Thursday, July 21, 2011

One Year as a Family

Dear Kenenisa,

A year ago we became a family ... it has been a year of incredible change for all of us. I often think to myself what your life was like when you were still with your birth family ... the people you lived with, the countryside you explored, the experiences you had in your first 3 1/2 years that we may never know of or understand.

You have learned so many things in the past 12 months ... too many to list ... but a few worth mentioning are: how to speak English, how to swim, ride a bike, play with neighbors, eat new foods. Your survival skills and ability to adapt are truly amazing.

You are a strong, expressive, smart, energetic, fearless boy.

The rest of us have also been learning a great deal this year. We are all learning to be more patient, more compassionate, and understanding. Your dad and are trying to learn how to be more effective as parents ... learning new techniques and new skills so that we can build meaningful connections with you.

On this one year anniversary, what I want you to know more than anything is that your are safe ... that you can trust us ... that we love you - not because of what you do ... that our love is unconditional. I know that it is not your fault that you are still struggling ... but we are committed to helping you heal ... that when all those broken connections are restored ... you will see ...

You have been given the gift of an amazing family ... that we will always be yours and you will always be ours.

We are waiting ... longingly ... for the day when you will know in your heart how much love is waiting for you.

With love in my heart,


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Full of Surprises

We took our first real vacation as a family of 6 this past week-end. It was only 5 and half days ... and 1 1/2 days of it were spent in the car ... but I'm still counting it as a vacation. As it was going to be the first time that Kenen was confined in a car for a long period of time, and the first time he had slept anywhere but our house in the past year ... I was a little nervous.
Another reason why I was a bit nervous ...

But Kenen was the biggest surprise ... how well he adjusted to being on the road, sleeping in different beds ... being in different places.
We left on Thursday evening, picked Dave up from work and headed straight out of town. We made good time and stayed the night in Yreka, arriving at about 10:30pm. Kenen and Kristen shared a king size bed, and Ryan and Ethan shared a sofa-bed. Slept longer than we would have liked, and went down to have breakfast at the hotel. We expected a continental breakfast, and instead were surprised to find the biggest hots to plel breakfast we've ever seen. Eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, and much more.

We were going to be headed into the Bay Area on a holiday week-end Friday afternoon, and expected to be in heavy traffic for a couple of hours, but instead were surprised to sail through until we were about 10 minutes from the exit to my dad's house.  Also surprised my dad by showing up an hour earlier than he expected ... good thing we had a key to his house.

The next day we made plans to go to Santa Cruz for the day. It was surprisingly hot, and not surprisingly crowded. It was still a great day. I re-connected with my dear friend Kari Gale and her husband Noah while the kids played, and then we splurged and bought a few tickets to ride a couple of rides on the Boardwalk. Kenen was not tall enough to ride the Giant Dipper, so I sat with him while he ate an ice cream cone. Then he got to go on his first roller coaster-type ride ... and loved (no surprise) the Logger's Revenge. Wish we could have sent all the kids on more rides ... maybe next time.
He loves the ocean ... just like Dad

just a wee bit crowded

Heading onto the Giant Dipper

Kari & Noah Gale chatting w/ Dave
Not sure what Kenen was doing ...

Forgot to zoom in ... trust me Kenen's on this ride

Brothers heading up the water slide
Sunday morning was spent at church with my dad ... and it just happened to be a big celebration day ... so they had a BBQ and games for the kids ... and with the exception of it being quite hot ... it was great time.

Playing a 35 year old "Whoosh" game. Now dubbed
"The Speedy Bead Game"
Monday we surprised my dad by having no plans at all. We are usually out exploring the area, but instead we just hung around the house. Dave helped my dad fix some things around his house, and the kids discovered some "new" toys from my childhood.

Instead of BBQ'ing something ourselves, Dad treated us (as he had been all week-end) to some exceptionally yummy food from Famous Dave's BBQ restaurant. We ate while watching the 4th of July special from Wash., D.C. ... and then Dave and the boys and I went up to watch fireworks across the valley from the "mountain" behind my dad's house. Kenen was absolutely delighted by the display, and it was perfect because they weren't too loud.

Oh, I forgot to mention, Dave went by a sandwich place to pick up some freshly baked rolls for our food from Famous Dave's ... and they were having a special:  buy 10 baguettes, get 10 free. He called to say if that seemed ok. I thought they'd be the size of a sandwich roll and said I guess so. Imagine my surprise when he walked in ....

However, the purchase of an overabundance of rolls ended up being a highlight on our drive home. We stopped at a rest area, and saw a neatly dressed man with a sign saying that he would wash our windows to earn some money. I suggested Dave offer him some bread, and so he went to talk to him. Turns out he has a ministry working with recovering addicts. They are 9 of them ... So we gave him the 10 free rolls. He was thrilled.

Oh, and one of our traditional stops between CA and Portland is Rice Hill ... just north of Roseburg. I don't think it's even a town ... just a highway stopover. However, they have this great ice cream place ... served out of a trailer. We were standing in line trying to plan out our double dip cones ... and then noticed a menu item called "The Pig Out". This was 15 scoops of ice cream for $12. Well, since we are always the frugal ones, we figured out quickly that this was a great deal. So we did that instead of a bunch of separate cones. I guess I thought somehow, the scoops would all be in a line, but instead they were all piled on top of each other. SURPRISE!  now the peanut butter/chocolate is mixing with mocha almond fudge which is mixing with the coconut cream. And the problem with all this mixing is that there are family members who hate peanut butter, coconut, nuts, coffee ... well, you get the picture. Next time, we will only order flavors that everyone likes. Best decision was giving Kenen his own cone.

All in all ... it was a good trip ... not as long as we would have liked ... but we're thankful for the time together as a family.