Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Williston Herald - Online Edition

Williston Herald - Online Edition

Just had to brag on my husband a little. This article talks about our business, Summit Energy Services and some of the work he just completed for EOG Resources.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

a little toot

We all needed a little laughter in the house and wouldn't you know, all it took was one of my precious children to toot and Daddy to laugh. I can honestly say that NOW, we are a family. No one is afraid to be themselves, no one is afraid to get embarrassed and EVERYONE is having a great time together. Who would have known what a little natural gas could do? I should have fixed beans days ago..

On a praise note- To those of you praying for my child who was having trouble with transitions...thank you. Today was nothing short of amazing!! We are seeing that same child that God used to bring us back to Ethiopia- that same child whose smile we couldn't get out of our minds, that same child who stole our hearts. God is good and faithful and HEARS the cry of His people. (Please don't stop though, we covet your continued prayers).

Monday, August 23, 2010

What a weekend--

We had a really good weekend around here, with lots of fun, running, swimming and family time. Many lessons were also learned.

The kids all did amazingly well in their first cross country meet. I think every one of them knocked at least 30 seconds off their mile time. It was so much fun to be on this side of the cross country race, cheering for them to kick it in!! I'm so encouraged by the coaching they're receiving, the encouragement from older runners and coaches and the friendships that all of them are developing. For the first time since moving here, I feel like "WOW- I can't wait to watch my kids grow up here."

We took the kids swimming yesterday and no one hurled in the pool- SUCCESS!!! They had a great time and it was fun to see their excitement. Gavin is now trying to swim on his own. Swimming lessons x6 should have us pool safe by next summer.

Elli came down with Strep yesterday, so we're cleaning everything in the hopes that not all 9 will get it. Fortunately, we were at the doctor's for Leah's last Rocephin shots (ouch!) yesterday, so she was diagnosed quickly. I think she's on the mend.

Communication seems to be our biggest hurdle and that's where we need the prayer support of many. Gabe and Hallie seem to be picking up English very quickly. Leah and Micah are working hard, but it doesn't come as easily as it does for the littler ones. Today is a great day of trying, though, as Micah and Leah have already done a lesson in Rosetta Stone English for the day. We start school tomorrow and they are all anxious to learn.

Our new van is here in the driveway. It will be really nice for loading everyone up at once. We do the little, "Get in the Makeena" dance a few times/day- It's nice to have a "BIG MAKEENA!"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Good news and a good day!

Yesterday, I posted that we were having a few struggles with one of our children. Due to the wisdom of my husband and the prayers of many faithful friends, today is definitely better and we're back to smiles all the way around. Also- big shout of thanks to the Sauros for the gifts- you made everyone's day and they yelled "Thank you." to your pictures. I heard ALL of my boys laughing and playing together for hours today.

Good news: We ran some more tests on Leah today and it looks like she won't need surgery- Praise God! She has an acute thyroiditis that is treatable with antibiotics. Her pain should go away soon--so thankful, as she is such a sweet young lady and I hate to see her in pain.

Tomorrow we have first cross-country races for my 4 biggest kids (I can't wait to watch them run) and then Williston has the annual Chokecherry Festival. The timing of this festival is so interesting- as the last active thing I did with my Mom, before she died was pick chokecherries (I still have the three bags frozen in my freezer-can't get myself to make jelly out of them) and she passed away 6 years ago on Monday. She was such a gift to all of us and I'll be smiling as Williston celebrates that tart little berry...


I've had people ask me why I'm not posting much lately. Honestly, I don't know where the days go and I want to protect my kids' privacy as much as a public blog allows, while at the same time be an encouragement to those who are called to adopt or are thinking about adoption.

Things are going, on average VERY WELL. 3 out of the 4 kids are very happy, loving, eating well, sleeping well, playing well with everyone. We do have one child, however who is struggling a bit, and the struggles have to do with cultural differences, more than heart. It's so hard to see children grieve what they've always known, as they work hard to learn our ways. I'm so thankful for an adoption community who offers instant support and more importantly prayers to help a child adjust a bit better. I am so thankful for Pastor Yosef, in Indianapolis, who got right on the phone with us to translate today. I'm thankful for the friends here who offer continual smiles and encouragement throughout the days. I'm thankful for my husband who mans up everyday to love on 9 kids and do it well. I'm thankful for all of my kids. We really have a unique household and it is filled with laughter most of the time.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be taken from everything I've ever known, smells, sights, sounds, people and be put into a house, in the middle of ND. I can't imagine any of my other kids going to a new country, with new parents, new sets of rules, new expectations without any struggles.

Finally, it looks like we're getting a VAN! I test drove a van today and Elli said, "Mom, you actually did pretty well--" It's sure nice to load all 9 kids in the car and still have room for more -ha!
God is good, all the time and He is teaching us all so much about ourselves these past two weeks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

tired mama

This morning, I am tired, not from naughty kids or too much laundry- I think my jet lag finally and completely caught up with me. We've been doing amazingly well- Praise GOD!! We've had tons of firsts this week. Micah is now riding his bike. He proved to me he can read beginning reading books and they all went swimming last night (I don't know why they didn't clear the pool when my little guy hurled in it after taking in too much water--lol).

I told Layne last night that it was fun to watch her swim. She replied, "Mom, I had SO Much fun watching Hallie swim. Did you see her?" My first 5 kids have been amazing, so unselfish and all patient as they teach. My new 4 are rolling with the punches. Our biggest difficulties have been cultural differences yet our kids have soft hearts and want to be so helpful. I almost couldn't cook dinner last night because I had so many helpers in the kitchen.

All of the kids' blood work have come back and verified how very healthy they are. We are so very thankful..

If anyone is interested in older child adoption- please contact us. We would be happy to help you navigate the process. There are so many children out there in need of homes, so many, who would flourish if given love.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

World record house cleaning

Just another quick update- will try to get pictures posted soon. Everyone is doing really well-better than expected every day!!! This morning, we had a huge house clean up. With everyone's help, the entire house was clean in about an hour!!! I watched in amusement as Gavin and Layne showed Gabe and Hallie how to dust (even my floorboards got dusted). Kael taught Micah how to take out the trash and sweep (they did a great job). Elli, Janike and Leah tackled the mirrors, counter tops and sinks, while I did the kitchen and Mike ran the vaccuum. We are so thankful for such eager helpers--all 9 Sweeney kids had a great attitude and worked diligently. About 2 months ago, I was watching the Duggars when Michelle talked about house cleaning. She quoted, "many hands make light work." We truly saw that this morning.

Our meal times are a hoot. The kids are anxious to try out their new English skills at the table. We hear the funniest things, as they parrot back the things they've heard us say over and over. Prior to the meal, my eager helpers show up to set the table (Gavin taught them how) and then after dinner, the boys run and get the brooms while the girls clear the table and we get the dishwasher loaded. It gets loaded 4 times/day!!! The first thing on our kitchen remodel is another dishwasher or at least an industrial sized one.

I am in awe of how God has paved the way for us to work as a family of 11. He has truly gone before us every step of the way.

We would appreciate prayers for Leah. It looks like she will need some surgery in the next few weeks. Fortunately, she can have it done in Minneapolis, so we can be around even more supportive family and a good friend who can help interpret for her. We will know more this week.
Oh! My luggage finally showed up today- 5 days after we got home..

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick Update

I'll post more later, but our days are flying by. Yesterday, the kids saw the pediatrician for their initial visits, blood work and first immunizations. They all did really well. In the afternoon, we did a bone age exam and chest x-ray- they loved seeing the films after they were done. I wish I could have understood what they were saying to each other, but they were definitely excited. We should have a determination on ages soon, but our pediatrician agrees with the doctor at the Transition Home that the kids's ages on their birth certificates are too old!! That usually doesn't happen with ET adoptions. I think they are getting overly cautious now that many family have brought children back to the States and their children were much older than their reported ages. Thankfully, we can amend their birth certificates with notes from our physician, when we finalize here in North Dakota.

Gabe and Layne have respiratory bugs, so we're not running on full steam here. Any prayer warriors out there who want to pray for my little ones, I would appreciate it...

I just have to say my husband has been awesome--he takes over at the dinner table and is really making learning English fun. The kids are already starting to speak in small sentences and seem to understand more of what we're saying to them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I have no idea where today went...Janika, Kael, Elli and Micah all started cross-country this morning. There are two practices per day and Micah LOVES IT! He is a natural runner and is quite speedy according to the other three. I think they are getting by on sheer competitiveness. Tonight's practice included 1 hour of running in the outdoor pool. I wish I could have seen his face as he got in the water, but I was home with the little ones. It will be super fun to watch them all progress throughout the season...

All of our homeschool materials have been ordered. I needed a few days to determine what the kids knew and am so thankful for the education they received at Kids Care. They are way ahead of where I thought they'd be with both letter recognition and math skills.

We've been doing pretty well, considering we have 4 kids speaking Amharic, and 5 kids speaking English and Mommy and Daddy trying to use our phrase books to bridge the gaps. It's amazing to see Gavin teaching them all English, since he's only known it for about a year. I hope they all speak as clearly as he does in another year. Gabe seems to be picking up English very quickly and they all seem to joke a bit in English, which is a good sign of learning the language. As we were practicing saying, "Hi, My name is_____," I heard, "Hi, my name is Ice Cream.", "Hi, my name is sister." and "Hi, My name is Mommy." I think Micah could live on ice cream, so I might have to start calling him that.

Please pray for us to all extend grace and have patience over the next few days and weeks. This isn't for's wonderful, yet tough. As another adoptive mom put it, kids who have been in an orphanage for periods of time, have many layers of orphanage dust to brush off. Fortunately, I don't believe this dust is too thick on our children, as they all have very tender hearts. They are all very eager to please and try to help in any way they can. We see many more smiles than frowns and have only seen a few small cases of tears. God is sustaining everyone during this transition.

We are thankful for everyone's support and prayers. As I stated before, adoption helps us all see our own sin nature several times per day. It's a humbling process.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sweeney 11

We got back home last night after 45 hours of travel- 3 flights delayed, then cancelled flights, rebookings, everything you can imagine that could go wrong airline wise did, but the kids were amazing through the whole trip (the Mommy was the only one who broke down at one point). Hopefully, they find our bags.

These pictures are of the kids at the airport and at Arby's after we got back. Mike's Mom and Dad even donned tie-dye for the occassion. Pretty good looking crew, if I do say so myself!! God is so good and faithful. Things are going smoothly this morning. I'll post more later, after some more sleep.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Elli, Bert and I leave in the morning. I think we're as ready as we ever will be to bring these 4 children home. We are very, very excited to start living the new normal, as the Sweeney11. God has done an amazing work in our family over the past year, stretching us, growing us and I know it's just beginning.

We are thankful to so many for the support in getting to this point. Brenda, Greg, Michael and Brad, thanks for the encouragement, love and tremendous prayer support. Bud and Cindy, thanks for staying with my other kids while I'm gone- it's the hardest thing to do, even though it's only for a short time. Mike- thanks for being the amazing provider that you are and being sold out for Jesus so much that you're willing to put aside the world to do what He calls us to do!

Janika and Kael- you guys just rock. I'm so proud of you and how you roll with the punches. Thank you for opening your hearts to some more brothers and sisters. I couldn't be more proud of you!!!

Layne and Gavin- I love you so much. I am going to miss you like crazy when I'm gone, but am so happy to be bringing home more brothers and sisters for you both. We are going to have a great time growing as a family.

Elli- thanks for going with me- you are such a big help with kids and I know God is going to continue to use you in a mighty way with orphans.

The Larsen Family- thank you for your continued support, through prayer and loving on our kids. You have no idea how God has used you to help us feel peaceful during this process.

Bert- WOW- don't even know where to start, except that I am so honored to have you travel with me. You are such an incredible friend, Grandma and mentor.

Lisa- you are THE BEST social worker ever and we appreciate how you've walked through this process with us. We look forward to getting to know you even more this year.

The Hutcheson Crew: We love you all! Thanks for the CONTINUAL support and the prayers directed our way. We can't wait to see you again.

Most importantly, I am thankful to God for taking us down this road again. We couldn't be happier to bring our children home.

Prayer requests for the week:
1. Embassy clearance on Weds!! This is our biggest request, since any non-clearance would mean extra days in ET, before we can bring the kids home. WE WANT THEM HOME!!!

2. Please pray for the hearts of all of my kids- for God to prepare them all for the changes to come and for patience for all of us during the transition.

Thank you prayer warriors. We believe it is the prayers of family and friends that have sustained us during all of the craziness of the past 5 1/2 months. This was an extremely short pregnancy for all of us!!