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