"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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Basketball Tournament Fun

You may not realize it, but I DO have kids other than Grace :) Saturday was our last basketball tournament of the year. It was a fun day with friends. We are lucky to have a great group of boys and parents to spend our tournament days with.

There was plenty of time between games to do all sorts of fun "stuff." The group enjoyed smacking each others hands in some type of song/slap hands game.
Grace got pretty good at slapping hands.
Four sweet boys.
Three sweet girls.
Oh wait! Grace decides she is unhappy and is going to do the "silent pout" thing! Ummm..don't you wish you could lay down on a dirty gym hallway too? I believe this reaction was in response to my denying her a "ring pop." I know, I am so mean (trust me, she had plenty of snacks that day).
I guess three basketball games and seven hours of tournament time is too much for the little princess. We'll see how she does when baseball season begins (very soon) and we go to games four nights a week...

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Easy Way To Help The ONE Campaign

OK...I know I have written about this book a ton already, but I had to mention one more thing...Shayne writes a lot about her involvement in the ONE campaign. I decided to "join" the ONE campaign, and basically, the group will keep me up to speed on important issues that are happening globally re: orphan care, HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives, etc. I visited the website and found out that there have been some budget cuts that will impact global poverty. I wanted to pass the info on to anyone who was interested in taking (literally) two minutes to get involved...

The House voted to make huge cuts in this year’s budget. Poverty-fighting priorities--which make up less than one percent of the US budget--were sharply cut.

Now it’s the Senate’s turn to weigh in on the budget--and we’ve got to tell them to preserve this life-saving funding. Cuts to these life-saving programs will have a real, immediate, and devastating impact on the world’s poor.

I just signed this petition asking the Senate not to make cuts. Will you sign it, too?


Together as ONE we can make a difference.

Thanks!

I also wanted to give you a little sneak peak at some new necklace designs that I have been working on. I thought these would be perfect for EASTER time...I used paper beads made in Uganda for the charms for some of the necklaces...the cross reminds me of Ethiopia...
Wouldn't these necklaces be cute for little girls? They are a little funky and fun. I thought they would make PERFECT Easter surprises (perhaps in a basket????). Remember, all proceeds go to help out kids in Ethiopia.
More info on the necklaces coming soon!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

What To Do On A Snowy Day?

We have had a VERY relaxing, very unstructured, very snowy spring break this year. So...what to do? Well, for starters, why not turn Grace's hair into a "fauxhawk?" She thinks Willow Smith is pretty cool (ever since the hair whipping a few months back), so she was our inspiration.
The girl really likes to pose for the camera. It is so funny the way she will turn it on for the camera and then, boom! she is back to her regular old self...
We were hit with a snow storm that brought 17.3 inches of snow this week! I couldn't believe it. Just when I thought we could get the stroller out and start walking again...will it ever end?
Of course, with the snow comes "snow" cones. Grace's headband matched so well that I had to take a picture...here she is waiting for the root beer to be added.
We got our new Naartjie outfit in the mail. Pretty cute!
Why not try on your swim suit during the snow storm? A girl can dream after all.
When you get really bored, just put on a cute dance outfit and start shaking it! Grace has worn this outfit for three days...oh well...less laundry for me to do ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rockin' Her Fro!

We took out Grace's braids yesterday and she is really rockin' her fro now! We love it! I can't believe how much her hair is growing...can't wait until it is super long (if only Gayla could come visit us and do some yarn braids...there is no way I am going to do it because I know Grace and I would both end up in tears). Grace really wants her hair to be "long"...
I can't stop buying the cool adoption t-shirts that families sell as fundraisers. I love them all (and I love to help out a great cause like funding adoptions!). Check out this awesome shirt here. It is so cool- it says "God's story, our family" I realize Grace's hand placement in this picture isn't the greatest, but she is pointing to the picture of Africa ;)
Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday. We are experiencing another winter storm here. Major snow, sleet, etc. Will it ever end?

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Lot To Think About...(and even more to DO about it)

So...where to begin? I just read this book. It was the perfect book for me to pick up and start reading. The author writes from her heart and you can feel her passion about serving others. The thing is, she is not preachy, doesn't come from a place where it is easy for her to serve (she is a stay at home mother of three after all), and yet she explains how we can all make a difference.
Global Soccer Mom tells the personal story of Shayne Moore. She realized that together we really can make a difference in this world.
After returning home from Ethiopia, I felt so great. I had survived the ups and downs of an international adoption. I had conquered my fear of leaving my three bio kids at home and traveling to a third world country, and I had experienced so much in the process. The thing is, I also felt a burden. I had a heavy heart. Part of my heart felt different. I am not complaining about this AT ALL. It was a burden that I liked because I was touched and moved by an entire group of people and I didn't want to forget them. I welcomed the change in my heart. The problem is, I came back to a world that did not experience the same things that I did.
It is VERY hard to understand the circumstances that saw with my own eyes. I have SEEN people laying on the side of a road- they are so sick that they just lay there. I have seen little kids (tiny kids...toddlers) beg for food without a grown up in sight- they are on their own. And don't even get me started on the exploitation of girls and women in developing countries...the extreme poverty they face often leads to abuse, disease, and death just because they are second class citizens. So, how do I wrestle with these feelings that I have now that I've returned to my "normal" life? That is the big question.A little girl we met who was on the road (without a grown up in sight).

In the book Global Soccer Mom, Shayne writes about her involvement in the ONE campaign and her work to fight AIDS across the globe. Many children that are adopted from Ethiopia have been impacted by the AIDS crisis. Our story is not different. Although we choose not to tell Grace's story to everyone we meet, it is no surprise that sickness and death impacted her life in such a way that it changed the course of her future. She is not HIV positive, but I am sure that many of the beautiful people of her village were affected by the devastation of AIDS.
The author talks about the people she met living with AIDS. Then she goes on to explain that "Two pills a day, that cost about 40 cents, can keep someone with HIV and AIDS alive and healthy." When 4,400 people die DAILY as a result of HIV/AIDS and 4,700 people become infected DAILY, how can we not pay attention? Part of Shayne's amazing story chronicles her involvement in the ONE campaign and the people she met along the way. The first person who literally "rocked" her world was Bono! She actually met him (among many other famous people-the book is a really good read...she has great stories about her travels around the world and how she was in the presence of some pretty impressive people). I loved what Bono says about the AIDS crisis. "...if 8,000 people were dying in Paris or New York from AIDS, we would be hearing about it on the news every night." Hmmm...yup. Imagine your own mother, sister, friend, or child dying of AIDS...wouldn't you fight for them to get treatment (especially for 40 cents a day)? Well, those dying in Africa ARE sisters, mothers, children, and friends to someone.
I can't even begin to share all of the great things I learned from Shayne's book. My entire book was marked up and full of pages with the corners turned over (I wanted to remember to go back and read so many parts over to really process them).
The bottom line of this book is that "There is no limit to what our one compassionate voice can do when it is shared with others in making the world a better place. (Shayne says) I am only one woman, with one voice, who lives in one town, and goes to one church- but all our "ones" add up. Together we can change the world."
So...my heart continues to be heavy (which I like). My blog says "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.
I am still trying to figure out what I am going to do to get involved. Is it going to be a mission trip with fellow adoptive moms and blog friends???? (any takers?), is is going to be making more bottle cap necklaces (a silly little project that has been able to raise over $2000 to change lives in Ethiopia)?, am I going to get involved in a global organization helping educate and provide resources to those effected by AIDS (hope so)? What about you? Any ideas? I would LOVE nothing more than to join forces with other moms who "get it." I believe that we really can make a huge difference together. It just stinks that when we come home from places like Ethiopia, "life" gets in the way and makes it more challenging to pursue the work that burdens our hearts. BUT, I know there are things that I can do (even with my crazy, busy life). Global Soccer Mom lists the ways we can help out...even if it is five minutes at a time.
Let me know if you have any ideas...I would LOVE to partner with you to make a difference!!!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A FANTASTIC Blog Giveaway And A Few Treats

In my last post I mentioned Kim, a fellow blogger, who helped me solve my computer drama the other day. Well...you MUST check out her blog. She is doing an amazing blog giveaway to raise funds for El Olam orphanage in Ethiopia. She is traveling with Ordinary Hero on a mission trip this summer. The funds Kim raises will be used for very basic items that are so needed at the orphanage (beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets, pillows, paint, a storage room for the children's personal things, shelving, a refrigerator).
Check out Kim's blog to enter her giveaway. She has ten AMAZING items that she is giving away to ten lucky winners.

Kim is giving away some REALLY cool stuff (a blog makeover, Ethiopian art, jewelry...really neat things- I can't do them justice by trying to describe them...you have to visit her blog).
So...be sure to check it out SOON the giveaway entries must be purchased by Friday, March 18th at midnight.

I planned on blogging about the great book I mentioned in my last post, but I just don't have it in me tonight. I don't want to sell it short by writing about it when I am tired and not focused. Instead, I will share a few fun things with you that made me smile today...

First up, "cookie dough dip."
This stuff is so yummy. Not too healthy, but it is so awesome for dipping fresh fruit (strawberries, apple slices), graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or pretzels.
Mix together:
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I skip this step)

I'm telling you, this stuff is so good. It tastes just like cookie dough.


The other thing that made me smile today was a new outfit that I ordered for Grace from Naartjie kids. It is such a cute outfit. The shirt has the continent of Africa on it, so I couldn't resist. The pants are so cute. And best of all, the outfit was on sale for a great price. Check out Naartjie Kids.

I ordered the shirt in pants in a great lime green color (budgie).

So there you have it...a couple of little things that made me happy today. A great blog giveaway, a yummy treat, and an adorable outfit!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oh Happy Day!!!!

Grace's face shows how I am feeling today!!! My "techy" friend Wes was able to help me get my computer working (now I owe him a fabulous dinner out)! Turns out even he was stumped. It made absolutely no sense that I couldn't get on my own darn blog (my blog was showing an error message). It still shows an error message when I use Internet Explorer, but thanks to the blog world and Kim's comment from yesterday, Wes set me up with Goggle Chrome as my new browser, and WHAM! It works! Thanks Kim!!!! So now that I am back on my blog, I can tell you about a great book that I just finished. It is called Global Soccer Mom. Emily recommended it and, as she predicted, I couldn't stop reading it. I LOVED it and want to be just like Shayne Moore (the author) when I grow up (even though I am quite certain that I am older than her already) ;)
So...I hope to tell you all about this book and another "must read" in my next post.
Hope you are feeling as happy as I am today!!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

COMPUTER TROUBLE!!!!!

I am SERIOUSLY frustrated right now... I got my new laptop and just got it all set up, but the ONLY web page that I CAN'T see is MY BLOG! Clearly there is something wrong with a setting or something, but NO ONE seems to be able to help me figure it out (I have tried the computer company, my internet provider, etc.). Has anyone ever had any trouble with this? Any suggestions? I can see all of your blogspot blogs just fine (yeah), but with mine, I can only see my header (family pic, etc.)- no posts, etc. I can still see my entire blog on our old computer...what in the **** (world)? I get an error message on the page (that not so cute little yellow triangle with the exclamation mark in it) and it says something about a parent/child "container" error...huh? Who knew that was a computer term of some sort? If I wasn't so crabby, that would be pretty funny and ironic (considering we often have parent/child issues these days).
Poor Grace has had to play with Play doh all morning so that I could try to figure this out!!!! UGH!!!!
Any suggestions?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Not much to say...maybe it's better that way...

Well...what to say? My heart is still heavy and my mind is swimming with concern for those in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. I am thinking about the kids who wait. I am praying for everyone who is involved. I have signed petitions and had planned on doing whatever I could do to help (in whatever small way I can ...)
This morning, I got an email from our adoption agency. The director had some advice that I think really sums up what we can do to help...
She simple asked everyone to pray and to point people in the right direction.
"...I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to have hope and courage during these uncertain times. I feel confident that the State Department and the Ethiopian Officials are doing everything possible to come to a quick solution and resolve. I would ask that you DO NOT send letters, photos, or petitions to them at this time. They are aware of the need of the orphan children and also the loving care and concern of the American families. We do not need to bombard them with anything that could be misconstrued as guilt or shame to the people or government of Ethiopia. I would ask rather that you be still and know that GOD is in control and is working on your behalf and behalf of the children of Ethiopia. Use your blogs, face book pages, and communications to point others to the one in whom we put our trust and hope..."
Good advice. I know that it is very important to be respectful whenever possible. I remember being VERY careful to say and do the right things when we were at the US Embassy in Ethiopia...I DID NOT want to screw anything up. I hadn't really considered that it might be seen as disrespectful to send emails and pictures of our beautiful kids to officials in Ethiopia in an effort to put pressure on them.
It has been a long week, but it has also been a good week for us. Here are a few photos from the past few days... Grace got new braids today. Once again, she can "whip her hair back and forth!"
When I picked the kids up from school, Drew said that Grace "looks like Randy Moss..." Nice.
More snow came our way...really???? I am so done with winter...

Grace got to play with a new friend.
It was "observation week" at dance. Grace is getting pretty good at her tapping- I seem to have no problem bragging about her- I think it is because I am not genetically connected to her and don't feel like I am bragging about myself at all ;)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One year ago we saw this amazing face on our computer screen...now my heart breaks for those waiting to see their beautiful child's face...

Like many of you reading this post, my heart is heavy today. I am saddened by the possibility that Ethiopian adoptions are going to be slowing down significantly and perhaps, being less desirable for those looking to adopt.
This is a statement by the Joint Council:

Last week the Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs announced their intention to reduce intercountry adoptions by 90% beginning March 10, 2011. The Ministry’s plan for a dramatic reduction is apparently based on two primary issues; 1) the assumption that corruption in intercountry adoption is systemic and rampant and 2) the Ministry’s resources should be focused on the children for whom intercountry adoption is not an option. Without further announcements by the Government of Ethiopia, it is our understanding that the Ministry’s plan will be initiated this week.

The Ministry’s plan is a tragic, unnecessary and disproportionate reaction to concerns of isolated abuses in the adoption process and fails to reflect the overwhelmingly positive, ethical and legal services provided to children and families through intercountry adoption. Rather than eliminate the right of Ethiopian children to a permanent family, we encourage the Ministry to accept the partnerships offered by governments, NGOs, and foundations. Such partnerships could increase the Ministry’s capacity to regulate service providers and further ensure ethical adoptions.
I am praying that the above mentioned actions are still being evaluated by MOWA. I pray that they will reconsider making these changes. I pray that these actions will not deter those interested in Ethiopian adoption from stepping out in faith. And most importantly, I pray for the MILLIONS of orphans and children in Ethiopia who are waiting for families. I am 100% supportive of making all Ethiopian adoptions ethical and thorough. Changing "policy" and "red tape" does not, however, make life better for those who are referred and waiting for their family to come and bring them home.
This week is the one year anniversary of our "referral." It was one year again that we received the most amazing email anyone could ever receive. This is what we saw (look at her eyes):

I can not imagine if we did not step out in faith and pursue this precious little girl. It breaks my heart to think that the new changes in Ethiopia and how it might deter a family from the experience that we have had.

In case MOWA needs to see an example of a successful Ethiopian adoption, here is one:


Our referral photo- one year ago...

Grace seeing our family's picture one year ago...
Grace today (now look at her eyes). Enough said.

So what can we do? Here are a few suggestions from the Joint Council. You can bet I will be sending the above picture their way...

1) Sign the petition to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi – and pass it on!

2) Have you adopted from Ethiopia? Please send us up to 3 photos and 50 words or less with what you would like the Ministry to know about your child – we’ll compile the information and send a book to the Ministry of Woman’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs. Send your photos and stories to advocate@jointcouncil.org by Sunday, March 12, 2011 to be included. Please note that sending photos and stories gives Joint Council unrestricted right to use the information you provide.

3) Share…Please send this Call to Action to family members, other adoptive parents, and everyone you know! Post, forward and share your adoption stories via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Make sure you include us in your posts so we can all hear your stories!

4) Stay informed: Get up-to-date information regarding the situation in Ethiopia by signing up to receive information from us: click here to do so, make sure you choose “country and issues specific information” and “Ethiopia.” And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog!

5) Help ensure our advocacy can continue: Joint Council is a non-profit and receives no government funding. Please join us in ensuring more children live in safe, permanent and loving families. Donate today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Grace!!!!


Happy 4th Birthday Grace!!!! Today is Grace's birthday!!!

It seems so strange that our little princess is four years old already...well, the time hasn't really been all ours, so it seems odd that she is four already. Doesn't "four" sound a lot older than "three?"
We had a very fun family party for Grace this weekend. She was over the moon excited about her party! She had been asking every day if it was her birthday. It was a little tough to explain that we were celebrating her special day and yet it was two more day until her "real" birthday...She is going to think that in America, we celebrate birthdays all week.
By the way, birthday girls do NOT have to wear socks.
Grace was very particular about her birthday cake. I took her to the bakery to order it, and she choose this interesting Princess Tiana creation. It was originally made with white frosting and looked a bit more picture perfect in the photo displayed at the store...Grace insisted on chocolate frosting...

I am pretty sure THIS is why she picked this cake...the plastic Princess Tiana made it all worth it to her.

She did a great job with the candles too. Grace was so excited to be the star of the day. She has sung the birthday song to all of her siblings since coming home in July, and she was very ready for it to be her turn!
Grace is so darn photogenic that everyone else pales (literally) in comparison to her. She can really light it up when she sees the camera come out.
Grace had so any family members come to her party. Everyone seemed to know that this was going to be a very special day for her. We were so lucky that everyone could come.
She had been looking forward to playing "Angry Birds" with Uncle Dave since she heard he was coming to the party...he even brought a new version of the game to show her ;)
Can you tell that she loves the attention?
Grace is almost always smiling for the camera, but this picture was taken as the party was coming to an end...see the difference in her cute little expression?



Grace and Kemily...so cute together...

Of course everyone spoiled Grace with presents. Check out this adorable doll that Kemily gave her. I LOVE the hair! She looks so cute lined up with the AG dolls we have. The doll is part of the Journey Girls collection.


Check out this adorable dance bag. Grace will be carrying her dance shoes in style. I ordered the bag on Etsy from "Too Too Cute Boutique."

And to make sure that Grace is well rounded with her activities, her cousin Kayla (a soccer player) gave her some soccer supplies. The shin guards and ball are just right- pink and purple- perfect!

So there you have it...a birthday party for an adorable, smart, resilient little girl. We are so blessed to be her family and are so lucky to be able to celebrate with her this year. What an honor for us. Happy birthday Grace!!!