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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good food and hard questions

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture BEFORE we dove into the huge platter of Ethiopian food at Abyssinia, so the AFTER picture may not look very appetizing...ok, actually the picture is even grossing me out, sorry. It was, however, absolutely yummy. If you're a Memphian, I urge you to go try this very unique type of food just for the experience. The owners are just wonderful, friendly and helpful if you don't know what to order.

This time we went with our friends Nick and Jesse, who are in the midst of adopting a child from Ethiopia themselves and also lovers of Ethiopian food.

In other news, now that the new Disney princess paraphenalia has debuted, the princess who happens to have brown skin (finally), I am debating on whether to buy into the hype. And if so, I will be buying this nightgown which is just too cute.

On a much less Pollyanna note, I have been reading some adult adoptee blogs lately. These are difficult to read because as an adoptive parent - and parent in general - you are always fast-forwarding your child's life to that next phase and fearing when what/when/how the impact of facing her own adoption story hits home and she has to deal with the true loss she has experienced. Even though most of these bloggers love their adoptive parents, they use their blogs as a way of working out their feelings on the journey they are on to self-discovery. If you are an adoptive parent, I think we have a responsibility to read, learn, and listen to these voices. I HOPE that I can do some things better because of hearing these voices. My kids may never feel the way some of these adoptees do. But if perhaps I will be able to give them the space they need when and if they ever do need it.

Reading these always reminds me the importance of language, for example. I know it's annoying to some, all the PC this and that, all the time, everyone has a soapbox, blah, blah, blah... But listen to the voices of adult adoptees and you might think differently.

As a Christian who chose to adopt, I especially feel that I have to tread very carefully. Our language can be some of the most offensive to these adoptees. When we talk of God's leading, God's will, God's plan bringing us to the child who is meant to be ours... I have said all of these things at some point by the way... can be really ME-centric and not very child-centric and definitely not very wholistic. I do not believe that God made bad circumstances happen in someone's life on the other side of the earth so that my child could be raised with me in America. Has He brought amazing good from the bad in our world, yes. Does he still work in a world that is so broken that some people live in mansions and some live with not even a roof over their heads and only dirty water to drink? Yes. AND I do think He is calling some of us down here to adopt, obviously if you know me I am very proadoption. But adoption in and of itself is not a solution to the problems that create the need for adoption in the first place. I digress, oops, but back to the language question -- I feel such a burden to share with Sophie as she grows up how she came to be in our family, and to include the way our faith in the Lord played a part... but as we do so to be clear and as precise as possible with our language. Here's an example of an adult adoptee blogger who was dealing with this question in a post about "things I wish I'd known": *please don't go write hateful things on her blog after reading it. I don't know this person and I want to respect the person's right to share his or her views.*

That I didn't have to be confused by the myth that it must be God's will for me to lose my mother, family, identity, and original life so I could be "adopted". To gain my new family, life, love, and blessings. I grew up trying to force this idea into my head & heart, but it was completely in congruent with life, truth, and the adoptee's reality. I lived with extreme guilt and feelings of disloyalty, wondering how I could say I really loved my adoptive family if I had these feelings of loss and longing.

I was so relieved to finally "wake up" and realize that, like Joseph, when he was reunited with his original family, concluded, "What the ENEMY meant for evil (separation, loss), God has turned for good."

I didn't have to be fearful and distrusting of God anymore because it was impossible to understand (what adults had told me for their own benefit) how God PLANNED and WILLED for me to be adopted. He didn't orchestrate it.

It comforts me to know He didn't want me to lose my mother, family, identity so I could fill the role of someone else.

I don't have the answer to this one, but I wanted to share the journey I am on to do the best I possibly can by my precious child. I am so grateful to know a God who brings good from bad and beauty from ashes.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Family Update

Haven't posted in a while. Once I read on someone's blog about all the blogs they write in their heads... I totally relate to that. I'll be driving along and think of this thing I really want to put out there on my little blog and by the time I have a minute in front of computer, with no distractions, I am a total blank.

Maybe that's a good thing, though, because I'd rather be bouncing a ball with Sophie or rocking her to sleep, than writing interesting tidbits for others to read, I suppose...

Things going on of late are many. We've had a busy fall as usual, but it seems like even more than usual. One thing that's kept us busy was a marriage workshop we have been a part of. It's called Dynamic Marriages, lasts for nine weeks, with one meeting a week. There's a book to read, homework to do in a workbook, and lots and lots of discussions to have. It has been a lot to take on with everything else going on, but it has been worth the effort. We have learned so much about each other, especially the top "needs" each of us has. One thing he learned was that my top need is conversation. That means I like to talk, just to talk, not for a purpose or as a means to an end, just TO TALK. Crazy to some, but for me it's how I relate. And I learned some ways I could meet his needs better too. It's been a growing time for us. Thankful for our families who have kept Sophie on Thursday nights so we could go and do this. If you want to know more about this resource, here you go.

I think it's been a good foundation for us as we begin to think about his future job options. This has been a long time coming - he has been in school since the summer after we married nine years ago, working full time and going to school actually. In the last year or so he has been able to be a full time grad student (still with two part time jobs, however). And though he is not at the very end of his 90-hour masters yet, we are beginning to ask God to show us if it's time to take the plunge. So I'll ask you to pray, too, as we consider this question and seek His leading in our lives.

Our baby girl is not much of a baby anymore. She is really into her own baby doll now, talking her to softly, rocking her, changing her diaper, tickling her. She is so tender with her. She is into playing pretend anything - especially pretending that" there are alligators in here!", singing and dancing, and playing jokes on her mommy and daddy. She is so affectionate and we kiss and hug all the time. I can't believe we are coming up on her third birthday! She seems really tall so I am looking forward to seeing about that at her pediatrician visit in a few weeks. Her hair is SO long and just beautiful. I recently took her to the hair salon for the first time. There are some great pictures of that on my Facebook. Here's a link to it.

That's what's new...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Announcing Sadie Belle

As my terrible blogginess would have it, I have not posted pictures of my new little niece. She was born on August 18 just before midnight. We got to be there for her arrival (not the actual arrival, mind you, just in the waiting room).

Since I'm the big sister by five years, this was the first time I could remember Emily going through a big life thing before I have. I have never been pregnant and I have never had a newborn! It was really fun to learn and watch my little sister as she dealt with contractions and was calm as a cucumber and now as she mothers her new baby. She is doing an amazing job and it is coming quite naturally! We are so happy for Emily and Jarrod and baby Sadie Belle.

Here's some pics of her and us during the first few days of Sadie's life: (They live on a farm, hence all the farm pics)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Urban Peachy

Today we had a fun outing to the Farmer's Market downtown. Our friend Jesse goes most every weekend, so we accompanied her this time. We had a great time and bought really yummy peaches, some homemade bread, and some little grape yellow tomatoes.

But there was one thing Sophie didn't want to wait to eat. As we were strolling away from the peach farm table, I noticed Sophie had a peach half eaten in her hand. She had swiped a peach off the table! I remembered the time I accidentally wore a hat that I was trying on all the way out of Loehmann's and into the mall. and maybe all the way home (Mom, I can't remember!) My mom made me go back and apologize and hand back my stolen item. So I strolled on back to the Peach Man and told him her indiscretion. This time she was lucky because he was glad for her to have it. She finished the peach up as we got in the car apparently, because I asked her where her peach was and she said, "It's on the floor." Apparently she loved this not-yet-ripe peach, because this is all I picked up off the floor:

We had a great time in downtown and then on our way home happened upon the Cooper Young Festival... so we parked and looked around there for awhile. It was fun too! Tons of people, food, arts and crafts. I found these frames that I loved but did not purchase. You will like them too. I hope to buy some of their stuff at some point.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My thoughts today

Ever just get sick of yourself?

I have felt so convicted by reading the blog I mentioned yesterday, so much so that I felt I needed to journal (something I rarely do). I pulled out my journal and started reading a little bit of what I wrote last (in January) I was at a conference and had just heard a talk by Tony Campolo.

Here's what it said:

"Yesterday's messages are lingering in my head. Am thinking about how far, to what point am I willing to go to be Christ's ambassador? to bring peace in my piece of the world? to give my Self up for the cause of Christ?

It's like, if I think about it too long, You might give me a mission for something big You need me to do. I might have to dream or imagine what there is already for me to do right here in Memphis, in my neighborhood. Or somewhere else where I feel I am far less comfortable.

God, what are you asking me to do right now? There are things I know I am called to now and they are definitely enough to keep me busy, but am I shutting my ears to more? Help me to hear you if so."

The reason this entry makes me sick is that it reminds me of the cycle I am constantly caught in. I feel conviction, I feel fear, I am numb, I ignore and go back to normal life and decide that was just an extreme emotional me who is not in the real world.... then something happens, and I feel conviction... and the cycle repeats. Rarely do I act. Rarely do I search. Rarely do I take a risk. That can't be the Kingdom life I am called to, the upside-down life Jesus refers to in his Sermon on the Mount. I want to be a vessel that is used, and used up... theoretically. But when the rubber meets the road, I come up far, far from that. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself, but then I remember, to whom much is given, much is expected.

I am not sure why I feel drawn to share this on my public webspace. Perhaps it is because I need you people who know me and love me to remind of this, to remind me that I am called to more. That I have to open to eyes to whatever God may have in store for me and my family.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Doing something that matters

I came across this blog and I can't stop reading it.

This matters.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer has come and gone

Well, as you can see, I've been a little too busy to post anything on this blog! We have had a crazy but wonderful summer, mostly filled with youth group activities. Three highlights were:

  1. My family got to go to Camp Highland again. Sophie enjoyed it even more than last year. It was a blast! Sophie had lots of fun with her friend Jack and all her "Big Friends" (the teenagers).

  2. I was able to go on a mission trip with the teens this year. It had been two years since I had been able to attend one. Two years ago I was on maternity leave during the summer, and last summer Sophie was still just too little for me to leave her for that long. Leaving her this year wasn't easy at all... but she was well-loved and cared for by her Daddy, Lala and Papa, and Mimi. She was also old enough to talk to me on the phone, which made it easier to feel connected. We talked every day and she could actually tell me what she did that day. Most of the time it was playing with one of her many Daddy treats she received while I was gone - a tee/softball/bat set, a kite, and a slip and slide. :) Anyway, I got to go on our trip to Houston, Texas. Our group worked with a church there who puts on a summer program for children in the downtown area. The program is top notch. It was a blast to watch our teens love on these kiddos. A highlight for me was working with the kids during the reading time. They spend 1 1/2 hours each day on reading, with an all summer volunteer leading each group. Even though its not the favorite time for the kids (obviously) it is cool to think that they are gaining a skill that is so crucial to being able to succeed in school, in life. It was a rewarding and inspiring experience.

  3. Sophie Day was June 9. That is the day we celebrate when we got to meet Sophie for the first time. It was an amazing day and I sometimes can't believe how much she has changed. I recently looked at some pictures that were sent to us from our agency just before we went to pick her up in Ethiopia. They are pictures of her in the foster center, including one of the nannies feeding her. I thought I'd include some of those pictures just in honor of our two year "famiversary".

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

The Easter weekend has already brought lots of enjoyment to our family. Last night we joined Grace Crossing Church for their Good Friday service, which was mainly worship and Scripture, along with the opportunity to take communion together. It was a great way to start the weekend, focusing on what the holiday is really all about. This morning was our church's Easter Egg Hunt. Lots of fun was had by all.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Easter Sunday!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Two milestones (Warning: Very Sappy)

Sophie has let go of one of her signature baby things and I am a mess.
Ever since Sophie started making noises, there was "Dee". Her first letter sound was D, and her word for yes became Dee.

Today, for some reason, it is over. She is saying "yes". ONLY. She has used both words interchangeably for sometime, but tonight I was even testing her, asking her questions that she usually says Dee to. Do you want some more milk? Yes. Do you want to read some books? Yes. It just did not sound right.

This did not happen to me after she gave up bottles or diapers or crawling... but for some reason, as I was rocking her tonight, tears were just streaming down my face.

I am sure this is not the first time I will wish for time to slow down.

Also, tonight, Sophie did something else I have not heard her do until now.
Here it is.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finally...the COC...

Pardon me while I gripe.

I mailed in our application and money to apply for the Certificate of Citizenship for Sophie in November, 2007.

Check (for $400+) was cashed that same month.

I received the document on March 20, 2009.


It was very exciting to finally have it in our hands. For those who don't know about what this is, here's how I understand it.

Sophie became an American citizen when we adopted her, according to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. (She had to give up her Ethiopian citizenship, sadly.)

However, her only form of ID we had up until this point was her Green Card (Permanent Resident Card). The Certificate of Citizenship seems to be recommended so that you have absolute proof of her citizenship for the future. It is not a required step but one that we definitely wanted to take. The Certificate of Citizenship is the only real proof of citizenship our children have, since passports expire and the CoC does not. This also makes sure she is registered as a citizen with Homeland Security.

Here's another interesting fact for you that is related to citizenship: At this point, Sophie cannot become the President of the United States. To become president, the Constitution states that a person must meet three requirements: be at least 35 years old, be a citizen born in the United States, and have lived in the United States for at least 14 years. During the election there was a lot of talk popping up in the media about McCain since he was born in the Panama Canal Zone on a US military base and about whether he is a natural-born citizen. The Senate (and everyone else) resolved that he is. However, McCain's daughter Bridget, who was adopted by the family in 1993 from Bangledesh, will be not be eligible for the Presidency, I suppose. Also anyone who immigrated to the US such as Arnold Schwarzenegger is ineligible. Several constitutional amendments have been proposed over the years to try to change that, usually to promote a specific person, some as recent as 2003, so you never know what could happen by the time Sophie is 35. But that is what it would take: a Constitutional amendment. There's your trivia for the day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Today I got to participate in Cultural Awareness Month at Sophie's preschool. I was to talk about Ethiopia - or Epeeopia, as Sophie says - with the kids in her class (about 12 little 2-3 year olds who are just adorable). It was really fun! I laughed because they were all really attentive except for my kid. She just doesn't want to do what she's supposed to do when I am there. Like I am the license to forget the rules. Anyway, I wore my new AHOPE tshirt, which has the outline of Africa on it. I showed them some slides on my computer that I had made of different interesting places to see in Ethiopia, like Lalibela and Blue Nile Falls. The nice man at Abyssinia Restaurant in Memphis gave me some injera to share with the kids. I taught them about the coffee ceremony and how coffee is the largest export of their country. (What is a good way to explain the word export?) I showed them pictures of what typical Ethiopian food looks like, and then we each tried a piece of injera, while I played some Ethiopian children's music in the background. Lastly, I taught them how to say thank you in Amharic (main language in Ethiopia) - "Amesegenalu!"

Next time: I will print these pictures out BIG and laminate them, so I can pass them around. I will bring the Ethiopian headrest and Sophie's Ethiopian traditional outfit. I will teach them a few more words, like mom, dad, school, etc. I will try to bring some real Ethiopian food and let them taste it if they are brave. This was at 8:30 in the morning, so I didn't think it would be best time to try such spicy food!

I really enjoyed doing it and I hope I will get to do some more of this in the future. Of course it is also hard, because there are so many things about Ethiopia that I didn't share that are on my mind... like about the many people who are homeless, people with HIV/AIDS who are not receiving treatment, people in dire poverty and in need of clean water, about the stories of the past famine, about the tumultuous politicial history, or about their current tension with Somalia. But today was about the positives. In Ethiopia, we had several people tell us to share with Sophie about all the positive things about their culture. I think that is because we in the West tend to only remember the pictures of the famine when we hear "Ethiopia". So I feel good about telling people the little bit that I do know about Ethiopia so far!

Feel free to click on the AHOPE link to the right and see what they are doing to help HIV+ orphans in Ethiopia!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


This is a bunch of nonsensical talk between Sophie and me the other day. The good part is her laughter. That laugh is the sweet part of every day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Sophie Singing

"See" is her way of saying she wants to watch herself on the video camera. Oh so vain.

I am actually using my brand spanking new Flip Camera that is an early Mother's Day and birthday present from my husband. I have been saying I wanted it for my birthday so sooner is definitely better! It is awesome and I am having a hard time concentrating at work because I just want to play with it. :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sophie Update

I feel like I need to do a Sophie update. She has been growing like crazy and changing so fast, so yes, this will be a mommy post. Here's a picture I took of her this morning.

  • It seems like she has grown a foot since Christmas. Her pants are all bordering on highwaters! She is definitely looking more like a little girl and not at all like a baby.

  • She is also doing great at potty training overall. I have had lots of you tell me not to rush her and I totally agree. She is definitely getting it now, just too into whatever she is doing sometimes to stop and tell me. Overall, though, she is doing great! The other night I had put her to bed and a few minutes later I hear, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" I finally went in and she was standing up and said, "Mommy, I need to go to the bathroom." I was like, ok, little adult! I have been using babyish words like "T-T on the Potty" but I guess we are a little more sophisicated than that. We laughed and laughed about that one.

  • I am so thankful that she is such a cuddler. She loves to say "Mommy hold you" which was always one of favorite things to hear a kid say ever. I really really like it when she says it to me. I never have to try to get her to hug or sit with me or tell me she loves me. She wants to love on us all the time!

  • This kid loves Elmo, even more than ever. We are definitely not growing out of that one yet. When she thinks we are going to be home for a little while, she immediately says, "Watch Elmo, Mommy!" and then when I say no, she changes to her innocent angel voice and says, "Please Sophie watch Elmo, Mommy, please?!" If I still say no, she says it again. It's hard to explain why asking politely doesn't always equal a yes. I suppose I am still learning that life lesson myself, so I don't really have a good answer, other than the standard "because I am the Mommy".

  • Her hair is getting so long! Those TINY little corkscrew curls, some 4 or 5 inches long, just bounce right back close to her head. I am thinking her hair is going to grow OUT for a long while before it ever, if ever, grows DOWN. :) I love hair and she does too! I tell her every morning that she looks beautiful, and now she actually says it before I can, then jumps down from me to go show her daddy, so HE can say she looks beautiful. Ok, so maybe we're a little overboard, but I say we're just filling her up now so that preteenagehood will be a little smoother! You need a little confidence bank to draw from during that era.(Remember I work with teens everyday!) ***BTW if you have an Ethiopian or African American daughter and her hair looks like THIS, please email me and let's talk technique and product.

  • She is singing all the time still. She can actually carry a tune pretty well. I love catching her sing, because she belts it out the most when we aren't looking right at her. She loves worship music. Especially Shout Hallelujah, Blessed Be The Name, How Great is Our God, and a recent favorite is Mighty to Save. It almost brings me to tears when I hear her sing. I can't help but hope those words are resonating in her, maybe like foreshadowing of who we hope she will become as she grows up, as she sings them and that she will come to know Christ as her Lord and that she will know how precious she is to Him.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Thanks and Puppies

Thanks for all the ideas about Parents Night Out! We are having it at our church. So far so good. Will just be a trial run. If it goes well, we'll do it again!

I have just heard from a friend of mine who is trying to find homes for a couple of puppies. Here is the link for more info. They are in the Midsouth region.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Parents Night Out

I am seeking ideas for a Parents Night Out I am trying to plan at our church for the young families in our church and for the community . The teens will donate their time and we will charge x number of dollars per child, the money will go to the ministry. Does anyone have that kind of thing at their church/community? Tell me some things you liked and didn't like if so, and how much your group charged per child.

Sophie's training is going really well! I never thought I would say the words poop and teetee as often as I say them. :) I think I have laughed more the last two weeks maybe than any time in her life so far. She gets so excited and proud!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A new year and a new project

I was reading in bed the other night and just busted out laughing. I could not believe I was actually reading a book called:

Sophie has decided she wants to do it! So here we go, right? Maybe I should done a little more research earlier... because now I am scrambling trying to figure out how to potty train while being a working mom. I thought I'd use my blog and my amazing friends who peruse it to give me some tips.

If you were working, did you take a week and a half off of work to potty train?
If your child is in some kind of child care, do you pretty much have to adopt their system so the child is not confused?
How did you adjust the schedule on days you are at home?
Pullups or not?
Did you find that candy or sticker charts worked better?

Sorry but I am definitely a Dummy in this department.