Wednesday, July 25, 2007

At the Lake

We went to Fairfield Bay on Greer's Ferry Lake this weekend where my parents had rented a lakehouse. It was a jampacked, funfilled, exhausting weekend. Sophie had a great time with all our various family members who were there.

Monday, July 16, 2007

weekend in T-town

Great weekend in Tuscaloosa, our former town. It was so good to see some old friends and bloggers such as Mommy of Boys, Anna D, Rammblings, and TDavis. We had a great time showing Sophie off. :) Congrats to Brendan and Beth, our friends who were married. It was such a sweet wedding. We are very happy for them both! And jealous because they are currently in Turks and Caicos.

This is just a gross pic that our friend Michael snapped. Ew.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

30 is cool

The celebration(s) have been very nice and I have can now say that I've thoroughly enjoyed the first 24 hours+ of being 30. I had lunch with my coworkers that day, my mom and cousins brought me a cake on the birthday afternoon, Josh and I went out for a nice dinner at Jarrett's on the birthday night. Then tonight my family that was in town assembled for dinner at the hibachi grill (i.e. fake Benihana) place. Sophie was in heaven because she loves to stare at new things. There was a lot to stare at. Here are the birthday highlights:

My cousins Macy and Mackenzie (who are in town for the summer)

Sophie watching the Hibachi grillmaster

She's 30?

The fam

Just a cute one of the Sopher (a nickname I have come to use fairly regularly)

And an extra special one for my Highland readers:

Here's a little pic taken in our church's lobby. Burton Gooch, do you read my blog?

Heading to Alabama for the weekend. Josh is in our friends' wedding. See you soon AL friends!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nearing 30

The Sophie picture is just a ploy to get people to keep reading my blog. A post without pics of her will be passed over. Ha.

I have had on my profile for sometime now that I am "nearing 30". This phrase has been a favorite to make fun of by my friend Buster. He is always saying, "Well you are nearing 30, you know" just to mock me.

Well, tomorrow that phrase will have to change. I will officially be 30 years old. Can you believe that? It just seems like such a high number. When I was younger I always imagined my life at 30. I thought I'd have 2.5 kids by now and be a stay at home mom. (So like 1/2 right) I thought I'd be married.(One was right!) I thought I'd be superspiritual. (Um, no) I thought I would probably not stick my foot in my mouth anymore. (Definitely not true.) I thought I would be really in shape and have kicked my fingernail biting habit. (Nope.)

So is life, I guess, some things turn out the way you think, and most things don't. I am so thankful for my life and I love my husband, daughter, family, friends, job, home, and I am even ok with my 30 year old self, although I am ever reminded of the faults and imperfections I have to work on.

Thanks for enduring my reflective "I'm getting old" thoughts.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

More Sophie Pics

Pre swimming

The full ensemble

Getting ready to go

My first swim and my first bikini (Daddy says my last:)

With pale, pale Mommy post swimming

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Thoughts on the trip

Recently I read a quote that has stuck with me. The idea of going to adopt a child from another country probably looks very neat and clean, if you look at me now. My daughter is healthy, and sweet, and precious. We are doing well. Our family loves her. Fairy tale, right? It certainly does feel that way some days so far. But there is a side of adoption that is not always thought about, and that is what your child leaves behind. You and your child are forever imprinted by what you witness and experience. You cannot forget the "before" part of the child's life.

"Don't think you're going to walk into an overcrowded orphanage, take one child out, leave 99 behind, and be the same person when you sit down for breakfast the next morning... you think you are tying your fate to the life of a single child, You find out you have been inextricably bound to the lives of dozens of others."
from China Ghosts, by Jeff Gammage, about what's its really like to adopt.

I feel like that about Ethiopia. We have been back at home for 2 weeks and 1 day now, and I am still overwhelmed when I think about our trip. It is difficult to answer the question that so many friends ask, "How was Ethiopia?" It is hard to say the answer. This trip of a lifetime, a trip to AFRICA for goodness' sake, was almost too hard to take in. We saw so many things in Ethiopia that are difficult to describe. At the same time that we were taking all this in, we were trying to meet and learn and love our new daughter. It is such a sensory overload, that is the best way I can describe it.

But, I don't want to leave these stones unturned. I don't want to leave out this very important part of the journey to meet Sophie. So I have decided to dedicate a few posts on the trip itself and how I feel it has and is continuing to affect who I am.

Upon arriving in Addis (the capital) the first night, we drove through droves of people who out on the streets at 9 pm. The city looks somewhat like other third world cities I've seen look like, at least at this point in the drive. We stayed at the Hilton this night, in order to get some sleep before we had to check in at the guest house. We had a comfortable room and room service. However when we woke up the next morning, this is what we saw from our balcony.

You might need to click on the pictures to get a better look. As far as we could see, there were tin shanties. Just over the wall from the Hilton property. That was the first time I teared up. That morning, as I looked out on the people beginning to come out of their homes to wash their clothes, to play, to work, it felt so surreal. Here I was in this concrete tower in the lap of luxury compared to everyone I could see.

That was our first picture of Ethiopia. And as we saw more of the city, this was repeated. Big buildings on the streetside, but if you looked just behind it, there would be more of these same tin roofed homes. The city is very overcrowded and there are many beggars that line the streets. If you are in a car, children and mothers will come to your car windows and tap on them and say the English phrases they know well. " I hungry, food please"

Another picture that sticks out in my mind when I think about the people of Ethiopia, is AHOPE. AHOPE is an orphanage for children who are HIV+. We were able to go visit on our first full day in Ethiopia. We got there just as naptime was starting so we talked to the staff until the kids all woke up. Then they wanted to play! (They also wanted balloons and lollipops which is apparently what most Americans bring them. Whoops!) We hugged, held, and kicked the soccer ball with the kids for a hour or so, and it was such a joy, yet such a heartbreaking scene. It felt surreal. All 88 of the kids at AHOPE are orphans whose parents died of AIDS, as I understand it. They are being well taken care of, and are receiving antivirals when their "counts" reach a certain point. For the most part the kids looked happy. Some were withdrawn and thin, and were obviously much more advanced in their disease. Some kids looked totally normal. The thing that kept coming back to me was, these kids have very little chance of being adopted. There are some adoptions happening, but the legal side of it is very complicated (on the US end). Most of the kids will grow up there, since living with AIDS is fully possible now because of the medications. It was almost too much to bear seeing those kids. I have blurred out the kids' faces for legal reasons.

Each day we had in Ethiopia was more overwhelming and more lifechanging. On Sunday, we took a trip to the southern region. On the drive down we saw several small towns sprinkled along the way, but it's mostly rural once you leave the capital city.

Outside of the towns, most people there live in huts. As we drove, women and children walked along the road carrying water or herding goats or cows.
Here is an example of the huts:

We stopped at a hut where one family lived and our group toured it. We gave her a tip to look at her house. She had painted murals from all natural materials inside the one circular room. It was dark inside, because there was only one window. There were several children living there. She had an urn of water with a cloth over it. The translator told us that one of the children goes to the spring daily to get water from a spring.

Now think about where you live, what your life is like for a minute.

Hard to think about, isn't it.
That's a taste of what we were doing every minute while in Ethiopia. How can the world be like this? How can we have SO much and people here have so little? Not that stuff means happiness (sometimes quite the opposite we find) , and the people we met was so warm and friendly and seemed happy with their lives... It just seems so unfair.

I really cannot think of what else to say.

Check out the AHOPE website: