Archive for the “General Life” Category

I wish each good family that had even the possibility of making room in their home would open their eyes to the world of the orphan.

I wish I could shake people and make them see what I and so many others have seen in orphanages.

I wish they could feel the yanks on their heart strings (trust me, it’s more than a slight tug) when 10-year-old boys so excitedly run up to them with pink flowered flip-flops to show them off because of how proud they are to have new shoes.

I wish everyone could go to a country and see naked toddlers living on the side of the road as their mother washes their only shirt in a mud puddle.

There are so many excellent and trustworthy people who are willing to take a few bucks from  you and put the food it buys directly in a child’s mouth, not their own.

You need to watch this. Depraved indifference.

You need to see this.

Then you can DO THIS.

Look at your own child who has all the food, milk, & clothes they need and imagine your child sitting in an orphanage or foster care waiting if they’ll ever have a mom or dad to take care of them again.

There are many grants, fund-raising programs, and low-interest loans “out there.” Too many for anyone who can MAKE room in their house to have an money as an excuse to not adopt.

And if you really can’t adopt, then help. Send money by way of Hope Arising or another honest organization. You would be shocked how far your money can stretch to feed a child.


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It seems like we have one of these every year! So why do I seem to get more tired every year when it’s over? 🙂

We had fun last night. The boys were all pirates (all, yes, even the husband). Gabby was such a stealthy ninja people didn’t even recognize she was a ninja and got only 3 pieces of candy. Next year she plans to be more conspicuous. Mili was a little pink skeleton. I was a mom 🙂

It’s funny how different the boys are. Last night, Dean was all into the costume and acting the part. He liked the make-up beard and said, “Aaargh, thank you!” in his best pirate voice when people gave him candy. He jumped off all the stairs and had tons of energy. Pierce, on the other hand, was more quiet and carefully walked, being very cautious of the sidewalks and bumps around the houses. They are so yin/yang.

Maybe the best part was seeing Paul get into it. He had a long wig, grew his beard out for a month, did the patch and hook  hand, etc. He had a lot of fun and definitely plans to do it again next year.

So now on to the next holiday. I already have the menu planned out and plan to be utterly exhausted making it the best Thanksgiving ever for my kids 🙂

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Ten years ago, I woke up to news on my alarm clock (I absolutely hate the beep-beep-beep alarms).  I heard the tower had fallen. I was confused, thinking Salt Lake (where I was living) had taken down an old building and wondered why there was so much horror involved in a demolition. So I went downstairs and turned on the tv. I was absolutely shocked to hear that 2 planes had hit the twin towers in New York. I called my sister for a few minutes, then my long-distance boyfriend (my now husband) called. Meanwhile I was trying to get ready for college classes and get Gabby up and ready.

Paul and I talked about uncertainty of chances in life and things can change in minutes to the world. It was really on that day that we decided we were going to do whatever it took to be together as soon as logically possible. We were both scared….the whole country was scared.

When I went to school, the campus was eerily quiet. Not a normal college scene. People were talking in low voices. Some girls were crying. I remember one guy laughed loud and everyone around him gave him dirty looks. Laughter was not acceptable that morning.

On the following days, the news was all around..the death toll, survivor stories, why it all happened.

Now, 10 years later, this day is a reminder of the sadness, the deaths. But also bittersweet, because that was when my husband and I decided we were going to be husband and wife someday.

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Before we traveled, I read up about places to visit in Ethiopia. One was the Merkato, a giant market. Sounded like it was right up my alley, so when we were asked where we’d like to go, I did not hesitate to ask!

Some of the Merkato was under a single roof. There were narrow places to walk, and on every side was a stall packed with things to sell. Scarves, jewelry, wooden animals, traditional clothes, baskets, etc. I was really nervous to haggle (something I’d never done before) so I decided to leave that to Paul. But when the time came, I just jumped right in. They mark everything way up and expect people to ask lower; and keeping that in mind, it became a game to me.

There were 2 men in particular during our trip that were fun. With one guy, we asked how much for 2 bowls. He told us and even laughed! He knew it was crazy high. It was easy to have fun with these people when they’re in it to have fun and to sell stuff.  Another guy said, “You’re American? I love Americans! I give you good deal.” I laughed and said, “I love Ethiopia, so you better give me a good deal!”

In the end, both the seller and me, the buyer, ended up happy. They sell it higher than they would to a local, and we buy it way cheaper than we would in the States.

We bought 2 scarves…one for each girl. Gab’s is a wear-every-day kind and Mili’s is a very traditionally Ethiopian scarf. Many women wear scarves over their heads (not just the Muslims); usually they’re thin and white with some design just on the ends. On the end of Mili’s, it’s the Ethiopian colors in stripes (much like their flag).

We bought some beaded bracelets (again with the colors as beads) a couple painted clay bowls, and pictures made of dried and painted banana leaves.We also bought some coffee for Paul’s family. We bought the 3 kids at home wooden animals.

But by far, my 2 favorite things that we bought were incense and berbere.

Ethiopia’s coffee is famous. It’s their biggest export. They have coffee ceremonies, which consist of roasting the coffee beans over charcoal, grinding it with a big stick, then serving it (so I’m told) very strong, like espresso. (Not being a coffee drinker, I’ll take others’ word for all this 🙂  )

During the ceremony, they burn incense, so between the coffee, incense and charcoal, there’s a smell that can’t be forgotten. Also, in churches, they burn the incense, so the smell is common. And since we associate smell with memories, I knew I wanted to bring that smell home. I bought tons of the stuff.

Berbere is a spice (rather a combination of spices) that is used in lots of traditional foods. The food is amazing. It’s quite hot and smells amazing. I bought 2 kg of the stuff.

So I have a smell and taste of Ethiopia  at home 🙂

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The first day we arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was gorgeous. Honestly, every day was gorgeous, 70 degree weather. Much better than the 30 degree weather we left in.

We got out of the airport and our driver took us to the guest house run by the adoption agency. I was surprised that everything is behind fences and gates. Everything private or semi-private anyway. Homes, many hotels, churches, etc. Later I learned that there are thieves that break in these places so they have a guard for them as well.

After we dropped our luggage at the guest house and sat for a little while, our director took us to visit 2 of the 3 orphanages. There were 4 families, 3 orphanages. (Mili and another baby were at the same one an hour and half away so we visited them the next day.)

Each couple had brought a bag of candy to hand out to the kids at their child’s orphanage. At the second one, watching the kids was as much a treat for us as it was to them to get the candy. They slowly and carefully sucked on the Smarties. Have you ever seen an American kids suck on Smarties? No. Mine practically inhale them. But for these kids, it was such a rare treat. Two little boys sat on my lap quietly and ate their candy, enjoying the attention and treat.

Kids in Ethiopia are truly loved. So it’s not that they don’t get attention, but that attention is just divided in so many ways. It was obvious that the nannies and staff loved the kids wherever we went.

The kids’ clothes were kept clean; everywhere we went there were clothes out on bushes or ropes drying. Unfortunately, though, the clothes were very worn and often too small. On one of our trips to an orphanage, all the kids came up to us showing off their new shoes. They were crocs or flip flops. One boy had on flip flops with a big flower on top; he was probably 9 or s0. He didn’t care about the flower; he was just thrilled he had new shoes! It was very heart-warming to see them excited.

It’s hard to be very sad around these kids when they’re so happy. What it did was to strengthen the spark in my husband and I into a fire. Our desire to do more is stronger than before.

I wish I could show everyone what we saw. I wish I could take every spoiled American to Ethiopia. I wish I could inspire even one family to adopt. The kids are beautiful kids that deserve another chance.

I’m excited to go back in a couple months and have started collecting donations again. And if anyone wants to come, you’re more than welcome 🙂

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Today is Tuesday; we leave for Ethiopia on Friday morning. It’s hard to imagine we’ll be leaving in just a few days. Very surreal; I can’t picture something I’ve never experienced.

I’m so excited to meet our new baby! Paul’s excited for the whole trip; he’s very adventurous as far as going to a country and just being at home and walking around. So he’s gonna take the lead for the touristy stuff.

I don’t know what to say…My mind is kinda numb because I’ve been doing paperwork and waiting so long. Plus there’s a few other things going on right now that I can’t quite say yet.  And Christmas on top of it all!

That and we can’t bring her home yet, so it’s just a trip and then more waiting. It’s just very surreal.

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I have been amazed and humbled by the orphanage donations we’ve been given by our friends.

We have a big stack of clothes, books, toothpaste, toothbrushes and toys.  We have a nice chunk of money.

I can’t wait to take it to those little kids!!

Today after church, I picked up a bunch of stuff from the Relief Society room and took it to my car. (Relief Society is the women’s organization….primary for kids, young men and young women for teens.) Pierce was very excited to play with the toys, but I explained they were for the orphanage in Ethiopia that his sister is coming from. I told him how the kids don’t have much there and how excited they would be for new toys.

He listened and then said, “Maybe I can give them one of my cars to play with so some little boy can have a  car.”

I am so thankful for all of you that have so generously given. I’m thankful for the kindness in people’s hearts to help children they have never (or will never) see. I’m thankful that you’re setting the loving example for my little 5-year-old boy.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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I emailed our agency today with a few questions, one of which was a possible time line.

She promptly wrote back (as she always does…love her!) and said the wait time is about 2 months! Then another couple months to the first travel dates and another 2 to the final/pick up date.

Of course, all this is approximate and subject to change…either sooner (if we’re lucky) or later (if there’s delays). It’s the end of July now; so her dates are September for referral, November for the first travel (when we meet her) and January for the second travel (to pick her up).

Exciting news 🙂

But for now, I’ve got back-to-school shopping and getting ready within the next few weeks, then soccer right after that for Gab & Pierce. And there’s always the church stuff to keep me busy. I’m definitely looking forward to the referral and meeting her, but I think when people look too far ahead, they rush or miss what’s going on now. And for now, I have a busy 2-year-old, a soon-to-be Kindergartner, and a 2nd-year-middle-schooler! I’m sure the time will fly by, as it always does when I blink.

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We decided to send for our dossier guide…the paperwork that goes to Ethiopia for the government’s approval.

Wanna see how fun it is? Surprisingly enough, it’s less than we had for the home study. We are accepting volunteers to do this for us 🙂

  • letter indicating why we want to adopt (done)
  • birth certificates for both parents (done)
  • marriage certificate (done)
  • “good conduct” clearance letters for both parents, notarized by police department
  • medical report for both parents, signed and notarized by dr (done)
  • 2 home study reports
  • letter of employment verification (notarized by employer) (this week)
  • letter from bank indicating good standing (notarized by banker)
  • letter from life insurance company
  • letter from health insurance, indicating policy for adoption coverage
  • 3 letters of recommendation from friends/family, signed and notarized by friends/family
  • obligation of adoption-reporting, notarized
  • verification from United States Citizen and Immigration Services with approval to adopt
  • passport photos (done)
  • photocopies of passports
  • power of attorney; 3 copies, signed and notarized
  • copies of past 2 years tax returns (working on it today)

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A week ago, Paul was feeling really dizzy….long story short, the doctor said it’s vertigo.  Dizziness for no reason, basically, with no real time line to when it should get better.

I’m really surprised how many people have this from time to time. About half the people I talk to have this or their spouse does. For something that’s so common, I’m wondering why it’s not talked about more!

Recently I read (somewhere) that 2-3% of ER visits are due to vertigo.

Anyway, I just think it’s strange…and I hope it goes away soon.

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