Tuesday, April 21, 2009


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.