family vacation and what a vacation it was!  Not sure how we can top this.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A New Phase of our lives...


When our son Zak was learning the English language he kept us giggling with what we have come to affectionately term as Zakisms.  Now that Noah's language is coming on full force we are now entering a whole new generations of 'isms.'  I'm so excited to announce that we are now welcoming Noahisms into our lives.  For example, today Noah was reading to his 5th grade buddy Haley.  He was looking at the pictures to help him connect with the words.  He got to a picture of a pig and her piglets.  When he got to the word piglet he was able to figure out the first half of the word. "P-I-G".    Slowly, to himself, he sounded out the letters.  Proudly he looked up to us and was ready to say the entire word.  Haley and I were ready for it...ready to cheer on his success.  He looked at us with his big brown eyes and smiled ready for us to cheer on his sentence in full.  "Big pigs have little pigs.  Little pigs are called...P-IGGLOOS."   Usually Haley and I can hold in our "that is so cute" surprised smiles or we can correct him with a sly endearing smile but we just couldn't today.  We just busted up laughing...it was just so darn cute.  He so believed himself that he was right and that baby pigs were called pigloos. : >)   

Thursday, March 12, 2009

One


I am a huge U2 fan...have been one forever.  U2 was introduced to me by my brother Tim , a musician, back in my high school years.  Tim had a wanderlust spirit and in his late teens and early 20's chose to live a lifestyle as such.  He traveled to the east coast on a few occasions with his band and would come back with fantastic stories of life on the road.  One such story from the early '80s is the time he came back from Chicago and told me, "Do not forget this group or this name...these guys are going to be BIG."  He  told me about how he and his band hung out with this band from Ireland after one of their gigs. The lead singer's name...Bono.  The band...U2. 
 
So how does this tie in with Noah  you ask...just wait.

Fast forward to the year 2000.  New neighbors moved in.  Wonderful kind people originally from Ireland. As time went on the mom of the family, Melissa, and I became fantastic friends. She too was a fan of U2...but for a different reason.  Melissa grew up outside of Dublin.  She was very much into the arts and theatre of her school.   Going to that very same secondary school was a young man named Paul Hewson...Bono.  Melissa was in a play with Paul and even had the original playbill and a photograph of the cast.  Oh, and she would ride the bus with U2 bassist Adam Clayton.

So...how does this tie in with Noah you ask...just wait.

While we were preparing for our adoption through Ethiopia we were introduced to the beautiful words of Bono through the book On the Move.  His words, based upon his 2006 speech to the National Prayer Breakfast where he spoke to leaders of all the faiths, are inspiring and powerful.  The images are photos he took himself while visiting Ethiopia in the mid '90s.  The boy on the cover errily looks like our son Noah.   It is one book we should all possess and read in our lifetime.  In Bono's own words:

"The one thing, on which we can all agree, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. God is in the slums and in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. 6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about Justice and Equality." --Bono

His words and his images kept us sane during the long wait for Noah.

And now I bring you to the connection with Noah.  The ringtone on my cell phone plays U2's  Pride when a call comes through.  It is a song that Noah has become accustom to and he hums it regularly.  When we started getting our bedtime routines down after Noah's arrival,  Noah would pay attention to what Sam would do to settle in for the night.  The one thing that stood out to Noah is that every night Sam would listen to music when he fell asleep.  Sam's choice of music...The Beatles.   Noah wanted music as well and when I asked him what type he would want the only song he could come up with... because it was so familiar was...Pride (In the name of Love).  Every night Noah's sweet sweet voice sings from down the hall...
 
One man come in the name of love 
One man come and go 
One come he to justify 
One man to overthrow 

In the name of love 
What more in the name of love 
In the name of love 
What more in the name of love 

Full circle...I was told 25 years ago to remember a band's name.  Could I  have guessed then how much that band would intertwine in  my life to the point of having our house serenaded every night to the melodies of U2 by my beautiful Ethiopian son.    

Monday, March 9, 2009

Since I've been so busy raising kids the past 15 years I put my journalism and education background on hold.   Just recently I have begun to delve back into my past careers.   My dear friend Jessica has helped encourage me to start writing again and I am preparing  to enter back into the schools...not sure at what capacity but am excited to get back to two things I dearly love to do. My first nationally published piece is featured in this months Adoptive Families Magazine. For me it is a dream come true.  I can't post the actual article from the magazine because of copyright so you'll just have to go out and purchase it.  : >)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Letters to home...from home.



Noah has been working on a letter to send to Ato Teklu, a wonderful man who works for WACAP in Ethiopia.  It is being hand delivered within the week.  After Noah was relinquished by his aunt he was placed in an orphanage.  Mr. Teklu, knowing we were requesting to adopt a child around Noah's age,  is the man who traveled to that orphanage and found Noah.  His relationship with Noah did not end there.  Once Noah was moved to the WACAP transition home Teklu became a central figure in his life for the three months leading up to my travel to bring him home.  When I was in Addis I got to know Teklu very well.  He is a wonderful man who loved my son when we physically could not.  One of the most dynamic moments of our time in Addis happened during our final few hours on Ethiopian soil.  Teklu and his driver took us to the airport around 7:30 pm.  It was a very bitter sweet goodbye and I don’t think Noah really understood that this was really goodbye until we were at the ticket counter and tears just began to stream down his face as he cried for Teklu.  He realized that the wonderful kind Ato Teklu would no longer be on this adoption journey with him.  It was a sad realization for all of us.
This weekend Noah dictated a letter to Hannah who typed it on the computer.  She printed it off and gave it back to Noah to write in his own handwriting.   He signed it...Musse. "Because Noah is my American name and Musse is my Ethiopian name."  
We are so very grateful to Ato Teklu.  He is our Ethiopian angel. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Goat...the new white meat


This morning as I was driving the boys to school I overheard a conversation between Noah and Sam.   
"Sam, you would like eating goat."
"Goat?"
"Yes goat.  You would like eating goat"
"How do you eat a goat?"
"Easy.  Take knife and cut head off.  Some parts garbage.  Some parts good food.  Cook in fire with water, tomato, and bereber.  It delisishus."
"..............................."
Sam was speechless. : >)

*photo is of Noah and a goat on top of Mt. Entoto, Ethiopia  9/19/08

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Over the past several weeks we have noticed such wonderful progress in Noah's school work.  If you had asked us a month ago if we would consider having Noah repeat first grade next school year we would have definitely leaned toward yes.  Now I am confident he is moving in the direction he needs to go to go on to second grade next fall.  I have to put all the credit in the hands of Mrs. Smith, his teacher and 5 amazing fifth grade mentor/tutors who have guided Noah over the past 4 months.

When I traveled to Ethiopia I brought my friend Cindy with me while Jeff stayed home with the other 4 kids.  Cindy  teaches 5th grade at the school Noah attends.   When we arrived back in the states it was apparent Noah was ready to start school.  He landed in America on September 26 and was in school by October 6.        In the back of Cindy's mind she had been coming up with a possible plan with her  5th grade students to engage them in Noah's story.  It could be a learning experience all the way around.  She discussed a plan with Noah's 1st grade teacher of perhaps having some of the 5th grade students come over at set times during the day to work one-on -one with Noah.  They created a schedule that would work with both classrooms.  Cindy then asked her kids how many would be interested in being a mentor/tutor for Noah.  Out of a class  of 25 students 22 raised their hands.  The final five tutors were selected through an application process and a contract was signed by both student and parent.  Everyone understood the importance of this opportunity.

Almost 4 months have gone by since this began and I cannot begin to tell you the leaps and bounds Noah  has made because of these 5 kids.  He not only is learning academics, but he is also learning social skills and just how to communicate and be an American kid.   He has also taught these kids a lesson or two on taking what life gives  you and making the best of it.  They know he came to our family with nothing but the clothes on his back.  They know of his hardships.  They have learned that succeeding is not about dwelling on the past but dealing with what is here and now.  Noah's story has also come home to the dinner tables of the students helping and it has made a difference in their families life as well.  I have spoken with a couple of parents of the 5th graders and they have said the experience has been invaluable for their child.    Last week we were at a basketball game for my son Nick and one of the parents came up and introduced himself to Noah and I.  He said this experience has changed his sons life.  

Our local paper is doing a story about this amazing group of 5th graders.  Two weeks ago a photographer and reporter spent several hours with Noah and the kids.  Their story will be featured within the next week.  

Through these wonderful kids Noah has learned how to count to 100 by 1's, 5's, and 10's, read books, socially interact, write stories, create story boards... to succeed in school.  They are doing this not for the recognition, accolades, or grade but for the chance to say, "I made a difference in someones life."  As an outside observer, and Noah's mom, I have to agree.  They have made a big difference in Noah's life.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidents Day


Happy Presidents Day!  Yesterday Jeff was explaining to Noah that this was a three day weekend. He would have Monday off from school...we were celebrating two great American men who were our presidents...a very important day etc. etc. etc.  Noah appeared to be listening quite attentively but Jeff soon realized he wasn't because when the explanation was complete Noah looked at him and asked, "Presents Day...more presents for Noah!"  I'm sure he was thinking the entire time Jeff was talking, "America...you gotta love this place!"
For Noah's first Presidents Day we are going to go on a nice long bike ride beside the Columbia River.  It's going to be a beautiful  sunny day and he loves riding his bike more than anything in the world right now.  

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A trip to the zoo


Noah had his first trip to the zoo not long ago.  He was quite apprehensive to say the least when we told him we were going .  In his mind he had conjured up the notion that the zoo had wild animals walking around.  He was worried we would turn a corner and run into a lion.  It took a lot of convincing to make him believe the zoo was a safe and fun place.  I think what I loved the most about the trip was that he could care less about the things my kids go wild over and he went crazy over the animals my kids see, experience, and take for granted in the Pacific Northwest.  For instance...we live very close to the Oregon coast.  My kids have grown up visiting family who live on the Pacific Ocean.  Sea lions, otter, star fish, and other marine wildlife are just kind of ho hum to them.  But when Noah entered the underground viewing area for the sea lions he just about jumped out of his coat with excitement.  The sea lions were performing for us...so they would swim right up to the glass and rub against the window.  This absolutely excited Noah to no means.  He could  have sat their all day...but it was only the first stop of the afternoon.  We had a lot  more to see.  We walked a little farther down the zoo path to the primate exhibit.  The group of little boys I took with me for the afternoon were beyond  excited...mimicking the monkeys...walking around like baboons etc.  Noah just stood in  his place,  on the verge of a yawn.  He saw monkeys in Ethiopia all the time.  He had a band of baboons come into his shack and tear it apart.  He says his aunt beat them off with a stick.  Crazy how this world  is.   An American kid's excitement is an Ethiopian kid's tormentor.  Noah just couldn't understand how come all the boys loved those monkeys because they are nothing but trouble where he came from.  

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 11, 2009


All is well around the  house.  Sam just finished getting over the flu...now I am just waiting for the next victim to succumb.  I made it to the store today to stock up...just in case I am house bound with the plague for another 6 days when the next Barclay drops. : >)  

While Sam’s been under the weather Noah has had to make it through his school days without his brother.  He was very anxious to have to go through his school day “alone”.  I hadn’t realized how much Noah relied on Sam for ‘safety’ until Sam wasn’t able to be there for him and Noah voiced his anxiousness of having to go it alone at school.  He did fine.  On Monday morning I broke the news to Noah that Sam had to be home again.  He muttered something like, “Noah work, Sam work...too much.”  But I didn’t really get what he was saying.  That afternoon Noah came home very determined and sat down at the counter with homework.  He had several letters cut out, one of them being the vowel “0” that is colored yellow. His homework, he explained, was to create words, “two letter words, three letter words”  with those letters.  So together  Noah and I create words, “to, do, so, hop, mop, lop, bop” and so on.  We came up with at least 10 words. He was very proud of himself as he wrote the words down.  When the homework was completed I told him to write his name at the top of the paper.  He wrote, “Sam”.  I said, “Noah...you need to write YOUR name.”  He said, “No mom, Noah does Sam’s work...Sam too sick...Noah do Sam’s work....Noah do Noah’s work....too much!” and then he smacked his forehead with palm and sighed.  What a big big heart. : >)

January 26, 2009


Happy Chinese New Year!  Happy Korean New Year!

We had quite a weekend criss-crossing Portland celebrating Zak and Sam’s New Year’s celebration.  Most folks don’t know that Asian countries like Vietnam, Korea, and China all base their New Year celebrations off the Lunar calendar.  It is not a set date from year to year but instead based off of the cycle of the moon and typically falls toward the end of January.    

Noah was very excited to take part in his brother’s New Years celebrations but became disappointed when we arrived at Sol Nol (Korean New Year) pulling into our parking space.  He looked out the van window, blinking through the ray of sunlight filtering through the dirty glass to a fog filled empty playground, and asked, after the 45 minute drive,  

“Is this Korea?”   

“No Noah, this the Central Church in Beaverton.”  

“No Korea...no....?” , and then a sigh.  

So he thought he was going to Korea. (note to self...tomorrow when we celebrate Chinese New Years spell it out to him...we are going to CELEBRATE China....NOT travel TO China.)  He bucked up and gorged himself with rice, mandoo, and Bulgogi and announced that if he ever DOES make it to Korea he will LOVE it because he likes the food. 

January 23, 2009

The image of Barak Obama privately being sworn in again by the Chief Justice after a miscue at the inauguration the day before was on TV last night.  Both man's right  hands  were raised for the swearing in.  Noah walke

d by the screen and in a very matter of fact and distinctly clear sentence he said, “Oh yeah....High Five Hobaba!”.  

I guess he knows what a “high five” is...now he just has to get the name Obama figured out.  Whenever he says Hobaba...the entire family collectively corrects him,“Obama...Noah...It’s Obama...Not Hobaba!”  When he does eventually get it, I think we will all still refer to the 44th president of the United States as President Hobaba.