We've been blessed with the addition of our four year old daughter from Ethiopia. We fell in love with Ethiopia and want to honor the gift of our daughter by continuing to embrace her amazing homeland. Join us on our journey as we become a family of six through international adoption and as we work to support the beautiful country of Ethiopia.
These little goodies need very little explanation. Just take a white cake mix, divide up the batter (5 or 6 bowls), add food coloring (the good kind that makes nice, rich colors) and spread a little layers of each color into each muffin liner (I used white liners so that you could see the rainbows through the liner).
(the tricky part is having enough of each color to make the six layers- I would use a regular box mix to make 18 cupcakes instead of 24, that way you have enough of each color with a tiny bit left over). I have also tried this to make "candy corn" looking cupcakes with yellow, orange and white, and they looked really cute as well (making three layers was even easier).
Lexi showing off her rainbow cupcake.
Grace loves rainbows (coloring them, finding them when it rains, and now eating them!).
We are lucky enough to be a part of a wonderful church. We are blessed to belong to a church that really focuses on faith, family, and serving. I love our church's mission statement:
"Becoming a people of character with hearts for the world."
The church is VERY involved in work with orphans in Malawi, Africa. It is so cool to see the programs that our church runs in Africa. Mission teams regularly visit Africa. Our congregation sponsors orphans in a specific village. Over the past five years, the orphanage, school and community that our church sponsors, has grown so much and continues to expand.
A couple of weeks ago, Grace was dedicated at church. It was a very special day. Our other kids were baptized when they were infants. It was really special to be able to have a four year old who was being dedicated. She understood that it was a very "special day."
Some of our family as well as great friends were able to celebrate with us. The dedication involved Grace being able to go "on stage" in front of everyone...she was all about that.
When our pastor extended his hands to pray for her, she went to him with open arms. It was so sweet. We chose the following life verse for Grace...it seems so fitting...
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."
One of the things that made the dedication so special, was that another little Ethiopian sweetie was also dedicated the same day....One of our pastors and his wife brought their little boy home from Ethiopia a few months after Grace. The kids are so stinkin cute together!!!!! It is so nice to have other adoptive families at church. One of my goals is help start some type of adoption ministry at church (I know, I know...I've been saying that for a year now!!!!)
And to top off a wonderful celebration, Grace requested ice cream!
She loves her ice cream, so it seemed a very fitting way to end her "special day."
(every time we go to church now, she says, "it is still my special day?")
A few months back, I was talking with someone about Ethiopia. He explained that he had served in Ethiopia in the Peace Corp a very long time ago. He went on to talk about the Emperor Haile Selassie and how he actually saw him while he was in Ethiopia. I sort of acted like I knew all about what he was describing, but in truth, I was not really aware of all of Ethiopia's amazing history.
When we were in the process of adopting, I tried to learn about Ethiopia, but if I am being honest, I was more interested in learning about adoption agencies, procedures, and following the blogs of people who were in the process of adopting. NOW that I have been to Ethiopia (and miss it so much), I can't get enough information about the beautiful country that I have come to love.
I was buying some books on the Barnes and Noble website about a month ago, and I decided to type "Ethiopia" into the search window. I found a few great books that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to read more about Ethiopia.
The first book that I believe is a MUST READ is Cutting for Stone. Am I the only one who had not heard about this book? It was a national bestseller. It is fiction. It is SOOOOO GOOD! If you like to read and are looking for a great book check this out! My favorite thing about the book, is that the story takes place in AddisAbaba. The author is so descriptive and does such a great job of writing, that you can feel the story come to life. There were so many parts that had me smiling because I could vividly remember the scenes that he was describing. He is a fabulous writer. The story is about twin brothers who grow up in Ethiopia throughout the 1950's-1980's. I learned so much about the Emperors in Ethiopia, the government, and what life was like in AddisAbaba. But the book is not a boring historical type of book...it has such an intriguing story line. This book is so fun to read after traveling to Ethiopia...I don't think I would appreciate it as much if I hadn't been there first.
I am not done with the book yet, but so far it is a favorite of mine. I read while I wait to pick the kids up from school, dance practice, etc. and am often disappointed when my kids appear because I want to keep reading!!! I can't wait to finish the book and would love to hear from anyone who has read it.
The other two books I discovered are non-fiction. I bought them from B & N's used seller list. The books are actually library bound books. They are reference type of books for young adults/kids to use while doing research (I suspect). I can imagine using these books with my own kids if they ever need to write about a certain country, etc. The books are very basic, but describe what Ethiopia is like (land, culture, government, history, etc.). I have learned so much from them!!!! AND...they were only a couple of bucks each because they were used. They are in great condition- I suspect they were not "checked out" from the library, where they once lived, very often. So, there you have it. Three books that I think are must reads. I feel so much smarter about Ethiopia already!
Grace continues to amaze me. She also continues to drive me a bit nutty some days. She has so much to offer. She is adorable (duh), smart (she recently started writing words...like all on her own), outgoing, and so resilient. The thing is...she is also different than my other kids in respect to one thing- how she responds to me. I know with 100% certainty that my three oldest kids feel an unconditional love for me as their mom. It is obvious (to me) that when an infant comes to a family, they are completely reliant on the parents for care. There is a certain type of bond that exists because of necessity (among other things of course). My first three kids shared this experience with me. Grace, on the other hand, didn't. She is very independent. She seems to view me as her mom, whom she loves, but I also believe that she views me as the caretaker that gets in her way at times. She reacts to me in ways that I am unfamiliar with. She doesn't seem to need the same things from me. Adopting an "older child" can be hard. Things are not perfect. Feelings get hurt.
There are days when I wonder if Grace has a little of this guy in her...
BUT...I also know that she has been through a lot. So, when she tells me that she "doesn't need me to come to school" with her on her 'special helper day' (like the other moms do), I need to remember that it might not be because she doesn't want me there, but that she might not need me there...(my feelings were hurt by her announcement that she didn't want me to stay at school). I need to remember that Grace is so darn independent and smart, that I am pretty sure she could take care of herself in most ways. She would easily be able to dress herself, clean up after herself, she could probably cook for herself, and I bet she could earn a living on her own if she had to (some type of entertaining...maybe a street side singer/dancer?).
So...today as I reflect on little Miss Grace, I need to remember: