The fab 5 that keeps me going...

The fab 5 that keeps me going...
One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade. ~ Chinese Proverb

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Best Story I Have...

Just over two and a half years ago, my husband and I got the phone call paired with the email that our 'adoption referral' was on its way. Basically this means that when you go through the process (paperwork pregnancy!), you are eventually "matched" with a child. You receive minimal paperwork, no medical history and a small grainy photograph. The lucky parents get videos.

As we opened up the email with as much anxiety and excitement as a birth, we both cried tears of joy. Little did we anticipate what life-changing events (for all) lie ahead.

Because my husband had to work, I made the trek to Ethiopia with my Mom (who was a complete trooper. When I called and advised her to leave her Rolex at home, she replied, "okay, I think I can find my Gucci watch somewhere around here." LOL). As we arrived in Ethiopia, I was sick with anticipation and nerves, but it was all completely dispelled when I walked up to the foster home only to have my children run out and leap into my arms with delight! I was so prepared for them to be completely afraid of me (had they ever met a white person before?!) and run the other way. To be greeted with such excitement ~ I was not prepared for. I also was not prepared for the was to come ~ the meeting of my son's Birthmother.

I would venture to say it was the most painful day of my life to date. You see, she had 3 children, but was making an adoption plan for just Milan (Yinges), because he is profoundly deaf. (Understand that in Ethiopia, being Deaf is a death sentence). And as she sat stoically, I couldn't even open my mouth to utter a single question, because the Flood Gates would have opened. It would have been the Ugliest wail anyone has ever witnessed. So I sat quietly. We took some pictures and looked awkwardly at each other. I asked her to speak into a video camera - her wishes for his future, and figured I would ask my Ethiopian friends back in the states what she had said. I unfortunately and painfully never got that opportunity, as our house was broken into and the camera stolen with the videos therein. But there was something Bigger happening, which none was prepared for. And in that moment, I felt like I had just ripped a child from his Mother's arms. None of this felt good. I would spend the next year asking God, "why?"
With a pit in my stomach, I brought my two kids to the airport where an Ethiopian woman sized me up and then looked me straight in the eyes and started to speak. (I thought I was going to be scolded for taking a child from his Mother). And all she said was, "Thank You. I really Thank You. No, Ethiopia Thanks You!" And the floodgates opened. She cried, I cried, we embraced and departed ways onto our flights. I felt better, but still uneasy.

The next jaunt of our journey brought many challenges with communicating and structure. We were clearly starting from scratch, and our little Milan Yinges could do nothing but point and grunt or have a drooling screaming breakdown in order to communicate his needs. The journey would be long, but we were in it for Life.

Fast forward one year: Milan had 'something wrong'. My husband and I felt it in our gut. We were returning from a trip to Mexico and Milan had to go to the bathroom 4 times in 45 minutes! And then kept signing that he was 'thirsty'. So we looked at each other and my husband suggested maybe he drank the water in Mexico. Yes, that definitely made sense. So I made a doctor's appointment and expected to get an RX for an antibiotic ~ that would surely do it! But instead, we were told we were going to spend the next 5 days in the hospital - Milan had Diabetes. I have to admit, I was completely Blindsided.

So through my tears in the doctor's office, I felt a sense of relief come over me. I paused for a moment and "got it." You see, Milan's deafness saved his life. Adoption saved his life. His Birthmom gave Life to him ~ Twice. Ethiopia doesn't have Insulin and the doctor exclaimed, "he would not have seen his 5th birthday if he was not adopted."
Miracles DO Happen.

I cried every day for a month, and it still breaks my heart. But Diabetes is something we live with every day. Milan gets 4-5 shots a day and cannot live without Insulin. He is a trooper. He is a small hero, in a big way.

Just like the Neighbors in Catalina Vista ~ you are all small heroes in Big ways...
86 lbs. this week!

Thanks to my class too! :)

See you Sunday!

Lisa :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Get Your Good News Here! Keep your Cell Phone near!

Our regular drop-off this week was extra happy because we got to add a small pile of "extra" donations. See, I'm taking a real estate professional development class at the moment (for 6 weeks), and the instructor said we needed to come up with a 'consequence' for random cell phones going off during class, or people leaving or showing up late. My dear friend Martha (another great realtor buddy) BRILLIANTLY (I might add) suggested that we donate cans. So the end result was this: If your cell phone goes off, if you leave early or arrive late; you donate TEN cans (to One Can A Week) and TEN dollars (which goes to Long Cares Foundation). All of this is fabulous, but the funny part of it is when someone's cell phone rings, I let out a big howling cheer (I can't help it!). So RING phones, RING!!!! :)

The other funny part of this is that (in this picture w my little ones) Howard, who works at the Community Food Bank and helps weigh our donations, told me that his cell phone is never quiet ~ he cannot get it to a 'shush' or vibrate ring - it goes off no matter what or where. I asked him to join our class kindly. ;) Just askin'... :)

So this week is (*drum roll*) 104 lbs., including 6 lbs. of 'non-food items' (which included toiletries and paper towels). GREAT JOB! And thanks to my class and your cell phones!

It looks like we are now 'consistently' in the three digit donations. This brings such a smile to my face. Just like walking CV every Sunday and chatting with ya'all. This week I got to meet "Taco" ~ a resident doggie who is one of those unique-doesn't-need-to-be-leashed and is a smart-cookie kind-of-dog. See you Sunday Taco!


p.s. The update on the shoe-tying: In progress.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Good News, or the Good News?

Which one would you like first?

Good News #1: 109 LBS. THIS WEEK!

Good News #2: Another INCREDIBLE Dining for Women gathering at the lovely home of Janis. A big THANK YOU to Dory (picture on left), Janis and Gypsy who will now all co-lead our sister dining adventures. Also a big THANK YOU especially to Dory. Dory is such a kind woman who really has a keen sense of knowing how to connect a group of people, and how the dynamic works. You see, Dory invited her friend Kay to this weeks Dining out and Kay brought something that we all could use, all too often: Perspective. Kay is one of those really special people too (birds of a feather, stick together ~ no wonder Dory and Kay are friends!). She is special because she lived and breathed India for 5 years, and by her stories, she still carries India in her heart. This is a woman that lived among poverty that we cannot conceive. She described the streets of 6 lanes wide, littered with people sleeping on cardboard boxes. She told of the legality for a man to kill his wife ~ which happens quite often, as the motivation would be yet another dowry from a subsequent wife; and that this 'normally' happens through burning. She described poverty and disease to a tune that it sounded like a movie, for we have nothing we can relate it to. All of this, and Kay survived there for FIVE years! She was studying with the Sages and Saints of India and practiced meditation. She now meditates 5 hours for every 24 hours of her life. Wow. I mean, wow. (Okay, that wasn't exactly good news, but the good news is that women from Tucson are gathering to make a difference! No, actually that is Great News!)

This is Kay talking with the group.

Good News #3: I got to meet Amy and Bonnie; two incredible women and Catalina Vista neighbors on my One Can A Week route. Amy even told me how to get through her gate because she too, wants to participate. Awesome.

Good News #4: My 11yo daughter attended our Dining for Women and wrote me a note that said: "The country was India. The food was delish. It was a whole different, cool, awesome experience. I had so much fun. I hope to be able to go to more because it was so enjoyable. Thanks, Mom for sharing this experience with me. Sequoia".

Good News #5: For those of you who might think Dining for Women is a very serious thing and we sit around and talk about the perils of the world ~ think again:

I love this picture, because in One Big Gulp, this is what it feels like to be part of something Very Big on a Small Scale. What a beautiful thing...

Good News #6: Thanks to the people that thank me for doing One Can a Week, and those who enjoyed the interesting information about real estate in Catalina Vista last week (staying informed is good! And I love sharing my passions!).

Good News #7: THANK YOU to all the people that give to One Can A Week. It doesn't happen without you! I appreciate each and every one of you!!!!!! Catalina Vista ROCKS!!!

Good News #8: Life is Good. And this is Otis and his Mommy, Janis (she is ALL Good ~ an amazing woman with a giant heart!). He agrees. Even he is smiling.
See you Sunday! And sending GIANT hugs to you all (I know I needed a few this week ~ whew!).
Todo esta Bien. It's all Good...


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Its all in the little things ~ tie your shoes!

Having adopted children at an older age poses some challenges. Yes, the history that we will never know about, the first years of their lives ~ always a mystery. But there is more. Our kids have some 'gaps' that we forget, overlook or just don't see. It happened recently. As the weather changes, we went on a school shoe shopping escapade. Amira and Milan picked out some tennis shoes that fit and I purchased them and we went home. They were excited to wear their shoes the next day, and in our hurry in the am with 5 little ones to get to 4 different schools, I failed to notice my son's shoes were untied.

As many of you know, Amira and Milan came from Ethiopia, and in our excitement to buy clothes and shoes, bought them what every American kid has or has had: Light-up, velcro tennis shoes. So in fulfilling our need, we didn't see that our Milan could not tie his shoes. I totally missed this. Until yesterday, when I noticed he couldn't tie his new shoes. He is 6.

These small things are so eye-opening. It reminds me of the time we went to the Secretary of State's office downtown to get the documents apostilled for the adoption of our little MeiLi from China. Our two kiddos from Ethiopia had only been home for about 3 months when we visited this tall building and took the elevator up. As if this wasn't enough of an adventure, when we arrived on the floor we needed to get off, there was a drinking fountain across the hall. My kids ran up to it (as kids do), but instead of fighting to take a drink, after they discovered that water spurts out after pushing the button, they both proceeded to wash their hands in it. All of this is funny. But not as funny (maybe the wrong word) as the time that we stepped into the Addis Ababa Sheraton Hotel while in Ethiopia to take the kids for a swim.

We stepped in the front door, and this hotel is every bit of a 5 star hotel by American standards. It is all so wrong. The most extreme poverty that you could imagine (you can't ~ I couldn't) is just yards away, and here is this lavish hotel with marble floors and big chandeliers and men in suits with top hats (yes, really!) greet you at the door. My kids immediately saw the large fountain and started to take their clothes off ~ after all, it was the cleanest bathwater they had ever laid eyes on!

So its always teaching moments in our household ~ if we choose to pay attention. Our kids teach us something new on a daily basis. My 6yo can't tie his shoes, but he can read. And he is profoundly deaf. Wow...

Taking things for granted is something I like to think I don't do, but I, like most of us, do.

When I wake up every Sunday, I have to admit: I do not always want to walk the neighborhood of Catalina Vista and collect cans. I really sometimes just want to sleep in, have a pajama day, and never even leave the house. But there is something that happens every time I show up. Every Time I Show Up...

This is an example of what makes it all change. I get little notes sometimes with the food donations, and it COMPLETELY makes my day. Its just a little thing, true. But the truth is, you took the time to write it, and if you could see my grin, its bigger than this computer screen. So don't stop ~ I love it. Its all I need to show up and keep going... very simply, its really all I need.

90 LBS. THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!

DFW (Dining for Women) is soon, just 5 days away (yeah, I'm counting), and I can't wait to talk about the amazingness that happens there.

Life is Good.

Life is So Good.

Even if you can't tie your shoes ~ ask your neighbor.

See you next Sunday!

xo Lisa

Friday, October 2, 2009

A new record ~ 60lbs!

Although it took us 5 days to get to the Food Bank this week (real estate is getting crazy!), I got to bring my "Fab 5" with me. My kids enjoyed weighing themselves on the food scale and even got me to step up there ~ and Howard laughed out loud when he saw it and said, "wow! I know your secret now - the number that women keep to themselves!" We let out a good laugh and my kids carried on with the game. My kids collective weight is 280 lbs. :)

And a special "thank you" goes to my fabulous, amazing, incredible husband who now calls One Can A Week "our" project! Jonathan, you are truly the BEST husband in the Universe! I love you with my whole soul... and then some.

See you Sunday!

Lisa (and Jonathan too!)