Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yet another mystery...

The case of "loving Jordan too much" becomes increasingly odd, psychotic and/or weird. We have discovered that someone has cut a 15 inch long section of Jordan's hair leaving a 2 inch long chunk sticking straight up alfalfa style.

Images of a stalker with a Jordan shrine adorned with her hair have entered my mind. I've looked for evidence all over the house, but have yet to find any.
Other options we are considering are: a witches brew which required the hair of a genius, some kind of Barbie wig or perhaps a lesson to teach her to not fall asleep in class.

We may never solve this mystery. I am hoping that there is no direct link between the mirror and the hair... Jordan may have a stalker living right here in this house.

An Ellerbee Who Dun It?

Jordan came to me this afternnoon and said, "Mom, you've got to come downstairs to see this."

"Is it going to make me mad?"
Jordan, "I don't think so..."
So she leads me into the bathroom, where I find the words "I Love Jordan" scrawled on the mirror in sharpie marker.
Jordan says, "Wow, they're defacing property in my name. Cool."
And so the process begins.
Handwriting Analysis.
I'm considering waterboarding.

"Did you write on the mirror?"
"What? I do not understand..."

"Did you write on the mirror?"
"What? I do not understand..."
Justine was ruled out because her J's are still backwards.
Jack was ruled out because he wouldn't go to any extra effort to write ANYTHING he didn't have to.
Jordan was ruled out... well that's obvious.
Josh was ruled out... because he said he didn't do it, and he's never proved to lie to me, nor does it seem like a boy thing to do (there I am being stereotypical again)

So it comes down to the two 8 year olds...
Jaiden: "I swear I didn't do it."

Jameson: "What? I do not understand..."

You be the judge! I won't tell you who I think did it.
Well, at least it was a nice thing to write... it could have been worse.

First Day of School

Joshua and Jameson started school this week. This has been a whole new experience for me. I'm sure many people are probably wondering why a homeschooling family would put their new kids in public school.

Allow me to shed some light on that... it's wasn't what we had originally thought we would do. I assumed I would homeschool for the rest of this year, and then put them in Gloria Deo. Public school came into thought after they'd been home for a few weeks. I had absolutely no idea where to start with them, and I was having a hard time keeping them motivated and focused. They seemed to be much more into the school of Television than in the school of mom. Their English is so spotty, as is spelling, math and everything else.

Everything I tried to start with them seemed to be so over their heads. Josh could read an entire book and then not be able to tell me one thing it was about. And so we sent them to public school. In typical Gina style, now that they're coming home with counting money worksheets and telling time (two things they have NEVER seen), I'm beginning to see things that we could do at home that would be better... I'm never happy am I? So we will continue to keep them in public school for the rest of the year. I see another year of 3rd and 5th grade in their future, but we will do whatever works for them. That's the beauty of this family. We are non-traditional. We do what works for us at the time.

What We Love

We have quickly found that what our new kids really love is playing outside. They are good at it and are really used to it. This is what they know.

Jameson likes baseball! That girl's got quite a swing.

She looks good, don't you think?

We're still working on don't hit your brothers and sisters with the bat, but they're all playing together... that's pretty good.

Boy meets Bike

The title says it all.

Adoption Article

Click here to read the New York Times article featuring a family whose blog I adore.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Joshua

Well, since no one cared about my Idol predictions, I have crawled out of my sick bed to put on some new pictures.

Joshua's first birthday (#11) in America. Where else would you want to go for that ?
Chuckee Cheese!

Madison and Jameson riding the roller coaster.

Joshua was really good at the Safari Driving Game.

What do you get when you mix too much Coca-Cola, pizza, a lot of kids and way too much noise?
See above!

Give me more money!

Joshua had a great birthday. Thanks to all of you who sent cards - Jaclyn and Lisa. Thank you to everyone who came to the party - too many to name. We had a great time at Chuckee Cheese, and the kids had a blast. While watching Joshua open his presents, I was moved to tears. I don't even know what the emotion was, but it was definitely overwhelming. To know that he's here, he's loved, and he has a family is absolutely awesome.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I can SWEEM very well now...

Well after the first swim lesson, it was declared, "I can SWEEM very well now."

After the second swim lesson, I agreed.

We decided to get the kids a couple of swimming lessons, basically to teach them water safety, as well as how to not drown. They are complete naturals in the water. It amazes me that they have never been swimming before, had not even been submerged in a bathtub until a few weeks ago, and yet here they are swimming after 2 lessons. They are amazing kids! I can't wait to get our pool open now!

My Lousey Day

Imagine my horror earlier this week when Jameson was getting her hair braided by our friend Fettla, and Fettla exclaimed, "She has bugs!" What? No way! Sure enough. That 9 year old said it all. I found the little critters crawling all around Jameson's scalp. When did they move in? I didn't see them yesterday when we did hair...
We then found 1 in Justine's hair, 2 in Jaiden's hair. The girls have all been sleeping together for weeks. They are never in the same bed two nights in a row and end up sleeping together every night... Joshua slept in their room the night before because Jack was at a friend's house... So do you know what that means? EVERYONE got washed, scrubbed, and combed. ALL of the bedding got washed and pillows, stuffed animals etc got fumigated.
I wish they had an anti lice bomb you could set off on your whole house... gross! The good news is Jack shaved his head a few weeks ago and doesn't have enough hair to support life... so 5 kids, 2 parents and 6 beds.

Time to wash, process and comb hair...3 hours.
Time to wash ALL of the bedding in my house...12 hours.
Time to enjoy this picture of Jaiden getting her hair scrubbed... forever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why do we do this year after year?

Exhibit A

So, I'm going to address a question I've been asking myself for years. Why do I put myself through going to the circus every year? And why do my kids love it so much?

As with all of my more controversial blog entries, this one comes with a warning prior to reading. If you are a carnie (employed by a carnival), are employed by any type of circus, come from circus people ancestry, enjoy riding motorcycles inside a big metal ball, or are blessed with special talents such as the ability to wrap yourself up in fabric hanging from the ceiling while wearing huge feathers attached to the back of too tight, glittery, leotard without hanging yourself... you may want to skip this one.

First of all, my lovely fashion conscious daughter #4 announced that this was the best circus she had ever been to and wanted a costume just like exhibit A.

Where can I find that in a size 6X ya think?

Exhibit B

I don't know about you, but this just doesn't look natural. Maybe it looks too natural, and that's what bothered me so much... It just looked like a bad idea, that's all.

Exhibit C

I think this is this the elephant that later went to the bathroom all over while giving rides. It's really ridiculous to consider the size of an elephant's bladder... Wow!

Exhibit D

Oh yeah, this was a great part! The Pekingese dog training thing. A bunch of pampered, spoiled little furry dogs running around and jumping over these little tiny hurdles. Then there was this one little ugly dog, who looked different from all the others... was probably 10 times as smart as the stupid Pekingese, but because he looked different, he wasn't allowed to stay with the Pedigree dogs and do the tricks. He had to stay in a separate dog house and was scolded every time he jumped ahead of the "smart" dogs and did their tricks. What a bunch of separatist crap?! But guess what? Once again, the kids couldn't see they had fallen for the propaganda. They couldn't see the irony of the dog being different and being segregated to the doghouse. What's wrong with these kids anyway? They just keep laughing and eating and giggling and smiling.

Exhibit E

One thing the kids did learn was the importance of living in a capitalist society. The circus is no cheap trick; you nearly have to take out a loan to go. Honestly crack toys that are going to break the minute you get in the car for at least $10 a piece, $5 snow cones, $3 popcorn? Not to mention the $8 elephant ride! Seriously? For 5 children?

Exhibit F

As we arrived at the circus, I once again chastised myself for giving into this habit, this custom, this addiction to the circus. The animals looked drugged. I thought the tigers were either going to eat Tarzan in his much too tight and revealing tiger print tights, or they were going to fall over from the amount of sedatives they had received prior to the "big show."

Exhibit F

Then I watched as my children experienced the circus again. I could see them bringing back all the memories of our annual trip to the Shrine Mosque, soaking in the sights, gobbling up the snacks, and I could see our new children with their mouths agape, laughing and giggling like you have never heard. As I watched all 5 children enjoying the circus, some for the first time, others returning year after year; I was reminded why they love the circus so much!

**The attitudes and opinions expressed in this blog entry are entirely for fun and are not meant to cause emotional pain, familial discord or mean spirited blog comments. Ha

Spring is here!

We are so ready for Spring and Summer. Gone are the days when Jameson would argue with me when I told her it was cold outside. Gone are the days that we would go outside and play in 30 degree weather just so I could prove my point to her. And gone are the days of Jameson's little blue lips frozen from playing outside, refusing to admit that it was actually really, really cold!
I had the best compliment this week. Julie's daughter was really ill and had to go to the ER. Julie thought, "Where can I take a snot nosed, hungry baby still in her pajamas with little or no notice?" And my name was close to the top of the list. I definitely was the only person to answer the phone at 8am. And I didn't have any other plans... so I won an opportunity to babysit for Miss Jayden. Since Jayden's adoption was what really put a spark in my adoption fire, I was thrilled to get to spend some time with her. Joshua and Jameson were in the same orphanage with Jayden when she was in Ethiopia. Jameson, looking at Jayden, studying her, said, "She was very small in Ethiopia and did not cry. Now she is fat and well..." Well let's just say that Jayden is um, er, um very vocal about her needs! She is adorable, and we will always feel a certain attachment to her, just as Tim and Julie are so attached to ours. It's awesome to have such a sense of family and community.
Jameson practiced writing her name and Joshua's name. Joshua gets irritated with her because she calls him "Joshula." He is always telling her how to say his name. Jameson wrote with her sidewalk chalk "My mam name es Gina." We played hopscotch and wrote all of our names on the driveway. Jameson was practicing writing her name and Joshua's name. We are trying to teach them to say and spell Ellerbee. I would hate for them to go to school next week and not know their last names. That could be quite confusing for so many people.
Look at that face! Can you see the joy? I love this look. This look takes away all of the stress, all of the turmoil over "I don't like this" (How I wish I could inflect her accent with this statement!) This takes away all of the pouting and the refusing to speak to me. I love this girl!
Jack: "I'm going to get you."
Jayden: "Grrrrrrrr"
Jack, you better look out, that girl can and will hurt you!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Memory of Eyob and Nebiat

The back wall of grandma's house with shrines to her four children who have died before her. She told us all four had died within a year of each other.

Eyob and Nebiat. Eyob means Job. Nebiat means prophet. This is the only picture we have of the kids parents together.

Eyob as a young man.
Filemon and his father.

Last night, Joshua was in a particularly talkative mood, so we took this opportunity to ask about his parents. Joshua and Jameson's father's name was Eyob, which means Job. He died 7 years ago. Joshua would have been around 3 and Jameson around 1.
When we were visiting with their paternal grandmother, the only thing we could find out was that he "just got sick and died." Joshua was telling us that after his father died, his mother remarried another man. It was then that she got so sick. She had two more babies; both boys, who would be about 4 and 5 now. She gave them both up before she died because she was too ill to take care of them. Joshua said that at that time, a family wanted to adopt Filemon and Merkeb, but their mother wouldn't allow it. He told us, "she said, no not while I'm alive. You stay with me while I'm alive." Joshua said he took care of her and watched her die.
Jameson was very quiet during this conversation. I'm not sure how much she remembers of it. I didn't understand the whole conversation, but evidently the grandmother's were fighting over the children after the death of Nebiat. Joshua said the police were called and eventually they went to live with their paternal grandmother. Nebiat has been dead for about 4 years now.
Joshua seemed so ready to talk about this. We hadn't really asked a lot of questions as we didn't feel like either one of us were ready. I am just in awe over what these kids have seen, particularly Joshua. Perhaps the reason he seems so mature beyond his years is because he's had to deal with so much in his few years.
Our first weeks home, we were struggling with illness and adjustment, and I think I forgot why I wanted to do this. When we went to the World Vision AIDS project: Step into Africa at our church about AIDS orphans, I was reminded ever so painfully why we felt we were led by God to bring these children home. While we are still adjusting and it hasn't been easy or difficult really, just different; I am reminded and am in awe of the responsbility to give these children a good life.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lazy Blogging

I read the funniest blog entry on Jen's Learning Patience Blog. She recently adopted two children from Ethiopia, and her entry about "I Don't Know" is a daily occurrence at our house. Click here to read her entry. I know this may seem like lazy blogging, stealing someone else's hard earned humor, but really I just couldn't put it any better...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Doro Wat - Doro what?

While perusing the spices at Mama Jeans' Natural Food Store on Saturday, we came across this package of Teff flour. For some reason, we thought we would not be able to get Teff flour in the States, but according to this $7 per 1 pound 8oz package, evidently that wasn't true! As you may or may not know, Teff flour is the necessary ingredient needed to make Injera!

We made Injera and Dora Wat for the kids.
I can guarantee it wasn't what they were used to...
the Injera was dark and not spongey at all.
We still need to get Berbere for the Dora Wat. We subsituted a combination of spices to make it taste right.
Jeff had to add red food coloring to the Dora Wat to make it look like the right color.

Guess what this became? An empty plate, nearly licked clean by two really happy kids!

Oh Yeah!

I think that even though it wasn't even close to what they're used to, I think just the fact that we TRIED has made all the difference. They have been more willing to try new things and have had such great attitudes since our "Ethiopian food night." We will definitely keep trying to perfect it.

Look what I did!

Last week, Jameson was upset about her hair. We had it braided in Ethiopia for 20 burr which is about $2. It looked so awesome, and I was ready to leave it as long as it looked good. I was dealing with so much those first few weeks, I just wasn't ready to try to learn how to take care of her hair... I admit it; I was afraid! She was unhappy and I guess just plain tired of it, so we took out her braids. It took Jaiden, Jameson and I about an hour and a half to take out the braids. I jumped in with both feet and washed it, beauty salon style in the kitchen sink, put in the detangler/conditioner I had bought and styled it as best as I could. It wasn't nearly as frightening as I thought it would be. It was actually a really great bonding time for us, as she spoke more English that evening than I have heard the entire time she's been here. She was very gracious and said she liked what I did with it even though I haven't learned how to braid yet. I think it will take some time to figure out what we're doing, and the braids are definitely easier, but way more expensive here in the US. For the same braids we paid $2 in Africa, it will cost over $100 here.
Of course, Justine needed her hair done as well. Aren't they beautiful?

Justine loves her new sister, can you tell?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Teachable Moment

We are trying so hard to make sure the kids know the words for everything, it seems as though Jeff and I are constantly explaining what everything is, telling them the words, making sure they understand it. Everything we do has become a teachable moment. In the middle of WalMart today, Jeff relayed this conversation he had with Joshua last night while channel surfing ie: bonding. I laughed harder than I have laughed in a long time. I'm pretty sure everyone in WalMart thought I was insane.

The conversation went something like this:

Jeff: "This is boxing." accentuating the THIS
Joshua: slowly, with a big aaahhhh in front of it,
Jeff: "Yes, boxing..."
Joshua: thinking deeply about the words he's going to choose, "I like the boxing... aaahhhh.... where they throw chairs...?"
Jeff: "Oh, I like that too."

So now we have yet another boy who likes WWF. What is it with boys and violence? I'm so glad we took advantage of that teachable moment. YEAH...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

15 minutes better

I occasionally get to read other inspiring mom's blogs. One of these is Mary Owlhaven who has like 10 kids whom she homeschools and still finds time to write a really great blog. You can find her blog on my "blogs I read" section. She had a really great idea that I think I may steal. In those times when life seems to really be stressful and overwhelming and it doesn't seem like you're having much fun, she had a great idea to make each day 15 minutes better. Every day, try to do something that makes the day 15 minutes better... let the kids ride their bikes the first time they ask, play a game, do a puzzle, spend some extra cuddle time with each kid. I really liked that idea because sometimes 15 minutes of pure joy may be the best I can get. I seem to be in survival mode right now.... get the kids educated, get everyone well, get the laundry done, clean the house, oh yeah take a shower and make my bed.... there are so many "have to's" to do, I sometimes forget that this is supposed to be fun.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Our snow day videos - hysterical!

It's a surprise we weren't banned from sledding here!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How many people did we just about take out?

Do I get mother of the year for this one? 1 vote for me for dragging my new child down the hill behind my sled!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And our fun day of sledding came to an end with this exclamation!

Snow Day

We awoke today to such a nice surprise. I say surprise because the weatherman said there was a 100% chance for snow last night. I say surprise because they ALWAYS say that, and we never get any snow. I say surprise because I went to bed after midnight and there was no snow, and we awoke at 7am to find 8 inches of snow! This was the first real snow our new kids have ever really seen!

Jack and Joshua digging a fort in the snow in the front yard.

Joshua was a natural at sledding. I bet he went up and down that hill 5 X for every 1 time everyone else did. He couldn't get enough and was really disappointed when the girls were cold and wanted to go home!

It was awesome to see the kids actually playing together. Today was what I have been wanting: 6 siblings playing together, not 2 different families of siblings playing together. Today, these were two brothers playing in the snow together.

Poor Mae Mae still didn't feel good. She ended up watching movies in the car while everyone else went sledding ; (

Justine kept making these huge snow balls and carrying them around.
She kept losing them and had to make more. Here's how that conversation went:
Justine: "Have you seen my big balls?"
Mom: "No, where did you leave them?"
Justine: "They are SNOW, where do you think I left them?"
Mom: "I wouldn't have any idea."
Justine: " I guess I'll just have to make more; way to be responsible Mom."
Joshua on his 107th trip back up the hill!