"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

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pinterest Picks...

I'm not a fool.  I know my limitations.  I know that if I sit down at the computer for "a couple of minutes,"  it can turn into an hour if I'm not careful. I have tried very hard to limit my time on Pinterest, but I will not apologize for using it.  I do not feel guilty for this little pleasure.  I love to try new recipes and find great ideas online, and can honestly say that I use Pinterest.  I have discovered some great recipes and really cool ideas.    When ever we try something new, my kids will say "did you find this idea on Pinterest?"  
Here are a few of our recent favorites...
Grace loved making this snack for her preschool class.

 PF Chang lettuce wraps... my favorite!
And last, but not least...I am anxiously awaiting a reason to try this idea...

Have a great weekend!  I'd love to hear all about your favorite Pinterest picks!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Breaking An Adoption Rule...Keeping it Real

(Grace at a really cool park on a "not very special" day at home)

The week after our fabulous Easter, we were able to spend a lot of time at home.  It was the "big" kids' spring break from school.  We were able to sleep in, relax, and spend time together.  Grace was taking a bath on Monday morning (THE DAY AFTER EASTER!) when she said to me ...  "I sure hope we do something special today (dramatic emphasis on special), because yesterday was really not that special (dramatic emphasis on that). We only did three things (dramatic emphasis on three)."
  AH...EXCUSE ME?
I about lost my mind.
What has happened to this little girl from Ethiopia???
Then I proceeded to break one of the rules that my social worker (If you are still reading our blog Mary, you were right) told me I would be tempted to break...
She explained that as adoptive parents, we would be tempted to bring up the past in a way that gave our child a sense of "you are so lucky to be here" sort of way.  Ummm...totally did that.

I started by telling my spoiled little diva  sweet Grace that I think we DID have a very special day the day before.  I asked Grace if she thought she would have been able to have a day like that while she lived in Ethiopia.  I explained that doing any ONE thing made for a special day, but three special things?  Are you kidding me???  I went into a little rant about how the kids in her old orphanage probably spent the day.  I asked her if she thought they hunted for Easter baskets, went to the zoo, or went out for a fancy dinner...
I was so crabby with her.
Then I got to thinking...why is it so much harder for me to stomach her not being appreciative?  If my other (homegrown) kids had said something like that, I probably would have ranted a bit, but it really socked me in the stomach more when Grace said it.  
I think I expect her to appreciate things more because of where she has been and what she has already endured.  That is wrong.  I know better.  It is not fair for me to expect that a five year old girl can distinguish the difference between the blessings we take for granted and the life she used to live.
My heart was sad, but the bottom line was a struggle that I continue to have daily...I repeatedly question who really has it better; all of us living in the U.S., or the beautiful people I met in Ethiopia?  This question may sound crazy to people who haven't been there, but when I saw the pure joy and hope that exists in Ethiopia, it makes me crazy to think that we want more here...we expect so much...we are so darn overindulgent!  
Well, I don't have the answer to the question of who is better off.  I know that we are richly blessed with food and medical care in the United States.  I know that I would not last too long as a missionary in a third world country (I AM very soft in many ways), yet I long for the joy and hope that I saw in the faces of those in Ethiopia.
Thoughts?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Our Nontraditional Easter

Last Easter, we decided to start a new family tradition.  We made our own plans for Easter.  Our families were traveling or going out to brunch together, but we decided to break tradition and do something new.
So began our new Easter "tradition." We had so much fun that we decided to do the exact same thing this year.
After searching the house for hidden Easter baskets, we headed to church.  It was a sunny day and we were excited to be on our way to spend time worshiping/celebrating (apparently the entire city decided to join us this year, and we barely found seats in church! ~ might have something to do with our arrival time...who knew it would take so long to find baskets and get dressed up?).

Our new tradition began with a trip to the Milwaukee Zoo.  We live about two hours from the zoo, but we love to visit each year.  The weather was great.  The zoo was almost empty (after all, who goes to the zoo on Easter?...).  We were able to enjoy the exhibits and relax as we strolled around the zoo in search of our favorite animals.

There are so many cool animals from Africa!



Bryce did a research project and diorama about pythons this spring, so it was fun to see them up close.
Looks like the giraffe is telling Drew a "secret."
Our tradition continues when we leave the zoo and head to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant.  
Grace was excited (we all were).  We have really come to love Ethiopian food.
As you can imagine, the Ethiopian restaurant was also a little on the empty side.  We are spoiled when we go there, because it is not usually busy.  It's a bummer to live 2 hours from the closest Ethiopian restaurant, which means we eat A LOT when we do visit.
Two sad notes about the restaurant visit...first, Grace did not want to wear one of her Ethiopian dresses.  I didn't force her.  The staff at the restaurant loves it when she comes in and it makes them happy to see her in her traditional clothes.  It turned out that when we got to the restaurant, Grace wanted the dress!  We hadn't brought it, so she opted for the dress she wore to church.  Second sad note:  we always ask the staff to try to speak to her in Amharic.  We have done this before and Grace will answer their questions (in English). The last time we visited, about nine months ago, she was able to understand the Amharic.  This time, Grace just looked at the sweet waitress, looked at me, and said, "I don't really  understand what she is saying."  It was bound to happen, but it still makes me sad.  I really hoped she would remember a word or two, but it is all fading (right along with her sweet accent that is now nonexistent).
Bryce and Alyssa have learned that they love Sambusa (an appetizer).  We actually get FOUR orders and it becomes their meal.
Grace ate so much.  She said, "I am so full, but I love it and want to eat more!"
She was full and exhausted, and she slept all the way home.
What a wonderful Easter. 
 Now that we have done this two years in a row, it is an official tradition.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Favorite Easter Video...two years in a row...

We first discovered this video last Easter.  It is still a favorite...Enjoy!

I prefer the video to this version of the Easter season:

Happy Easter!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Love...Build a Bear Style...

Grace and I had the opportunity to sneak away to the mall while the "big" kids were at school.  I am starting to freak out a little when I realize that I only have a couple more months of one-on-one time with Grace left...full day kindergarten starts in the fall, and with the other kids home for the summer, our days together will be gone in a flash.  We decided to use a (long forgotten about) gift card for Build A Bear that Grace received as a Christmas gift.  It was a fun surprise since she had no idea that she possessed such a treasure.
So, off we went to the mall to have some "fun."  I mentally psyched myself up for the outing.  I promised myself I would let her choose whichever bear (or animal) she wanted.  I was even planning to let her pick out the clothes she wanted for her new friend.  It is SO incredibly hard for me to let go of the control - after all, I know how to MATCH the outfits and I know which animals are really going to get played with (really? you think the hamster is a cute little friend for you Grace?  Ugh).
It turns out that we could BOTH be satisfied with the choices.  After all, it is REALLY easy to "help" a child choose when you ask a few questions...for example..."Grace, I will hold up the three animals you are choosing between...Do you want the (weird looking) hamster (flashed at her quickly), the (weird looking) dog (shown to her for a quick second), OR the (super cute) cuddly, soft, white bear (presented last with more emphasis)?"  The choice was easy FOR GRACE, the white bear it was!

In case you haven't been to a (ridiculously appealing) Build A Bear store for awhile, they now have the coolest little hearts that can be put into your bear when you are "making" them. 
Grace choose one of these new hearts for her bear.
The heart BEATS.  It is a little freaky.  When you hug your bear, the heart starts BEATING!  It feels pretty realistic too.  

 Grace made a wish before sticking in the heart...I wonder what she wished for (probably for her mom to stop trying to interfere with the building  process).
 After giving her bear a bath, we  she choose some cute clothes for the bear.  She named her new friend "Sparkle" - now she calls her "Glitter."  The bear was lucky enough to come home in an adorable pink, white and lavender dress that did, in fact, have a lot of "sparkle" to it.  And to top things off, when the pushy  nice saleslady asked if Grace needed shoes for the bear, Grace said no.  Instead, Grace asked for ORANGE hair bows for the bear.  Ugh.  Let it go mom...who cares if the bear has on orange bows, right?  Luckily the sales lady must have seen my eyes roll around my head a bit, and she threw the matching pink bows in the box too.


 Before heading home, Grace wanted to be a model at Old Navy.   She looks a lot like the girl on the left, doesn't she?
 Grace and her new friend "Sparkle Glitter."  
Oh yeah, Grace lost another tooth.  I told her she must stop wiggling them now.  I am so sad that her perfect little teeth are changing.  She has been warned that the Tooth Fairy won't come again if she takes out any teeth before they are ready to fall out on their own...Hoping we still have a long time before the crazy days of missing top teeth!!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Grace's Tutu Birthday Party

In an effort to blog about our daily life (and to replace my long gone scrap booking days), it is important that I document Grace's 5th birthday party!  I am very late in posting about what was a really fun day.

Before I start, I must give full credit to my fellow blogger, Missy.  She inspired me to skip the (very expensive) party that I had scheduled at a local kid party place (kind of a cute, kid hair salon/spa place)..after all, the salon was not going to be able to do a fancy "up do" with the birthday girl's hair anyway!
So, thanks to Missy's wonderful Tutu Party idea, we were all set to celebrate Grace's big day.

I started by ordering the same invites Missy did (sure hope she feels honored and not annoyed by my lack of originality).  I bought them on Etsy.  The seller was super quick which was handy since I changed my party plan a mere week and a half before Grace's birthday.  You can visit her site HERE.
Everyone loved Grace's invite.  They were totally convinced that the ballerina's silhouette was actually Grace!


This was a super easy party for us to host because ballet costumes are something we have A LOT of! We used many of Alyssa's old costumes as decorations.  We are also very familiar with tulle, tutus and all things related to dance!

 The cute blue tutu is Grace's costume for her upcoming recital.  
 I found a super cool craft idea on Pinterest.  The girls painted their hand prints onto a canvas (that I had already glued a tutu leotard top to).  After the paint dried, the girls used stick on pearls and ribbon to finish off their adorable piece of art. 
The plush roses were found in the dollar area at Target.  I used them as a decoration, and each girl took a rose home at the end of the party.

 Another easy Pinterest idea was to use plastic pink tablecloths to decorate the ceiling.  
Super easy and very cute!
 The girls made a tutu of their own to wear at the party.  I had most to the tutu made ahead of time, so all we had to do was have each girl tie on a few pieces of tulle to complete her tutu.  This would have been very time consuming with the little ones doing it themselves.
Decorating for a tutu party is so easy.  Just look for anything pink and frilly.  I tied tulle on everything.  We made pink lemonade and even found chocolate/yogurt covered pretzels that were pink! 
I found little tulle circles (already cut) that I filled with candy and tied with pink ribbon.  They were passed around during a game similar to hot potato.  Ballet music was played, and when the music stopped, whoever was holding the candy was the winner (of course they all won an equal amount of times).
 Tutu cupcakes (thanks again Missy).  Just pink cupcakes with pink frosting and cotton candy on top!  ***The cotton candy must be put on at the last minute...it tends to shrink quickly.
 Sweet ballerinas!
 Such a happy birthday girl.

 As a special treat, a certain "prima ballerina" showed up to give the girls a few pointers.
Happy Birthday Sweet Grace!  
You are an amazing little dancer and an amazing little girl!!!!