The shutter on my camera is dead. I think Canon will take at least three weeks to fix it. I cannot imagine being without my 5th baby for a month. I am panicking.

Luckily, I snagged a few fun pictures of Tsega before his two bottom teeth made their undeniable appearance in his smile and before the camera died.

When I think about the possibility of Brady coming home in a maybe a week or two (cross your fingers!) and all the lovely little moments I would miss without the camera, I contemplate robbing a bank to facilitate just buying a new one. Anyone willing to drive the getaway car?

*Tsega is rocking is AppleCheeks diapers. Yup, I am still cloth diapering. I have learned a lot. So glad I am doing it. Going to post about it soon.



This past Saturday we celebrated the babies' respective birthdays by getting everyone together for the first time ever.

The boys first meeting






Now I know why my mom always wants her kids to be together. This was one of the top moments of my life.



No. No I couldn't. But visiting Old Sturbridge Villiage made me want to give it a go.

It was one of those outings that could have gone either way, it starts off rough and you don't know if you should throw in the towel and just do damage control, or to push through and hope it gets better. We pushed through, had a marvelous time and I owe it all to the children who instead of melting down, decided to persevere for some blessed reason.

Nothing says New England in 1830s like bonnets, calico and outhouses

If my laundry list looked like this:

shear sheep
spin wool to make the yarn

dye of the yarn to then make fabric
sewing fabric into clothes
build fire to boil water
wash laundry by hand

our family would have had to high-tail it from Sturbridge to the closest nudist colony. Clearly this woman isn't thrilled with her to-do list, either. How did Sister Sue back there land the arduous job of "snip the herbs?"

Can I petition my church to make pews with lockable doors on the ends? It would solve my current problem called "I can't listen to the speaker and gain any spiritual insights because I am pinching my child, threatening my child, sitting on my child, lovingly trying to coax my child with all manner of food items and quiet activities to stay in the flipping bench."

My favorite spot was the general store. I wish I had need for fancy bellows.

This shelf of ribbons, fabrics and shoes had me at hello.

bottles! tools! To make and hold things! I wanted to take it all home!

Samantha wanted to pose with this massive rooster. I took the opportunity to not photograph the rooster and focus on the girl who never looks at the camera. Yes, her shoes are backwards. I told her to change them. She didn't. I wasn't about to bend down and do it.

Also strangely obedient for the camera Cookie posed "with the chicken" and I caught a lovely cheesy grin. Note to self: get a chicken for photo shoots with the Scooping It Up children.

I don't care what you say, horses do not smell bad to me.

Sis thinks they are pretty great too, and ran after the stagecoach.

Please excuse a lot of weird camera angels, I was trying to take pics around this:

And he kept wanting to do this:

I know I say this a lot, but the Ergo Baby Carrier is the only way to live. I used it extensively with Cookie Monster, but specifically for attaching to a child who was adopted, nothing beats it. Tsega's and my best moments are when he's in the Ergo. I am now making a point to carry him in it at least an hour every day so we have more of those moments.

Here is Liz.

She is our dear helper extraordinaire who has kept me afloat with this summer craziness. She is leaving tomorrow to go home to Columbia and then returning to her college immediately thereafter. This was our last fun outing together. The kids aren't going to know what has hit them when she's gone. I, however, know what is going to hit me and it's going to feel like a ton of bricks. Cookie Monster calls her "Llll" (like, the sound the L makes, or "La.")
We will miss La terribly.

I noticed going through pictures that a classic Me move happened: I took less and less pics of my surroundings and more and more pics of my favorite little people. It happens.

I love Samantha seriously assessing whether or not she could join in a game with bigger kids

Now that I think about it, I could live in Sturbridge in the 1800s. As long as I can bring these little people, and a portable heater. And the internet.


My younger sister Molly, the next in a long line of angels from our village who is here helping us out, caught this unposed moment. I hate that Brady isn't in it.

The following is entirely self indulgent. I am feeling the need to document things as they stand right now, so I don't forget this whirlwind time of our lives. Starting with the youngest.

Brady is 38 weeks, and tomorrow marks his 70th day in the NICU. He is starting to act and look like a normal full term newborn and is getting kinda cute. Weighing a whopping 6lbs 12 oz, he breathes beautifully most of the time but eating is the challenge keeping him at the hospital. He still relies on his feeding tube for most of his food. He is fed six times a day, at four hour intervals. Every other feeding an attempt is made to feed him by mouth, either nursing or by bottle. A few days ago he took his first full feeding, 75mls, via bottle, but has only repeated that feat once since. Most of the time he guzzles about 25 mls and tuckers out and the rest is put into his tube and pumped into his stomach. He prefers breastfeeding to the bottle (good boy!) but it's impossible to measure how much he gets when he does that. Coupled with the fact that he needs extra calories mixed into his breastmilk, it looks as thought even when he comes home I will be forced to bottle feed him and continue to reside in pumping purgatory for awhile. {sigh}

Brady is no fan of his occupational and physical therapists who make him do hard things like stretch and turn his head to the left. He gets sensory overload and begins to breathe too fast when he is stressed out. His OT claims she never sees him as relaxed as when he's snuggling with me. That makes me feel both great and crappy because I only see him at most three hours out of 24. I can't wait to get him home and safe, but I am scared, too. I am worried that I don't have enough arms for the little people who need me, and the babies waking each other up at night.

Tsega  is eight months old and on turbo. He loves scooting around and is getting fast. He gets stuck behind couches and pinned between shelves and his favorite pasttime is to scoot over to the bookshelf, pull the books off the bottom, barf onto the pages and play in his barf with the books. I am not going to lie: it's disgusting. He is a drool machine. I thought once his bottom teeth came through last week he'd stop but the river of saliva flows on. I change his clothes four times a day because they are soaking wet with drool. Puddles form on the floor when he is still long enough. He is wiggly, happy and holds his own with the biggies. He loves to scoot over to where they are playing and knock over blocks. He is a content boy, and only cries when hungry and then it is overdrive. He is mortally offended when other people eat and he isn't. He can't see a bottle without freaking out and wanting one. He whines in between bites of food, and eats anything off of anyones plate. His favorite place is in the pool and tub. He puts his face in and thrashes wildly. He has no fear, which does not bode well for me. My older two have always been into self-preservation. T is way more concerned with fun.

He is loud and loves to sing and babble. He tries way more consonants than I remember the older two at this age. "dada" "nana" baba" "tata" "mama." He is impossible during diaper changes and is starting to enjoy snuggling. He wakes up once or twice a night, which I know he doesn't need to do since he had a week where he slept through 12 hours every night. Then he went back to waking up. Tsega is doing great work on attaching. We aren't there yet, (does one ever??) but he's slowly making improvements. Little things I didn't notice weren't there until they were there. Little things that are hard to articulate and yet change. Tsega is sunshine.

Cookie Monster loves his sister. Yes, they are wearing their respective diapers and undies on the front porch.

He is 28 months and hit a major milestone this week: he did not requalify for early intervention. We have loved speech therapy. It has changed his life, and our family. He can say so much, he can communicate so much. It started off with signing. A lot of signing. It was humbling, but eventually in the last two months words flooded out of him. He still is a little behind, but he is on his way. He loves The Sound of Music, is completely devoted to cookies, loves to run, loves to play catch and watch basketball, but does not love to climb, in fact, has never even thought about climbing out of his crib. He doesn't even like to go up and down the stairs by himself. He is fearless in the water and his biggest sentence to date is "I fim (swim) under water!"

He loves being out and about and whines in the car "No go home!" over and over again because usually when we go home it means naps. He sleeps with no less than three blankies, though one we fold into a little pillow which he calls his "pi-woah-woah-woah." He weighs 28 lbs, but feels like a lot more than that. He is ultra affectionate and bestows sweet hugs and kisses to his family on an hourly basis. He is the most obedient two year old I've ever met, except for maybe his big sissy at this age. I expect us to hit a terrible three stage since this goodness can't last, right? Cookie has a special love for his little brothers. He asks at least five times a day where Brady is, if he's asleep, if he's hungry, when he's coming home. He goes berserk when Tsega wakes up from naps. He is going to be a great big brother to them. I love this boy.

Oh Samantha girl. 4 years and 5 months old. She is thoughtful, easy to be with, loves roping Cookie into her schemes, loves dress up and talking about her future. She often thinks and talks about when she will get married, (age 13 at the most recent conversation) her ears pierced (5, or 10) and have babies (age 16). She claims she will have a daughter from her tummy, and adopt a boy from Ethiopia. She still believes she has to grow quickly so she can marry her daddy, and says "Sorry, mom. I just love him more." Samantha remembers everything. Nothing good is wasted on her because she appreciates moments, fun outtings and gifts more than anyone. She will occasionally thank her parents for things she received two birthdays ago but still likes. She has the gift of gratitude. She is my performer. Remembers show tunes and song lyrics like no other. Rocks a pretty great vibrato when singing, too. She is my helper. She is my girly girl. She is an advocate for Tsega. She asks good questions about his birth mother and has a respect and love for Ethiopia. She just gets it. She is doing soccer and ballet this fall, and is learning to read. I love seeing her lightbulbs turn on. Everyday I am proud of her.

The fam at Fenway. Picture by Aunt Pommy. Notice no one is watching the game, in fact, you can see the thought bubble above my head "I can't believe I forgot the tickets on the kitchen counter so we had to go home to get them once we were already downtown so we missed the first three innings. Maybe I will just fall asleep here with T..."

So this is how things stand with our little bunch. Good. Tired. Fun. Thanks for indulging me in my attempt to lock down how my babies are today. Because tomorrow it will change.

I hate that.


Quotes from the eldest

Pink is my very favorite color when it’s ruffly. With no ruffles, definitely purple.

S: when I am a mommy, I will come back to this house and bring you cookies
Me: when you're a mommy I will cry and cry because you won't be little anymore.
S: But I will still be your Samantha!
Me: But I won't be able to hold you anymore
S: I know, but that's just how it works

Mom, do you know why I love butter on my bread and don't want to dip it in my soup? Because then my lips won't be all buttery and shiny. Dipping the soup gets the butter off!



Exactly two months ago we arrived in the US with our son Tsega. I know now why there are so few stories written on adoption blogs about flights home: because it really is that bad and when it's over you don't want to think about it or talk about it except to nod in sympathy when a newly formed family admits "That was one of the worst thing I've ever done." There are really no words to explain how hard it is. How every minute that passes bringing you closer to home is eternal torture because you still have so far to go. We tip our hats to you West Coasters.

Our first moments in Boston were emotional. I remember it was chilly, overcast and waiting at the curb for Hubs' parents to arrive I swayed with little T in my arms, clutching him tightly to my chest. I placed a blanket over his head, for all the world trying pointlessly to shelter him from the scary new world he'd entered. I kept whispering in his ear yenelich k-onjo no which means my son is beautiful and "iso iso" which means it's ok, you're ok.

I wish I had learned more Amharic. Because Tsega didn't cry, but he was wary, tense. When I held him close and whispered to him few phrases and words I knew his body relaxed a little. Maybe mine did, too. It helped to listen to the way Ethiopians pronounced those words and try to get it right, I just wish I had done more.

When my in-laws arrived to transport us all home, tears sprang to their eyes when they beheld their new grandson. They'd been thinking about him and praying for him and us for months and though my tears were all cried out I was touched by their warm reception. But the best part of the day was yet to come.

As we pulled into the driveway my heart beat faster with relief and anticipation. I missed Samantha and Cookie Monster so much and we couldn't wait for them to meet their new brother. When I saw Samantha she ran up to us hollaring "He's here he's here, you're all back!!" We had to sit down immediately before she grabbed him out of our arms. I think the blurriness of these first moments home is fitting, don't you?

First meeting


Cookie wasn't as interested in T as he was seeing Daddy again, understandably

The look on my face says it all. I was wiped out. If only I'd known in a few hours everything would change...

Grandpa works to get some laughs out of Tsega

Already buddies


Welcome to the family, little man. We are so glad you're here. The last two months with you have been wonderful. We didn't mean to turn you into a big brother so soon, but we all have faith you're gonna love it.



I read on another blog a few days ago about sleeping on one's kids' floor. In her post the author indicated that pre-child /childless folks might not be aware that this is a "thing" that happens. Instead of retiring to one's comfy bed one is compelled to fall asleep on the floor next to a restless child.

What I take it upon myself to divulge to the pre-child/childless folks out there, is that there is a far worse "thing." Falling asleep on the toilet. Because lawsy, you're finally sitting still. The floor sounds pretty sweet right now, doesn't it?

And because nothing says "Here I am, Lord" like showing some midriff, the other day at church (after 1.5 hours of wrestling with children and walking around holding a wiggly seven-month-old) it was kindly pointed out to me that my shirt was undone. Like this:

I wish I were kidding. I figured since the whole congregation saw it you should too. This is what children do to me. I am literally incapable of functioning on any decent level. Though it might be more just to lay the blame at J Crew's well-shod feet. Who designed this top anyway? Stupid side zipper.



I knew the moment the words left my lips I'd regret them.

If you don't eat two bites of your soup, which you ate yesterday because you like it, you can't have the dresses we bought you today.

Rookie, stupid, thoughtless, craziness. That's what that was.

First of all, these were not a gift, nor extravagance, nor whim, she needed new dresses since she's grown much taller this summer. Second of all, she normally eats better than any four year old I know, and the real problem was that she was quite tired. I shouldn't have engaged over something so trivial as soup. Third of all, I love those dresses and I didn't want to take them back. I had just made a threat I was loathe to follow through on. Mother Fail in full technicolor. (And two sentence ending prepositions that I refuse to fix.)

You mean we have to take them back to the store?

Feeling stubborn which at the time I told myself was good parenting, I dug myself in deeper: Yes, we will have to take them back.

Contemplative pause. Ok. I don't want them.

Crap Crap Crap, how on earth am I going to keep those bloody dresses without compromising my role as a reliable mother?

I will spare you the details about tears and reguritated soup that followed, but we arrived sitting at the table together facing off in a very rare stalemate.

Sometimes we do things we don't like because it's good for us. Sometimes we do things we don't like because to do so means we are being obedient, and that is important. You are a big girl, you know that the way you've been acting is not appropriate. I am disappointed. I need you to be better.

But I am still little.

I know. You are little, and it's my job as your Mama to help you be big and strong, which is why I make you food, it's also my job to help you know how to make good choices. You've made some poor choices this afternoon and I feel you need to apologize.

I will think about it.

Ok, that's fair. You let me know.

Time elapse: three minutes.

Are you ready?

I am still thinking.

And then I realized, she wasn't being snotty or withholding. She didn't know what to say. She didn't know how to make this better. Here was my chance to redeem myself.

Do you want to know what I say when I hurt Daddy's feelings? I wanted to keep this real. She needed to know that I make mistakes - if it weren't glaringly obvious- and that I have to apologize for them.

Head nod.

I say 'Hubs, I am sorry I hurt you. I love you.' And then he says 'I forgive you. I love you too.' Do you want to try that?

What followed broke my heart. Her beautiful brown eyes welled up with fresh tears, and her voice broke as she said Mom, I am sorry. I love you.

I forgive you, Samantha, I love you too.

I reached out for her and scooped her tiny frame onto my lap as she heaved a few extra sobs into my shoulder. I whispered into her ear I said we'd have to take those dresses back, but see, I really want you to have them. Just this once, can we forget I said that?
One of the new dresses

She squeezed tighter and nodded. Thanks for not being mad anymore, Mom.









And we wait with bated breath until this 5lb 4 oz punk can join us in the living room. (I think they are giving my baby human growth hormones in that NICU. It's scary how fast he is gaining weight. Look at those chubbers.)