I can't even. (But, I have to.) 
This means I have had 8 years to be his Mom. Gah. Eight?!!!!
He is still the sweetest, but, oh my...his sassy side is definitely screaming showing these days.
He still loves sports, movies, salads, and spicy foods.
His favorite subject in school is history and he likes reading historical fiction.
He LOVES Red, the family dog.
He is my best helper.
He would rather play basketball than almost anything.
He still asks the most random questions.
His best friend is Ezra. (They are currently together on his special birthday Daddy breakfast because Eli insisted on inviting him.)
The reading "click" happened last year...but this year he has found his writing "click" and I LOVE how he is learning to express himself through his words.
He had grown 3 inches in 6 months and his feet are bigger than mine now!
He still makes the craziest faces.
You will never meet a more easy going boy.
Or a more loved one...

He loves this scar running down his face, which he got from a cousin + thorn bush incident.
 He says it makes him look tough. 

Eli Cade,

Goodness, you are so crazy ridiculously awesome! We love your laid-back go with the flow attitude and your enjoyment of simple things. I have learned so much from you. I say it every year, but every year I mean it more: You are my hero. You work so hard. You don't need to be in the spotlight, but quietly shine at whatever you do. Your Daddy and I are so proud of you...and so grateful to be your parents. Your life is such a testimony to the faithfulness of our God.

Happy happy birthday, sweet boy of  mine.

I love you.

**I'm feeling quite sentimental on this night before Eli's birthday...and I came across this post from 5 years ago. I can't even begin to express the emotions I have reading this. It is nothing short of a miracle when I consider how far we've come, how faithful the Lord is, how I JUST found him curled up in his bed finishing "The Giver", how worth it he is, and how thankful I am to be his Mom. **

I recently read a post from a fellow adoptive blogger friend that got me thinking about something that is constantly nagging in the shadows and cobwebs of my mind. It's about Eli and adoption and feeling that while we have come so so so far, miraculously far...we still have so so so far to go.

I'm feeling vulnerable writing this, as I don't want to betray my sweet son, and one day have him read this and stir up any unhealthy emotions. But then I realize what sweet promise there is in the idea I have of him discovering this one day...

He will have to be able to read this in order to read this.

Duh, I know.

But knowing his start in life and the academic hurdles we are crossing and going to be crossing in the years to come will someday (please God!) lead to him be able to read this himself will be nothing short of a miracle. A moment I will fall apart in and go to the ugly cry. Don't get me wrong about Eli...he is smart. Oh. So. Smart. But he missed every single building block one needs to build the foundation upon which one learns to read in his first three years of his life. No one read to him, sang to him, did puzzles or patterns or even played with him. Those gaps aren't made up easily and without effort. Momentous effort, I am learning...on his and my part. It sometimes feels as though we are inching through quick sand, uphill, barefoot, and dehydrated.

He will have to care about himself and his history and his adoption and me in order to want to read this one day.

And so, I attempt to move on and put to words the feeling that I'm just not able to shake about Eli and me...

I still feel as though I don't know him. 
Like really really deep down know him.
Like I want to know him.

I can look at Ella, Ezra, and Zoe and know them.
I know why they react like they do.
I know their whole persons, ins and outs and in betweens.
I know.
I just do.

I know more of Eli than I used to.
A lot more.
I even told Jeremiah that I really felt like I "got" Eli this Christmas when I bought him his presents...a ninja costume, a microphone, and a spiderman web-shooter. He really really loved(s) everyone of them. It was one of my favorite parts of the holiday...knowing I had finally got him a gift that was...him.

I know that he likes mexican food and superhero movies and playing with nerf guns. I know he is scared of the dark and doesn't like his hair combed. I know he has a fascination with elephants and won't hold an insect to save his life. I know he loves water and never ever complains about being cold or hot.

We've come a long, long way.

But there are still deep closed off places in him, places that he retreats to when confronted with any sort of reprimand or fear.

There are still reactions that I do not understand.

There are still check out moments that cause my heart to clench.

There are still gaps that I am unsure how to best close.

There is still so much I want to know about him. So much I long to know about him.

My friend said it best when she said it was like communicating underwater: both parties can see each other but there is a vagueness and inability to clearly understand each other.

I don't have a magic wand that I can wave.
Time does/is help/ing, but it isn't a cure-all.

Love is here.
The feeling and the choosing kind.

Hope is here.
Not the pie-in-the-sky kind, but a confident and expectant kind.

But reality is here as well.
The reality that it is going to take a lot...
a lot of time,
a lot of effort,
a team of support,
a God of miracles,
and a very very (very) patient Momma.

I just know that knowing him and hearing him above the water is going to be so worth it.

Our first day of getting to know each other. Ethiopia, 2009.

It's always a wild ride with this one. Photo credit: Ezra James

With Ella still gone, we recruited some neighborhood friends for some snow fortress building.
Who am I kidding, we ALWAYS have a yard full of kids!

"Mom, this is my Mona Lisa smile!"
Nailed it, buddy.

This month is brought to you by the letter F.

F is for football.
Superbowl Sunday night and this little one couldn't quite hang till the end, ha! Fast asleep under that book.

F is for flu.
All six of us came down with the actual flu within a 24 hour period of each other.
It was fun times around this house (sarcasm font) for almost a full 2 weeks. Bleh. 

F is for farewell.
We said farewell to our beloved Nena, right by her bedside, singing her straight to Jesus.
 It was such a holy moment.
I'm forever grateful for this woman, who loved me like a granddaughter.
 I long for the day when we can reunite in Heaven.

F is for a fabulous love day.
Yeah, that's a stretch for the F theme. But let's just go with it, k.

When daddy is put in charge of love day decorations, this is what you get, ha!

Lego heart challenge winner. 

F is for Finding.
These two always know how to find the perfect sunny spot on a cold February day.

F is for freestyling.
His preferred lego style.
Ain't no instruction booklet gonna hold him back.

F is for family basketball games.
This stage is so stinkin' fun.

Finally... (see what I did there)
F is for flying.  
Our Ella is in Haiti right now thru the end of March. 
Without us. (But with Gramma and PawPaw)
And she is so ready for this. The first of many steps toward independence. 

I'm not sure why, because I normally love this month, but January felt like it had 74 days in it...anyone else?

But, we made it through...and, February is here!

Some January highlights:

I read a lot last month. Like a lot, a lot...for me. There's something to be said for long dark nights. I made a goal to finish any unfinished books in my kindle, and made quite a dent. Also, our library has a staff recommends section and I made it through several of their picks. That was fun, as it stretched me to read beyond my norm.

Some of my favorites:

Image result for how to have that difficult conversationImage result for the uncommon reader alan bennett Image result for the last runaway tracy chevalier Image result for glenn stanton loving my lgbt neighbor

I had a trip planned to Haiti in January, but Jeremiah ended up having to go without me as our whole crew, including myself got a case of the crud. I kept my pity party to a minimum and managed to redeem the week. And, full disclosure...I think the Lord knew I needed to miss my hubby. 

January is a big school month for us. We pack a lot into these long grey days.

In between piano breaks for this 10 year old dude...

We loved "The Greatest Showman" movie and Ezra insisted on learning the music to it!

I'm a little late to the bandwagon (story of my life) but I am now fully in love with online grocery shopping. Kroger's clicklist service has been a life time saver!

Reading is really "clicking" for this one...I LOVE watching this stage unfold!

Halfway thru basketball season! 

We enjoyed time with our Via cousins home on furlough from Uganda. We are sad to see them head back home...

** A re-post that I will always be re-posting. I first wrote this in 2010, just days after the earthquake that devastated Haiti. I mourned for an entire nation and for a sweet little boy we had just befriended. This week, 8 years later, I still mourn for a nation that has become more than a "project" ...it's my second home, filled with family and friends and memories. Certainly not a $%!&hole to me. However, I don't mourn as one without hope...seeing how the Holy Spirit is moving and working within the people of this nation has filled me with hope and expectation for what Jesus can do in this broken yet beautiful country.

And because I'm a momma who lost a little one and I know the powerful healing it brings me to remember her life, I forever want to remember the life of the lost ninja warrior that made such an impact on me.**


I want to write about Peterson.

Because I know it is easy to look at all the news stories and pictures and just be overwhelmed by the tragedy and all the people in Haiti affected by the earthquake.

Yet most of the people remain nameless to the vast majority of us.

Peterson's life was not just a number...

When we first arrived in Haiti and made our way to Sherrie's house one of the first kids to greet us was a skinny boy in the gangly stage that all school aged boys hit.

He was missing his front teeth and had the most sparkling eyes.

And mischievous smile.

Jeremiah quickly realized that he had an instant companion in this boy.

Peterson stuck by our side the whole time we were there and wasn't afraid to lend a helping hand during our construction project.

Ok, maybe not helping so much, but he sure added to the fun!

After about half a day he warmed up enough to show us his ninja look...

You know, the kind of look that just sends chills down your spine because you know he is about to unleash all fifty pounds of his ninja fury onto you =)

Then he got his buddies got into the ninja act too. Now we were really worried...

He had friends.

He had a mom.

He had siblings.

He will be missed.

Luke 12:6

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.