Thursday, February 26, 2015

Six Years Later

Six Years ago Ben and I became parents for the first time.  I woke up that morning recovering from major surgery.  I remember gently making my way across the room to the computer to see if there was any news and found a one line email that read. (I still have this email)

"Your boys were approved today."

These were the anticlimactic words that let me know that after years of longing I was finally a Mom.  But the words did not matter.  What mattered was there were now two little boys waiting for us in Ethiopia that were legally our sons.   It is amazing to me that this was six years ago.  Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes I can't remember what life was like before I was a parent.  But either way, I love being a Mom more than anything.  It has been an amazing six years.  I say it all the time and I mean it, I would not change the way we became a family at all.  I know that adoption has its challenges for all involved.  I also know that interracial adoptions add an extra complication.  But I know from the bottom of my heart and soul that these three children in our home and hearts were meant to be ours and we were meant to be theirs.  I know God brought us together.

Every year on February 25th we celebrate God's story of making us a family.  This year we took the kids to Farrell's. When I was five and visited America for the very first time we went straight to a Farrell's.  This place holds a special place in my heart as it was like a 5 year old's idea of heaven.

As expected, all three of our kids loved it too.  I have to give Farrell's staff credit as they celebrated us becoming a family and made it seem normal and every day like the five other Birthdays that happened while we were there.

Please celebrate with us as we have now been a family for six years!!!

As I tucked the boys in tonight I told them again the story of how we became a family. I have made it into a bit of children's story that they can say it along with me. I lay with each boy and hugged them tight and sang to them about how much I loved them.  As I left the room Nati says, "Mommy this was the best family night ever."  He is right each one is better than the last. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Good Friends

When I married Ben, one of the things I inherited were a group of great Navy (and civilian) friends he had made in Italy.  I didn't realize what a gift this was until we got to Norfolk VA and I was able to live near a bunch of them as well.  We all just happened to be stationed in the same area together for about 2 years.  It was so fun to be around them at that time of our life as this is where we became parents.  They were our family away from family and helped us SO much as we made it through our first years of parenthood.

Here is a group shot of a bunch of the Italian crew.

The Carpenters were one of these families.  They have two girls about the same age as our boys. Back in Norfolk days none of the kids were in school and we did a ton of playdates, weekend get-to-gethers and kid swapping for date nights.  I dug out these pictures to show you how little the kids were the last time they all hung out together.

It was such a treat that they came all the way out to Hawaii to visit us.  They are on their way to Italy again (lucky dogs) but made it a priority to come visit so the kids to get reconnected.  It has been 3 1/2 years since they saw each other.   But they hit it off famously.  Now I do believe we need to return the favor and go visit them in Italy…don't you agree?????

They were adventurous enough to try Ethiopian food with us at our new favorite restaurant.  There was some serious jet lag in this picture.
 The kids did exactly what we had all hoped..they played and read and laughed.
I love this shot as it shows a mass boogie boarding catch with Ben Go Pro-ing the event.

 These two have always shared a laugh or two or three.
 At Bellows Beach
I must confess I left my camera at home a lot this trip as I wanted to just enjoy our friends so I didn't capture all shaved ice, snoring, beaching, pool time that we did.  

 On Memorial day we went on a family bike ride around Ford Island to visit the historic sites(I think we might have too many bikes as we had enough extras that we only had to borrow one more and all 8 of us could ride).  Here at the Utah.

 I LOVE these trees.
 Water and chalk in the front yard.

 They tattooed themselves with chalk.
 He wasn't mad just posing so I could see all the chalk on him.
 Just because she is TOO cute.
 Their last night here and they caught a rainbow!!
 I love these last two shots.  The way to Mari's heart is through her stomach, you can see Mark and Deanna trying to win her over:).

 One thing we forgot was a group shot of all of us.  Hmmm I guess we will just HAVE to go to Italy after all!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Family Night - Opposite/Backwards Night

About 3 1/2 years ago we did a family night called Backwards Night.  The boys LOVED it.  They talk about it all the time.  Whenever we tried to brain storm new ideas for family night they would talk about redoing this one.  Well lets just say this last year has been one crazy ride for the boys, with deployments, the adoption and the move.  We felt we needed to do something fun for them.  Also, I feel like my old self again.  I now absolutely love living in Hawaii, just like I thought I would.  I feel like I am making friends, connections and have a routine.  I feel like I can be of help to others again.  And finally I am ready to be the creative, fun Mom I want to be.  So Ben and I sat down last week and decided to stop being grumpy old parents and get back into the swing of things.  We decided to surprise the boys with a SECOND backwards night.  Although we added the theme opposite to it as well.  We sat up talking and giggling and scheming last week and came up with our plan of attack. Normally we tell the boys when we are going to do a family night and we all brain storm and plan together but we wanted this to be a surprise.  The basic idea is to do the dinner, bath time, bedtime routine completely backwards.

First Ben arrived home a bit earlier on Friday. I had the boys playing with Mari in their room so they didn't know he was home.  I told them to wait in there for five minutes while I got a surprise ready.  Then we went in our room and put on each other's pjs and climbed into bed.  Ok lets be real, Ben only wears underwear to bed so I put on one of his t-shirts and his underwear and yes I am brave enough to show a picture of me like this:).

Ben on the other hand has forbidden me to show you the picture of him in my pink pjs with balloons stuffed up his shirt.   But let me tell you, it is a sight to behold.  We had the video camera recording.  We called the boys in and they found us sleeping and then we yelled, "Surprise it is backwards night! " We totally caught the joy of the moment as well as the sheer hilarity of them seeing Ben in his get up.  I really thought Yared might lose it he was laughing so hard.  Nati heard the words "backwards night" and was ready to go.  They ran to their room put on each other's pjs and climbed into each other's beds.

Then we showered and got dressed in each other's clothes.  Sadly Ben looks quite good in my clothes.  I look rather manly in his.  We put Mari in some of Nati's clothes.  She was really into it all and ran around yelling and giggling with the boys.  She had no clue what was happening but we were all so hyper so she joined in.

Here we all are in someone else's clothes.  I have no idea why Mari is showing you her belly button other than she enjoys showing strangers this every where we go:).
 In each other's clothes.  Can't really see a big difference but they thought it was so funny.
 I know SO cute right:)?
We then started watching Parent Trap - the original.  The theme was opposite night and if you have seen that movie the twin girls swap places.  We paused the movie to eat…. dessert first of course and oh yeah we did it under the table.

Of course we had to have upside down chocolate cake.  (Side note here to all my fellow classmates from Africa.  This is the delicious chocolate dessert that made waiting through the cafeteria line worth the wait:)  Then we had pizza.  Nati was so full from dessert he ate only two bites of pizza.  This dessert might look disgusting but it is soooo good, especially with some peanut butter ice cream.
The boys had juice in wine glasses and we had wine in kid's cups.
 Notice the sugar high in their eyes and the pizza in their teeth.  They look like cavemen:).
 We then finished up the movie and put two happy tired boys to bed.  Nati wanted to switch beds still and so with a little resistance from Yared they did.

Maybe Yared could see into the future as at 3:30 that night Nati came in and calmly informed me he had thrown up "a little" in Yared's bed.  I was too tired to deal with "a little" vomit so just pulled him into our bed.  In the morning we discovered two things.  First, it is probably not a good idea to let kids gorge on dessert before dinner.  Second, that Nati's version of "a little" is not the same as ours.   But hey a good memory was made and we had a very successful Backwards/Opposite Family Night.  Here's to hoping to have more of these adventures coming soon.  If you have any brilliant ideas for family night shoot them our way.  I am always on the look out for some creative suggestions.  Lurking in the my mind right now  are 80's night and Football Night.