Lux et umbra vicissum…

light and shadow by turn…

Lux et umbra vicissum… header image 1

Fouse Child vignettes

December 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

The 3 AM results of having a wakeful, imaginative, dramatic five year old –

Branwen: daddy…. Daddy…. DADDY!!!

Me: (hobbling groggily into her room) Daddy is sick.  What do you need?

Branwen: (with no fear in her voice but plenty of drama) I saw a CIRCLE OF DARKNESS!!!!  And I’m SCARED!!!

Me: (still groggily) There’s nothing to be scared of.  Go back to sleep.

(I leave the room, get back to bed, and after a bit of a struggle begin to fall back asleep…)

Branwen: mommy… Mommy… MOMMY!!!!

Me: (still groggy) What is it, Branwen?

Branwen: (once again, with drama) Something TICKLED my SIDE!!!  And I know it wasn’t my blanket!  And I was LAYING ON THAT SIDE!!!!

Me: (rather at a loss, I go over and rub her side a bit, briefly) There, now go back to sleep.

Branwen: (calmly) Good night, Mommy.

– It’s a good thing that was the last time.  If it had continued, I don’t think even my half-asleep state would have kept me from getting mad.

The other night we had a pretty typical toddler boy quote, but it was still terribly cute.

Joel had gotten Eli ready for his bath, and Eli entered the bathroom where Branwen was brushing her teeth.

Eli: Bwanwen!!!  I NAKEY!!!!

(He was apparently very proud of this fact, though, oddly enough, if you suddenly need to take care of something while helping him dress, he gets very upset at his lack of pants.)

Desta’s trying to understand the whole Christmas thing –

Desta: Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?

Me: Yes.  That’s when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, anyway.

Desta: Do we sing happy birthday?

Me: We can.

Desta: But Jesus is in heaven.  Do we sing it to heaven?

Me: That would be fine.

Desta: But our tookis will be dead in heaven. (note: tookis is our word for bottom)

Me: (silence)

Desta: How can we go to heaven to sing to Jesus?  Our tookis will be dead.

Me: Um… we don’t have to go there to sing to him, honey.  We can sing right here and he can hear us.

– I decided not to bother trying to address the dead tookis issue right then.  Where did she get that?  Well… that’s another story.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Family Life

And an Alexis quote

November 30th, 2008 · 2 Comments

We are all finishing a very yummy dinner of turkey, gravy, sweet potato casserole, and cranberry sauce.  Alexis really liked the cranberry sauce, but apparently not enough to remember what it was called.

Alexis: May I have… um… may I have some more… um….


Alexis: May I have some more New Zealand?

Joel gave her a questioning look.

Alexis: Well, I couldn’t remember what it was called, so I called it New Zealand.

Yes, my children are goofs.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Family Life

We’re down to $6000!!!

November 29th, 2008 · Comments Off on We’re down to $6000!!!

We only need $6000 more!  To donate:

go to

toward the bottom of the page click on “Donate now to CWA or CWF”

fill in your donor info, select donation amount, then in the optional area choose “CWA Family”

Put in the last name “Fouse” and the state “VA”

Put in your credit card info

Click Submit!

We can do this!  Every dollar helps!  Donations tax deductible! 🙂

Comments Off on We’re down to $6000!!!Tags: Adoption

Branwen’s latest comment

November 29th, 2008 · Comments Off on Branwen’s latest comment

(Said after her sister screamed because she saw a mosquito…)

Branwen: I’m not scared of anything!  Not now!  Because monsters aren’t real and I never met a bear.

Comments Off on Branwen’s latest commentTags: Family Life

More adoption adrenaline

November 28th, 2008 · 2 Comments

After a large donation from a family member and the amount we’ve managed to save over the past several months, I think we only need about $6500 more to send in our dossier!  Huzzah!  Anybody want to join in and give us the best Christmas present ever???  Donations are tax deductible! 🙂

→ 2 CommentsTags: Adoption

Prayers for health would be appreciated

November 23rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Prayers for health would be appreciated

It actually started with Eli this time.  One day he started coughing, and next thing we knew we could hear him wheezing and crackling every time he breathed.  Off to the doctor he went, and came back with antibiotics (unnecessary, I think, because it seems viral), a diagnosis of pneumonia, and instructions to do breathing treatments every four hours during the day and in the night as needed.  It took him a good two weeks to get back to sounding ok without the use of the stethoscope, and longer than that to pass a stethoscope inspection.

By that time, Joel was hacking.  For him, we’re unofficially calling it bronchitis.  Since it does seem to be viral rather than bacterial he didn’t even bother going to the doctor.  Nor did I when I caught it.  So we hacked together, a loving, wheezing couple caring for our crackly, wheezy baby.

Next came Desta.  Once again it started with the cough.  I didn’t bother taking her to the doctor, but when I listened to her lungs I could hear them crackle.  So I home-diangnosed pneumonia again.  None of us had fevers, and we were all doing ok energy-wise (other than the normal lack-of-sleep issues), so I didn’t see any point in dragging anyone in to a doctor’s office again.

Then Charis started.  Oddly enough, the child who’s been in the hospital twice for RSV (once at age 8 weeks and once when she was a year old) hasn’t been hit too hard… yet.  So far she’s mostly had trouble with nighttime coughing.  But it’s that same icky cough.

Then it hit Branwen.  I wish I could insert the forboding music here.  Of all of my kids, Branwen is the one with the weakest lungs.  She’s had pneumonia multiple times in her short life (she’s the five year old), and just last year was hospitalized for it for four days.  I was concerned about the others – especially Eli because his sounded so bad – but with her I really get worried.  So far she hasn’t seemed too much worse than the others.  The one thing that bothers me is that she does seem to lose energy faster than normal, and that could be a sign that she’s not getting enough oxygen.  She’s having trouble sleeping, too, so maybe that’s all it is.  In any case, I think I’m going to take her in to the doctor tomorrow just to make sure her oxygen levels are ok.

I thought she’d be the only one I’d take seeing as Eli finally seems to have kicked his, Alexis hasn’t seemed to catch it yet, Charis really isn’t too bad off, and Desta has just had occasional coughing.  But I kept three of them – Desta, Charis, and Branwen – home from church today just to be safe and not spread anything.  I’m glad I did.  As I was downstairs getting myself some coffee and the girls were getting dressed, Branwen and Charis ran out into the hallway yelling, “Desta threw up!!”  I ran upstairs to find a relatively small amount of vomit on the bedroom floor, and it looked pretty mucousy.   We’ve fought pneumonia enough times for me to know that it can make them throw up as well as cough, so I decided to listen to her lungs again even though she’s been acting ok and hasn’t been coughing a whole lot.  Guess what!  She’s wheezing and crackling!  *sigh*  She obviously handles this sort of infection better than some of the others because you’d never guess she was sick from the way she plays and acts.  I will say that she’s occasionally said her tummy didn’t feel good, which was probably from the mucous going down into her stomach.  Anyway, I think I’ll probably take her in tomorrow, too, just to make sure we’re doing all the right things for her.

Feel free to pray for us.  This is a nasty virus.  Pray that Branwen will start getting better and not worse.  Pray that Desta and the rest of us will recover quickly.  Pray that Alexis doesn’t catch it.

It’ll be nice when this is over.

Comments Off on Prayers for health would be appreciatedTags: Family Life · Medical

Adoption adrenaline

November 17th, 2008 · 5 Comments

Most people who’ve gone through the adoption process will tell you that it tends to go through a cycle: hurry up and get paperwork in, then wait until some agency or government office has done their part before you can do anything else.  Hurry up and wait… hurry up and wait…

Today we reached a HUGE milestone.  We got the first draft of our home study.  Wait, I don’t think I communicated my emotions very well there.


To try to impress upon you the import of this event, let me explain a bit what it means.  It means we’re done with local and state clearances of various sorts.  It means we’ve finished getting visits from our social worker to determine that our family is healthy and well-adjusted.  It means that we don’t have to gather more medical information on all of our family members, reference letters from non-family members, reports from teachers, or former adoption paperwork from the state.  To say that this is the BIGGEST part of the adoption completed would be pretty accurate.

What now?  Well, we sent a few corrections of typos to our social worker and mailed a signed, corrected copy back to her agency’s office.  She’ll make the corrections, print it out, notarize it, and mail it to immigrations and to our adoption agency.  As soon as she has it notarized, we can start applying for grants, notarize the remainder of our dossier papers, and send in the dossier.  When immigrations receives their copy of the home study they’ll contact us to tell us when to come in for their fingerprint background check.  Once that’s done, we literally will just need the money… everything else will be finished.

Does that sound like a lot of things?  Heck, it’s nothing compared to what we had to go through for the home study itself!

The best description of my mood today is that it’s much like what I felt each time I found out I was pregnant.  There’s excitement, anticipation, and a touch of nervousness.  This is really happening!  And I have no doubt in my mind that the Lord will bring us the funds we need somehow.  Grant applications, here I come!

→ 5 CommentsTags: Adoption

a letter from my daughters-to-be

November 14th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Written by L (the older of the two), then sent to us by email from our case worker. 🙂



Thanks for the letters you’ve send me, can you imagine how many times I read that letter? We received all of your mails Mom, sorry for not responding till now.

We missed you so much, we’re longing for the day that we meet each other again. How is the adoption thing going and when are we coming home?



L and B

The Fouse Family

→ 3 CommentsTags: Adoption

Desta, dermatitis, and dossiers

November 13th, 2008 · Comments Off on Desta, dermatitis, and dossiers

There are several things that fall by the wayside when my back goes out badly.  House cleaning is one.  Walks with the puppy is another.  Unfortunately, daily oiling of Desta’s scalp is a third.

Desta has eczema on her scalp – at least that’s what the allergist says.  So may other parents report the same condition in their Ethiopian children that I wonder if it’s eczema (which doctors don’t really fully understand but think has to do with allergies somehow) or if it’s just severely dry skin.  Whatever it is, I’ve found that daily application of pure virgin coconut oil takes care of it beautifully.  When we’re taking care of it regularly, we can even do it every other day and it’ll be fine.  Actually, if we’ve been keeping up with it for a while, a longer break won’t make it terrible, which is good since braids stay in her hair for at least a week and during that time the oil doesn’t get to all of her scalp.

The reason this ends up not happening so much when my back is out is that, unfortunately, application of the oil takes some time – time sitting on the edge of Desta’s bed with her sitting on a stool in front of me while I carefully separate her hair into sections and oil every bit of her scalp.  When a child has as much hair as Desta that’s no joke!  Now, when we’ve been able to do this regularly, it only takes maybe 15 minutes or so to do her whole head, especially in summer when the oil is actually liquid because of the heat.  In cooler weather, it’s a solid and has to be rubbed to form the liquid oil, so that adds a few minutes.  Then if we haven’t been able to do it for a while – say a month and a half while my back was insanely whacked out – well, then you get a session like we had last night.  It took me about an hour and a half to go through all of her hair and try to carefully take care of all of the trouble spots.  The poor kid.  Granted, we sing songs while we work (my voice was getting tired by the time we were done), but even with that distraction she was pretty thoroughly sick of the process by the end.  And her poor head!  There were small spots that bled as I worked with it, and other spots were scaly.  It was awful.  Talk about a guilt trip.  Not sure how we could have avoided it, unless we could have found a friend willing to come by every other night to oil it for us or something.  We were getting the kids to bed late every night as it was because I couldn’t help Joel much with the process.  We didn’t expect my back issues to last this long so it never occurred to us to try to find help for this particular job.  I guess we’re warned for next time, heaven forbid there should be a next time.  Thankfully, that oil makes a difference very quickly.  I wouldn’t be surprised if when I oil it tonight it’s back to just looking dry with a few scabs where it had bled before.  Within a few days, it’ll be all better.  Not to mention it smells so yummy!  But no braids until I’m sure we have it completely healed.

On a more positive front, we are SO almost done with paperwork.  Joel’s going to try to take tomorrow off so we can go get the last of our forms notarized.  When that’s done, the rest of our job will just be waiting.  We’ll mail off two of the papers to have them authenticated (the Virginia secretary of state says “yes, this notary is a real person”), and we wait for our home study to be fully written (which should be pretty soon now).  When we get those last forms in the mail, we send it all off to our agency.  We’ll need to gather some more funds before the dossier can be sent along to Ethiopia, but at least the paper part will be finished.   People have been helping us out with the funds, and we should be able to apply for grants any day now.  The Lord will provide somehow!

Comments Off on Desta, dermatitis, and dossiersTags: Adoption · Family Life

A most-inclusive update

October 29th, 2008 · 1 Comment

I was going to say “an all-inclusive update”, but I’m sure I’ll miss something. 🙂  Anyway, I expect this to be a long post by the time I’m done, and since different people check my blog for different reasons I’ll divide it into sub-headings so you can just read the parts that interest you.  The sub-headings are as follows: adoption, kid reports, health report, spiritual insights.


We’re moving along, but there’s still a ways to go.  Our home study is just about finished according to our social worker (she needed a couple random bits of info from us which she’ll have in the next few days, but other than that I think it’s written), and USCIS (immigrations) has our application and just needs a copy of our marriage certificate and our home study at which point they’ll assign us a date to have our fingerprints done.  We’ve slowly been putting together our dossier as we wait on the rest of the funds to come in.  We still need somewhere north of $10,000 to send in the dossier, and then we’ll need more funds after that for various fees and travel.  We’ve already decided that Joel will travel alone to save some on that front.  Please pray that our funds will come in before L. ages out of the system.  She’s close right now, and the process of assigning ages is fairly subjective.

Kid Reports

Alexis – Her teacher did reading level tests, and she’s reading at a 7th grade level.  The teacher encouraged us not to be disappointed if Alexis doesn’t progress from there overly quickly.  Joel’s response?  “Heck, I want her to be through high school by Christmas!” 😉  Seriously, we’re very proud of her accomplishments in reading.  We’re mainly encouraging her to read books that are considered third or fourth grade level right now… you know, the Ramona books, various kids’ mysteries, that sort of thing.  We read aloud before bed, and for that we choose slightly higher level books.  Right now we’re working our way through the Narnia series (in its original order).  I haven’t decided what we’ll read when that’s done.   Other than that, she’s doing well.  She’s an excellent speller (she certainly doesn’t get that from me), and she’s doing fine in math though I think Branwen will actually pass her up in that area some day.  She says her least favorite subjects in school are art and PE.  Now that she gets from me! 🙂

Branwen (warning… potty talk) – Stinker-pot.  She keeps us laughing.  I was getting concerned because she was starting to lose bladder control, so she went to the doctor yesterday.  Turns out it all goes back to, of all things, constipation!  The doctor assured us that this is very typical for kids her age because they’re using the bathroom on their own and aren’t necessarily telling their parents about their bathroom experiences.  She’s had trouble with this before and it caused rectal prolapse.  Apparently the rectal prolapse has been happening again, but we didn’t know.  Also she’s been complaining of tummy aches, but since this often coincides with dinners that she doesn’t like we hadn’t made the connection with possible real tummy issues.  Anyway, it turns out that the constipation can also cause extra pressure on the bladder, thereby making it harder for her to get to the bathroom in time and also causing her to leak at times.  So now she’s on medicine for that and hopefully we won’t be changing her clothes as often.

She’s enjoying school, and especially loves arts and crafts as well as anything having to do with numbers.  While her class is working on counting to 10, she calmly says when asked what she can count up to “130.”  I don’t know why she stops there, but that’s what she says!  I’ve heard her count to 100 before, but I never tested her past that.  She also understands the basic concepts of addition and subtraction though her class hasn’t done them yet.  Math will definitely be one of her strengths.  If she can get past the desire to be dramatic any time she gets the tiniest of injuries, she’ll do well in PE, too.  She has a good sense of balance and coordination and a strong competitive edge.  Art has always been something she’s done well, and since she enjoys it so much I suspect she’ll continue to do well with it.

Desta – She’s been amazing us with how well she can now write some of her letters.  She doesn’t know what all of them are yet, but she’s learning more and more of them.  She sings the ABC song now (though some of it is kind-of muffled, so I’m not sure that all of the letters are right), and she counts to 10 with a little help.  Without help she gets the numbers a little mixed up, and then she usually starts giggling.  She’s gotten a lot better about laughing at her own mistakes, which I think is a part of adjusting to our family and really feeling accepted.  She used to get mad when she was corrected or when we laughed, intending to help her see that whatever she said wasn’t a big deal.  She now laughs more often than getting angry, so that’s a big step in the right direction!  Her favorite thing to do is play pretend with her siblings; usually it’s either princesses or “Troy and Gabriella” from High School Musical.  *insert rolled eyes here*  Oh well.  It could be worse.  Oh!  And she has a darn good arm with a frisbee and a bat.  No aim,  mind you, but man do those frisbees and balls fly!

Charis – She’s now three years old, and quite tall for her age.  We found out she’s in the 90th percentile for height and the 80th for weight. 🙂  If she keeps on at that rate, she’ll be tall enough to be a model… not that I’d really wish that particular line of work on her.  Too much stress put on the physical.  But anyway, she’s got a good head on her shoulders, too.  She sings the ABC song as well as Desta and counts to 10 about as well, too (meaning she can do it with a little prompting).  She’s more even-keeled than most of her siblings, tending to take things in stride.  Consequently, she does well with new situations and even with things like shots that scare the others.   I think the only other one who does as well with new things is Alexis who tends to take things on as an adventure.  Desta is adventurous, but she assesses new situations before getting involved.

Charis also continues to be the sweetest of the children.  She’s the quickest to try to cheer up a crying sibling, and the first to offer to let someone share her toys and books.  She smiles most of the time, and she doesn’t tend to like to have everyone’s attention on her at once.  It was actually hard to get her to open her birthday presents because we were all looking at her!  I predict that if she ever gets involved in theatre she’ll be one to want to work backstage instead of being in the limelight. 🙂

Eli – He is all boy.  Ok, so sometimes we find him wearing a pair of his sisters’ high-heeled dress-up shoes or carrying a spangly purse, but inevitably he’s the one who’ll also be roaring, banging, charging, and knocking down.  Daddy is still his favorite person in the whole world, and he loves jumping on him and trying to knock him over.  Not that he’s often very successful seeing as he’s still in the 5th percentile for weight and below 5th for height. 🙂  Other than the physical growth, he’s done a wonderful job catching up developmentally.  He chatters away almost constantly now (not that it’s all understandable, but he says an awful lot), he runs and jumps as well as any two year old, and he likes to try to count and name colors.  Sometimes he gets them right. 🙂  He begs me to read to him, but rarely manages to sit through a whole story.  He’s just got too much energy to sit still for very long.  He likes to help with things, too, and actually gets quite upset if he isn’t allowed.  Why do I have a feeling that attitude won’t last? 🙂

As a note under the kids’ section, I’m on facebook now (joined while I’ve been stuck on the couch with a hurting back), and I’ve found that it’s a good place to post photos.  There are recent ones of the kids there.  You’ll find me under the name Rebecca Anderson Fouse.

Health Update

I’m getting used to my new diet regime.  I’ve lost the weight I initially gained upon being told to eat six or seven times a day. 🙂  I’ve become much better at figuring out appropriate portions for each small meal, I think.  I must say that this time of the year is absolute torture, though.  I can make meals as healthy as you please for all of us, but in the late summer and fall I have to make five different birthday cakes plus cookies or brownies for the school-age ones to take and share with their classes.  Then there’s Halloween.  This year we’re actually not doing the trick-or-treating thing for our own kids.  We’re tired of the greed that it promotes.  Not to mention we’ve tried to reduce the amount of candy they eat just for health reasons.  I’ll still hand things out, though.  I got scripture candies from Oriental Trading and Chick comic book style tracts to stick in people’s bags.   But anyway, that’s kind-of off topic for health, isn’t it?  I’ve still been having some hypoglycemic episodes, but not as often as I was.  I’m hoping that means that once I’m able to add exercise to the diet regimen it’ll take care of things and I won’t have to go on medication.

As to my back, it’s getting better.  I’ve started seeing an excellent chiropractor in our area, Dr. Scott, and he’s been able to help it quite a bit.  He told me it’ll take a little while for my muscles to completely heal, though, because they were working overtime trying to protect my nerves and now need a nice long rest.  I can walk around the house now, I just have to be careful how I turn and bend.  I’ve also been advised to not walk outside of the house alone since I got stuck after dropping Branwen off at school one day.  My hip started giving out (apparently a result of a pinched nerve) and I couldn’t make it the rest of the way home.  So I have to wait a while before trying that again.

Spiritual Insights

I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer lately.  I had the realization recently that my prayer time has gone seriously downhill, so while I tend to be very vocal about prayer’s power and the necessity of prayer, I wasn’t exactly following through on it myself at the moment.  Thankfully, this has led to a renewed interest in finding time for prayer and Bible study.

I’ve been struggling with the idea of being anxious for nothing, yet praying fervently for things.  Fervency, to me, suggests a certain level of… well… tension, anxiety.  If I have a friend in a desperate situation, how can I pray for them fervently and yet not be at all anxious?  I guess the answer is that the fervent prayer is often what helps to remove our anxieties.  When we truly hand the things to God in prayer that concern us, then we can stop worrying about them ourselves.  Easier said than done, but I think that’s the idea.

I was also thinking about the “pray without ceasing” command.  As I’ve heard said in several sermons, this doesn’t mean you have to be actively on your knees all the time.  That would make your knees hurt and you’d get awfully hungry.  What it means is constantly having an attitude of prayer.  Ok, so what’s an “attitude of prayer”?  Well, the way I’ve come to think about it is this: when I say “amen” at the end of my prayers, I need to mean “may it come to be” and not “goodbye.”

→ 1 CommentTags: Adoption · Faith & Ministries · Family Life · Medical