Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas - Our December...

Each year I am amazed at how the month of December flies by.  Here are a few shots we captured to remember Christmas 2011.  Hope you enjoy them!
 Sunshine and Little Buddy had so much fun "feeling" their stockings on Christmas Eve.  We went to our church service and then invited our cousins over for dinner and decorating Graham Cracker Houses.

 This year Sweet Pea and Bookworm had acting parts in the Christmas Play at church.  Sweet Pea played a ditzy blond.  She pulled it off quite well.  Bookworm was a very nervous choir director.  They had such a great time sharing the story of Christmas in a new way.

 Here is the crew standing in front of our Christmas tree, right before Stand-Up Dad knelt down in the mud to cut it down.  Our Dad is SO amazing!

Every year our kiddos choose a new ornament for the tree.  My hope is that when they leave our home, one day, they will have ornaments for their own tree.
This year we decorated porcelain ornaments.  They loved this activity and amazed me with their artistic ability.

Christmas is now over, but I am feeling extremely blessed by the good gifts of our family and friends.
May God bless you and yours in the coming new year!

Sweet Momma

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Family Day 2011!!

December 1st will forever be our Family Day!

Two years ago we brought Sunshine and Little Buddy home from the airport and the knitting of our family really began.  These past two years have flown by.  It has been the most challenging time of my life.  Every person in our family has experienced huge adjustments.  The two littles have obviously had to bend the most.  Bending is hard.  I am so proud of the strides they have made.

God has stretched me in ways that I did not know were possible.  At the moment, the challenges are very real and difficult.  There have been many different seasons over the past two years.

I went to therapy last week and mentioned that it has been two years since we met.  She said, "Only two years?"  I laughed out loud.  It feels like a lifetime that we have all been praying for God to help them through the tough stuff.  She thought they were doing extremely well for the amount of time they have been home.  We are so thankful for that!  These two little ones are such precious gifts to our family.

 Our first picture of all six kiddos!

 This year in our backyard.  I am so proud of all six of them!
Silly shots are the favorite at our house.

Sometime soon when I am not in the middle of the battle I would love to share more about how the two youngest are doing.  It is a wild ride!  I am so thankful that God is driving the roller coaster!

Sweet Momma

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Secret Agent Training

We recently held Secret Agent Training at our house for Pumpkin's birthday party!  Stand-Up Dad had a great idea that he wanted to try and pull off for the party this year.  I am usually the one in charge of such events, but was happy to take a side step and let his idea take form.

The event that my husband created was amazing!  We got some ideas from the internet, but the bulk of the party was from Stand-Up Dad's imagination.  He led the Secret Agents on a scavenger hunt for over an hour.  They had to decode messages and search for clues. 

The party was amazing! I was just a helper, so I got to sit back and watch all the boys and Pumpkin's dad have fun.  The best part about the party was the realization of how Pumpkin's dad made the party so much better than I would have.  He has a boy brain and understands what they like best!
The boys looked so COOL in their Secret Detective disguises.  We even drew on mustaches.=)
And now my oldest boy is nine.  So hard to believe.  At the age of nine, he has decided that he has grown out of the blog name of Pumpkin.  We actually started calling him that when he was in my womb.  So, even though he will always be my "Pumpkin," he would now like to be called Bookworm by our blog friends.  It seems to fit.  He is an avid reader.  I have found it so challenging to find good literature for him that is at his reading level, but does not hold content that his heart is not ready for.

Bookworm is a wonderful young man.  He has a soft and caring heart and is super fast on the track at the YMCA.  He loves Jesus and is trying to make sense of why some people get away with sin and some don't.  He has a strong sense of justice and is thoroughly enjoying being an older brother.  It is still a learning process for him, because he lived for seven years without a brother and now they are needing to work through all the hierarchy that boys go through on a daily basis.  There is a lot more wrestling and fun elbow jabs than before.  It is exactly what a nine year old and a five year old needed.

Happy Birthday Bookworm!  You are loved and treasured more than you will ever know!
Sweet Momma

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

November is here!  The hustle and bustle of the holidays are just around the corner.  The thought of this caused me to think about taking a new approach this year.  What if we began right now to think of things that we are thankful for?  What if we wrote it down as a record of all the ways we are blessed?

This past year I had the privilege of reading the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  This book shook me to the core.  I know that there are days that I don't pause to thank God like I should, but I had never thought about how an attitude of gratitude could transform how I see God and the world around me.  If you have not read the book, I would encourage you to get it.  You can also read Ann's Blog at

Each of my kiddos works on character as one of their assignments for homeschool.  I decided for the month of November that they would take time each day to list the things that they are thankful for in their own Thankfulness Journal.  I took a piece of colored card stock and folded it in half.  I added sheets of lined notebook paper and Elsie tied it all together with yarn.  They each decorated the cover of their journal.

It was important to me that they look beyond the obvious.  I encouraged them to choose things that we cannot buy to put on their list.  It is easy for kids to write 1. Mom, 2.  Dad, 3. Legos and so on.
I wanted to stretch their writing abilities a bit.  If you are thankful for cookies, what is it that causes you to be thankful?  Is it the way the smell of them baking fills the house?  Is it the warm gooey chocolate?

Little Buddy said he wanted to be thankful for our house.  At five years old, I think this is great.  But he went on to say that our house makes him feel safe.  Even better!

After one day of writing, here are a few of the things they are thankful for:
- the hope of salvation.
- frost on a crisp fall morning.
- the sound of my little brother singing.
- the freedom to praise God.
- the Holy Spirit lives inside of me.
- God's protection.  Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
- Mom's warm hugs throughout the day.

I can't wait to see the attitude of gratitude grow in the hearts of my children.

That reminds me to get back to my Thankfulness Journal.
Sweet Momma

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Last week it happened.  Our baby turned fifteen.  I am in awe of how quickly this has occurred.  

I remember when she was the only one.  I spent all day just playing with her and marveling at all the amazing new things she learned each day.  Everyone said that those days would fly and to take time to enjoy each moment.  There are many wonderful moments that I hold so dear.

 Now I have the future to look forward to.  She is almost grown.  She is such an amazing young lady.  She absolutely loves the Lord and wants to honor Him with her life.  Her heart is soft to His ways and we are extremely thankful and very proud of her.
Happy Birthday dear sweet Elsie!  God has amazing plans for you and we can't wait to see what they are.  May God bless you and may you always stay close to His heart.
We love you!!!
Sweet Momma and Stand-Up Dad

Friday, September 16, 2011

Our August Birthdays

Summer has flown by and we have just completed our third week of school.  

I can't seem to get on top of my blogging.  Ugh!

I want to take some time to celebrate our little ones who both celebrated another birthday - almost a month ago.=)

Sunshine (Who is obviously Sophie, from the picture - Oops!) celebrated her seventh birthday in the middle of August.  In July she started talking about her birthday and I could see that it was making her very anxious.  We took the time to talk through all the events of the day and I reminded her that I would make her day special.  It would be a birthday that was just perfect for her.

It was perfect.  It was just right.  Not too much excitement as to overwhelm her, but just enough fun to make it a wonderful day!

Sunshine is such an amazing young lady.  She is super smart and very determined.  She has grown by leaps and bounds since she came to live with us.  She has just started second grade and just loves to learn.  She is reading independently and loves art.  There are so many things that she is good at, she has trouble choosing her favorite.

She struggles greatly with yielding to me.  I know God has an amazing plan for her.  I know that He can be trusted.  So we move forward each day in full faith that He will work everything together for His good.
Sunshine loved the special treat I had planned for her on her birthday.  I took her on a Mommy/Daughter date to get her nails done.  She got her toes and fingernails painted while I had a pedicure.  She even got beautiful flowers painted on her big toes and thumbs.

Happy Birthday Sunshine!  I adore you!

Little Buddy had a birthday the next day!  Yes, that is right.  We do not know their actual birth dates as people in Ethiopia do not keep those kinds of records.  But to be adopted a birthdate had to be chosen.

Their birth dates were chosen by their oldest sister.  That is what makes these dates special to our family.  If someone at the courthouse had chosen them, we might have spread them apart a bit.  In this way we honor their sister who had no idea that two days of birthdays can be quite busy!=)

Little Buddy requested Ethiopian food for his birthday dinner.  I was happy to oblige.  It is fairly easy to make if you can buy the injera, which is what we did.  It was delicious and his tummy and his heart were full.

Happy Birthday Little Buddy!  I love you SOOOOOOOO much!=)

Birthdays for kiddos from hard places can be difficult.  This year was hard for Little Buddy.  Our therapist told me that how a child does on their birthday can say a lot about how they are doing in general.  It made a lot of sense to me.

As you can see, this little guy is adorable.  His hugs and kisses melt my heart.  He has come so far.  Not only has he learned English and adjusted to a new family, he is also reading independently at just five years old.  I am so thankful that he does not have to struggle with school as he struggles in other areas.

My greatest desire for both of these precious children is that God would heal and transform their hearts. This would allow them to trust and be free of the hurt that they carry daily.

I guess I really want them to be free to be kids before they are grown.

That is what I want...I am waiting to see what God wants.  His plan is always better than anything I can dream up.

Sweet Momma

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Day of School

We started school last week.  This is a great shot of my class of kiddos.  

This year Elsie is a Sophomore in High School, M&M is in Eighth grade, Fifth grade for Sweet Pea, Third for Pumpkin, Second for Sunshine and my adorable Little Buddy is in Kindergarten.

It has taken me weeks to get everything ready to start.  I am a person who likes to "feel" organized and with this many kids to school I have been pushed to a new level.

We have worked out a daily schedule that almost works for everyone.  I hope to work out the kinks in the next couple of weeks.

Enough about school.  I haven't blogged much lately.  I have many excuses, but mostly it has been a challenging summer on the kiddo front.  Most days I am just trying to figure out my next step or if I need to step back.

I would love to write that everything is wonderful all the time and everyone is completely adjusted to life in our family.  That would not be the truth.

This summer has been a time of adjusting expectations.  I am generally an optimist who hopes the best of people.  That has not changed.  There is much to be thankful for.  Lives are changing and adjusting and trusting a little at a time.  This is just a much slower process than Stand-Up Dad and I expected.

The process of teaching a child to trust you while you wrestle (at times) for control is daunting.  Giving up control has proven to be the biggest stumbling block for our littles.  When the first years of your life are spent taking care of and protecting yourself, it is like reprogramming brain function to ask them to give up that control to Daddy and I.  They are scared.  Can they trust us enough to let it go?  It doesn't look like fear on a regular basis.  It comes out in behaviors that will drive you upside down crazy.=)

Through this process we are learning a lot about our original family and how our expectations for parenting have to change and flex to accommodate children from hard places.  Do you think you have a stubborn, strong willed child?  Our two littles have multiplied strong willed to a level I did not know existed.  And all that "will" comes from those early years of life experience, much of which we are unaware of.

The result of almost two years together is that they both want to be a part of our family! Praise God!  They want to be "family kids."  But they are not quite willing to go to the next step. They can't do it their own way and be "family kids."

And this is where we are.  Trying to love, lead, guide, and encourage them to the next step.  It is their choice.  We can't force this in any way shape or form.

You see, God is the shaper and the former of our lives, when we allow Him to work.

When I look at the picture above I see six transformed lives.  Yes, we hope the greatest change will come in the lives of our littles, but our big kids are learning to exhibit compassion, patience and understanding that they would have never experienced were it not for our little ones.  This weaving of the family is an amazing, overwhelming, and worthwhile experience.  I thank God daily for the privilege to be right where I am.

Sweet Momma

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Look What I Found!!!

Sunshine and Little Buddy have another birthday coming up and I want to start a Lifebook for each of them and give it to them for their birthday. I have been dragging my feet a bit, because a Lifebook for an older adopted child is very different than a scrapbook of a child that you have had since birth or babyhood.

I don't have any baby pictures or pictures of their parents. And the first part of their life was hard. When I would go to the craft store to find stickers or paper for their books I left feeling frustrated that none of the stickers and embellishments quite fit.

With the birthdays approaching I decided to take another look and was so excited to find a whole "stack" of scrapbook paper that is called Safari Chic. Africa scrapbook paper!!! It is perfect for their albums. I bought the matching matstack to use as backing on pictures that are placed on plain paper. I found the paper at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts. The stacks usually sell for $19.99, but are often on sale for 50% off, which is when I bought them.=)

A few months back I purchased a whole die cut set from My set is called the "Standard Ethiopian Lifebook Embellishment Pack." It includes sixteen die cuts with Ethiopian flags, crosses, continent of Africa, mother and father in amharic and others. The whole set was $14.95.

A friend also purchased a book for me called "Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child," by Beth O'Malley. This book explains the importance of allowing your child to help write their lifebook. It is their memories that should be placed on the pages. The book walks you through what should be included in the book.

She writes in her book, "A Lifebook is a security blanket, a concrete tool, and a medium for one complete personal history. It promotes a positive grasp of identity. It makes talking about adoption feel like everyday conversation. It promotes attachment. It honors every moment of your child's life."

I can't wait to get started on their books. As I said before, I plan to start the books and give them the opportunity to add drawings and dialogue to fill in the history of their life before they came to live in our family. I know these books will be a treasure to them as they grow up.
Sweet Momma

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vacation 2011 - Part 4

While in Colorado Springs we took the advice of a friend who grew up in the area and spent some time at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

This zoo is located on a mountain side in Colorado Springs. It is an excellent zoo with many animals native to Africa and Australia that I have never seen before. Because of its location, the views were amazing.

The greatest attraction by far were the giraffes. There were at least 15 giraffes who were in an environment that let you get up close and personal with them. Stand-Up Dad purchased big piles of lettuce that they were happy to consume right from your hand. The walkway we were standing on put us at eye level with them. You could reach out and pet them. Truly incredible creatures. It was very funny when the people next to us fed some lettuce to a giraffe and it must have gotten caught in his throat. The giraffe totally coughed and sputtered all over them. Yuck!=) Fortunately, the giraffe was fine.

Here is Little Buddy getting a good look at the giraffe's long black tongue.

Yes, you could say that Stand-Up Dad was teasing the giraffe,
to see how far he could stick out his tongue. Gross!=)

These animals are absolutely beautiful! Getting to see them up close was one of the highlights of our trip!
Sweet Momma

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vacation 2011 - Part 3

So sorry to have left you hanging...I don't know if anyone but my mom is following our vacation pictures, but I have been anything but punctual about continuing our vacation saga.=)

I apologize.

After leaving Jackson Hole, Wyoming we traveled across Wyoming into Colorado with our final stop being Colorado Springs.

Along the way I was amazed at the colors of the earth. As you drive along at 75 miles an hour, (Yes, that is the speed limit in Wyoming) you go around a corner and this is what you see. Completely Incredible!

It is true that these pictures don't do it justice. I just love how God chose to surprise us with the colors of the dirt and rocks. Heaven must be incredible with gold for roads!

After a very long day in the car, we arrived in Colorado Springs and planned our first stop the next morning to be a visit to Focus on the Family. This Christian ministry has been around for over thirty years. It's goal is to be a support to families. They do this through radio broadcasts, support calling centers, literature and much more. While there, we took a tour of the main building to hear about the ministries they are currently involved with.

After the tour, we made our way to the visitors center. One of the ministries of Focus on the Family is called Adventures in Odyssey. This is a morals based Christian radio drama. The episodes have many characters that my kids love. They are funny and entertaining and also teach kids how to be a Christian in the real world.

Downstairs in the visitors center is a place called "Whit's End," which is a soda shop in the radio drama. There is much more to it than I can describe here. If you have kids over eight I would highly recommend these CD's. After you have listened to a few, take your kids to Focus on the Family. They will have a blast!!!

One of the best parts of Whit's end is the chance to record your own Adventure's in Odyssey episode. All six of our kids got a chance to be in on the fun. They actually record your voices and sound effects in with the characters from the show and then give you a CD with your voices. Very Cool!

Here we are as characters from Adventures in Odyssey, in front of the KYDS Radio Station.

This was a great way to start our time in Colorado Springs. More to come. Sooner than later, I hope.=)
Sweet Momma

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Our Fourth of July!

Our family lives in Western Washington. There is a common phrase around here that is "Summer does not begin until after the Fourth of July." Meaning that it is grey and raining until then most years. I have lived here for fourteen years and I believe that it is true.

But this year was different! Hallelujah! The skies were blue and I believe the temperature reached 80 degrees!

This year we got together with both of my brothers and their families and went to Steilacoom, Wa, where they host a Fourth of July parade and street fair each year. It is right on the Puget Sound with the back drop of the Olympic mountains. Absolutely gorgeous!

There are 12 cousins in all. They had a great time together enjoying our countries Independence Day!
The whole crew, ages 2-14!

I love this picture! I don't know why it warms my heart to see my beautiful
Ethiopian kiddos sporting their American garb.

After the parade we went to my brothers house for a BBQ feast. One of the kids favorite was the red, white and blue Jello! My sister-in-law (chef extraordinaire) made four batches of home-made ice cream! Yes, you read that right, four different flavors and I tried them all!=)

Little Buddy's first sparkler!

The fireworks were the most stressful part of the day. Here's a thought, let's line up twelve children and give them a stick with fire on it to hold, all at the same time.

Yes, the dad's were in charge.=) They did a great job of keeping everyone safe and all the children went home with all of their hair.=)

For me, this Fourth of July was the best I have had in years. The weather was so beautiful. I completely enjoyed watching all of the cousins play together for hours. Family, food and fellowship. What an amazing gift!
Sweet Momma

Friday, July 1, 2011

Vacation 2011 - Part 2

On our second day we traveled south out of Bozeman towards Yellowstone National Park. The weather man said there were going to be thunderstorms, but God had different plans. Although the clouds loomed in the distance, we had a wonderful day!

As we drove into the park we went to the visitor center and watched a short movie about the history of the park. At one point, the movie showed a bison flinging a person up in the air. It was meant to warn visitors to respect the fact that all the animals in the park are wild. This person got too close and did not respect the personal space issues of wild animals.
The video completely freaked out our little ones. We promised that we had no intention of getting anywhere near an animal, but they were still unsettled.
We spent a good part of the day traveling around the west side of Yellowstone. We visited many of the amazing geysers and springs in the park. The picture above is one of my favorite. It is called the Cistern Spring. It's blue color is fabulous! The water in the center of the spring is boiling. It gave me pause as I walked along the path, wondering what was under my feet!

Visiting Yellowstone was a wonderful experience for Sunshine and Little Buddy. They have seen pictures of our family visiting there three years ago. When we talk about the past, I get a sense of separation. They want to feel included in every memory, even though that is not possible.

To experience this day as a complete family unit helped to draw their lives into our past and bring clear understanding of our experiences. We found this to be true throughout most of the trip.

Our last big stop in the park was Old Faithful. It was late afternoon and the littles were tired and not very interested. The funny part was, that the geyser tricked us four times before it actually blew. I can sum up their thought of Old Faithful in one word, "Whatever."

As we drove out of Yellowstone we saw a lot of snow. There was 4-5 feet on the side of the road. Lewis Lake was still frozen over on June 11th. The summers here must be very short.
After visiting Yellowstone we drove south into the Teton National Forest. I was asked by a friend last night what my favorite part of the trip was. That was easy..."The Grand Tetons!"

My family refers to the Grand Tetons as "Mommy's Mountains." I love the way they shoot out of the flat earth into such amazing, rocky, snow covered heights. They are completely breathtaking! When I see them I can hardly breath. I know God made them just for me.=)
I have seen a lot of mountains in my day, but these are my favorite by far.

When I think about God's strength, His power and His Majesty, I often picture these amazing mountains! Some day Stand-Up Dad and I will spend a vacation right there!
This day ended in Jackson, WY. We stayed in a hotel that sits at the base of the mountains. So cool! I was glad that we got a lot of pictures, because we woke up to rain the next day. My beautiful mountains were completely hidden. How often are God's blessings hidden from my view because of some rebellious attitude or choice I have made.

I definitely want to see ALL of His blessings. That is something to think about.
Sweet Momma

Monday, June 27, 2011

Vacation 2011 - Part 1

We recently returned from more than two weeks on the road with six kids. It was a 4,000 mile trip that took us from Washington State to Kansas and back.

I can't wait to share about our trip and update you on our family as well. I have not been a very faithful blogger lately and hope to change that this summer.

We left on June 9th from Western Washington and drove to Wenatchee to spend the first night at my parents house. It was only a three hour drive and just a taste of all the driving we would experience.
The picture below is taken outside of my parents house as we left to drive to Bozeman, Montana.
We have been doing our best to prepare our little ones for this trip. We had taken this same trip about three years ago and so the older kids new what to expect. There were conversations about driving all day in the car and only stopping to eat, get gas, and potty stops. I don't think that they believed us.

The trip from Wenatchee to Bozeman is about 10 hours. At the end of the day I asked Sunshine what she thought of vacation. She said, "I didn't think you meant that we would really be in the car for the whole day." Hee hee, sorry sweetie!

She was a bit anxious about this trip because she has experienced a lot of motion sickness in the past. On day one she did great!
A quick picture after running around at a rest stop in eastern Washington.

I must admit that I LOVE road trips!!! I love to look out the window and see the amazing world that God created for us to enjoy! Stand-Up Dad, on the other hand, enjoys the being there part of road trips, not the road part. He is so amazing! He did most of the driving and stopped the car every time I wanted to take a picture. I asked him to stop often.=)

One thing that we noticed right away was how green everything was. We are used to emerald green colors coming from rainy Western Washington. The green grasses of Spring were evident everywhere. It was absolutely stunning!

Stand-Up Dad made each of our kiddos a travel journal. There were maps that showed our route for each day. He listed facts about each city and region that we were traveling through. There were coloring pages of each state flower, bird and flag. He even added fun facts like, "In Boise, Idaho it is illegal to fish from a giraffe's back."
These books added to the fun and the educational value of our trip. Each day the kids colored, completed word searches and added journal writings about all that they were learning, seeing and experiencing.

More to come. =)
Sweet Momma

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Who did it?

Many times throughout the course of our day I find a mess or a job that is incomplete and I wonder who is responsible. I might try to find the culprit, often with little success.

Yesterday I opened my silverware drawer and found this note and I had to laugh out loud.

"Please take the spoons from this side until there is no more. Thank you."

This little sign was obviously written by a child who prefers the neater side of life. There are only two children in my house who might possibly fit into this category. And one of them is unable to write full sentences yet.

I quickly decided that Sweet Pea had enjoyed organizing the silverware and was hopeful that the other seven people in our home would appreciate and respect her efforts.
Good luck Sweet Pea.=)

Sweet Momma

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our Easter

Our Easter weekend began with our home group on Good Friday. Our home group leader did an amazing job including all the kids. The kids all took turns reading scripture that foretold the resurrection. We talked about what life would have been like to be a follower of Jesus during that time.

We took communion together and took time to share and explain through each step. We then had the privilege of washing each others feet. The first time I ever had the opportunity to do this was last year and I found it quite humbling to have my feet washed. It is easier to be in the servant role.

My whole family was amazed at how special our night was with our home group. The focus on Christ and the resurrection was so much more meaningful.

Here is Little Buddy washing Stand-Up Dad's feet. He used a lot of soap and took his time. So sweet!

Saturday evening we took time to color eggs. There were five dozen eggs. Let's just say that the kids have had egg salad sandwiches for the last few days with more to come.=)

A silly shot while coloring eggs

Here is the group before church on Sunday. It is an amazing life being part of God's family and doing our best to serve Him! What a privilege to raise these children to know the one true God!

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!!!
Sweet Momma

Thursday, March 31, 2011

We Are Still Here!!!

Little Buddy and Sweet Molly

I think I have finally been completely swallowed by the busy lives of eight people.=) It is time to pull myself back to my love of blogging.

I am sure our lives are not much different than least I hope not. Let's see, over the last two months we have spent time at our homeschool co-op, YMCA homeschool PE, AWANA, Bible Quizzing, 4-H sewing, Jr High and Sr. High activities, Speech class, piano lessons, basketball for Pumpkin, Care Group, Teen Pact for Elsie and actual homeschooling.

I had the privilege of speaking at two local MOPS groups and I also attended the recent Beth Moore conference in our area (thanks Stand-Up Dad.)

This past weekend I was able to go away with M&M for her purity weekend. We used the curriculum by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Passport2Purity. It was a wonderful time spent at a beautiful cabin by the Chehalis river. We also enjoyed shopping and a special dinner out together.

I returned home to sick children. The flu is slowly working it's way through our family. Four down and four to go.=) I do not like sickness at all. But I love how we have to slow down and rest. As I write this, there are five children sitting at our kitchen table playing with play dough. I love the simple pleasures of life.

As Spring is working its way into our lives I feel as though our two little ones are experiencing a bit of rebirth as well. They have been home 16 months now. They have been through a lot in terms of adjustment. But I see God fulfilling His promise in the lives of these little ones.

I am watching my little ones rest. That might sound weird, but it is a true miracle. For many months they have seemed all right on the outside. But inside, their hearts were on high alert. They were very quick to jump into survival techniques at any given moment. Over time, this has reduced greatly. They are able to express real emotion and let go of grief.

They are at a much healthier place. Each day I hear Sunshine say something like, "Mommy, I am so glad that God gave you to me as my Mommy! I would miss you if you weren't my Mommy." And she means it!

Little Buddy is such a dear one! He has huge holes in his emotional development. God is showing Himself in this little guy every day. He still loves to have fun more than any other thing, but he can identify his favorite activities as playing with his brother and sisters, being silly with Daddy and playing Wii.

There is still much to work on and some of their issues will need a God intervention for healing. Believe me, we are praying for that!

I think that the greatest gift that I have seen recently is the feeling of "normal." I know that may seem odd. But each child added to a family changes the dynamic. A new baby is an adjustment for everyone. The adjustment to two preschoolers has been a long process. To say that Little Buddy and Sunshine are the only ones who have adjusted, would be a mistake. Every person in our family has adjusted. Praise God, we are all the better for it!

We have all extended grace beyond what we thought we were capable. We have "loved" more than we expected we would and we have experienced joy beyond measure!!
God is so incredibly GOOD!

Sweet Momma

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Piece To The Puzzle

Sunshine has been telling me about a holiday that her family celebrated from the time she came to live with us. The holiday is called "Ashenda." My two little ones were born in Mekelle, which is in the northern part of Ethiopia (in the region called Tigray.)

She would get excited when she told about the beautiful dresses that the girls would wear and how they would braid their hair in a special way. After the girls looked their best, they would go in groups throughout the streets singing and dancing. As they sang, the neighbors would give them money.

Celebrating Christmas brought back all of their Ashenda memories and I began to search further for more information. It is easy to find Youtube videos that show girls singing during Ashenda, but I wanted to know more.

During the holidays we began taking Sunshine and Little Buddy to see an Adoption Attachment Therapist. Our little ones are having some very real grief issues related to their six siblings that are still in Ethiopia. There is one sister, in particular, that they are both grieving deeply for. Her name is Tirhas. She is the oldest sister that was living at home. She took great care of them as long as she could and they miss her very much.

They are beginning to deal with the loss and all that goes with it. But they were both thrilled when I found a book all about Ashenda. The most amazing part was the name of the book, "Tirhas Celebrates Ashenda!"

The book is written by Ato Yohannes'. Ashenda is a coming of age holiday for girls from the Tigray region of Ethiopia. This book was distributed at the Ashenda festival this past year in honor of the First Tigray Children's Book Week. An organization called Ethiopia Reads has recently built the first library in Mekelle. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book, you can email Janet Lee at

Adopting older children comes with many blessings. One of the greatest desires of my heart is to bring peace to their hearts. This book helped to fill in another piece of their story, which in time brings healing.
Sweet Momma

Sunday, January 16, 2011

There is a new TEENAGER at our house!!!

Happy Birthday M&M! Today we celebrated her 13th birthday!

I don't know why these milestone birthdays cause me to pause at the speed of time and how incredibly blessed I am by God. M&M is the second child in our half dozen. I often think that I should have named her Joy, because that is what she brings into my life.

In honor of her 13th birthday we had a very special birthday party celebration. M&M invited all the women in her life that she admires as faithful followers of Jesus Christ. She also invited their daughters and we had a splendid Tea Party!

At the party we ate scones with devonshire cream, finger sandwiches and, of course, tea! After we enjoyed the treats, M&M was blessed as each of the women read a letter written just for her. Each of these amazing ladies shared from their hearts. They shared scripture, words of wisdom and words of blessing.

As the mother of this amazing young woman, I was so touched to hear their words of praise and blessing for my daughter.

It was a perfect way to celebrate my daughter. I plan to create a scrapbook with all the words of encouragement that she will have to look back on as she goes through the teen years and on into adulthood.
M&M with her older sister Elsie

Happy Birthday to my beautiful M&M! May God bless you and keep you. I am so proud of the young woman that you are and look forward to how God will work in your life in the years to come.
I Love you Sweet Girl!
Sweet Momma

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sweet Pea is 10!

Happy Birthday to my little Sweet Pea! I cannot believe that it has been ten years since God gave me this precious girl.

She was born as the third daughter into our home. She fell right into the "girly" lifestyle laid out before her. She was the easiest baby and toddler by far. I am constantly amazed at the quiet and gentle spirit that God has given to her. She is easy to spend time with and truly enjoys her quiet time alone.

In the last several years God has given her a fierce heart for those that don't know Jesus. She prays for neighbors and friends daily.

This year she is learning to sew and cook. It is so much fun to work side by side with her in these projects. It lets me see even more of her heart.

She is gentle and quiet, but she loves and cares deeply. I know that God will use these gifts in an amazing way now and in the future.

Thank you God for this beautiful young lady who is my daughter and is growing into a precious friend.

Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!
Sweet Momma

Friday, January 7, 2011

Merry Christmas Again!

Today we celebrate the Ethiopian Christmas! All of our kids think this is great! We have not yet established firm traditions for this holiday, but we had a lot of fun preparing and enjoying Ethiopian food today. They were the happiest kiddos in the world. They chose the recipes out of our Ethiopian cookbook called Exotic Ethiopian Cooking by D.J. Mesfin.

Sunshine wanted Potato Stew which is basically fried potatoes with a lot of onions and berbere. It was really good. She said it was even better than the potatoes she had in Ethiopia. I am feeling quite proud about that. We also had a lentil sauce that I have made before. They love it. The last item was cooked beets that we picked from our garden this past summer and froze for just such an occasion. They laughed about how the beets turned the injera purple. They also ate beets in Ethiopia. I feel so blessed that we can drive to Seattle and purchase fresh injera and keep it in the freezer to please these precious little tummies.

They repeated the same meal for dinner and are looking forward to more left overs tomorrow.

During the last part of our day they completed a very special project. Our family has had the privilege to meet weekly with an Adoption Attachment Therapist. We have been meeting with her for about six weeks and we are just starting to see some progress in the hearts of our children.

This past week as Sunshine met with our therapist they began talking about the loss of both of her parents in Ethiopia. She asked Sunshine if she had the chance to say goodbye to them. The answer was "No." I had never thought about this very crucial step in the grieving process. How could my kiddos begin to let go of their grief if they had never said goodbye? They talked through the process of how to begin to do this and drew some pictures to remember her parents and begin to say goodbye.

Part of the drawing included a large rock that was placed at the grave of each of their parents with their name on it. This gave me an idea.

After therapy I asked Sunshine if she would like to find a large rock for each of her parents and put their name on it? We could place the rocks in our yard or in the house. It would be a real symbol of their parents and the lives they lived.

She was thrilled with the idea! We shared the idea with Little Buddy and he wanted to help too.

The next day we went out to our rock pile in our back yard and they each chose a rock. They decided that they wanted to paint the rocks. So we scrubbed the rocks clean and went to the craft store to choose colors that reminded them of each parent.

Sunshine chose two colors of brown that reminded her of a dress that she had that matched one that her mother wore. Little Buddy chose a blue that reminded him of his daddy's policeman uniform that he wore to work everyday.

How do you choose a color to represent a life? That is what we did as we sat on the floor at the craft store. It felt surreal to me. But this is reality to my little ones.

Tonight, on Ethiopian Christmas, we painted the rocks.
When each of them had added all the color it was my turn to paint their names. I was surprised at how emotional this was for me. On this stone I write the name of the woman who carried my children in her womb and gave birth to them. I have known her name for over a year, but this rock makes her real in my house.

So many thoughts flood to my mind. I wish I could tell her that they will be loved and safe and cared for as long as I am alive. Thank you for the gift of these amazing little ones.

The stone for their dad is so amazing. We found out while in Ethiopia that he was sixty years old when he died. That is quite old for Ethiopia. He must have been a strong man with much courage. He obviously loved his family. The silver on his stone is for his silver hair.

Oh, I wish we had a picture. But not as much as my little ones wish we had a picture.

When I put Little Buddy to bed tonight I asked him how he was feeling about the rocks. He said that he felt a little bit happy and a little bit sad. "Now I have to say goodbye," he said. Hopefully some day soon it will feel OK to do that, but we will wait until he and his sister are ready.

In the meantime we will honor the memory of two precious people in the lives of our children and now in our family as well.
Sweet Momma