Category Archives: Nati

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!”

Tata and Akoi

August 31, 2012 · 3:39 pm

On Wednesday, Yohannes’s parents (Meseret and Worku to the world, Tata and Akoi to Nati and Lily) arrived from Ethiopia.  We’ve been over to visit them twice since Nati was born, but this is the first time they have visited us since shortly after our wedding and their first time to see Lily.

It was love at first sight on both ends.

Meseret (Tata), Lily, and Akoi (Worku)

Lily has warmed up to them faster that I have ever seen.  She is usually a little timid about being held by new people.   Nati, on the other hand, has seen them on Skype and in pictures, and was very excited for them to visit.


It’s going to be a wonderful visit. 🙂


How to Survive Running Errands

August 3, 2012 · 9:39 am

Yesterday I was busy.  So busy that I was not sure I would finish everything that absolutely and with no exceptions HAD to be finished by the end of the day. Which is why it was daunting and not a little inconvenient when I realized I had to run to the bank in the middle of the day. So I packed up the kids and headed for the bank.

I chose pay-by-the-hour parking because there was none available near the Bank of America downtown.  Then I unloaded the kids and hiked the short distance to the bank…only to remember as I saw the vacant windows that this Bank of America had been shut down. In March. I guess it’s been a while since I was at the bank.

So I hiked back to our car, loaded the kids back up, and paid $2 for our wasted trip. Then we drove to the nearest bank and made our deposit.  Yohannes suggested that while I was out, I should take Nati to the park since it was such a busy day and Nati wouldn’t get another chance to play outside.  So we stopped at the park on our way home.

Everything was okay until we got ready to leave.  Nati wanted to have a drink at the water fountain (which was broken and was spraying water everywhere like a…um…fountain.)  I finally relented and pushed the button for him, but he didn’t want to get all wet, so he stood back.  I coaxed him close enough to get splashed a bit, which he thought it was great fun, but he still wouldn’t get close enough to actually take a drink.

Since it was such a busy, busy day, I finally told him he’d have to get a drink at home and I headed toward the car. This is when the full atomic-scale melt-down occurred.  He wailed and screamed and refused to come with me.  He came to me at one point, but when I didn’t let him drag me back to the fountain, he fell to the ground and continued his tirade.  I walked to the car and told him we were leaving.

Enter crazy drunk man.  He came around the corner and was suddenly on the sidewalk between me and Nati.  He started cursing and looking wildly at us, and saying, “That’s not my F***ing kid! I didn’t do it!”  Then he walked toward me and started to reach for Lily.

What do I do in this situation?  Should I swat his hand away? No sudden movements.  Wait, is that for drunk people, or bears? He seemed about to snap and I didn’t want to upset him, seeing as I was holding Lily, and he was still standing between me and Nati.  So with every muscle in my body tensed, I waited to see what he would do.  He touched her cheek, smiled, and then kept walking.

I didn’t have time to breathe a sigh of relief before he turned around and asked if I wanted him to help with Nati, who was still on the ground screaming a few yards away.  I noticed that he was now standing on the grass because of his failed attempts to walk in a straight line up the sidewalk.  “No, thank you.” I said very politely and loudly and quickly.    Apparently he was also hearing impaired, or obstinate, or a very determined helper because he started muttering to Nati and headed in his direction with his arms alternately waving around and reaching for Nati.

What do I do in this situation? Run? Climb a tree? Don’t get between a mama bear and her cub?  Why does all my survival knowledge have to do with bears?!  I’ve never even been close to a wild bear! I started walking toward Nati, who thankfully took that moment to notice that loud man stumbling towards him and decided that I was the safer bet.  I grabbed him with my free arm and dumped him the car seat as fast as I could. I looked over my shoulder to see the overly helpful drunk man was walking away.

Nati continued to scream at a glass-shattering pitch for the whole ride home.  When he finally calmed down, I decided that now was a very important time to have a lesson about making good choices.

Me: “Nati, did you make a good choice at the park?”

Nati: “Yes.”

Me: “No. Was it a good choice when you didn’t listen to your mommy and come to the car?”

Nati: “Yes. It was a good choice and a bad choice. It was a good choice because I wanted to play at the park. It was a bad choice because I didn’t get a drink of water.”

Me: “Nati, it was not a good choice when you didn’t listen.  Next time will you make a better choice and listen to me?”

Nati: “No.”

Me: “Nati, it hurts my feeling when you don’t make a good choice and listen to Mommy.”

Nati: “Mommy, it hurts my feelings when you make a bad choice and don’t listen to me.”


How do you survive bear attacks? drunk men? two year olds? running errands?


July 28, 2012 · 11:33 am

When Nati was a baby, I heard and read all kinds of advice that referenced “fussing.”  Particularly, I was looking for advice on how in the world do I get this child to sleep before I lose my mind?  You see, Nati did not sleep on his own.  He needed to be nursed to sleep for each and every nap and bed time, and then frequently throughout the night.  And even once he was asleep, any attempts to detach him from my body resulted in waking up and starting the whole process over.

I think it is a part of being human to want an occasional millisecond of time to oneself. So in desperation, I sought advice on  sleep training.  I researched several methods, each of which had been labeled both Biblical truth and heresy by different groups of zealots.  But each and every method involved some level of allowing your child to “fuss.”

What is this fussing you speak of?  I tried several of the methods, but during the stage when Nati was supposed to be “fussing,” he was instead screaming hysterically.  He did this for a full three hours one time before I couldn’t bear it anymore.  Some people might think I didn’t wait long enough, but three hours of my child screaming hysterically was more than enough for me.  So I gave up on sleep training, and to this day, Nati needs me to cuddle him each night until he falls asleep.

And then there is Lily.  When she falls asleep while nursing, she does this marvelous thing: she unlatches and rolls away from me.  It’s kind of like being in jail and having the doors suddenly pop open. Truly exhilarating.  (Not that nursing is like jail, but freedom is like freedom.) And on the occasions where she is tired and I don’t pick her up right away, she fusses.  Fussing, for those of you who are not familiar, is kind of like crying-lite.  Or gentle whining.  So this is what all those sleep trainers thought my child would do. She does it for a few minutes, and then she falls asleep.  It is nothing short of miraculous.  I think when God made her, he was feeling concerned about my ability to maintain my sanity.


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. 🙂

Fish’s Big Catch

July 23, 2012 · 4:10 pm

Our church library has recently been resurrected and Yohannes makes a point of letting Nati pick out books to check out.  This has been one of his favorites.

Fish’s Big Catch

I have prepared the following for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy. 😉

Chocolate Milk

July 17, 2012 · 4:08 pm


I have a confession.  I lied. To my 2 year old son.  It started with his introduction to chocolate milk.  He loved it, and refused to drink regular milk again.  Concerned about his health with an addiction to refined sugars at such a young age, I tried everything to get him to drink plain milk, but to no avail.  Then one day it just happened.  I gave him plain white milk in his cuppy, and told him it was chocolate milk.  He drank it.

So every single day since then, I have been telling him that his milk is chocolate milk: a blatant lie.  As you well know, we went on vacation with my family a couple weeks ago.  Somehow, in his foray into the real world, (interacting with a handful of people other than myself,) Nati figured out that I had not been completely straight with him.  But not only did he figure out that plain milk is not chocolate milk.  He also decided that chocolate syrup is chocolate milk.  And he does not want chocolate milk and milk.  He only wants chocolate milk (aka syrup).

This has resulted in many tantrums as he asks several times daily for chocolate milk, and is each time disappointed with the product, whether it is white milk or real-live chocolate milk.  Today I had had way more than enough of this when he brought me his cuppy and asked for chocolate milk.  I said, “Do you want to know how we make chocolate milk?” (He said no, but I forged ahead).

So I sat him down in front of the fridge and got out the chocolate syrup and the milk.  I pointed to the chocolate syrup.  I said, “This is chocolate.” I poured a small amount in the cup.  I said, “This is yucky. Do you want to drink this?”  (This could have gone badly, but thankfully, he said no.)  Then I opened the milk.  He started to whine, but I continued. I poured the milk into the cuppy and mixed it up.  I said, “See?  We put in the chocolate and we put in the milk.  Now we have chocolate milk!”

There was a pause.  I held my breath in anticipation. Was this the quiet before the storm? Would he hurl the cup out of my hands and throw himself to the ground screaming?

Suddenly, he broke out in a huge grin, and said, “Mama!  Chocolate milk is like chocolate milk!”  He took the cup and drank it all happily down.

Now if I can just figure out how to get him to drink it without the chocolate again.

Basket as marching drum? Why not!

First Food

June 12, 2012 · 5:28 pm

Lily had her first “solid” food last week.  I can’t tell you how excited I was for this day to come.

When Nati was a baby, I couldn’t wait for him to start solid food either.  I had heard a rumor that solid food might push him towards that elusive “sleeping through the night.”  Also, Nati seemed to have developed the deeply misguided idea that breastfeeding was meant to be a direct replacement for the umbilical chord…that is, a permanent and uninterrupted physical attachment to and source of nourishment from Mommy.

Solid food fell far short of my expectations.  Nati did not sleep through the night or develop a new understanding of personal space.  But he did something better.  He made this face.

Lily doesn’t sleep through the night, but I feel like I do get enough sleep for the most part.  She also seems to have a much more practical view of breastfeeding, which makes it worth the effort for me to wear something other than a nursing tank top every now and then if I feel like it. Not to mention the fact that even if she was more like Nati, solid food did little to change his habits.  So it was for the simple pleasure of seeing that confused and disgusted look on her face the first time I offered her solid food that I looked forward to this day.  This might make me sound like a terrible person, but I think mothers everywhere would agree that its fair to take joy in parenting wherever we can find it.

Unfortunately for me,  Lily loves solid food.  From the very first taste of banana that her daddy personally pre-chewed for her (he’s gross), she has been a world class eater.  But I did manage to catch on video a small glimpse of her first bites of banana-oatmeal cereal, which she did not love.

I sincerely love my children.  But there are few things in the world as hilarious as that accusing look a baby gives you that seems to say, “That’s disgusting. Why would you put that in my mouth?”

Who wears it better?  I think I’d have to vote for Nati.


June 9, 2012 · 8:00 am

If you are the parent of a toddler and you hear a crashing sound nearby, it is probably your child’s fault.  Just a few days ago, Nati dropped a ceramic bowl on the ground while reaching up to get something from the counter.  I came rushing in at the sound, hoping that he wasn’t about to walk around with glass on the floor and that it wasn’t anything we would miss too much.  To be fair, we are down to less than 50% of the glass items we received as wedding gifts and most of those were not Nati’s fault.  I guess Yohannes and I just never matured to the glass-handling level that most adults achieve.  Our son seems destined to follow in our footsteps.

One thing that puts the terror of a crashing sound to shame is the crashing sound immediately followed by a scream.  Yesterday as I was walking through a clothing store, that is exactly what I heard.  I whirled around to see Nati pinned to the floor by a mirror frame.  The mirror itself was laying in jagged shards all around.  I rushed over and pulled the mirror off of him as he screamed and cried and then held him at arms length so that I could assess his injuries.  I did a quick once over and then started from head to toe checking every inch of his body.  This kid was literally laying in a bed of 6″ glass daggers and did not have a single scratch on him.

We both sat on the floor for a few minutes to calm down before I went to find an employee. “WHAT KIND OF STORE LEAVES AN UNACHORED MIRROR LEANING AGAINST THE WALL IN THE KIDS’ SECTION!” I screamed at them. In my head.  In real life, I said, “A MIRROR JUST FELL ON MY SON AND SHATTERED HE’S FINE THERE’S GLASS EVERYWHERE.”  Still in all caps and with no punctuation, because I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how I said it.  Also, I’m sure my eyes were bugging out of my head.

“Oh. We’ll go get a dust pan and clean it up.”

That’s it.  The first person I tell of this ordeal, and that’s the anticlimactic response that I get.

On the other hand, I don’t think we need any further proof that breaking a mirror is not bad luck.  Someone is seriously looking out for this kid.

Not Tonight

May 19, 2012 · 6:45 am

It happened again yesterday.  Nati was at the playground chasing a little boy, shouting, “CJ! CJ!”  The kid’s dad chuckled and said, “That’s right. His name is CJ.” Then he turned to me and asked, “What is your son’s name?”

“Nati,” I said.

He looked a little flabbergasted and went back to watching the kids without saying anything more.  Now there are two reason why he might have responded this way.  The first, much less horrible reason, which I’m inclined to write this off as, is that it was a new name to him and he was afraid that he heard it wrong or that he would pronounce it wrong, and decided not to try to repeat it.   The second, and inconceivably common reason, is that he thought I said Nazi…as in Nazi Germany…as in Hitler.

This is not something that happened once.  This is something that has happened many times.  Someone will ask what my son’s name is. I will say, “Nati.”  They will look surprised and concerned and unsure, and then say, “Nazi?”

No. Not Nazi.  I even made Yohannes listen to me as I said it over and over again to see if I might be saying it wrong.  Does the name that is coming out of my mouth sound like Nazi?

When we were choosing Nati’s first name, we knew we wanted it to be Ethiopian.  Especially with us living in the U.S., I wanted him to be able to identify with his father’s heritage.  It was actually his grandfather Worku who offered the name Natnael, and we liked it.  But I knew that the name wouldn’t roll easily off of the tongues of many of our non-Ethiopian friends and family, so I insisted on a nickname from the start.  Nati is a common nickname for Natnael.

Shortly after Nati was born, My father asked Yohannes what his name was.  Yohannes said, “Natnael.”  My father heard, “Not now.”  Okay, then I’ll wait to find out till later, he thought.

The midwife who delivered him asked what his name was.  Yohannes said, “Natnael.”  The midwife referred to him as Not Tonight from then on.

This seemed to affirm our choice to use a nickname.  I had no idea that people would misunderstand his nickname in a way that was So. Much. Worse.

So today, for your edification, I have a short lesson on my son’s first name. It is NatnaelNatnael is the Ethiopian equivalent of Nathaniel.  If you call him Nathan or Nathaniel, no one is going to die or kill you.  However, here is the correct pronunciation:

Napronounced like, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.”

t prounounced just like any old letter t is pronounced.

na, as in, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.”

el, as in elegant, or elder.

His nickname is Nati.  It is not Gnatty, as in, “This place is so gnatty. There are gnats everywhere.”  It is not Naughty, as in “You are such a naughty little boy.”  Again, no one is going to die or kill you if you say it wrong, but the correct pronunciation is as follows:

Na, as in, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.”

ti, pronounced like tea.

How it is not pronounced, is Nazi.  If you pronounce it that way, maybe no one will die or kill you, but I might lose it and scream in your face, so just be prepared.