Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for!
A great hubby...
Three sweet children....
A wonderful family...
A picture with all the kids looking and smiling...
The list goes on...

We had a fun Thanksgiving on Thursday.  We started the day with lunch at the Armstrong's.  I ate WAY too much.  I always do.  They cook a lot of dishes that include cheese, which you know I don't get very often.  Aside from my ham, I had mac n cheese, broccoli and cheese casserole, potato get the picture.  The kids had LOTS of fun playing with all their cousins.

Next, we headed to Sis' house for dessert with my family.  None of the kids fell asleep on the ride over like we thought they would.  (equals on)
Avery and Reese put on a little harmonica concert for us.  How cute are they?  I love how they have their arms around each other.

After our dessert and after this concert, things started to get a little hairy.  The kids were all starting to get fussy, however Lindsay and I were determined to play some family games.  We even woke dad up from a nap so we could have even teams.  (boys vs girls)  All the adults were loud since we were playing, then the kids started getting loud and wild.  At one point there was tears, but we kept playing.  It was comical really. 

Once we had all the kids in bed, I got ready for my Black Friday shopping.  Let me preface this story by saying that Lin and I have never shopped on Black Friday.  This year, we decided to try it.  We mapped out our plan and were going to start at Toys r Us and then head to Old Navy at midnight.  After that we might hit Walmart if Ellie was being good.  (Yes, you read that right, Ellie was going. )

So, Toys r Us opened at 10, we pulled up at 9:45ish.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!  We were so naive!  We couldn't believe the line.  It wrapped around the building TWICE.  (and it was cold and rainy!)  We really couldn't stop laughing and saying "NO WAY!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"  We were so loud exclaiming this, that poor little Ellie woke up screaming!  :)  We turned right around and passed Old Navy and people were in line there also.  It didn't open for 2 more hours!!  We decided that people are CRAZY!  Since Walmart was already opened, we went there next.  It wasn't that bad.  I found one thing that I was looking for, but realized it didn't go on sale until midnight.  Luckily I ran into James' uncle and they already had a cart full so they got it for me. 

Black Friday Lessons Learned:

We had a great Thanksgiving and I hope each of you did also!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Card Preview

I did it!  I finished my Christmas cards today and ordered them.  Boy, am I on the ball!  I love the way they turned out.  The pictures that Brandi and Aaron took look great.  I found a design (and deal) that I really like on shutterfly.  I can't wait to send a few to our friends in Ethiopia.  They aren't going to recognize Dawit!

Rejoice Lord King Religious Christmas 5x7 folded card
Shop Shutterfly for elegant custom Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Our Son

On November 18, 2009 a court in Ethiopia declared that Dawit was OUR SON! Here is the blog post I wrote that day.  As I read that post and looked at the pictures, I can't believe how much he has changed!  One thing that hasn't changed much is that laugh!! :) 

What a great day that was!  I feel like we should celebrate or something!! 


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

8 Years Ago Today...

8 years ago today I married a wonderful man!  He is such a blessing to our family!

pictures courtesy of Gracie
 And how sweet, he surprised me with roses!  We celebrated on Friday night with dinner while the girls were at Cousin Camp.  (and of course, we ended the night with some Christmas shopping)
And one more picture because Gracie was having fun with the camera... 
Happy Anniversary Babe!  I LOVE YOU!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cousin Camp 2010 (fall edition)

On Friday we packed the girls up and headed to my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Alan's house in the country.  You might remember that in the spring they decided to have a little sleepover for some of the kids that are around the same age.  We dubbed it, "Cousin Camp".  Well, since then the kids have been looking forward to the fall when they could do it all over again. 

We dropped them off at 5 and they got to play for a while before dinner.  Here they are waiting for cousin R.

 After dinner they got a BIG surprise!  They got to go on a hay ride in the dark!  The stars look a lot brighter in the country.

After the hay ride, they played for a bit longer and then it was time to settle in for bed. They said that Avery was the last one they heard talking. 

 Aunt Kathy said they were up bright and early (7:00....why don't they sleep that late here??)

Saturday brought lots more fun....
Another hayride

Hide and Seek

Playing with the Walkie Talkie's

Playing in the dirt.

Riding the 4 wheeler

And, for Gracie, learning a new song and dance.  "I like to Dugey Dugey.  I like to Dugey Dugey.  All the girls love me."
It took us a while to figure this out, but we THINK that cousin E taught Gracie the John Wall dance.  (let me know if we are right or wrong)

The girls had a BLAST!  Aunt Kathy and Uncle Alan are troopers for having the kids out.  I am sure they slept good Saturday night!  Poor Uncle Alan even sacrificed watching the UofK basketball opener AND senior day for football.  Now that's love!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Celebrating Arise For Children

Recently, Arise for Children celebrated its 2nd birthday!  On Saturday, many of the Arise families got together for a big birthday party!!  It turned out fabulous, as we had about 150 people attend.  Many people traveled from out of town.  I got to meet my bloggy buddies, Deena and Jana.  I was so excited!  It was awesome to see all the kiddos running around, seeing each other for the first time on this side of the world.  :)  You could tell that some of the younger kids didn't really understand. 

One older girl that James and I got to visit with while on our trip didn't believe me when I showed her Dawit!  She said (in her sweet little Ethiopian accent, wrinkled forehead, and finger waving in the air), "That is NOT Dawit!"  She kept saying it.  Even her parents tried to explain how his lip had been fixed and that INDEED was Dawit.  I still don't think she believed us!

It was a wonderful time of fellowship and celebrating. Unfortunately, I was too busy running around to take pictures. (I can't believe it!...not even one!) Our dear friend, Brandi, was sweet enough to take pictures in our "picture booth". That was a big hit. It was too cute to see old friends from Ethiopia with huge grins on their faces as they posed for the picture. Here are the ones of our family....

Dawit would not put down his cup!

After the party, we had dinner with the Henderson's, Marquis', and the Henessey family.  I was really looking forward to spending time with them.  I have been following along with Deena's family since they started with Arise at the beginning of the year.  It was awesome to meet her in person.  (side note:  she commented on my "sweet southern accent" which cracked me up!  She should meet some of my real southern friends!)  Ronda and Brandi  :) 
LOVED finally meeting Deena!
Natalie, Deena, and yours truly
 Her little Grace was adorable.  Grace and Tedi are from the same village and were best buds at KVI.  Can you tell she really enjoyed having Ethiopian food?

Boys at one end, girls at the other.

 Jana and her family are at the beginning stages, so it was great to talk with her and encourage her.  Plus they had never had Ethiopian food, which made it even more fun and adventurous.  :)

And after a long dinner with LOTS of adoption talk we had to call it a night.  (unfortunately!)
One last picture...everyone at the restaurant probably thought we were crazy.  We had our own photo shoot!

A great ending to an incredible day!

Already looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month

November is Adoption Awareness Month.  This coming Sunday is Orphan Sunday.  As you read the following post from my friend, Natalie, pray for God to show YOU how YOU can help an ORPHAN.  I don't think everyone is called to adopt, BUT we are called to care for orphans. 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

taken from 5 Million Minus 1.....

From (pretty consistent with other research)...includes USA foster care system

~Every DAY 5,760 more children become orphans

~Every YEAR 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone)

~143,000,0002 Orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home

~Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…

~Every YEAR 14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and AGE OUT of the system

~Every DAY 38,493 children AGE OUT

~Every 2.2 SECONDS, another orphan child AGES OUT with no family to belong to and no place to call home

~In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18.
60% of the girls are lured into prostitution. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves.
Here is Natalie's most recent post...
Counting the Cost

Here is the question. The real question of adoption. What will it cost you? Yes, it is a loaded question because "cost" in this sense is multi-faceted. Will it cost you money? Yes, whether you adopt from Shelby County, KY or Saigon. Will it cost you pride? Yes. Will your heart pay? For sure. Will it cost you friends, family, acquaintances? It may. Will it cost time? No doubt...... But more than the costs.....COUNT THE GAIN... How will you change, how will you change others, whether you adopt or support adoption, you gain....gain life. Take a look at the costs...our cost.

1) Financial: The main HANG UP. Adoption can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000. Most people who desire to adopt do not have that kind of money laying around, regardless of your yearly gross income. Looking down the barrel at $25,000, as was our case, you start to doubt your financial ability to pay for an adoption, afford a child or another child, make payments on your other responsibilities while raising money, find ideas for fundraising.....but you may doubt God...not openly but in the subconscious place you may not even be able to utter aloud. I admit that I did. JT and I fortunately were able to openly discuss our doubt and had friends who prayed over our doubt.

Gain.....we did gain money...but God showed us His love and grace... As JT now says, "God shows up when ordains something." We fund raised and God provided. He moves in the heart of those around you to support you. So when doubt starts creeping in (and I still remind myself of this), you and I have to remember that if we consume ourselves with doubt, we can not see what is trying to happen before our eyes.

"He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

2) Your Heart: While deciding to adopt, your heart will toss and turn like a third trimester pregnant woman. You will debate, get excited, get discouraged, become on fire, saddened at the state of the will wonder why children have to suffer.... Your heart will definitely Feel the cost while counting the cost. But your heart will be changed, your world will be changed. It will cost you the heartache wrought by hours of inner deliberation but will free you to live a life of liberation....You will now know what is beyond your small world.... With that said, the liberation of carries its own cost.... That is where I am now. I KNOW, so now what...what ELSE can I do now that I know AND have adopted. Thus, my heart is still counting the cost, but now I stand affirmed that it is worth it... see pictures below if you don't believe me.

"Don't say, "I didn't know it!" God can read your mind. He watches each of us and knows our thoughts. And God will pay us back for what we do." Proverbs 24:12 (Contemporary English Version)

3) Who: Who will support you, be your cheerleader, wipe your tears, hold your hand, plan your shower, help fund raise, financially help, plug you in.... PRAY for you? Who will cautiously stand back unsure of their stance waiting to see 'how it goes'? Who secretly condemn your decision without asking you questions, probing your heart and theirs? Who will openly attack your decision, your heart, your future child, your finances to the point of your tears, frustration and possibly crumbling of the relationship? I have been in each of the places...simply because our adoption.... Thankfully I can say the damaged relationships are now in perpetual repair, but it can be a difficult season.....the cost. But Oh the gain. We will never know the hearts that have been changed by our adoption, NOT BY US, but by God using us to adopt. We will never know on this side of heaven if someone straddling the fence decided to move forward with adoption because of Tedi and our adoption... we will never know if a heart filled with anger and distaste for different races and cultures has been swayed, softened and re-structured. We won't know the gain of others now...we do not need to know but we must remember such gain when we are adding up our cost.

I have struggled with each of these topics deeply and this is the only reason I feel slightly capable to write about these things.

~October 2009~

~October 31, 2010~

And here is what we GAINED...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Fun

We had so much fun last week.  The girls were VERY excited about their costumes this year.  They counted down the days to our Fall Festival at church.  I got a few pictures before my camera goofed up.
My little Fred.
She insisted on being Fred.  I tried to convince her to be one of the girls and she would have nothing to do with it.  She loves Freddy.

Scooby Doo

Jinkies!  The Gangs all here!

On Halloween Night...

The girls had lots of fun and got way too much candy.  (good for mamma though!  and lots of chocolate that we never buy!  Sorry Avery!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Girlie Girl

I know that Gracie is a total Girlie Girl.  As much as we have tried to convince her to try a sport, she only wants to dance or do gymnastics.  Tonight I was really excited to see her with Dawit's glove and baseball.  (the velcro kind!)  :) 

Avery had the ball and Gracie wanted her to throw it.  She said, "Here!  Throw it in my hoot."  (I am laughing just tying this!)  Her HOOT??!!  Where did she think of this??

Gracie.....Sports.....NOT A CHANCE!!