"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, February 28, 2011

The Dance Competitions Begin!!!! First Up, Chicago!

February marks the beginning of competitive dance season around here. We spent the weekend in the Chicago area watching Alyssa's dance troupe compete. We have many more competitions to look forward to this year. It was fun to kick off the "season" as a family of six. Grace really enjoyed watching the dancing. I lost track of how many times she asked if she could go on stage. She tells us that she is "ready" to go on the stage...unfortunately for her, she doesn't actually go "on stage" until her recital in May. Doesn't Alyssa look beautiful? She is such a great girl and dancer! She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
Before heading to the theatre to watch the competition, we made a stop at Cracker Barrel for lunch. Doug told the kids they could pick out a little something sweet for desert to eat in the car as we drove the last hour of our trip...this was what Bryce came up with...umm, nope.

How about a little Sugar Daddy? Umm, nope. Try again. Grace seems to be really lovin' on her Sprite, doesn't she?
After lunch, we had enough time for Grace to catch a tiny nap before we made it to the hotel.
Then it was time for the three youngest to swim while I got Alyssa all dolled up for her first number.


Don't they look great? This is their costume for a really cool "production number" called Be Italian. They did a great job!

Thank goodness for technology. Without ipods, and DS games, we would have been in a whole lot of trouble. The boys were good sports, but we have decided that the next few competitions will be great mother/daughter get-away weekends (no boys allowed) :)
Grace after watching about six hours of dance...

Great job dancing girls! We are so proud of you Alyssa!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Books

I really love a good book. I am reading so many good books right now...thought I would share a few. I found this new blog widget called "Shelfari" which allows me to feature some of the books I am reading or have read. It is funny to see the variety of books on my "shelf." You could probably learn a lot about me if you really analyzed them. Let's see...I have my current adult book club book, my mother/daughter book club book, my adoption group book, and so many books to keep me inspired to keep focusing on Africa and the needs of orphans. I also have books that I just want to read for fun. See if you can figure out which book I got as a gift for my last birthday...here's a hint-it is a autobiography written by someone who I saw "in concert" during my younger years ;)

Even though we have a Nook, my bedside table is always piled high with books I am plugging away at. I will be highlighting a few of these in coming posts. I really love to share a good book and get so exited when someone else reads something that I did and we can talk about it - this is one of the reasons my girlfriends are so important to me...my husband has NO idea how to discuss a good book-he just doesn't "get it."


I read the book It's Not Okay With Me a few months ago. It was so inspiring. It is about a very successful business executive who finds herself in Africa after her life changes as a result of 911. She writes about the truth of what it is like in Africa and questions how we can stand by and allow it to be this way.

I read the book after I came home from Africa, so it really resonated with me. She explains that when you go to Africa, "...it takes a long time to process what you have seen, or didn't see. And at the end of a trip I always tell people that they will have to accept that Africa is not "process-able." How can we as humans or worse yet, how can we as Christians sit for one moment and think that it is okay for a single child to die of hunger today? How?...Is it okay with YOU that 30,000 children will die TODAY in Africa alone because they have no food or no one to go get them food? How will you sleep TONIGHT knowing this? I beg you to be still and close your eyes, but open your mind to my question."

The book goes on to document what she has done to make a difference in the lives of children in Africa. She is remarkable and yet she is just an average person.
One of the most powerful quotes from the book brought me to tears because of it's truth...

" No one who has ever gone to Africa wants to forget. We all get on a plane to come home and we make commitments to ourselves, our family, and even our God to go back- to do something for the beautiful people who welcomed us into their lives without hesitation or expectation. But we all get caught in the distractions of our "real lives." We so want to help the people who hold our hearts, but their faces start to fade away as they are replaced with the faces of the people in our offices. The sight of their mud huts disappears as we frantically try to finish off the renovation on our own house or wash the dishes after a great dinner party. We thought the smiles on the little children could never be forgotten, but they too start to gray as we pick up our kids from piano lessons and drop them off at soccer. Before we even know it, we too are saying it's okay that they are hungry and thirsty and have no clothes or parents or education or safe home. And before you know it, it will all fade to black."

Powerful. Truthful. Motivating ...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wow...Her Hair Really HAS Grown...

What do you think? It's really growing, huh?
Actually, we have a LOT of fun with costumes, wigs, and dress up clothes around here. We love Halloween and happen to have a lot of wigs and costumes laying around.

Grace's hair is really growing though. It started out so easy (and short) that I thought I had it all figured out. Now, I am a bit more stumped. Now, I understand why girls wear braids and moms prefer them. I think we are due to get Grace's hair braided again- this time she has requested "no beads". I think the beads bothered her while she slept.
If only my blog friend Gayla could pay us a visit and whip some yarn braids into Grace's hair ;)

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mourning The Loss Of My Computer

OK...My daughter assures me that I have plenty of "real friends," but I feel so sad today...my computer crashed this weekend and I am without my laptop. I have soooo many blogs saved to my "favorites" and I don't know where to find them!
The biggest problem is that I may have lost pictures, videos and documents that I really want. I have an portable external hard drive that I use to back up stuff (occasionally) and I can't remember the last time I used it...Ugh!
Does anyone know anything about how to recover lost data from a bum computer? Tomorrow I take my baby - I mean computer, to the doctor - I mean computer repair guy. For $50 he promises to "diagnose" the problem. I am hoping that the hard drive is alright, because that way he assures me for mere $125 he will help me recover my precious pics and documents.
I need my computer back soon because sitting at "the kids" clunky, old desk top computer is lame. These are the only pictures I found in the "pictures file."

(I know for a fact that my son has never even had a Monster drink)



(My son's dream - to be like "Mike")


(I have no idea why this has been saved)
Since my thirteen year old daughter (and computer advisor) would prefer that I not glom on to her laptop, I better get mine working soon...
My email is still working, but I have no "contacts" right now. Feel free to shoot me an email and let me know if you have any "techy" advice for me!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I (heart) Jake Ryan...and other stuff...


Does anyone recognize this picture? I have fond memories of this...keep reading, more on this later in this post :)We had a great Valentine's Day. Once again, Grace loved all the special little things that came her way. Grace received the cutest valentine that I have ever seen. Her BFF Kemily brought her a necklace that was made out of ribbon and gumballs! It is so darn cool. Grace wants to eat it though and I think it is too cute to eat!



You can find the directions to make these cute necklaces HERE. They would be great party favors for a little girl's birthday party. Grace has been eating her necklace...it was HER valentine after all.

In addition to working on our taxes (notice the piles all over my dining room table?-has anyone else been waiting for the IRS form 8839 - tax credit- to be available...I think it was just added a couple of days ago) I decided to try some box twists on Grace's hair. We will NOT be doing this again anytime soon...she cried, I complained, and it took longer than it probably should have. I think it looked pretty good (for my first try) and I was quite proud of myself. Well...Grace had the twists in for about 30 minutes and cried to take them out because they hurt (perhaps I did them a little too tight?). We compromised and I took out the row by her neck...

Then we compromised some more and I took out the clips. Apparently, the clips get in the way of her creativity.

Yes, she is as smart as she looks.

Oh, wait...Grace is pouting about something...there she goes with her head down ;)

And here she is today feeling much better...and I never thought I liked cats...
Alright...back to that first picture I posted. Today was 80's day at my daughter's school. She didn't think she had anything to wear. Mom to the rescue! I whipped out the old "crimping iron" (yes we had a crimping iron laying around) and did her hair. Then, it was time for the best part...I pulled out a favorite shirt of mine from the 80's (not really vintage 80's-more like a gag gift from a few years ago). Don't you love it? In the 80's, I was fond of Jake Ryan and loved the movie Sixteen Candles. She said the only person who really "got" the shirt at her school was her history teacher (I knew there were other Jake Ryan fans out there!).
SO HOW ABOUT SOME FUN? THE FIRST PERSON WHO LEAVES ME A COMMENT ABOUT WHY YOU (ALSO) LOVED JAKE RYAN (OR AT LEAST LIKED THE MOVIE) WILL WIN A FREE AFRICA KEY CHAIN
(I promise, it's cute).

Monday, February 14, 2011

True Love


Happy Valentine's Day! LOVE...we've been having fun explaining Valentine's Day to Grace. We've talked about how Valentine's Day is for expressing love and friendship to others. She has enjoyed all of the sharing (giving treats and cute valentines to friends) and lots of sugar eating (and it is only 11:00 in the morning!).
Another part of Valentine's Day for me is thinking about how lucky I am to have such a great family- lots of love...today I also find myself reflecting on how many people have come to love Grace this year...but, we are not the only ones. Grace has an incredibly loving family and community in Ethiopia that cared for her and loved her so much! I have said it before,
adoption = love. So...when I read a fellow adoptive mom's blog this morning, I had to share...

If you are looking for a beautiful story of love to read about on this Valentine's Day, you MUST visit Team Alexander's blog and read the touching story of two mothers love for their amazing little boy. Little Abe has been inspiring our family since we first saw his "gotcha day" video two years ago. Abe was at KVI (the same orphanage that Grace was at) and our family watched as the Alexander family met him for the very first time. I was crying then, and I was crying this morning as I read Emily's post and watched the beautiful video that she was generous enough to share on her blog. Her post reminds all of us that adoption is truly about LOVE in it's purest form. Another inspiring organization that I have been following for a few years, is Ethiopia Reads. Ethiopia Reads does wonderful work providing books to kids in Ethiopia. Thanks to many of you who purchased Valentine's necklaces, I was able to give a Valentine's Day gift to Ethiopia Reads... $325 raised to provide books! Thank you so much for supporting this organization!
Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day filled with love, hugs, and joy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Got Love?


I have been asking myself questions about love a lot lately... Do I have enough love to go around? How can I love someone so much and yet get so annoyed with them ;)? Does Grace really understand that we love her and will always be her family? Does Grace really love us? Maybe it's just all the Valentine's decorations and red hearts that I see everywhere, but it has me thinking..

It seems like such an obvious concept, love. Now, imagine that you are a child who has been raised in a different country and has only recently been added to a new family- would you know which people are the ones who are supposed to love you? I believe that God choose Grace for us and us for her, so I know that His love surrounds our adoption. Does this make it easy to feel love all the time??? Nope. When we brought Grace home, I was sure we were head over heels in love with one another. She clung to me for dear life when we got off the airplane and landed on American soil. She would cry every day when I had to put her down to do household chores like cook dinner. She even said "I love you mommy." It made my heart melt. Recently, however...she has been throwing around the word love like crazy. She "LOVES" Cinderella. She "LOVES" a pretty dress. She will say she loves just about anyone (sorry to those of you who were feeling very special...). It all sort of hit me yesterday when my son was on speaker phone talking to a friend of his from school (don't ask me why he needed to be on speaker phone...just a weird little 5th grade boy thing I guess). Grace asked Drew who he was talking to. He said "Sam." Grace then proceeds to say to Sam "I love you Sam." Hmmmm.... really? I took Grace aside and had a little chat with her. I tried to explain that love is a very special feeling that we share with each other. It is mostly a word that we say to our family members (at least for now...). I explained that she could tell us she loves us, but that not every nice person that enters our house or lives will be the recipient of an "I love you." It is really hard to explain.

I guess I bring this up because I wonder if it is related to attachment, or if it is related to being three years old. I read all the attachment info before we brought Grace home, so I know the importance of making sure that she is bonding with us first and foremost. I can't help but think that it would be so strange to be in her shoes and have someone try to tell you that you are supposed to really love these new people (called your family) right now. How can we expect such a thing? I sort of feel like we are kidding ourselves into thinking that love would be instant. I DO believe that Grace truly loves us. We have been a family for seven months now. I know she has grown to love us and comes to us for comfort and to receive affection. We are bonding. It is a process. I would like to know how others (who have adopted "older" kids) have dealt with this part of attachment. It is, after all, what attachment really is. I think it will be a matter of time before Grace really understands love and what it means. Hopefully being part of our family will help Grace to understand. We sure do love her.

Speaking of love...check out these awesome coffee mugs. I "love" them ;) I can't wait to order mine. They are an adoption fundraiser for a great family. Check out their blog for more info!

I'm also crazy about this shirt. It would be perfect for my little Bryce! I love him in tie dye shirts (works well with his hair for some reason). I really like the simple message on these shirts..."got love? adopt" They also have all sorts of solid color shirts for kids and adults.

Speaking of love...
This is how our little Grace usually looks.
If I am "keeping it real," this is also how she looks at least a few times every day. We still LOVE her when she is like this. That is what I keep telling her daily. She is a joy AND a challenge and we are so lucky to have been blessed with her. My prayer is that she can experience more LOVE than she ever dreamed. I also pray that we continue to become completely attached (is this possible?). I would cherish feedback from other adoptive moms in this department. I might just need some reassurance.

Now, I better go check on my little love...I am bound to find this. Every time I turn around, she is putting on more make up. Heaven help me!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Welcome Home Packers!

Aaron Rodgers
Coach McCarthy (and the Lombardi trophy)
Donald Driver - a crowd favorite

Can you believe that over 56,000 fans showed up at Lambeau Field today to welcome back the Packers and the Lombardi trophy? Keep in mind that the temperature was well below zero (minus ten degrees windchill). The players took time to thank their fans, show off the Lombardi trophy, and celebrate their victory. Notice the snow all over the field. The mayor presented a street sign to the head coach (McCarthy) and explained that a street would be named after him. The Governor of Wisconsin declared the entire month Packer Victory month (or something like that), and even our U.S. Senator (Herb Kohl) paid a visit from Washington to thank the Packers.
Crazy. We seriously do have the best fans in the NFL here- and did you know that the Green Bay Packers are owned by the fans? They are the only publicly owned team in the NFL. We are a shareholder (112,00 shareholders in all). It is pretty special to live in the smallest city in the U.S. to have an NFL team...I guess that is why the Packers are so special to the community.

The best part of the whole Super Bowl win is watching the excitement on my kids faces. They have now LIVED to see the Pack win a Super Bowl. Thank goodness...my son Drew has been waiting for this...here he is celebrating with some friends at Lambeau Field today (and he even thanked me for making him wear a hat and snow pants...he had complained that he "doesn't get cold" and "wouldn't need them...").


Making Valentines and Wearing Make Up

Today we get to hang out and make valentines for Grace's dance friends. Grace wants them to be "fancy" ~ apparently she must be "fancy" when she makes valentines...therefore, she needs to wear lots of eye make up.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Champions!!!!

What an exciting day here in Green Bay!!!! I am too tired to write much, but let's just say we have been cheering on our team all day. It is so much fun to experience a Super Bowl with the kids (the last time the Packers won a Super Bowl, I was pregnant with my first baby!).
Getting ready for the big game...

We invited over some great friends who appreciate the Packers as much as we do. It turned out to be a blast. There were a few tense moments and a little pacing on behalf of my husband, but all turned out well.

Did you know that in Green Bay even the Bud Light is "green and gold?"

My favorites were the heart shaped cookies with our favorite players numbers on them...
Go Aaron Rodgers!!!
The boys pretending that our "green and gold" popcorn was the Lombardi trophy...
Grace with one of her "best friends."
The boys marching through the neighborhood before kick off. I guess the Packer theme music and flags were just what the team needed to inspire a victory!
Way to go Packers!!!!