Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hallie's birthday, a ski trip and a glue stick

We celebrated Hallie's birthday two weeks ago- but we've been too busy to put her beautiful pictures on the blog. She had an awesome day, with another masterpiece cake from K, J, and E. I don't think her smile diminished at all from start to finish.

Three days after her birthday, we ventured to Bozeman for our first winter vacation as a family of 11. The first day on the slopes of Bridger was a little rough, expecially for our new snowboarders- who had really sore tailbones- but each day the kids got more and more independent and by the end of 4 days of skiiing/snowboarding EVERYONE was independent on their chosen mode to get down the hill. We actually skied for 3 days then took one off then skied for one more. Taking the kids out of their normal routine/schedule brought out some important points of discussions for all-and revealed to us exactly where we needed to work on with attachment and bonding..I am so thankful for the disruption of our routine so we could start dealing with these things and help the kids continue to heal and continue to experience real family.

All 5 of my big kids were TREMENDOUS helpers as we outfitted everyone everyday with their snow gear- WHEW- the logistics of the trip were quite comical and valuable lessons were learned by all. Next year- each child will carry their own backpack with their own gloves, hats, snacks and shoes--
One of the highlights of our trip to Bozeman was visiting Journey Church. Two years ago, when we were adopting Gavin, we had emailed the Pastor, as he and his wife were also adopting from Ehtiopia. As we sat in the church, we felt like we were home. The Pastor said things like, "God loves the orphan, " as he was describing the Summer of Hope his church is involved with trying to help orphans from three different countries find families. He continually challenged his church to get out and serve those around them and they had GLUTEN FREE communion. Elli and I were so thankful. Finally, as we were leaving the church, a lady approached us to ask us where our kids were from. When we replied that 5 of them were from Ethiopia, she told us about their twice yearly mission trips to help the people at the Korah dump in Addis (please google this place and watch videos of those who live there) and then she told us she was leaving in two weeks for her court date in ET for 3 kids!!! From our first adoption, we've heard about churches that really embrace the cause of the orphan, but to be in one and KNOW that this church was living it, was incredible. Our hope is that more churches will read and live the words of our Father, who calls us over and over to take care of the orphan.
One of the highlights of the trip for our little L, was to see where she was born. It was fantastic, as we were able to go right outside the NICU, snap some pictures and even see a small baby in the healthy nursery...I'm so thankful we know a lot about her "story" and can share these with her...I am so thankful for the nurses and doctors in NICUs who work tirelessly for the smallest little ones- it's hard to believe that 4 of my kids have spent significant time in a NICU and now they are so healthy and strong.
Finally, a fellow adoptive Mom shared her glue stick approach with me this past week and it is so worth sharing. When parents adopt a small child, attachment and bonding can happen when the child is put in a front pack or a sling, however when a child reaches the age of 5, this becomes almost impossible. As I said before, our trip brought out some real attachment issues in one of our children, so I thought I'd try the glue stick method. This child became "glued" to me for most of the day Thursday, going everywhere I went and doing what I was doing. Since we homeschool, this was easy to work into the child's school day, and none of this child's school work suffered. The method is so easy for the child, who gets continual feedback and touch just by being close to the parent for several hours. By noon, we could see HUGE improvements and the child was unstuck from my side. I know we may need to try this again, but we are really encouraged.

Monday, February 14, 2011

high protein snack

A friend of mine brought over these protein bars this weekend (knowing our wheat intolerances and peanut allergies). My kids loved them and we didn't see that sugar crash that we often see with cookies. I love the amount of protein in these, since we are a pretty active family and often need a quick "recharge" after an hour or so at the gym. I'm anxious to try them on our ski trip coming up.

2 Cups sunflower, almond or soy butter (you can use peanut if not allergies)
1 3/4 C. oney or acai (I used a little agave nectar and it worked well)
2 1/4 C. protein shake mix
3- 31/2 C. oats

The trickiest part is mixing it if you use soybutter. The sunbutter mixes a lot easier. We used chocolate protein shake mix and they tasted kind of like a Resees.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

What a neat morning at the Sweeney house~~As I got out of the shower, there were lots of knocks on the door so I quickly got dressed. Standing in the hallway were all 9 kids, ready to hand me their Valentine cards they had made. I had planned to do a more formal Valentine exchange later in the day, but they were so excited to tell everyone they loved each other that they were exchanged by 7:00! I am one blessed Mama!

Speaking of Valentines- I just have to have to brag up my biggest Valentine, Mike. I am so thankful to have him for a husband. He teaches us all so much everyday- he showers the kids with affection and models Christ's love for them. He tells our daughters everyday how beautiful they all are (he has set the bar pretty high for their future spouses) and is raising our boys to be men of integrity, with strong work ethics, who aren't afraid to tell those around them how much they care. He LOVES well and for that I am truly thankful. This will be our 19th Valentines Day together...I can't wait for 19 more! Mike- I love you!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

officially a citizen!!

Thursday, Micah stood before an official at the USCIS office in Rapid City and swore an oath to be a citizen of the U.S. He had to raise his right hand, hold a flag in the left hand and repeat LOTS of big words to the official. We are so proud of him- it was a hard oath to repeat but he did just great. All of the kids were there to watch - homeschool field trip.

We have been waiting for this certificate for months, as it got lost at the department some how and he was officially a citizen when we landed on August 9 in Minneapolis. Since he was listed as 14 years old on his birth certificate (long story here - we believe he is 13 and his birthdate will be officially changed soon) he had to sign his certificate himself. The other kids received theirs in October and I signed them for them.

Now that the kids have been home 6 months we can petition to officially change their names and birthdates. We will be thrilled to have the paperwork portion of their adoption done.

Since I write this blog to encourage others to adopt, I wanted to be honest about birthdates here. Many times, Ethiopian families don't know when their child's birthdays are. Most babies are born at home and their are no official birth records. The Ethiopian calendar is different than ours (I believe it's 2002 there). Finally, if the family does know an accurate birthdate, this information may die with the parents when they die. In our family, all 4 new kids came home with the same birthdate just listed years apart. Now, we know they weren't all born on the same day, just on different years, so we've done our due diligence to determine their accurate ages, with bone age scans and visits to the dentist.

So, what does all of this mean? In our home, "birthdays" are our way to celebrate that child for a day. It's a day that they are lavished with cards and gifts and are made to feel as special as they are.