Israel is 5!

Dear Israel,

You are FIVE years old and so very big. This has been a remarkable year for you, buddy. You've grown and flourished in ways that we only hoped for! Last November you started crawling, you have mastered pulling up to stand and climbing on things, and you took your first unassisted steps (up to 20 at a time) this June. You are no longer using a walker for assistance and walk holding an adult's hand at school all the time. You are getting stronger at walking up the stairs and becoming more confident walking down them too. Your physical limitations are shrinking, buddy!

You love music or "mick" as you call it. We have a CD player in your room with kids worship in it, and you want it on all the time. You're slowly picking up on the words and you will belt a "heart!", "Keys!" (keys = king), etc. You love your guitar and when daddy plays his guitar for you. Over the past year you have been OBSESSED with a few songs that you demand to hear/watch on repeat. Those have included God's Great Dance Floor, Mumford and Son's "Babel", "Uptown Funk", Taylor Alexander's "Lifter of my Shame," "Winter Sound" by this one band I can't remember. You would be obsessed with these songs to where we had them all memorized and daydreamed about you liking another song.

Speaking of music, you like the "Mother Goose Club" on Netflix and will sing along to the nursery rhymes. Again, you belt out the words you know which is so cute!! Your favorite songs are still Itsy Bitsy Spider and now "Where is Pointer?" which you proudly show off your hand and make it disappear.

This last year we've had some highs and lows with your sleeping. Last fall was the absolute worst your sleeping has ever been. You had major night terrors/ screaming fits for HOURS in the middle of the night. We finally did a sleep study and you gained three new diagnoses: sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and psychophysiological insomnia. Phew. That whole process at least validated our concerns that something wasn't right and we figured out a new night-time medicine that worked for you in general. You still have seasonal (fall) sleeping issues and the last couple of nights you've been up in the middle of the night needing comfort. I think that is more adoption-trauma- related and at least we know it is seasonal.

You don't take naps at school so you are very tired at night. You're ready for bed by 7 pm! On the weekends sometimes you take short naps, and there was a few weeks this summer when we would snuggle three-deep on "mama's bed" and take an hour long nap that refreshed all of  us. You and Edith loved jumping on the bed before we finally would say "lay down!!' and stifle giggles until everybody fell asleep. Those were the sweetest moments for me and I loved looking over at my two babies snuggled up next to each other resting.

We can tell a huge difference in your behavior when you're rested, as you are less agitated and more calm. Sometimes going on outings with you is completely unpredictable, and if you're rested then it makes everything better.


You are still the friendliest kid ever. You say "hi" to people as we walk down the street and you love to give hugs. You are a social kid and love "friends." If our doorbell buzzes, you shout "Friends!" or "Dada!" if it's time for him to come home from work. You're always very disappointed if it was just the mailman!

You LOVE to Facetime family and friends. You'll bring me the phone and ask for specific people. If someone has a dog or at any point had a dog at their house, you will ask about it again and again.


You thrived at school last year in pre-K and you're already owning your new kindergarten. Last year I would receive text updates from your therapists about how awesome you were doing and this year in your notebook your teacher said that the entire school has fallen in love with you. When I've come to visit your new school, everyone knows you and you light up at the attention. This kindergarten year you're getting 4 PT, 4 OT, and 4 ST sessions per week. You also have a one-on-one para to help you throughout the school day. You are in a small special-ed school and there are probably more adults than teachers in your classroom! The first day of school you were the only kid in your class, and when I came to the school to do some registration paperwork, you were surrounded by 5 adults and I knew it was probably the best day of your life. You love adult attention!


You LOVE the bus!


You and Edith are still best buddies. You know how to pick on each other in the most specific ways (true siblings!!). One way for you to really make her mad is if you say "It's mine!" and it doesn't have to be about anything in particular- it just makes her SO mad. If she asks if you want to do something, you generally reply with "okay!" and you follow her. If she's in a room, you're probably in there with her. You guys know how to make big messes together. She loves to give you affection with hugs and kisses, and you love receiving it. It makes me so happy to have the sweet moments of you guys loving each other, that in general it drowns out the moments where you guys just pester each other. In the stroller if you're bugging each other, either I or Edith will pull down the shade to separate you two.


I think parenting you has gotten easier and more challenging. You are heavier now and thus harder to carry, which means we need you to be more independent. You're still strong-willed though and there are days where you will "limp noodle" and not help us out at all when we are trying to get you to walk.

Through the help of medical professionals over the years, at least we can identify what some of your challenges are, which has helped us feel supported and given us information on how to help you. I think we're at the best place possible for you to have the support team you need regarding therapies and school.

All in all, Israel, it is a joy and honor to be your parent. You love more deeply and forgive quicker than anyone I know. You bring us to our knees in prayer and remind us that we can't do this parenting gig alone! You have the biggest team of cheerleaders around the world. We post a picture or prayer request about you and there are people everywhere who are rooting for you to succeed.

There are many days that the weight of your adoption is heavy on my heart. How different your life would be if you were in Ethiopia. I don't take for granted the honor it is to raise you, buddy. You are the biggest example of grace to me. When I  doubt my ability to parent you, I recall God's faithfulness and specific ways that he moved to make YOU my son. It's truly amazing and we know that God is working in all of these things - our challenges, limitations, and perseverance - to make us more like Him and give Him glory.

We love you little man and can't wait to see your story continue to unfold.

Love, Mama