October 2016

Great Fall Days

October 25, 2016


Fall is finally here to stay in Maryland — at least, I think so. It’s my favorite time of year, but also usually one of the busiest and this year has been no exception. I was missing in action around here last week because I just couldn’t carve out a spare 15 minutes to get a post up. Some slow mama I am!

My mother-in-law arrived last Wednesday. She usually visits every fall and this year she timed it with the occasion of S’s and H’s First Communion. Usually First Communions, at least in the Catholic Church, are in the spring and early summer, but I can’t seem to do anything the normal way. And since we were preparing them ourselves and I wasn’t ready this past spring and didn’t want to wait until next spring, this October it was.

Those dresses, huh? We borrowed them from my dear friend and the girls’ godmother, who made them. I’m dating myself here but they remind me of something out of Princess Diana’s wedding. I bought some tulle and found a local florist to make the crowns and we were all set. Never mind that S had a bad cold and H – who rarely injures herself – somehow managed a bad rug burn near her right eye. But it was a meaningful and celebratory day and I was very proud of my little princess brides.

October is flying by far too fast, but we’re hoping to enjoy the season before the leaves are all gone and we dig out winter coats. Next up is trick or treating, which I always kind of dread because no one does well with sugar in here. But the dressing up part is so fun! I can’t wait to show you this year’s costumes made by their talented seamstress of a grandmother, so stay tuned. And in the next few weeks we want to get away on a quick overnight to the Catoctin mountains, right here in Maryland. They’re so pretty at this time of year and it doesn’t feel like a proper fall without a trip out of the city to see the colors, and drink some hot cider.

What are you up to this month?

Image: Renata Grzan 





4 Years!

October 12, 2016

H and S 4 yrs old

Today is a celebration for us – it’s the day we mark landing at Washington-Dulles airport and coming home to Baltimore to begin our life together as a family. It was quite a journey to get to that point and it was just the beginning of the adventure of becoming a family, which, of course, is not just a piece of paper, but the deepest of bonds and a shared life of love, commitment, and faithfulness.

H and S 3rd grade

And it’s been four years now! My girls have changed so much, as all kids do, but wow, I really notice it when I look at photos and videos from then until now. And I’ve changed a little bit, too. Here are a few things I’ve been reflecting on today…

  • Adopting H and S will always remain the single best thing B and I ever did.
  • In some ways, I’m a different kind of mom than I thought I’d be. I should probably write a blog post about this. Or maybe I already did? Hmmm.
  • My brain seems to have gone to mush since becoming a parent.
  • Mushy brain isn’t always bad… you forget a lot of the hard stuff, too.
  • There are many layers to consider when raising a child and the layer of adoption will always be present.
  • It continues to amaze me just how similar our daughters are to B and me – in temperament, quirks, interests, etc.
  • Being an adoptive parent means you’re always holding joy and sorrow side by side. I’ll always be deeply sad that my daughters and their Ethiopian family couldn’t remain together. And I’ll always be profoundly grateful and happy that I am their mother and we are a family.
  • Children really do grow and change so quickly! I’m trying to savor the moments and the days, which is hard when the demands of life crowd in and you let yourself get distracted by so many things that won’t matter so much in 10 or 20 years.
  • I begin to feel panicked when I think about ever getting on a plane for that long again. But I know some day it will probably have to happen. (Got to stay in the present moment!)

Since it was a regular home school and work day here today and the girls have their martial arts class this evening, we’ll celebrate our “family day” this Sunday. But wow, I’m marveling at four years home today. If you’ve been reading SlowMama since then, thanks for sticking around and sharing this journey!

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul








Ethiopia on My Mind

October 7, 2016

Addis, 2012

Four years ago today, B and I were in Ethiopia getting ready to take S and H home with us. It was an unforgettable trip, and many moments are seared into my heart and mind forever.

There’s been a lot of troubling news coming out of Ethiopia in recent weeks. Mainstream U.S. news isn’t carrying it much (no surprise), but some foreign media and independent journalists are talking about it, as well as people on the ground. The unrest began to  erupt when the government began trying to seize land from the Oromo people to expand the nation’s capital, as part of their economic progress plan. This has enflamed deeper ethnic tensions between groups in Ethiopia and citizens are dying as government troops face off with protestors. (That’s my over-simplified explanation of the situation.)

Just this past week, hundreds of people were killed at a religious festival in the town my daughters were born in. The official reports say it was due to a stampede, but many witnesses on the ground, as well as journalists, say this was not the primary reason for the death toll. On Tuesday, an American UC Davis post-doctorate student was killed by a rock thrown by a protestor while traveling by van in Ethiopia. I know of many adoptive families and frequent visitors canceling their travel plans to the country right now because things have become so destabilized.

I saw a tagline on a news story the other day that said, when it comes to what’s happening in Ethiopia: This is Africa, and nobody cares how many protesters the dictatorial government kills. Not the UN, not the State Department, not Black Lives Matter, and not CNN.

Sadly, this is true. Ethiopia is not exactly on anybody’s radar of concern. (Even the U.S. Embassy over there doesn’t seem to get high marks for being very communicative or forthcoming — at least according to people to try to reach them.) Granted, Ethiopia is certainly not the only place worthy of attention right now. But I try to stay updated on what’s going on in my daughters’ native country, and I believe that the entire continent of Africa generally deserves a lot more consideration than it gets.

I don’t know about you, but the end of this week finds me tired. If you’re at all near Hurricane Matthew’s path, please stay safe. In the meantime, I invite you to grab a glass of your favorite beverage – whatever it may be – and catch whatever break you can this weekend. See you back here soon!

Image: Road in Addis Ababa, Zoe Saint-Paul




Goodness: It’s Out There

October 5, 2016

Simpson Petrol photo

Haiti cannot catch a break. It makes my heart hurt. Yesterday I was thinking about how much bad news there is out there. I mean, when does it stop, right? Not just bad news, but tragic news — stuff that’s hard to comprehend at all, like what’s going on in Syria in towns like Aleppo. It can be too much to take in sometimes.

But then, along comes something that reminds you how much goodness is out there, too… little gems of kindness and thoughtfulness that restore your faith in humanity.

Last night I discovered a voicemail I had missed from Monday. The number was completely unfamiliar, but I recognized the voice: It was a handyman who removed some shutters on our house last year. I don’t know him well, and wouldn’t expect him to remember me well, either. During the first few seconds of his message I had no idea why he could be possibly be calling… Did he want to remind me that he was out there in case we needed more work done? (we do!), or did he drive by our house and remember something he forgot when he was here?

No, it wasn’t that. He worked on a job for a family a couple of blocks down from us — a mom with a baby and a dog named Batman — who are new in town and don’t know anyone. He thought maybe I’d consider going by to say hello, just to make them feel a little more welcomed, a little less lonely.

How sweet is that? I mean, I know that’s probably not so strange if you’re living in a friendly mid-west town or a rural area, but I live in downtown Baltimore and this is a middle-aged handyman I barely know. Yet he took the time to dig up my number and risk that I might think he was weird for leaving me a message like that.

And, of course, I’ll go over there because if that isn’t a direct invitation to do a small good deed, I don’t know what is.

Of course, my Nova Scotian constitution means I can’t go over there empty handed so I need to bake something… but what? Well, I’ll figure it out. (Leave me some suggestions!)

Let’s be grateful for every bit of light and goodness we see around us these days.

Image: Simpson Petrol at unsplash