Thursday, October 28, 2010

a new place

So. We live in Virginia. The northern part very close to D.C. And we have for about a month now.

Josh has taken a preaching minister position here, which is what brought us to the area. The church is loving, friendly, quirky, colorful, creative, transient, diverse, fun, active, and just pretty great all around. We have felt welcomed and made it feel at home.

So you know that feeling on vacation where you like being somewhere but you are also ready to get back to your normal life? That's kinda where I am. Because although I was thrilled with our offer to come here and am having a great time, the Memphis life was known. This is unknown. Becoming more "known" of course every day, but still -- I don't know how to work this thermostat in my house, I don't know what the trash people will take if I set it out, I don't know where the post office is (just found it today), I don't know where they keep frozen chicken in our new grocery (still don't) and I don't know the alarm code for the church building of which I am now a key owner (set it off this week).

At Sophie's school, I am still kind of unclear on the protocol. Juice box or water, hot dogs allowed?, can I come in and say goodbye or am I supposed to do that in the hallway. Today was a Halloween event and I was just trying to follow the other parents and see what they did. Felt like the new kid.

I also have a new job. I work for a tutoring services company . (No, I am not bright enough to be a tutor.) Like it. Still new though and I hate having to ask questions all the time. It makes me grumpy to not know the answers. Old job, I knew the answers; in fact my former co-workers still call me to ask me things about my computer or how to get the printer to work. Ten years into a job you aren't really asking other people questions about how to do it, you know?

But, it is humbling and stretching and all of that, which I am sure God thinks is a good idea for me. I do too in theory. :) It has certainly been fun to explore and find new parks and to ride the Metro and to eat at really great restaurants and meet people from literally all over the world. We have found places to jump in and serve in our church community and already I can see that God is going to use us here. Our little family has really bonded as we've tried out the new.

Hopefully we will make it to a tourist attraction before it gets too cold! So far we have been to the city twice but haven't hit any of the big ones. Where to start is the question?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The first time we saw her picture

On April 5, 2007 we received a call from CHSFS (our agency) saying we had a referral. This is basically a "match". They said to get on our email and so we did, at the same time, from our offices. It said:

Hello Josh and Brooke,
Here is the referral information for Yenenesh! I've included her complete referral as well as the referral acceptance paperwork if you decide to accept the referral. I've attached both the word document and PDF formats in case you have trouble opening them. Thank you and congratulations!!

And this picture:

Three years later:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Being an idiot and being a parent

Sometimes I act like an idiot. I forget that my kid is just a person and any person can, make that WILL, mess up, especially when she has gone through an excessively crazy weekend.

Let me back up. Early in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I realized I was sick. Yucky, nasty, gross, sick with a stomach bug of some sort. It was a morning that Josh happened to be preaching, which usually means I am on my own for getting Sophie and myself ready and to service. He has to review his notes and get there early. Except this time I was no help at all, I was behind closed doors. So she was whisked off to Mimi's house to get ready and away from Germy Mommy and Josh did his best to assist me. It was once of those really embarrassing, living-out-your-vows, kind of moments, if you get my drift. He was great. Once I was back in the bed, he was off to preach twice (our church has two services), and then back to check on me as soon as it was over. Sophie, meanwhile, spent Sunday with one grandma and Monday with the other grandma and grandpa. I didn't even want her in the house during my sick. Just in case. So while she had a great time being shuffled around, it was a crazy weekend.

Today we were all back at home and so I was taking her to preschool this morning. She was grumpy and tired, and when I came to get her this afternoon, she did NOT get her sticker. (This translates, Sophie had a bad enough day that we take away basically the only incentive we are allowed to use here.) I was frustrated with her. I mean, come on, kid. You know the rules, you know the drill, what are you thinking, we will have to figure out your consequences at home...blah, blah...what do I have to do to be the perfect parent in this situation.

But then I started thinking about how I felt this morning, and though she was not ever sick, she was probably about as energetic today as I was. And perhaps grace would best be applied here. So, we talked about today. She told me she didn't obey. (She is always very honest in admitting mistakes.) I told her that if she could try hard to obey for the next two hours, we would have a special surprise. Daddy was out of town today, so it would be a mom-daughter only night.

So, back to my post title, I spent the rest of the night basically being an idiot, except the good kind, just doing three-year-old stuff. We read Not Norman, a current fave book, watched Princess and the Frog (just came out today, that was the biggest surprise), made grilled cheeses together for supper, she made us pretend brownies for dessert, she took a long bath, and for the grand finale, I rocked my baby girl who doesn't quite fit on my shoulder anymore while I sang whatever song she requested at the top of my lungs, including the ones I have made up myself over the last three years and that she loves.

I love being that kind of idiot parent.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Monday, January 04, 2010

2009 Christmas Letter

This year has been a really busy one for us, but while many things have remained the same -- we are both still working at Highland Church of Christ, Josh is in graduate school, we live in our same house, and we are still marveling at the joys of raising our daughter, Sophie -- other things have changed.

Sophie still lights up our days with her smiles and hugs. She is so much fun to be around. Of course, her toddlerness shows up sometimes, with a little bit of attitude and her insta-cry abilities about the most unimportant things. This parenting thing is definitely a challenge sometimes! But most days the joy far outweighs the challenges and we delight in watching Sophie learn and grow. This year, Sophie started acting a lot more like a girl in some ways. She loves to play with her baby dolls, dress them, ride them around in the baby stroller. She loves to dress up. She also loves playing outside, though, and hitting her t-ball or swinging or kicking the soccer ball. She got over Elmo somewhat this year and started a new obsession with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse... just in time for us to go on a Disney Cruise around her birthday. She loves spending time at her grandparents' houses and is there as much as she at home, some weeks.

Brooke is thankful to be in her tenth year at Highland Church of Christ as part of the youth ministry staff. We enjoyed getting to go to Camp as a family again this year, and Brooke helped take a group to Houston Impact for a mission trip in July. While she is also sad about the likelihood of this being her last year in this job, she also feels so grateful for her time spent in ministry to an amazing group of teens and with amazing coworkers. This year, Brooke also spent lots of time talking to other adoptive families in our area, as well as friends who are considering adoption. Several of our friends have adopted and several more are in the adoption process now. We love talking about our experience and we look forward to beginning another adoption when our lives settle down a bit.

Josh is more than 2/3 of the way done with his masters of divinity degree at Harding Graduate School of Religion. He is still working as the Preaching Apprentice at Highland Church of Christ. This year, we began to feel called to go ahead and test the waters in seeking a full time position for Josh. As we seek God's direction, we would love for you to be praying for us. We hate the thought of not living close to our families and leaving our life in Memphis, but we are committed to going where we feel God is calling us wherever that may be.

Our hearts are with those who have had an especially difficult 2009, those we know and those we don't. Although our jobs remained secure this year, several of those very close to us are currently seeking employment in this difficult economy. We especially always have Ethiopia on our hearts, as we pray continually and financially support organizations such as AHOPE, World Vision, and ChildFund who work with some of the world's most vulnerable people. Our hope is to be more involved this year in the lives of some of these and that we can be God's hands and feet anywhere He presents the opportunity. May God bless all of you in 2010 and may we all be involved in blessing the lives of others.

Playing at the house

Playing in her kitchen wearing her first real ponytail

Sleeping with her favorite stuffed animal Panda

Playing at the playground

Easter Family picture

Hunting for Easter eggs

Painting at Memphis Workcamp

Sophie Day - 2nd anniversary of her adoption

At the lake visiting Alabama family

Flying to Chicago holding her best girl Baby

At Wrigley Field at Sophie's first Cubs game

Tubing at the lake

Our niece Sadie Belle was born

Sophie holding Tonto, her cat that lives on her Aunt and Uncle's farm

Playing in the leaves in the yard

Trunk or Treat - "Tinkerbell"

Just looking cute with pigtails

Turning 3 on December 13

Sophie and her new pal Mickey on our Disney Cruise

In front of her new tent that Santa brought

Christmas Family Picture Rays and Bennetts

The three of us, Christmas Day

Friday, December 25, 2009

2009 Christmas Letter

Letter on its way.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Gifts with Ethiopian Flair

If you're an Ethiopia adoptive family (or know one and want to give them an themed gift)reading my blog, you might want to check out these sites for gifts this season.

I have this one - it's a necklace with "Enat" (which is Mother in Amharic) on it. Super cute.

Here are some t-shirts that are super cute. Especially check out these ones, of which the proceeds go to the organization Project Hopeful, who work to promote positive awareness for children living with HIV/AIDS.

A great tote sold here raises funds for AHOPE for Children, an orphanage in Addis Ababa which serves children living with HIV/AIDS. I have been to this place once and was forever changed by it. It's worth supporting. Oh, and World AIDS Day is coming up December 1, so that's another reason (as if we need it) to take notice of this crisis in our world.

Another unique idea is to get some of the primary spice used in Ethiopian cooking, maybe along with some recipes. It's called Berbere. Here's one place I know you can get it.