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Reincarnation of the Dykstra Family Blog
Chad Dykstra - 2014-06-03

Comrades is Coming!
Chad Dykstra - 2013-04-29

Melkam Gena!
Chad Dykstra - 2013-01-07

Why I Run
Chad Dykstra - 2012-10-03

It's All About the Injera
Chad Dykstra - 2012-03-09

Expectations and Reality
Chad Dykstra - 2012-02-15

I Remember
Chad Dykstra - 2011-10-25

A Summer of Firsts
Chad Dykstra - 2011-09-13

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Merry Christmas?

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-26
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'Tis the season for presents and happy children...or maybe screaming ones.  Christmas was actually very difficult for our family - definitely not the "perfect Christmas" that many people imagine.  Yesterday was one of the hardest, if not the hardest, day we have had so far.

I should start by saying that in general, we try not to overdo gifts at Christmas.  We try to keep the holidays low-key and low-stress.  To be completely honest, I didn't get Lora a single present this year.  Now don't think I'm some sort of monster - she didn't get me anything either!  Well, OK...I did let her buy some used silverware last week on eBay, if you count that.  Gift giving just isn't something that either of us put a lot of value in.  We already have so much "stuff" and we'd rather use that money for something more fulfilling than filling our house with more stuff we really don't need. 

We tried to keep it even smaller this year knowing that it may be difficult for the boys to grasp such a concept as the American celebration of Christmas.  Even with trying to keep it to just a very few gifts, we've had a very difficult time with the boys and presents.  The first present they opened was a "ma-kee-nah" - or a car for those who don't speak Amharic.  From then on, they expected two things.  One, that every present they saw was a ma-kee-nah.  Two, that every one of them was most definitely theirs, even if we insisted otherwise.  While most households on Christmas morning are probably filled with sounds of laughter, happiness, and screams of delight, ours was filled with children ripping presents out of hands and throwing themselves down on the floor in a tantrum.  Most of the day was filled with kicking, fighting, screaming, toy throwing, and more tantrums.  Merry Christmas!  We do have the entire episode on video.  I thought about posting it to give everyone a good laugh at our misfortune, but we decided it wouldn't be fair to the boys.  We decided instead to bust it out at their high school graduations.  :)

Lora and I were talking last night after the kids finally went to bed (read: after I dragged them to their bedroom screaming then laid with them until they fell asleep).  The thought crossed both of our minds at times yesterday that we wished the boys were not home for Christmas.  This doesn't mean that we aren't glad they are home...because for sure, we are.  We feel for the families who are still waiting and know how hard it would be if they were not yet home.  What it means that we wish Christmas had been a month ago.  That our lavish American celebration of excess would have already been behind us, and that we could go for months and months without any gift giving holidays.  That we would have a few birthdays in there where a few presents are given to an individual child so they could get the ropes of how things work, and after the language barrier is far behind us.  That we didn't have to submit these children to such a thing so close to their arrival at home.  When it was all said and done, Lora and I just crashed on the couch in a collective sigh.  We turned on the TV and watched Transformers.  What better movie to watch; after all, when all you want to do is forget about Christmas?

We're hanging in there, though, and today has been more normal (save for it starting at 5:30 due to a bedwetting "incident").  Note the emphasis on normal, which is to say that normal is a relative term at this point in our lives.  I took Abi to church this morning, so I was able to get out of the house.  After lunch, I took all the kids to the park to give Lora a little time off.  We had fun playing and swinging, and all of us ran a lap around the track to burn some energy, stopping for a few photo-ops along the way.  Stay tuned for those pictures to be posted.  :)

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A Blessed Christmas

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-24
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As we are quickly approach Christmas, we remember how blessed we are and all that we have to be thankful for!

Indeed, we do have so much to be thankful for this year.  We’re thankful for our wonderful friends and family who have stood by us and supported us over the last few months, and for those who have brought meals over and made many mealtimes much easier as we’re working towards our new normal.  We’re thankful for Abi and Ben and what a blessing they are, and how big they’re getting.  We’re thankful that Zinabu and Abatu are finally here with us, and that they’re acclimating so well to life in our home. 

It’s easy in all the hustle to forget those who have a part of them missing during the holiday season.  We also remember to pray for our friends we initially traveled with who do not yet have their children home – those whose “whole” is still thousands of miles away and without a family.  We remember those whose “whole” has passed away, in many cases far too soon.  And we remember those whose “whole” is now living in America with us, even though they themselves are still struggling just to survive in Ethiopia.

We’re especially thankful for Jesus as we celebrate His birth.  That is the true meaning of this season, after all – and the true “whole”.  To quote what may quite possibly be my favorite Christmas song, “The Miracle of Christmas” by Steven Curtis Chapman…

The God who spoke is speaking still…and the God who came still comes.  And the miracle that happened still happens in the heart that will believe - and receive - the miracle of Christmas.

We are thankful that God still speaks, still comes, and has shown Himself to us so evidently over the past year.  What a Christmas miracle!

I’d like to conclude with a little Christmas poem. I hope you enjoy:

It’s Christmas at the Dykstras, as children scurry across the floor.
Many creatures are stirring – well, actually, just four!
Six stockings are hung by the fireplace here;
Which is two more than were hanging there this time last year!
Mealtime and bedtime take longer than before,
So would leaving the house, if we ever went through the door.
We have pointing and grunting because language sometimes fails,
But we’re all learning together and communication eventually prevails.
We celebrate - finally together – a family full of Christmas cheer,
And we thank God for His blessings during this most blessed year!

Merry Christmas from the Dykstra family!

Love Zinabu, Abigail, Abatu, Benjamin, and our faithful "wushaw" Bandit!

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Let the Insanity Begin!

Chad Dykstra - 2010-12-16
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Let the Insanity Begin!  I will start by saying that considering we have 4 kids between 3 and 6 speaking two different languages, things are going really well!  We are able to communicate with the boys in a reasonable manner...although there are definitely times I wish I knew exactly what they are saying.  The boys are behaving well overall.  I'm not expecting it to stay this way forever - I suspect there's some form of "honeymoon period" that we're in where the boys are still getting used to their new surroundings.  Zinabu is starting to settle down a little bit when we need to discipline him. Instead of "time-outs", they suggest with adopted children giving a "time-in" or forcing them to sit on your lap for a period of time.  Initially he would cry about it for over 45 minutes!  As of now, we are down to 15-20 minutes.  Slow and steady progress!

Abi has been a great "big" sister and is very loving and considerate towards the boys.  For example, if one of them gets hurt, she'll bring them a stuffed animal to make them feel better.  We're very proud of what a big girl she has been.  Ben still doesn't know quite what to think about all of it and definitely seems to be acting out/acting up to get attention.

We went to the doctor Tuesday for the first time.  Both boys had been running a fever over the past few days and we just wanted to get them checked out.  It turns out between the 2 boys; we have three ear infections and one case of pneumonia.  Sheesh!  Antibiotics all around.  Starting at the first of the year (when the flex money refreshes!) the boys will be on a first name basis with the doctor.  We'll start if off with blood work (or "the works"), vaccinations, stool samples (3 each), and dentist appointments.   We'll definitely be spending quite a bit of time at the doctor's office in January and beyond.

A couple things that have really surprised us with the boys are food and clothing.  The boys are very picky in what they will eat, and also what they will wear.  They will rifle through the clothes drawers, turning everything upside down before eventually insisting on wearing something that is short sleeved and/or way too big for them.  Today Abatu is wearing a short sleeved shirt and pants so big that he has to hold them up when he walks.  Zinabu is wearing a blue striped turtleneck with grey sweatpants.  We'll probably have to move all of Ben's clothes downstairs just to make sure they don't have the option of pulling them out of the drawer.  They also have a real thing for shoes, and want to wear them all day long.  We can't get them to take them off in the house.  I think we'll need to get them some slippers.

In regards to food, they really like bread and fruit and would eat it all day if they were allowed to.  Believe me - they ask to.  We had to move the fruit off the counter yesterday and into the pantry to get it out of sight out of mind.  They also like honey nut cheerios and have each had 4 (kid-sized) bowls this morning.  We finally had to cut them off.  When it comes to lunch and dinner time, however, they're incredibly picky and it's very hit or miss if they will eat anything at all.  Even American kid staples like hot dogs and mac & cheese.  They seem to enjoy more "traditional" Ethiopian treats, like popcorn with sugar and tea (also with lots of sugar).  Maybe there's a theme there.

Next week, I go back to work!  Fortunately I work from home, so if anything big goes down I'll be here to help.  It's a short week and then I have off again between Christmas and New Year's.  Here's to hoping that doubling the amount of kids in the house doesn't negatively impact my ability to work from home, and that the boys understand that even though Daddy's home, he needs to be left alone!

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