Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 Christmas Letter

2008 has been an eventful year for us, as most are, I guess!
When we think about this year, our biggest and most amazing blessing comes to mind…our daughter, Sophia Yenenesh Ray. She just turned two a couple of weeks ago. We are amazed to look back at pictures from last Christmas and see how much she has grown. A few highlights from this year are that she…
• learned to walk in January
• broke her leg and saw her first snow in February

• had her first Easter Egg Hunt in April
• celebrated her first “Sophie Ray Day” (the day we met Sophie for the first time) in June
• visited Granmommy’s farm in Texas for the first time in July
• went to the lake in August
• started at Harding Academy Early Childhood in September
• was a bumblebee for Halloween in October
• visited Granmommy again for Thanksgiving in November
• and performed like a star in her school program and turned two in December.

She has developed quite the little personality. She is talking all the time, and is always making us laugh. Music seems to be something that interests her. She loves especially to sing worship songs. She loves to read lots of books. She loves to watch Praise Baby and Elmo DVDs. She loves to cuddle and she loves to give kisses. Life is a lot more fun with her around - that is for sure.

Joshua has been busy this year transitioning from working full time and going to school part time to becoming a full time student. In May, he left his position at Enterprise Property Management. The people there, and the job itself, were huge blessings for our family. He went on from there to take a full load of classes in both summer and fall terms, chipping away at the 90(!) hours needed for the Masters of Divinity. Both Greek and Hebrew flashcards have been a part of our life this year! He also has taken on a role at our church as the Preaching Apprentice, which allows him opportunities to preach in the corporate worship service. One exciting opportunity he had in November was to go to Ukraine to visit the ministries our church supports there. He was inspired by what he saw God doing there in the lives of Ukrainians. His role at Highland has also offered him the chance to be more involved in Memphis Urban Ministry, a ministry to the poor and vulnerable of our city.

Brooke continues to work in youth ministry at Highland Church of Christ. She has been there for over 8 years! She enjoys her time with the teens and the flexibility the job provides as she continues to learn and perfect (ha) the role of working mom. Luckily, Sophie is so happy with her schedule of staying with her Lala (Brooke’s mom) on Mondays, and going to preschool 3 days a week. Brooke loves getting to stay home with Sophie on Fridays and taking the family along for many of the ministry events. All three of us went to church camp for the first time, and that was really fun for everyone. Sophie is pretty sure she is a teenager, I suppose like all youth ministers’ kids do.

Josh and Brooke enjoyed a trip to Jamaica in May (without Sophie) which was relaxing and wonderful. We both admitted to missing Sophie much more than we expected, talked about her constantly while there, and came home hoping to plan a trip for all three of us next year! We also celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on December 2, and are thankful to have made it this far together.

Of course, 2008 was not perfect. We are mindful this holiday season of so many around the world who are lacking the comforts and the basics we enjoy today. Our hearts are heavy for the people of Ethiopia who have experienced drought and food shortage this year. We think of the people in this country and in our family who are suffering from the financial hardships brought by the economic crisis or from job loss. We have made some changes this year as to how we celebrate the holiday season, to acknowledge somehow what is going on around us. We may have fewer gifts under our tree … but we feel so abundantly blessed.

Thank you for being one of those blessings. Merry Christmas!

Joshua, Brooke, and Sophie

Sophie is TWO!

December is a busy month for us anyway, because of obvious reasons like Christmas parties and shopping, but also our anniversary is December 2, my parents' anniversary is December 17, my car tags have to be renewed, Josh is a student, so finals/papers/etc are coming due, and of course, most importantly, Sophie's birthday is December 13. I am still learning how to be a mom of a kiddo with a birthday near Christmas! It is hard to concentrate on her birthday and Christmas at the same time. That sounds ridiculous I know, but that is how I have felt this year especially. It still turned out quite well, I even made the cake! (Apparently, according to my baby sister, I was so proud of this fact that I wouldn't stop talking about it!:) I am just not very home-ec-y so this cake was pretty amazing in my opinion! (oops))

She is doing so much fun stuff right now. I really love this age. You know at first, when I would be alone with her I would still feel just alone. Now - when it is just the two of us, I really feel like she is a companion now, because we talk all the time, she asks me things, I answer, we laugh together about jokes, and it's like we are connecting on a whole new level. I love it!

I am amazed at how much we all love each other. She usually opens the day with "Mommy, where are you! Daddy, where are you!" from her room - she is still in a crib, luckily, so she can't escape till we come and get her. So we go in and get her and usually let her lay in bed with us for a little while. And that is a great way to start a day.

Happy Birthday Sophia Yenenesh Ray! (P.S. She can also say her whole name now!)

P.S. The shirt Sophie is wearing is from a website that makes tshirts with Amharic words and phrases on them. Thought my Ethiopia Adoptive Family readers might want the link. Here is a close up of the one we got her.It says "Tawadej ~ One Who Is Loved" and then the Amharic letters for Tawadej.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Christmas...

I was having one of those moments today where I was trying to get something ordered online and just up to here in Christmas parties, activities, programs, and food items to bring to these events, and I thought of one of my favorite quotes from a Christmas movie.

“I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery.” – Ellen Griswold (Beverly D’Angelo)

I don't really feel miserable per se, but at that point, it was just perfect.

What are your favorite Christmas movie quotes?

Sophie turned two on December 13, and so I have a big post to do about that... maybe this weekend.

Monday, December 08, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas... least it is in this picture! Not in my house yet, though!

Hope all are getting in the spirit! I am starting to get excited.

Isn't he an awesome Santa! He is in the local Memphis area and if you need a Santa you should definitely call him!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Clearing things up

If you are around Sophie very long, you notice that in lieu of the word "yes"-- she says "di!" (pronounced dee) People often ask if that is yes "in Ethiopian language". The answer is no, she just made it up and now prefers it to the boring, everyday yes that the rest of the English speaking world uses.

Another funny. A number of people have asked us if it was hard for Sophie to learn English. Ummm, she was six months old when she came to us. So, no, I say. Not all of the people who asked this were under 10, by the way.

Sophie also has developed her own way of asking for things. She starts with:
S to Me: "ya want some cookies (or milk, or juice, or lunch)?"
Me: "No, thank you."
S: "Sophie will eat some!"

This model is used repeatedly for pretty much anything she would like to eat or drink.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It is really amazing what kids pick up. One of Sophie's absolutely favorite things in the whole world is Praise Baby DVDs and CDs. This song is on her cd and of course we sing it our church worship services as well, and has become a favorite of hers on her own. Hilarious. You can probably figure out what it is if you are around this kind of music very often.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nature Vs. Nurture, That Is The Question OR "The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree"

I have hesitated to post this because of my own pride, but it's just too good.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Last Year

I have been trying to organize our photos lately, and also got a new phone last week that had some old pictures on it, so I came across some pictures from last fall. One thing really got to me while doing this. Last year I had a baby. This year I have a little girl.

I love this one with her sleeping. She was really sick during the month of October last year- respiratory virus followed by the stomach flu - and she had to spend several nights sleeping in a car seat so that she could breathe. This was actually on Halloween night... I don't remember if she was actually sick that night or not.

These family pictures just reminds me that I have a super great sport for a husband. Last year we went to the church Trunk or Treat and decided to dress up as a family... about half an hour before the event. Sophie was set to be a giraffe and I had the stuff in my closet to be a safari woman. Josh wanted to be a lion or some other wild animal. We tried to buy one at Target but to no avail... but we did find this weird Burger King Man costume (why this was ever manufactured I have no idea) and tried to turn him into the king of the Jungle using bits of the Burger King cape and crown... it was a sad attempt, but he wore it the whole night. He even had to wear tights. :) This year he was out of the country during the event so we just did the Sophie dressup thing.

Will post pics of this Halloween soon. They are sure cute! AND my yearly photo of my neighbors' Halloween extravaganza will likely appear. I know you're all on pins and needles.

EDIT: Just because I want you to get a mental image of this Burger King nonsense click here. Why would someone ever want to be this?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Disney Effect and Other Musings

I went to see HSM3 last weekend.
What you don't know what that is?
Well, GET WITH IT! High School Musical 3!

I work with teens so I admit I am around pop culture more than some of my friends. I am curious if any of you are going to that movie.. I know a lot of us are planning to go to the Twilight movie but that's another subject entirely. (So many moms are reading it now! I got into it from my sister in law who is cool and young.)

I was with my Huddle Group from church - 7 12th grade girls and my co-leader - and we were so enthused about going to the movie that we got our tickets online and got to the theater almost an hour early to avoid the crowds. ANYWAY, this movie is cheesy, cheesy, cheesy, but I found myself smiling throughout and occasionally clapping! (There actually weren't any crowds, at least at the theater we went to.) The songs and dancing were awesome! The acting is definitely not Oscar material, but you get engrossed in the lives of these kids. I started thinking about my senior year and, oh, the trauma of where to go to college and of who you are going to be in life. I actually moved to a new city a few days before my senior year in high school, so I have other semi-traumatic experiences connected with senior year.
Rambling now...

Ok, my point! Is that on the way home, I actually started thinking about taking dance classes so I could dance like them. It would be good exercise, I thought. If those kids can do it, I can do it!
A few seconds, er, uh, minutes later I realized that Disney had gotten to me. To get someone as uncoordinated as me to think that was a good idea.

Wow. They are some powerful people over there at Disney.

In other Disney news, there is an African princess movie coming out soon! I am so excited for young girls of color to have a princess who looks more like them than the Snow White/Sleeping Beauty ones.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkins and Mustaches and ET News

Seems like every family visits a pumpkin patch and blogs about it. So here's ours.
And a funny one at the end.

A Bit About Ethiopia

I admit I am not that experienced or well versed in world affairs. But now that our family is connected to a nation halfway across the world and you start to pay a little attention. So I will pass on a little of that to you. If you are into world affairs, you may already know that there is a famine going on in Ethiopia. Growing up in the 80s, with pictures on TV of children starving and sick from Ethiopia and other African nations, I am saddened that things are that bad once again. So in the interest of informing you my readers, here are some things for you to check out.

A very heartwrenching photo report was in a recent TIME magazine. Click here if you want to view it - but be warned this is very graphic.

On the positive side, I was very excited to get an update on the child we sponsor at AHOPE! He is doing great! If you don't know about AHOPE, take a minute to click on this link and consider sponsoring or adopting one of these children who are HIV+. 

Also, this week we got some information on the new efforts being led by CHSFS (our adoption agency) in Ethiopia. Click here for more info on a Mother and Child Wellness Center, a new School, and a Family Development program. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sophie has an accent

Now that Sophie is talking a lot, we have noticed an accent developing. My husband is from the Midwest, and admittedly I am the southern one in our family, but I do NOT say "Nashville" like that. :) Do I?

Excuse the adjustment of her ever-moving headband and the fact that she is putting a paper clip in her mouth at this end of this video. Don't worry I did remove it from her mouth immediately.

Even more hilarious... the reason she said "papa" after we talk about "need help", is because she has a tshirt with the words "That's it! I'm calling Papa!" that we had just been discussing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I don't know about you, but to be perfectly honest...if I had unlimited funds, I would really like to NOT buy any more generics. Snobby, I know. But that's not real life. So I, like many of you who are budget-conscious, do purchase the generic/store brands from time to time. Especially Target brand - really the best of the store brands, I think... but anyway.

I got to thinking about this because when my family went grocery shopping together, armed with our Dave Ramsey envelope system (cash only!), we would discuss which items we could handle the generic version of, and which ones were just terrible, and which ones were great.

At this point, I was surprised to learn a completely new fact about my husband.

He CHOSE to get generic cereal.
And I am talking about the kind that is in BAGS.
Like this:

Seriously, I said, really, you will eat this? He said yes, so we got it, and he eats it and he likes it.

I applaud him for it, and so would Dave Ramsey.

(I still want my name brand Golden Grahams, please!!!)

Other things I have had a bad experience with in the generic realm:
"Ritz" crackers (weird taste)
Diapers (too hard!)
Baby Wipes (little balls of white fabric coming off when you wipe)
Garbage bags (breaking)
Salad Dressings (not good)
Some cleaners
Plastic wrap
Makeup (maybe not generic just that cheap brand that is at the end of the aisle in Rite Aid)
Ice Cream
Soft drinks (except Dr Thunder Sam's Club, I like that one.)

Things I usually get the generic of:
Shredded cheese
Hand soap
Baby wash/soap
Brownie mix
Random ingredients that are going in a recipe for a casserole or cake or something
Mac and Cheese (I know this one is weird)
Saline solution

What are some things you like to buy generic and prefer never to buy generic?

I'll put a couple of Sophie pics on here too, since I haven't posted in forever! These are from when a familar character came to visit her school!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Fun Day at Lala's House

My mom found Sophie feeding her baby doll today. She knew just what to do. She hasn't let go of the bottle herself quite yet!

Later - multitasking! (I think my mom was teaching her to assist with her many projects).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sophie's first day of school

Sophie started her new preschool today, and I couldn't resist putting some pictures up of her little uniform! Also here are some pics of our last few weeks with friends Nora, Jesse, and Nick! **the green and white polkadot bow is a Little Giggle Gang original (see link at right)