Monday, December 3, 2012

December and 70!

Today it was 70 and sunny and that is unheard of Chicago in December. I told the kids they could do homework later and we had to take advantage of the 30 minutes of sun and get some pictures. Not sure the kids fully bought into having their pictures taken AGAIN but we had fun and I let them get ice cream afterwards! It is fun for all of them when EB needs to be gaining weight!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Picture of Dad

EB drew a picture of dad last night.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Thanksgiving was a great day with our family and friends. Our friends from Indianapolis came up to spend Thanksgiving with us. It was a great time and so fun to have the house full of 8 kids and 10 kids when Ruthanne came with her boys. There was fun for all!
Peter and his turkey!

Harper making Chutney!

EB enjoying the almost 60 degree day with some bubbles.


Tate, taking a minute from playing some sport, to half smile for the camera.

At the park doing one of Tate's favorite things!

Tate, Fisher and Kal!

EB posing on our walk.

Thanksgiving dinner table!  While I was out with the kids, Peter and Harper finished the meal prep!  It was all great!

Our Thankful Chalkboard!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Used to be a Daughter, Sister and Loving Friend

On Thanksgiving, we're thankful for family.

Why am I Here?

The best part about being a financially supported college student is that you have all the freedom and security necessary to contemplate life’s mysteries.  Why are we here?  Ah, the ennui of it all.  To read the original hipsters, Sartre, Camus, Simone De Beavoir, all contemplating the unbearable lightness of being that is L’Exisentialisme.  One cannot truly appreciate these masters of meh without enduring them in their original French.  This is where you take a long slow drag on your cigarette and exhale in a bored but thoughtful way toward the window.  Fin.

Fisher spent the first five years or so of his life living with his birth family in southern Ethiopia, answering to the name Weyesa.  He played with friends, raised goats and chickens, picked coffee cherries from his tree and learned futball from his older brother.  One day after his birth father died, he took three long car rides and arrived in an orphanage in Addis Ababa.   He lived there for over a year, sleeping in a room with 10-15 other boys.  Lots of kids would come and go.  Some would stay. 

One day, a man and a woman came.  “This is your new mom and dad,” Fisher was told.  Over the next few days we came by for fun but exhausting visits.  We showed him pictures of his new house, his family and Levi, the dog.  Then, we had to go.  We told Weyesa we would come back as soon as we could to bring him to America.  We gave him some gifts and we left.  It would be four months before I could come back to bring him “home” to America and his new family, life and name.

In so many ways, we’ve had the adoption experience people dream about.  The one people picture when they make up their minds, “this is what I want to do.”  We truly are blessed and lucky.  In March, Fisher will have been home for two years and I can’t imagine life here without him.

The other day, I was finishing my morning coffee and browsing the news, just a moment or two to relax before facing the day.  Fisher came into the room calling “daddy,” and walking briskly at me with a purpose.  He was a little impatient, like when he needs me to fix his iTouch so he can get back to playing Minecraft.   “Daddy, why am I here?” he asked me, straight out of the blue.  No time to prepare for this one.  “You mean here in America,” I asked.  “Yes,” he said firmly.

“Well, you were living in an orphanage and we didn’t want you to spend the rest of your life there.  We wanted you to come live with us.”  “Oh, OK.”  He spun around and was gone just as quickly as he came.  He went back to playing Minecraft in the basement with Tate.

There is nothing light about being.  That is especially true for those of us trying to process the bewildering mystery of international adoption.  We don’t have the luxury of contemplating l’essance de la vie.  I know I’ll never be able to give him a complete answer to his deceptively simple question.  I’ll aim instead for the security he’ll need to work it out and as much honesty as I can give him.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Morning the Loss

At 4:20 in the morning, it doesn’t sound like the pitter patter of little feet.  It sounds like jack boots.   They come straight to our bed.  The child says, “I’m hungry.  I want to go downstairs.”  There’s less than a 50-50 chance this one will go back to sleep, but we’re still going to try.  “Come cuddle.”  The child’s voice gets louder and more shrill.  “Nooooo, I want to go down.” Now, the stakes are higher because if two get up, nobody sleeps.  “Shhhh, it’s the middle of the night, don’t wake your siblings.  Come cuddle.”  The eye rubbing starts.  “OK.”  We’re beating the odds, this one’s going back asleep after 20 long minutes of tossing and turning.

We’re asleep long enough to start dreaming again, when a voice abruptly insists “I’m hungry!”  It’s 5:02.  “I want to go downstairs, right now!”  Another one marches into the room and the first one jumps from the sound.  It’s over.  “I’m going downstairs.”

That’s not an option.  You can’t leave kids alone downstairs when they have the impulse control of toddlers.  They’ll climb drawers like ladders and pull things onto their heads from high cabinets, pour cereal bowls to the brim with milk, sloshing sticky mess everywhere, eat spoons full of sugar, grind fruit into furniture, break glasses, severely injure themselves with knives, push one another into walls.  These aren’t hypothetical worries, they’ve all happened. 

The thing is, we don’t have toddlers, anymore.  They’ve been “old enough to know better” for years.  In fact, they do know better.  It’s just at 5:00 in the morning, without enough sleep, no food and no medicine in their bodies to help keep control, they will do all of these things.  But four hours of sleep won’t be enough to let mom and dad to do all the things they’ll need to do today.  So, we’ll try to divide and conquer.  We send one to the tv in the attic play room and the other to the sitting room with an iPad. 

It’s not that we can sleep, but we can’t get up, yet either.  There’s a screeching fight in the attic over Lord knows what.  The other one comes by every few minutes like a town crier.  “It’s 5:24… It’s 5:36… it’s 5:38.”  It probably felt like an eternity between announcements for that one.  It’s relative peace, and we’re taking the best we can get until we can muster the energy to get out of bed.

Later today, somebody will ask us why we don’t go out more, at all really.  Somebody will tell us we just need to take some more time for ourselves.  The truth is, we have mornings like this one more often than not and we haven’t even discussed bedtime, yet.  So, poor we?  No.  Sure, mornings stink and lots of other things are hard but even more things are really good.  Just don’t don’t ask us what we’re doing tonight.  Sleeping.  Hopefully!

Best Day of Tate's Life

You have to read what Tate wrote about the best day of his life.  I am not sure what my favorite part!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holly spirt

Today at Religious Ed EB wrote this letter to the Holly Spirt. I really thought it showed her heart.

Holy Spirit, 

I am thankful for being able to have food when others do not, and having a great, wonderful and kind and loving and caring family, and having a warm and safe place to call home.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Baby is 9!


I cannot even believe my baby is 9! Where did time go? He is my sweet, loving, smart, soccer playing, Michigan cheering, video playing little boy who just happens to melt my heart. Seems like just yesterday he was born! Happy Birthday Tate Wilde Daniels!

The Chalkboard -- done by Harper

His birthday cake made by Grandpa and decorated by Harper.  Of course it is a Michigan cake.

Happy Birthday Tate!

Tate and Daddy

King Thomas the Train

Mickey Mouse Tate

Sweet Tate

5 year old Tate


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fortune Teller

EB was working for hours in the craft room and she was BUSY!!!! She wanted what she was working on to be a surprise. She was making a huge fortune teller! She was so excited to have it done it melted my heart.

Rock On!

EB is a good sport.  She's been dragged to soccer games, water polo matches, swim meets, countless practices and she doesn't participate in any of these activities.  She deserves a sport of her own and she's decided that's rock climbing.

We've made our base camp at Vertical Endeavors, in Warrenville.  They have amazing facilities.  Here's what the short walls look like on a Saturday morning before the crowds arrive:

This is truly EB's sport and it plays to her strengths in a way no other physical activity has.  It gives her focus:

It channels her stream of energy, and gives her body the feedback she craves.  No other OT activity centers her like rock climbing.  It gives her tremendous confidence.

EB is truly at home on the climbing wall.

There's another reason we chose Vertical Endeavors.  The company leads tours up Devil's Tower every summer.   When we visited Devil's Tower in the summer of 2011, EB was captivated by it.

I thought it was pretty cool, too and EB and I were scrambling over the boulders at the base in no time.

Now, EB and I are training for a summit attempt, next summer.  We've invested in gear and we'll be playing this sport together.  EB's so excited, she went as a rock climber for Halloween.

Here's a phenomenal picture of the Durrance Route, which is the way we'll be getting to the top of Devil's Tower.  

This is easily the best photo I've found, and I'd like to give credit (and link to a larger version) here.  

We haven't had any formal training yet, but we'll be taking a lot of classes over the next 7-8 months.  In the meantime, she seems like a natural to me.  She certainly got some oohs and ahs and she climbed the chimney:

Great job, EB!  Just 470 more feet to the top of Devil's Tower!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Michigan Soccer Tournament

Today we went to see Michigan v. Northwestern in soccer for the conference final at Northwestern. I took the boys out of school two hours early with their two friends.  It was a super fun day and the best part was that Michigan won 3 to 0. Not sure if the boys liked watching the game, playing on the turf or talking the players and getting autographs best. It was just a great time, so glad I took the afternoon to take the boys.
Getting ready for the game to start.  We had to change seats shortly after the picture was taken as we were surrounded by Northwestern fans.  Fisher would not look at the camera, all eyes were on the warm-ups. 

Tate all smiles waiting for the game.

Tate and Jackson decided they were going to keep score of the headers in the game.  They counted 138 headers total and had to move on to a few more pages. 

Some half-time fun.

This picture cannot capture the smoke coming off of Fisher's head.  He is laughing because we thought his hair was on fire.  He had just finishing running on the turf and it was a bit cold and as they were getting some snacks steam started coming off his head.  The concession lady thought she saw smoke and we all started swatting at his head thinking he was on fire.  He thought we had lost our minds!

Waiting to see the players after the big win!


Tate and Finn patiently waiting for autographs.

Ignore the blurry video -- I had no idea they were going to sing and it was so much for  the team, the parents and the boys to sing!  Tate said he wants to watch it over and over.