"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."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Guess Who Has Long Hair?

Grace has long hair!!!
Check out Grace's new locks...it was a four hour process, but she is thrilled with the results. She can really "whip her hair back and forth" now.
I know someone who has a lot of experience braiding (she has three daughters), and she offered to help me out and get Grace's hair ready for summer styling. She said that her daughters keep their braids in all summer. The hair can be easily pulled back into a pony tail or pig tails.
We started off with three packs of hair from Sally Beauty Supply. I was told to get three "packs of hair that was a number "one" (color). Sounded easy, but you should have seen me at the store. I imagine if we were in a bigger city it would have been easier to get some help- the lady at the store was about as knowledgeable as I was. I finally figured out what kind of "hair" to buy and guess what? Grace's hair has quite a bit of brown in it (I sort of thought it was all black). We used a 1B color. I am learning so much...I actually thought I might be able to learn how to do the braids, but after watching an expert, I think I will stick to hiring a pro to do it.
I also thought it was funny that the brand of hair we used was called "Sassy." Perfect for little miss Grace. ;)
I saved two days worth of TV shows for Grace to watch (sort of made her stay away from the television the day before) while her hair was braided. We never could have done this six months ago. Grace is now a huge fan of TV, so it worked well...it took FOUR HOURS of solid braiding to achieve the end result. It was the exact amount of time that Grace was able to sit. By the end she was ready to be done!!!

The first thing Grace asked me this morning was "can I have my hair in a pony tail?" You bet Grace...you earned it!!!!
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Superman Was Adopted

What a cute little face first thing in the morning...Grace wanted to go outside to swing, and since I hadn't even had my tea yet, we compromised. She had to smile for the camera before I would give her a few pushes on the swing.
You know I can't resist a cute adoption t-shirt, and this one is a favorite...You can check out this blog to order one of your own. The t-shirt sales will help the family bring their little girl home from Ethiopia. Check out their blog to see their seriously cute little boy who is waiting for his sister to come home.

Grace thought the shirt was super cool because it says "adopted" on it, but to be honest, she NEVER would have worn it if I didn't pair it with a "fancy" pink skirt... :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dance Recital!

She did it!!! Grace had her first dance recital yesterday. She did such a good job. It was so crazy to watch her dancing. I couldn't help but imagine what her life was like ten months ago...and now, here she is dancing on a huge stage at a beautiful, historic theater. It was pretty cool. And of course she looked adorable.
Her beautiful older sister Alyssa also danced in the same recital. Sweet sisters...

Grace and Alyssa had quite the entourage watching them perform. It was so fun to watch them. The other dance moms teased me and asked "did you ever think you would have a little one dancing again?...did you ever think you would buy such tiny dance shoes again?"
There were 8 girls in Grace's dance number. Six made it on to the stage (two were too freaked out). Four danced, and two stood still. Grace danced. When she came off the stage at dress rehearsal, she immediately wanted to perform again, so I was confident that she would do a good job, and she didn't disappoint.
Congratulations girls! You did an amazing job!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Okay To Be Different

Lately, I have had the feeling that I need to make a conscious effort to point out physical differences to Grace, and more importantly, to highlight the super cool things about her that are unique and "different." It has something do to with her hair. She is starting to get more an more annoyed with the process of "doing her hair." She sees how easy it is for her big sister and doesn't like it when I insist on adding moisture to her hair throughout the day and before bed. We took her sister to the hair salon for a hair cut, and there were multiple ladies (and hair stylists) who couldn't help but check out Grace's hair (touching her teeny-tiny little spiral curls, etc). I try to make it an opportunity for others to get some first-hand experience with someone who is African American, but to Grace, it is just getting old. She has told me on a number of occasions that she would like long hair. I am thinking about getting her braids with extensions for summer (any advice?).
Well, I'll continue to use all sorts of books, games, videos, etc. to explain that we are ALL unique and special. I LOVE Todd Parr books and had fun reading It's Okay to Be Different to Grace.
She was so cute. Whenever we got to a page that applied to her (for example, "it's okay to be a different color") she got really excited and said something like... "HEY! I am a different color!" The book even says, "It's okay to come from a different place" and "It's okay to be adopted." Grace got really fired up when I read that page... "HEY! I am adopted!" she said.
So as I continue to search for more great children's books, I will be celebrating our family's uniqueness and Grace's beauty.
Check out these shirts...I might need to order one:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Full Week of Fun...

I have been so busy that I haven't even been able to blog about how busy I am. Now, don't get me wrong, being busy can be a lot of fun. I had planned on attending the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Louisville last week, but, plans changed and my crazy life made it very tricky for me to go. So as to not completely bail out on my friends that planned to travel with me, I decided that I should still sneak away for a couple days and spend some time with my adoption buddies in beautiful Door County Wisconsin.
Four of us headed north to do some shopping, eating, relaxing, and trying to solve the global orphan crisis (at least talking about our big dreams of how we are going to help). It was a VERY fun get away and a much needed break from laundry, car pooling, and day to day stress.

The weather was BEAUTIFUL and we were able to spend a little time outside enjoying the scenery.
We also spent time shopping...there are so many great little shops and specialty stores in Door County. We made a stop at an antique store and my friend Dawn and I were excited to see the EXACT Barbie Townhouse for sale that we had when we were little girls....wait...that's sounds weird...OUR toys are now antiques? Freaky.

I arrived back home after my two day get-away only to re-pack, give my kids a hug and head out for another night away. It was another fun mother/daughter outing for Alyssa and I. She and a few friends were chosen to do a presentation at our state capital. The presentation was on banning cell phone use while driving- (a recent law passed here in Wisconsin bans texting while driving, but you can still talk, check email, and surf the internet while driving....). Alyssa and her group presented their proposal (to ban all cell phone use while driving) to some big wigs in Madison (attorneys, legislators, senators, etc.). I was so impressed. The kids did their presentation, answered tons of questions by a panel of judges, and did an impressive job of explaining the importance of banning cell phone use while driving. I was so proud of them!
Enjoying a night out in Madison before the big presentation.
A highlight...meeting Chief Justice Abrahamson. It was great for the kids to meet her and listen to her speak. She was the first woman on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She still serves and had a lot of valuable advice to share with our kids. I loved having them meet such a strong, trail blazing woman who is still so passionate about democracy. My favorite quote of hers from the day was that "The bigger the problem, the more solutions there are to solve the problem." I couldn't help but think of the orphan crisis and the many ideas that my Door County buddies and I were chatting about a couple of days before!
Another highlight....shopping on State St. The girls (and moms) had a great time shopping and hanging out in our state capital. Madison has a unique feel to it and it was a lot of fun to chill out for the afternoon before heading back to reality.
(By the way, notice the rally going on in front of the capital building...that was pretty cool to see as well)
So...long story short, this is how I feel right about now....sleepy.
Hopefully, things will slow down a little bit this week and I will get to hang out like Bryce.
I'm looking forward to spending some time at home this week. Every year I forget how crazy the month of May is. Between dance competitions, recitals, baseball practices and games, field trips, end of the school year activities and every day life, things get wild. The kids are counting down until school is out for the year. I am counting down to when I will get to relax in my own backyard and enjoy some sunshine...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Help Bring Beatrice Home

Every so often, I come across an adoption blog that really stirs those feelings of...maybe one more child...maybe we should consider it...The truth is, this is not the time for us to add another little one, but we can certainly help support another family who is on the journey to adoption.
The Emerson family is in the process of adopting a little girl from Haiti. I was so excited to read about their adoption and learn what it is like right now for those who are adopting from Haiti. They met their little girl, Beatrice, while on a mission trip. It is a really amazing story...you can read about it HERE.
I love the shirts they are selling. They say: 147 million minus one. I knew the shirt would look adorable on Grace. Sometimes I really love the attention that our adoption t-shirts bring- it is fun to be able to answer questions about the statistics on the shirts, to show our love for Africa, etc. and, you never know whose heart you might stir (I wear various adoption t-shirts all the time), but sometimes it feels a little weird for us to be advertising the origins of our family as we are out and about. But, this shirt was too cute to pass up. One little problem...it is not "fancy" enough for Grace. If you remember, she really prefers sparkles, glitter, ribbons, and jewels on her clothes. She does NOT want to wear a "regular" t-shirt. So to solve this little dilemma, I decided that the shirt (which is pretty big on her) can be pajamas until she grows into it. Perhaps by then, she will be a little less "fancy" all the time and she will wear the
shirt in public ;)

Please check out this amazing family's blog: and show them some love!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Mother's Day 2011 brought with it many emotions that I hadn't experienced on past Mother's Days. For the past 13 years, I have enjoyed the specialness of being recognized as a mom. I love getting breakfast in bed and all of the wonderful home-made cards and goodies that the kids make at school. This year, however, I couldn't stop thinking about another mother- Grace's first mother. Grace and I talk about her and pray for her. We pray for Grace's "family in Ethiopia" almost every night, but I don't really think Grace understands the words. I try to get Grace to tell me about her first mom- she doesn't really remember much.
Grace's dance teacher is about to have a baby, so Grace recently told me that her teacher's belly was "really big." It was a great opportunity for us to talk about how her teacher would be having a baby and then she would be a mommy. Grace then went on to say, "just like I was in your tummy..." Hmmm... another great opportunity to explain a few things. I explained that she grew in her Ethiopian mommy's tummy and that we didn't get to meet her until she was three years old. It was as if a light bulb went off in her little head. The first thing she said after my explanation was, "my Ethiopian mommy had brown skin." When I asked her for more details, all she could say was that her Ethiopian family "taught her to pray" and that there were "a lot of people." I think Grace confuses her time at the orphanage with what she considers her first family.
So, on Mother's Day this year, I reflected on what my road to motherhood has looked like so far. My first three children came into my world the traditional way. Grace's entrance into my world was far from traditional (at least in my world). She was sought after for so many years. She was prayed for for so many hours. She was dreamt about so many times. She is so special, and yet she is just like my other three kiddos. She is truly one of my FOUR kids- nothing really seems all that unusual any more. She is one of the four blessings that call me "mom."
Grace's entrance into my world- arriving home in "America" as she says.

My actual Mother's Day this year was spent with my sweet Alyssa at a dance competition in the Chicago area. I LOVED being able to spend the entire weekend with her. She is truly a gift- a huge blessing in my life. Every time I spend a weekend with her, I feel so incredibly lucky that she is mine. Nothing made me happier than spending some one on one time with my first born.
Everyone keeps telling me that teenage girls are so tricky. They say "just wait." I don't think so. Alyssa is such a doll. When she woke up on Sunday morning, the first thing she did was roll over in her hotel bed and wish me a "happy Mother's Day."
Here we are getting ready to head to the theater for her competition.
One of the numbers she dances in is a large production number with about 200 dancers. It is so much fun to watch. Can you believe they have choreographed a dance that can fit that many kids on one stage?
Getting ready for a funky jazz number. Love those goggles. The number was choreographed by a dancer who used to work with Michael Jackson- pretty cool.

Sweet dance girls.
Sweet dance girls with one of their sweet dance teachers.

What a wonderful Mother's Day. I am truly blessed. I couldn't ask for more.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy 10 Months Home Grace!

Just Right. Grace wearing HER dance costume at her dance class picture day...

Align Center
Grace's version of "Just Right." Grace wearing her sister's old dance costume and tons of make up around the house.
It's hard to believe we have been blessed with ten months of Grace already. Time flies. I had so many things planned for Grace and I to do that "first year home" and now, it is almost over! She continues to amaze us every day. She does so many naughty, silly, and sweet things each day. Here are just a few examples...

Happy ten months home Grace!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Such A Good Book!!!

I love this book! Many of you have read Melissa Fay Greene's book There Is No You Without Me, and it is a sort of must read for those adopting from Ethiopia, but this book is very different and very funny. The book is about parenting a large family, relationships, crazy things that happen in a busy household, and, of course, adoption.
I have read about half of the book. I LOVE reading about Melissa's adventures in Ethiopia (I am at the part where she is developing a relationship with Haregewoin Teferra). She recounts the first time she arrived in Addis Ababa. After visiting Ethiopia, it is so much fun to read her description...she is spot on with the sights, smells, and feeling one experiences there. I also enjoy Melissa Fay Greene's honest stories about the ups and downs of adopting. She writes a bit about her post-adoption depression and she does a great job of describing her feelings after bringing home her first adopted son (from Bulgaria).
"Do I love him yet? It's an awful thing we adoptive parents ask ourselves. Do I love her yet? Do I love him yet? Like the television ads for wireless phones: "Can you hear me now?" We don't pursue this line of questioning about the children whom we gave birth. Yet here sat this little guy at the table, painstakingly peeling a hot dog, looking up with his sparkly eyes, and I asked myself, Do I love him yet?"

I loved reading about her first meeting with her soon to be adopted Ethiopian daughter:
"Down a narrow, rocky lane we bounced, then parked outside the cement walls of Layla House, AAI's orphanage. Selamneh honked for admission. I was beside myself with excitement and a kind of stage fright. For the second time in my life I prepared to meet a child who was going to call me Mama.
"There can be no other demarcation of time, no other "life-cycle event" as significant a crossing-over as this one. Marriage is momentous, but in most of the modern world, brides and grooms stand at the altar beside their beloved. Childbirth is a major event, but it, like marriage, follows a deep prior connection. Now the elderly guard pulled open the gates and I prepared to meet a person who would join, and change, my life permanently."

I am going to try to function today (doing laundry, cleaning up a bit, playing with Grace) when all I really want to do is cuddle under a blanket and finish this book. Hope you are having a "Marvelous Monday" and be sure to check out this book when you are looking for a good summer read!

****For those of you who are starting the adoption process, check out this book:

Julie offers advice on how to help fund adoptions. Her personal story is very inspiring and she proves that money should never prevent someone from following their "call" to adopt.