Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Funny Firsts!

Sunshine wearing her new bike helmet, elbow and knee pads, and dress up shoes.

As our new little ones adjust to life in America we are amazed at how they view life here. Many experiences that we take for granted I am witnessing through brand new eyes. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Sunshine is very observant and doesn't miss anything. As we drove around in the car at night she was perplexed by all the bright twinkling lights on the houses. She thought they were pretty but did not understand why they were there. We explained that the lights help us to celebrate Christmas. She said, "Ethiopia, Christmas, Yes...No lights. America, EVERYONE Christmas!!!"

Last week she was helping me gather the garbage. We were placing the bags in the garbage can in the garage. She put her fingers on her nose and said, "OOOH Stinky!!" I said, under my breath, not thinking she would understand, "There were a lot more icky smells than that in Ethiopia." She responded, "Oh yes, Ethiopia Stinky!" We then pulled the garbage cans out to the street together and as I turned to go back in the house she paused and said "Mom, what?" As if to say, 'why are we leaving our garbage here?' I realized that she didn't understand about garbage trucks. So I said, "Tomorrow, a big truck will come and take the garbage away." She gave a huge smile and said, "OOOH AMERICA!!! In Ethiopia, we take, we take. But AMERICA, truck!" Even bigger smile.

The next day I was sure to listen for the truck, so that she and her brother could see what happens to garbage in America. As we watched the truck there was more discussion about how stinky it was in Ethiopia and I became a little concerned that she might think that I didn't like Ethiopia. I made sure that I included how much I love Ethiopia. We talked about the beautiful country and people and about her siblings. She ended the conversation with, "I love Ethiopia, but Stinky in Ethiopia." I think a field trip to the dump might be in order.=)
Sweet Momma

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Here are our latest family portraits. We are thrilled with them and our little ones are so happy to be a part of the picture. When I showed our Christmas card to Sunshine she gave a big smile and joyfully said, "Everyone!!!" Yes, with these little ones here our family is complete. That is something to celebrate!

May you enjoy your Christmas as we focus on the gift of our savior born so long ago.
God bless you all!
Sweet Momma

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One Month!

I was driving to have coffee with friends last night when I realized that today is our one month anniversary of meeting Sunshine and Little Buddy. That was the fastest month of my life. While in Ethiopia I was sharing with Almaz (the wife of the orphanage director) about some of the difficulties we were having with Little Buddy. She said, in her beautiful broken English, "One Month, be better!" She was right. Thank you Almaz.

Don't misunderstand. We are still in the major adjustment phase and I am anxious for them to know more English, but things are so much better than a month ago when they didn't know us and we didn't know them. I think they are doing amazingly well.

Sunshine has proven to be more of a parenting challenge than Little Buddy. Her issues are so emotionally based and come up when you least expect it. She understands much more than her brother about the adoption and I believe is grieving more than he is. She pursued me from the first day to bond with and that has been helpful as we rock and sing and pray together. We have a lot of pictures of their life before America. This has proven to be an invaluable resource as they share their world with us and we lovingly honor their past. Please continue to pray for their transition and that Stand-Up Dad and I could know the best way to meet their needs.

Christmas is a very difficult time to bring new kiddos home. We have tried very hard to stay home and not overwhelm them with too much stimulation. But it is Christmas and we have to celebrate a little bit.

The pictures below show all the fun we have had over the last several days. My favorite memory of the week happened today when I helped them wrap gifts for their siblings. We had not planned on them giving gifts to us as I did not think they would understand why we were doing this. Sunshine has informed me that in Ethiopia, "No presents at Christmas." I sat them both down and talked about the gift that God gave us at Christmas. They are very aware of the whole 'Jesus birth' story. I explained that in America we give gifts to each other to celebrate the gift that God gave to us. I took them in our room and showed them all the Ethiopian clothes that I had purchased for the whole family and asked them if they would like to give these gifts to their siblings and Daddy and I? They were so happy to help wrap the gifts. Tape is so much fun! They were rolling around on the floor giggling, they were so excited!

May God bless you all as you celebrate and delight in the wonder of His birth!

This is the favorite after dinner activity...Climb On Daddy!!!
Sunshine cutting her first sugar cookies
Gingerbread Houses
This tradition confused them, but when they saw all the candy they willingly joined their siblings in the fun!
Sunshine decorating cookies
Little Buddy, painting on the frosting
Sweet Momma

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Leotard Man!

Hi! This is Elsie. Since my parents came home with Sunshine and Little Buddy, I have noticed that Sunshine is definitely a girly-girl. Dress-up is a must. Little Buddy decided he wanted to get in on the fun, despite the fact that he did not like the boy dress-up clothes we have. The girl dress-up worked just fine. You can't tell from the pictures, but in the first two Little Buddy is wearing not one, not two, but six leotards. In the last picture he is wearing Sweet Pea's favorite princess dress while talking with Elmo on the phone. These were his clothes of choice. He cried when it was time to take them off. I'm sure the days ahead will be filled with more playing, lessons in love, and............... dress-up.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Memories in the Making

This past weekend was fairly busy with many new experiences for our newest family members. Now that we are all feeling better we knew we had to seize the opportunity to go out and get our Christmas tree. It is a tradition in our family to venture to the nearest tree farm, choose a tree and cut it down ourselves. Actually, Stand-Up Dad always cuts it down, but Pumpkin is hoping to help next year. As you can see in the picture, Little Buddy was a bit grumpy that morning. He and Sunshine had gone to the doctor the day before and his leg was hurting badly from the shots he got. Later the same day we were able to attend a Christmas Concert where Sweet Pea sang in the choir. We heard two choirs, a bell choir, an orchestra and a guitar ensemble.

The weather had been very cold and on Sunday afternoon we finally got a little of what we had been waiting for. It started snowing before nap time and after nap the ground was looking white. I asked Little Buddy and Sunshine if they wanted to go out and play. "Yes," was the unanimous answer. So even though it was getting dark they had their first snow experience. They loved it! The big kids even pulled them down the street in the sleds.

Posing at the Christmas Tree Farm
Sweet Pea singing in the choir
First Snowflakes

Sweet Momma

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Way to The Heart...

It has often been said that "The way to the heart is through the stomach." I know this is often true when trying to win a beau, but I have found it to be true with newly adopted kiddos.

These little people have left everything they know behind in Ethiopia. Everything here is new and different. They have both been doing really well with American food with only a few exceptions. There have been a few new favorites and a few things that they turned up their noses at. Broccoli is definitely an acquired taste.

Stand-Up Dad has been working in Seattle. Yesterday after work he found an Ethiopian market where he could buy injera. This is a bread that looks like a big pancake. It is eaten at most meals in Ethiopia, but is fairly difficult to replicate without Ethiopian ingredients. He bought two big packages, one to freeze and one to keep in the fridge. They were SO excited when they saw what Daddy had brought home. But nothing compared to the excitement of lunch today.

While in Ethiopia I bought some berbere (Ethiopian spice) and shiro powder. I used both of these to make a shiro sauce that is eaten with injera. I boiled eggs to add to the lunch. They often eat boiled eggs that are left whole and cooked in sauces.

When Sunshine saw what was on the plate she pushed her siblings out of the way and ran to me with hugs and kisses of thanks. Such a small thing that means so much to these precious little ones. They thoroughly enjoyed their lunch. Sunshine ate every last bite. After lunch there were more hugs and thank you kisses.

Since we have been home it has been very important to Sunshine and Little Buddy that they have the same food and portion size as everyone else. Today was different. To make the injera last longer I did not serve it to the big kids. They got leftovers. Sunshine was totally OK with it. She said, "Sunshine and Little Buddy, Ethiopia (motioning to her food), they, no Ethiopia!" Big smile, as if to say, "more for me!=)"
Sweet Momma

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Two Ears, America!"

While in Ethiopia I noticed that Sunshine had pierced ears. While Stand-Up Dad and I were out shopping we bought her a pair of earrings. She squealed with delight when I showed them to her. Sadness soon followed when I realized that one of her ears was completely closed and I could only put in one earring. Many tears and two hours later we were able to have an interpreter explain that there was no longer a hole in one of her ears. We promised her that when we got to America we would have her other ear pierced.

Soon after this discussion she came up to me and said, "Ethiopia, one ear, America, two ears!" I assured her that this was true. It was very funny when we landed in Washington DC and told her that it was America, she turned to me and said, "Two ears, America?" I had to explain that it would be a little later.

The rule at our house has been that our daughters may pierce their ears when they turn ten years old. Our third daughter, Sweet Pea, has been waiting patiently to turn ten. She will be nine years old next month. We decided that she could pierce her ears with her little sister if she wanted to. I also thought it might be a fun memory for these new sisters.

Thursday evening we went to the mall and Sunshine got "Two ears in America!" She didn't even flinch. Sweet Pea was also excited to get earrings over a year early. They both look absolutely beautiful. One more promise kept, times two!
Sweet Momma

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brand New Shoes!

We are feeling better at our house. Thank you for your prayers. Yesterday I decided that we needed a trip outside of this house that did not involve the doctor. I am a total home body, but six sick children in a house for a week was my limit.

I thought it would be fun to take our newest kids and let them pick out new shoes. Shoes were a huge issue in Ethiopia. I brought gently worn shoes for them as I did not have any idea what size shoe they wore. My thought was that I could just leave whatever shoes did not fit at the orphanage. Of the three pair that I brought for Sunshine, only one fit to her standards. It was a pair of salt water sandals. Little Buddy had a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of light up sandals that I had been given by my sister-in-law. Only one of the shoes actually lighted up, but those shoes were the envy of both children.

Sunshine was very upset by her "unacceptable" shoes. In Tigrinia she said to me, "Where are my light up sandals? Why do I have to wear these ugly shoes?" (This is my best guess, but facial expression and hand gestures are 90% of a conversation.) One day when her brother wasn't looking she put on the light up shoes and wore them for two days. They were too small and she couldn't play soccer in them because it hurt her toes. But hey, a fashion statement is more important than comfort.

It was hard for me to watch and I felt bad knowing that as soon as we got home there would be more shoes than she could wear in a day.

So yesterday I took them to buy their first ever, brand new shoes. Light up shoes were a must. Fortunately I found light up winter boots for them both. Then we saw the glitter shoes. Who can resist red glitter on shoes. That was the color she had to have. Please don't call her Dorothy.=) I also bought Little Buddy some light up tennis shoes that he doesn't want to take off.

We had so much fun taking them into our large pantry, turning off the lights, and watching them light up the room with their new shoes.

Sweet Sunshine has thanked me more times than I can count. She kisses her shoes and says "pretty shoes" over and over. I am so happy to make her feel so happy. I only hope these little things will help her to understand that we love her and will take care of her and she can trust us. I know it takes time, but I am anxious for her and Little Buddy to know it and believe it!
Sweet Momma

Monday, December 7, 2009

Home One Week Today!

I can't believe it has already been a week since we flew in at 11pm to see our home-grown kids and introduce them to their forever siblings. It has truly been a blur.

Between jet lag and sickness, we are hanging in there. As of this moment all 8 of us are sick. 3 on antibiotics, 1 on albuterol for asthma, and the two littlest are running fevers.

In the middle of the night I got up with Little Buddy and realized that he had a fever and began to feel very overwhelmed. Stand-Up Dad was heading back to work today. He is part of a trial (as an attorney, not a defendant) in Seattle and would be very unavailable to me. As I began to worry I was reminded of one of the scriptures that always puts me back in the right perspective.

"You are my refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. Therefore, I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
Psalm 46:1-3
"I will be still and know you are God. You, Lord Almighty, are with me. You, God of Jacob, are my fortress."
Psalm 46:10-11

So even though I am still exhausted and sick myself I don't need to worry. The earth has not given way and the mountains have not fallen into the heart of the sea. Even if they had, God promises that He will help me.

We are making some headway with Little Buddy and Sunshine. Things are a little more predictable than they were a week ago. It is so much fun to learn about who these little people are and what makes their hearts sing.

Speaking of singing, they both have beautiful voices and sing and dance every day. They are both very aware of Christmas and baby Jesus. They love playing with our Little People manger scene. We even had the opportunity to celebrate Advent with them last night.

Please pray for health for our whole family. Life just isn't quite right when we are all sick. But I know and believe that God is bigger than any sickness.
Sweet Momma

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Few Fun Pics...

This has been such a crazy week. We are surviving two grown ups and two little ones with jet lag. I was diagnosed with bronchitis yesterday, so I am not quite myself yet. These are sweet kids that God has placed in our home. There are definitely issues, but I can't wait to see how this all looks in a few weeks.

We are doing very well with food. Today, for lunch, I made Kraft Macaroni and cheese. Did you know that I am the greatest mom ever? Sunshine was thanking me over and over and kissing her food saying, "Good food, thank you Mommy, I love you, Mommy!" So funny! I am glad she liked it, because it is one of the four food groups at our house.

Here are a few pictures that show the fun at our house.

Here is Little Buddy playing piano with M&M while she practiced her Christmas music.
Here they are on their first ever teeter-totter ride. The reason I know that it was their first is that they both tried to sit down backwards! =)
Our poor dog Molly is so neglected that she jumped up into what was left of my lap as I held Little Buddy as he slept.
Here is Pumpkin with his latest and greatest Lego treasure. He loves Legos and got this kit for his birthday.
My Ethiopian Glamour Girl!!!
If anyone was wondering whether she would be a girly-girl, I hope this picture answers the question. I am not sure what her eyes look like, as she is constantly wearing these shades! =)
Sweet Momma

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Day We Met!!!

Sunshine with her new "Coffee Ceremony" set.
Little Buddy giving one of his adorable smiles.
Moments after we met we gave them backpacks full of fun things. Here they are exploring their new toys.
We cannot express the joy we feel after finally meeting these precious gifts of God!
November 23, 2009 will forever be Sunshine and Little Buddy's "Gotcha Day!" It will be very easy to remember as it is the day after Pumpkin's birthday. We arrived in Addis around 9:30 in the morning and were taken to our guest house where we settled in and waited for Sunshine and Little Buddy to arrive. We were up on the third floor and were unsure of how the first meeting would take place. Should we wait up in our room or go down to the court yard to wait.
Before long a van pulled in through the gates and I saw two couples with their babies get out of the van followed by our two little kiddos. I ran down three flights of stairs and met them at the bottom.

We took them upstairs and enjoyed their wide eyed smiles and giggles of delight as they went through their new backpacks. Soon after we all went down for lunch. They ate great and were still all smiles.

Our first meeting was precious and the beginning of a very up and down week. I will tell more about this at a later date.

Please continue to pray for us as we all adjust to life as a family of eight. Today has been pretty good so far. All the kids are doing well together and we have only had three or four melt downs from Little Buddy, and they only last ten minutes or so. On the flip side he has wanted me to hold him for a good part of the day, usually while I am trying to work in the kitchen. I am very thankful for big kids that can finish meals for me.

More to come later...
Sweet Momma

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And two make six . . .

Just thought we'd post a picture of all our kids. I'm not sure all of this has sunk in yet.

Stand-up Dad

Home at Last!

We've arrived back in Washington. After several flights, the last of which being a quick flight from Portland, we landed at the airport about 11 p.m. last night. It was so good to get home and see the rest of the kids.

Thank you so much for your prayers, they are much appreciated. And many thanks to our host families, you are the best!

We will post soon with pictures from the trip.

Stand-up Dad

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back in America, but not home yet

Hello everyone. We've made it to Washington DC. We're at Dulles Airport which has the strangest looking shuttle buses that take you from the gates to baggage claim - something of a cross betwen a bad sci-fi movie and the coneheads. Anyway, it looks like we'll be at the airport for a while. We just tried to get on an earlier flight but some United Airlines woman with a thick German accent said "no possibilities." That's ok.

The flight from Addis to DC was fine, just LONG. We had a 100-plus mph head-wind for most of the flight so we were over an hour late getting into DC. Neither Sweet Momma or I got much sleep so we are really running on empty. Sunshine and Little Buddy are doing pretty well, all things considered. They are pretty exhausted as well. We just tried to introduce them to American fast food. The result? Thumbs up on French Fries and lemonade but they didn't care for the chicken nuggets.

Please pray for patience and sleep on the plane as we are all exhausted.

Stand-up Dad

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On our way home . . .

Hello all. We are writing to you from the Addis Ababa airport. We've added a picture of Sweet Momma, Sunshine and Little Buddy, but it is taken from the airport on my iphone, so please excuse the quality. It is Sunday night in Addis. We have a 10:15 flight that will get us into D.C. tomorrow morning. We then have a lengthy layover (unless we get an earlier flight) but we should be back in Seattle sometime Monday evening.

We have enjoyed our time in Ethiopia, but we are anxious to come home. The children are wonderful, though our parenting skills have definitely been tested. All those years of teaching parenting classes are coming in handy.
Our week has been very busy. We had a "city tour" on our first day, went to the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday (think D.M.V), Wednesday we went to the zoo, where the lions and monkeys scared Sunshine and Little Buddy, especially the monkey who wasn't in a cage. Friday we had a traditional Ethiopian meal and coffee ceremony. Saturday we went shopping with one of the caretakers at the orphanage who is a very skilled shopper. You may be aware that there are no set prices for anything in Ethiopia. Everything is "bargained for" and if you don't have a local with you, you get the foreigner price. It was very entertaining to watch her at work as she got us amazing Ethiopian prices. All in all, traveling around Addis Ababa is an adventure. There are no rules of the road, only suggestions (and maybe not even that). There are few working traffic lights so nearly every intersection is chaos. I never thought I'd say this, but after a week in Addis Ababa, I'm very thankful for our auto emissions laws.
We are very tired and excited about coming home. Hot water has been a scarcity, so we are really looking forward to hot showers and American food. Please pray for safe travels and for our two Ethiopian little ones as this is all new for them.
We will try to post from Washington D.C. tomorrow morning.
Stand-up Dad and Sweet Momma.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Greetings from Addis Ababa

Hi all. We've been in Addis Ababa since Monday morning. Around lunch time, we met Sunshine and Little Buddy. They are even more beautiful in person than in their pictures. We've been quite busy, traveling to various places. Yesterday (Tuesday) we had our U.S. Embassy appointment and all went well. So we should get their passports and visas today which means we are clear to travel home with the kids.

From the first day, Sunshine and Little Buddy have been with us at the guest house, which is a few miles from the orphanage. They are doing great, with the normal adjustment issues (and sibling rivalry) which is complicated by the language barrier. Sunshine knows a little bit of English, but Little Buddy really only knows what we are teaching him (please and thank you are some of the first words learned). Please pray for Little Buddy as he is three and exhibiting all of the normal three year old behaviors, but with people he has never met who speak a different language.

We are trying to get our flights changed so we can be home a bit sooner, but that is still up in the air. Thank you for all your prayers.

Stand-up Dad and Sweet Momma

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Selam (Hello) from Ethiopia

Hello everyone. It's Stand-up Dad and Sweet Momma writing to you from Mekele, Ethiopia.

We arrived in Addis Ababa Saturday morning (Ethiopia time) about 9:00 a.m. We never left the airport, as we waited for our flight to Mekele later Saturday afternoon. We arrived in Mekele about 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

In Mekele, we were greeted by Gebe, who along with his wife Connie run the orphanage where Sunshine and Little Buddy have lived for the past 14 months. Gebe took us to our hotel in Mekele and we had a nice dinner with him last night.

Today (Sunday) we visited a Bible College in Mekele, where 120 men are learning to be pastors. We then traveled to the orphanage where our kids have been until just a few weeks ago when they were transported to the House of Hope in Addis Ababa (the transition house for our orphanage).

The orphanage in Mekele is beautiful, as are all the children who live here. They are truly delightful children, full of love and hugs and we feel very welcomed. One of the little girls who lives here made and served us our very first Ethiopian coffee ceremony. It is also an honor to vist and get to know Gebe and Connie and see the marvelous work they are doing here. We also get to learn more about Sunshine and Little Buddy. Later this afternoon we will get to meet with our new children's brothers and sisters.

Gebe and I just finished putting together the bike that we brought for the kids (it's a Green Machine and it's really cool). We've also been playing with the kids outside. Mekele is a bit windy this time of year, and the hills around us remind Sweet Momma of the hills and mountains she grew up around in eastern Washington.

Tomorrow we leave Mekele to return to Addis Ababa where will we meet our kids for the first time! We are very excited to take this next step in our journey. Thank you so much for all of your prayers - please keep praying for safety, for our first meeting with our new children and for a smooth rest of the trip.

We'd also like to ask for prayers for our four children back in Washington. To Elsie, M&M, Sweet Pea and Pumpkin - we love you very much and we miss you. We know how excited you are about having a new brother and sister. We'll be home before you know it! To Pumpkin - Happy 7th Birthday! We are very proud of you and how you turned your birthday into show of love and support for the orphanage here in Mekele. We will try to call later tonight (Sunday morning Washington time) to wish Pumpkin a a happy birthday and say hello to you all - but we aren't sure if we will be able to get through. If not, we will certainly call from Addis Ababa. Finally, thanks to the host families back in Washington - we couldn't do this without you!

We give thanks to God for bringing on this adoption journey and bringing us here to Ethiopia. God is truly at work here.

We'll post again from Addis Ababa if we can.

Stand-up Dad

Friday, November 20, 2009

They are there!

We just got a very "bad connection" call from Sweet Momma - they have arrived in Addis Ababa - she sounded great! She had a very brief conversation with Elsie while M&M waited eagerly nearby. The call was lost and we're hoping for another call so M&M may talk with mom ... we'll see - but all is well and they are there! We'll keep you posted as we hear from them!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We're in the "other" Washington

We just landed in D.C. It still amazes me that just a few hours ago we were on the other side of the country. The flight was uneventful but very full. We even got to watch the movie "Up." We only go to a couple of movies a year but wouldn't you know it, we actually saw "Up" in the theater. Maybe that's why I fell asleep in the middle of the movie.

Anyway, thanks for your prayers. Our next post, assuming we can get Internet access, will be from Africa - you know, "Dr. Livingstone I presume?"

Stand-up Dad

We're on our way . . .

After three days of scrambling, we have arrived at SeaTac airport. We're all checked in and waiting for our flight, scheduled to leave at 1:20. The last three days have been filled with a birthday party for Pumpkin, packing four kids for two weeks and figuring out just how much you can stuff into a suitcase and still have it weigh less than 50lbs.

Please pray for travel safety, cultural sensitivity, sleep for Sweet Momma, and a smooth transition when we meet our kids. Also, please pray for all our kids and especially for Pumpkin. Sunday is his 7th birthday and this will be the first time we've missed any of our kids' birthdays.

We'll check in when we get to D.C.

Stand-up Dad

Monday, November 16, 2009

Change of Plans!!!!

We were thrown some amazing and surprising news this morning...

Last night Stand-Up Dad and I were talking about our Embassy date. I said that I hoped we would hear about our ability to travel and keep our December 10th embassy appointment by friday. Stand-Up Dad said that he hoped we would hear tomorrow (Monday.)

This morning I opened the email and saw there was an email titled "Embassy Appointment." I thought, "Oh, isn't God good to answer so quickly." But God also has a sense of humor and there is nothing that throws Him, but He threw me off today.

Here is what the email said: "We just heard from Tsegay that you would be able to come for the November 25th visa appointment if you want to change your flights and leave a few weeks early!"

Oh My! I walked over to the calendar and realized that a visa appointment on Nov. 25th meant that we would need to leave in three days. This Thursday!!!!!!!!!!

It has been a very busy day of phone calls with travel agents, my agency, friends and family who will watch our children and of course my husband. We changed our flights and have moved my son's birthday party to tomorrow. It is going to happen and we are very excited and completely overwhelmed!

This is God's plan, He has known it all along. Once we get on the plane, whatever we didn't pack will not matter. Our kids here are going to be so well cared for, for that I am thankful.

Speaking of being thankful...we will meet our new son and daughter one week from today and spend Thanksgiving in Ethiopia with our new kids. Wow!

Please pray for those here at home. We will be gone for Pumpkin's seventh birthday. He is definitely OK with it. When I asked him what he thought about it he said, "Mom, you need to go and get them and bring them home. It's OK." Such a mature almost seven year old.

Please pray for quick packing, safe flights and God's continued protection over all of us.
Sweet Momma

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Showers of Blessing!

We are so blessed to have so many family and friends who have prayed with us through this adoption process. They are all so excited about God's work in our lives and the lives of these two precious children that God has chosen to become a part of our family.

This week we were blessed twice by Adoption Showers. Last Wednesday the ladies of our care group put on a beautiful shower for me and my children. They are so creative. They made their own version of Pictionary where all of the words that we had to draw had something to do with adoption, family, or Ethiopia. Some of the most difficult to draw were "dossier" and "70 million" (that would be the number of people in Ethiopia.) We had a great time and I was very impressed at some of the drawing skills I witnessed. I am not skilled at all in that area. The shower ended with a precious time of prayer. I don't know what I would do without the covering of prayers during this process. I am overwhelmed by the power that it carries. Thank you ladies for your time and the adorable books that you made for our children.

Today we were blessed again by more friends that love to celebrate growing families. Two of my friends, that already have six children, took time out of their very busy lives to bless us with a shower at our church. Our good friends the Averills also came and helped with games and sound. The cakes and tables were so pretty. I wish our new kiddos could have seen it. But I am also glad that we had it before they came home.

We played a game where we quizzed our friends on their knowledge of Ethiopia and our adoption process. We also showed a video that told all about the orphanage that our children are from. The video showed life in Ethiopia and told about all of the work that they plan to do for the community.

This shower also ended with an amazing time of prayer. Stand-Up Dad said that it was his favorite part of the shower and I completely agree. Thank you all for your prayers on our behalf. We treasure each one and know that God hears and will move because of them.

We feel so incredibly blessed to share this experience with so many people who love us and love the Lord! May He be praised!
Sweet Momma

Saturday, November 14, 2009

National Adoption Awareness Month

This month is National Adoption Awareness Month. Last Sunday was Orphan Sunday. If you have some time you should watch this:

My kids and I were amazed and moved by this message. We are so humbled to be a part of adoption and hope you will consider how you might help the orphan.
Sweet Momma

Friday, November 13, 2009

Earrings for Ethiopia

Elsie and M&M have been very busy making jewelry. They love to make earrings and necklaces. They had a brilliant idea to make earrings and sell them at our home school co-op. They would then donate all the money they made to the orphanage where Sunshine and Little Buddy were.

This last Monday they took their wares to co-op and were so excited when they sold 18 pairs. I have so enjoyed watching my children step out in boldness for orphans. They understand how fortunate they are and want to do what they can to support those that are not as fortunate. What a blessing that they understand this at such a young age.
Sweet Momma

More Pictures!!!

Today we received two more pictures of our kiddos!!! We have been looking at the same six pictures for the last four months. It seems so strange to see them wearing different clothes!=) They are just adorable! Sweet Sunshine has a little longer hair and it is beautiful. We couldn't be happier.

I believe these pictures were taken at the House of Hope which is our agency's transition orphanage. They flew on a plane last friday to get there. At the House of Hope they will complete a final medical exam and prepare them for being adopted. Children's Hope International tries to prepare them for life in America. We are so incredibly thankful for all of the people that are caring for our children.
Sweet Momma

Monday, November 9, 2009

No Autographs, please!

Take a look at what was in my mailbox on Saturday! They are so adorable. It is so strange to see the picture that I have been staring at for weeks on the cover of a catalog. This catalog was put out by Children's Hope International, our adoption agency, to give people an opportunity to donate to various humanitarian efforts. We were thrilled when they asked us if they could use this picture for the cover.

I was looking at it when I realized that Saturday was one month to the day that we hope to meet them. I became overwhelmed with emotion and had to explain to the kids in the car that I was just having "a moment."

It seems as if we are living life as the "before they are home." And the next sentence is always, "After they are home we will..." The truth is, we are not sure how things will go after they are home. We are going to give them all of the time they need to adjust to our family, new culture, new food, new everything. Please pray with us that God will lovingly walk all of us through the process.

There is no news on our Embassy appointment. It is still tentative and we hope to hear in a couple of weeks. Please pray that we will be scheduled for the Dec. 10th appointment.

Thank you again for lifting up our whole family in your prayers.
Sweet Momma

Friday, November 6, 2009

Good News!

This has been a good week! We received a wonderful email from the Orphanage Director at our kiddos orphanage. We sent him a list of questions concerning our children. He was so kind to answer each question in detail. He and his wife are doing such a wonderful job with our kids and all of the children at Hope Community Services. The story about how they chose to build an orphanage is amazing. I will tell more about that another day. The letter let us know that our children are loved and being very well cared for.

Good news #2! A family member of mine had surgery yesterday. We were not sure what the outcome of the surgery would be, but God heard our prayers and she was given the best possible diagnosis! Thank you God!!!

Good news #3! The quilts and pillow shams are complete and on the beds!!! Pumpkin did a happy dance when he realized that I had completed everything. It feels so good to have this big project complete.

Now I just have to plan a birthday party, purchase Christmas gifts, decorate for Christmas, pack for our trip and gather items for donation to the orphanage. We will get it all done.

After I finished the quilts today I made a twirly skirt for Sunshine. I heard that she loves to dance and I don't know a five year old little girl that doesn't love a twirly skirt with sparkles! So much fun!!
Sweet Momma

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One Down, One to Go!

Today I finished the binding on one of the boys quilts. Pumpkin has been so sweet during this process. He told me last week that if I didn't have time to finish both quilts, he would like to give the first one to his little brother. I told him that I was sure that I would be able to complete them both. I really like how they turned out. They are more patriotic than I thought they would be, but they are great for two little boys and will grow with them over the years.

Here is a look at the first quilt already on his bed. He says that he loves it. It is so warm. I put polar fleece on the back of them, so that they will be very cozy in their beds. The second quilt is finished except for the quilting and the binding. I hope to finish it this week.

The really big news today is that I booked flights to Ethiopia! (Yes, I purchased changeable tickets in case there is a change in our plans.) If all goes well, we will leave one month from today!!! It is so hard to believe. There is so much to do...I better go get sewing!
Sweet Momma

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Praise God, They Are Ours!!!

We just got the email we have been waiting for weeks to see! These precious little ones belong to our family!!! Thank you for your prayers!
As of right now, we may be traveling the first week of December.
We are all jumping up and down around here, praising God for His goodness!!
Sweet Momma

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Every second brings us closer...

Today as I sat down to read to my two youngest I asked Pumpkin to pray and ask God to bless our school. His prayer began like many other prayers and then he began to pray for his little brother and sister in Ethiopia...that they would have a good day and that they would be happy. "And God please help us to pass court, because every second that goes by brings us closer to the moment when they will be home."

This sent me into a fit of tears, how profound from my little six year old boy.

Would you please pray for:
- all of our paperwork to be in order.
- the family member of our kids that may be at the court proceeding. That God would comfort her and give her peace.
- the judge that signs the papers.
- our new little ones, as they are told that they have a new family.

We will be praying Wednesday night because Ethiopia is nine hours ahead of us. We hope to know if we passed, sometime Thursday morning.
Thanks again for your prayers,
Sweet Momma

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Joy Through Obedience

Hi all. Stand-up Dad here. Sweet Momma does most of the blogging for us - and she does a great job. But every once in a while I feel the need to blog. This is one of those times.

If you’ve read our blog, you know that we just received our court date - October 29th. This means that unless we hit a snag somewhere, we should be traveling to Ethiopia very soon. Also, if you’ve read one my early posts (ok, my only other post), you know that for me, the decision to adopt was largely one of obedience. I did feel God calling us to adopt and even though I had many fears and questions, I knew it was the right thing to do.

It has now been a little over a year since that decision. Over that year, God has been doing amazing things in my heart. My feelings quickly changed from obedience to excitement, at least for the two kids we would be adopting. I always knew that once we received our referral, I would fall in love with whomever God had chosen for us to adopt. That has certainly happened. But what I didn’t expect is the burden and love that God has given me for a country and for a people. This is now larger for me than adopting two kids; our family has adopted a country.

I don’t know what the future holds and this trip to Ethiopia may be our only visit. I hope it’s not. I hope that we can return to Ethiopia in the future both to visit the homeland of our two new children and to do missions work - helping out in any way we can. My children are saving money (and raising money) to give to the orphanage where our children currently live and we plan to sponsor one or more orphans at that orphanage. Love can do amazing things.

My reason for blogging is much more than telling you my story. I’m writing to encourage you. God may be calling you to do something in your life - whether it be adoption, a missions trip, witnessing to your neighbor or any number of things. Sometimes when we feel God calling us to a task, we resist. We think we are just not equipped to carry out that task. We believe that somehow, God chose the wrong person. He didn’t. Maybe the first person he is trying to help is you. For when we are obedient to God, even when we don’t want to be and even when it doesn’t make sense to us, God can do amazing things through that obedience. And I think you will find, as I did, that God can take that obedience and turn it into joy.

Stand-up Dad

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fall Fun!

It wouldn't be fall without a trip to the pumpkin patch. We have gone to the same pumpkin patch every year since M&M was a baby. You may call that boring, but I call it "tradition!" It was a beautiful day today and we took our time enjoying all the fun of the biting turkeys, smelly pigs, corn maze, putt-putt pumpkin golf and pick your own gourd for the kitchen table. I can't believe how big they all are getting next to the "How tall this fall?" sign. We can't wait to add two more sweet faces to all these pictures. Next year will be a lot of fun!
Sweet Momma