Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Combination Lock

I promise to post more about our Ethiopia trip, there is just so much to say and not enough time to write!

And meanwhile life is happening fast and furious over here.

Tomorrow our oldest child goes to orientation day at the middle school where he will start school on Monday.  

I already got the pre-recorded call from the school today and an email with the same message informing parents "This is a day for your student to get to know his/her new school better and to begin to form relationships with teachers and their peers. They don’t need nor do we want parents shadowing them. As a new middle schooler, we want your student to begin depending on themselves, rather than their parent, to navigate middle school and this is a safe environment for that learning experience."

Not that I was planning on "shadowing" my kid tomorrow, but it was fun joking with my son that I was sad that I couldn't go with him now and follow him around all day!

Tonight, my husband and I gave the boy a crash course in the fine art of opening a combination lock!

You know right - left (pass the first number) - right?

It can be tricky!

It took the 11 year old a few tries but he's got it down now.  Another life skill we can check off the box of things that we have taught him!

We may have shared many stories with the boy of our days of school locker woes.

Middle school!  It's the beginning of a new era for us all.  Somebody hold me!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Celebrating with My Girl

A few months back when I asked my daughter what she wanted to do to celebrate her 9th birthday, what she wanted most was not a friend birthday party or tons of presents.  What she wanted was to go away for a night at a hotel with me.

Just she and I.

So that's exactly what we did last Friday night.  I dropped off my younger 3 kids to my husband at work a bit earlier than he'd typically leave and we were off for our special mother-daughter getaway.  We stayed in town because we didn't need elaborate scenery, just a pretty room, a fun pool, and time together which we could find in our own city without a long drive.   We had dinner by the pool, swam until after bedtime, played a new card game back in our hotel room, cuddled up to read a little Anne of Green Gables, and slept in the following morning with no loud siblings waking her up, we had a nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and then hit the pool for more swimming before checking out and heading home.  I even went down the pool's waterslide with her multiple times!

It was pretty perfect, certainly memories I'll treasure!  And as a bonus, the whole thing was cheaper than most friend birthday parties would have been!!

She was pretty pleased with our fancy breakfast at the hotel:

Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Girl!  What a blessing it is to have you as a daughter!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Meeting One of Our Sponsored Kids in Ethiopia

While we were in Ethiopia, we got to meet one of our sponsored kids.

Tsion is 12 years old.  Her father has passed away and her mother is sick.  Tsion was sick, too, before an amazing organization called Lelt Foundation stepped in to help her.  Now she is a happy, healthy 12 year old girl who was one of just a few children recently selected to attend a semi-private school because she is so smart!  We give money each month to help provide food, medical care, and education for Tsion, and we exchange letters.

Recently Tsion wrote me "If I had super powers, I would create a medicine to relieve all HIV sufferers all over the world of their pain."  Reading that I just wanted to hug her!

It is important to me that the children we sponsor know how much we care about them and that we not only send money but think of them from America and pray for them.  I want them to know they are loved, by us and by God.  So, it is huge when we get to meet one of our sponsored kids in person.  I think it adds a whole other big dimension to the relationship to get to see each other face to face!  We met one of our sponsored boys in Ethiopia 3 years ago and this trip we were blessed to get to meet Tsion!

Oh, happy day:

Our oldest son, my husband, Tsion, and me:

Family that will never live under the same roof, but family none the less!

It was so wonderful to get to see her, to hug her, learn more about her, and get to tell her how proud we are of her!  She is such a sweet, sweet girl.  It is a privilege to be a part of her life!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What Time Zone Is It?

My lack of much blogging this week is absolutely related to the fact that my body has no idea what time zone it is in.  Since returning from Ethiopia, which is 8 hours ahead of my home time, I have this exhaustion that hits at 8 or 9pm every night, a time that is typically a high-energy time for me as I am a night-owl.  I am also waking up at 5am every day, but since I am not a morning person by nature I really just have no idea what a person is to do at 5am.  Maybe I should just start blogging at 5am!

Nearly the whole time we were in Ethiopia I had no trouble falling asleep at night but I'd wake up around 1am wide awake and not be able to go back to sleep for hours!

But the sleep woes are a small price to pay for what was such an amazing trip!

Walking into a care point in rural Ethiopia to see so many children lined up singing for us is something I will never forget!

Playing soccer with this happy band of giggling kids is one of my favorite memories of the trip:

And this monkey eating an ice cream cone?  Priceless!!
 Although he is a very naughty monkey because he stole that ice cream from a little girl eating outside at a restaurant.  But, the waiter brought her another one.  And the monkey ate that thing just like you or I would, first licking the ice cream on top and then eating the cone -- truly amazing to watch!!   In Ethiopia, monkeys run wild and seem to be like squirrels are to us where we live.  It was just us outsiders that were mesmerized by the monkeys, the locals were like, "So what?  We see them all the time and really they are just pests!"

But, the reason we went to Ethiopia and the reason we'll keep going back and keep giving to reputable organizations helping people in Ethiopia, is illustrated by this:

You don't come face to face with children like that and not leave changed.  In the words of my 11 year old son when asked what he thought about his time with the children in the sites where we hope there will be care points, "It makes me want to help them."

Happy Friday Friends! 
Half-Past Kissin' Time

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back From Ethiopia

I know it has been ages (so maybe only 12 days?) since I wrote my last post about meeting our youngest daughter in an orphanage in Ethiopia on August 1, 2011.  Well this year on August 1, 2014, my husband, our 11 year old son, and I boarded a plane bound for Ethiopia!  When we left that land after our 2nd trip there in December 2011, flying home with our new 3 year old daughter, an orphan no more, we left pieces of our hearts with the children there with the 5 million remaining orphans, the children living with malnutrition and tremendous poverty.  We knew we'd be back.

I have so many emotions and thoughts around our latest trip, but not many real words right now, those will come.  For now let's just say, those pieces of our hearts we've been missing?

We found them right where we knew they were, in Ethiopia:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

August 1, 2011

Three years ago today, on August 1, 2011, my husband, oldest two children and I stood outside these gates in Ethiopia:

And we walked in through these orphanage door:

And met this little girl for the very first time:

Meeting your nearly 3 year old daughter for the first time in an orphanage in Ethiopia is an experience I still cannot put adequate words to.

Oh, the fun these 2 sisters have had over the past 3 years since this first touch!

It is hard to believe it has been 3 years since we met her.  But today at lunch as we talked about the anniversary, my 11 year old said, "It's really hard to remember life before Little Girl!"

Indeed, it is!  She is so much a part of all of us.  We wouldn't want to imagine our family without her in it!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

If She Had Superpowers

The 13 year old girl we sponsor in Ethiopia recently wrote us, "If I had super powers, I would create a medicine to relieve all HIV sufferers all over the world of their pain."

Oh, don't you just want to hug her?

She has a beautiful smile and was just accepted into a new elite school program because she is so smart.  AND, God just got the logistics worked out so that we'll get to meet her soon when we travel to Ethiopia!!  I am so excited to be able to hug her and tell her in person how proud we are of her!!

The photos below are from our first trip to Ethiopia 3 years ago when we got to meet Mathews, another of our sponsored children.  Meeting him was such an amazing, surreal experience.  I will never, ever forget it!  Praying everything works out as planned for us to meet Tsion this time!