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.