Thursday, December 30, 2010

Whip my hair back and forth

Candace and Sarah got a much needed trim on their hair yesterday. After the cut, stylist Jesus asked me if I wanted him to blow it out... my initial reaction was "heck, no!" There were two reasons for this: 1) I love their curls, and want them to love them, too; and 2) there is no way I can duplicate this style at home... just thinking about the potential for future breakdowns when I am unable to do so at their whim. In the end, however, I caved; but only after Jesus explained to them that this was special holiday hair for New Year's Eve and it would be gone once we washed their hair.

I have to admit, it was funny watching them run their fingers through their hair and toss their adorable little heads around. I will be ready for my little curly heads to reappear though.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

Here are the kids before Mass on Christmas Eve: not a very good picture, so I tried to spruce it up with some fancy edging.
Just go with it.

Candace and Sarah were very much into the unwrapping of presents this year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Court date!

And the magic date is...
March 4, 2011. It seems like a long way off, but hopefully it will be here before we know it. Spring will be just around the corner!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tidings of great joy

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.

Behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Waiting... and happy birthday

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Although it hasn't been long by international adoption standards, it seems like we have been waiting forever for Thomas. It's really only been five months, but for that entire five months we have known who our little boy is; we have seen his face in two blurry photos. Only two photos... we had dozens of the twins after five months and we brought them home six months after referral.

I know this is perhaps the one pitfall of adopting a child from the "waiting child list". Almost everyone agrees that the wait is harder after you have a referral, and with a waiting child, you have that referral from day one.

Today is our new son's birthday. He is four years old. I know that the birthday is just a guess, and I also suspect that Thomas is perhaps older than four. But this is the day we will celebrate his birth, and right now we think he's four. And we're missing it.

What would really make me happy would be to receive word that we have a court date. I'm praying for that this week.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Nativity

I love nativity sets, and I have quite a few. I like to have them around the house at Christmas time to remind everyone about the real reason for the holiday. Plus, they are beautiful!

Here is the small display in our dining room:

And here is one in our family room:

(Note: this picture had to be substantially cropped to eliminate the clutter residing on the next shelf down!)

Here is a close-up of my new favorite. I bought it in Addis Ababa on my recent trip to Ethiopia.

These are my favorite decorations for the Christmas season, and it makes me happy to place them out each year. Some of them have special sentimental value, some don't; some came from far away and some came from around the corner. Some can be played with... but most can't!

I love them all. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ho, ho, ho!

There was great excitement at the prospect of visiting Santa Claus this year. Both girls could hardly sleep last night; and (alas!) got up early this morning. They were well-prepared with ideas of what they want Santa to bring them for Christmas. This is in contrast to last year, when they were fairly baffled and uncertain about the whole thing.

Candace (above) and Sarah (below) visiting with Santa

It was very nice that our bank hosted Santa today, so we didn't have to wait in a long line, there were delicious free cookies and hot cider and a generally relaxed atmosphere. The girls thoroughly enjoyed their visit, although you might not think so based on Sarah's expression in the next photo:

She looks like she's trying to escape, doesn't she?

Friday, December 3, 2010

A great career!

Some of you have already heard about this on Facebook. It was career/jobs week recently at kindergarten, and this is my darling daughter Sarah's interpretation of what I do in my career as a "stay at home mom":

That would be me laying in bed...yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


We are thankful to be with our family in Indiana today. Today I am especially thankful that God has blessed our family many times over... I hope everyone has a beautiful day surrounded by family and friends.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We use labels everyday, for all kinds of reasons. Labels make it easier to find things... like the correct spice for a recipe. Labels make it easier to organize things and easier to understand things.

Then why is it so scary when someone puts a label on your child?

This happened to me many years ago, when my oldest was just a preschooler. I started hearing the acronym ADHD quite a lot; and indeed, in kindergarten that label was applied to my son. There was a sense of relief that there was a name to his difficulties, and also a sense of panic that this was going to affect him for the rest of his life. Well, it has. Some of the effects were from the ADHD itself, and some were from the label that he carried with him through school.

The other day, our therapist referred to my daughter as an "attachment disordered" kid. Obviously this is no surprise since we have been going to therapy for months. But somehow, hearing it out loud like that really shook me and brought back those same feelings about my child being labeled. That horrible feeling of not knowing if everything will be alright.

It's scary.

I don't know if it will be alright or not. I don't know that many people with adopted children at all, much less internationally adopted attachment disordered ones. I do know that ADHD was hard, and it's still hard... but my son is wonderful and I love him very much. I don't fear ADHD anymore, it's just part of my son's make-up and something we have to work around sometimes. "Attachment disorder" sounds very scary to me right now... but I love my daughter and I hope that we can work as a family to give her the security she needs to open up to us and love us back just as much.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ethiopia... off the beaten path

Photo and video editing at

This video shows a montage of photos from the places we visited. Our group toured several medical clinics in the area and we also spent time in the remote village of Bora, staying in the villagers' huts and getting to know them while the medical team held a clinic in their church building. It was a beautiful area with beautiful people. Staying with the villagers was an amazing experience... we had a simply magical evening of singing and dancing under the stars, followed by sleeping in the chiefs' hut which was quite an honor. Some of our roommates included the family's cattle.

BEMM partnered with Doma to help fund a clinic for women and children that will be located in Bora. There are about 7,000 people in the Bora area who have no easy access to medical care. The closest clinic, in Chencha, is a six mile hike down the mountain. The town elders estimate that about 1 in 4 women in their village dies from childbirth related causes... so the clinic will be a tremendous benefit to the people.

We also participated in a clinic in the nearby town of Chencha. We saw women and children come in with all kinds of illnesses, from the mundane to the serious. Two notable cases included a severely malnourished one year old baby who was the size of a three month old and an old woman with malaria. Many women complained of back pain, which is not surprising when you see the loads they carry on their backs.

We were also able to relax with a tour of the lake at Arba Minch, where we saw crocodiles, hippos, pelicans and baboons. This was followed by a visit to the cultural village of Dorze, where we enjoyed some traditional dancing and a delicious meal that included many of the local favorite dishes. Some of our group members tried their hand at fire-jumping, but I was not one of them. :)

I feel like I really got to see and know Ethiopia on this trip. It is so much more beautiful than pictures can show. I feel profoundly grateful to have had this opportunity.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


My trip to Ethiopia was amazing! I'm going to write some detailed posts after I get my pictures more organized, but here are a couple for now. These are some of the children of Bora, a mountain village that is 10 kilometers north of Chencha in the Gamo Gofa region. This is where Doma is building the clinic that BEMM raised $15,000 for... rock those Tacky For Africa headbands!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween fun

Last year the twins were a little baffled by the whole concept of Halloween. The closest they could get to understanding it was the Disney Channel movie "Halloweentown". Which isn't very close at all. So a lot of the festivities were confusing and not up to par with the magic of Halloweentown.

This year, they not only remembered what we did last year, they looked forward to it! We had a great time at the local pumpkin patch a few weeks ago. Here they are happily posing with Anna and a "scary" witch:

They were enthusiastic pumpkin carvers, and had fun imitating their pumpkin's facial expression:

And trick or treating was met with anticipation and realistic expectations, which did not include a visit to Halloweentown:

A little fairy and a little mermaid had so much fun!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Notice of Favorable Determination"

Translation from the government speak: we have received approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to bring our foreign-born adopted child into the country. This document, the I-171H, is the last piece of paperwork we needed for our adoption to proceed. The time from our submission to USCIS to final approval was just six weeks! Our fingerprint appointment was just ten days ago...that is amazingly fast! Here's a big "huzzah!" to the feds for doing something in a timely and efficient manner!

Our dossier has been in Ethiopia for a couple of weeks. Now we are just waiting for a court date. One step closer to meeting our son and bringing him home. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Smiles "worth sharing"...

... at least that's what Lifetouch School Portraits says.
I am inclined to agree.

Here is my middle, Anna, in her junior class photo.

And here are the littles in their kindergarten photos:



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Self portraits

Candace Selam

Sarah Fikir

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bring Sveta home

This little girl needs to come home.
Please click here to find out how you can help.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm going to Ethiopia

BEMM is going to Ethiopia with Doma International! Click here or on the picture to read all about it. I'm very excited to be going on this trip with my friend Steffany. I have sent the check to Doma, sent in the visa application to the Ethiopian embassy... I'm really going!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Everlasting Spring" provides hope for children

50 sponsors in 5o days... will you be one?

Yezelalem Minch is a grass roots organization in Ethiopia devoted to helping children stay in their families when faced with the prospect of becoming an orphan on the street due to the death of one or both parents. Yezelalem Minch helps provide children with food, clothing and education. YM helps to keep families together by providing support to caregivers. For the children who sadly have no one, they provide a home in addition.

You can give all this to a child for just $30 a month. $1 a day.

For me, that's less than my daily "good morning Diet Coke" at the drive-through.

Click here to see my friend Kara's Smilebox slideshow of YM. You can get the contact information at the end of the slideshow (slide 40). You can also ask Kara how you can receive a wonderful free DVD about Yezelalem Minch... how it came into being and stories about some of the children it is assisting. It is profoundly moving and I highly recommend it. Just in time for Orphan Sunday on November 7!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Finally, the foolproof method people have been asking for to tell the twins apart:

Candace was visited by the tooth fairy last night. So until Sarah becomes inspired to wiggle her tooth loose and pull it out (as Candace did), the gap-toothed one is Candace and the one with all of her teeth is Sarah.

About their shirts: Sarah Fikir's Ethiopian name means love in Amharic; and Candace Selam's means peace. Hence the heart and peace sign on their shirts. Yeah, I'm pretty clever like that.