Friday, December 31, 2010

Love is an action verb...

I have spent the last few days pondering those words. I was in a deep conversation with a good friend about relationships when she mentioned that love is an action verb. We were reminiscing about the past and past relationships, when she made this statement. Since that point, it has been on my mind as we get ready to enter in 2011. I am not a big resolution kind of person, although I have considered following Rosie's advice and doing a vision board. The vision board seems more me than making a bunch of resolutions that may or may not get followed through with during the year. But in my head I can see how the vision board and this phrase "love is an action verb" mold together for me.
For some reason the last month or so has been a reflection time for me, not just of this year but of the last several years. In reflecting I have realized that I had an love that I lost, due in part to not having action behind my words. I have put into action, on some levels, a love for myself by working through things that have been hard and to others may have seemed selfish, in order to get to a place where I can say I love myself. I put into action the love I wanted to have as a mother to a child and worked to get Isaiah. And now I put into action everyday my love for him to make sure he knows love is not simply a noun. Do I put enough action behind it where he is concerned...I hope so, but I think there is always room to improve.
I have loved myself enough to stop putting action behind the word with some people in my life and have let them go. I have been thankful for the part they played in my life, recognized the blessings they brought to me, and I hope I brought to them, realized that the parting is sometimes sweet, sometimes not and sometimes just slips away over time without either person really doing anything. I have also realized how little action I have put behind love with some people and hope that this year I can right the wrong I have done. That it is not enough to sign a card, email or FB post with "love ya" and hope they know what they mean to me.
"I love you" was a hard thing for me to say for a long time and now it has become to easy. This year I want to find the balance. I want it to be a bit harder to say, I want there to be deliberate action to back up the words....I want people in my life that I love to experience it, not just hear it. So to the people in my life that I love, those that are new in my life, those that have been around a while, and those that I have forgotten to nurture because I "assume" you know I love you, this year I hope to do better. I hope that at least in some small way you feel the "action" of my love on a fairly regular basis.
Here is what love has come to look like in my home...What does it look like in yours? Are your "I love you's" filled with action?

Our first big injury...

Isaiah and I have been home together for just over a year and for those of you who have seen Isaiah since he became mobile you know he is "ALL BOY". People tell me this often, even the pediatrician, as he climbs everything and jumps off of anything he can climb up on, throws anything that resembles a ball and is most often found running from one location to the next via the closest mud or dirt he can find :) Don't get me wrong I love it, nature walks with him are amazing and almost always involve a change of clothes before we can get in the car and drive home!
In light of his personality I am actually surprised we have not had an "accident" sooner. Now had this injury come from him being his usually daredevil self it might not bother me so much. But was truly just a bad accident. Isaiah and I had been at a play area with a friend, her son and niece. The boys had been riding a little carousel that was in the mall. It was time to go and I had lifted my friends' son off and was heading to get Isaiah. He has stood up and was giggling at me. I asked him to sit and wait, he did just that. The problem was in his giggling fit he was not watching where he sat, and he caught the back of the train car and there he went, head first over the back of the car, off the carousel base and on to the ground. As you can imagine the yell started immediately (his actually not me!). I picked him up and after about a minute my friends niece noticed blood on my sleeve. My friend and I began to search for where the blood was coming from. She found the injury first, he had a hole in the back of his head about an inch long and down to the bone. Now as a science teacher I am pretty good with blood and stuff, but on my own child it was a bit different. I tried to stay calm and my friend says I did pretty well, got a bit panicky when I saw how deep the gash was and could not get the doctor. The fear I think came when I was not sure what to do, drive to hospital, drive to doctors office or call the ambulance. It was not gushing blood so I put him in the car and headed toward the doctors office, the hospital is down the road from there, so that was easy. I called as I drove and the pediatrician said bring him in.
They were wonderful, cleaned him up, numbed the area, cleaned the wound up, and put five staples in the wound. He was not happy about being restrained for them to do the procedure, but he did awesome. All in all from the time of the fall to the time he was stapled and back in the car headed home was about an hour. I was impressed. He is doing well and it has not slowed him at all. He is still climbing and jumping off of everything.

The ride before the fall

Nice to have long hair..hard to see the staples!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Embassy Day 12/23/2009

Today was Embassy day! Isaiah had another good night of sleep and I had gotten up fairly early to get him and I ready for what we thought was a 10 Embassy appointment. Something happened with paperwork for someone in our travel group not sure who or what and really does not matter much now since it was all resolved and worked out quickly. But it did mean we were ready early. This was my first experience packing what I thought was how many bottles and diapers I might need for the day out with Isaiah. (I was wrong!)
Okay so the vans came and got us from our guest house and then we went to the other guest house to get Monica, Audrey, Byron and their kids. Monica had arrived late Tuesday night due to weather delays and such and had only gotten to meet her daughter shortly before we were set to head to the Embassy. Audrey and Byron's son was wonderful and helped Monica in calming her daughter down. It was neat to watch how the kids all interacted with each other, especially the older ones with the young ones.
We got to the Embassy and had to drop everything electronic off up front. Which meant I have no photo documentation of the actual Embassy trip. While at the Embassy I ran into a couple I had met at the DC airport who was adopting with another agency. When they got Ethiopia they were informed that the child they were adopting was actually a twin, that the mom had not turned the other baby in at first and was no willing to place the baby up for adoption. So they immediately started the process of updating everything to adopted the twin. I could only imagine the emotions that come with finding that out. We were at the Embassy for what seemed a long time, but I guess in reality was about 2 hours. Isaiah played in the play area for a while but then got hungry. I made him a bottle and fed him, and then placed him in my carrier to see if I could get him to go to sleep. He eventually did and woke up just as I was called to go upstairs for my meeting with the Embassy official. I got nervous when they stated my paperwork said a child of a year and that Isaiah was not a year at referral time was I okay with that. I said of course, I thought my paperwork had said newborn, so was suddenly nervous. She said everything was fine and stamped my paperwork. Told me I would have everything the next day. This was a surprise to me. I had not booked plane flights home until the 30th because they told us our paperwork would not be ready until Monday with the Christmas holiday. Now we were all waiting to hear from Haile if this was true...if we got our paperwork on the 24th were we allowed to head home on the 25th.
After the Embassy we went to the Zebra Cafe for lunch. It was the first time that all the families got to sit down and talk together. Shortly after we got served lunch it started to rain. The roof leaked on the restaurant and there were quickly people shifting, moving and grabbing stuff up to keep it from getting wet. Isaiah still was not really eating and by this point in the trip I was getting pretty sick..did not realize it until I got home, but yeah by then I was not really eating anything but breakfast. Once we all finished lunch we went back to the guest house for the rest of the day. Most of us went to our rooms to nap kids that needed naps and just generally recover from a busy and slightly stressful morning.

Gotcha Day for my travel partners


Isaiah slept for almost 12 hours that first night we were together. I was shocked and totally excited. I had heard from so many families about sleeping hardships so I was prepared to not get sleep and so amazingly blessed to get a child that slept. Now eating that was a different story for us. I was told that he was drinking four bottles a day and eating rice cereal. I tried all day Monday to get him to eat rice cereal and he never would, so at bedtime I gave up, and just mixed rice cereal into his bottle and gave it to him that way. I tried cereal again Tuesday morning, but still did not prevail in getting him to eat it and only succeeded in upsetting him, so decided rice cereal mixed in formula was the way to go for the rest of the trip. I would tackle food when we were home.
I was so glad to have Isaiah Yabsira in my arms, but had the jitters in my stomach because today was the day the rest of the travel group were getting to meet their kids. I had really debated on how to handle the morning. I love photography and wanted to be able to document for people, especially Jen their "gotcha days." I also wanted to make it as easy as possible for Isaiah and was worried that seeing the nannies again may upset him so I made the decision to place him with the guest house nannies while I took pictures for other people. He fell asleep just before the kids arrived in the carrier on me so it was pretty easy to hand him over to the guest nanny and Tigist.
Shortly after ten, I believe, the van pulled up with the kids. It was so fun to watch. There were 3 babies coming to families and then Lisa and Nate's two children and the Laura's toddler. Pretty quickly families found their way to different areas of the court yard to try and soothe and focus on their kids. I stayed with Jim for a little bit taking video and pictures of Gav for him and Jen. After a few minutes Jim took Gav upstairs to feed him and calm him down. I stayed downstairs snapping pictures :) I am so glad I did for I love looking at the pictures of the kids then and seeing them now. What a change in these precious children.
The rest of the day was spent getting to know kids and families getting to know each other as well. I believe this was the day Laura's brother went to go run to the store and was gone a little longer than we anticipated. A group of people on the street had convinced him to go somewhere with them and I believe had had some of his money taken. For me and probably for several other travelers it was the reality of all the warnings we had received prior to coming.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A year in review!

Here is a video I made of Isaiah and I over this first year together. It has been an adventure and I am looking forward to all the coming adventures!

One Year Together from Jennifer Kramer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 4- Gotcha Day

Bezza arriving with Isaiah Yabsira
Our first picture together he is still not so sure of me
Nap precious
Sweet little hands
Awake and playing!
It was Gotcha Day and I did not sleep well the night before. I was up at 7:30 in the morning in a mix of excitement that Isaiah was coming and new parent jitters. Would I know how to comfort him? Would he want anything to do with me? Would he sleep? Would he eat? All sorts of questions running through my head. So after being awake at 3 am and reading for a while to try and get back to sleep and then being awake again at 7:30 I gave up, got up, showered and then spent time trying to figure out what to wear. Yeah I did, I worried what to wear to meet Isaiah. Not sure why I thought my 12 month old would care, but it was something to focus on so my clothes are what I focused on for the moment. I went down and had some of Haile's great eggs and then proceeded to wait. I was hoping that Haile would have Isaiah brought to me before he started the airport runs for the day. Byron and Audrey were coming back from Lalibela, Brenna and John, Glynnis and Joe were scheduled to arrive as well.
So I went upstairs and made sure camera and videocamera batteries were charged and ready and hoped that Tigist would be willing to videotape the event for me. I figured I could take a few pictures as he first got there and then rely on the video for the rest of it. I was lucky one of the nannies that were scheduled to work at the Guest House for us was also there that morning so I got a mix of pictures and video. At 10 Haile arrived and said he was making an airport run and Isaiah would be brought to me at around noon. A timeframe, but it is Africa and nothing really runs on time:) So I went upstairs again and tried to figure out what toys I might want downstairs with me when I met him. BTW this was pointless as I used none of them :)
Shortly after twelve Bezza, Getu and Isaiah arrived at the guest house. I think I was overwhelmed. Here he was, finally after all the waiting, praying, hoping, wishing, he was here, really there for me to hold. And for a brief moment I was sad that I was there alone for this moment. That there was not someone else who would be able to share with me and him how our meeting looked from the outside watching us. That moment passed quickly when Bezza came through the gates with him, from that moment on he was all I could see. I left him in Bezza's arms for a while as I talked to him, touched his hair and back. I left him with Bezza for probably five minutes while I talked to him, then Bezza told me it was time to take him. So I did, he was so small, so light. He was wearing an outfit I had sent to him, and came with a bag of some of the toys I had sent and the photo album I had sent. He cried, reached back for Bezza calling her Amaye ( the Amharic word for mom). I just held him, quietly talked to him, told him I know he was scared, hurt and that it was okay to cry. He settled pretty quickly actually. Although he would stop crying for a few and then start again. Bezza left after telling me his eating habits and that he had eye medicine for an eye infection. He and I stayed outside with Tigist and the nanny for a while.
Brenna, John, Glynnis and Joe arrived while we were still outside. Brenna and John were on their second adoption and their son Japhy was with them. He was beautiful, but understandably they were tired from a busy travel day and pretty promptly went upstairs to settle in and nap. It was nice to get to meet them and have someone else there.Isaiah and I went upstairs, had a bottle and he fell asleep against me. He slept for almost 3 hours and when he woke up he cried a little but let me comfort him. When we came downstairs again I was shocked to see that he would not go to the guest house workers. If they took him from me he screamed and reached back for me. I was overjoyed at that reaction. Tigist told me that was unusual:) I decided to have Johnie help me place an international call to Jen. I needed to hear a familiar voice, to have my support system. It was going well, but was still just an emotionally raw moment. So I called Jen and told her I was holding the most amazing little boy in my arms. While Jen and I were talking Jim arrived with Sally and Tom. I let Jim talk to Jen for a few minutes as I had only paid for a 10 minute conversation.
After Jim got settled he came down and we ordered dinner from Zola's! Like I said the staple for the week. Jim shared that Sally had suggested the best way to not get sick was to eat the traditional Ethiopian food and drink coke. OKAY!! not a problem. (Makes me wonder now if the pasta I had the first day is what made me so sick when I got home!?!?) But either way we ordered dinner and cokes from Zola's and ate dinner. Isaiah in my lap! It was awesome!! I did not eat much, nerves, stress and probably the beginning of getting sick. Isaiah and I hung downstairs for a little while and then at about 7:30 went upstairs and got ready for bed. He let me change him with no screaming fit which I figured was a good sign. I gave him a bottle and off to sleep he went. I laid there watching him for a long time. He was and still is perfect :)
At about 2 am I heard the car pull up out front, downstairs I went Lisa, Nate, Laura and David were finally here. I brought Lisa and Laura up to see my sleeping boy. And finally I cried! It had been a day of emotions that I kept in check and that moment of being able to share my son with someone else was all it took for the floodgates to open.
Tomorrow the other traveling family members gotcha day!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 3- Exploring Addis

Sunday was the day that was probably the loneliest for me. Audrey and Byron headed off in the early morning to Lalibela, Jim was still with his friends and the other families had not arrived yet. I had become friends with the Guest House workers and so did get to talk with them a little. I also met a man who is Ethiopian but is a pastor in NJ and his niece, I believe, who still lives in Ethiopia. This is also the day that if people in the US had known what I was doing I probably would have been yelled at, a lot!
I woke up at a fairly reasonable hour and went down and had breakfast. Haile, the guest house worker not the adoption agency worker, made me amazing eggs for breakfast. It became my stable food everyday! After breakfast I hung around downstairs for awhile trying to decide what to do with my day. I wanted to shop but was a little nervous about going out on my own. I had been warned to not do that and was not sure I truly wanted to ignore those warnings. Especially after Byron's camera had been stolen from the car we were in the day before. I decided I was probably going to go take and nap and then ask the guest house staff if someone could take me shopping.
As I was preparing to head back upstairs I met a nice man and his daughter. His daughter had come to Ethiopia, her fathers homeland, from Germany to work in some orphanages for several months. He was down visiting her and seeing family and they were staying at the guest house as well. I loved sitting and talking to them for a while. Then the pastor came down to have breakfast. He mentioned that they were going to church and asked if I wanted to go. I said yes without hesitation. The chance to experience church in Ethiopia excited me. So I ran upstairs got my self organized and changed and headed back down to go to church. I left with the pastor and his niece. About the time we got in the cab to head to church I had a fleeting moment of doubt. I had just done what I promised people I would not do, I was out and about in Ethiopia essentially alone. I realized no one in the guest house had seen me leave and so no one had any idea where I was. I had just left, headed in to some part of Ethiopia with people I had barely met the night before. And to be honest had no idea how to get back to where I was staying if the need arose. Moment of panic....calm and trusted that all would be okay. And obviously as I sit here today to write this it was all okay.
We got to church, it was in this big almost warehouse like building. Not the churches in my pictures or that I had seen the day before. We walked around back as service was already started, so I thought. We sat down in the back and listened to the music. I understood not one word but it was beautiful. Then about 15 minutes later, it ended and people began to file out and those of us in the back began to file forward. Up I moved with my companions to sit closer to the front. I had witnessed the end of one service and the next one was beginning. There was a camera set up in the middle life feeding video into the room beside this main room for the other people to see. I looked around and had a very humbling moment. I was the only white person in the room. And I am guessing in just that one room there were over a thousand people. Now I am not one that is usually intimidated by being different from the crowd, but for a moment I felt a bit uncomfortable. I stuck out! And quickly I realized this was just the beginning of me "sticking out" here I was a white American woman in Ethiopia asking these people to accept me and the fact that I was adopting one of their children. I was asking by my presence to be accepted into this "family".
To this day I stick out..Isaiah is a beautiful dark chocolate brown and it is the dead of winter..I am white :) But he and I are family, there is no doubt that he is my son, born of another mother in a land far from my home. I have been blessed to have a child that challenges me to push the boundaries of societies acceptance here in the US and maybe even there in Ethiopia. I think people were a bit shocked to see me sitting in that church. Listening to a 2 hour service conducted in English and Amharic, praising with my sons people. Embracing his culture, his history, and his future. After about 2 hours or so services ended and we headed back to the guest house. Now I really was tired and I took a nap. I talked to Haile and he said he would bring Isaiah to me in the morning. He was not sure exactly what time but probably 10ish. I was a little over 12 hours away from meeting my son. Nervous set in.
Thankfully Tigist, the other guest house front desk clerk and Johnie kept track of me. They made me eat dinner, from Zola's again. They also told me it was okay for me to walk to coffee shop on the corner, was the Ethiopian version of Starbucks. The guest house guard took me out a bit but shopping is limited on Sunday in Ethiopia. Sunday was a personal growth day for me, I experienced truly being a minority, trusting my instincts to trust people and the knowledge that Ethiopia was in my heart.
Sleeping Sunday night was not really going to happen. Monday was Gotcha Day. No one from my travel group was going to be there to witness it. Isaiah and I were becoming a family under the watchful eyes of the Ethiopian people, with the assistance of my new friends to document it happening. It is interesting to look back now and see how the whole Gotcha Day became much more focused on his comfort, his transition and not on me becoming a mom. A shift I am so grateful for, but more of that tomorrow...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Travel and Arrival Day

I am combining the 18th and 19th into one day as a good portion of the 18th was spent on a plane! Here are some excerpts from my travel journal.
12/19/2009 2:30am Rome
"So we made it to Rome at about 1am and are just about to get ready to take off again for the last leg. I have been up and talked to Jim several times (ADD makes it hard to sit for this long..wonder if I am bugging him ?) He has talked to Jen several times on text while we have been on the ground, she is still feeling pretty sick. I am sad she is not here, but glad she is taking care of herself. I am beginning to be tired. It is only 9ish back home, but it has been a long travel day with lots of emotions. As much as I want to get Isaiah now, I am thinking the day of rest and re-cooperation will be good so I am ready for him on Monday. In about 5 hours I will be in his country. I don't have hospital bracelets to save from labor, so I will save plane tickets to commemorate my 18 hour plane "labor". I am so excited to get there and see your country."
12/19 8:13am Ethiopia
"Breakfast is about to be served..again:) I have been on this plane so long I was served breakfast when we boarded in DC and am about to be served breakfast again before getting off in ET. I slept a little during the leg from Rome to ET, got about 2 hours and we are a little less than 2 hours from landing. Then it is time for the Addis airport adventure...visas, currency exchange, claiming all that luggage and finding my ride. Jim will get off the plane with me and do most of that but he is going with some friends and not back to the Guest House with me, so soon I will really be on my own. A bit scary to be honest. Glad I have him to get through the airport though.
In 48 hours I will be holding my son. Hope I don't ugly sobbing for video or pictures of this moment. Tears..fine...ugly crying..not so much :) I have reviewed all my documents and think I have everything in order. Okay time to land and get off this plane..please."
12/19 4 pm Ethiopia
" Just got back to the room after an amazing afternoon. Jim and I made it through the airport with no problem. I was surprised and a little intimidated to see that they scan your luggage leaving the airport. Not sure why they are scanning it but it made me nervous for a moment. After we got through that we walked out and there was a tall gentleman, nicely dressed with a sign that had mine and Jim's last name on it. It was Haile..I was so excited to see him. Jim was heading off with a friend he and Jen have that lives in Addis now and so I was getting nervous about being on my own. But Haile was there along with another cab driver who took my stuff and whisked me off to the Grand Guest House. I had to chuckle a little at the fact that Haile's car had tapes of American country singers in it. Apparently he is a fan :) Anyway, we dropped my stuff off at the Grand Guest House and went around the corner to the other Guest House where Byron and Audrey were staying. I was a bit sad they were not at the same place as me, but since they have older kids they needed a place with 2 rooms! The three of us made plans with Haile to have a driver take us sightseeing in the afternoon and Haile then left us. I felt a little unsure when he left..odd how I found comfort in knowing that he was around. Previous travelers had all spoken so highly of him.
But Audrey, Byron and I set out to find lunch. We went to Zola's for lunch (which consequently would be where I got most of my meals from for the week). I had pasta...yes in Ethiopia and my first meal was pasta! After lunch Getu came and picked us up to sightsee. He took us to a beautiful church to look around. I am overcome with emotions as I look at all the people. They are beautiful in so many ways. There are lots of beggars, people coming to our cab window to ask for money or food. There are donkeys walking down the middle of the road and there does not seem to be much as far as traffic laws, even down to which side of the street you need to drive on. A bit scary and glad I am not driving. After we saw the church Getu took us down to see the open air market. We were told we could not get out and shop but that he would drive us through so we could see it. Glad we didn't get out and shop, even while just driving through someone reached through the open car window and stole Byron's camera from his hands. I was shocked and started to keep a tighter grip on mine. Well going to try and take a quick nap and then meet Byron and Audrey for dinner. Don't want to sleep long but need a little something to keep me going. On a side note Lisa and Nate and Laura and David should be on their way here now:) "
12/19 9:30 pm Ethiopia
"Just talked to Audrey, Haile called her to say that Lisa, Nate, Laura and David are snowed in so they will not be arriving on Sunday. Hoping for a Monday arrival. While I am saddened and anxious for them, I am so glad I left early and am here already. There are two other families that will be here as well. Not sure when they are set to arrive.
I got to meet Johnie. He works here at the Guest House and the previous travelers have all spoken of what a great help Johnie is. He told me he could help me place an international call for $1.25 a minute. Not too bad so tomorrow I might try and call Jen, just to hear a friendly voice and that means I can call my mom on Christmas.
I am nervous. my tummy is jumbly as my mom would say. I pray the others get here safely to pick their children up. I am sad Jen is not here with me, she has been my support system through so much. I will be fine I would just be better with her here. (hehe) Well I am feeling a bit congested so taking a cold medicine and heading to be.
I am here! I am in Ethiopia to get Isaiah! Wow"

It has been fun to re-read my journal. Not sure how much it interests the readers, but here is a slide show of the trip and the things I saw. Tomorrow will be less journal and more memory of the people I met on Sunday and my adventure attending an Ethiopian church.

The Trip from Jennifer Kramer on Vimeo.

Friday, December 17, 2010

One year ago...

One year ago today I was packing, pacing and honestly panicking as I was getting ready to board a plane to Ethiopia. I had never really traveled out of the country and here I was about to travel far from home, by myself to start my family. While I left North Carolina alone, I soon met up with another adoptive parent, Jim, in DC and by the time I was coming home from Ethiopia I was anything but alone, I had my son and 7 other families forever in my heart. I am forever connected to these familiesregardless of the distance that is between all of us! I can hardly believe a year has passed over the next few days I will share what my trip was like, how it has changed me and how blessed I am today. Tomorrow was just my day of travel so not much to share on the 18th, but starting the 19th I will have arrived in Ethiopia. Please check back each day to see my trip.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The day you arrived at the care center

Greatest joy.....deepest sorrow
to see the perfect fingers and toes
to hear his cry and see his little face
to hold him, to feel his warm soft skin
yet to know he will not continue to grow in your arms the way he grew in your womb
to not hear the laughter that goes with those joyful kicks
to never hear the hiccups you have felt

Greatest joy.....deepest sorrow
to watch you grow and learn
to hear that amazing laugh and those cute snores
to feel your hand as it reaches for mine and you call me momma
yet to know thousands of miles away a woman is missing you
she grew you in her womb but could not hold you in her arms
she gave you the breath of life I get to help you live.

Today as you lay here sleeping beside me, I think of your birth mom.
Today I honor her.
I talk to you about her.
I take a moment of silence to pray she knows, some how, that you are loved deeply by many
That there is a "village" raising her son.
That while I get to be "momma" or "mommy", I will always teach you about your birth mom.

Today I am so happy and blessed and yet there is a sadness I can not explain. I ache for the heart of a woman I don't know. Whose story I don't truly know..I wonder if she misses you..I wonder if today she thinks about you. Today as we celebrate I will remind myself that you are the most amazing blessing that came to me through someone else's greatest sacrifice and loss. Today I celebrate the love that has been given to me.

Today I celebrate you Isaiah are two!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Tomorrow you are two! I can hardly believe what a big boy you have become!

A year ago today I was packing bags, checking off packing lists and making more lists as I anxiously awaited the day I was getting on the plane to come get you. I was keeping busy preparing and reading text messages from Cori, who was in Ethiopia with you. I ached to hold you, was so sad that you were celebrating turning one still in the care center.

This year I find myself wishing to push the pause button instead of the fast forward button. You have grown so much in a year and I know this year will be the same. My little baby, that was not walking and barely babbling is now running everywhere, helping me make dinner and telling me how much he loves chocolate!

Happy Birthday Isaiah- from a mother who loves you more and more every passing day.