"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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!

Don't the bottle cap necklaces look great on pumpkins???? Imagine how cute they would look on your friends and family members... Click on the necklace image on the left of our blog for all of the details and ordering info. 100% of proceeds benefit Love In Action orphanage in Ethiopia. Please check it out. Your $5 purchase goes a long way to help out children in Ethiopia!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

So Cute It's Scary

Here is a sneak peak at my youngest two in their Halloween costumes...How do you explain this crazy holiday to a three year old who has only been with us for four months? Why is her brother dressed like a bobble head skeleton??? Hmmm...

Grace isn't freaked out at all! She is loving the idea of dressing up. Now we just have to convince her to be a princess instead of a duck...wish me luck!
Something else cute: bottle cap necklaces and key chains! Sales are going well. Click on the photo on the side bar to check out our post about why we are selling these to help raise money for Love In Action Orphanage...



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What will Halloween look like this year?

Mystery Gang - Halloween 2008

Halloween 2008- so much fun...my husband even shaved his goatee to get into character. We love to have a theme...we love to have a big Halloween party...we love getting dressed up.

Halloween 2009 - some of us were a little "dark," one of us was a good looking vampire from Twilight (he even sparkled), one of us was something "super cool" from Star Wars, and one of us was...ummm...I have no idea... - no theme last year - we were too busy doing adoption paperwork.

What will Halloween 2010 look like? Well, it will be different. We decided to skip having our annual party because we thought our new little one might be a little too overwhelmed by the whole thing. Turns out she probably would have LOVED it. She is a party animal at heart and doesn't seem to mind scary costumes at all. Instead of our usual family party, we decided to turn the party over to our daughter and her 8th grade friends for the night...Yikes...three more days until our first boy/girl party...any advice?

And as for Grace's costume this year...she is still not 100% sure. The obvious choice would be Princess Tiana -it just seems so predictable. She is also considering being a duck...hmmm, interesting.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Africa Hope Run


(this cute picture of Grace almost didn't make it to the blog because the pantry door is seen open...let it go...let it go...it is hard for me to actually post pictures of the chaos I live in)
Oh how I love seeing my little Ethiopian beauty hold up an adorable (and delicious) Africa cut out cookie...we have been making these super cute treats a long time before Grace was with us. I ordered the cookie cutter months ago to make special cookies for our big fundraiser/gold party. Since that time, we have made many Africa cookies just for fun. This weekend we needed to have some special Africa cookies because our family was participating in The Africa Hope Run and I thought it would be a fun way to "carb up" before the big race :) (obviously I am not a big runner).
Our church was sponsoring the 5K/10K run/walk to raise money for orphans in Malawi, Africa. We are so happy to be a part of a church that cares deeply for Africa's orphans and works closely to sponsor an orphanage and school in Funsani, Malawi. Our church's mission statement says it best...the goal- "becoming people of character with hearts for the world." Love it! I also love that one of our pastors and his wife are in Ethiopia right now meeting their new son for the first time! Awesome...
So, anyway...we needed Africa cookies...
It's so cute how flour shows up on Grace's beautiful skin. She was covered by the time the cookies were cut out.
My daughter and her friend helped make cookies the night before the big "race."
I LOVE how excited all of my daughter's friends are about Grace, our journey to bring her home, and those left behind in Africa. Who says 8th grade girls are self centered? These sweet girls were so excited to participate in the run and help make a difference in the lives of those who the race is benefiting. They also proudly wear the Africa necklaces that we are selling to help support LIA orphanage...so cool...
The girls had to get up early to get to the run. Gotta love teenagers who are willing to wake up early on a Saturday morning for a good cause.
Here is another super sweet family who woke up early to join us for the run. This family has been so supportive of us throughout our adoption. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends in our lives. They also love Grace and were excited to be a part of the first ever Africa Hope Run.
My dear friend Kimberly. Getting up early to run/walk would not be her first choice for fun, but she would do anything to help support Africa and orphans and is the kindest, most caring person I know. She has also been a huge blessing throughout our adoption (and it rocked that she is a notary and could help me with so much paperwork!).
Here we are ready to start running/walking. Half of us ran and half walked. Grace got to ride in the stroller and kept insisting that she could walk. Maybe next year sweetie...the most precious part of the run was when we were about a block away from the finish line and I decided to let Grace get out of the stroller. She has never seen a race and had no way of understanding what we were supposed to be doing that day, but when her little feet hit the ground, she took off like a shot. Her little legs ran so fast and she did NOT look back once. She took off for the finish line. It was the cutest thing ever (keep in mind that this is the Africa Hope Run and she was probably one of about three African people there). It was like she was the little mascot running across the finish line. The crowd cheered her on like crazy and the pastors were all at the finish line giving her high fives. She had a blast! Who knows, maybe she has some of that awesome Ethiopian running skill in her! (did you know that Ethiopia, not Kenya, has been the most successful long distance running nation over the past ten years?)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hair!

I hope Grace will always love her hair!!!! I need to remind her of how cool it is every time we comb it...she is still not a fan of combs. Share this video with all of your AA/Ethiopian beauties!

Happy Friday!!!

(remember to pause the music at the bottom of the blog before watching the video)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Official!!!!


Yesterday was our re-adoption/finalization hearing for Grace's adoption. It is strange, but we had all but forgoten about the fact that there was one more, very important, thing that needed to be done. We needed the state of Wisconsin to recognize her Ethiopian adoption and agree to her name change.
We kept her Ethiopian name as her middle name, so she is now officially Grace Hiwot.

Going to the court house for a hearing was really interesting. The kids were excited to leave school early and head to the big, beautiful courthouse downtown. They had never set foot in the building, so it was interesting to watch them in awe at the beautiful architecture. It was also very interesting to witness all of the other people at the court house...many were not there for such a joyous occasion...as evidenced by the man we saw being escorted back to jail in his orange jumpsuit after being sentenced to five years in prison (we are really good listeners...his attorney chatted with his family after his sentencing hearing let out). Anyway...back to Grace. She was excited to become an official Wisconsinite and share our family name.

It was all so official. The judge started off by talking about a bunch of legal business that he needed to get on "record" and the stenographer was busy typing away...my daughter thought that was very interesting and noted that she would probably be pretty good at that job because of her practice with abbreviations while texting...So, after the official blah, blah, blah, the judge asked me Grace's given name. We answered a couple of questions, and then it was all over. He offered his congratulations and invited us up to "the bench" for pictures.

Grace seemed very comfortable sitting on his lap. She is a natural with the gavel too.

The judge did mention that because Grace was not born in the US, she is not eligible to be the president of The United States, but she can still be secretary of state (or at the very least an ambassador to Ethiopia). The kids and I had talked about his a few weeks ago...my oldest son thinks it is ridiculous that she can't be president...

It was a really touching experience. Even though Grace has been officially ours in our hearts since we first saw her picture in March, and officially our legal child according to the Ethiopian government since May, and officially a US citizen since landing in the US in July, it was still a very special moment. I asked her to tell the judge her new name and she recited it so cute with her little accent!


To celebrate, we headed to Curly's Pub at Lambeau Field (where the GB Packers play football). They have humongous desserts and we knew the kids would love to enormity of it all.



This is one of our desserts. I think it had about eight scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, Oreos, tons of whip cream, m&ms and green and gold sprinkles.






Funny to think this is the same girl who didn't like sweets when she came home three months ago. She is fitting right in now...

After we were all sugared up, the boys went to Drew's football banquet and Alyssa and her dance friends decided to get pink hair extensions to help raise money for breast cancer awareness. She looks pretty darn cute with a pink stripe in her hair (she looks pretty darn cute all the time...have I mentioned what a lucky mom I am to have her as my daughter?).

So...It's official. Grace is now officially and completely ours forever...When we got up to leave the court room, It was very sweet ...the judge and stenographer both wished us well and said to Grace, "Have a good life Grace." Wow...Through God's blessings, this sweet little girl has already lived a grace filled life and she is only three years old. I can not wait to see the amazing things she will do with the rest of her precious life. What an honor to be a part of it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adoption Rocks


I think Bryce's shirt says it all. We are so happy that we followed the call to adopt. We can't imagine life around here without Grace. It is so hard to imagine what she would be doing right now if we hadn't pursued her adoption...
Could you be called to adopt? Are you plugging your ears, trying not to listen like we did at first?
I'm so glad we listened. There are so many ways to care for orphans...how are you called? Adoption? Sponsorship? Mission work? Helping other families fund their adoption?
We can all play a part. I never want to stop advocating for the 147 million orphans still waiting - I've met hundreds of them...they are all beautiful. They all should be able to have a brother, sister, mom or dad who wears an "adoption rocks" t shirt.

Monday, October 18, 2010

About Me...Hmmm...




Well, a few days ago (I lie- it was more like a few weeks ago) my blog friend Brittney "tagged" me to do a post about myself. Why is this so hard? It just seems WAY more fun and interesting to write about my little Ethiopian princess and her adventures. Well, in an effort to hold up my end of the deal (was there a deal?) I will try to write answer a couple of questions about myself.

What would your dream job be?
Easy. My background is in education. I loved working in the school system. I have a masters degree in counseling and worked as a school counselor prior to staying home with my kids. I have worked as an elementary school counselor, intermediate school counselor and middle school counselor. I loved working at each of these levels. My dream job would be to work part-time as a school counselor and/or work in the field of adoption. I would love to work as an adoption counselor and advocate. My passion for adoption and orphan care would make working in the field of adoption so much fun.

Where would you like to live?
I really do love living in the Wisconsin. We are lucky enough to experience all four seasons. We treasure our summers (because they are so short) and we make the most of the winter months (skiing, sledding, etc.). The one thing missing for us now is the fellowship with other adoptive families. I know there are tons of adoptive families in our state (some of our best friends have adopted), but somehow it seems like there are more adoptive families in the southern states (is it just me?). Maybe it is just because we worked with an agency in KY, but boy, there sure seem to be a lot of awesome adoptive families in KY, TX, and TN!

In which century would you like to live?
Easy. This century. I am way too much of a wimp to survive in another past century...

What would be your last meal?
I love ethnic food. My last meal would probably include something Italian or Mexican. I would be sure to include some good wine or fun flavorful margarita. I would top off the meal with something chocolaty - probably some decadent chocolate raspberry cheesecake.

Why did you start this blog?
I started the blog to document our adoption journey. It is so wild to think that I started the blog less than a year ago - my first post was when our dossier was mailed. In less than a year's time our little girl has been brought home! AMAZING! We are so lucky. It is obvious that God's hand has been in every aspect of our journey...seriously, less than a year and we have our beautiful little girl home!
Favorite piece of clothing?
Easy. Jeans. I LOVE wearing jeans. I am a bit of a jeans addict. I am always so happy when the weather starts to cool off and I can start wearing my good old jeans again!

Favorite film?
This is a tough one. I haven't really been watching too many movies lately. I love the 80's movies directed by John Hughes. I LOVED The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles (I even own a shirt that says "I heart Jake Ryan"), and Pretty in Pink. I am really excited for my 13 year old daughter to watch them with me some day soon (I think I need to watch them again to remember how appropriate they are...I know I loved them, but I don't really remember everything about them...).

What would you like to do before you turn 100?
I would love to travel more - many trips to Ethiopia, Europe, Hawaii
I would love to do some mission work in Ethiopia - perhaps focus on the Wolayita region of Ethiopia for starters (this is where Grace is from).
I would love to watch my children become kind, loving, successful people with loving families of their own.
I would like to live life remembering how lucky I am and not take so much for granted.


Now I get to "tag" a few other bloggers to write about themselves...Gayla, Kendra and Bonnie...TAG! You're it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Necklaces!

Well, it turns out that bottle cap necklaces are not just for little girls! As I started to look for supplies to make the key chains and necklaces, I discovered a whole world of more "mature" looking supplies. I thought I would try a few and then start offering them for sale to help with our fundraiser. As a reminder, all of the proceeds from our key chain and necklace sales go to Love In Action Orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We had the pleasure of visiting LIA while we were in Ethiopia and I promise you, they are going to be doing amazing things for the kids who live at the orphanage as well as the kids they sponsor and families in their community. So...back to the new "design." I have a LIMITED number of these black and white necklaces available. I have SIX available right now. They come with a flattened bottle cap charm and a black ribbon cord. The cord is about 18 inches long and is actually made up of four thin black cords and one organza ribbon.


Thank you Cynthia for agreeing to model the black and white necklace for me. You look beautiful as always!

So...if you like this style, grab it quick. If there is a high demand for the black cord/ribbon necklaces, I will order more and make them available when they are ready. In the meantime, grab one of these with your order. Because I don't feel like making a special PayPal button for this design, just USE THE NOTE TO SELLER SECTION OF THE PAYPAL ORDER LINK TO INDICATE THAT YOU WANT TO PURCHASE THE BLACK RIBBON NECKLACE. So, first come, first serve on these six necklaces.

I also have a really cool version of the basic bottle cap necklaces that we have been selling...
Here is Brittney, my blog friend and fellow adoptive mom from Louisville, wearing another flattened bottle cap necklace. She choose to order the Africa Hope design on a flattened bottle cap for a more grown up look. Doesn't it look great on her??? The other difference with this necklace is that it is on an 18" chain instead of the standard 24" chain. If you would like to order a flattened bottle cap or have your necklace come on an 18 inch chain, PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE NOTE TO SELLER SECTION OF THE PAYPAL ORDER FORM. All necklaces are made with 24" chains unless there is a note on the order form. The 24" necklaces are best for kids - they can slip them over their heads easily.


Here is further proof that the necklaces are not just for little kids. Our mother/daughter book club met this week, and the girls and moms all loved them!

The girls have been wearing them to middle school, and the demand for them is spreading like fire...think Silly Bandz for older kids :) My daughter Alyssa is wearing the flattened bottle cap on a long chain. Her friend is wearing a regular bottle cap on a short chain.


Here is a long version of the flattened bottle cap necklace. What a cute little model!

You can see the difference between the flattened and regular bottle caps. As a reminder, the necklaces and key chains are $5 (plus $1 shipping) each and all of the money goes straight to Love In Action Orphanage. Thanks so much for your support of this project!!!


We Are Supposed To Be Doing Laundry...

Well, it's a beautiful Monday morning and Grace and I have NOTHING to do today. The plan was for us to get the house cleaned up and do about 4,000 loads of laundry. Hmmm...the plan did not get off to a good start, because Grace wanted to have her hair "pretty." She requested that I do a little something with tiny rubber bands (I think she keeps waiting for me to whip some braids into her hair...unfortunately, that's not going to happen any time soon - this momma has a lot of learning to do first). We came up with this very festive style and I think it turned out really cute. She loves the pumpkins and at least we got to use two rubber bands (although she really wanted to use three).
So, one load of laundry in and now it's time to clean...right? Right... Play doh instead. Then we saw the sun shining and the leaves calling our names. Why not just go outside for a little while to take a few cute pictures?





Sorry Grace, we really need to go inside now for some lunch and a nap. Huh? Not her idea of fun. I didn't take a picture of what ensued. So, with Grace asleep now I guess I should quit looking at blogs and do the remaining 3, 999 loads of laundry that are waiting for me ;)


NECKLACE UPDATE...We have sold more than half of the number of necklaces to meet our initial goal. Please keep the orders coming. The necklaces and key chains really are cute. I promise to add another cool design later today or tomorrow...here's a hint - bottle cap necklaces aren't just for little girls...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ready for Snow!


One of the best parts about adopting a little girl instead of a baby, is being able to watch her experience so many "firsts." She shows pure joy when she encounters something new, and we get to watch. Things that we take for granted are such a big deal for Grace. We've seen such excitement when Grace discovered things like socks, a new doll to play with, and of course, mittens.
So just imagine the excitement that came when Grace was given her first winter coat and hat. She was beyond excited. After I showed it to her, I was afraid she was going to have to wear it out in public. It is starting to cool off a bit here in Wisconsin, but we are not quite ready for winter coats yet. We are trying to explain to Grace why we will need such a big, puffy coat, but for now, she just thinks it is fun to wear around the house.
She loves the hat too. So, tell me moms out there...what in world am I going to do about her hair in the winter? Am I seriously supposed to stick her cute little hairstyles into this fuzzy hat and let her hair go crazy? I don't know if I can do it. I might be the mean mom that makes her kid freeze all winter because I don't want to sacrifice her hair by sticking a hat on her head...please don't call social services. Does a headband with a big flower on it count as a hat? Maybe I can pull the headband over her ears while we are outside...
Grace modeling another cute winter look.
Now we just need to get boots and try to explain snow to her. I hope snow is at least another month away, but if not, we are getting ready!
OK...one last plug for necklaces and key chains for the week. Thanks to all of you who have ordered. I have heard such great responses from you and am so happy you like them. It is such a fun way for us to raise money for Love In Action and it is also a great little item for you to use to spread the word about adoption and orphan care. Please keep checking out our blog because I have a new style to show you soon. It is a more "grown up" version of the necklace and I am sure you are all going to love it. Also, if you ordered a key chain or necklace and would like to model it for me, please send me a picture for our blog. I want to show off your beautiful faces too...Grace can't be my only model, can she? I love her little hand on this picture...the necklace says I love Ethiopia- so cute on her!