Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sleeping Arrangements

Daniel had lacrosse tonight so he and Eric weren't getting home until late.  I didn't want to keep Markos up after his normal bedtime so he could wait for Daniel, but knew that he'd flip if I tried to put him to bed without Daniel there.  In order to settle him down, I laid in his bed with him and we read a few books before we snuggled together for him to go to sleep.  I told him that I'd lay with him for a little while, until Daniel got home.

He loves when I'm willing to lay with him when he's going to sleep.  He can't get close enough when I lay with him.  We were laying face to face and he had his little arm slung around my neck.  As he began to relax and close his eyes, I whispered, "I love you" and he responded in a sleepy voice, "I love you."  But as he closed his eyes, I couldn't stop looking at his sweet face.  A few times, he opened his eyes and caught me staring at him.   I'd smile at him, and repeat, "I love you" and he'd say, "I love you", and close his eyes again.  Apparently, he was getting really tired and actually wanted to go to sleep because after this happened a few times, he opened his eyes to find me looking at him again; I said, "I love you" and he sighed, gave me a look like 'sheesh - enough is enough', and said (just like his Mommy frequently says to him), "Go to sleep, Mommy."   Then we both started laughing.  I continued to hold him tight as he went to sleep, but resisted the urge to tell him I loved him again!

I just couldn't help myself.  You see, earlier in the evening, we were taking a walk.  As we passed a vacant lot with tall over-grown grass, he said, "Markos sleepy there".  I sort of chuckled and asked, "What?  Markos sleep in the grass?" and he said, "oww" (yes).  I jokingly said, "No.  Markos won't sleep in the grass.  You have a bed, silly."  But he repeated, "Markos sleep there."  I asked, "do you mean that you have slept in the grass before?" and he said, "oww.  Etiopia.  Markos sleep there." (as he pointed to the grassy lot).

I asked if he meant when he was with his family there and he said yes.   He said he didn't have a bed.  He slept in the grass.  He said there were "ugly bugs" in the grass.  (that's what he calls bugs - "ugly bugs" - thanks to a favorite book of Daniel's, titled, The Ugly Bug.)  Recently, Markos has developed a huge fear of bugs.  Not sure if it's because I was stung by a wasp over the weekend, or if it's because we keep finding ants in the house, but he's terrified of all bugs.  He continued to tell me about all the ugly bugs in the grass when he slept there.

I don't know exactly what he's remembering.  I don't know if he spent a lot of nights outside sleeping in the grass, or if it was a one-time thing.  I just know it made me sad to think of him, as a toddler, trying to relax and go to sleep in tall grass, with lots of ugly bugs, knowing how terrified he is of them now.  So, I just couldn't resist watching him relax and rest his sweet head on his comfy pillow, in his safe bed, free of ugly bugs; and I was more than willing to be chastised by him for telling him that I love him one too many times when he was trying to go to sleep!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We're GO-ing to Haiti!

Mackenzie and I were hoping to take a mission trip to Congo, Africa with our church this fall.  Eric was planning to stay with the boys while she and I went.  We would use some of our tax refund to take the trip.  However, as it turned out, the cost, timing, and work that is being planned to be done on that particular trip make it such that it isn't exactly the sort of trip that I was envisioning for she and I to take together.  So, we began researching other options and talking to some friends and reading about trips that some of my adoption friends have taken.  And, I am happy to say that we are headed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in September!

We are going with an organization called The Global Orphan Project.  We will be there for 5 days, from September 1 - September 5.  It works out perfectly because for whatever reason, the Bethel Park School District decided that the kids aren't going back to school next year until September 12th.  Therefore, Mackenzie won't have to miss school.  We will be gone over Labor Day Weekend, so Eric will only have to take 2 or 3 days off work (or work from home for those couple of days) instead of having to take a week or two.  And, the cost is much less to fly to Haiti than to fly to Congo.

We will be spending our time in several different orphanages, just loving on the kids and babies, playing games with them, singing with them, making crafts with them, holding them, and making sure that they know that Jesus loves them and so do we!

I am so excited for Mackenzie to have this opportunity to see how children live in other parts of the world.  One of my greatest desires for my children is for them to be blessed with a spirit of contentment.  To know how fortunate they are and not to always be wanting for more.  And I want God to break their hearts for the "least of these" around the world.  I know it might sound strange to want my childrens' hearts to be broken, but I do.  I do because I believe that real fulfillment comes from the Lord.  True peace comes from being in God's will.  True joy comes from serving, from loving, and from giving, not from having and getting more.

I am also hopeful that while we are there, we will have the opportunity to meet one of our Compassion-sponsored children, Maxxon, who lives in Port-au-Prince.  We've been sponsoring him for about 6 years now.  We've watched him grow from a tiny little toddler, into a handsome boy.  I have already talked with The Global Orphan staff and am now waiting to hear back from the Compassion staff.  It's going to be tricky to arrange with our busy schedule, but I hope, hope, hope that we will be able to meet him.  We prayed so much for he and his family during the aftermath of the earthquake.  So grateful that, although they lost their home and everything they had, they all survived.  I just want to give them a big hug!

The Global Orphan Project: Hundreds GO BIG for the small from The Global Orphan Project on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Melkam Fasika! Happy Easter!

We survived another holiday at the crazy house.   The kids were supposed to have school on Good Friday due to the Bethel Park teacher's strike, but we didn't send them.  (Although, when they still got up at 7 AM and were fighting by 7:20 AM, I was wishing that I hadn't made the decision to keep them home!)  ;-)   We got up and tidied up the house.  Nancy (aka Nannie) got here around lunchtime and we all went to T.G.I.Fridays for lunch.  Going out to eat is madness anymore.  Seriously.  Even though I really don't like to cook, it's still losing it's appeal.  I'd almost rather just not eat at all.

After lunch, we came back to the house and goofed off for the afternoon.  No one was really hungry at dinner time, but we ate anyway.  After dinner, we went and got frozen yogurt.  It was super crowded so we ended up just getting it to take home.

Saturday, Grammy and Pappy (aka.  my mom and dad) arrived around lunchtime so we ate the leftover chicken fajitas from the night before.  Thankfully, the sun was out so the kids took several walks with Grammy and Nannie.  Kenzie showed a live performance of her Rube Goldberg project for everyone. 

Markos pounching on Pappy.  (Warning:  do not think that you can lay on a couch here and ever be left alone to peacefully rest!)

I don't know how I managed, but I was actually very organized with the meals for the weekend.  I had already prepped everything for the fajitas, as well as made a lasagna and prepped everything for salads before anyone arrived.  We had a nice meal Saturday night together.  Well, as "nice" as meals get around here anyway.  The food was good, the company was loud and far from 'prim and proper', but entertaining nonetheless!

After dinner, the kids got showers and got ready for bed while I got everything ready for my least favorite Easter activity with the kids -- coloring Easter eggs.  I am not sure if there could possibly be a worse combination for a high anxiety, obsessive compulsive person, than a dozen cups full of liquid dye, 3 hyper children, stupid metal things that are supposed to enable spastic, careless children to dip an egg into a paper cup full of liquid, and a bunch of hard boiled eggs!!!!  I'm thinking that maybe next year, if the weather would cooperate, this would be a much better outside activity!

Eric helping Daniel choose a color

Kenzie being super artistic with her eggs

Markos - way too excited to care about what colors he was using

Somehow no matter what colors Markos dipped his eggs in, the combination always made varying shades of green

These eggs look nothing like the beautiful eggs on the box.  I want my money back.

In order to cut back on the chaos (and the overwhelming gifts for Markos), the kids opened their baskets/gifts from Grammy and Pappy and from Nannie on Saturday.   Eric and I even got a little something -- a beautiful Africa book.

Markos opening his basket from Grammy and Pappy

New Wii game that Markos can actually play.  Yay!


Woo hoo!  A present for Eric and I

Once the kids went to bed, we watched the movie Inception - which I have to say, I hated.  Granted, I was really tired, but about 30 minutes from the end, I found myself thinking, "please, let it be the 'kick'!"..."come on kick"...."kick!  Kick!!".  If you haven't seen the movie, you wouldn't understand.  If you have seen the movie but weren't paying attention, you still might not understand.

Eric had to go to the early service at church to play with the praise band, so after he left, we all got ready and the kids were warned not to go looking for their baskets, that we were doing it after church.  They were OK with it, because when Eric was in the praise team at our other church, we did it after church too.  Markos was super excited about his shirt and tie.  So cute!  Only boy I've ever known who actually wanted to wear it and didn't want to take it off when we got home.

I insisted on taking as many pictures as I could before we left because who can ever know how long the boys will stay clean!!  Mackenzie now cooperates with pictures and Daniel has taken over the role of difficult child who won't smile, whines and cries, and acts as though we've asked for a body part with every picture that is taken.  Honestly, I don't get it.  How hard is it to just stand there, smile, and get it over with?!  I might have popped a few blood vessels, but we managed to get a few cute pictures amongst the drama.

My boys

:-)  Aww.  My babies.

Nannie with her grandkids

Grammy and Pappy with the kids

Stark family - Easter 2011

We went to the 11:00 service at church.  Jeff preached on Hope - one of my favorite scriptures (and the first that I memorized as an adult) -- Jeremiah 29:11 - "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'." 

Markos went to his class and stayed the entire service (although Eric went down after the band played and hung outside in the hall to intervene when necessary).  After church, we came home and the boys excitedly scoured the house looking for their hidden Easter baskets. More gifts were opened while the Easter meal was cooking.  The boys decided to change into their pajamas, which was fine with me, saves me work later!

Markos and Daniel shoving each other to try to find their Easter basket first.  (Sibling rivalry takes no holiday breaks.)

The kids' baskets before they tore into them

Markos digging through his basket

Mackenzie digging through her basket

Daniel surrounded by his loot

Markos VERY excited about his new helmet

Mackenzie not quite as excited about her helmet as Markos was about his.

Nannie with her gift

Strangely, Eric is the first at the table to eat, and yet, he had just woken up from a nice long nap.  Hmmmm.

What?!  Don't your kids wear their bike helmets to Easter dinner?!!

Let the chaos begin.

After the meal was cleaned up, dishes were done, and we had cake, the grandparents left and I retreated to our bedroom for some alone time.  The loudness continues downstairs as I type, but bedtime is rapidly approaching!  Praise God!

Melkam Fasika!  Happy Easter!  Markos' first Easter with our family.  So grateful that God's plan for Markos' hope and future included us.  He's loud and exhausting, but also so loving, so sweet, and so, so funny!!