Tag Archives: Lexi

Say Hello to Yeshumnesh

Abby & YeshumneshWe announced earlier this spring that we were pursing the adoption of an older child. We never imagined that a few short months later we’d be welcoming an 11-year-old girl into our family. But that’s what happened.

We’ve been pretty tight-lipped about this adoption, both because of the speed of the process (we got the call on June 8) and the nature of the situation. But it’s happening. So the beans get spilled.

Last week Abby and our good friend Nicole traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to meet Yeshumnesh (pronounced Ye-shem-nesh). They return today (hopefully). She’s a bright, out-going and active Ethiopian girl who will turn 11 in August. She originally came to the United States in December of 2009, but that original adoption is being disrupted (that’s adoption lingo for what happens when a child is placed with a family and it doesn’t work out). The reasons behind that disruption will remain private, but in general this family was not the right fit for Yeshumnesh.

Yeshumesh will go to school a few blocks from our house. She’s very athletic and enjoys soccer, biking, cross-country skiing and ice skating (hockey!). She likes to color and enjoys listening to stories. She loves movies, including High School Musical and Hannah Montana. She’s pretty good with her English though is still catching up. She’ll have her own bedroom across from Lexi & Milo’s that we hope we can decorate together.

This has been a pretty insane week. And I’m not in Alaska. I stayed home with the kids and tried to maintain some normalcy. This is the longest Milo has ever been away from Abby and I realized it’s also the longest I’ve been away from my wife in, well, I don’t remember how long. Definitely since we had kids, probably longer. Maybe since we got married.

And I’m sure it’s been crazier in Alaska. Welcoming an older child into your family isn’t like adopting an infant. It’s a whole new ball of wax. We’ve had a rollercoaster of a summer preparing for this and it’s finally coming together. It’s not going to be easy. Yeshumnesh needs to get used to our family—and an entirely new life—and we need to get used to her. Lexi and Milo will have their own transitions, so it could be bumpy all the way around as we get used to one another.

We’ll be leaning on a lot of folks for support, from social workers and therapists to friends and family. I’ve been leaning on them pretty hard this week and it’s just me and the little ones. I don’t know where we’d be without help—definitely not here, that’s for sure. You can’t do this kind of thing without help.

Our friends and family have been incredibly supportive of Milo’s adoption and we’re hoping to find the same love and support this time around. Any efforts to shore up our sanity are always appreciated. If you’re the praying type, we could use lots of prayer for the remaining legal issues, travel, transitions, family bonding, logistics and financial considerations.

I never imagined I’d be the father of three and rocking a mohawk at 31.

Head-Spinning Summer

This summer was supposed to be relaxing. Abby would be home from school and we’d have some free time. We had a lot packed into the summer, but it was summer and it was going to be nice and slow.

Instead the past month has been pretty head-spinning. Our slow, leisurely adoption plan that likely wouldn’t have seen a child join our family until next summer went into overdrive with a single phone call we received about 30 days ago. Since then that relaxing summer plan has gone completely out the window. The best-laid plans, huh?

Let’s recap the last 30 days:

  • We skipped an all-church camp weekend in Northern Wisconsin due to sickness (failed plans is going to be a recurring theme).
  • Lexi started weekly swim lessons.
  • I pitched my book to the Social Media Breakfast crowd and raised some extra money for charity: water (proving once again how much I hate and am terrible at public speaking).
  • We celebrated a birthday and Father’s Day.
  • Abby had an entire week of day-long conferences.
  • We had a major article appear in the local paper hyping my book (still getting comments about that one—so cool).
  • I spent the night and a separate evening at church.
  • I skipped out on the week-long youth group missions trip to Chicago I was supposed to chaperone because things were too crazy.
  • A brand new niece came into the world (and I’ve lost count of how many people are pregnant right now).
  • We moved Milo from his crib into a real bed.
  • We switched Lexi and Milo into a new bedroom.
  • We installed a new cabinet in the bathroom and somehow acquired three large pieces of furniture.
  • Both sets of grandparents visited on the same weekend.
  • We averaged 4-5 meetings, playdates or non-standard commitments every week. In a normal week we maybe average one.
  • We’ve had a total of 12 meetings or scheduled conference calls regarding the adoption. When I added them all up I was actually surprised it wasn’t more.
  • Tomorrow we attend the massive Summer Mehaber, a picnic for Ethiopian families, and my book will have its own booth (thankfully I hired a couple guys to run the booth for me).
  • The only reason I have time to write this post is because Lexi is sick and we’re staying home from today’s massive zoo trip with Ethiopian families in town for the picnic.

Continue reading Head-Spinning Summer

Father’s Day in the Pioneer Press

Pioneer Press photo by Chris Polydoroff
Pioneer Press photo by Chris Polydoroff

I woke up to seeing myself in the Pioneer Press this morning as a part of a Father’s Day feature, Tweet Dad: West St. Paul father writes about his kids’ lives 140 characters at a time.

OK, not really.

I actually woke up to Milo storming into our bedroom at 5:45. We graduated Milo to a real bed last night and are now very appreciative of the cage-like qualities of a crib.

But after that I saw the incredible Pioneer Press feature on my book, Addition by Adoption: Kids, Causes & 140 Characters, complete with a little photo gallery and lots of details about my life as a twittering dad. I love that they mentioned my blogging history going back to 1998—and my comment that it was really bad back then (it was). I’m glad they included our latest addition at the very end. And I can’t quite pick a favorite picture—our kitchen dance party with Lexi in her ballerina, the fact that Milo in sporting his Red Wings shirt, or the five of us—dogs included—piled around the laptop (a rare moment indeed). But my favorite part about the story is that I didn’t say anything stupid to the reporter.

If you’re checking out my site for the first time, thanks for stopping by:

And a bigtime thanks to everyone who makes this stuff happen. I should specifically mention TriLion Studios and Ronald Cox, who volunteered to do the book’s cover and layout respectively, and the Pioneer Press for doing such a great story.

Thanks and happy Father’s Day!

Hotel Pools, McDonald’s and a Funeral

Last weekend we went to the funeral of Abby’s uncle, Lee Erlandson. It was a whirlwind 32-hour trip:

  • We intentionally picked a hotel with a good pool to give the kids something to do. Turns out Milo is suicidal around pools. He’d just walk right off the edge into the water, not even attempting to jump or push off at all. I thought he was going to crack the back of his head on the side of the pool, never mind the whole toddler drowning thing.
  • We had to explain a funeral to Lexi, who was still trying to process Jesus dying and rising again from Easter. Not a good combo.
  • Lexi had also been watching Beauty and the Beast in the car and wanted to know who killed Uncle Lee and whether or not he was a princess. Thankfully we had that conversation in the hotel and not at the funeral home.
  • Lexi managed to sit through a 75-minute service with a minimum of interruptions and outbursts. Milo, on the other hand, spent most of the service outside with Abby. Yes, we were those weird people who brought kids to a funeral. We actually had no babysitting options and thought it would be a much shorter service. In retrospect, I think sitting through the service with a 4-year-old brought some levity to the whole thing (though I’m not sure if anyone else felt that way).
  • And when did McDonald’s get so swanky? We stopped for a quick break and enjoyed a little Nickelodeon on the personal TVs in our cushy booth. I was tempted to bring in the laptop and check out the wifi with a little frappuccino. OK, not really. But it was an option.
  • I know I’m not good at smalltalk, but I’m really bad at funeral smalltalk. I think “So how’s it going?” was the first question out of my mouth to just about everyone. Including a brother and son of the deceased.

What I found especially thought-provoking was the funeral itself. The service stretched on so long because they opened it up for anyone to share memories about Lee (open mic at a funeral?). I didn’t know Lee very well at all—I’ve only seen him a handful of times—so it was interesting to hear coworkers, friends and teammates share their memories and impressions.

Continue reading Hotel Pools, McDonald’s and a Funeral

Teaching the Kids to Watch Hockey

Goal!Tonight I watched the Detroit Red Wings with the kids. The Wings faced elimination against the San Jose Sharks, but they battled back and won 7-1 (the first time in 45 years the Wings have won when facing elimination in a 3-0 situation—or something, didn’t quite catch that crazy stat).

Anyway, the Wings scored five times in the first period (on only 9 shots!), so I had plenty of opportunity to teach Milo how to say, “Goal!”

I also got to show Lexi an octopus (a Red Wings playoff tradition).

I’m Not a Super Dad

The last day to pre-order Addition by Adoption is tomorrow. If you don’t order it by tomorrow, you’ll have to wait for the official launch on May 11. The book has received a lot of press in the past week—OK, “press” meaning friends and contacts blogging and tweeting about the book. But they’ve had a lot of nice things to say. It’s enough to make your head swell. So it’s time to pop that bubble: I’m not a super dad.

I’ve found that the biggest challenge of adoption and raising kids in general is just the day to day. There are day-to-day challenges and difficulties that you have to rise up and face every day. Those challenges can wear you down pretty quickly if you’re not careful.

For whatever reason I woke up on the wrong side of the bed Saturday and I had no patience. That wouldn’t be so awful, but Milo woke up on the wrong side of his crib and he’d been screaming all morning. Not a good combination.

Finding ways to deal with those kinds of frustrations is crucial. On Saturday Milo and I had to take a break from each other. My wife and I frequently have times where one of us needs to ‘run away,’ and I that’s what I needed Saturday.

It’s stuff like trying to get work done and your daughter won’t stop asking if Sesame Street is on. At first it’s cute, then it’s annoying and then it’s like poking a tiger with a stick at the zoo. The other day Lexi did that so often I told her if she asked me one more time she couldn’t watch it. So she asked if it was time for Milo to take a nap, which happens to be the same time Sesame Street is on. Sneaky. Very sneaky.

Adoption certainly has its own unique challenges and issues you need to recognize (and in some cases very serious issues), but it’s really just parenting. More complicated parenting, yeah, but it’s still parenting. And parenting is pretty complicated and hard and stressful and challenging. Did I mention I had no patience on Saturday?

That’s one thing I like about the book—it’s honest. The book includes these moments of frustration. Sometimes you need an afternoon of TV and snacks and no kids to regain some sanity (at least one review expressed relief at sharing that sentiment). Any parent who doesn’t get frustrated by their kids and need a break once and while is either lying or a saint. It’s not the kids’ fault, it’s not your fault, it’s just how life is.

Continue reading I’m Not a Super Dad

We’re Adopting! (Again)

My wife already broke the news, but now it’s my turn: We’re adopting. Again. We’re not exactly sure what or where or how or when, but we’re starting the adoption process. At this point we’re actually leaning towards adopting older kids through the Minnesota Waiting Child program. We went to an informational meeting last week and we signed up for a required training class at the end of the month (which they describe as trying to scare you out of the program).

I don’t want to say we’ve decided anything for sure (the training may just scare us away), but we’re definitely leaning in that direction. We’ve been having lots of conversations about adopting older kids and what that means and what ages and how many and all of that. We’ve been talking to Lexi about it (Milo doesn’t seem to have an opinion on the subject) and she was initially very set on having a sister. Though this morning she told me we could have a baby in Milo’s crib because there’s room, we could have two kids in the basement bedroom, one kid could sleep on the bottom of Lexi’s bunk bed and another could sleep in the bed with Abby and I. Then Lexi told me I can just sleep in a sleeping bag to make room for more kids.

Despite Lexi’s plans I doubt we’ll be adopting five children.

It’s not easy and it’s never simple, but I love adoption. I love the hope it offers, the second chance it gives and the way it changes me. I like the idea of creating a family through adoption, taking multiple stories of brokenness and creating something new and full of grace. Not to discount the pain and loss involved on many sides, because that’s very real and has equally real consequences, but I’m kind of an insufferable optimist. I don’t like that adoption is necessary because that means hurt and brokenness has happened and nobody wants that. But if those are the chips we’re dealt, I guess I’m the kind of person who would rather pick them up and put them back together again. It’s not about rescuing children or saving them like some kind of hero. Adoption should be a last resort. It’s about giving these kids what they deserve.

Babies are great. But I don’t think we’re going back there again. At the same time our family isn’t complete. I don’t know what this looks like and how it all comes together, but I’m excited to find out.

Easter & MLK

I love church on Easter Sunday. It’s a party. The music rocks harder. People dance. Everybody comes in smiling. And after six weeks of a quiet, somber end to church,  we get to say Alleluia again.

Last year Milo banished us to the cry room and Lexi threw a fit when we went up for communion. This year Milo seemed to want to sing in the choir, even though we don’t have a choir. Lexi did fine at communion, pausing to lean Pinky against the kneeler before she stood at the communion rail. After church I didn’t have much time to talk to anyone because Milo made a beeline for the door and we spent a while playing in the grass.

This year the sermon closed with a reading of John Updike’s “Seven Stanzas at Easter.” I’d never heard it before and find Updike to be very hit or miss, but this was good. The poem focused on the importance of Christ’s bodily ressurrection—that Jesus literally came back from the dead. Updike focus more on the reality of it, but a few lines reminded me of the very Buffy the Vampire Slayer nature of the ressurrection. The grave was empty. The body was gone. And he was walking around. Not all putrified zombie corpse, but whole and restored. That’s crazy. And that’s the point. From Updike:

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door. …

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Continue reading Easter & MLK

Color4aCause: Kids Color to Help Haiti

Buildings in Haiti that didn't break at allBy Friday morning the flood of stories from Haiti started to get to me and I wanted to help. I’d already donated, but I wanted to do more. So I started thinking of crazy ideas. And I tweeted like mad as I tried to think it through. All while Lexi sat down with crayons and paper.

Tonight we launched Color4aCause.org. Kids color to support relief efforts in Haiti. Make a donation, get a picture. All the proceeds go to my church’s Haiti relief efforts. My church has a partnership with organizations in Haiti going back more than 20 years, so it seemed like a no-brainer to support that relationship.

It’s a crazy idea. But I love it. I love watching my daughter color. I love it when she tells me what she’s drawn. And I love that we can help in such a simple way.

It’s not always easy. I told Lexi about what happened in Haiti and she was concerned for the people who were hurt and was scared that the buildings would keep falling down (once we got past the idea that Haiti was a person). She dove into the coloring but then later got frustrated. She keeps telling me she doesn’t know what to draw or how to draw it, and I keep trying to tell her just to draw—you can’t do it wrong.

When she gets really frustrated she throws up her arms and says “Kids can’t help.” She’s kind of a drama queen. I know she’s having a hard time getting her head around all of this and I’m probably pushing more than I should, but the truth is kids can help. Lexi is helping. It’s her own small way, but she’s helping. She might not get it now, but it doesn’t matter. She’s still helping.

Coloring for a cause. It’s crazy, but sometimes crazy works.

Milo Goes Mobile

Milo has very quickly become mobile. Nothing in the house is safe. Not even the Christmas tree, which has very nearly come down.

Lately he’s been counter cruising and extending his reach even higher as he comes closer and closer to walking. The other day we redirected those energies toward something less destructive with some walkers and riding toys.

So today Milo was pushing Lexi on the riding trike. Pushing her right into the kitchen table. And yes, the camera was rolling: