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Friday, November 28, 2008

New ventures

Well, folks, after great amounts of stress (technology is hardly my thing), setbacks large enough to allow me the privilege of keeping Tylenol in business, and roadblocks the size of Rhode Island, I'm pleased to announce that my latest business venture has lifted off. Granted, it's barely off the runway, but hopefully it'll keep climbing.

This new blog/website, Got Crazy Twins (http://www.gotcrazytwins.com), will be filled with articles, audio files, video files, tips, humor, brain-cell boosters, must-have lists, favorite products, and much more to keep both expectant and seasoned parents of multiples happy and sane.

So, if you have twins, or know anyone who does, please check out the site or pass it along.

If you read (or listen to...or watch) a post that you enjoy, please post in the comment section of that post. That way, I don't feel like I'm hanging out alone in cyberspace. I'm lonely enough sitting on the corner of my worn out couch with my leftover green bean casserole and a dictionary as I determine the best words to include in the Word of the Day section for December -- you know, since we're feeling less intelligent by the second (hint: Word of the Day is included in the Sanity section of the site).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks

On this day of giving thanks, I wanted to say Thank You to everyone who helped fund the test Etagegne needed to take to get her nursing license. If you've no idea what I'm talking about, you can refer to this post.

As you can see from the photo below, Almaz arranged for Etagegne to take the test with the $500 we raised, and she passed. Thanks to you, this beautiful woman can now care for her family in a more reasonable way --- with one job that allows her reasonable working hours instead of three that only allow her to be home for a few hours each day (and probably don't provide nearly the income combined that her new nursing job will provide).

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Togetherness

As I mentioned, David is out of a job. In the short term, this is terrific because we've been passing in the night for, like, 9 years and we're thoroughly enjoying having our days to spend together and the bit of extra flexibility it provides with 5 children (as in, thank you that I don't have to take all 5 children with me to the gynecologist).

We'll worry about the long-term later. Like, after Christmas. David is spectacularly good at what he does (even though I'm not completely clear on what he does, but it has something to do with testing and quality assurance in the IT realm) and I know something will work out. But right now, he's very happy being one of the many men at the park who stand around and kibbitz about how long they've been out of work.

The word kibbitz made me think of Mollie. Mollie, if you're reading this, I miss you!

I told David not to worry about looking for a new job until after the holidays. "It's been a long couple of years," I said. "Take some time and enjoy the kids and your time. Go hunt something." (I can't believe I suggested that.)

Today we went to Target. (We're trying to stimulate the economy. Is that so bad?). I suggested we get some cans of soup for dinner. You know, to conserve cash.

"I don't want to buy cans of soup. I want to make my own soup," David announced.

Okay?

"But I don't know what to make. I can't focus. I don't have a recipe. Should we go home right now and let me look through cookbooks and come up with something and then we can come back?"

No.

He threw some items in the cart and agreed to figure it out later.

We then got to the toy aisle.

"Oh, look at the Lego sets," he commented. "These are fantastic. The boys would love these."

"David, have you noticed how many pieces that kit has? 753. Have you lost your mind?"

"No, but I'm just saying..."

I was already 2 aisles over.

"David," I inquired. "Didn't you say you needed socks?"

"Yes, but we're not spending money on socks. Can't you darn them?"

I almost didn't acknowledge that I'd heard him but my second personality took over before I could stop her.

"This is the year 2008. No one darns socks. Buy a freaking bag of socks."

"That's okay," he answered. "Socks can wait."

Okay?

And then, every aisle went something like this:

"David, we need wrapping paper."

"Can't we make that?"

No.

"David, we need formula."

"Can't you make that?"

No.

"David, we need shampoo."

"Can't you make that?"

No.

"Liz, I need eggnog."

Yeah, No.

By the time we exited, I said, "David, watcha doin' this afternoon?"

"Nothing, why?"

"Oh, I don't know. Feel like job hunting?"

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Official!

First of all, I would like to ask everyone reading this to take just a moment and say a prayer for my fabulous Heather (Nina's godmother) and Michael (Nina's godfather). I know that most of you don't know them, but I also know that the blogging community is so supportive and that when prayers are requested, they're given. And they work. Heather and Michael or so important to our family and they can use as many prayers as can be said right now.

Heather's water broke on Saturday. She's 24 weeks pregnant with a female gymnast (seriously, that baby flips around in her like nothing I've ever seen!) I simply ask you to say a prayer for the baby to stay strong and safe for a few more weeks and for Heather and Michael to be strong and stay positive.

On Saturday (National Adoption Day) we were able to finalize Nina's re-adoption. Re-adoption is required in some states. Arizona is not one of them. However, it was important for us to do it for two reasons:

1. It covers us should we ever move to a state in which readoption is necessary.

2. It allowed us to legally change Nina's name from Rahel David Lyons to Nina Rahel Elizabeth Lyons. This was most important, if for no other reason, because I'm getting tired of people calling and asking for the mother of Rachel!

We honestly expected it to be a rather sterile experience, but it was anything but that. Our judge was the kindest woman. She was so genuinely thrilled to officially declare Nina our daughter according to Arizona law. She said 21 judges volunteered their time on Saturday to preside over these hearings.

We can now apply for Nina's citizenship! This process, admittedly, stirs mixed feelings in me. Of course I want Nina to be a U.S. citizen and it's what her first mother wanted for her as well because of the opportunities she knew it would afford her. However, the U.S. does not recognize dual citizenship. So, to get U.S. citizenship, Nina has to renounce her Ethiopian citizenship. Now, Ethiopia does (I believe) recognize dual citizenship. So, until she's 5 (when her Ethiopian passport expires) I believe that Ethiopia still recognizes her as an Ethiopian citizen. But unless I want to travel back over there with her when she's five to renew that, she'll lose her Ethiopian citizenship then. And that makes me sad. I so wish she could have both forever.

Anyhoo, here are some recent photos:

Henry and Nina (don't you just want to eat her?)

This is her "What you talkin' about Willis?" look

All of us with Judge Eileen Willett at Nina's re-adoption

As you can imagine, Henry had 18,000 questions. Judge Willett answered them all. I told him that all he needed to know was that he needed to ask all of his questions now because this was the only time we intended for him to see the inside of a courtroom.

Judge Willett congratulating David

Grace in the judge's seat. The judge was taking off her robes so Grace could wear them, but Grace declined. Her exact response was, "Maybe next time." David said, "Yeah, there isn't going to be a 'next time,' so it's now or never!"

Judge George

Judge Henry

Judge Jack

Listening to the judge declaring us a family

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Trim Time

I caught a glimpse of myself in a full-length mirror at Kohl's yesterday and my first thought was, "Who lets their wife out of the house looking like that?" Then I realized it was me in the mirror.

So I called David. "How could you let me leave the house this morning in this condition?"

"Liz, you looked fine. Same as every other day."

Not reassuring.

I determined it was time to stop slicking my wet hair into a ponytail each morning and get a trim. I mean, it hasn't been cut since 6 weeks before I left for Ethiopia. I've been home almost 4 months. Tired of looking like a hobo.

And where does the word "hobo" come from? Probably the fact that David and I have been subjected to no fewer than 784 viewings of Kitt Kittredge in the last week. It's the movie du jour right now. And it's about hobos. Well, okay, not hobos per se. But the Depression. And there were hobos.

And in trying to find ways to stomach the movie yet again I've begun looking at it more closely for tips on how to save money these days since, according to all accounts, our economy is seeming a bit Depression-like. The only thing I've come up with is to have a chicken coop in the backyard and sell eggs for 15-cents a dozen.

So Henry asks, in the middle of his 457th viewing, "Dad, what's a hobo?"

"Well, it's sort of hard to explain," David answers.

"I know," responds Henry, making me wonder why he asked in the first place. "It's someone who does work for someone else and then kills them."

Um, no.

David then had to come up with a more Webster-approved response than "it's sort of hard to explain."

Grace chimed in because she's writing a book and knows all about these things. Not hobos, exactly. But depressive times. Her book is about a girl who was born in Paris but lives in London and has to go live at an orphanage called Snoggage in Scotland because her parents can no longer care for her after her dad loses his job.

This is only slightly comical as David just lost his job. However, the storyline started long before this occurred.

She's aware that Nina lived in an orphanage, but her fascination with such places started after she watched the American Girl Samantha movie in which Jenny comes to live with Samantha --- after she lived in an orphanage. These American Girl movies are killing me.

So while you might think my child has been irreparably damaged by having a sister who lived in an orphange for 14 weeks and a father who's lost his job, the reality is that, in our case, life is imitating art! Maybe she's got some sort of psychic ability. Who knows.

In any event, I hope Jamie, my haircut gal, is in a good mood today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Hilarity

Last night, The Beach Boys played a concert in our neighborhood (an extra 5000 people in the neighborhood made it a bit crowded!).

At one point, Michael said to Henry, "Henry, what do you think of the band? They're pretty good, huh?"

Henry's response: "Yeah. But why are they so old?"

**********

At breakfast this morning, Henry sat down next to George. Now, most mornings breakfast is full of a caucaphony of "Move over!" "You're too close to me!" "You smell!" and "Leave me alone!" --- all before 7:30 am.

This morning, as Henry sat down next to George and we braced ourselves for the onslaught of opposition, George says, "Thank you for sitting next to me my sweet love!"

David's still laughing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Baptized

As I mentioned, Nina was baptized this past Sunday.

Baptism is an interesting topic. People baptize their children at different ages, for different fundamental reasons. For some it's deeply personal and for some it's done in the name of tradition and/or fear.

I have most certainly fallen into both categories but I won't name which kid's baptism was a product of which mentality!

We didn't see Grace get baptized. Doesn't that sound absurd? It was. She was baptized at an Episcopal church in Illinois. We never really felt "at home" there, but we felt as though we should be there since I was raised in the Episcopal church, my grandfather was an Episcopal priest, and David and I were married in the Episcopal church (by my grandfather). David was raised Catholic but didn't desire to continue that tradition in his adult life. I didn't argue with that!

Anyhoo, Grace was baptized on All Saints Day (as was Nina, which was really neat) and there were six or so other children baptized with Grace. One of the families brought to the baptismal font seemingly everyone they'd ever met. Grace's godmother had to literally push her way to the front or Grace may have been inadvertently forgotten! It was an impersonal experience to say the least, and it was the last time we visited that church.

The boys' baptisms were done at a Lutheran church in IL that we loved. Their baptisms were personal and beautiful.

Nina's baptism was different from the other four. Not completely because of Nina per se but because the priest of our church (which is Episcopal) who happens to be a woman (who is unbelievable) made it so amazing.

On the two Saturdays prior to the baptism David and I met with Pastor Gae and she explained to us the entire history of baptism---the myths and facts---and helped us explore some of our own beliefs related to baptism, spirituality, etc. It was really great.

Two other families had their children baptized alongside Nina. Nina was the only infant.

My aunt made a GORGEOUS baptism gown for our family when Grace was born. She's monogrammed the names of each child who was baptized in it onto the slip. I didn't think Nina would fit into it, but she did.

When Pastor Gae took Nina from Aunt Heather and introduced her to the congregation prior to baptizing her, she told everyone that she was born in Ethiopia. This was when I went semi-puddle. Heather was 3/4 puddle. Even Michael and David were overcome with emotion.

After the service I asked David what it was that made the whole thing so emotional; we'd never gotten that emotional at the other kids' baptisms.

David hit the nail on the head. He said, "It was Nina's demeanor. She was just so peaceful the entire time, like she just knows she's meant to be here."

He was exactly right.

I stood there on the altar looking at her and thinking, "We didn't conceive this child. We didn't spend weeks taking my temperature and timing 'actions' and then spending months talking about how she got my nose or David's mouth. And yet here she is. And she's as purposefully our child as are the other four."

The entire journey of adoption was, for us, a very spiritual one. It required great faith in many things. And in that moment, on the altar, the realization of how perfectly this child was created for our family was completely overwhelming.

The confirmation she provides every single day that we were intended to be her family and the peace that she's always had about being here, with us, is humbling. And that's what made me overflow with emotion in that moment. That and a very sudden feeling that my grandfather was there. And a simultaneous reminder that she wouldn't meet him and vice versa on this side of heaven. But somehow, I have a sense that they've already met.

Yes, I know. I'm weird.

I'm not an openly emotional person, and the place from where my emotion came in that moment is the same place very deep inside from which I had to draw such faith in my belief that we were meant to travel halfway around the world to welcome this beautiful girl into our lives.

And then my hair caught fire.

Deacon Gaye gave us each a lit baptismal candle and as I was whipping my rarely worn down hair around while saying Peace to everyone around me, I heard a sizzle. And then I smelled burnt hair. Can you even imagine if my whole head had gone up right there on the altar? I would have forever been known as "that lady whose hair caught fire during the baptism."

Next week I'll have to get a trim to remove the burnt part.

Mom, I'm going to load these to KodakGallery, don't worry. It may take a few days. Until then, enjoy!

Pastor Gae and Nina

The whole crewGeorge and Nina
Jack and Nina

Nina with Aunt Heather and Uncle Michael


Nina and Liz
Nina and Grace

When you gotta eat, you gotta eat


Jack, Liz, and Nina


Henry

Grammy, Poppy and Nina

Nina and Aunt Heather


Monday, November 3, 2008

Sit Baby Sit!

Nina was baptized yesterday and it was a beautiful service. I'll post pictures later today.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat her on the floor and this is what ensued. I'd tried the day prior and she just flopped over. But today was the day!

She's presently been sitting up for about 45 minutes playing with a new toy I bought her today. It's like a whole new world has opened for her...and for me!

As you'll see, she's obsessed with her hands. My mom and I think she'll either be a hand surgeon or a physical therapist. She spends hours just flipping her hands over each other and staring at them. She clearly finds them (and what they can do) fascinating.

Oh, and lest I forget to say it (because I think it often), I am so thrilled to again have an infant who can self-entertain for 1-2 hours at a time! It's been 7 or 8 loooong years without one (and instead with 3 infant boys who can self-entertain for a whopping 47 seconds --- on a good day.)


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