Friday, November 20, 2009

"Daddy's Initials"

Another funny Avery story...

Avery, who is in the first grade, brings home a math worksheet each day from school. A parent is suppose to correct the worksheet and initial it at the bottom before they bring it back to school.

Yesterday morning as we were getting ready for the school day, I asked her to get her math out because I had not initialed it yet. Her response was, "don't worry mommy, I took care of it. I wrote daddy's intials nice and neat on there so that the teacher will never know I wrote them and not daddy." She was very proud that she thought of doing this on her own to save mommy time.

Well, I just had to look, so I peaked in her folder and saw what she wrote.

(By the way, her dad's name is Steve.)

But she wrote 'DH'.

The 'D' is for 'daddy'. And the printing was very much 'first grader' level.

Hmm...I wonder if the teacher will ever know???

Monday, November 16, 2009

"I Love Mom"

Usually when Samson tells me he loves me, he says, "Mommy, I love you". He almost always uses those exact words in that order.

The other day, when we were looking at pictures of him wearing my favorite PJs, he pointed to the words and said, "Look!" "I -  Love -  Mom!". Seriously, I maybe spoke these words to him 4 - 5 times but several days ago. So, when he said the exact words in the right order, I was floored. He must have quite a memory! I know I have used this picture before but had to show it again.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Memoir from My Daughters Part 3

Lauren's second English paper for this school year:

"Five o'clock, five o'clock," Auto Girma said, as he knocked on everyone's doors to wake them up. We had to leave at 6:00 a.m. for the little town of Hosanna. It would be a four hour bus ride there.

On our way there, we saw the beautiful countryside of Ethiopia. It was filled with big, beautiful hibiscus trees, fake banana trees, and thatch roof huts. The terrain was made up of big rolling hills that swooped down into enormous valleys. Once in a while, we passed through a small village.

Halfway there, we stopped at a "nice" hotel to use the bathroom. Most of the toilets did not flush and the bathroom was for both men and women. We also had to bring our own toilet paper.

While we were standing in line to use the bathroom, some maids were peeking out of a doorway and watching us. They were pointing and giggling at my little sister, Avery, who has almost white hair. They weren't making fun of her; they just really adore people with blond hair because they don't see them often.

When we reached Hosanna, a traditional coffee ceremony was presented for us and the other adoptive families in our group. The lady who did it was a very beautiful Ethiopian woman in traditional Ethiopian garments. These traditional outfits are usually made of cotton fabric with colorful embroidery stitching on them. Many of them have crosses embroidered on them.

In a coffee ceremony, the beans are roasted right there on hot coals. The lady who did the ceremony came around with the roasting beans so we could smell the aroma of them. When the beans were roasted, she crushed them up and poured water over them. The, she poured the coffee into the cups and a man gave one to each of us. It is impolite to not take coffee so my sisters and I had to drink it. We only used a little spoonful of sugar with it. Surprisingly, it was very good.

Coffee is a very important crop in Ethiopia because that is where it was first discovered.

We had to walk a half mile to a different building to use a bathroom with a western style toilet. While walking down the muddy street, children from the village crowded around us. They asked us, "Hello, how are you? What is your name?"

I specifically remember a girl whose name was Tesfanesh. She looked like she was about my age. She didn't have fancy clothes or money, but she seemed pretty happy because she was smiling widely and laughing.

(Not Tesfanesh but another beautiful girl who loved getting her picture taken.)

As she walked alongside me, she talked to me in Amharic, the main language in Ethiopia. She started pointing down at my feet. I couldn't figure out what she meant until another mom told me that she liked my shoes. Then I told her, "amasenganallow." which means "thanks you" in Amharic.

I thought it was a very amazing experience meeting her because she was just like the African children I have heard of or read about. She appeared very poor, very dirty, had torn clothes and probably not much more than that. I admired her because even though she had she had close to nothing, she looked happy and content with her life. I wanted more than anything to take her home with me.

It makes me feel guilty thinking about this when I have clothes, when I have clean water, when I have money to buy food and I still complain about them.

When our bus pulled away, all of the children ran after us, probably longing for us to stay with them.

On the way home, we visited a school our agency was sponsoring. It consisted of two small white buildings which had nothing in them but a concrete floor. There were no desks, no books and no chalkboard. There was not a playground outside for the children to play. Imagine this school standing next to Discovery? I'm very thankful for the school I go to.

We also had an opportunity to visit a hut that a family so kindly opened up to us. IT was a very beautiful hut, with lovely painting on the outside. Inside was the family's kitchen, living room, bedroom, and it was also where they kept their cows, goats and sheep. It was really interesting seeing how this family lived compared to my family. I don't know how I could survive in these conditions.

Outside and across the street was a stream of orange colored water. There were children playing in it and people collecting water from
it. It may have been the only source of water they had.

Going to Hosanna opened my eyes to the world's poverty. What's sad is that two billion people on our earth live like this.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Give the Gift of Water Today!!!

Because others can say it better, go to this blog for more information and donate TODAY, Friday, November 13th!!

From the CHARITY WATER website:

Every day, 4500 mothers bury their children due to contaminated water. They are forced to sustain their families with a diabolical liquid that contains both life and death. This lack of clean water is the leading cause of death in underdeveloped nations. And it just doesn't have to be!

So as we gear up to scurry through department stores and browse endless catalogs in search of new jeans, Tonka Trucks, gadgets and dolls....we are pausing. We are pausing. And today, November 13th, we are buying water. Clean, life-saving water.

$10 will provide one person in Africa clean water for 10 years. It will literally change and possibly save someone's life. A mother. A child. A brother. A grandfather.

We are rallying together for a cause. Clean water. One day. $10. Asking everyone to let this be their first gift. Let water, let life be their first gift of the season.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Memoirs From My Daughters Part 2

Lauren's turn......
One neat thing about being a kid and taking a trip to Africa during the summer is that you have a lot of unique experiences to write about for English papers. This is Lauren's first English paper of the school year.

On August 4th, our family sat at the Minneapolis airport waiting to start our trip of a lifetime. We were going to Ethiopia to pick up a little boy and make him part of our family. He was 2 1/2. Our flight was 9 hours to Amsterdam, a 4 hour layover there and then 9 hours to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The flight was, by far, the hardest part of our trip. By the time we got to the airport in Addis, my family and I were all dead tired. To top it all off, we had to wait hours standing in lines at the airport. Once we had our luggage and we were on our way to the guest house by bus and we were very relieved and happy to take a rest.

While driving through the streets of Addis, I was amazed at what I saw. There were many big buildings, but also many homeless people and little shacks. At the guesthouse, it was very hard to sleep because: 1. The beds were very uncomfortable. 2. There were dogs barking all night. 3. We had very heavy jet lag and it wasn't time for us to go to sleep.

The next morning we got to meet my brother. Meeting him was one of the best moments of my life. My brother was one of the cutest kids I had ever seen. His big brown eyes were just staring up at us with a blank look in them. Seeing him in person for the first time made me feel like he was truly my brother and I loved him very much. He was very shy at first but then he started playing with us. We brought a little ball so we could interact with him. We rolled it back and forth with him. After about 10 minutes, he started to warm up to us and wasn't so afraid to play with us. We were only able to spend 1 hour with him, but we got to go back that afternoon. It was really, really hard to leave after waiting so long.

All of the kids at the care center were very loving. They gave us hugs and pulled our heads down to give us big sloppy kisses on our cheeks. All of the little girls loved us and would swarm around us when we arrived.

Throughout the rest of our week, our agency planned activities for us. We got to go to a street market and go shopping one day. We visited a school and the National Museum of Ethiopia another day. Wherever we went, people crowded around us trying to get us to buy stuff from them.

One Monday night we had the opportunity to go to an Ethiopian meal. Everyone in our group sat around little tables with big pieces of Etiopian bread called injera on them. Many different dips and sauces were piled on them. You have to tear a piece of injera off and pick up the sauce or dip with it.

Ethiopian food is really spicy and hard to get used to eating. After every bite, my mouth was on fire and I had to quick grab my pop. The injera is like a spongy, sour, pancake bread. I didn't enjoy the food.

Tuesday we were finally able to get Samson and bring him back to the guesthouse with us. At the care center, they had a going away ceremony for the kids who were being adopted that week. The children and their nannies were dressed in traditional outfits. They came down the stairs while the rest of the children clapped and chanted their names. Each of the adopted children put their hand print, kept at the care center, in a book and received a card from the care center. We were so happy to have Samson, finally, in our arms forever. We were able to spend 2 days with him before we left. He warmed up to our family and seemed to have fun with us.

When we were sitting in the Addis airport Thursday night, waiting for our plane, Samson didn't know what he was up for but I'm sure he knew it was something good.

I learned how much poverty their was in Africa, but I also learned how people can be happy with what they have. God has truly blessed us with Samson. I will never forget this experience.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Memoirs From My Daughters Part 1

In hopes of hanging onto as many memories about our trip as possible, I have asked each of my daughters to write about their experiences.
Olivia wrote the following about our traditional Ethiopian restaurant experience:

One of my most fun an craziest times in Ethiopia was when we went to the Ethiopian resturant. It was an amazing experience! The dancers were great! When we first got there we saw a whole bunch of  Ethiopia skins and paintings! Then we sat down on fur and leather seats. We all ordered our drinks. I had pepsi. If you looked on the stage you would see about. .  . . five musisans. With really strange instruments. The food  I had was some kind of meat. But I wasn't so sure of what it was exactly. It was very chewy and I got a lot stuck in my teeth. Then we got to see the dancers!(while eating our food) I loved it! The food was great,and it was even better with all the entertainment!The dancers had a lot of strange moves up their sleeves. They were great!Then are you ready for the best part of all?!THE DANCERS CAME OUT AND MADE US STAND UP AND DANCE!!!!!!grown-ups like my dad and then a lot of the others. The dancers had a whole lot of costumes that they had to change into on only a few seconds of time! The last performence we got to see I thought that their costumes looked like Easter Eggs, because of all the purple and pink they were wearing. So I guess that's all I got to say but really it was really something special to me.

P.S I have my own blog. Go check it out:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Last Week in Review

No, this isn't from last winter. This is from our second snow fall 2009.

Samson showing off his new PJs - they are mom's favorite!

First bus ride with Avery's class

Elmo, Beautiful Maid and Snow White

Isn't he handsome?!

"Suds Man" - Samson dumped A LOT of soap into the bath water while I was not looking. It took me a while to figure out how there could be so many suds!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You could be the Snowflake that Starts the Avalanche

I have heard it many times before and I heard it again this morning "what a good thing we have done for that little boy." It just makes me sick when I hear these comments. Like we paid the ultimate sacrifice; like we have reached beyond quota; like we deserve to be held in the highest regard for adopting a child.

Listen everyone......our son came to us not because of what we have done; he came to us because of what we have not done.

It is true that during our adoption journey, God has showed up in many places. As a  Christian, I have never before felt God's presence as strong as I have during our process. There were so many miracles along the journey, some I can share and other experiences I can't share because they are so sacred to our family. But God was evident and he even spoke to me at times. My relationship with Him is much stronger because of our adoption experience and circumstances surrounding it.

I don't believe, however, that the Lord is more present in my life because we chose to adopt. My relationshiop was closer during this journey, because this is one time I really needed Him. For the first time in my life, I took a journey where most parts were out of my control. In International Adoption, there is so much out of our control, that you have to rely on Him. It's because of this type of day by day surrendering that I have amazing testimonies to share, all to His glory, not mine. God is always there in every aspect of our lives, we just don't always choose to surrender to His will.

If anything, after this journey, I feel ashamed. I feel ashamed at how much injustice there is in this world. I am ashamed at the way I live while families struggle to survive. They are the ones making the ultimate sacrifice, making the difficult decision to place their child in an orphanage because they are unable to provide for them due to severe poverty, the root of all injustice.

While in Ethiopia, our traveling group got the opportunity to meet birth families and although non of us shared our stories and regardless of each family's story, I will never forget the pain I saw in the eyes of birth families. I saw a birth father weeping, a woman flooded with tears over her loss but what I saw in most birth families was a withdrawn, grief struck, painful look on their faces. Nobody wants to give up their child. They are no different than us. They have feelings and heartstrings just like us. As a mother who loves her children, I cannot imagine the pain and loss these families feel.

Now home, I feel like I must make a difference. I must no longer claim ignorance. My eyes have been opened and I want to do whatever I can to prevent more families from breaking up. Will you join me?

Yes, the statistics are overwhelming...

The newest estimate of the number of orphans in the world is 147 million.
30,000 children die a day from starvation.
1.6 billion people live in severe poverty and another 2 billion live in extreme poverty.
Half of our world lives without clean drinking water.

However, "organizations have reported that it would take less than $3 billion per year to save 5 million lives. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that people in the United States spend between $30 and $50 billion each year on diets..." (from Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger).

Max Lucado once said, "When you think you cannot make a difference...
                        Behind every avalanche is a snowflake.
                        Behind a rock slide, is a pebble.
                        An Atomic explosion begins with one atom.
                        A revival can begin with one sermon."

Do you want to make a difference? Do something NOW!! Do your Christmas shopping and make a difference in the world. Donate in someone's name in lieu of gifts or ask loved ones to give you the gift of a donation to an organization that helps those that our hurting in our world.

--Here is a link to donate towards a well in Ethiopia started by a group of adoptive parents who traveled the week before our family:

--Here is a link to donate towards Drawn from Water, an organization who rescues children from superstitious tribal laws:

--Help Tom Davis' crew build a carepoint in Ethiopia, where they are experiencing the worst drought since 1984 and millions are on the verge of dieng from starvation.

There are so many other avenues to donate but the three I have listed are closest to my heart right now. Donate not to make a quota or to fulfill a tithe. Donate because you know you can make a difference. You could be the snowflake that starts the avalanche.

Don't wait, donate and you could save a child from being separated from his family before it's too late.