A sparrow when I'm broken, and eagle when I fly.....

Welcome to my world. I am an ordinary wife and mom who has been extraordinarily blessed by an amazing husband and house full of beautiful children. My prayer is that you will be somehow blessed by our family's story. It is a tale of God's grace and forgiveness...His loving kindness and patience with us His children as we strive & struggle everyday to bless His name with our lives

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Newest Feser Blessings-Adoption Part Two

When Mike got home from work on June 9th we talked about my day. He wasn’t surprised at all when I told him I was ready to adopt again. Though I was still a total basket case with grief over Jonathan we decided to move forward. We know adoptions can take so long and we didn’t expect our child to be home till next spring. I thought I would be less a basket case by then and would be glad we’d started when we did. Mike and I both felt strongly that after all the kids and us have been through that last few years with Jonathan’s illness and death we were ready for “easy”. It seemed that we should do the easiest kind of adoption which is younger than our youngest at home. We have never done the birth order adoption rule, but it is the right thing for our family right now. We also wanted to adopt the “easiest” special need which to us would be HIV+.

While we were talking Mike and I came to the same conclusion at about the same time…we should just go ahead and adopt Edelawit. We have known Edelawit’s face for a long time. Family friends here in town were adopting two girls from Ethiopia, one a little girl named Eden and also baby girl Imani. My friend had given me a photo of Eden long ago and it’s been on our frig all these months. In the photo Eden is sitting on a nun’s lap next to a friend whose name is Edelawit. There is something about keeping photos on the frig of orphans needing homes. Those faces become a part of your heart and you can’t get them out. So….I emailed our agency AAI to see if Edelawit age 2-3 at Kidane Mehret was still available and she was!

We really wanted a baby boy too. We didn’t want our very last baby to be one that died. The Lord impressed on me that it was fine and dandy to ask for my heart’s desire. I struggle with this you know…I feel that I don’t deserve all the blessings He heaps on me, Of course I really don’t deserve them, but He wants me to ask Him for what I want anyway. That is just the kind of Father He is. So I told Him that in my humble opinion the very most perfect little boy would be Down Syndrome and HIV+. “Pleeease God…. but You always chose best so we’ll go with what You say”

Our updated home study approved us for five children ages 0-16 years old and any special needs specifically addressing HIV+. (might as well cover all our bases) There were no little HIV+ baby boys waiting in care to be referred. I kept praying and trusting God would bring the child (or children, remember I was given two names) in time to be added to our case with Edelawit. The agency director said she thought there just wasn’t much of a chance an HIV baby would come into care and be able to be referred with Edelawit. We knew we wouldn’t wait and stall Edelawit’s adoption. That would not be fair to her. As the weeks passed we were compiling our dossier and waiting to hear news of a baby. I kept looking at other kids, older kids. Thinking that if there wasn’t a chance we could adopt a baby then we should just go ahead and get another older child or two. I felt the Lord telling me (and Mike!) to wait till August 4th. This is a very important day for our family and a story for another day. On August 4th I was asking Mike and our agency about adding two older HIV kids…..and just then I got an email saying a tiny baby boy had been brought into care and he was HIV+. If we wanted him he was ours! His paperwork wouldn’t be ready for a month but the timing would work out. Okay, so he wasn't HIV+ and Down Syndrome but I thought he was perfect anyway. Smile. Our baby is at AHOPE. His Ethiopian name is “Assefa” which means “God as multiplied our family”. Yes, He sure has!

For their precious children’s privacy Ethiopia does not allow photos of referred children until after adoption is finalized in court. Here is a photo of our symbol of them though. I bought these at Target the day after we started this adoption. I thought we’d be adopting three kids and wanted three little lambs…but they only had two left. **Mike says it is because we are only adopting two. Only two right now though AAI. Our agency director said that it would be pushing it to adopt three unrelated children t one time with our large family etc…Maybe we will meet and fall in love with someone (#3 lamb?) when we are there visiting. It is very dangerous to visit those orphanages and meet the 100s of beautiful children pinning away for a mommy and daddy. These two lambs sit on the kitchen window still to remind me to pray for our two newest little lambs waiting for us in Ethiopia.

Here is a photo of Mike and I on the day our dossier went to Ethiopia. We have our children’s referrals and our paperwork is all in Addis and moving through the system. Now we wait to hear about being assigned a “Group” and getting a court date.


ready to be in Africa

Monday, September 29, 2008

Newest Feser Blessings-Adoption Part One

Our family always knew we would adopt again. In fact we had thought to start a new adoption in early 2007 but we put those plans on hold when Jonathan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Through his illness we kept up to date of happenings in the adoption world. Mike and I planned to adopt as soon as Jonathan was stable and well. We were always aware that he could die; but I just don’t think one can ever really prepare themselves for that. I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t. When he died adopting another child was the very last thing on my mind. All I wanted was Jonathan.

For the first time ever…Mike himself broached the subject of adoption to me. He told me the day after Jonnie died that in a few months we would be getting our paperwork updated to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia. This happened in the long car ride home from Seattle on our way to funeral home with Jonathan in the back seat. I told Mike I wasn’t ready to think about adoption and wouldn’t be for a long time, maybe never be able to think about it again. * Mike bringing up the adoption to me was a total shock. It is always me…seeing a child’s photo, or hearing of a child needing home….presenting their case to Mike….begging to bring them home…. And hardest for me of all…..learning to trust that God speaks to Mike when a child is the right one for our family.

On June 9th two months after Jonathan died I realized something. I realized that no matter how much I missed Jonathan and wanted him back; I still loved the other kids just as much as always. This helped me to understand that I could love new children just as much as the children we have now. And I could love new children even though I would grieve forever for Jonathan. That is the day we started our new adoption. If you see the “ticker” on the top of my blog posts…that is the date we count as the beginning of this adoption. June 9th I spent all day in the Word. I looked up every single passage in the Bible that mentions heaven. Next to each verse I wrote the date and the name “Neveah” (Heaven spelled backwards) I knew God was going to give us a daughter and I wanted “heaven” to be a part of her name. Her name would be a testament to our real home and that which we long for….finally one day being with Jesus and with Jonathan again too. God also gave me two other very special names that were a message to Mike and I. One name was “Job” which means “surviving or triumphing over affliction” and the other was “Judah” which means “Praise (God)”. These names were again reinforcing God’s message to praise Him in all things. (Praise Him in Affliction)This is such a big thing in my relationship with God. Not only must I obey Him by praising Him for all things, but He shows ALWAYS that His ways are best and worthy of all our praise! It is all about glorifying Him. Stuff happens I don’t like and would change if I could. I HATE seeing any child suffer, but especially hate seeing my own suffer. We praise Him because we KNOW He is worthy and His plans are perfect. We praise Him not just because He says too but because it is what we were made for. We praise Him because no matter how painful and awful life can be …there is no better place that right beside HIM praising His name and being in His will.

It is amazing how smoothly and quickly this adoption has gone so far. At least the paperwork has seemed easier this time. The “wait” has been MUCH easier than I ever remember it being. That might have something to do with the fact that we are meeting our new kids in a few days! Ask me how easy the “wait” is after we have to leave them at the orphanages in Ethiopia and come back here to wait for court in Ethiopia and the adoption travel dates.

More on the little munchkins and newest Fesers-to-be in next post.

dreaming of holding wee little ones again
and drinking deep of sweet baby smell

Mike & Julee's Big Adventure

Mike and I are finally taking a honeymoon! We got married eighteen years ago so it’s about time. We have done amazing trips together to China and South Africa for adoptions. We took children with us those trips and of course were getting new children to take home. Really cool times but not so great “couple” time. After the South African adoption of Maggie and Josiah we had too many “littles” at home for both of us to go on adoption trips. We have taken turns since then traveling to bring home new children from foreign lands. This is the first time we have taken a vacation or trip just the two if us. What brought this about you say….?

Yes, we are adopting again. Wanting to meet our new children had a big part (BIGGEST part) in planning a trip to beautiful Ethiopia. We also decided we wanted to be able to experience an enjoy Ethiopia as a couple. Our plans include a trip to Lalibela and some other cool tourist kind of stuff. Of course we will also be visiting orphanages every chance we get!

Our grown daughter Kayla is coming to be here at home with the eleven youngest children. Bless Kayla! Without her we couldn’t ever even dream of this kind of adventure. She knows the children’s needs well as she cared for them so much when I was away from home with Jonathan in the hospitals. We’ve all missed Kayla so much since she moved to Oregon. This trip has precipitated her deciding to move back to our town. Yah! Yasab is helping me finish fixing up her new room to make her feel extra welcome. I’m so happy to have one of my “big” kids and best friends around again.

We fly tomorrow afternoon to Seattle to spend the night. Early the next morning we fly out at the crack of dawn to Ethiopia via WA DC and Rome…till we land in Addis Thursday evening. Please pray for us and whatever God lays before us on our trip. May we be open and watchful to His plans for our time there. Please also pray for the kids here at home and Kayla as she lovingly cares for them. We are asking God to keep them healthy when we are gone, especially Maggie.

We’ll be away from Sept 30th-Oct 11th. We are taking the laptop and plan to update the blog and check email…as often as we can get internet access. I am so overwhelmed this morning with gratitude to the Lord and my husband for the chance to take this trip. Thank you Jesus and Mike! I love this photo of Kayla with some of the kids. It was taken this past May when she visited home.

all packed and ready for adventure
pretty much recovered from anti-malaria meds induced psychosis

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Busy Little Boy

This morning was quiet. Yasab my lone homeschool student was working on the computer downstairs. It was just Solomon and I hanging out. You'd think I could keep one small four year old out of trouble huh? So.....I was typing on the laptop in my room and Solomon was watching "Wonder Pets" in the living room. I could hear Solomon happily singing and making play fighting noises with his toy solders. Pretty soon I realized I didn't hear anything but the "Wonder Pets" singing. Mmmm. This is what I saw as I came around the corner of the dining room. What I didn't see at first was the half a dozen of Yasab's prized guppies lifeless in puddles on the floor. Except for the one that wound up under my shoe, they all survived. Can't believe they looked so dead out of water and how they perked up once I managed to pick them up and tossed them back into the aquarium. Okay, next is trip news!

Money Well Spent

I want to share a series of favorite things. Don't we all fret over money? I hate wasting money but continue to do so. One way I waste money is when I don't plan ahead. Example: not starting dinner in time wastes money because usually cheap food takes more preparation. God tells us to be good stewards of that when He gives us. All things come from Him and our money is all His of course too. There are some things I have decided are worth every penny we spend on them. I have some favorite "money well spent" things. Here's one.

After Jonathan died Mike and I made some changes. A lot of it was just striving to do anything that might possibly make us feel even a little bit better. Some of the changes were because we needed to get back to a normalcy after living so long frantically fighting for the life of a child. We redecorated our bedroom and did other projects around the house. It seems like when you make your environment prettier you feel prettier inside too. One day I was looking around at all the beautiful flowers and plant arrangements from Jonathan's funeral. I know why people give flowers when there is a death! Flowers are breathtaking in their perfection. How can we look close at them and not marvel? I decided that from that day forward I would always have fresh flowers by my bedside. For years I felt buying cut flowers was a waste of money. This summer roses from the garden have graced my nightstand. I do plan to buy cut flowers again this fall as I did last spring. As I lay in bed at night trying to fall asleep the heavenly aroma of a couple perfect rosebuds, a cluster of carnations, or one spectacular lily, reminds me of all things lovely. Budgeting the few dollars once a week for my bedside flowers is my first "money well spent" favorite things.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blue Jeans & Malaria Med Nightmare

Mike and I are planning a very special trip* and started Malaria meds three weeks ago. The medicine is called Mefloquine and you are suppose to take one tablet once a week before leaving and once weekly thereafter until four weeks after you are leaving area of exposure (malaria danger zone). We haven’t ever had to take it for a trip before but this trip we felt it wise to do the meds. Our doctor and pharmacists explained all the side effects possible…but it just sounded like “blah, blah, blah” to me. I figured we’d for sure get a little tummy upset but couldn’t imagine anything worse happening. You know those warning labels? They just have to say all the worst things that could happen…not the average side effects (I thought). I spent the first few days after taking the first pill with my head in a toilet getting sick. I had horrible migraines too and just thought it was bad migraine sick…not the malaria pill. Then the second week still crazy sick with migraine, dizzy, feeling awful. I even took a pregnancy test as I was very “late” and so nauseated. Nope, not pregnant. Then one morning I had a hot flash. Heard all about those hot flashes, but never had one before. I cried. I was “late” and having hot flashes. I really cried hard. “Great!” I thought. It’s menopause. Ugh. I am “only” 49 years old. But I don’t want to be in menopause yet! The thing about the hot flashes I was having is they came every five or ten minutes for hours on end and were AWFUL. I couldn’t figure out how women survived them?! Then I started hearing things…like voices or weird sounds. I even saw things that weren’t there. Fun. I was more mental (crazy uptight and sensitive) with poor Mike and the kids. My anxiety level shot through the roof. I really thought I was going crazy. It was only when I got a rash, some hives, and itching all over my skin; did I consider digging out the paper from the pharmacy listing the Malaria drug side effects. There it all was listed: Nausea, dizziness, headache, numb hands and feet, night sweats, hallucinations, aggression, anxiety. You may be wondering why it took me so long to realize what was happening to me. I was just so ill and fuzzy in my thinking that I wasn’t connecting the dots. And I also wasn’t being totally honest with Mike about all my side effects. When I heard the voices that didn’t belong to anyone calling me from the other room, or saw the kangaroo wearing a very snappy jacket sitting at the kitchen table…I just thought it was a very extreme atypical migraine brain trip.
Okay, so I can’t take the anti-malaria meds. Thankfully Mike is doing okay on the Mefloquine. My side effect symptoms are fading a little every day and the drug should be mostly out of my system in about ten days. Since I still plan to have the adventure of a lifetime and do not want Malaria I am taking other precautions. I am treating all my trip clothes with Permethrin to reply mosquitoes. I also added long sleeved shirts and long pants to luggage and pulled the skirts and T shirts. We packed some nice strong DEET too!
Yesterday I bought a pair of jeans. I needed them for the trip. I only had one other pair of long pants, the khakis I take camping. The last time I bought a pair of jeans for myself was 11 years ago. Yes, really. I’ve worn just dresses and skirts for years. Since Jonathan died I have changed. I don’t wear only skirts or dresses anymore. Finding a pair of jeans was mind blowing. So, I went to JC Pennys. I steered clear of the Junior section and went to “women’s casual wear”. There was 100s of different kinds of blue jeans. Oh my. I grabbed up twelve different pairs of size 12 jeans to try on in the dressing room. In a few minutes I put those all back and grabbed 4 more pairs in size 10 this time. (that was at least cool to discover!) A few minutes later I paid $40 for a soft as butter pair of Levis and walked out the door. The whole shopping trip was 30 minutes. I had forgotten how comfortable a good ole pair of Levis are.

Psst: don’t tell my kids jeans costing over $20 are allowed.

* post about our “trip” and adoption news next!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Solomon the Birthday Boy

Solomon's big day was Saturday. Pleasing a four year old boy is easy as long as the gifts have wheels. He won a cake at the at the school carnival and believed it was meant to be his birthday cake...so it was. "Cars" like in "Lightening McQueen" will always be the favorite I think, but Solomon was pretty pleased with the "Speed Racer" car found at Fred Meyer's ( $3.50 after 50% off last marked clearance price) I believe "Speed Racer" comes out on DVD tomorrow? Oh my, I imagine after viewing that there will be a brand new little boy's mania focus around our house.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Year & Sweet 16

Happy Birthday Tigist and Happy New Year Ethiopia! 9/11 means something different to most of us in the U.S., but our Ethiopian children remember it as the best day of the year. Thursday Tigist turned 16 years old and Ethiopia started the year 2001. (The Ethiopian calendar is made up of 12 months, each lasting 30 days, and then an extra month is tagged on lasting just 5 days. Ethiopia is 7.5 years behind the Gregorian calendar ) I did poorly creating an Ethiopian New Years celebration for our family this year, though we are feasting on Injera (from freezer) and Wat this weekend. We did have a very nice birthday celebration for Tigist. She is really growing up to be such a lovely and kind girl. Tigist is a quiet person, calm and level headed. I rarely see her shocked or amazed. I will always remember the look on her face when she opened her present and saw an IPOD! She wanted an MP3 player but thought maybe she might get a much cheaper version. Really what she got was my replaced IPOD nano as I upgraded to standard IPOD last month. Tigist couldn't be more pleased. She is having Ethio girl friends over this weekend for movies and feasting.
It's Happy Sabbath today for us (Saturday) and a day to make another cake for a birthday boy. I'll share his happy face tomorrow.

New Shoes & Prayer Needs

Well I’m not keeping up with this new blog thing. I plan to work on that habit and post more often. The children are all adjusting well to starting public school. Even my three 1st graders seem to be surviving. I think starting 1st grade is so hard for most kids. It’s a long day for little bodies. They do come home exhausted. I thought we’d escape for awhile the “back-to-school” clothes shopping expense. But all the grade school kiddos have something called “P.E.” that requires tennis shoes …..I was shocked to discover the tennis shoes that hadn’t been on kid’s feet since we switched to sandal weather last spring, are all too small this fall! Seven spanking new pairs of shoes later and I sadly realized summer was over. Summer means sandals. Sandals mean I don’t have to find eight pairs of socks every morning for little feet. Here is proud Berhanu and Josiah off to 1st grade with their brand new sparkling white tennis. Those shoes glow they are so pristine and new…for one day anyway.

Maggie is our other 1st grader. She loves going to school and has been very sad to be kept home the last two days. She is having problems again with her feeding. Maggie is G-tube fed and usually on a pump overnight with food/formula and bolus (gravity fed a tubes of food/formula) fed during the day. At times she has so much reflux and retching that she can barely keep anything down. She is on meds for reflux. This is a common problem with people like Maggie who don’t eat by mouth. Our bodies are not made to function by being fed through a tube in our stomach. We’ve had to keep her home from school to try to get some calories in her. She’s starving and weighs a little less than she did a year ago. I have spent hours on the phone with specialists and made the earliest appointment available to see her doctors at Children’s Hospital in Seattle……in December. (She is on waiting list in case of an earlier opening) We have had some success feeding her “real” food blenderized in our Vitamix and feeding her tiny amounts every 20 minutes. That is what I’ve been doing the last 48 hours. She looks better, eyes are brighter and she seems more comfortable. By “real food” I mean regular healthy food made into a liquid rather than the specially made canned formulas created to sustain life of those people not able to eat by mouth. Here is Maggie in her temporary wheelchair and her new shoes which are her braces called AFOs. Maggie’s AFOS cost $1343.52 which is quite a bit more than it costs to buy shoes for the entire rest of he family. At least our portion the co-pay was only $309.60 after insurance paid their part. Update on wheelchair saga…It is now 18 mos since we started trying to get her new chair. She grew out of her old one last spring and had nothing. But God answered our prayers and provided this one for the time being. This chair was left out in a field for four years to rust and the padding rot off. Someone brought it to the Dept.of Disabilities in case it could be donated to needy person. Unbelievably Mike was able to fix it to work for Maggie…for now. She really needs her new wheelchair! I call every week on Monday to cry to the wheelchair place responsible for getting the paperwork maze completed to okay her new chair. This is the company that will build it once our two insurances have agreed on things. This week I called to harangue the “wheelchair guy” only to find out he doesn’t work there anymore. For some reason I wasn’t surprised. Ugh. What to do?! Please pray. I feel I might become a terrorist over this. Mostly please pray that we can stabilize Maggie’s feeding issues very soon and she can start gaining weight.

Solomon started preschool today. His morning was total and complete boundless joy. The child never stops moving. He doesn’t ever walk, he runs or skips or hops. Sometimes I feel impatient trying to hold the hand of a bouncing Tigger boy Solomon across the parking lot. Then I think how silly of me Lord. We never thought this child would walk; let alone run, jump and bounce! What a miracle he is. They all are. Thank You God for bringing Solomon to our family and for healing Solomon’s spine. We prayed for his life to be saved, and really barely asked for divine healing of his spine. May we never forget what You can do and Your extravagant love and delight in giving good gifts.

New Years, Birthday Happenings, and Travel Plans postings to come soon. Thank you very much for praying for Maggie!