Mekonen's Summer Hair-Do!

Mekonen is now sportin' his summer hair-do! It's been in the 90's this week here in Indianapolis and Mekonen's little head was just soooo hot. So we decided to get out the clippers and give him a much cooler head for the summer.

I was sad to cut off his lovely curls but he does look so darn cute, and the long hair will be back in the fall! Before we cut if off we had a lot of fun combing it out to the max. Too bad his curls disappear when we do this. I really, really want him to sport the long, big curly locks.

(all combed out) 

(Doesn't he look like a little boy now and not a baby?!?!?!?)


PA Pictures Galore!

Fun in PA!
Mekonen and I had so much fun visiting family and friends in PA for a week and a half (although we missed Daddy a lot!) Mekonen got to meet new family and friends and hang out with old ones!

Grandma reading her favorite book "Mrs. Brown Went to Town" to Mekonen, Jane, and Natalie.
Mekonen and Jane found the best spot in the house. A seat with Grandpa Jack and a bag of Cheez-its!
Mekonen met Great Grandma Judy for the first time! She has loved praying for Mekonen and following our adoption process, and of course, now our family! :) I'm so glad she came down from Maine to visit when we were there. Isn't she adorable? You know how small I am, so now you now how small my Gram is! :)
Great Grandma Judy and 3 of her great grandbabies: Mekonen, Jane, and Natalie. (Sorry this is a fuzzy picture. You have no idea what it took to get this picture. About 15 out takes and LOTS of M&M's. This is as good as it was gonna get).
Mekonen meets Uncle Aaron!!! Woo-hoo!!! Clearly, Mekonen is DONE with this picture session. I am so glad my brother could come up to my parents to see us! What a blessing.
Visiting Grandma at her work. Mekonen showed up in his red sunglasses (which he kept on pretty much the whole time) and actually went around shaking people's hands. It was hilarious!
Mekonen LOVES his cousin Natalie. Whenever she came in the door, he would go over and give her a big hug. It was so adorable. She loved to play with him! Such sweetness. :)
Jane, upside down sunglasses, chillin' on the swing. I can't stop laughing at how funny this was. She was literally just swinging there, like that.
Mekonen saw it, thought it was cool, and wanted to try for himself. But he only got one arm up.
Natalie being cute.
Mekonen hanging with my two best friends: Georgia and Rach!
Me, Mekonen, Rachel & Georgia at Rachel's baby shower for her little boy due in July! And yes, Georgia and I are HOT. We totally wore the same outfit. Not planned. We are amazing and cute.
Mekonen and his friends Caroline, Abby, and Katherine! Loved spending time with this great family! Is it possible I had Caroline in 2nd grade and Abby in 1st and they are now both taller than me? That doesn't seem right! Is this when I say I feel old? Or maybe just short!
My awesome college roommate Courtney who we got to see on the way to PA and on the way back!
The leaves look like a heart! Hehe.
This is by far, my FAVORITE picture. We are literally losing it because Courtney had just asked Mekonen for a kiss. She puckered up and he put his whole mouth around her lips and bit them, both top and bottom at the same time. I almost fell off the bench.


Parenting Resource

I wanted to share a resource I used ALL the time in teaching and will TOTALLY be using with my children. It's called "Wise Words for Moms." It's pretty much a calendar size pamphlet of verses and heart probing questions about common sin issues with children. One book we've also really liked is "Instructing a Child's Heart" by Ted Trip. It talks A LOT about discipline WITH instruction...instruction that helps them to see the heart issue behind the outward behavior. It's not wise to just behavior modify and discipline without making lasting change by affecting the heart.
For example, at school, pushing in line to be first is all about selfishness. So if you just discipline the action and say, "Don't push" and give a consequence, you've taught nothing. You haven't dealt with the heart problem of selfishness and 10 minutes later the selfishness will manifest itself differently, such as grabbing a pencil or crayon from another classmate. So instead you discipline AND instruct about the deeper heart issue and teach your children to recognize them.

It took many months for my 1st and 2nd grade students to figure it out every year, but usually by December/January of the school year, when a child did something wrong and I would talk with them I would ask them what their sin was. At first, they used to say the action they did, such as "I pushed someone out of line." But once they started getting it they would instead say, "I was being selfish." They were learning to see and understand their need for a Savior, for Jesus. The conversation would follow talking about how we are all selfish at times and that Jesus came to save us from our selfishness, etc. Then you discipline for the selfishness, not the "pushing out of line."

It seems like if we just correct the behavior, our children would grow up in a Christian home and never truly understand how desperately they need Jesus to rescue them. They won't see their need for a Savior. They won't see that there is anything they need to be rescued from. This has been truly heart changing and taught me a lot about myself too and recognizing what sin is in my heart, not just outward behaviors I need to "control."
This pamphlet gave me all the questions to ask, the verses, the direction, etc. And it's super cheap! Only $4.00! Mekonen is still a little young for it, but I add in some "heart words" when instructing him such as, "Mekonen, you can't take her toy. That is being selfish." I know he doesn't understand that right now, but hopefully the seed is being planted. I am already starting to memorize them so that when he is older and other siblings come around I am well versed (because in the heat of the moment you tend to forget how to properly instruct, at least I did!). Here is an example of the pamphlet.

Heart Probing Questions to ask (asking these questions and having them answer so they are involved in probing their own heart)
1. Are you putting your brother/sister ahead of yourself or are you being selfish?
2. What would be a kind and generous thing to do?

Reproof ("put off")
1. Phil. 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.
2. Prov. 3:27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

Encouragement ("put on")
1. Rom. 12:10 Honor one another above yourself
2. 2 Cor. 9:7b God loves a cheerful giver

Additional Verses
Galatians 6:10
Phil. 2:4


The Sun is Out!

My Sunglasses
By: Charolotte Andreski
Through my sunglasses 
I see it all
Blue sky, rainbows,
Daisies and butter-mellows
Happy as can be.

In my sunglasses
I dance to the music
The birds chirping
The wind whistling
A cheerful tune to me

And when I look 
Above the rims 
The sky is dark 
The clouds, black
Flowers, faltering

Beneath the rims again,
For me.


Yep! It's Our Turn!

It's THAT post! The posts I remember seeing often in the adoption blog world while waiting to bring Mekonen home. The posts that said, "he's been with us longer than he's been anywhere else." At the time, I couldn't imagine FINALLY being at that point.

Well finally! It's our turn to say! As of April 29, 2010 Mekonen has been with us longer than he has been anywhere else! I have been putting off writing this post because several times when I sat down to write it, I just couldn't find the words to describe all that my heart is feeling. I still can't put it into words. Although this milestone in our new family is an exciting one for us, one that feels "official" in some sort of way, it makes me sad as well. Mekonen's birth family, birth country, culture, and language feel like they are slipping away, being "replaced" by something completely different. Although we are keeping close connections with Ethiopian culture by way of Ethiopian friends, Ethiopian get togethers, and other adopted Ethiopian kids, nothing is the same as the way things in life are supposed to be.
Our lives this year with Mekonen have been incredible! This little boy has completely stolen my heart and is forever entwined with every part of my being. I just cannot describe it. I was thinking today about what I thought my life would be like when I was a little girl. I was obsessed with playing dolls and house and my friends and I would plan out how many kids we were going to have and what their names would be. For the longest time I was going to have 3 sets of twins: a set of boys, a set of girls, and a set of boy/girl twins. Hilarious! And they were all going to have names that start with A:  Amanda, Alyssa, Angelina, Alexander and Andrew (I can't remember the third boy name).

I also always knew I would adopt. It's as if it were a part of my soul from the beginning. My friend Kim asked me yesterday what in my life lead me to a heart for orphans and a heart for adoption. I can't remember a specific situation, or the recognition of a specific child or country that spurred my heart on towards adoption. It was just always there. I remember sometimes crying myself to sleep at night as a child because there were so many kids with no families, and on top of that, what if something happened to my parents, I would become an orphan. I couldn't bear the thought of it, of being alone. I didn't want anyone to experience that. I used to have trouble falling asleep after watching Cinderella as a kid. I couldn't get it out of mind that she was an orphan. That she was alone. That she was scared, without anyone to call her own, that she was taken advantage of. I knew that someday, in some way, I would help. I would be a part of the solution, even if it only made a "small" dent in this huge world.
My Mom, Grandma and I were talking tonight about all the letters I would write to my parents as a kid. I would be telling them that we have a family, and lots of kids don't and they should adopt one so they can have a family. I think my Dad might've saved them and I really want to re-read them. I'm sure they would be funny in my little kid language and handwriting.

Adoption for us is not about "saving children," but about building our family and practicing what we know to be true more than anything else... Jesus. Being His hands and His feet in a world where we are called to reconciliation. After sin entered the world, it will never be the same until Jesus returns again to make a new heaven and earth. Until then, we are called to be ministers of reconciliation, working to restore things as close as possible to the way they are supposed to be, knowing full well, the completion of this is impossible until Jesus returns. I always knew my heart was to be a mother, but I never knew it would be this incredible.


Mekonen in Kindergarten- a few years too early!

We are here in PA for another visit with my family! Woo-hoo!! I split up the 11 hour drive by stopping half-way to visit my amazing college roommate Courtney. It was the first time she met Mekonen!
Courtney is such a dear friend. We had such an incredible time living together during college. Our senior year was particularly the best!! We shared an apartment with our friend Paula and Courtney and I shared a bedroom. Our lives were intertwined in so many like ways: we lived in the same room, did our 14 week student teaching across the hall from each other, we both were in college sports at the time, and both planning our weddings at the same time (and getting married a month apart). On top of that, we just had so much fun together. We were those loud, fun, "spirited" students in class and had many of those professors who hated us and loved us all at the same time! :) Let's just say, we added some much needed spice to our college classes. 

Courtney and I share a love of teaching! Mekonen and I went to visit her kindergarten classroom for the morning. I loved the diversity at this private school as half of her classroom were African Americans. What fun! Mekonen found himself a seat and got right to work. hehe.

Here he is staring at Jamir who was making silly faces.

The kids could not get enough of him and thought it was hilarious that he was sitting at their table.

Courtney teaching Mekonen the facts about insects!! Aww...

Mekonen helped himself to someone's pencil box. Oops!

Mekonen having some blanket time while the kids finished their morning paper (although they were still quite preoccupied with their newest class member). (Yeah for blanket training! He sat there for 45 minutes!)

Mekonen eating some Cheerios in the read-a-loud chair.

A Few Favorite Memories with Courtney
  • Second semester senior year, I came back to school engaged to Jon. He was living in Indianapolis while I was two hours away in Ohio for school. Courtney spent all our college years away from Andy her fiance who lived 3 hours away, so she was a little more used to the distance thing. Jon dropped me off and I turned around to Courtney and just cried and cried. She yelled out to Jon not to worry, that she would take care of me. 
  • Courtney usually attempted to fall asleep at a decent hour every night. However, I had major sleep issues and could never fall asleep or stay asleep. Courtney would get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and I could see her tip-toeing across the room so as not to wake me. Then I always busted out with, "It's okay. I'm still awake." We would just laugh and laugh.
  • Sometimes when she went to bed early, I would stand up on mine, and jump in the air over to hers and pretty much just torment her b/c she wanted to go to bed.
  • My cell phone only worked up against the window that lined her bed. So Courtney would be fast asleep and I would be sitting in her bed too, talking on the phone with Jon with my head pressed against the window. Haha. 
  • I just realized that I could post TONS more memories and wonderful things about my dear friend, but this post would be VERY long So, just know that she is the best! :) 


My 1st Mother's Day

Technically, I say last year was my first Mother's Day. I was a mom, my baby was just in Ethiopia waiting for me to come pick him up. It's so strange that at this time last year, all I had of Mekonen were pictures and one video clip. I stared at those pictures all day and watched the video numerous times a day. Now, he's here in person! Sometimes I just look at him and think to myself, "Wow. We really did it. He's here. He's ours. I can't believe it. This is my son. He's mine."

My heart is so full of love for this little boy that I feel like it might burst at any moment. No one, not anyone, can tell me you love biological children more than adopted children. It simply is not true. I am so in love with this boy and what he has done to my life that I cannot even put words to it.

This Mother's Day, I was greeted in the early morning by a sweet little boy in his diaper carrying a card that he and Daddy made together. It said, "10 Ways Mommy Loves Me" and Mekonen colored it himself. :) 

The sweet card from Daddy and Mekonen.
 Ways Mommy Loves Me
10. She gives me yummy food.
9. She changes my diapers. 
8. She corrects me when I disobey.
7. She trains me in righteousness.
6. She reads to me everyday. 
5. She snuggles with me constantly.
4. She prays for me all the time. 
3. She reads her Bible in front of me.
2. She loves my Daddy.
1. She loves Jesus.

I am most thankful this Mother's Day for the gift of being a stay-at-home mom. Nothing has been a greater blessing in my life! We are called to train our children in the way they should go, to teach them to fear the Lord, to obey His instructions, to recognize their blessings, and to worship Him only. I get to spend my whole day doing just that. No, I may not get to do all the hobbies I want to do, I may not get to advance a career in quite the same way I could if I didn't have a child, and I might not get as many moments to myself as I once had. But this time, this season of life, is such a short one, and I am committed to making it count... to raise up our son to love Jesus and serve Him in whatever way God has gifted him. I can't think of anything better!

I am thankful this Mother's Day (as I will be every Mother's Day) for Mekonen's birth mom. To protect Mekonen's privacy and story, I will refer to her here as Enat which is the Amharic word for mother. We have talked over a few ideas of how to best celebrate Mekonen's birth mom and have not decided on one yet to make a tradition. It's hard... nothing seems quite fitting when this woman gave us the precious gift of our first son. For now, here is part of a letter I wrote on Mother's Day. 

Dear Enat,
It is with mixed emotions that I celebrate this first Mother’s day with my son, the child you gave the gift of life. My heart is linked with yours forever and I wonder today what yours is feeling. We pray for you and think of you often and know in our hearts that God has his hand upon you. We speak of you tenderly in our home and often express how thankful we are for you. We will always hold you in a place of honor in our son’s life and be sure to teach him diligently about the story he will call his own. 
We will honor you by giving Mekonen the best gift we can... the love and knowledge of our Savior Jesus. May he walk in God's truth and love him all the days of his life... 


By Example...

One of the biggest things I have learned about being a parent for 8 months now, is just how much Mekonen (and all kids) learn by example. I always knew this, especially from teaching, but it is more apparent to me now than ever as I watch Mekonen pick up on things I have never specifically taught him. It's even little things like coming and picking up my brush and trying to brush his hair, and putting dirty clothes in the hamper, etc. It's quite cute, but also made me think more about what I do every day that one way or another trains him.

I have made a change to my morning regarding the fact that Mekonen is picking up and absorbing everything! I used to read my Bible either at night before bed, or mostly during Mekonen's naptime. I listened to a sermon by a pastor we really like, Mark Driscoll, about parenting. In it, he was talking about how he reads his Bible and studies reguarly around his kids. It seems most obvious that the concentration is best when it's quiet and you are alone (which sometimes is the case), but I decided I really want Mekonen to see me enjoying the Bible.
I have changed up our morning routine and now I read my Bible in the morning as soon as we wake up. I get Mekonen his milk and sit him on the floor with some toys while I sit on the couch and read my Bible and journal. Mekonen does very well playing quietly by himself during this time. Sometimes, I will read outloud what I am studying, even though he doesn't really understand yet.

As he gets older and siblings come, we intend to preserve this time in the morning. We do not turn on the TV really at all during the day, and certainly not in the morning as I want my children to start off the day enjoying the quiet and beginning to love God's Word, even from a young age. For now, at Mekonen's age that means sitting on the floor quietly, with his toys while I read out loud and journal. As he gets older he can look through his storybook Bible or do some other independent Bible activities during this time (I love creating fun little things like that). And eventually he can be reading for himself too. But now, at the end of my Bible reading in the morning, I finish by reading to Mekonen from our FAVORITE children's story Bible called The Jesus Storybook Bible. If you don't have it, I highly recommend it! It's awesome!

I think back to my childhood and I always remember seeing my mom and dad reading their Bibles and praying every morning. That has always had a huge impact on me and something I want for my kids as well. Here's Mekonen reading his favorite Jesus Storybook Bible.