"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, June 22, 2012

Well, I never...


I never thought I would post a picture of 50 Cent on my blog.
I never thought I would learn from and respect a former drug dealer, rapper that uses foul language, man that repeatedly uses the "N word" and sings incredibly degrading lyrics about women.  I don't really approve of the persona that is 50 Cent, but...
Curtis Jackson does have a heart for Africa.

50 Cent has partnered with the UN World Food Program.  He launched a charitable energy drink called Street King (SK) Energy Shots.  His mission is to feed a billion people in Africa over the next five years.
It turns out that traveling to Africa in 2010 opened his eyes to the poverty and hunger across the continent.  
Through his partnership with the UN World Food Program, every SK Energy shot that is sold, provides a meal to a hungry child.  Huh.  Who would have thought?
(by the way, I've never even had an "energy" shot and probably never will, but if I did want to have one, this would be the one I would choose)
I recently watched an interview that Oprah did with Curtis (50 Cent).
The second thing that surprised me about 50 Cent, is that he has a faith in God that caught me a bit off guard.
I absolutely loved one of the things that he said in the interview...
" Either pray or worry...don't do both." 
 He explained that if you pray to God and then still worry, you are disrespecting God.  Huh.  Never would have thought that my current chalkboard quote would come from a hard-core rapper...another great example how we shouldn't really judge others without getting to know them.

Another fun thing that surprised me this week, was that I found super cool Ugandan paper beads at Target!
I actually came across these super cute sandals:
And they were on sale!
The company that makes them is called BuyumbaSoles.
The paper beads on the sandals are handmade by women in Uganda.  BuyumbaSoles has pledged to make a donation of $100,000 to support underprivileged children in Uganda.

I just love that there are so many products that consumers can buy that also help others in need.  
I think it is so much more fun to give a gift that is also part of a cause that is close to my heart (I've had so much fun giving Suubi jewelry as gifts, tiny TOMS baby shoes as baby gifts, many adoption fundraiser
 t-shirts and accessories as Christmas gifts, etc.).  
So, lesson of the week...keep your eyes open for companies that have a heart for Africa.  
You never know where you will find them!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

20 Years!

~lucky husband
lovely wife
had a wedding
built a life
chased some dreams
caught a few
here's to making more come true~

Happy 20th Anniversary!

(how is that possible? 20 years? look at us...we were babies...we have learned and grown so much over the past twenty years...looking forward to many more wonderful years of learning, growing, and loving)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grace's Summer Hair

Summer has finally arrived in Wisconsin, and so has Grace's summer hair.  
I have been telling Grace that "the braids are coming" for the past month.  
She was NOT excited about the idea because she remembered how long it takes to do them.
What she didn't remember was how awesome it is to have her hair braided for the summer.
Last year I hired someone to help me (someone who actually knew what she was doing).  She basically taught me how to do the extensions.  It is much easier on Grace if I do the braiding, because then she can take breaks throughout the day without me feeling bad that another person is at our house wanting to get done with the whole process.

So, as soon as Grace's dance recital was over, I began to count down the days until our big braiding day.
When the big day arrived, I brought all the kiddos to school, gathered my supplies, plopped in a DVD that Grace had been wanting to watch, and got started.
It was 9:00 a.m.

 Here is Grace about 11:30.  I'm about 1/4 done.  I start by parting her hair into four sections.  Each section is divided into about 18 little squares (like when doing box braids-  as if I really do box braids on a regular basis).  I use tiny black rubber bands at the top of each square (because that was what I was taught to do).  Some people don't.  Grace was still smiling 1/4 of the way through the process...

We took several breaks throughout the day.  I braided through MANY t.v. shows, DVDs, phone calls, etc.  I braided Grace's hair while she ate lunch.
I was still only 3/4 of the way done when it was time to pick the kids up from school.  Grace was NOT happy about going to pick up the kids with her hair half done.  I promised her that it wouldn't be a big deal, and what do you know?  The first thing the other kids did when they got in the van was comment on how her hair was not braided in the back!  Grace was (dramatically) annoyed. Ugh.

We had to take a little break to get one of the boys to baseball (thank goodness we have Alyssa to help babysit so that Grace didn't have to be humiliated at the ball park).  I skipped out on the game early to head home for more braiding.  At this point, my back and fingers were really starting to get sore.
 Here we are about 8:45p.m.  I feel as tired as I look.  Grace is DONE.  She does NOT want to pose for a picture.  She is "serious!."
 9:00p.m. The home stretch.
 9:30 p.m. All done!!!!  This is all the extra hair that is left over after I finish off the ends of the braids.  
Grace is all smiles again.
Grace loves her "Sassy" hair (I still think it's funny that the brand of hair we use is by Sassy).
She is having fun flipping her hair over her shoulders.  
The kids at school thought she was pretty cool with long hair and braids.
She is getting a lot of positive attention for her new look, and she loves it!
Now she says she loves to have long hair again.  
We will keep the braids for most of the summer (with the occasional touch ups here and there).

AND, yesterday I had the ultimate complement paid to us...we were at Walmart doing a little shopping, and a very nice African American woman approached me and tapped me on the shoulder.  She asked me where I had Grace's hair done.  She was curious because she has two daughters and was thinking of having their hair braided.  Well...I think I beamed when I was able to tell her that I DID IT!  She smiled at me and was a little surprised.  Her husband joined us and there we stood together in Walmart checking out Grace's hair...me giving her pointers on how to do extensions!  It just seemed very funny to me...

If you have a little girl with hair similar to Grace's, I really encourage you to give extensions a try for summer.  They are so low maintenance.  They are great for water.  They seem to really protect Grace's hair.  They also make little girls feel super cool!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Welcome to Summer!

Yesterday was the last day of school.  
This school year went so fast...
We survived our first year of preschool (Grace), our last year of intermediate school (Drew) and our first year having a high school student (Alyssa). Wow. How can that be?  Those of you that have young kids, it's really true when (older) people tell you that you should "enjoy the time, because it goes by so quickly,"  they  know what they are talking about.  It goes so fast!

 The Preschool Graduate...

 The High School Girls...not freshman anymore!
Celebrating with ice cream.  I love Bryce's shirt (even if he only gets to wear it one day a year).
P.S.  Thanks for the banner idea Chrisanna!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pinterest Picks...great ideas for kids~

If you are anything like me, you are starting to get a little worried about finding fun things to do with your kids all summer...
I am not worried about them being busy enough, but I do want to make sure we have enough fun.  At times, summer can get a little crazy between driving to various camps and activities, the kids don't always have enough "down time" and good old fashioned fun.
Here are a couple of ideas from Pinterest that I have actually tried.  They are simple ideas that turned out to be pretty fun.

My son didn't want to take a bath the other night (why is that???-so strange to me that a kid wouldn't totally enjoy a nice, long bubble bath).  Anyway, I remembered seeing this idea and thought I would give it a try.  I told him that I had a surprise waiting for him in the tub.
All I did was put a bunch of glow sticks (cheap...from the dollar store) into his bath and turned out the lights.  When he walked in the room and saw the glowing tub, he was thrilled.  
So easy, and so fun.    

The next idea came in handy one day when Grace and Bryce and I had a little time at home alone together.  We decided to make homemade "moon sand."  All you need is about 7 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil (also from the dollar store).  I love the texture of this stuff!  You may need to add a little more or less flour, just mix it (hands work well) until the oil is absorbed.  We keep it in a plastic container outside.  Ours is an outside toy.  Not super exciting, but it kept us entertained for a bit.  There is something about the consistency of this stuff that is relaxing to play with!

I was super excited about this next idea.
I bought a copy of this Dr. Seuss book, and I gave it to Grace's preschool teacher for her to sign (with a personalized note to Grace). Grace doesn't know about this... Each year, I plan to have her teacher sign the book and I will give it to Grace when she graduates from high school.  So cool!

 Need a simple snack for a warm summer day?  How about yogurt bites?
Super simple, yet something about these are fun for kids.
Just spoon regular yogurt onto waxed paper, freeze, and bam!  a new type of snack that kids can pop in their mouths.  My kids really like them.  I've tried tons of different flavors.  We tend to just keep a bunch in the freezer for grabbing.

Last but not least, I am hoping to try these cute placemats out this summer.
I love the idea of having the (younger?) kids sit down a minute or two before dinner and filling this out so that we can talk about our day.  This is a great tool to let their dad know what we have been up to and to remember that we really did have some fun!

Hope your summer is off to a great start!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grace's "Virtual" BFF- the power of adoption blogs


Did you know that sometimes a" BFF" can be someone you have never even met?
I have a few friends that I joke are my "virtual friends."  They are my "blog buddies."
The funny thing is, some of these "friends" know more about me and my feelings than my "real-life" friends do.  They have been with me throughout our entire adoption journey, and have experienced many of the same ups and downs that I have.
A bonus to having adoptive moms that are "virtual friends" is that they come with "virtual friends" for my little Grace.  I can show Grace photos of other families that look like hers.  I can explain to her that other little girls came to America and joined their families through adoption when they were two or three.

Here are a couple pictures- Grace and her "friend" Aregash.
Aren't they cute? (Her mom and I did a little shopping at Naartjie while we were in Atlanta...)



Here is a photo of me and my "virtual friend" Kendra.  
I am excited to say that we are no longer just "virtual friends," we are real friends.  
Kendra lives in South Dakota and I live in Wisconsin.  
As many adoptive mom/blogger people know, geography means nothing when it comes to getting to know someone who is on a similar path.  When Kendra and I "met" we were both starting our adoptions.  We were so excited to learn everything we could about Ethiopia and the process to bring our little girls home.  
There is something special about going through such a unique experience and knowing that someone else can relate to you.  
Kendra and I were lucky enough to spend some time together in March at the Created for Care retreat in Atlanta.  Funny that we had to fly across the country to meet.
It's pretty strange to meet a "friend" for the first time in a hotel lobby (although this lobby was beautiful and it was an amazing retreat).  




After walking through the beautiful grounds of Lake Lanier Lodge, Kendra and I were already trying to set up visits to each other's home states.  This summer we might actually get to introduce our little girls to each other!
  
I am so thankful for friends like Kendra and the many "blog buddies" that I have "met" over the past two and a half years.  Three years ago I was reading other people's blogs and trying to figure out if we could actually adopt.  Blogs were so valuable to me. 
I hope that our blog can, at times, provide future adoptive families with some inspiration, information, or insight into what a blessing adoption can be.
Thank you to all of my "virtual friends..."  - you know who you are! ;)