Monday, September 28, 2009

She's black just like Micah

My sister Lauren got "the call" today. We have a beautiful niece waiting for her Mommy and Daddy in Ethiopia.  She is just adorable.  I can't wait until we meet her face to face.  Sophie's comment when she looked at the pictures was "She's black, just like Micah".  Can't get anything past her.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My fickle love affair with attachment parenting

So, as my mom likes to say - we take a perfectly great sleeper and turn them into a mess. The problem with attachment parenting is that you need to get the kids to need you. Done. Now what?  We have historically been putting Micah to sleep in our arms for his 2 naps and bedtime. I LOVE putting him to sleep. I love snuggling and smelling his sweet smell. This kid has killer baby smell!  Anyway, as we approach a new school year with two middle schoolers and a pre-schooler the rocking to sleep luxury must go.  So, we've been trying a new sleep technique. For two days I sat in the miniature chair next to his crib while he puts himself to sleep. There is minimal crying for the most part. This morning I moved the chair across the room.  I am sitting by the door way this.  Sophie is taking advantage of this time. She just walked in the hallway to show me the "surprise" she has for me - a raw egg. This parenting stuff just gets better and better. 

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Two of the sweetest kids I know
Sophie LOVES swimming!
Makenzie is a teenager!!

Addie is two!
Nothing like sharing a cold popsicle with a great friend on a hot day.
On of my favorite pictures!
Trying to be fancy. Love baby toes!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Defending the Orphan

Tom Davis says about the movie Orphan:

I want to challenge my readers and friends to write 500 positive blog posts about how an orphan has impacted and changed your life. Post this on your own blog so that when people search for the movie, they are flooded with positive messages about adoption and orphan care.

Just finish this sentence: "Warner Bros. new horror movie Orphan proclaims that it must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own. Let me tell you about how an orphan changed my life..."

A few thoughts:

  • If I'm totally honest, I am bothered by the thought of my children being called orphans. They are such a deep part of my heart, it seems ridiculous that they were orphaned before God gave them to us.
  • I am a completely different person than I was when we decided to adopt. My view of the world, God and my family have evolved in so many ways.
  • I often try to articulate my feelings and emotions surrounding adoption - I frequently can't put it into words. I wish I could explain to people who say that my kids are "lucky" to have been adopted, that the joy and love that I feel for them seems unfair in a way. It is surrounded by so much loss for them and their first families.
  • The intense love I feel for these children that were born on the other side of the world surprises me almost daily.
  • Nothing makes me smile quite like watching Sophie and Micah interact. These two kids are family, because they call the same person "Dad".

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sophie says...

Sophie and I were laying down in an attempt to go to sleep. Most parents are familiar with this purgatory. You are exhausted and begin to fall asleep the second your head hits the sand and snot filled pillowcase. Meanwhile, your co-part is suddenly filled with extreme energy. So, Sophie was "trying" to go to sleep. (Observation: as long as you are constantly moving and talking - it will likely take a VERY LONG time). She reaches down to scratch a bug bite on her toe and this follows:

Sophie: "Mommy, did God make us inside or outside?"
Mommy: "Ummm, I don't know (the beginning to the majority of my answers). Outside, I guess.
Sophie: "Why he do dat? There's so many bug bites out dere."

Friday, July 3, 2009

The older set

Seth with his cousins - all part of the boy's hair club.

These two get no press. Makenzie will soon celebrate her 13th birthday. She has all her requests made already...repeatedly. Seth wins the award for the most loveable pesky person. I am so proud of both of them. They both have such great hearts, especially for their younger siblings. We are blessed with some great kids!!

The teeth!!

These teeth make me laugh out loud when I see them!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where'd you come from?

Isn't she gorgeous??

Sophie's answer to this question is always "I a baby I live in China. My nanny take care of me." People are generally asking a much more light hearted question, but I love that it is just part of her. She knows that she is Chinese (probably not what that means), and she is happy to tell the world!

Big Boy

Micah has his first "big boy" food - avacado & watermelon
Micah pulling himself up at JuJu's house

Micah is growing up! Just this week he has started moving...forward. He has been scooting backwards for a few weeks, but he is on his way forward now. He is such a sweet baby boy. I can't remember what our lives were like without him.

I occassionally sit back and watch him and Sophie interact and just marvel at how good God is! I also find myself asking "what next?". Crazy huh? I guess that speaks to what a great baby Micah is and how well the other kids have meshed with him. I am excited to see what God has in store for us next.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just Photos

I FINALLY figured out how to make my pictures less blurry with my new camera. I was the paparazzi around here today. With the young ones away - I find it awkward how much the older ones want to pose for the camera (or stare in the mirror).

Tom Selleck

Dan shaved his beard -- there was some talk of Stanley Cup Finals or some nonsense in there. Not sure what hockey has to do with his beard, but I digress. This is what he was sporting. I triple dog-dared him to keep it for three days. He was not up for the dare. It was real hard to take him seriously, so I'm glad it's gone.

Oh, the hair matched the 'stache - he's usually super cool.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


As of now, I will be finding a more culturally diverse Kroger to do my shopping. Or, perhaps I will wear a shirt that says either "Apparently, you think I can't see you staring at me, but I can" or "Yes, I do have an Ethiopian baby and a Chinese toddler and no I'm not trying to be Angelia Jolie". Seems like a lot to read while passing by, but for the length of time these people are staring at me. I might be ok.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's almost summer!!

We are excited to be almost done with school over here. My part is pretty well done. Both kids have a handful of math lessons left and then we are on break! I have been so impressed by what they learned at Classical Conversations this year.  Seth improved his reading by 4 grade levels this year!!!!! He worked so hard and is loving reading now.  Makenzie is approaching teenage-hood and all that entails.  She has found a recent love for photography and really has a gift for it. I am amazed! The photo to the left is one of her creations.
Micah is doing great! He is so sweet and such a low key little man. Sophie is still in love with him and it is pretty mutual.  He laughs when she walks into a room. Hopefully, that love will continue.  I am so grateful for our family!

Friday, May 22, 2009

What is going on here??

Since we've added an little Ethiopian man to the family, we've apparently taken things up a notch or two.  The last couple times I have gone to the grocery store with both Sophie and Micah, I felt like people were staring at us.  My last trip occurred at about 5:30pm -- okay, so I haven't been much of a planner since Micah's arrival -- I was walking out with Sophie behind me. Sophie is a Neal and that means that she talks CONSTANTLY.  She had a bag of Funyuns that I let her get because I was trying to avoid a breakdown -- mine as much as hers.  So, this man in a shirt and tie stops me and says "M'am, I am a principal in a Detroit public school, and I have to ask you - what is happening here?  Help a brother out."  Waving his hand around my kids.  Keep in mind that nothing was "happening".  My kids and I were simply walking out of the grocery store. I introduced Micah and Sophie as my children.  He had a few questions about how I "got" Micah. Some people ask questions out of curiousity, some are interested in adoption, or know a family "just like ours" - not this joker.  I don't know what his angle was, but he wouldn't leave me alone. I started walking out, I've got dinner to make afterall, and he follows me asking questions about why Madonna couldn't get a baby from there then.  I try to be open to answering questions, but find myself irritated with some people who are so nosy and rude.  I was reading an article that suggested putting it back on the other person by saying "why do you ask?".  I need to remember that one. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day of Firsts!

Big day at the Neal home. Micah's first teeth broke through. You'd never even know - he is the most laid back little baby ever! He is so sweet, happy and ADORABLE!!!! Sophie's reasoning for Micah not being able to do things that she can is that he doesn't have teeth. We're a little nervous to tell her that the teeth are in. She's got a lot on the agenda for him!

Sophie got her first hair cut today too! She enjoyed herself. Marie and her boys, who are 2 days older than Micah and came home around the same time came to a hair cut/play date. It was crazy! (and fun!!)

Micah also took his first bath in the bath seat. He's been in the sink until now, but he is growing so fast. He doesn't really fit in the kitchen sink anymore. Sophie was really excited to have him in the tub with her!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Waste Management

So, I am not a big fan of the diaper pail. I don't think they really keep any room odor free. This is my solution. The window is right next to the changing table. I had the plan before I even realized that there was a well outside the window that would hide my home made "diaper pail". Love it!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Recap - Take off!

I usee this blog as a memory book for my kids more than anything, so I think it is important to blog our memories from our trip to Micah Awate.
We got up early for a 6am flight to JFK. We arrived at the airport to super long lines and LOTS of crabby travelers. We were met by the crankiest airline worker I've ever seen - and that says a lot. He kept shouting "I don't feel sorry for you! You should be here 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours for international!" Just shouting that to the crowd in general - super big helper. The computers for people to do self check-in were not working - people were asking for help. Helpers were yelling at them. At one point the cranky airline worker says "What do these people think I am? Jesus Christ? I'm not a savior!" WOW!! I am glad he cleared that up - he was acting suspiciously like Christ would, so I was wondering....We were calmed by the fact that we had 24 hours in Dubai and we were willing to give up any of those hours. We were confident that any delays wouldn't interfere with our meeting with Micah. For some reason, the cranky man took pity on us and helped us checked in. We weren't charged a dime for luggage! What a blessing!
We arrived in Dubai around 8 am the next morning. I had paid attention to detail during this entire adoption process. Lots of details. Apparently, too many. I had no idea what hotel we were staying at or where it was located. Plus, I hadn't processed that we were getting there at 8am - the hotel wouldn't have a room ready until 3pm. We were exhausted and that sounded a little like torture. We found a travel agency that was willing to let us use her internet and get the hotel name off my email. We took a cab to the hotel. "For an minimal fee" we were able to check in early. Minimal is a relative term. We didn't do good calculations on the exchange rate. I was sure that we made the right decision. We ate breakfast, walked the hotel grounds a little and tried really hard to stay awake. We were mostly successful. There were a few points where we were sitting in the hotel lobby sleeping while waiting for our tour driver.
We took a drive in the sand dunes in a Land Cruiser. We were in a van with a couple from England and their three year old daughter, Alicia. They were great company and great medicine for a momma missing her babies at home.

The ride was crazy! It is like driving in snow and ice, but it's sand. Just to prove that I can sleep anywhere - I fell asleep during the ride a couple times. We slept the entire way back to the hotel and crashed! Tomorrow was the big day!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

On the other side....

A few quick scattered thoughts....

  • We are home. Micah did AWESOME on the trip. I whined a lot more than he did!
  • His ears were fine - thanks for praying
  • This week has been great at home. Dan goes back to work next week. Hopefully, it will continue to go well here at home.
  • The whole thing feels like a complete blur - My personal theory is that no matter how much you try to savor the moments it is such an emotional thing that you end up feeling like a spectator.

Our case manager and social worker, Erica from Wide Horizons, was able to travel with us on our trip. She is an incredible photographer. These are a couple of her masterpieces.

* I can't get them in the right order - UGH! The bottom one is Dan and me on the way to the orphanage.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pray for Micah

Aimee's recent email:

We returned to the Horizon House from the birth family visit this afternoon. Micah has a ruptured ear drum! He has a lot of drainage in his ear. He is pretty mellow. So, I don't think he is in a lot of pain, but I am nervous about him flying home. Please pray that he will be healed so he won't be in pain for the flights!! We have him on drops and anti-biotics now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Family Visit Update

Here's the latest news:

We are safely in Awassa - hardly! It was a crazy trip - what else is new? We had the birth family visit. Wow! I am exhausted. Everyone cried - so crazy. I will give details when I can complete a thought.
When I went to kiss Awate goodbye this morning he was wearing a lavendar velour sweat suit, hood up - it said "tweet" with littlebirds on it. I cracked UP!!! I took a picture. Funny stuff.

Hopefully we'll get some more details tonight:)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Birth Family Visit

Aimee and Dan are on their way to meet Micah Awate's relatives. You can pray that this will be a great experience for both them and the birth family. I can't imagine how hard it would be as adoptive parents to express their gratitude to the birth family who has lost so much. Having to speak through an interpretter makes this difficult situation even harder. So we can pray that the Lord would amazingly bless their interactions with this family and that they'd receive information to pass on to Micah later in his life.

They are leaving Micah at the Horizon House with his nannies while they go on this trip. When they get back they will have Micah with them the rest of the time:) Hopefully all the paperwork stuff goes well and the Neal family will all be reunited on Saturday!

Thanks so much for all your prayers.

New Update

Here's the email I received this morning. They're having a hard time with the accessing the internet. So whatever pictures they upload on dropshots we're lucky to have:)

The days are beyond long here! I am sure they will pickup a little, but we are in the small compound of the orphanage all the time. I took a walk to the Horizon House 2 where some of the older kids are. Every room you walk into the kids yell "Mommy! Mommy!" I had my sunglasses on and they all went crazy trying them on! It was so adorable. I ended up leaving the glasses there for kids to play with(someone brought them back later). The kids are just so loved and cared for and so adorable!

We went out for a bit yesterday and had our first encounter with kids begging. Wow! It broke my heart - obviously.

We are going to the embassy soon - I feel like I've written that 800 times, but it's the only thing planned. We are enjoying having time to bond with our little man and playing with all the other kids. You learn their names and fall in love with them too. Most of them are referred and have parents waiting to come get them.

Saturday, February 21, 2009