Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's been awhile since I have posted. Life just gets in the way. I enjoy writing on here and sharing about our little family. I started this blog as a way to show the world that single parenting by choice is a positive way to have a family. It was also a way to share with family and friends. Time has gone on and instead of showing the world on this blog we are showing the world just through living and having fun. Yet I still don't mind sharing (as long as it's not anything embarrassing to my children). Here is an update from the past few months.

-Jacob turned 8. You can read my post below and see a picture from last summer to learn more.

-Matthew has become my little swimmer. It's hard to know how much he loves it. He is in a phase right now where he says he doesn't like most things just because wants to be silly. His smile in the pool tells a different story though. Yesterday he was disappointed that they played games in the pool instead of having a regular practice. It's a long season and he has a long way to go before March. There will be days he doesn't want to go to practice but most days he is happy to get to the pool.

-Matthew beat Jacob at backstroke! It was only about the 5th time Matthew has ever swum in a meet. Backstroke has never been Jacob's best stroke and Matthew seems to be a natural at it. Matthew took 2nd place and Jacob took 3rd at last week's meet. Matthew's time was just .4 seconds slower than Jacob's best time ever. Jacob claims he let Matthew win.

-Matthew jumped 7 reading levels at school. I could go on for awhile about this topic but I'll just focus on the positive that he is finally getting what he needs at school and loving it.

-Jacob continues to be ahead of grade level. They didn't give him the extra text book for advanced students yet but they are monitoring him closely. He needed to be able to complete his subtraction facts in less than 5 seconds. He is very close. I worked with him last night and he missed 4 out of 56. Jacob's school is a "focus school." Basically, not enough kids are passing the standardized tests (less than half). I saw the numbers at school and it is scary. I know Jacob has gotten a good education there but I am concerned they don't push him enough or go fast enough. I am exploring different options but for now just trying to supplement his education at home. It's really all I can do at this point.

-I'm still working the same job and enjoying it. Every job has good days and bad days but most days are good. I have flexible hours and enjoy the job itself.

-The boys just finished soccer and did great. There was even some talk of having Matthew play with the next age group up but I want him to stay with the kids his age. He just doesn't have the maturity to play with the 8 year olds yet. They both seemed to dominate their teams and age groups.
-Basketball starts this week although we are missing the first week for a swim meet. They are both excited and we will have to wait to see how they do. Matthew is very tall so he may be good at basketball someday. Jacob has been practicing a lot at school with his friends so that should help him too.

That is it for now. I hope all of my readers had a great summer and are having a great fall.

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Somewhere along the line life got busy and I stopped blogging. I'm going to post a couple quick updates now. I can't promise anymore soon but one never knows.

Jacob turned 8 years old at the end of September. My baby is now a big 2nd grader. Here are 8 things I love about Jacob.

1) Jacob's smile and laugh. They are infectious. It is just hard not to smile and giggle when he is.
2) How smart he is. He learns quickly and loves to learn new things. He prefers non-fiction books and enjoys going to museums and zoos to learn more.
3) His determination. This kid is just amazing when he sets his mind to something.
4) His work ethic. That's funny to say about a young boy but this kid has great work ethic. Whether it is trying to complete his homework, getting good grades or completing a difficult swim practice, this kid works until the job is finished.
5) His caring heart. Jacob is a great big brother and a great friend. Sure he fights with his brother and enjoys watching him get in trouble but he also watches out for him and takes care of him. Jacob also cares for younger children and his friends at school.
6) Popularity. I don't want to place any of my children in a popularity contest and I certainly don't take time counting their friends. I can say that Jacob is a very popular kid at school. He is the only kindergartner I ever knew that had friends in 5th grade who would ask him to join their game on the playground. Now in 2nd grade he has friends throughout his school and still has middle school students stop to say hi. I think its his smile.
7) Helpful nature. This goes back to the caring heart a little. Jacob has always loved to help others and that has not changed. Whether it's clearing the table because he knows I'm tired or just helping someone carry something, this kid is always willing to help.
8) His fun sense of humor. This kid is just fun to be with. He really is my pride and joy (along with his brother of course). There is no one I would rather hang out with than my boys.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Matthew!

The past year has brought a lot of changes for Matthew. He started kindergarten, made new friends, was baptized and develop some new interests. Matthew has grown a lot this year as I realize all children his age do. It's amazing to watch how much young children change as they leave their preschool years and become school age children. It's a much harder transition than I ever realized. Both of my boys struggled at times during this transition but also blossomed.

Matthew turned 6 years old last week. It's amazing to look at him and think about how far he has come. He is no longer the scared and traumatized 1 year old boy who first came to stay at my house. I didn't know then if he would be here for a few days, months or years. I had mixed feelings back then. I fully supported all of the efforts to help his birth mother and allow him to return but I also quickly fell in love with him and didn't want him to ever leave. I look at him now as my 6 year old son who is here to stay and I am amazed at how he has changed and grown. Sure, we still have our challenges but the challenges are so much less than they were when he first arrived. His fighting spirit got him through some very difficult times when he was a baby and have helped him to be resilient and thrive as a young boy. I know there will be challenges ahead but I also know there will be many more wonderful times with a truly amazing young man.

Here are 6 things I love about Matthew. I could fill up pages of things but I will limit myself to 6 since it is his 6th birthday.

1) Matthew's smile. I know I don't need to worry as long as Matthew has that smile on his face. Even when he is in trouble, he is usually smiling and having fun.

2) Matthew's sense of humor. Matthew can make even the grumpiest people laugh.

3) Matthew's resilience. The kid never lets anyone get him down for more than a few minutes. I have never known him to be grumpy for more than about 10 minutes.

4) Matthew's enthusiasm. Matthew has never been a kid to settle for "good enough." If he decides to do something he does it all the way. Whether it is painting a picture, writing a story or learning to ride his bike. He won't quit until he gets it just right.

5) Matthew's brotherly love. There is no one Matthew loves more than his brother and no one who cares about him more. Matthew is always happiest when he is with his brother. It doesn't matter if they are fighting, playing or scheming together.

6) Matthew's compassion and love. Matthew just wants to have fun and he wants other people to have fun with him.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Losing The Hockey Battle

                                                                            From this....
To this...

                                                                          In just 6 years.

I remember when Jacob first came home. He was a sweet and innocent baby who always made his mommy proud. Well, almost always. He still makes me happy and proud but he has been corrupted by his grandfather. His grandfather has been taking him to college hockey games and Jacob is now obsessed.

Jacob spends hours practicing his hockey skills and even made me buy him some street goalie gear. His ultimate goal is to learn to be a goalie. I have tried my best to steer him in other directions but it just isn't working. The child can spend hours watching U Tube videos of hockey skills and how to wear the equipment properly. He wears his inline skates around the house and driving and practicing his stick skills. All of this after just one year of hockey.

My other dilemma is that Jacob is good. There was only one other child able to keep up with him at hockey and that was the coaches son. It's hard for me to say no to a sport that he appears to be showing natural talent at. I realize he will never play for the NHL and probably not even college but he really loves the sport now and he's good at his level.

So what is the problem? Well, a couple. One is that hockey takes a lot of time although my supervisor at work keeps telling me I will make it work if it's important enough to him. The other problem is the cost. The next 2 years won't be too bad but it gets really expensive after that. I can't imagine paying almost $900 for one child's sport in a year. That doesn't even include the cost of equipment or the two or three overnight trips we would have to take for games.

Other sports are so much cheaper and the schedules are more consistent. Yet, I know that he doesn't have the same love for them that he has for hockey. So I am stuck. Hockey is a game that if he doesn't continue to play and build skills, he will be behind his peers very quickly and not able to play later. He can still play hockey and my true love, baseball, but he would have to stop winter swim team and just swim during the summer.

We have until August or September to decide. I guess I will wait and see how summer swim team goes and then decide. He can always start swimming again later and he is now a strong swimmer that I don't have to worry about drowning. Which is really why I put him in swimming in the first place.

Break Time

I spent the past 3 years in grad school (graduated last August) and have spent almost all of my time either at work, school or with my kids. Work and school took up so much time that I didn't want to lose anymore time with my children so I decided to just put my social life on hold unless I could take my kids with me. It also meant that I never got time to just have fun without responsibility. Even when playing softball (which is a stress reliever for me), I had my children for all but 2 games and had to split my attention between the game and keeping at least some kind of eye on them.

I am done with school now and had a chance tonight to go out with a friend I hadn't seen in over a year. This friend also has a young son but wanted it to be "kid free." My first reaction was to turn her down. After all, the restaurant was expensive and I knew I couldn't afford to eat there and hire a babysitter. I talked to my dad about it and I think he realized how badly I needed some adult time with a good friend I don't see often. He and my mom volunteered to watch my kids which meant I didn't have to pay for their dinner or a babysitter.

I can now say that was some of the best money I have spent. I came home feeling more relaxed and energized than I have felt in a very long time. All of a sudden, I had more energy when getting the kids ready for bed and can feel myself being more patient. I don't know how long this relaxed feeling will last but I can say that it was well worth the expense of a dinner out. Especially since it's the first time in my life I have spent that much money on one meal and the last time I will spend that much for a very long time. And don't forget it's the first time in three years that I had a girls night out. Every girl deserves one and three years was way too long to wait.

I love my kids to death and want to spend time with them. I am also learning that by taking a little time to myself, it makes me a better mom the rest of the time. I have more patience, more energy and feel better. I have a habit of always giving to others and forgetting to care for myself. I know this and I struggle to find a happy medium. I am learning that time to myself doesn't count if it means  I am spending it shopping for Christmas or Easter gifts for my kids. I am still being a mom then and spending that "free" time meeting their needs and not my own. My kids will always come first and I will never want to leave them with other people so I can go out very often but once every 3 years is definitely not often enough. For now, I am just going to enjoy having my batteries recharged for the time being. That and hold, hug and appreciate my children during the time I am able to spend with them.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ethiopian Camp Plans

Parents who don't adopt from other countries, cultures or nationalities may not realize how important culture camp is. It's hard to explain or completely understand how important it is until you see the look on a child's face as they explain to others what it means to be from their culture. I see the pride when my children talk about Ethiopia or share an Ethiopian story with their friends. Even my youngest son (who was born in the US) is proud of his brother's Ethiopian heritage and used to try to convince people he was also born in Ethiopia. Jacob could find Ethiopia on a map when he was 3 and both of my kids can tell you what time it is in Ethiopia.

So why is culture camp a priority? After all, my kids are already proud of our connection to Ethiopia. Here are some reasons.

1) Other families that look like ours. It is one of the few places we go where Matthew is in the racial minority and almost all of the families are multiracial.

2) We aren't a conspicuous family where people make assumptions about us based on our different skin colors. Everyone knows we are a family formed by adoption and celebrates it with us. We don't have to fight stereotypes or respond to people asking questions about if Jacob is Matthew's friend and how great it is that he gets to spend so much time with him. They all know the kids are brothers.

3) We see adults, children and teenagers who were born in Ethiopia and who all love the culture and country. There is no better way to learn about another country and culture than to hear about it from people who have lived there.

4) Everyone there is learning from each other. We are all there for the same reasons. To make friends, learn about Ethiopia and have fun.

5) No negative stereotypes. My children are exposed to the same media that everyone else is. Pictures of children starving, reports of disease and comments from people who have no understanding but are quick to judge people who live differently than the  way we live in the USA. At camp, everyone is accepting and loves Ethiopia and the information shared is based on facts and not stereotypes. We leave camp proud of Ethiopia and ready to share and educate others when they make comments based on media reports and not true life.

6) We leave camp with new friends, stronger connections to old friends and a reminder of how lucky we are to have been touched by Ethiopia. Not too mention on blessed we are to be a family.

There are camps and organizations around the country. None of the camps are cheap but the lessons we learn are priceless. I encourage anyone who's family has children from different cultures or countries to look into a cultural camp near you. Or even one you can travel to. You will not be sorry.

Saturday, March 30, 2013