Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Know Thyself.

I was just on the phone talking to my dear, dear friend Becky about how one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is self-awareness.  The ability to KNOW themselves.  The gift of knowing who you are- what you are good at as well as what you are not good at and accepting all these various facets of yourself.  One of Shakespeare's characters put it this way: "To thine own self be true."  We, as women must know ourselves (more on that another time) so that we can pass this gift on to our children.  It is a life-long treasure to know who you are; acknowledging your flaws but not getting fixated on fixing them; knowing how you feel about things; knowing and embracing who you really are so that you can be who you are supposed to be on this planet at this time in history.

I think my daughter is blessed with a big healthy dose of self awareness.  Much of her security and who she is can, of course, be directly attributed to her DNA from her first family.  I think it's obvious that she was very loved, no, ADORED by her first family.  She just seems to really know who she is and is very aware of what she thinks about, oh, everything.  And one of those things she feels strongly about is... her name.

All along we have been calling her a whole variety of names: Abeba, Lilah, Lilah-Abeba, in addition to a whole bunch of sweet names: Lovey, Princess, and Silly Goose seem to be the ones that come up the most.  ;-)  But sometime this past Summer she announced that she wanted to be called "Avé."  (pronounced: AH-vay, as in Avé Maria...)  When she would say her Ethiopian name she would often pronounce it "Aveva" instead of "Abeba".  I don't know if that was just toddler -speak, or if it was the way her first family pronounced her name, or just a fluke.  I really don't know.  But when she told us she wanted to be called Avé, it seemed like it might have been a nick-name for "Aveva".  Who knows, really???  But... it kinda stuck.  And it kinda stuck to the point that when people would call her anything else she would correct them by saying, "Me Avé!"  And then when she started pre-school last week I asked her what she wanted her teacher and school friends to call her:  Abeba, Lilah, or Avé.  And she said without hesitation: "Avé!"  So... Avé she is!

Internet: meet Avé
We have not completed her re-adoption papers yet.  I am kinda waiting for a few more months so that she can acquire even more language and understanding about the fact that we have adopted her.  I would like it if she could really understand what a momentous occasion it will be when we stand before a Judge and are "officially" declared a family- I kinda want her to "get" the significance of that.  So since none of the final paperwork is complete, we still have some room to play with her name.  I think what we will do is to keep her Ethiopian name as it is- Abeba- and keep it as her first name.  And then keep the name we chose for her- Lilah- as her second name.  And then just call her "Avé" as a sort of nick name.  (I'm considering giving her a third name... but perhaps I'll share more about that later.)  

So... I think our girl knows herself.  She knows who she is and what she wants to be called.  And so who are we to stand in her way???

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I've Been Published!!!

Okay, so that title may be a teensy bit misleading.  But no matter how you look at it, I *did* receive this book in the mail yesterday, and I *am* the author!

This book is my blog from the beginning of our adoption journey to 3 months after we brought our girl home!  I found out about a website called blurb through some fellow adoptive moms (thanks Kerri and Jocelyn!).  It's terrifically easy- you download the program for free and then it "slurps" your entire blog (photos and all!) into book form!  From there you can choose which posts you want to keep in the book and which you don't.  You chose a format, create a cover, do a little editing, place your order and VOILA!  You are published!!!  

Really, it is such a treat for me and for our family.  I ordered a cheaper paperback version first so that I could read it and really make sure it's all the way I want it to be.  (It's not- my fault.  More editing to do.) And so later I can order a hardback as a more permanent version.  

It's already had some great benefits:

How sweet is that???  She really loved that it was all about HER!  And even though she isn't old enough to understand all that I've written here, someday I hope it will be a treasure for her.  It's not her lifebook (which I am working on... slowly...) but it does tell the story of us waiting for and wondering about her, and she LOVES to look at the photos of our first minutes and days together.  She likes it so much- she fell asleep reading it this afternoon.  :-)
(Oh- and if you are wondering about the clothes she is wearing (a fleece hoodie???  in August???) these are some fall/winter clothes I got for her at a consignment sale this weekend, and the girl is SUCH a girl.  She has to try on everything new no matter how hot it might make her!)

The bottom line about receiving this book will be the following changes to this blog:
1.  This blog is about to become much more busy!  I am very motivated to post more often because it's so great to be able to have this book that chronicles our lives during this time period, and I want to make sure I keep that up.  So more post will be coming more frequently.  

but also...
2.  This blog is probably about to become much more boring.  ;-)  Not that I think it has ever been particularly fascinating, but I want to put a lot more of our lives on here now that I know I can have a permanent copy, and so I will probably put start trying to blog at least once a week so that I can have a running record of what is going on w/ our fam.  

So go check out blurb.com!!!  Slurp your blog and get published!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I was planning to blog about all of the first days of school we have had this week, but something struck me today and I just can't get it out of my head.

Today I took this photo:
This is a photo of  of a little girl who has lived here for 
5 months 
playing with her toys in her room.

5 months ago I took this photo:

This is a photo of a little girl in a small village north of Addis Ababa, 
and that's no toy tied to her back.

...I think the first day of school pix will just have to wait.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Welcome Home, Brother.

Tap. Tap. Tap.  Squeeeeeak!  Um... Hello???  Is this thing still on???

I never meant to neglect this blog for so long, but Summer is just too yummy and I got distracted.  But... I'm turning over a new leaf now that Summer is winding down. I've skipped over a TON of things that may or may not ever make it into this blog:  Summer trips, my daughter's first 4th of July (she kept calling firecrackers "fire trucks"...and we kinda just let her b/c at least she knows fire trucks are bright and shiny but firecrackers???  crackers are something dry that you eat.  not in the least shiny and explosive), nearly daily trips to the pool where Ben jumped off the high dive for the first time and where we learned that our girl is a FISH with NO FEAR!... But one event happened that I just can't pass up and that I must get on this blog before school starts next week and everything in our lives gets back into a routine.  And the must-blog story is this:


My brother, AKA:  Staff Sergeant Tracy Friend came back from his 3rd (read it people!  THIRD!) tour in Iraq safe and sound and I thank God so much for that.  He has given up so much of himself and his life to serve our country.  Three whole years away from his family... but hopefully (God willing!) this will have been his last.

Last year as he was deploying I cried out to seven dear friends of mine asking them to pray for him and for his family as he was leaving them for an entire year.  These amazing women- and I mean AMAZING- went above and beyond by teaming up and deciding that between the 7 of them they could divide the days of the week, and if they each took one day and committed to pray for Tracy on that day, they could absolutely have him covered in prayer EVERY day of his deployment for a year!!!!!  Can you believe they did this???  For some it became such a family ritual that when my friends forgot, their kids reminded them!  Some whose kids are friends with my kids prayed for "Uncle Tracy" (b/c he is my kids' Uncle) to the point where they were asking, "Is my Uncle Tracy coming to my birthday party?"

Being in a war can mess you up.  It can mess you up in so many ways.  My prayer for Tracy has always been for the Lord to protect him in every way: physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically.  I know that Tracy's health (in all the above areas) was protected and that is due in great part to the prayers of my friends.  I had them take a picture holding up their "day" so that I could sent them to Tracy to let him know that he was covered in prayer every single day he was gone.  Here, I am PROUD to show you my dear, dear friends:

This is my dear friend Becky and her kids who I adore.  They prayed on Sunday nights for my brother- every Sunday night for a YEAR!!!  Thank you Ussery fam.

This is my dear friend Andrea and her kids.  They prayed for "Uncle Tracy" every Monday for a YEAR!!!  Thank you Jobe Family!

This is my dear friend Jewel who prayed for my brother every Tuesday for a YEAR!!!  Thank you Jewel.  

This is my dear friend Kaysie who prayed for my brother every Wednesday for a YEAR!!!  Thank you Kays.

This is my BFF Kelly who prayed for my brother every Thursday for a YEAR!!!  Thanks Kel.
This is my dear friend Molly who prayed for my brother every Friday for a YEAR!!!  Thank you Molly.  

And last but FAR from least... My dear friend Ronna had the hardest day of all- she volunteered to pray for my brother every Saturday for a YEAR!!!  Thank you so much Ronna. 
Can you believe they did that???  They are totally gonna HATE me for putting these pix on here and will probably demand that I take them down.  But I won't.  They are all beautiful, amazing women who deserve to be recognized for this incredible thing they did for me.  Some of them have never even MET my brother- and still they wanted to pray for him for an entire year.  Such friends... you just can't even know how blessed I am by my friends...

On the spur of the moment my family decided to drive to Kansas for Tracy's homecoming, and I'm so glad we did!  My little nephew Ian was so excited to get to see his Daddy.  He just didn't understand why we all had to go out to eat without getting his Daddy first (even though it was the night before he was scheduled to arrive!)  :-)

The Army isn't exactly known for it's flash and panache, so the ceremony was pretty simple.  All the family members were waiting on bleachers- waiting for the moment when they would first catch sight of their loved ones who they hadn't seen in so long.  We made signs...

We all waited trying to be patient, but then my brother started texting me letting me know they were getting close to arriving.  And then, just when the kids were getting restless, a song started playing (no idea what) and the men and women who have been serving our country away from their families for the past year started marching in.  If you know me at all, it will be no surprise to hear that I instantly started weeping.  It was an amazing moment.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.  I have heard that the speeches by the Major Generals at these events can drag on, but this guy must have been just as anxious to see his family as everyone else was.  After everyone filed in, they saluted, played the Star Spangled Banner, and the Major General (or whatever he was) just said, "Dismissed!"  and everyone started rushing everywhere to be with their loved ones.  

And for the rest, well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  Welcome home, brother.  We are proud of you.

Selam! G'day! Hello!