Category Archives: Family

Dear Mama: First Foster Care Placement

May 26, 2016 · 8:15 am

Dear Mama: First Foster Care Placement

Dear Mama of the sweet little girls in my care,

I love your children.  I didn’t know I would so soon.  I worried about your kids and my kids, tangled together in daily activities. Could I treat them fairly?  How would I react when your youngest pushed my youngest? Or when my son wouldn’t share with your daughter?

I didn’t know how long I would have these children when I picked them up in the middle of the night, my hair and clothes in disarray. They reached for me so eagerly, and I was afraid.   I’m not your mother, I thought to myself, and in the back of my mind lingered the word, yet.  How long does it take to feel like a mother? How long will they be mine? Read More →

How To Save Your Marriage (In Four Easy Steps)

May 20, 2014 · 6:45 am

Breathe Right Strips

There are a myriad of forces that drive married couples apart, but the most dangerous of these can be the ones that we casually dismiss as trivial.  For example, snoring.  It is one of my most deeply held beliefs that snoring is an unwritten part of Eve’s curse for eating of the forbidden fruit.  I’m sure that passage of the Bible was intended to read like this:

I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.
Though your children sleep through the night,
Still you will have no rest.
For your husband will shake the rafters of your household with his snoring,
and you shall never sleep again.”
Read More →

Poorly Drawn Face

February 24, 2014 · 6:57 pm

So, this is what I looked like this weekend.

2014-02-22 13.33.13

Poorly Drawn Face

It came about because I had agreed to do face painting for an event at Yohannes’s office.  The day before this event, Yohannes said, “Hey, do you want to be a clown, too?”

This is not quite as bizarre a question as it might first seem.  You see, of the many things I have gotten from my mother (like taste for cilantro, and my aversion to leaving the house) dressing up as a clown in one of them.  But I didn’t have time to drive all the way to her house to pick up the clothes and makeup, so I decided to just buy a cheap costume the morning of the event. Read More →

Quickie Update 10/6/12

October 6, 2012 · 7:51 pm

1. We went to see an alpaca farm last weekend with Jason. CUTE!!!!! I want one! $3,000? Nevermind.

2. Carved an AWESOME jackal lantern! Adorable Kitten + Adorable Puppy = Best Mom Ever.  Picture below.

3. Someone stole my jackal lantern before I took a picture. They left the lid.

Thanks, guys. It means a lot that you left the lid.

4. Lily is sporting 2 more teeth for a grand total of 4.

Don’t let the grin fool you. Those babies are vicious.

5. We spent a day in Philly after Yohannes’s citizenship interview.  We saw Independence Hall and some museum mummies, and gave a piece of our mind to the mean lady in the subway elevator who pushed Nati.  (Okay, so Betty and I just tried to disappear into the wall while some other, more experienced family members told her off.)

6.  Four of the family headed home today, so we are down from 11 in the house to just 7.  The visit went by so fast.

7. Quickie trip to the ER this afternoon for Nati.  The doctor prescribed Neosporin.  Never before has a single prescription made an emergency visit seem quite so superfluous. (Yes, I did just use superfluous in a sentence. Thanks for noticing.)


A Confidant

September 12, 2012 · 2:57 pm

When I was in elementary school, I had a classmate who told her mother everything.  And by everything, I mean she told her mother when she had a crush.   I was extremely jealous of her because I didn’t feel that my mother would respond well if I told her about my crushes since I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend.

As I got a little older, I was still envious of that relationship and began to experiment by telling my mother about important things I was feeling (like crushes.)  I was surprised to find that she was remarkably receptive.  She didn’t scold or judge me, although she did encourage me not to date until I was 30.

As a married adult who blatantly disregarded that advice and no longer has crushes at the crux of my existence, that relationship has continued to grow to depths beyond anything I had ever hoped for. I am honored to have my mother as one of my closest friends and confidants who still mothers me when I need it, and grandmothers my children like a pro.

Happy Birthday Mom! You are the best!

Kipona Art Fest

September 5, 2012 · 2:07 pm

Over Labor Day weekend we went to the Kipona Art Fest in Harrisburg.  Actually, we only found the kids section.  We drove past the actual “Art” section on our way home, but never actually saw any art.  Nati didn’t mind.  Especially because Auntie Poupie was visiting from Atlanta and he is in love.  How can you help but love someone who holds your hand…

Holding hands.

…and takes you to get a balloon…

Dinosaur Balloon

…and helps you play the duck game…

“Every duck is a winner!”

…where you win an obnoxious horn that mommy disassembles to remove the squeaker.

Daddy got points for going down the giant slide with Nati…twice.


Lily also got her share of Auntie Poupie Love.


Also, how cute is she in the outfit from Akoi and Tata?


Nati Quote of the Day:  “Mommy, I want the ‘Ta da da da PBS Kids dot ord’ so I can watch Caillou!”

9 Days and Counting

July 26, 2012 · 12:04 pm

You might have heard. My sister is getting married in 9 days.  Nati will be a ring bearer, and today his suit arrived in the mail.  It was ordered on ebay, so I put it on him to make sure it fit okay.  It was a tad big, but I’m pretty pleased.  He loves it and won’t let me take it off.

Cheeky smile

Adorable much?



He insisted on making a video.  This one’s for you, Hannah. :-)


July 15, 2012 · 2:08 pm

My parents and sister Naomi went down to Richmond to visit my sister Hannah this weekend.  Hannah is getting married in less than a month (!) and they were dropping off some things for the newlyweds’ home.  I sent along these “messages in eggs.”

Message in an Egg.

I saw the idea on Pinterest and thought it would be something cool to try for her Bridal shower.  Before the shower, I blew out 30 eggs and then at the shower, people could paint them and put a note inside with encouragement or marriage advice.  I ended up taking them home to finish the leftovers, which is why my parents took them down this weekend.

If you feel tempted to try this, there are a few pointers I would give you.

1. Do less than 30 eggs.  Like maybe 1. Or 5.

2.  Don’t do it when you have a friend over at your house.  They will see you blowing out 30 eggs and you will look and feel ridiculous.  Then you will both not be able to stop laughing, and you can’t blow out eggs when you’re laughing.

3.  Do it when you have a friend over at your house.  Preferably around breakfast time.  That way there will be more people to eat all those eggs you now have to scramble up.  Pick a good friend, because it is maybe a little weird (verging on gross) to eat eggs that you blew out of their shells.

After the shower and before we sent the eggs down to Hannah, Nati helped me to finish decorating them and stuffing them with messages.

Nati:  Mama, what are we gonna do with the eggs?

Me: We’re making them for Auntie Hannah, because Hannah and Pierce are getting married.

Nati: But Mama, why are Hannah and Pierce getting married?

Me: Because they love each other very much.  Sometimes when people get very big and old [compared to a 2 year old] and love each other very much, they get married.

Nati: Oh…  Nati loves Lia very much, so Nati will marry Lia.

Me: Well, people don’t marry their cousins, but that’s very nice that you love her so much.

Nati: Oh… But who should I marry, Mama?

Me: I don’t know Honey, but you don’t have to decide right now.

Nati: Okay.  How ’bout Grandma and Pop Pop?

Me: Well Grandma and Pop Pop are already married to each other.

Nati: Okay.  But Mama, who should I marry?

I’m not sure how I finally stemmed the tide of questions, but if this is any indication, boy are there a few other talks I am not looking forward to.


July 13, 2012 · 5:15 pm

Just a follow-up on the vacatastrophe.  The rest of vacation was pretty great. My parents watched the kids a bunch, which was a wonderful break.  Once Yohannes arrived, he helped extra much with the kids too. I got to jump some waves and splash in the pool a bit, and we got to hang out with some extended family. For the 4th, I had planned ahead and brought SPARKLERS!!!  I LOVED sparklers as a kid, so I was super excited for Nati and Lia to be able to try them.  Did you know you get carded when you buy sparklers? Weird.

Well, it turns out that 2 year-olds don’t love sparklers.  Every time we lit one for them, they would freak out and drop it on the ground.  I guess it’s a good thing that they aren’t eager to hold exploding sticks of fire.

Oooooooh. Aaaaaaah.


Could she be any cuter?

No pics from the beach, because how can you even try to use a camera when there is sand and water all over the place?  Best imaginary pics would have been:

1. Me in goggles.  (Turns out you still can’t see your hand in front of your face in the ocean.)

2.  Naomi sticking her tongue out at me, just as a wave came up in her face…multiple times.  (She didn’t seem to understand that I was making her do it on purpose.)

3.  Everyone squealing and doggy paddling around every time our feet touched something in the ocean, even if it was just bubbles.

No great imaginary pics of Yohannes and the kiddos, because they pretty much avoided the beach like the plague.

How many days till the next family getaway? ;-)


July 3, 2012 · 5:55 pm

We are on vacation.  So far, this has been the most relaxing part:

I love vacation with my family, especially since we don’t all get together that often.  Unfortunately, this year Hannah and Pierce can’t make it, half of my family was at a conference until Sunday, and Yohannes and Andrew can’t come till Tuesday night.   We needed to get the keys on Saturday, so Naomi and I planned to leave on Saturday morning. I was up late Friday packing and by Saturday morning, felt I had things under control.  That is, until Yohannes informed me that when I got the oil changed in the van, they put in the wrong oil.  Naturally, I never noticed, but Yohannes was kind enough to offer to run the van over and get the oil changed again.  We still had an hour till I needed to leave, so crisis averted…or so I thought.

Fast-forward 2.5 hours and Yohannes was just getting back.  After loading up the van and driving to pick up Naomi and her friend Keri, I was 2 hours behind schedule.  When I arrive, Naomi said, “You know we have to get there before the office closes or we forfeit the house, right?”

Say what?!

No problem. It was just after 1pm, and this trip was supposed to take 3.5 hours.  If the office closed at 5, we would be okay.  So we drove for about an hour, and I look at my GPS, to see it saying 4 more hours to reach destination.  With nothing to do but drive I pray, I prayed that the GPS was wrong.  In my head, I was running over scenarios of telling my family that I had single-handedly ruined our vacation.

Luckily, the GPS was wrong.  The office closes at 5.  We arrived at 4:57. Crises averted.

Did I mention we are in the middle of a heat wave?  We went most of the trip without the A/C working properly, but managed to survive.  When we arrived at what we thought was the beach house, we were greeted instead by a sauna.  The house is made mostly of pine, and it actually, truly smelled like a sauna.  We panicked for a moment when we thought there was no A/C, until we found the thermostat with the cooling turned off.  Catastrophe averted. Internal temp read 97 degree.  Outside temp was 87.  Also included, was an adorable note saying not to set the thermostat to more than 10 degrees lower than the outside temp.  How sweet.  But no thanks, considering Sunday was a high of 93.

We went to the beach Saturday night.  I was by myself with two kids, so It’s not like I expected to just go frolicking into the ocean, but I expected to still have some measure of fun.  It was promising at first.  When we walked on to the beach for the first time on Saturday evening, Nati was excited.  “Mama, where did all this sand come from?” he asked.  Then, after taking in the notes of an orchestral performance being broadcast from the boardwalk, mingled uniquely with the pop music blasting from a boom box on the beach, Nati said, “Mama, the beach is like a giant song!”

But then there was the ocean.  Nati screamed any time we got within a few feet of it.  I managed to get his feet wet a little, to which he loudly protested.  I finally consigned myself to playing in the sand, but still he wasn’t satisfied.  “Mama, turn off the waves!” he whined over and over, until we left, a full 5 minutes later.

On Sunday, I decided to brave the beach again.  I could drive, but I didn’t have our parking passes yet or I could take the trolley, but I didn’t have any quarters.  So I decided to walk with the kids in the stroller.  It took 40 minutes. 30 to get to the beach, and 10 to get the stroller across the sand.  We played for 30 minutes, during which time, Nati continued to ask me to “turn off the waves.”  Then we walked 40 minutes back.  I was wearing flip flops and get a large blister.

When we pulled up to the house, I got Nati out of the stroller and he went and stood in front of the glass sliding door.  I was still unloading Lily when he said, “Mama, there’s something going on in there.”  Are the girls back from the beach? I wondered, and kept unloading our stuff.  Nati wasn’t deterred.  “Mama, there’s really something going on in there.”  I grabbed an armful of water bottles and towels and walked over to the door.

That’s when I saw it. Water was raining down from the ceiling.  Not dripping.  Streams of water raining down.  I unlocked the door and rushed inside as fast as I could.  I ran up the stairs where I found that the tank of the upstairs toilet had water pouring out of the top of it. I managed to get the water turned off and began throwing all of the sheets and towels I could find into the puddles of water.  Nati refused to come in because it was raining.  I gave Nati a bowl of ice-cream (and then a second bowl of ice-cream) to keep him occupied while I made panicked phone calls and cleaned up the mess for the next two hours.  In the end, not much damage was done, but I think I’ve used up my quota of adrenaline for a month.

Finally, on Sunday evening the rest of the family arrived.  I realized the night before the room I was in wasn’t going to work for me.  It had one double bed, which both children shared with me.  That wasn’t going to leave room for Yohannes when he arrived on Tuesday.  So we did some shuffling and I moved into the room next door.   The next thing we knew, the electricity wasn’t working in my parents bedroom. My dad, Mr. Fixit, couldn’t sleep until he had located the problem, (Never mind that  they had already moved to another room with lights.) In the process of moving rooms, I apparently bumped an electrical outlet with a loose wire.  I was laying in bed, trying to get the kids to sleep, when my dad said casually on his way out of the room, “That could be a fire hazard, so if you smell anything tonight…”

Um. Okay.

So I spent the better part of the night plotting my escape in the case of a fire and dreaming about electrical outlets bursting into flames.    Luckily, we all woke up Monday morning, if a little more bleary eyed for the bad dreams.  The homeowner popped by to fix the toilet and tightened up the wires.

On Monday afternoon, I decided to brave the beach again, since the family was here for moral support (and to chase Nati while I held Lily and made myself look busy.)  Now having parking permits in our possession, we drove to the beach (thank God.)  Nati again refused to touch the ocean, but we had a lot of fun in the sand making sand castles while Uncle Derrick threw buckets of water at Nati and Lia.  Rebekah, my very pregnant sister, decided to take Lia out in the water.   I was sitting in the sand, watching as she walked out.  She hadn’t gone far when I saw a bigger wave coming up.  She saw it too, and promptly turned around, since she wouldn’t make it past the wave before it crashed.  She only got a couple of feet before it hit them.  She held Lia up to avoid the brunt of the wave, but got knocked down to her knees, luckily keeping both of their heads above water.  Derrick rushed in to take Lia, but Bekah got some ouchy scrapes on her knee from the fall.  Not a great first experience this vacation to teach the toddlers that the water is fun.  Also not great to have scrapes all over your leg.

Despite the many catastrophes and almost catastrophes, it’s nice to have some quality time with family.  Love, love, love my family.  Can’t wait to have everyone together at Hannah and Peirce’s wedding.