a) Because my butt isn't going to get bigger all by itself
b) Sometimes it's too hard to choose
c) Manna from Heaven
d) 10pm snack
e) How do you think I came up with my blog title?
f) Write in entry



But I need it! says my two-year-old in his patented whine. This child has a perfect, textbook whine. My older child doesn't have this. She has enough sass and snip to stop a train in its tracks, but whining isn't her specialty.

No, I say, wresting the fought-over toy out of little hands, which turned out to be a very expensive piece of photography equipment, the only things you need are food to eat, air to breathe and a family that loves you.

A fairy mother that loves you? pipes in the four-year-old from another room. She wishes.

We got off track for a moment, but the discussion was a repeat of others we've had ad nauseum recently.

There has been too much whining, too much entitlement, and not enough cleaning up of the toys. I have been begging, pleading, threatening, bribing and shouting to no avail. And what it comes down to is that I can't clean up their crap for them. I have other things that cry out for my attention, like the poopy diapers and babies and dinner dishes and that accursed breast pump. And the older two children are making too many messes.

And as it turns out, against all odds, I have a need for neatness. I didn't know this until it became impossible for me to stay on top of the child-created-chaos. In fact, my hottest fantasy pretty much is made up cleaning the whole house in peace and tranquility without a soul in it except for me. And then going to sleep in my fluffy bed. For three days.

So, two days ago we started the Great Toy Fast of 2010. All the kitchen toys, dollies, stuffed animals, duplos, animal figurines, polly pockets and house accessories, tub toys, and dress up are ALL in the basement in boxes. There are a few stragglers we are finding in odd locations, but for the most part, we are toy free.

I am hoping to teach my little ones to appreciate what they have. That toys are a priviledge, not a right, and that they are special. And that we pick them up before we move on to the next toy. As of right now, it is bliss. My kids have excellent imaginations and can play "dolls" with a handful of spoons if necessary.

I don't know when the toys will come back. Maybe one genre at a time. Until then, my sagacious advice is this: if you feel ready to smack someone little in your house because you walk into a horror scene of destroyed room yet again, save the child, and take away the toys. It will feel sooooo good.

p.s. I don't smack children in this family. I speaking to the rage and desperation feelings that come when everything you do is destroyed before your eyes, over and over and over again.



Here are some in the runnings. Thanks to my wonderful sis-in-law for hosting a perfect Thanksgiving! Well, the Patriots winning helped too.

Love these cousins. Now, on to Christmas. Yikes.



Today I am grateful for clean water

that this bill is only $100, instead of $4,900, and the insurance that covered so far more than $700,000 of hospital bills this year

that everyone in my family has shoes

that my kids are learning to help

I am grateful for a noble Daddy who waves to the kids every morning as he backs of the driveway, facing his dragons at work. i grateful he works so hard so i can stay home with these little people.

for an Ethiopian Adoptive community that embraces our family. we need these friends so much. we love them.

Iam grateful that my 5-month-old twerp who is still learning to suck, has been finding his thumb!!!!!!!

for this amazing boy. and the unlikely story about him getting to our family. it's been quite a year.

I am grateful for all the prayers and positive support from extended family, friends, neighbors, blog readers who comment, those who come silently, anyone that cares about us. I am grateful to have my body back. I am grateful to God for watching over me and helping me, primarily through all the forementioned people.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.



I ain't gonna lie. This post is more wordy than it need be. But I don't know what to cut so I will just put it out there, and you can skip to the * as needed.

I recently left a comment on a post talking about the effects and ethics of adoption, specific to foster care. I really liked the post as I enjoy having my thinking challenged when it comes to issues in adoption. One of the other commenters wrote something that got my dander up hence my response:

Thank you for this post. I am confused about the point made in the comments that adoption completely erases past heritage/identity in order to be processed, I can't say I one hundred percent agree. 

But then half way through my comment I caught myself.

I do recognize despite my ongoing efforts to preserve his knowledge, love, and acceptance of his birth culture and identity, it will never be enough not only because I don't live in his country of birth, but because I am not his birth mother. What can I preserve if not his family ties, his language, his religion, or his country? What is left?


I wanted to say more. Not all adoptive parents want to erase their childs' identity even though this happens.  I wish I could speak Amharic. I wish I could dance like an Ethiopian. I wish we lived in Ethiopia sometimes. I wish my son's birth mother were apart of his life. I even wish she could have raised him. Crap, I know I am plan B. I mourn his losses with him, there may be times in his life I mourn them more than he does.  I will fight to connect not just him but our whole family to his past. (And we did this weekend in an awesome way, I might add. more on that in another post).

What I also didn't write in the comments section is that I have conversations with his birth mother. I am 95% sure she can't hear me. I think about his identity all the flipping TIME.

Adoption is complicated and imperfect. But having an adoptive family for my son means having a support system to stand by him no matter what process he needs to go through to feel comfortable with his (as my husband recently beautifully stated) divine heritage as a son of God, heritage as an Ethiopian, and his heritage as a Hopkin. Having two sets of parents is complicated. And we aren't even starting to talk about raising a black child in a white family.

Then I read this post from my friend Ms. Fricknfrack and read this comment:

"I always tell my little one, there will be people who don’t like you, that’s not a tragedy, that’s just life. There will always be more people who love you for who you are than dislike you. Focus on the love and your life will be sweet."

I am jealous of this Mom of an African American child. I sometimes feel like as adoptive transracial parents we must always be on guard against ugliness. Always be vigilant. Always be sensitive. And above all, never allow ourselves to enjoy the parenting of these adopted children too much because it is a slap in the face to the family and past we helped decimate. Never relax and just tell our child-who-stands-out-in-our family "This is life. Live it the best you can." I want to be more like her because I think I've got the uptight thing under control, ya think?

A blog friend Claudia once wrote what I think is a really important post (go read it, she's got game) about how her family tells a story about adoption. And it might be the only "up close" story her extended family and friends, coworkers, etc have to relate to so she wants to tell a good but complete story.

I relate to this feeling. Sometimes I want to walk around with a t-shirt that says

We love our adoption and our child and we honor his birth country and birth parents 
Not all adoptions are ethical and sometimes the children have suffered greatly and their families don't have the support they need to help these severely traumatized children,
Our kid is doing great even though it is taking a lot of work to attach to him
We don't want to erase his past and we didn't rescue him
Adoption is not humanitarian work it is building families
Any adoption is only possible because of great tragic losses for our son and his family
Please don't say how lucky he is, would you call someone lucky who lost everything that matters in one fell freaking swoop?...
Adoption is wonderful. It is tragic. It is a blessing. It is amazing. It is hard.

The t-shirt could work, the writing would have to be really small and I'd have to walk slowly so the people behind me in line at Target can read it as my drooling son obliterates the wrapper on an unwanted pack of gum.

But then other times, I just want to be a family. Sans disclaimers. Occasionally I grow weary of Representing Adoption just by going into public - and when he's older, how much more might he feel that way when he understands the friendly, smiling, supportive but lingering stares in the store and at the park? Though I should note the vast majority of people are so kind and I am grateful for it. I know that is how they feel because I've been that supportive, extra-smiley-kinda-stalking "I support your adoption" person.

I look forward to finding the balance. I look forward to teaching JT how to above all, be a good human and to love people and let them love him. It's pretty easy to love him.

* And coming back to National Adoption Awareness month, I just wanted to throw it out there- despite the complex stuff that I blather on about, it has beautiful parts. Building family parts. Soul-healing parts.  If you are one of those people who has thought I kinda think we could do that someday, you can let that seed grow in your heart. It will grow. We all start out that way. 

I myself filled out three different applications to different agencies and tore them up afterwards long before we ever took the plunge. We flirted with and discected and tried on the idea for almost two years before we went for it.  You can do it. There are at least 50 million children in the world without parents alive or who can care for them. There are almost 100 million more without only one parent who live in poverty and are seriously at risk for death and being sold into the sex trade.

Do you  have room in your heart or family to love one of them? Adoption isn't for everyone. In fact, all adoptive parents know adoption does not solve the orphan criss in Ethiopia or the world. There are many many organizations that support families at risk and children already orphaned. We are particularly partial to Ethiopian Orphan Relief.  They do some awesome work helping keep families together, supporting vulnerable children. That is some good stuff. 

Celebrate National Adoption Month!
Adopt, sponsor, donate, send school supplies, buy a cow, help build a library for kids who've never read a book, listen to a girl who is considering placing a child for adoption, support her decision to parent or to place without judgement, check out books from the library depicting families and characters of different "color" than your family, buy your kids toys with different skin tones than your own.

And sorry about the rambling. See you next November.



This past weekend was heavenly. There were moments where I thought my head would explode as I beheld the ever-growing child created mess around me, but the highs outweighed the lows by far. Friday night Hubs and I were given a date night (gasp!) by his wonderful parents and went to see the movie Red. It was laugh-outloud funny, due almost entirely to John Malkovich.

Saturday we did almost nothing. Scratch that. I did almost nothing. Or at least as "nothing" as one can do with four children around. I think Andrew took four trips to the dump to get rid of leaves and garbage, and -- oh I remember! I neglected to shower once again and we walked about a mile along the Charles river with the kiddos bundled up. It was a gorgeous afternoon. It was made even better by the fact that we got stares from every. single. person. we passed (c'mon are we that freakish? There are far larger families out there)

But the highlight was that we were asked, I kid you not- if our children were quadruplets. It was awesome. And I will admit, every time a sweet family with one baby in a Bjorn walked by holding hands, and we had the two older kids in the BOB double, Tsega on Hubs' back and Brady in a Moby Wrap on my front, a little part of me wanted to do a double gangsta point and say "It took me an hour and a half to pack all these people in my minivan and as of this minute, no one has pooped; take that suckas!"

Sunday we attended an amazing event hosted by a local Ethiopian Cafe, Lucy's. Out of the goodness of their Habesha hearts, the owners/managers organized a brunch inviting adoptive families to connect to the local Ethiopian community and keep the children tied to their culture. There was dancing, food, music and excellent company. Our family needs our adoption community and we need Ethiopian community. I cannot describe the feeling of being all together, except to say it is easier to breathe. I am so grateful my children will grow up with dozens of families that look like theirs at their finger tips.

I was touched once again by the generosity and acceptance of Ethiopians. There are innumerable issues with international and transacial adoption. There are many who feel it is cultural genocide. They aren't necessarily wrong. But these lovely folk, instead of criticizing the white folks for ripping the children away from their homeland (which is true) they extended the hand of fellowship. They are helping us do what we so desperately want to do: teach our kids how to be Ethiopian.

In other news, I have taught my four year old how to vacuum. She isn't great at it, as it is larger than she is, but it's better than nothing.

Oh, and final thought, back to those amazing Ethiopians we hung out with this weekend: every time one of them found out we had four young children they said "Oh what an amazing blessing." This happened many times. Guess what Americans say when they see or hear about our close-in-age-hoodlums?

a.) holy crap.
b) you sure have your hands full
c) you guys are crazy!
d.) never "what a blessing!"
e.) all of the above.

I am so used to thinking all the above too, I'd like to publically thank my Habehsa friends for reminding me that we are amazingly blessed. And because photos are more fun than my rambling, here is some bedtime magic -sans the Ethioan who hit the hay early.

Remind me to write a post sometime about how the two dolls in this picture, Chris and Hannah are actual family members.

Here's to a short, thankful week!



Tsega  came to our family five months ago. Has it only been that long? We celebrated T's joining our family with a few very special milestones. One of which is that he failed to qualify for Early Intervention. His social, physical and cognitive development is average or above average for his age. I became weepy as the women read to me their assessment and observations. Our little man has overcome so much, and to see him grow in areas of development to the point of looking like he'd never been in an instutitional setting, well, it was overwhelming.
He also was able to meet my grandparents, who flew to Boston for a visit.

He met my father, Papa Randy, who apparently is the Tsega Whisperer. I've never seen him take to a stranger like my dad, in that he was actually himself.

He met Aunt Megan, Hubs' little sis, who is one of my go-to examples of excellent parenting and who I am horrified to say I didn't photograph with Tsega boy. Along with Hubs' parents, these lovely folk joined our family for a special ceremony we call in our church a "sealing." In Mormon temples, marriages are performed not "til death do us part" but for "time and all eternity." Children joining familes by birth are automatically sealed to their parents in the eternal family. Children adopted have the opportunity to be sealed to their adoptive families, and the ceremony is very sweet and meaningful in our faith.

In the temple some of our dear friends and family surrounded us in a little beautiful room. All our children were so beautiful, and serene. Sun streamed in on Tsega from a stained glass window and everyone in the room seemed to glow, and as he placed his little hand on ours and the words of the sealing were spoken, I thought about his mother. What would she think about this? Would she be ok with it? Would he grow up to wish he'd been sealed to his birth family and not us? I don't know. I felt peaceful, though.

The cast of weekend heroes.

Afterwards we had a little lunch catered by the one and only Fasika. No, friends, I didn't even think about whipping up a feast of Ethiopian food for this many people. This awesome restaurant in Somerville cooked all the food ahead of time for us, we picked it up and partied at home. For all you Bostonian adoptive families, next time you need to celebrate a birthday or family-a-versary Habesha style I highly recommend giving them a call.

here I am, basking in the happiness of dishing up food I didn't have to make

Our dear friends Jenn and S came as well. I don't know how I'd live without Jenn. Little S was in Tsega's same orphanage in Addis. She has three Scoopingitup boys she can choose to marry one day. I don't care which one, as long as she keeps it in the family. Did I mention they live ten minutes away? Bliss.

Attempting the obligatory all-kids-in-traditional-clothes-shot.

oh well...

My mom, who has been here for seven -yes, seven- weeks helping me stay afloat made a necessary return to her real life tonight. I am trying to be all grown up and stoic and non-devastated. She helped until the bitter end, clean laundry she was attempting to fold had to be wrested from her death-grip as she was ushered out the door. To say she is generous and amazing are gross understatements. She will be sorely sorely missed. And isn't she beautiful?

It was a wonderful weekend, full of fun, family, and not enough napping. Happy five months, Tsega.
Behtehleku ewedehalew-
I love you so much.



how do i sedate four children -and a cat- for almost an hour?

Thanks Sesame Street. Probably the only show on TV worth watching.  Shhh. Don't tell The Colbert Report, Grey's Anatomy, Project Runway, Glee, House, Lie to Me, The Office,  So You Think You Can Dance, Patriot Football or Celtics Basketball.



Let's all stop an pause a moment to ponder the thinking (or lack of) around deciding to cloth diaper when I have three children in said diapers. Good idea? Well, I thought so at the time.

It's not bad as you might think. Some days it is, I won't lie. But most of the time it's just dandy. Somehow I like it.

Off the bat, I would have added vs. bumGenius to the title as well, to compare the third brand I have, but I've heard they've switched from velcro to snaps, and all my bumGenius diapers are the 3.0 old school kind with velcro and as such are obsolete for future cloth diapering Mamas. So, I won't say much about those except that in a pinch, babysitters and Grandmas like them because they don't have to think about what snaps to use, and out of the three brands, the fleece inside of bumGenius stays the softest the longest in my opinion. That being said, they are very bulky under pants and very wide in the crotch and the velcro is kinda pathetic after only several months. They are not my favorite brand. I could live without them, but since I have about six of them, they are used in my rotation. When I do use them, I prefer them on a younger kiddo, up to 20 lbs, as opposed to my 30 lb 2-year-old. They rub his legs the wrong way, and I don't have that problem with the 11 month old.

I've blogged in the past about my adventures in cloth diapering and for newcomers, I would start at the beginning first. But I wanted to write a few more tidbits I've learned to share for posterity.

First of all, if you are on the fence and thinking about taking the plunge or at least experimenting, AppleCheeks is having a storewide sale right now and orders over $50 are free shipping!

And speaking of AppleCheeks, I will start off by saying this is my cloth diaper brand of choice. The sleek fit and fantastic elastic and sturdiness are wonderful. My second favorite product from their store besides the actual pocket diaper is their "booster." This is a smaller, very low profile extra absorbency booster that I use in conjunction with a larger insert for all three boys in every diaper day and night, to extend the time between changes. It really helps keep everyone dry, and I can't find a better, flatter one out there. The goal with cloth diapering (which I didn't know until I experimented) is to have as little volume as possible coupled with as much absorbency as possible.

Why? Because you can stuff that lovely diaper with folded up dish towels in an emergency, but your child's rear end is going to be the size of Alaska. Bulk makes clothes not fit and it hard for kids to run around.

If I could go back to the beginning and place an order for all my cloth diapering supplies, here is what I could get.

1) Only two colors of AppleCheeks. They have lots of different colors and it's tempting to go nuts with the cuteness, but this isn't great for our house. For husbands or nannies or whomever is changing the baby who doesn't know as much as YOU do, they might never quite nail down which combination of inserts is best for day, best for long outings, best for long nights. I would like one color for day, and one color for longer stints like 5+ hours. I could then, as I am doing the clean laundry, stuff the day time ones just how I like, and the nighttime ones just how I like, and hubs/grandma/babysitter will grab the appropriate diaper based on "oh this is blue, this is for day!" and I'd be happy because the kids wouldn't wake up sopping wet or have massive fluffy rear ends trying to run around at the park.

Or, Applecheeks could market all their colors with the words "Good night!" on the butt and alternatively "Have a nice day!" on the front to help caretakers know which one to use for different situations. Do you hear me, AppleCheeks?

2) The best, flattest most bang-for-your-buck inserts out there by far are Thirsties hemp inserts . They absorb the most and are probably the least expensive, go figure. I've tried several different brands, and I wish I could start over and use just these with the AppleCheeks boosters. The worst inserts are all cotton micro terry. They are very bulky, and all cotton is just not able to absorb nearly as much as cotton/hemp combo. Even cotton/bamboo combos are better than just pure cotton. There are two sizes, I have small ones for the little boys, and large ones for my 2 year old. I can use the large ones for the babies as well, I just fold them over a bit to make them fit.

3) Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper and Laundry Detergent is an essential. I've used Charlie's Soapwith great success as well, but recently tried Rockin' Green and oh my gosh, it is even better. I can use Charlie's on all my laundry and it does well for cloth diapers. But the Rockin' Green is pricier and I would only use for the diapers. It knocks the smell out of the inserts. Good stuff. Both soaps get rid of smells and stains much better than traditional soaps and they don't leave a residue or build up in diapers and clothes or on the inside of your washer. I will never go back to Tide.

4) A handful of FuzziBunz Diapers . There is a place in my arsenal for Fuzzibunz diapers. I like them almost as much as AppleCheeks because on the whole they are bigger. At nighttime, their small size is much bigger than the equivalent AppleCheeks small size, and thus can accommodate far more insert power and more absorbency without making it hard to snap. I like that AppleCheeks fits small and sleeker, I don't have to buy bigger pants for my child just because I am cloth diapering. The Fuzzibunz are good for overnight because I can really stuff them. They are a very similar diaper, so you can't go wrong. In fact, if you wanted to take care of that day and night issue for the hubs or babysitter, instead of limiting your colors, have AppleCheeks for day, and Fuzzibunz for night. (Though, I don't know if the other people in your house will notice the brand difference even though it's fairly obvious looking at them they are different. So this theory might not work.)  *** update 3/2011 I changed my mind. I could live without the Fuzzibunz if I had to. The elastic on the AppleCheeks fits my kids better. I like Fuzzibunz, but getting the inserts out takes a lot of shaking and pulling. I like that with the AppleCheeks diapers the inserts usually come out in the wash all by themselves.

5) With some kids, you are just not going to need diaper liners. Ya know, the soft flushable layer that makes poop clean up easier? With my 11 month old, his lovely feces fall off the diaper and into the toilet usually. Not much fuss. The two year old's diapers are hideous. Maybe it's because he doesn't mention that he's poopy, and plays and runs and sits and jumps and mushes it all up into a hideous mess before I can get to it, but liners definitely help him. Well, me. They tend to make clean up a littler easier. I've tried many brands of liners, AppleCheeks has a great ones, and I found Biosoft on Amazon. They both work just fine. Sometimes I notice they hold the wet against a baby's skin totally undoing the wonderful wicking-away properties of the fleecy inside of a pocket cloth diaper. We've gotten rashes due entirely to some liners, so they are a double edged sword. But we need them. The worst culprit for rash-inducing liners are Bumkins liners. They are soft but are terror on Mark's bum because they hold so much wetness. I will never get them again.

6) I can't live without Planet Wise wet bags . It isn't always easy to get the zipper on the top open with a dirty diaper in your hand, it's a two hand job to unzip. But these keep wet and smell in for a few days and we have three of the large size. We keep one in the bedrooms of the two older boys and one in the bathroom where I tend to do the most diaper cleaning, so a poopy diaper can go straight into a bag after being rinsed. Even if I only had one child, I would want two of these so when one is in the washer I have a place to put dirty diapers.

7) Tips and thoughts: Remember to bring a gallon ziploc or grocery sack to store dirty diapers when out and about. I could just get a small size wet bag, but I am getting tired of spending money, since one of the perks of cloth diapering is big savings in the diapering department. Another tip is take out the inserts as you are putting them into the wetbag. AppleCheeks diapers have a unique slit helping the inserts to shake loose themselves in the wash. This works 90% of the time. The ten percent where it doesn't work and I have a crumpled ball of smelly inserts in one end of the diaper left after a wash is really irritating, so much of the time, I just pull them out. What can I say, I live in fear.

8) Confession: we use disposies sometimes still. My two year old has epic, narsty diapers sometimes. What in the name of everything holy is wrong with your body? diapers. Sometimes, I will throw a disposie on him first thing in the morning, wait until he does his business and then go back to cloth. I thought I should mention though, having disposables in the house is a temptation some spouses people cannot withstand. Hide the emergency disposables or they might be used in a non-emergency situations.

9) Diapers that have some fecal residue or are particularly stinky and are going to have to wait a day or two until being washed get sprayed with Biokleen Bac-Out Odor Eliminator with Live Enzyme Cultures Foaming Action Sprayer . It is a "green," no harsh chemicals but very powerful bacteria eating formula. I use it on diapers, on spit up, pee and cat barf on the couches and carpets. Many uses this spray has. That sounded like Yoda. Sorry.

10) I wrote once about whether or not to use cloth wipes so I don't have to deal with disposing of regular wipes. I will admit, I never followed up on this. We use regular Target brand wipes still, and if they aren't disgusting we throw them away, and the poopy ones are flushed. If you have older toilets, this probably won't work, as it will clog your toilets or kill your septic tank. But it's working for us and so that's how it is.

Now for the pictures

exhibit A: size small (1) and large (2) AppleCheeks

exhibit B: size 1 AppleCheeks with extension tabs, to help them fit over fat thighs and allow a baby to stay in the size ones a month or two extra before moving to the next size up

exhibit C: the size discrepancy between Fuzzibunz Perfect Size small, and AppleCheeks size small

exhibit D: Fuzzibunz size small next to AppleCheeks size Large (2). The photo shows them looking the same size, but I will attest the AppleCheeks is indeed larger and fits a much bigger kid. There is far more elastic in the AppleCheeks and it brings the fabric together more. I like this elastic.

exhibit E: Fuzzibunz medium (blue) looks the same as Fuzzibunz small. The medium is a more generous fit though, I promise.

exhibit F: Line up of inserts. On the left is the micro terry kind that comes free with bumGenius and Fuzzibunz. They are free for a reason. Middle is my insert combo of choice, the Thirsties hemp/cotton insert with AppleCheeks hemp booster. Right is BabyKicks Joey-Bunz inserts. They are better than the microterry, not as absorbent as the Thirsties in my opinion. They work just great though.

So, we have a mishmash of brands, a mishmash of sizes, a mishmash of inserts, but even so cloth diapering works. It is strangely satisfying. There are hang ups though. Sometimes I go too long in between washes and the smell is yucky so I have to run them twice. Sometimes I find a cloth diaper that didn't make it into a bag and it's sitting on the floor/couch/bed all stinky and wet. But we push on, and hey, folks swear my two year old will potty train sooner because of it. (It's not looking promising though.)

Good luck ya'll.

*disclaimer, the links to AppleCheeks are a just a shoutout to a great brand. The Amazon links, if used to purchase do provide me with a minuscule commission. It goes to my I Have Three Kids in Diapers Wipe Fund.