Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Final thoughts for 2013

Its the day before I take down my Christmas Tree and this usually makes me a little sad.  A few mornings I've awakened early to sit in silence and stare at the lit up tree and marvel at this past year.  The tree had wrapped gifts under it just a few days ago and Zoe was about to embark on a new Christmas experience.  She had never unwrapped a gift with her name on it before.  Last year I recall being apart of purchasing a goat for her orphanage to eat a decent meal, brought to them by my friend Melissa who lived there (and was Zoe's guardian angel until we could bring her home.)  Zoe has experienced so much in just 8 months and has taken it all in stride. Even just in the last 30 days she has been on a snowmobile, visited Santa, made snow angels and snowmen, skated - and did amazing I might add.  She has discovered that candy canes are 'too hot' and that when the 'Forbes' family get together its very loud.  She received the first gift she asked for which was a piggy bank and has been a social butterfly at many parties and gatherings. One of my most special memories has been watching her experience our church Christmas service.  There was music and dancing (which caused her to hold her hands to her ears in protest) but when the candlelight part started, things calmed down and she needed two hands to hold her very own candle.  I lost it.  I cried like a baby and couldn't take my eyes off her.  She has her beautiful red and silver American Girl dress on.  Yes, she is an American girl.  She is sitting on a friend's lap and is so comfortable.  Not sure what she is taking in.  Not sure if she understands what all this represents.  My tears are full of joy.  I sit in church and the last 8 months blur through my mind.  I picture when we first met.  I picture her waking up next to me for the first time in Ethiopia.  I picture her eating pizza and hamburgers for the first time and speaking english as she repeated after me.  She can sing her alphabet, remember people's names, can write her own name and dress herself.  She's potty trained and healthy and she's safe with us! All this flashes through my mind in church.  The very place where I felt God nudge me to get on board to sign up to adopt.  He had Zoe picked out just for us before she was born.  God has a journey planned out for you and me.  Like a marathon, it's long, sometimes difficult but mostly exhilarating.  Christmas for me in 2013 was exhilarating.  I want to leave you with a quote from a very profound book - ya, because I read profound books.

Dr. Seuss - Oh, The Places You'll Go
Oh the places you'll go,
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So....get on your way!

The Clodes have climbed a mountain in 2013.  I am excited about ringing in 2014 and I may write about a few things going on.  Zoe is my new favorite topic.  I'll leave you with some good advice she left Scott with one day before he left the house.  She kissed him goodbye and yelled out the door; 'Bye Daddy, have a good day and don't pee your pants'.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Looking Through Zoe-Colored Glasses

The other day Scott told me that every time he sees Zoe it makes him smile.  I asked him if after 21 years of marriage I do that for him ...no, I didn't say that out loud but it made me consider if I have taken having this little four year old around for granted.  It has been 7 months since we brought Zoe to her new world and the holidays have been a blast.  We have photographed all her firsts; first snowfall, first Thanksgiving, and everything about Christmas is a first!  Two weeks ago we decided to bring Zoe to meet Santa at the mall on a lonely Friday night.  No line!  We told her about Santa and him bringing her presents on Christmas morning one minute before she laid eyes on the jolly old guy.  Her eyes lit up and because both Scott and I were living in the moment we don't have a video of it - I know how terrible.  However, as per usual, Zoe was very welcoming and friendly and sat on this Santa's lap like she had known him forever.  He looked into her eyes and asked her what she wanted for Christmas.  She was speechless and I informed him that this was Zoe's first Christmas.  His expression was precious and he asked where she was from.  He talked about toys and princesses and this was a language she already knew.  We got a picture package, of course, and Santa spoke to us some more while Zoe explored the make-shift North Pole.  There was no 'I wants' and she was given a stuffed penquin and skipped down the ramp.  I'm not sure what was going through her mind. Then the other day, while driving in the car, I broke my rule and turned on Christmas music a few days before December 1st.  Jingle Bell Rock came on and I looked over my shoulder and said, 'Zoe, this is the first time you have heard Jingle Bell Rock!' Then Elvis' Blue Christmas came on and I said, 'Zoe, this is the first time you are listening to Blue Christmas!'  Do you get that excited about Christmas anymore? We drive through the neighborhood and she sees houses lit up and cheers.  She was so fun to have around while we got out her first ornament to put on the tree and listen to my Hallmark musical animals over and over.  I got emotional when I took out her stocking with her name on it that I purchased two Christmas' ago.  We thought she was coming so much sooner.  I don't want to miss any new wonder with Zoe this year.  She can't wait to make a snowman and go sledding and skating.  I also don't want to shower her with so much that we forget to remember why we celebrate Christmas.  Jesus entered this world in a very lowly state.  In a humble stable yet the Son of God.  I sing Away in A Manger every night to Zoe now.  She is accepting to talk about Jesus.  She is learning about him at preschool and church and I hope she continues to wonder about Him.  I challenge you to see Christmas through Zoe-colored glasses.  What wonder does God want to show you this season and into the year 2014?  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Putting Life into Perspective

Life is a funny thing.  When we're down we look for ways to be charged up to carry on another day. If I'm honest I turn to chocolate first! Then I have a devotion that I try to read to lift my spirits, lift my eyes to God who I know has the power to change my perspective and get a better attitude.  I signed up for my third marathon back in February and then we found out we were Ethiopian bound in April. We were finally going to meet our daughter and then after a three week stay I was bringing our four year old home to stay. There goes my freedom to run.   I started acting like I just gave birth.  I was overeating, not sleeping a ton and I didn't feel like doing my training runs at all!  Like any mother of young children, you come to a point where you realize you can't do it all and alter your life.  This was especially difficult for me since I had teenagers and didn't have children home in the day for years. I liked my routine of volunteering and helping in the schools and church and hanging with friends.  I liked my quiet time and freedom to do what I wanted. Now it took all my energy to take care of my daughter's basic needs and get to know her likes and dislikes and teach her english and continue my daily duties I used to do around the house.  I've written before about the emotional roller coaster I've been on and don't want to bore you with the tears and frustration dealing with our family changes.  Then my perspective changed the day when our adoption agency had a gift for us.  A gift we paid for and knew was coming but didn't realize how it would change our lives.  Yes, I knew this little girl would change our lives but this gift was a CD of my child's birth mother talking in her language about her life, about the day Zoe was born and about how she wants Zoe to know how much she loves her.  Her poverty and hard life hits me!  Tears stream down my face and I think about the lyrics of a One Republic song, Stop and Stare;
You start to wonder why you're here not there
And you'd give anything to get what's fair
I never want to complain about potty training or dealing with a toddler who doesn't understand the word no because having ice cream for breakfast isn't good for her.  I don't want to ever complain about how frustrating these new car seats are and how much longer it takes me to go grocery shopping with a toddler.  I mentioned I signed up for the Detroit marathon and now I've succumbed to running a half marathon.  I'm good with this.  I run with Hope Water Project and this comes with a huge responsibility to educate my friends and family about the issue of the lack of clean water for thousands of people.  It really changes your life perspective when you take the time to view a short video of people who live in terrible conditions every day.  My daughter just woke up after being put to bed 15 minutes ago.  She says I forgot to brush her teeth.  'Silly mommy put Zoe to bed without brushing teeth', Zoe says.  We go to the tap and brush her teeth with her Dora tooth brush and fresh clean water.  Five short months ago she did not do that! My life perspective has changed!  Will you allow yours to be changed too?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Too much stuff going on

If you have been in the habit of keeping a journal or writing a blog you may find yourself writing ideas or capturing events or thoughts in your head and find you never get them recorded.  I have done this over and over in the past 3 months.  I had been anticipating the biggest change of my life for three years and even though I know God's timing is perfect I wasn't prepared for the biggest emotional state I find myself in more and more.  I know God hears me when I cry out to Him and of late its the silent cry.  The 'I don't know what I'm doing' cry and then I plod forward through every day.  You see I'm a bit of a planner.  People don't know that Bev anymore.  Sometimes I feel like I'm watching a movie with 'future me' blundering through life and I want to stop and help me out.  I wasn't sure what I was doing for Jacob's grad party or what the date was for sure since we didn't know when we would fly off to Ethiopia.  When we got called to fly off to meet our daughter I ended up staying to bring her home quicker but left a mess of what we called our spare room and nothing was ready to bring her home.  My amazing friends and kids and Scott jumped to the task and got it ready for arrival.  Not the way I had planned. See, the planner in me hates that.  Is there a support group for us planners? Hi I'm Bev Clode and I plan my kids Halloween costumes a year in advance.  I also shop for their birthday theme a year ahead.  I can host dinner for 50 guests last minute and have my house clean at the same time. 
Wow, that is not me now. Since Nick Jr. is playing most times in our house at this early hour a little show is chanting 'don't think about what you can't do but think about what you CAN do.'  Seriously, that should be my new life motto.  I have had the most get-togethers in my home since April.  Friends greeted us with a mini party when we brought Zoe home.  Then we had Jacob's actual graduation and I had family visit.   Then his grad party quickly approached and the decorations came together in the final 24 hrs.  I had 27 family members over for the weekend for our annual Canada Day celebration on American soil and then sent Blaire off to Haiti for a week. I am supposed to be training for a marathon and have to deal with maybe just running a half and maybe not have it be my best time. (I think I need a support group for this too)  We wanted our whole family to fly to Scotland for my cousins wedding but that idea changed and just I was going to go.  I wasn't worried, but another big event just the same. Two days ago I landed in Toronto from my amazing 6 days in Scotland, drove home right away and got home at 1 am.  Really 6 am Scotland time so I was a little exhausted.  But I was hosting Zoe's 4th birthday and had to make her a cake from scratch.  I got that made with people helping to decorate the cake and decorate the house and wrap my daughter's gifts and last minute table set up.  When someone texts to say 'can I bring anything' or 'let me know what I can do even last minute' I usually think it's super nice but never take the person up on the offer.  Well, I had to and it nearly broke me.  I stood in my house watching my friends take over my kitchen because I wasn't ready and I cried.  Cried uncontrollably.  I cried because I felt like I failed.  I cried because I was exhausted.   I cried because I was overwhelmed by the event of celebrating Zoe turning 4 in her new home and I cried because the last four months have been incredibly busy.  I am overloaded with events I want to share on Instagram and Facebook and I realize your news feed is filled of images of Zoe almost daily.  Her first plane ride, Her first swim, first time meeting everyone we know, getting her ears pierced, her first trip to Canada, her first beach experience, her first visit to the dentist (I'll post those soon).  I'm crying just reminiscing.  Zoe has been amazing. She hasn't experienced any emotional adjustment. She sleeps in her own bed, goes with the flow when we go out a lot and even has grown to like the jogger stroller.   So getting back to me, I have one more big event to happen.  My first born, my only son, is leaving us for college and that might be the biggest event that I haven't really dealt with yet.  I think now I can accept it and I can process it and will have to suck it up and not lose it on campus as we move him in.  Oh look, Zoe just got her dublo on the bed next to me and my laptop and built a tower all by herself!  I have to get my camera.  Will post later.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Its a Mom thing

I guess this wouldn't be a true blog if I didn't share about the rough days of motherhood.  I mean if you read this and consider adoption you have to hear about the good and bad.  Also, I love bragging about my daughter and every child gives a mother grief at some point in their life.  Yesterday, was one of those days.  When you read about bringing home an adopted child its suggested that you should make life simple for at least two months so they adapt to mom and dad and the core family.  Well, add in my sister who lives with us, my son's serious girlfriend, and friends that are like family, and you will see Zoe has a lot of people in her life to get used to.  God's timing is perfect and she was given to us at a crazy time in the Clode household; birthday month!  Every two days in June we are celebrating someone including Father's Day and 2013 is graduation central!  Let's just say the Clodes are partying a little more than usual.  I think back on the last 7 weeks and recall when Zoe used to fuss about having to wear a dress, now she wants to be in one all day long.  In the orphanage they said she loved shoes and for what I saw there was one pair of crocs she had to fight for daily.  Well, crocs won't be found in the Clode household but Nike was one of Zoe's first American words. She has about 8 or 9 pairs to choose from.  Have I created a three year old Diva?  We kind of had a meltdown over what pair to wear yesterday (and when I say we I mean the three year old.)  She screams like no other and at this moment she felt the need to hit me.  I could feel the pressure to discipline and I have to be 'creative'.  My usual is to be separated from this little one so she realizes I'm not giving in nor do I appreciate her screams!  I bring her to her room, plunk her on her bed (I'm allowed to plunk, right?) a run to my room.  This particular day we had guests and I'm embarrassed.  Now, my kids have been fabulous with this little intruder to their life.  They love her to death and help out a lot!  Blaire runs to calm her down and the next minute I see her happily getting the attention from teenage girls.  What more does a three year old need? The issue still stares me in the face.  She needs shoes on to go out in the car to drive said teens home.  I get her shoes on, she screams again and I try and put a wiggly toddler in the car seat (I hope the neighbors understand) and by the time I drive down the driveway, I'm crying uncontrollably and she's singing her rendition of the alphabet 'ADCD's'.  I can't stop crying.  I feel like a failure.  She doesn't like me.  I feel like she's going to cry about getting her hair washed and going to bed and for eating all her food in her bowl before getting a cookie FOREVER!  I've let many people put Zoe to bed so I can get a break in the evening but after two weeks of that she doesn't want me to put her to bed anymore.  A mother can't live with that kind of rejection!  Last night I cancelled belated birthday plans (ME celebrations can wait) and got into Zoe's bedtime routine.  She truly is adorable, loving books and singing my bedtime songs and if it takes me a while to sing her to sleep, so be it.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says 'For everything there is a season'; verse 4 -' a time to weep, a time to laugh'; verse 11 - 'He has made everything beautiful in it's time.  Also, He has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.' Maybe this is taken out of context but I know this stage will pass. 
And so I come to the end of my thoughts and Zoe peeks at me from my bed (seriously, she just woke up) and I smile.  I get to share another day with my beautiful daughter and feel so blessed. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I am freed!

When you are robbed of your personal possessions it leaves you with a feeling of being violated.  Expecting to have a fun day exploring the city with family and friends and coming back to the car to find broken glass next to your car.  Its not just in Detroit.  This happened 16 years ago in the 'safe' city of Burlington, Ontario.  The stolen item? The baby bag!  The first time my wallet was sitting right on top of the bag and if they see it, they will come.  Well, I did leave a bright red baby bag on the car seat in Detroit but after hearing about other break ins that same day it makes me wonder could it have happened anyway? To the person who had fun breaking into cars on Saturday, May 25;
It was mine and you decided you wanted it.  I earned it and someone taught you to believe that has no value to you.  You get by in life by taking from others' hard earned money.  You decided that you would break my car window and take what you thought was a purse but in fact it was my daughters baby bag. I wish all you found was my daughters favorite book, a hand-me-down outfit, some diapers and wipes but my Canon camera was buried in the bottom of that mess.  I just used it days before to capture my son's senior honors night that doesn't have any value to you whatsoever!  Luckily, I downloaded my pictures from Ethiopia but feel free to look at them and see poverty worse than your own and maybe it would lead you to grow a conscience.  Clearly no one cared to pay attention to you breaking our car window so you took the time to look around and found my purse 'hidden' on the floor of the car. A leather purse that I purchased in Ethiopia,( so, sentimental to me), sunglasses that my kids gave me for my birthday last year and a few family photos throughout my wallet.  No cash but just one credit card that you so eagerly ran off with and used at the nearest gas station.  It took about two days to give up my worldly possessions and not be upset with you.  Until yesterday when I discovered another item you stole from me.  An expensive little item tucked away in the change purse of my wallet.  Are you an amateur or did you check every crevice of my bag?  Did you find the 1/2 caret diamond earring I placed there the day I got a double piercing? No tears anymore.  Maybe a little anger but then I had to laugh.  See, some of these things can be replaced and the others aren't that important.  Not when I think of having my family and friends and the love of God in my life.  My relationship with God keeps me sane in times like these.  I believe in doing what's right.  I believe in eternal life.  I believe in the Bible and immediately the verse in Matthew 6:19-20 came to mind; 'Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where theives can break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.'  And then in verse 21 it says, 'For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'  Praying you see this to be true one day and repent and God will forgive.
 And so I breathe a sigh of relief singing It is Well With My Soul in church last night.  I am free indeed!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

There's no place like home

It has been three weeks today since I arrived to Detroit with my Ethiopian daughter.  We traveled for over 22 hours and other than a normal three year old episode of not wanting to sit in her seat for landing, she was fantastic.  I'm not sure I allowed myself to be truly happy I was coming home until I actually laid eyes on my family at the airport.  There was the time that Scott and I decided I would stay in Ethiopia in hopes that we could bring Zoe home sooner. That was an emotional moment.  Or the time that we left the orphanage with Zoe in hand.  I loved receiving the news that we could speed up our paperwork at the U.S. Embassy when we informed them that my fingerprints were to expire on April 30.  The time I got back to my friend, Melissa's, house with Zoe's passport and visa in hand was definitely up there.  Sitting on a plane next to a pastor who thanked me for 'saving' one of their own and praying over her while she slept was beautiful.  Arriving on U.S. soil in Washington D.C. and seeing a Starbucks was also beautiful.  But, I think I let out a huge, long awaited, sigh of relief when I laid eyes on my family at the airport. I felt like I was crossing the finish line of a very long marathon.   I handed Zoe to her big brother and fell into Scott's arms and cried!  Home at last!  My nephew asked me today what Zoe was like on that first day.  The whole day was a result of answered prayers.  Smooth transition for my baby girl.  She took the drive home from the airport like a pro with everyone staring at her.  We arrived to about 7 families waiting for us to drive up the balloon lined driveway and she wasn't fazed.  She sat around our dinner table like it was a common occurrence and she slept in her twin bed in her beautifully decorated bedroom all night.  This girl is 'free', which is what her nanny in Ethiopia said.  She laughs, and plays, and makes pretend food and sings the alphabet and waves to everyone she meets.  I cry just every so often when I get to rock her to sleep and sing Jesus Loves Me.  My baby girl is home.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Got energy - part 2

Having a coffee ceremony with popcorn is tradition here. They had special bread/cake prepared for us and Scott, Blaire and I sat on the couch as guests of honor. The brought Zoe down in a traditional white dress and she sat between Blaire and I. The older kids sang songs for us and we all took part in the food. Zoe was as good as gold. Loves the attention that one. I tried not to cry on so many levels. The nannies looked genuinely sad to say goodbye since Zoe has been there almost two years. Also, I was grateful for their care even though I felt like I couldn't get her out of there quick enough. I was sad for the other kids ( especially the ones 6 and older ). What are they thinking? They will miss Zoe but they wait to be adopted and the older ones tend to wait longer. I want to back up two years and sign up for two kids again. Now getting upset that we got persuaded from that effort. Now back to listening to the nannies pray for us as they circle around us and thinking, does Zoe even know what's going on? At some point I think she might want to go back to what she knows as home but watching her today I think she will be well adjusted. A photographer and videographer came to capture the moment and as we say our final goodbyes I walk out the front door with Zoe in my arms. Ducking the hanging clothes in the line I slip through the big, metal from gate. Zoe begins to cry and we think its because of the camera man sticking his camera through the front door of the van. Maybe because she hasn't been through those front gates before and confused as to where she is going. When has she even been in a car. I vote for all of the above and comfort my daughter on my lap. She turns to Scott and grips his hand and shirt. She cries for one minute and then the bumpy ride becomes all too intriguing. The world that flashes by her as we drive is overwhelming I'm sure. Oh Zoe, just wait to see what's waiting for you .....

Got energy?

Hey everyone.  Life in Ethiopia with a toddler can be draining. It doesn't help that I have had a cold for the last 6 days. Luckily Zoe is getting over hers. We have gone through a lot of wipes for our noses and I haven't slept much. Running around, talking a lot and changing lots of diapers is a new routine for me. There's too much to write about from day 1 but it was pretty incredible to hear the judge tell us that Zoe was ours. I think I said thank you and jumped up and rushed out of the room just in case they decided to change their minds.  We made a beeline for the orphanage where they prepared a farewell ceremony. I will continue in a second post.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Our first court date

So excited to be writing this blog from the airport. We flew into D.C. last night. Waiting to board Ethiopian Air. We were very surprised to get our first court date so early. A nice bonus after waiting 16 months since our first court date was postponed. Knowing God's got this has really made these months fly by. I wrote about how we had a busy season with Jacob and Blaire in school sports. Even this past week was busy while volunteering at a daycamp with Blaire and others from our church. Again, surrounding myself with kids. They were a joy. Jacob returned safely from his spring break trip and after shifting gears to pack for Africa we are here!
I will have to write short entries. Got to go!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Proud moments

Hello to my blog world.  I don't know if anyone reads these but like a fellow blogger friend shared with me once, 'it's really an outlet on my feelings'.  She even said she wished she could write a blog that no one would read.  Although I get it, we laughed and said I guess that would be old-fashioned journal writing.  I do keep a journal; many in fact.  Just certain moments require a different outlet.  Since I haven't published anything in 2013 I thought I could jot down a few moments to sum up the last two months.
I've become somewhat of a homebody lately.  Since I am a 'homemaker' I do laundry every day and make my family dinner and run errands.  Rejecting gym invitations and having to be somewhere is unlike me.  But I do feel like my world will be turned upside down and I will have to create a 'new normal'.  Sometimes I still can't believe I'm adopting!  I hate the phrase 'i'm in my adoption process'.  And what a long one it has been.  I continually catch myself saying something negative and then realize I'm insulting God's perfect timing.  I read the other day and made my facebook status 'a grateful heart protects you from negative thinking'.  That's for sure! I love hearing about someone's adoption story.  They are all uniquely beautiful.  Who am I to tell God how to script mine? Like I'm a better writer? Each time I share my story with someone for the first time and I get to the part where I have a friend in Ethiopia whom I met at Capernwray Bible School in Texas 24 years ago, and she lives 5 minutes away from my daughter's orphanage and she visits and gives me 'extra' updates and pictures, I love the person's reaction.  I get goosebumps.  What a blessing!
I have been feeling many new feelings lately.  Watching my biological children grow and exceed their goals and becoming wonderful, mature adults.  Jacob, my oldest, got accepted to the University of Michigan (U of M) and made me cry when I read one of his application essays 'one reason why I want to go to U of M is that it is close enough to home to visit my family as I will have an adopted sister to get to know'.  Cry! Then he swims his last swim meet last week earning four medals by reaching his best swim times in his four year career.  Cry! My daughter,Blaire  is talking about helping others and sticking up for her faith and morals in many situations. Cry! To top it all off, today I receive a video from my baby's orphanage, and witness her softly talking to the caregiver and gently feeding a stuffed dog and taking care of a stuffed Mickey.  I thought I was getting just a short update on her weight, height, etc. and when I hit print my printer kept spitting out full page pictures of my 3 1/2 year old standing on one foot, pointing to her eyes and ears when instructed, smiling and looking all too cute and healthy. Cry! Wow, I think I'm going to stay inside, on this cold, snowy morning a little while longer, relishing in God's goodness.
Oh, before I forget, I want to let you all know that my baby's birth mother will go to court March 8 to relinquish her rights a final time.  Pray for her.  Then we should get a court date to go visit maybe 6 weeks later! Cry!
I Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.