Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Tenaye is just plain funny! Her language skills improve everyday and sadly she is starting to lose her accent. I think there are only about 5 Amharic sayings/words that she uses regularly, the rest is all English. That is bittersweet for us, I hate that she is losing that part of her heritage, but proud that she has picked up her 3rd language so quickly. She is one smart little girl. Here are some of the things she says regularly that make us double over with laughter.

1. Each night before going to sleep she always wants to know what will be happening the next morning so she asks "After wake up, and brush your teeth, and pee pee, and t-shirt on, where you going?"

2. When she wants to tell us something and Jason and I are having a conversation, she will put her hand up (like telling someone to stop) and say "hang on a second (or sometimes it will be hang on tight) I'm talking."

3. When she spots a question mark in a book she calls it Mystery Mouseka-tools. Can you tell she is a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fan??

4. She says "I want Mommy's la-lap" when she wants to sit on my lap.

5. When we do something she doesn't like she says "Mommy, Daddy not good job"

6. She refers to McDonald's as "E-I-E-I-O"

7. On the way to KC a couple of weekends ago, she was tired of sitting in the car and informed us that her "booty was full, no more sit down."

8. One day when she passed gas she told us her "booty burped!"

Monday, November 9, 2009

Autumn Update

It has been very busy around our house lately. The month of October came and went in a flash. We started the month out by moving. We stayed in the same city, but upgraded to a house with a full basement, huge backyard, and it is closer to Jason's work. We love the house (thanks Dad, the builder!) and can't imagine what we ever did before we had a basement! Tenaye is continuing to impress us every day. Her English is pretty much perfect. There are still a few words and phrases here and there that we have to ask for clarification, but for the most part, she is completely fluent. Her accent is still pretty thick, but it is slowly disappearing. I will miss it when it is completely gone. She has the sweetest voice. She is so loving and sweet. Words cannot express how much she loves Isaac and her family. She is full of hugs and kisses and is such a compassionate little thing. She does have her typical 4 year old moments and if she doesn't get her way at times she will pout and throw a fit, but nothing compared to four months ago. Isaac is walking/running everywhere. He has graduated from physical therapy (since he can walk, run, and climb stairs) and has moved on to speech/occupational therapy. The therapist is helping him with his eating issues and helping him develop his speech. He is at a really fun age right now, and makes us laugh all the time. He thinks his big sister is pretty special, and they are so cute together. Tenaye is always hugging and kissing him, and he returns the affection. Jason and I marvel each day at how lucky we are to have two terrific kids. I don't know what we did to deserve these cuties, but I thank God each day for placing them in our lives. We are truly blessed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Letters to Isaac

Dear Isaac,

One year ago today, we brought you home to the United States to begin life as a family of three. Looking back these last two weeks at how far you have come is truly overwhelming. I can still remember walking into the hospital room in Ethiopia on Sept. 7, 2008 and seeing this tiny baby, hooked up to all kinds of tubes, laying in an adult sized hospital bed. You looked so frail and helpless. I just wanted to scoop you up right then and tell you that everything will be ok now because mommy is here. As the doctors and nurses kept reassuring us that you were looking good and everything would be alright, your daddy and I were scared out of our minds. I don't think we have ever prayed so hard in our lives for God to protect you and give you strength to get better. Our prayers were answered on Sept. 12, 2008, we expected to see the same feeding tubes, oxygen tubes, IV's, etc. when we walked into your room, instead you were laying there completely free! Breathing on your own, drinking only .5-1 oz. of formula at a time but eating on your own, and all IV's were out. You still looked so frail to us, but we were told we could take you back to the Addis Guest House with us. Your daddy and I were terrified! I think we slept a total of 7 minutes that night because we kept checking to see if you were still breathing. Four days later, we left Ethiopia to travel 24+ hours home. We couldn't wait to introduce you to Memaw, Boppa, Paw Paw, and Grandma along with your aunts, uncles, and cousins. You have and will always be our little miracle. Daddy and I are so lucky to call you our son and feel so blessed to have you in our lives.


Dear Son,

The day we decided to adopt and start a family, I never imagined us traveling to Ethiopia and meeting you, laying in a hospital bed only days removed from almost losing your battle with pneumonia and a bacterial infection. The mere thought of you not being a part of this family makes me start to tear up and there is not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for the miracle that you are. You are the happiest, smiliest, most handsome boy that I have ever met. Just being around you brightens up my most miserable days. I can't believe that it has been one year since you landed in St. Louis and rode for the first time in a car seat (which you absolutely HATED for the first two weeks) to our home in Nixa. Your grandparents couldn't believe how tiny you were at 6 pounds, 20 inches and 4 months old. And now look at you. 20+ pounds, 30 inches, a full head of hair and a mouth full of teeth. Walking and almost running all over the place, babbling up a storm, and laughing and playing with your sister just as if you were always meant to be here. Most people said that you were so lucky to have survived and to be the newest member of our family. But it is mommy and daddy that are the lucky ones.

We love you! Daddy

September 2008

September 2009

*posted a day late...life is busy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Melkam Addis Amet

Today is New Year's Day in Addis Ababa. Here is just a little information about this holiday in Ethiopia. (I am lifting this from another blog I follow, if you click on the Family Without Borders blog you can follow Kristine's family and their journey to their 2 precious babes...it is a really good blog, one of my favs!)

Enkutatash or Ethiopian New Year is celebrated on September 11th according to the Western or Gregorian calendar. Ethiopia still follows the Orthodox Julian calendar which consists of 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month, Pagume, of five or six days, depending on whether or not it is a leap year. The Ethiopian calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Gregorian calendar, so September 2009 is Meskerem 2002 in Ethiopia.

Last year Jason and I were in Ethiopia picking up Isaac during this time. We actually got to celebrate the New Year at the orphanage on a day that we were visiting Tenaye. They had a special celebration for the kids. There was music and dancing and a festive atmosphere. All of the nannies were wearing beautiful traditional Ethiopian dresses and the cook had fixed a special bread, popcorn, and lots of traditional Ethiopian dishes. There was also a coffee ceremony. Something we noticed on this day was that the streets of Ethiopia which are normally bumper to bumper traffic and crowded with people were virtually bare. When we visited Isaac in the hospital the morning of New Years we were basically the only ones there. On previous days the waiting areas were full of people waiting to be seen by doctors or visiting patients. Also, the hundreds of goats and sheep that we had witnessed being herded through the streets earlier in the week were no longer there, just the hides. Sad, but a fact of life and at least the people got to eat a special meal. We will post much more next week on the official one year anniversary of Isaac becoming a member of the family. It is so hard to believe that it has been a year! It went so fast and he has changed so much!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Home One Month

One month home and Tenaye is doing remarkably well. She is a great big sister to Isaac. One of her favorite things to do is try and make him laugh, and she is good at it too! Isaac enjoys having her around too. She is also a good helper around the house. She enjoys helping with putting laundry in the washer and dryer, rinsing off dishes, and feeding Isaac. They both started back at the babysitters last week as Jason and I are both back at work. Isaac fell right back into his routine pretty easily. He has gotten very attached to us over the summer so there was a brief period of adjustment for him. Tenaye took a little longer, but I am happy to say she is now eating and playing and no longer standing by the door the whole time she is there. She still hasn't spoken to any of the kids or really even to Miss Becki, but that is ok, she will when she is ready. When I pick her up in the afternoon she talks non-stop the whole ride home! She is learning more English with each day. She can now pretty much repeat anything we say and loves to sing! Going to the park is one of her favorite activities and she also likes swimming/splashing at the pool. We are really happy with the progress she has made in the last month and know it will just continue to get better and better! Here are lots of pictures from the last month. Notice Tenaye's new hair do! She loves it and so do I, it is so much easier and now we can grow it out and know that it will be healthy and well conditioned.

Tenaye loves to play with her baby (Mimi) and likes it when Isaac gets in on the action too. (No, we haven't pierced her ears. She takes the links that hook things on to Isaac's car seat and wears them like earrings. A diva in the making!)

New dress and new 'do.

She loves her brother and he loves her too!

Mommy's little helper!

Tenaye loves to help with feeding Isaac. It is so cute to watch them interact. She is a great big sister, Isaac is lucky to have her.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Week One

We have been home just over a week and things are progressing very nicely. Tenaye is still hesitant with new things, but once she has done something one time she is more comfortable and confident and happily plays and interacts with people around her. We have been taking it easy this last week, but have ventured out to several places. We went to my parents house to play with the cousins, spent a couple of afternoons at the fountains, and spent some time at the park. It has been a lot of fun. She was unsure about the fountains at first, but once she got her feet wet (literally) she was a little water bug!

I was really amazed that she knew just what to do at the park. It is like she had been sliding and swinging for her entire life. I never saw anything like a park while we were in Ethiopia, but who knows they could have slides and swings there. If not, I guess it is just natural kid instinct! She is a good big sister to Isaac. I think he is enjoying having a play mate as well.

Tenaye went to the doctor last Friday. What an adventure! Since I didn't want the doctor's office to be a place of trauma and fear, we are holding off on blood work and vaccinations for a couple of weeks. She just had a once over by the doctor and everything looks great! She weighs 31 pounds and is 38 inches tall. That puts her in the 17th percentile for 4 year olds. Developmentally she seems right on track as well. All of that is good news. She has some scarring on her back that the doctor thinks is from the chicken pox and we know she also had the mumps earlier this year. But as of now she is healthy and well.

As for Isaac, he is walking! We will try and upload of video soon. While crawling is still faster, he is choosing to walk more and more. He has also started making the funniest face. (As you can see in the picture below.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting Settled

We have been home for a few days now and are getting settled in and learning how to be a family of four. Our house seems to be non-stop chaos from wake up to bed time. Tenaye just goes and goes without stopping! She is a good big sister to Isaac. Has only had a few minor bouts with jealousy (if I am holding him or singing to him she will usually try and distract me or get on my lap, but after a little attention thrown her way she is off and playing again). The language thing has been the biggest issue. We don't always know what she is asking for and that leads to frustration on her part and ours. Our Amaharic is improving though and I know she will pick up English quickly. We joke that she and Isaac will learn to talk at the same time! I can only imagine how overwhelming all of this must be for her. Her entire world has been turned upside down. Meeting new people is very scary for her. She tends to cling to me (mommy) and not look at, speak to, or interact with anyone. She just becomes a limp rag doll. We are hoping this changes once she understands the language and trusts us enough to know that not all new people are there to take her away from the world in which she is most comfortable. I tell you this as a warning to help you understand why we may not be very social over the next few weeks or months. Our focus must be on Tenaye and our family. When meeting her please don't take it personally if she doesn't interact with you, she will over time...hopefully.
Here are some pictures of our first few days together. She is a happy, energetic kid when it is just us at home believe it or not!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We're Outta Here!

I am typing this from our hotel in KC. We fly out of here in about 4 hours to start our first leg of the journey to pick up Tenaye. It's hard to believe that in just a few short days we will be hugging and holding our sweet girl. It has been a long, roller coaster of a journey to get to this point. I don't know what kind of internet connection we will have in Addis, so we may not be able to update until we get back next weekend. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, June 29, 2009

One Year Ago Today

It was on this day last year that we received "the call." Jason was out of town in Atlanta for an FBLA competition and I was home cleaning house (pick your jaws up off the ground, yes it does happen on occasion no matter how much I hate it!) When the phone rang I looked at caller ID and didn't recognize the number and it said private caller. I just let it go thinking it was a telemarketer or something. The answering machine picked up and the caller didn't leave a message. A couple of hours later, the phone rang again and it was the same number. Again, I didn't answer, but this time the caller left a message. It was our social worker saying that she had something she wanted to discuss with us and to call her back as soon as possible. She was out of town, and needed us to use the number she was calling from, not the office number. I started freaking out! I mean, come on it was a Sunday after all, what in the world could she possibly want. I immediately called Jason and asked what he thought. In his ever so practical manner, he said to call her back. (Oh yea, I hadn't thought of that!) I called her and she informed me that she had not one but two kiddos for us to consider!!! A 3 year old girl and a 20 day old baby boy. It was a no brainer really, that we would of course say yes to both, but I called Jason anyway to let him think he was in on the decision ;) A couple of days later we see these beautiful faces....
Our sweet Tenaye

Isaac (in his manly pink blanket) with his crib mate and BFF Diesel

The rest is history. Isaac came home in mid-September. We waited and waited for a court date to be scheduled for Tenaye as they continued to get paperwork in order. She FINALLY had a court date on May 18th and passed. Now we are anxiously awaiting our trip to bring her home forever. We were originally scheduled to leave Sat. July 4th, but were told today that our wait will continue and we will now be leaving on July 11th. Hopefully this is the last delay and we can finally become a family of four!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

1 year checkup

At Isaac's 1 year doctor's appointment he got his round of shots, cried for about 2 minutes then was fine. He's such a tough little guy! I think the worst thing for him is when you have to restrain him and hold his arms. Then he gets really upset. His nebulizer treatments have stopped for now which is good. We'll probably end up buying one since he'll probably need it off and on for a few years and hope that his lungs get big and strong and that he grows out of the asthma and colds.

Speaking of big and strong he now weighs 18 pounds and is 28 inches tall. At 4 months old when we brought him home he was 6 pounds and 20 inches so what great progress he's made over 8 months. In recent days he's been getting more and more mobile. Scooting backwards, turning circles while he's playing, going from his tummy laying all the way to sitting up. And tonight he waved back to Great-Great (Laura's grandpa)! It was a definite wave and he didn't do it again but his mimicking is really picking up. He can make baskets now when he plays with daddy, something that is VERY important in our household.

We did have a birthday barbecue with some friends on his big day and his buddy for life Diesel came over with Adam and Katy. Here are the fellas partying it up! Diesel will be the fullback and Isaac the wide receiver one of these years...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Introducing.....Tenaye Abigail Michel

Tenaye passed court this morning! There were a dozen or so Hope agency families that were to have had cases heard today, but only three of them went to the judge before the power went out at the courthouse and in the city. The rest of the cases were postponed, but ours was one that went through. God is good. It is almost 11 months since her referral till her passage of court today and we are so excited that Isaac's big sister (not biological but they look alike we think) will hopefully be coming home this summer. Here is a slide show of pictures we've gotten from the Hope family website from other families who have been to the orphanage in recent months.

She will be four years old in mid-June and we speculate that travel to Ethiopia would be in mid-July. As we know more information we will be sure to post it. Thanks for all the prayers and thoughtful words from all of you!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Many Happenings...And a Birthday for Isaac!!

The last 2 weeks have been extremely busy with lots of twists and turns. Isaac got yet another bad cold and Dr. Andrews did a breathing treatment that worked in her office so for the past 10 days or so this has been Isaac 3-4 times a day.

Thankfully they really do help his breathing and his lungs and hopefully will help stave off colds in the future. He'll be on these for a while and will probably have some asthma but at least we now know how to help him when he has a cough and is all stopped up! He also has learned to enjoy bath time and splashes around and plays and hates getting out of the tub after about 15 minutes of playing. These pictures are from right after he got sick this last time and as you can see, he wasn't liking the water too much then but since he loves it!!

Laura celebrated her first Mother's day and it was a very special day for all of us. Our thoughts turned to Isaac's birth mother and father during both the recent Mother's day and his birthday celebration. We feel so lucky to have Isaac as our son and hope that they are proud that we are raising such a wonderful little boy. He is so loved by his family and our friends and he had so much fun playing and hanging out with everyone during his parties.

Isaac also had his first real haircut today. When we first brought him home he got a haircut because his hair was so patchy from all the tubes he had in his nose in the hospital. But this was a full blown haircut and while we hated to cut all those wonderful curls off his head, his scalp was getting very dry and he's so hot natured that we knew this summer he'd be sweating profusely! So with mixed emotion we cut his hair and he looks like such a big boy!!

We can't wait for our school years to be over so we can spend even more time with our precious little boy!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekend with family

This past weekend Laura, Isaac and I drove to Olathe, KS to visit my sister and her family. It was a fun couple days catching up with their 3 1/2 year old twins Jacob & Audrey. We also got to see our niece Megan get all dressed for her senior prom and head out with her boyfriend Dijon.

All are doing just great. Isaac's cousins J & A LOVE to show him their toys, feed him his bottle, and be in his face whenever they can. They are really cute with him, and just want to be close to him. We visited Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead which was really fun. There were lots of animals to get up close and see, and even though it's for kids the adults really enjoyed it as well. Plus, it was FREE!!!

Today Isaac was supposed to have his first therapy session with Susan from First Steps but he is coming down with a bit of a cold and has a pretty good cough so we had to cancel that and he will probably spend Tuesday with grandma. May will no doubt be a very busy month as we finish up our school years, plus I am getting back into coaching next year as our varsity girl's coach.

This summer will likely be hectic as well with Laura teaching summer school, basketball camps, and a trip to Anaheim, CA with two of my students who are competing at FBLA nationals. Oh well, if we weren't going 90 miles per hour we would go insane!

Finally, it is just two weeks from Tenaye's court date! We are anxiously waiting for that but are realistic that there is a 50/50 chance that she will pass the first time.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Go Cardinals!

Isaac had a great time at his first minor league baseball game. We are big Cardinals fans and enjoy watching them play each summer. The weather was perfect today and we had so much fun. Isaac enjoyed the game and spending time with his cousins, Aunt Melissa, Uncle Jim, and Meemaw and Boppa.

On a side note, Isaac rolled over from back to tummy today for the first time! Finally!! I guess he must of heard about his appointment with a physical therapist from the First Steps program this week. These appointments will help him catch up on his motor skills. (Not that we want to rush things, we just don't want him to fall too far behind in his physical development.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Isaac Laughing (video)

Recently Isaac has started to burst out laughing on his own and without the "tickle monster" to induce his laughter. If you click on the picture on the right just underneath the title "A Laugh And A Smile" you can watch a short video clip of Isaac sitting on the couch like a big boy, laughing at daddy being silly. He is just the sweetest little boy! We can't believe that he will be 1 year old on May 16.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter from Isaac

Isaac was all smiles after meeting the Easter Bunny for the first time Friday night. A little ironic that a rabbit is at a hunting and sporting goods store, but that's a discussion for another time. What a CUTE picture of our little man who had a very good week and has really changed a lot in his personality and his development in recent days (both for the good). We will give a more detailed update this week on Isaac's 1st Easter and the other happenings in his world. Until them, we hope every enjoyed some time with family and that all is well wherever you are reading this.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

In like a lion...

March has roared in with a very busy week. I had FBLA district competition this past week (Spokane's team placed 5th out of 17 schools and 7 of my students will be competing at state), parent teacher conferences, and I took in some playoff basketball. I also had my first job interview for a principal for next year and it went well. I'm a bit out of practice since it's been 7 years since my last interview, so if nothing else it was good practice. I continue to look and have some more applications and resumes to send off soon for posted jos.

Also within the past week came word that we have an actual court date now for Tenaye!! May 18 we will be represented in Ethiopia along with 10 other families with Hope Adoption Agency. We are SO relieved that progress is being made and are thinking good thoughts as we wait another 2 months and PRAY that we pass court on the first try. This would mean travelling in late June or early July...right about the time Laura will be finishing summer school. Tenaye's room has been completely cleaned out and we bought a bed for it. How wonderful it will be to see her sleeping in her bed and hold her in our arms.

After another round of a cough and cold, Isaac is back to being his happy self once again. We hope this is the last one for the season, but with this crazy weather you never know. He is REALLY starting to enjoy eating his baby food and gets pretty cranky if he doesn't get a spoonful fast enough. He loves his food (just like his mom)! Favorites include applesauce, pears, sweet potatoes, and carrots.We can tell he's growing but aren't sure of his weight. He's 26 inches now and we're guessing he's skipped the 15's and is in the 16 pound range. He LOVES sitting now and can do so for quite some time and is starting to stand (with minimal support) while holding on to furniture and his exer-saucer. No crawling yet, but we're patient with this and other parts of his development that we know may be a little slow.

He took his first trip to the zoo with his cousins Kaleb and Kyle and sported a new STL Cardinals hat that he got from one of the teachers at Jason's school. He wore it well and had a good time looking at the animals.

Isaac's top two teeth should be popping through any day as his gums and bumpy and swollen and he's gnawing on everything in sight and drooling at an impressive rate. Also growing is his hair. Just look at the curly Q's on top of his head!

This last picture is Isaac with his serious face and pose. I'm fairly certain that he just spit the bib out of his mouth right before the picture was taken.

Friday, February 13, 2009


We got a message from our agency that the paperwork that we have been waiting on for the last 6 months has finally been obtained and filed and we are now waiting to be assigned a court date for Tenaye! Yea!! It could take a while to get a date as the courts in Ethiopia are very back logged, but at least now we feel like we have taken a step forward.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dedication and All Better!

Over the weekend Isaac finally got rid of the nasty RSV that had taken him over recently. His breathing is completely normal, his cough is gone, and he is back to eating like it's his job. Now that he is back to good health, we decided it was time to start him on baby food. The meal of choice was squash, and he did really well with it and seemed to enjoy it much better than rice and oatmeal.

Right before he got sick he had his infant dedication at River Bluff Fellowship Church in Springfield where we have been attending since last summer. It is the perfect church home for our family and the pastor there, Scott Watson, is an absolutely wonderful man. Isaac was a pretty handsome little man in his khaki pants and blue shirt; he didn't wear the hat to church.

Tomorrow it's off to daycare and Miss Becki's house, where Isaac hasn't been in two weeks because of the winter weather and his illness. I'm sure she has missed him and he has missed watching the big kids play. It looks like things are back to normal around here. We continue to pray that the adoption agency and orphanage are able to secure the proper paperwork for Tenaye, but we know everything is in God's hands and it is his timing as to when she comes home.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snuggle Bug

Unfortunately, the RSV bug has bitten Isaac. He has been really sick for the last week. Instead of enjoying our snow days we spent time at the doctor's office and hospital having chest x-rays, a breathing treatment, and a nasal swab. All signs point to RSV. Yuck! So he has spent a majority of the past few days snuggled up on mommy or daddy's lap. Poor little boy has no appetite (he has lost a pound in the last 7-10 days), has a terrible cough, and is really congested. Thankfully his fever is gone and he isn't struggling to breathe like he was last week. Hopefully he has turned a corner and is on the road to recovery.

Here are some pictures we have captured over the last few weeks. Our little guy is really changing! He can sit on his own for long stretches of time, has two bottom teeth, and is really starting to talk our ears off! He has the cutest, sweetest laugh I have ever heard. (We are trying to figure out how to put video on the blog, so stay tuned!)
Isaac enjoying the warm weather and fresh air over the weekend.
Reading at 8 months! He is a genius!
Ummm, oatmeal....

Playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos with Cousin Kyle