"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."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Last Call for Valentine's Day Necklaces

Just a reminder that if you are interested in ordering a necklace (or key chain) for your Valentine, the deadline for orders is fast approaching. I must have all orders by Saturday, February 5th in order to make and ship the necklaces to you by Valentine's Day.
If you are interested, just click on the item description under the Paypal link on the left hand side of our blog, and you will see all of the design choices.

Thanks again for your support of Ethiopia Reads!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cute Clothes and Packer Football

Clearly my little Grace does not need more clothes. This is evidenced by her bedroom closet that is chucked full. I can't even fit another hanger on the bar...it is crazy to think I would consider shopping for more clothes for her....BUT, I found a great new website with the cutest girls clothes. They have styles that are adorable AND, get this, the company was started in South Africa. Check out Naartjiekids.com to see some adorable clothes at affordable prices. They expanded to the US, but have maintained their commitment to their African roots. "The name "Naartjie" (pronounced nar chee) is an Afrikaans word for "a small, sweet citrus fruit” found in Africa. For the Naartjie Brand it is also synonymous for a "distinctive, affordable, naturally soft, functional, kid-friendly clothing brand"." So, I couldn't help myself when I found this dress on the naartjiekids website for $14. Grace loves the clothes because they are "fancy" and yet comfy. The clothes are made of natural materials (for the most part), but they throw in a little tulle and lace to make them "fancy." I also love that the clothes are age appropriate. In addition to this little number, I got two more dresses that are equally cute. One was $8 and one was $9. They have a sale on clearance stuff right now so check it out.
The other thing on our mind in Green Bay these days, is football. Super Bowl madness has hit Green Bay and it is wild. Green and gold clothes are everywhere. If I had a dime for every person who talked to me about the Packers or friend who changed their facebook photo to that of a Packer player, I would be a rich girl (and could buy more naartjie clothes for Grace).
I am NOT going to blog about the Packers any more (maybe on Super bowl Sunday), so I am going to get this out of my system.

Future Green Bay Packer... Drew was so excited that the Pack made it to the Super Bowl. He was thrilled that they are going to play in the big game "during his lifetime."

OK...off to take Grace to dance...the dance studio just happens to be down the street from Lambeau Field. It is fun to drive by the stadium and feel the excitement!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Please Pray For Families in Ethiopia!

Please take a minute to pray for a blog friend of mine who is in Ethiopia. She was supposed to have her embassy appointment today, but apparently, the US Embassy had decided to require an additional piece of paperwork that was not originally required. The family was told that they would not be going to their appointment today and that they would need the piece of paperwork before they could have a new appointment. Here are Kendra's words...
"The U.S. government is asking for documents that do not exist in Ethiopia. When we came to court in Nov we legally adopted our child--she can not be legally adopted again...done deal. So without any warning we are told that we need these documents TODAY...which gives our agency no time to get the document (which doesn't exist) together. It could take weeks.......hopefully not."
Please pray for Kendra (and the other families) who are IN ETHIOPIA right now, planning to return home WITH their child in a few days. International adoption can be very tough. It is unpredictable and can be challenging. Kendra has FAITH that everything will turn out as it is supposed to, but she also asks for our prayers so that she can bring her little girl home!!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Bryce!!!

Today is the birthday of one of the sweetest 8 year olds on the planet! I have been telling my little sweetie that I am not going to celebrate his birthday with him...that way he will stay 7. He was not in favor of my idea, though...We had to celebrate.
Last year Bryce had the most awesome "mad scientist" birthday bash. We threw quite a party. I was pleasantly surprised when Bryce asked for a bowling party this year...slightly less planning ;) Great choice Bryce. Seriously...couldn't you just eat this kid up?

Happy Birthday my sweet "8" year old. You bring so much love and joy to our family. You are kind, creative and oh so good at building with Legos! I am so lucky to be your mom and can't wait to see what an amazing young man you will grow up to be. We are so blessed to have you as our "baby boy." Thank you for being my little buddy and for not being too old to "snuggle" with me and share a good "chat."
Now...if only the Packers could give you the best birthday present ever...the NFC Championship victory! Go Pack Go!

Friday, January 21, 2011

I LOVE This Shirt!!!

I absolutely LOVE this shirt!!!! I just got mine in the mail and love, love, love it! It fits great (soft, nice and long, etc.) and is so darn cute! The fact that it is -13degrees today didn't even stop me from wearing it (with a long sleeved tee underneath and sweater over the top). I asked Grace what she thought of the picture on my new shirt and she smiled and said that it was "mom and dad on a plane to go to Ethiopia." I really like the simplicity of this design.
LOVE -enough said.
Please click HERE to see how you can order a shirt of your own. The family selling these awesome tees is raising funds for a mission trip to Ethiopia. I love it when families who have adopted from Ethiopia come home and continue to stay connected to their child's birth country. The shirts are a great deal - only $16 plus shipping. Check it out!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And The Winner Is...

Thank you so much for spreading the word about the Valentine's Day necklaces we are selling. We have been able to raise money to donate to Ethiopia Reads. It has also been fun making personalized necklaces with Ethiopian (and American) names. The "giveaway" was fun and allowed me to "meet" some new blog peeps! And the winner is....CONSTANCE! Thanks so much for participating. I will contact you soon to find out which necklace, key chain and bracelet you would like.
So...in addition to making necklaces, Grace and I decided to stay inside (it's freezing outside in Wisconsin) and make banana split cupcakes. They were AWESOME!!!! I have to give a shout out to Becky, a fellow blogger and adoptive mom, who has a love for Africa, adoption, and cupcakes! Becky also designs blogs and is super creative. Check out her blog if you need any help with your blog...she is the one who helped me jazz up my blog header. She posted this recipe a while back and I couldn't wait to try it. I have a major sweet tooth and am always looking for an excuse to make treats.

So this sweet little cupcake is hollowed out in the center, filled with a banana slice, mashed strawberries, another banana slice, and then it is topped with a delicious pineapple cream cheese frosting, chocolate sauce and a cherry. It seriously tastes like a banana split! They were such a hit - and so darn cute. Sometimes it is just fun to make a special little treat for no reason at all. Grace was pretty excited and, of course, told me to grab my camera for a picture....I guess she has this blog thing figured out. Who knows, maybe Grace thinks all American mommies take pictures of every single thing their kid does and then writes about it on their "puter." Hmmm...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Did You Know...?

Did you know that those caramel apple "wraps" in the produce department of the grocery store actually make pretty tasty treats (especially when you then cover the apple with melted chocolate and chocolate chips...)?
Did you know that it IS possible to find a little something personalized for your Ethiopian Valentine? You can...just check out these necklaces (and key chains and bracelets)...

Did you know that these are some of the cute designs I have for necklaces, bracelets and key chains? Click HERE for more details...
And the big question...Did you know that your ODDS OF WINNING my giveaway are really good right now??? :) Just post a little something about these Valentine's Day goodies on your blog or facebook page (let me know by leaving a comment) or purchase one for $5 through the Paypal button on the left side of my blog. All the proceeds go to Ethiopia Reads and you could win one bracelet, necklace and key chain of your choice. Winner will be selected on Thursday!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

Last year at this time, we were waiting for our referral. We were so excited, and yet very anxious at the same time. There are so many unknowns with adoption. We were sure that we were called to adopt, yet we couldn't see the whole picture yet...
We clung to this quote by Dr. King:

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just the first step."
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One year later and we have Grace home, things are going well and we couldn't be happier that we took the "first step in faith." I am quite sure that Dr. King did not realize how his words would continue to bless and inspire others so many years after he said them. I look forward to sharing Dr. King's words with Grace and all of my children. He was a truly amazing man...Happy Birthday Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
"I have a dream...that little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28th, 1963, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This 'N That

So... What have we been up to the past few days???Making Valentine's Day necklaces...(I love using Grace's Ethiopian name- we just hang both charms on one necklace and it says "Grace Hiwot")
Meeting new friends (Grace's new friends already "knew" her from blog world, so it was fun for them to meet her in person - they hit it off beautifully).

Meeting another new friend :)
Celebrating a buddy's birthday (I love how my friend and I let the our little ones eat giant donuts for breakfast - doubt we would have done that with our first or second born children - I love that part about getting older - I seem to be lightening up about many things ;)).

Making doro wat. Thanks for the recipe Bonnie! I can tell you that my family does not have quite the palates that the N. Family has...it was super spicy!!!! Doug and Grace loved it - we had some injera on hand and Grace was pretty happy with the meal...(btw, berbere has a tendency to stain light pink princess plates...).

Making headbands for Korah. We had so much fun creating headbands to send to Ethiopia with Kari. She is collecting 400 headbands to give to the beautiful little girls that live in Korah. What an awesome project! Alyssa and her dance buddy El created some pretty fancy headbands which are now headed to Ethiopia!!!! What a great idea Kari!

A sampling of the headbands the girls made.

And, of course, we have been cheering on the Green Bay Packers!!!! I guess all our cheering helped them secure a spot in next week's division championship game. Go Pack Go!

Hope you have been enjoying winter, weekends, and family too. ***I'm also praying for some blog buddies of mine who will be traveling to Ethiopia this week to meet and/or bring their little ones home. Good luck to those of you who are traveling!!!! - I can't wait to hear all about your amazing journeys!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Whip My Hair!

WOW! Have we had an exciting morning!!! Today Grace had a hair appointment. Her hair is getting longer and I thought it would be fun for her to have some braids put in. I have three hair styles in my bag of tricks, and one is a headband, so Grace's choices are very limited :)
Being the little diva that Grace is - remember, she LOVES to be fancy- I thought braids would be fun for her. We do not live in the most diverse area, so I called a beauty school to see if they had anyone who specialized in AA hair...did they!
Now...to be honest, this is the first time since we came home from Ethiopia, that Grace has been around so many African American people...Those of you that know Grace know that she has quite a personality. She is very social and fun-loving. Well...When she saw a group of AA women coming to get her after we checked in at the beauty school, she reverted back to the most quiet, shy, mute little thing that you ever did see! I knew what was going through her mind. I told her that I was not going anywhere and that I would be sitting with her the whole time. I knew she was unsure of all of the attention being paid to her by the women at the school (keep in mind, about 10-15 people - many who were close to Grace's complexion- kept coming over to her to talk to her and tell her how "cute" she was). On the car ride home, Grace told me she was scared. I asked her if she thought it was a lot of Ethiopian people. She said yes and was a little bit afraid that they would take her away...break my heart!!!
After the initial shyness, Grace warmed up. The two ladies who worked on Grace's hair were awesome! They were so kind and let Grace play with the fake head of hair pictured here...They were very impressed when Grace showed them how she braids hair...seriously...she is so good at it. Beauty school students were coming over to check out Grace's work- she's that good!
The whole time, I was planning on braids. I knew Grace would love them. What I DIDN'T plan on was beads! Sweet Jamel who was helping with Grace's hair said..."I'm going to see if I can find some beads..." I just laughed, because I knew Grace would LOVE it if she had beads in her hair. I was going to have to "get over it" and let her have beads- even if they don't match every outfit she wears!!!
The finished product...Grace's smile says it all! She was in heaven! The first thing she did when she got out of the chair was, of course, "whip her hair back and forth!" - for those of you who are not familiar with the song, pause our blog music and watch the video below...She has been dying to "whip" her hair since the first time she heard the song...

When we got into the car, she said "I LOVE it!!!!"
What a sweet girl! Can't wait to see how long this style lasts. The ladies at the beauty school gave me some "product" suggestions and a few tips. They said Grace has "good hair" and will never need any chemicals, etc. in her hair. They were really kind and said that many AA people would love her hair type. They also said I was doing a good job, which made me feel pretty happy...I have been wondering about my very limited experience with AA hair.

And now, for your viewing pleasure... "I Whip My Hair Back and Forth!"
(pause music at the bottom of the blog)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Necklace/Bracelet/Key Chain Giveaway!!!

Here is another one of the Valentine's Day designs that we have for our necklaces and key chains. We are excited to bring an "Africa" twist to some traditional Valentine's Day designs. We are also super excited to be able to make personalized necklaces for those of you who have children with unique names...

We would like to have a little giveaway to help get the word out about the personalized necklaces (I am picturing all sort of little Ethiopian girls with their Ethiopian names on necklaces...too cute!). SO...Please do a little blog post, email a few people, post on facebook, etc. a little something about our goodies. You will receive one entry for each posting you do that links others to our blog. You will also be entered if you purchase an item via Paypal. I will be choosing one winner to receive a necklace, key chain, and bracelet. All three items will be yours if your name is picked. Please let me know in the comment section how you participated in the giveaway... We will be choosing a winner in one week...January 19th. Thanks so much for your support. Remember, all proceeds will benefit Ethiopia Reads.

Today was a "dance day" - Grace's favorite day of the week. Here she is with our (crazy) dog.

"I now present to you...'Blue', the crazy, anxiety disordered, food stealing (yet anorexic- he only weighs 38 pounds), one blue-eyed, fur ball that we live with..."

Grace petting Blue with her personalized bracelet on.
Thanks for your help with our giveaway...remember that all the money we raise will go straight back to Ethiopia. We are so excited to stay connected to Grace's birth country through little projects like this. Hope you can help us!
****Update... your odds of winning are looking really good at this point ;)****

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be Mine!!!! Help Spread Some LOVE to Ethiopia!

We've had so much fun making and selling bottle cap necklaces and key chains and have been able to raise over $1600 to donate to two awesome organizations in Ethiopia. People have continued to ask us about the necklaces, so we decided to keep spreading the love to Ethiopia.
Most Valentine goodies around my house involve the kids, so we wanted to come up with an organization to help in Ethiopia that provides something special to children.
We have some really cute Valentine's Day designs. The best part...all of the proceeds from these designs will benefit Ethiopia Reads. In case you are not familiar with Ethiopia Reads, they are an amazing organization that brings children's books to kids in Ethiopia. Did you know that before Ethiopia Reads was founded, there were no children's libraries in all of Addis Ababa (not to mention rural communities in Ethiopia)? Keep in mind that Addis is a city of close to three million people! No books for kids????
Please check out Ethiopia Reads and learn more about their programs...a favorite of ours...the donkey carts that bring books to kids in the countryside! Really!!!! Think bookmobile, but much more rural...a donkey is attached to a cart that is full of kids books and they deliver the books to kids in rural Ethiopia! So cool! Check out the video at the bottom of this post to see the donkey mobile in action.
Here is Grace modeling our first design...It is made with a flattened bottle cap for a "fancier" look - perfect for my little diva. It says her name which makes her happy.

This shows Grace's hand petting our (crazy) dog. This is a really cool design, because I can personalize it to say ANY name...this makes me so happy because so many people have beautiful little ones with unique names! I can add an Ethiopian name, nickname, etc. to this design.

We came up with this new bracelet idea. It is the flattened bottle cap attached to a stretchy band with two jump rings. It is really stretchy- one size fits all type of thing. It looks a tiny big on Grace, but she is pretty small.

Here are two of my favorite girls sporting their new necklaces. Our sweet friend Kemily is wearing her new PERSONALIZED necklace. It is so fun to be able to give her a necklace with HER name on it - she is not usually able to find something with her own name on it!

These are the four Valentine's Day designs. Bracelets will only be made with the two pink designs (the stretchy bands are pink). The blue LOVE necklace is made with a traditional, black and sliver bottle cap (a more boyish option for your sweet little guys).
Key Chains are also available with any of the four designs.
All items are only $5 plus $1 shipping...wouldn't these make great Valentines for the little people in your life?
A close up of Kemily's necklace.
Doesn't she look happy?
Please consider ordering Valentine gifts for your little ones and share your love of Ethiopia in the process. I have a friend who is ordering necklaces for each girl in her daughter's class...love it~ these girls will learn more about Ethiopia in the process:) Each item comes packaged in a clear, cellophane bag with an insert explaining that all of the proceeds will help provide children in Ethiopia with books.
I am going to have a giveaway very soon to spread the word about these items and to help Ethiopia Reads...check back tomorrow for more info!
Please check out this video and see some of the beautiful children in Ethiopia enjoying books!
(be sure to pause the music at the bottom of the blog before you watch the video)