"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 25, 2012

My Beautiful Dancers

Last weekend Grace was "living the dream"- at least her "dream."  She had her "big" dance recital.  In fact, it was a weekend of recitals.  Alyssa (and Grace) go to a great dance studio and they put on amazing dance shows.  Alyssa performed in FIVE shows throughout the weekend (Yes, five 3 hour shows!) and Grace was in one of the five shows.  
Both girls did a beautiful job.  
Grace was definitely in her element. 
What am I going to do with this girl?  I seriously considered having her switch gears and do soccer, try gymnastics, maybe a little softball...all she wants to do it dance.  She is playing soccer right now, but after dancing on the beautiful stage at a historic theater last weekend, it is a lost cause. After her show, she kept asking when her next performance was...oh no.

The boys came to one of the shows.  They were great sports considering Grace only performed about three minutes of the three hour show.  They were also able to see their big sister Alyssa dance.  They were great sports about it and actually really enjoyed the show.

For those of you that have a couple minutes to spare, I suggest you watch these videos and give me some advice..how do I tell this little ballerina that she is done dancing?  I just don't know what to do.
Since I haven't added to her genetic make up in any way, I don't think it is bragging when I say that she is pretty talented too!  Ugh!

(Grace had four girls in her dance class.  I honestly didn't even bother to film them all, because most of them didn't know what to do.  The teacher actually told the class to watch Grace if they forgot what to do!)


(Side note...my husband gave me a hard time because I didn't put any videos of Alyssa dancing online.  Well, her performances are WAY longer than a minute and a half and I wasn't able to pirate any footage of her team dancing.  They are professionally videotaped and I am not supposed to tape them ;)  BUT...Alyssa is an amazing dancer and did a wonderful job in all five shows.  We are so proud of the dancer (and young lady) that she has become!!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Two years ago we passed court...wow...time goes so fast (when you are not waiting for court!)

It's hard to believe that two years have gone by since we got a phone call with the most amazing news...I will never forget it.  I was driving home from subbing and the director of our agency called me on my cell phone. Now, I don't usually talk on the phone while I drive, but when the area code of our agency came up, my heart dropped...I knew that it might be good news.  Susan, the director, asked me if I was sitting down and then proceeded to tell me that we had "passed court."  Our agency had a policy of not telling families when they were going to have a court date.  They preferred to wait to tell families when they had everything in order and the child was already cleared by the Ethiopian courts.  I know things are very different now, but I have to say, this was a very sweet way of finding out that Grace was legally our daughter.  

two years ago...our referral picture
so sweet...holding a chunk of bread and standing with a sign that said "Hiwot, F/3"
What a miracle.  I am still in awe of how smoothly everything went.  
After we received the news that we "passed court,"  it was only two short months until we were heading to Ethiopia to meet and bring home our sweet girl.
We were so blessed...  
I continue to pray for families who are waiting for their referral and for families who are caught up in the middle of newer policies and procedures.  
"For this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him."
1 Samuel 1:27

Friday, May 4, 2012

"It's More Than Just Dance"

Alyssa and I are heading to Chicago this weekend for a dance competition.
It may seem a bit crazy to non-dance people, but I have learned that these weekends are about more than the competitions.
Alyssa dances at a very nice studio.  Their philosophy is "It's More Than Just Dance."
I tend to agree...
It is so awesome to see my daughter have the confidence to get up on stage and perform.  She is a wonderful dancer and her skills continue to grow and mature.  She is committed to doing her best at all times.  She loves to be challenged by the teachers and professional choreographers that they hire to inspire their dancers.  Dancers learn teamwork, goal-setting, and so much about character building.
I am so proud of Alyssa.  She spends so many hours a week at the dance studio.  It is definitely a home away from home.  She has been at the same studio for eleven years!  She goes to dance at least three days a week and is often not home until close to ten o'clock at night.  I also have to point out that Alyssa dances on her high school dance team and is an excellent student
 (we are equally proud of her academic achievements!).

So, as Alyssa and I pack to head out of town, I can't help but reflect...

dance lessons....  $74 million dollars (ok, I may be exaggerating a tiny bit)



 duet lessons...$less than 74 million

 fun new tshirts designed with the help of my new (fellow adoptive mom) friend Rachel...$15

 spending five weekends out of town every year with my awesome teenage daughter...PRICELESS!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Being different can be hard for a five year old...

I am pretty sure that Grace has noticed from time to time that she is the only brown skinned person around.  
Around her preschool class,
around the local grocery store,
around her dance class,
around the local library,
around our house.

I know that we are supposed to try to find other families that resemble ours to hang out with.
I know that we need to be friends with people of different races.
I know that we are supposed to have connections with African American doctors, teachers, and leaders, but it is just not always possible in Northeast Wisconsin.
We are doing our best.  
We are blessed to know friends that have adopted children from Ethiopia.  We are neighbors with our beautiful little friend (and Goddaughter) from Guatemala.  We see all kinds of families at church.  There are (a few) kids in her Sunday school class that were also adopted.  There are the occasional Green Bay Packer sightings around town, but...

The local school district's pupil services director told me (at kindergarten registration) that the district is becoming more "diverse."  I believe he said we are at about eight percent.  Yup, a whopping eight percent of the students in the district make up this "diversity."

We read tons of beautifully written children's books that describe differences, race, identity, different kinds of families, etc.
We have African artwork around the house.
We honor Grace's culture as much as we can.
I've showed Grace how we are all the same on the inside (with the brown and white egg experiment)...a great idea from a fellow blogger...she was a little excited by this, 

But...it is still hard for the individual who is unique and different.

Grace can be quite the novelty around here.
All we have to do is take Grace to Alyssa's dance studio or dance team practice at the high school, and we can watch Alyssa's dance friends go crazy over her.  She is different.  She is cute. She has cool hair. 
 She doesn't always like the attention.  I have seen the self confident, spunky, outgoing little girl we know, turn into a quiet, shy, uncommunicative little stranger.  
She just wants to fit in sometimes.
(By the way, I often point out to people that Grace is as SMART as she is cute-let's not forget her other amazing qualities) 

It breaks my heart when she says something about wanting straight blond hair or light skin.
A teenage girl from California did a youtube video to show how makeup can transform her severely acne prone skin into model-like perfection using make up. Her make up totally changes the look of her skin.
So when Grace and I were watching this video on youtube (I know, not the most impressive way to spend a morning at home...but hey, she was featured on The Today Show and I was intrigued), it broke my heart when Grace said..."maybe I could use make up like that to cover up my brown skin..."
Oh Sweetie!

We always tell her how beautiful her skin is.  She has the most beautiful complexion!  It seems like we talk about her skin almost every time she watches me do my makeup.  She is always told she needs to protect her pretty skin when she puts on sunscreen.  
I am not sure the message is sinking in to Grace...YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and were PERFECTLY created exactly the way God intended for you to look.  You were BLESSED with your curly hair and smooth, dark skin. 

It is still hard.  She will struggle.  So will we.  We will continue to compliment her and remind her of her beauty.  We will continue to seek out friends of all colors and we will never stop telling her how amazing she is inside and out.  
I just wish it was easier for Grace to see her beauty and not just that she is "cute" because she is different.

(check it out...it's a little long, but I am very impressed with this young girl and how she was willing to bare it all to show other young girls how she copes with her severe acne situation)