Thursday, May 19, 2011

3 Apa's

My Grampa is 90.  He is the kindest man I know. I have never heard an unkind word or negavtive thought come out of him mouth. His health is impeccable. His health history is limited to some college wrestling injuries.  His mind is as sharp as it ever was and he used words like "whipper snapper" and "derelict" in regular conversation.
The only problem with him is that he lives in California.
It didn't seem so far as a kid. Dad's parents always came to visit us. Even with all the miles between us, their presence as grandparents was always among us. As we grew and started our own families the visits became tough.
 Before long it had been 10 years, maybe more, since I had seem my California Grandparents. Then Gramma  passed away late summer 3 years ago.  She was the first grandparent I lost and it hit me. They aren't going to live forever.
I wish I could say that I bought a ticket to the west coast and spent ample time soaking up the knowledge of my Grampa, but its not true. I didn't do anything.  I thought about family a lot. I wished we were all closer, but thats it.  Grampa was the one who bought the ticket and flew to the east coast and came to my little sisters wedding.
He met Adi when she was about 10 months old. He called her "Little Red". My dad was always "Red" to him. 
 And again, we promised to make the trip out west to see him, but then Adi turned 2 and her tickets weren't free anymore.  Then we flew to Africa, and suddenly we had 2 kids who needed plane tickets. There are always excuses, legitimate or not, but Grampa made it out to see us again!  And this time he brought my Uncle too.
Grampa picked me this rose
 I packed the kids up to spend a few hours with these great men.
 I met my Uncle at my wedding.  Sounds crazy huh? My friends couldn't believe it either.  The truth is we met once circa 1982. I was a wee tot, probably not even walking.  Then I got married and Uncle Tom, my dad's oldest brother, decided someone needed to represent the west coast family. So he came to my wedding and after 24 years or so we "met" again, for the first time. It was wonderful and it didn't stop there. A few years later he and his wife came to my older sisters wedding. They couldn't get enough of us!  So by this trip, it feels like we truly are family and its never been any other way.
 I also got the added bonus of hearing about some hilarious family stories I had never heard. Extended family is great that way.
Belay was in heaven!  There is nothing this boy likes more than a good Apa. And he had 3 of them all together. The original Apa (my dad) my grampa (Apa Apa) and my uncle Tom (Apa Tom).
What a lucky boy to have these men in his life.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mommy, Adi and Belay's special day

That's how we've been referring to this upcoming day for quite a while.  Adi and Belay were baptized today, on mothers day.  I reluctantly gave up "my day" to share with them. Now let me explain. I'm not as selfish as it sounds (well maybe I am :) Mothers day year 2 was spent flying home from a friends wedding in the Caribbean.  As Andy argues, I got to wake up on a beautiful island in the carribean on mothers day.  Which is true. I then got to spend the next 10 hours on a boat, van, and multiple planes with a crabby 15 month old. Not so fun.  Year 3 involved leaving Ethiopia on friday night and arriving home on Sunday night.  Grant it I got to bring my sweet baby boy home but in the midst of volcanic ash, less than friendly flight attendants, 40 something hours of not sleeping (am I exaggerating? I can't even remember anymore), a brand new one year old and a not so brand new 2 year old, it seemed less than idyllic  mothers day.

  Next year,  I vowed 52 weeks ago, I will be at home on mothers day. I will enjoy my day. Then time came to set a date for the baptism.  After pouring over a calender to find a time when I wasn't working and family could join us, mothers day was all that was left.   Hence "reluctantly" I gave up my day.

It couldn't have been a more beautiful day and I am so happy Adi, Belay and I could share our special day.   After 3 years of beautiful gifts involving precious stones from my husband for mothers day and 3 years of me begging him to please not spend money on me and just bring me coffee in bed, he did it.  Not only did I get an amazing breakfast of chocolate pancakes with flamed bananas, but my coffee was in a beautiful mug painted by my 2 little angels. Super dad didn't stop there, he did dishes, bathed children, stopped fights, cleaned toys and is now soothing a ridiculously over tired 3 year old in bed.

We were blessed with 2 grammas and 2 grampas and an aunt and uncle and a pseudo aunt and uncle to all come partake in the baptism. Andy's brother and sister in law officially became their God Parents and the service was beautiful.  Our ministers words touched deep in our hearts as she spoke of Belay's birth mom and the meaning behind both there names.  I felt a true sense of community and an outpouring of love in what had previously been an unforeseen place.  Belonging to such a community and having a place where my friends and family from all walks of life can join in unity on such a joyous occasion is truly a gift.

My only regrets...not a single photo! I have no idea how that happened.  One friend did shoot a short video with his cell phone, so I guess thats better than nothing.  I did snap a photo with my phone when they tried there outfits on a few weeks ago. Mind you, the pink socks and green hat didn't make it to the service!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our first Anniversary of Family Day

Wow! We did it. We made it year.
 One year ago we drove into the care center in a white van with 3 other families.  There were a lot nerves in that van on that day.  We were all about to become parents again. One was about to be a parent for the first time.  Now imagine if we had all been with each other the moment that we gave birth.  Strangers until that morning. Pretty intense.

 I remember so well thinking to myself "Jane, remember this moment, this is what it all comes down too. We've been waiting so long to know what this moment will feel like" and then just like that it was over. Belay was in our arms and we were a family, forever. 

I also remember wanting to capture it on video.  But as soon as we pulled into the gates of the orphanage I knew that between juggling Adi and actually seizing the moment of Belay, that it wasn't going to happen. And it didn't.

 When we climbed out of the van Adi bee-lined it straight to the slide and all the kids playing outside. We spent the first few minutes outside with Adi taking it all in until I heard a shout that Belay was inside and to come see.   And there he was.  Sitting in his blue bumbo dressed his best. He cried when I picked him  up, then I fed him a bottle and he slept in my arms for the rest of our time there that morning.  Then in the van ride home he played obsessively with a blue sippy cup ( still his favorite today).

And the rest is history.  Today is a happy day for our family. I know that for some, this day, can be hard.  Maybe it was the day your child lost the only family he ever knew.  But for Belay, it was the day he got to have arms to hold him instead of only finding comfort in a plastic bottle.  May 2nd is not the day that Belay became an orphan. It is not the day that he left the arms of the woman who bore him. Its the day he left the orphanage, a place he will most likely never remember. A place that took good care of him, but not out of the arms of one person who loved him unconditionally.
So, today we celebrate. We celebrate his life, the amazing girl who gave him up, his home land, our trip to Africa, Adi getting a brother, us getting a son. 
Noah, Able, K'Tyo, today we think of you guys too! What a great group of little boys!   Happy Family day.

And to comemorate I put Belay in the outfit he had on that day. (My favorite token brought back from Ethiopia)

It still fits him:) Well actually I guess the pants are a little on the short side now, but looks like they were back then too.
And a year later, I have no idea how tall little guy is but he is weighing in at 20 lbs(still). I'll take 6 lbs in a year, was hoping for 10 but maybe it all went into his long legs instead.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

bonfire and egg hunts

Well the weather has been nice and the kids have had some fun days.
Easter involved lots of plastic eggs hidden and found over and over all day long.

There was a lot of cousin love involved.

The grill was finally fired up and the back deck went from winter storage to summer oasis.
A fire pit burned in the front and gooey marshmellows poked through really long sticks.

Are there better memories for our youth than roasting marshmellows way past bedtime dressed as princesses and cowboys?