"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid God might ask me the same question."
-Anonymous

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thank You!!!


Check out this cute photo of Grace...I bribed the kids to go out in the cold to take a few pictures for our Christmas card.  It was super cold, but Grace was a trooper and did a great job of posing!
(they were rewarded with ice cream when we finished our 15 minute photo shoot)

I wanted to THANK everyone who purchased something from our Sparkle Project fundraiser.  The order is at the printer now and it should arrive to me by December 9th.  I promise to package and ship the orders ASAP so that you can enjoy your shirts or totes and so that your gifts will be ready to give for Christmas.
Once again, thank you for your support!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

THREE More Days!


You have THREE more days to purchase Sparkle Project shirts and totes.  
We are so thankful to all of you who have already made your purchases...you are helping to improve the life of a girl in Ethiopia (and getting some super cute stuff along the way!).

Please head over to:
to order.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Sparkle Project 2013




CLICK HERE to visit our store and see all of the items for sale.

Last year, Alyssa and I decided to start doing something to support girls and women in Ethiopia.
We started a blog, did some service projects, did a little fundraising, and had an awesome time doing it!  
We have partnered with a wonderful organization called  Eyes That See to sponsor girls in Ethiopia. We were fortunate enough to visit the site of ETS while we were in Ethiopia.  We have also met the founders of ETS in person, and know first-hand about the incredible work they are doing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.   Eyes That See provides school tuition, uniforms, healthy meals, and emotional support for the children they serve.   It costs $25 a month to sponsor a girl in Ethiopia. 

Here is how you can make a difference:  by purchasing a Sparkle shirt or tote, you can help to sponsor a child for a month!!!!  It's like spending $$$ to sponsor a child (a great gift in itself), and getting a cool t-shirt or tote along with your donation!

 Every time you make a purchase from The Sparkle Project, you receive your shirt or tote,  and a card containing a photo of the girl you are helping to sponsor We are so excited to offer you an opportunity to see the girl whose life YOU are helping to impact.  Please take time to think of and pray for the girl you are helping.  Each (adorably wrapped) gift package that you purchase will help support a girl in Ethiopia for a full month! Please consider making a difference in the life of a child...

We are doing a pre-sale for shirts/totes.  Your order will be shipped the beginning of December (in time for holiday gifts).

Everything will be shipped in beautiful packaging -explaining that "The purchase of this shirt helped to support a girl in Ethiopia for an entire month" - great for gift giving!!!! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday.  Those of you who have adopted know this.  Many of you have heard about how November is National Adoption Month.  We hear that there are over 147 million orphans in the world, but it doesn't really sink in easily....until one of them looks you in the eye and calls you "Mom."  Suddenly there are not just 147 million orphans in the world, there are 147 million real, live, children that you can't stop thinking about.
It has been three years since Grace has been home.  Today as we honor Orphan Sunday, we will do what we do every day...
It's really very simple:
We celebrate adoption every day, not just once a year. After all, how can you look at Grace's beautiful face and not be reminded of the love we have been blessed with?   Not only are we able to experience her love, but we experience God's love by witnessing first-hand what it means to be redeemed...her story is so beautiful; tragic and beautiful.  And trust me, we are the ones who are blessed.  We are the ones who have learned so much and grown so much.  And, we are so lucky have experienced the true, selfless love that Grace's birth family has shared with us through her life.

We share our story. It always makes me smile when I think about how long it took us to decide to adopt (when I say us, I really mean Doug and he knows it).  It seemed like it took forever for us to take that giant leap of faith and to start the adoption process.  Looking back, I know that this was really meant to be.  If it were not for God's perfect timing, we would have rushed into adoption and Grace, who was meant to be our daughter all along, wouldn't have been ready for us.  It's a classic case of 'thank God for unanswered prayers.'  Now, I smile because my once reluctant husband is the poster child (OK, poster dad) for adoption.  He loves to talk to people about our adoption story.  He is also willing to talk to any reluctant fathers out there!  Seriously...give him a call if you have a reluctant husband, who know what could happen?
And most importantly,
We remember the children still waiting.  Our family has a connection to and commitment to the waiting children who pray for a family of their own.  A part of our hearts will always be in Ethiopia.  We made a decision to always honor the country that Grace is from.  We look forward to the day that our entire family will travel to Ethiopia and reconnect with the wonderful friends and family that we have there.  In the mean time, we will continue our efforts to support the many Ethiopian children that need an education, sponsorship and in some cases, adoptive families. This is a passion of ours, and in the next couple of days, we will share a few ways that you too can partner with us to help sponsor some of these children (and get yourself some awesome clothes and gifts in the process!).

 Grace is a beauty.  I love the look on her face when I see her deep in thought. I will never really understand what she remembers about her adoption journey or how she feels about the experience.  At times, she looks like she is still processing so much.  One thing I know for sure is that she loves us.  She shines brightly.  She also loves her country of birth.  Please consider partnering with us this month as we set out to support some of the 147 million orphans who still wait.  I promise you will never regret helping one of these sweet children. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What in the world have we been doing for the past four months????

It's funny how when we were in the process of adopting (I was obsessed with reading blogs of people who were also adopting), I would be so disappointed when I hadn't seen a post from my "virtual friends" for a long time...how could they possibly be too busy to update me on their life????
Well, I am not sure anyone reads our blog anymore, but I want to keep updating in an effort to share some family memories, but most importantly, remember some family memories (because let's face it- I am NOT scrap booking these days...another long forgotten hobby that I really tried to keep up with).

So here is a quick update on our family...
Bryce turned 10 in January and was thrilled to receive a five pound gummy bear.  Seriously.  He loves it.  It sits on his dresser.  It is heavy (five pounds of gummy bear is solid I tell you).
Bryce also received a special surprise from his crazy mom...turtles! Illegal turtles.  Please don't turn us in to the authorities, but I guess it's illegal to own turtles under four inches long.  Funny, it was pretty darn easy for me to order these little guys online.  They were shipped from Florida, and arrived safely overnight (I paid more for shipping than the turtles).  You don't have to write to me to tell me how scary these little guys are to our health...I had my fair share of freaking out about salmonella, but I did my research, and we are VERY diligent about hand washing and disinfecting.
 We have also been busy attending our fair share of basketball games.  Bryce played ball, and transformed himself on the court, and off.  This is Bryce at the beginning of the season (white jersey...#33).  Notice his beautiful flowing locks?
 BEFORE
 AFTER
 What???  Break this mommas heart!  This is the same basketball player after he decided that it "was time" to cut his hair(red jersey #33)!  The boy had not had a real haircut in all of his ten years of life.  When he showed up at school, the kids thought there was a new student in their class.  I overheard some dads at basketball practice questioning who the "new player" was. At the end of one basketball tournament (following Bryce's haircut), a parent came up to me to ask why I was there..."Bryce isn't even playing..." they said.  Funny, no one recognized him.  I am finally getting used to his new look.
 High school dance team season also kept us VERY busy this winter.  There were many dance team performances (which came with awesome varsity basketball games to watch on Friday nights) and competitions to attend.  The girls had a great season.
 My favorite performances were their pom numbers, but...

 Their hip hop routine is what took them to "state."  It actually turned out to be a really cool routine.  Gotta love those baggy M.C. Hammer pants.

 When dance team season starts to wind down, studio dance teams are just getting started.  
We are in the middle of tons of (studio) travel team competitions (that will have to be another post).

Grace recently turned six  (had a great birthday) and is doing fantastic at school and loving kindergarten. 
She is also sporting a new "do."
We absolutely adore extensions.  They are such a time saver in the morning.  It takes a very long time to do the braiding, but after that...easy peasy.  We love the look on Grace too.
 Something new for our family this year, was watching Drew shoot at the state archery tournament.
I knew NOTHING about archery until this year.  It's actually pretty cool.  We were very proud of Drew.  This is something we knew nothing about.  Doug doesn't hunt or shoot, so it was totally up to him to learn how to shoot.  Turns out he is really good!  Drew even qualified to go to "nationals" for archery!  Crazy to think my 7th grader will be driving across the country to compete with 10,000 other students at the national archery competition in Louisville...




 And, last but not least, when it comes to the furry part of our family, there is good news and bad news.
Our sweet dog Blue is getting old.  His health is not great.
We thought we were going to lose him about a month ago, but, it turns out that he is pretty darn resilient.
He is hanging in there, but is 11 years old and slowing down a ton.
 The doctor was surprised we were able to celebrate his 11th birthday since he is losing weight and not eating much (he only weighs 30 pounds...crazy for a dog his size...thank goodness for his fur).
 The good news is that soon Blue will have a new friend.
We are adding this little cutie to our family soon.
I am pretty excited about this little guy.  I am looking forward to having a little dog in the house.
He is a cavalier king charles spaniel. He doesn't have a name yet (at least that's what I'm letting everyone believe...we can't agree on a name, but the way I see it, he's mine to name because I am the one who will be training him and getting up in the middle of the night with him).



 So, there you have it.  We have been busy. This last picture shows where I am heading in my next blog post...road trippin to South Dakota.  Funny, our adoption blog is the reason we headed to South Dakota...gotta love this crazy world of "virtual" turned real-life friends.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Because of these two girls...Spring Break part one...

because of these two girls.........
 two mamas reached out to one another from different parts of the country.



because of these two girls..........
 two families became friends when they otherwise wouldn't have known about each other......




because of these two girls........
 they will have a friend for life who has a similar story......a VERY similar story.




 because of these two girls.......
 there is a LOT of love going around.
because of these two girls.......
two families find a way each year to reunite.

God blessed us all.
so it's really because of
HIM.

***this post came from my friend Kendra's blog...thanks for letting me share your beautiful words Kendra!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Grace's Rainbow Birthday Party


 It's hard to believe, but our little girl is six!  Time really flies- especially when you start celebrating birthdays when you are three years old.  Grace's fourth and fifth birthday parties were a lot of fun and excitement for her.  When she came home from Ethiopia, she had no idea what her birthday was  or why celebrating it was so significant.  My have times changed!  This time around, she was ready and excited to count down to her birthday!  
It's always a little bitter sweet to celebrate a birthday with an adopted child (at least for me anyway...).  Celebrating the day Grace was born brings to mind all of the changes she has experienced in her short life.  I can't help but to praise God for Grace's birth mother and the amazing choices she made for Grace.   We are so thankful that God placed such a strong, capable, and courageous women with Grace when she entered this world.  We also praise Him for guiding this amazing woman as she thoughtfully and selflessly chose to place Grace in an orphanage with the belief and hope that Grace would have a better chance of success and health if she had a different opportunity.
So, as we celebrate Grace's birthday, we are also celebrating the amazing woman who made it possible.

For those of you who have been encouraging me to blog about the party (all two of you...ok, three if you count Grace's grandma), here goes...
The theme was RAINBOWS!
It is super easy to throw a rainbow birthday party with resources like Pinterest and Hobby Lobby out there.  Rainbows don't have to cost a lot of money, and they can be created out of just about anything.


I was really behind schedule and didn't give out invites until one week before the party...to make sure everyone remembered the party, I wanted to make sure the invite was cute.  I love how these turned out!  I found a template for the cloud, and used clear bags filled with rainbow colored licorice.  The back of the bag had a piece of cardstock with all of the party info on it.

We started with the rainbow wall of balloons.  Thanks to the idea from my adoptive mom Chrisanna, we had a beautiful backdrop for photos and an easy way to add color to the room.  The balloon wall was PERFECT for one of the craft projects too.  Just a little hint if you plan to do the balloon wall...use an air compressor (great idea Keith!).  I think my husband said he was able to blow up three or four balloons a minute (tying them took a bit longer).

The paper pom poms were premade at a party supply store.  Lucky for me, I have a wonderful teenage daughter who is crafty and helpful.  Thanks to Alyssa, the decorating was a snap!
I bought six different colors of tulle to use throughout the room.  I tied  tulle on the back of each chair (the six colors of the rainbow) and used a little to jazz up my cupcake plate.
Of course, we greeted the guests with our balloon wreath (made this little number last year).  I added a quick picture of Grace to it so that guests knew they were at the right house :)
Alyssa's very talented boyfriend was kind enough to draw a unicorn with a rainbow horn for Grace.  The intent was to use the poster for a "pin the horn on the unicorn" game...we had so much fun that we ran out of time.  The poster was still a great decoration.
There is no limit to the amount of things you can do with a rainbow color theme. 
I came across rainbow ribbon at Hobby Lobby and decided to give each guest a rainbow headband.  We played a little game and each girl got to win one (tried this approach so that they filled their goody bags up as we went...prizes went right into the bag and were all set to go home at the end of the party.  The goody bags also had individually wrapped rainbow licorice and bags of rainbow goldfish crackers...I know, so much artificial food dye at this party!).
The rainbow wands were also a prize for playing a little game.  We had a version of musical chairs, but instead of chairs, there were colored pieces of paper (each color of the rainbow) on the ground in a circle.  There were also two white "cloud" paper pieces.  When the music stopped, if you were standing on a cloud, you won a cloud/rainbow wand.  The girls really seemed to like the game and the wands.

As far as crafts went, we made rainbow bottlecap necklaces with the girls names on.  I love making personalized crafts (with names) because so many girls have unique spellings for their names.  It is fun for them to take something home with their name on it.  I made the bottlecap part ahead of time, and the girls strung rainbow colored beads on a ribbon necklace...easy peasy.
Our rainbow balloon backdrop was perfect for taking photos of the girls when they arrived. The girls painted rainbow frames.  The frames were unfinished wood frames that cost a mere dollar from Michael's.  With a little white spray paint, they looked perfect for the girls to decorate!  It was fun to print the photos right away so that the frames were complete when the parents arrived.  Many were impressed with the quick turn around time :).
There are so many cool snacks to have at a rainbow party!


One of my FAVORITE things at the party was the rainbow jello!
It was super easy, I just had to allow enough time for each layer to set before I added another.
This was a huge hit with the girls (and my family).

I made my favorite rainbow cupcakes as well.  They still amaze people when they take that first bite...it's so fun to watch kids ooh and ahh when they discover the rainbow inside their cupcake.  (These are always requested by my kids for their school birthday treat...Alyssa even wanted to bring them for her dance team the other day...).

All in all, the party was a huge success.  We've been enjoying the rainbow balloons and decorations for over a week now...they seem perfect for spring, and I don't have the heart to take them down!
A very happy birthday girl (and her very tired mom) :)