Tuesday, January 17, 2012

new blog

ok, so i'm a few weeks late....you can understand, right??  Christmas, kids home, play dates, new games for the kids to beat me at, food prep, and more food prep, speech/poetry competition for kids to get ready for, etc.....still, here's the link to the new family blog!
hope to see you there!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

that's a wrap!

the time has come.  the first year is complete.  AJ's journey will no doubt continue, but this will be my last post on this blog.  the timing seems right.  i do plan to continue a more general family blog, however.  i will try to find time in the next few weeks to design something that suits our whole crew and will link to it from here when it is up and running.  
in the meantime~ warm wishes to all for a Merry Christmas filled with peace, joy and rest for your spirit.  may our gifts and giving and abundant blessings spill out beyond our homes and into the far reaching places worldwide that long for hope to rise up amidst the despair.
to those that have faithfully tuned in here at this humble corner of cyber space to follow news of our son~ thanks so much!  never did i ever think it would be more than a simple trip journal for us (and our family) when we travelled to Africa.  i'm so glad to have persisted and hope that one day AJ will cherish the information this blog contains.
best wishes for an amazing new year...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


"where you live should no longer determine whether you live"

tough morning.  as i remade Joelle's bed with fresh sheets, i glanced up at her poster on the wall.  it is black with the shape of Africa designed by single words relaying the struggles that plague the continent.  "hunger, poverty, fragile, etc..".  the above quote is at the bottom.  it is hitting hard today. 

a few hours earlier, and prior to wrapping gifts, i glanced at the computer to find an update from Eyob.  Yonas is in rough shape.  we've received word that he is HIV+.  as many of you know, he is officially receiving sponsorship money now to cover medical expenses, food, education, etc...as a result, he has had a social worker visit his current home and it was determined that he is quite sick and needing a "great deal" of treatment from a physician.  it has also been confirmed that his parents died of AIDS.  i don't know a lot about lab values and the most current treatment of HIV.  i do know that he's had symptoms for awhile, as was feared.  his CD4 number is 172 and this is low.  he has started on ART meds, and i do not know what his prognosis will be (i suspect it is too advanced to be positive) now that the necessary meds have been started.  i've asked more questions and am determined to research more online. 
the good news is this~  Eyob has follow-up planned for Yonas, with a physician, and talks about joining with a nearby organization that is more equipped to care for HIV+ kids.  also, the sponsorship funds are being directed to specifically boost immunity through proper nutrition and pay for his medications and testing.   more than that, sponsorship is Yonas' link to people that deeply care.
i hate that Yonas faces this life-altering diagnosis without the love of a family to wrap around him.  i hate that AIDS took his parents, and that where he lives, quite simply, has caused such giant delays in diagnosis and treatment.  i hate that he may already have AIDS because of those delays.  i hate that the Ethiopian government is not yet agreeing to deem this child "adoptable".  i believe there is even a programme/agency in the states that is specifically for US families wishing to adopt HIV+kids...this i will also research... 
yet, i'm soooo thankful for all that have cared from afar.  thanks to all who have contributed to his sponsorship.  again~ if you believe in the power of prayer, please pray.  i'll update here as i receive news.
this, all while i'm about to wrap treasures for my children to tear open in a few days... how do i reconcile the two worlds?  one world where my kids have very few cares and are wildly anticipating all that Christmas means.  the other world where Yonas (and countless others) feels unwell, underfed, scared and alone, oh yeah~ all while he fights for his life.  all while longing for a family to belong to.  so heartbreaking....messes. me. up.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

dear AJ

my precious son....today is your first "gotcha day".  can't believe it really.  one whole year since we "gotcha".  as i do for birthdays and adoption (gotcha) days, today is worthy of a letter from mom. after all, there is so much to be thankful for.  plus, it's always good to "recap" every now and again and put things in proper perspective.  what better day than today? 
yep~ it's exactly one year since i wrote this post at the end of our first day together.  rereading it brings the familiar flood of emotions.  that day was the climax of four plus years of wondering, striving, seeking, waiting, despairing, trusting and falling for you deeply.  we've had an amazing year.  you have grown and changed and flourished.  your body has settled back into a place of wellness.  your personality is priceless.  you fit this bunch.  you give and receive love in a beautiful way.  we treasure you.  as you said yourself at the dinner table the other night (while eating a french fry dotted with hot sauce~JEFFF!!!!), "i'm tough!" and yes, you surely are.  your start in life was challenging.  filled with loss.  we know this.  we remember.  we discuss. we are grateful you survived and that God found you a way here.  with us.  the journey to you, AJ (aka Zake, Alemayehu, Alemaye, Alex, Charlie, Chuck the Truck, Goochie-Poochie with a French accent~ Hannah!!) was long and hard, but the joy of being together has soooo far surpassed the heartache. 
we pray the coming year will bring you a deeper sense of security, stability and the wonderful unabashed joy of being a four year old. 
thank you God for allowing us to parent yet another terrific kid.  we seek your wisdom and strength to do that well, and energetically (as my eyelids droop).  please guide his life and guard his spirit as he faces the challenges that are to come.  may he stand in awe at the wonder of his journey and see your hand clearly in that. may his story continue to inspire and point people to you.
love you little man....

Friday, December 9, 2011


tonight AJ had a drink of grapefruit juice before bed...as he gulped the last swallow he declared emphatically "it's SPICY!!" :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

tropical splenomegaly

our first knowledge of AJ was simply that there was a child in Ethiopia who was almost three years old at the time and presenting with an enlarged spleen.  we weren't told much, just that this boy was a potential "match" for our family.  our agency was rightfully guarded with the information, not wanting emotions to cloud over the the practical implications we were possibly facing. we were asked to research and think about it.  we did just that.  we prayed lots too.  after seeking medical opinion and much discussion between my wise husband and i, we fairly quickly concluded that this child was one we wished to hear more about.  we're soooo glad we did....
fast forward to the present~ just under two years since the enlarged spleen was detected.  almost one year since being home.  we went to visit his pediatrician again this week for a re-check.  it had been several months, at least.  AJ's doctor palpated his abdomen and said "i can't feel it!".........for real.  the spleen is gone, tucked away back in its intended place, no longer detected below the rib cage....yayyyyyy!!!  such relief to hear those words.  we knew AJ was generally well.  we knew his spleen was reducing in size.  we hoped it would be "normal" in time.  and it finally is!  being parasite-free and removed from the environment that seemed to present long-term issues with viruses and disease has allowed him to gradually return to a place of health.  we are sooooo grateful.....
now, let the wrestling begin!  we just need those mats in the basement and we'll be set! :)  and no, i'm not even kidding.  my slightly enthused husband has really been scouting online prices for that very thing.....

Sunday, December 4, 2011


this one falls on jeff.  i'm glad it does.  many pairs sitting nice and orderly by the tree only happens after almost two hours of retrieving from the "skate shop" in the basement, sorting, sizing and walking around in~ times six!  once that's done, it's determining who has working skate guards (AJ's are hot pink at this point.  seems to be his colour!) and who needs their blades sharpened.  this year we need another skate bag too~ because if all goes as planned the little man will embrace the fun of this amazing winter sport.  last year.....not so much.  can't say i blamed him.  the shock of the climate change must have been intense (oh how i miss the weather in Ethiopia.  and i was only there for a few weeks).  plus, bundling up like the Michelin man wasn't exactly a highlight.

yep.  rink boards are up.  plastic is ordered.  it won't be long and the crew will be lacing up and wearing a path to the ginormous rather large (and tiring to shovel.  thankfully there are lots of helpers!) rink in the backyard.....oh Canada...