Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just One Story of Many

In reading another blog, this particular part of their story is just one of millions of stories that can be told just in Ethiopia. I hope she doesn't mind if I post this, but I don't remember where I got it to ask permission. It just broke my heart how brave and strong these women are over there. To the ends of the earth (or at least the hospital) they would go to make sure their children have opportunity.....Tinsae is their newly acquired daughter who has HIV.

Like her birth mother, Tinsae is a fighter. Her mother's immunity was weakened by HIV and battled several infections for many months and sought treatment as she could afford. However, another infection took hold and she checked herself into a hospital with Tinsae in her arms. The next day she died. A form of meningitus took her life. Tinsae was there beside her mother when she died.

The hospital cared for Tinsae for a month in hopes that a relative would come to visit the mother or see what happened to her. If someone came, the hospital could then find out more information about Tinsae's mother and determine if a relative was available to claim Tinsae. No one ever came to visit. No one ever came to claim Tinsae. After a month, the hospital then declared Tinsae to be abandoned and turned her over to the police who then turned her over to an orphanage.

Estimates indicate there are over 4 million orphans in Ethiopia. There are not enough orphanages to take care of the lost children of Ethiopia. Many dying mothers are turned away from orphanages because they are full. Many children are found next to dying or dead parents with no one to take care of them except for maybe an older sibling. Some children have been left outside the gates of orphanages. We believe Tinsae's mother knew that Tinsae's only chance to get into an orphanage and receive care was if she died in a hospital. We believe Tinsae's mother did not go to the hospital to save herself but to save Tinsae. The last act of Tinsae's mother was one of love for her baby.
I know WE don't live in a third world country, but when you know what goes on around the world such as stories like this and war, you've really got to reexamine what we have and where we live. When you see such pettiness going on in some people's lives, it's just embarrassing. The above story has a happy ending with Tinsae being adopted by 2 amazing people. I pray for only the best for Tinsae and I believe there are some very big plans for her life.

I have been tagged!

Ok so i've been tagged by Amber from Dallas. I've never been tagged, but from what I have been told, I have to share 10 things about myself. I kept going and found 20....that's me, the over-writer!

20 things about me you may not have known!
  1. I always wanted to adopt.
  2. As a child, I use to like to sing on top of Shakey's piano at our local pizza place.
  3. I grew up white in a mostly Mexican neighborhood.
  4. I learned Spanish very well.
  5. I've heard many things in Spanish that were not meant for me to hear.
  6. This has been beneficial to me at times.
  7. There are 6 moments that top my list of "unbelievable". Adopting these 2 girls is #6. The #5 is one Monday in Africa where part of our heart was torn out and left in Botswana.
  8. One day, the 6 of us will go back to Ethiopia so our boys can leave a piece of their heart too.
  9. My sister is only a year and half older than me, but has 5 grandchildren.
  10. I have no grandchildren and will have children younger than some of her grandchildren.
  11. I don't like that math!
  12. She does.
  13. I've been to 14 countries (Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, UK)
  14. I still want to visit 11 more countries (Aruba, Bahamas, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Morocco, Portugal, Saint Lucia and Spain)
  15. I am soon adding Ethiopia to that list.
  16. As a child, I found out that if you put a pinto bean up your nose, it doesn't come out.
  17. When I was young, I wasn't sure there was a God.
  18. Now I'm sure.
  19. My husband has written many songs and they all bring me to tears.
  20. I can't wait for the song he will write after meeting our 2 beautiful girls from Ethiopia.

Accountability.......where did it go?

It is important to David and I as parents that our children are raised with the following 3 virtues.... here are the definitions to the words first, then I'll explain.
vir·tue [vur-choo] –noun
1.moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
2.conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.

ac·count·a·bil·i·ty [uh-koun-tuh-bil-i-tee] –noun
1.the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable.

[in-teg-ri-tee] - noun
1.adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

char·ac·ter [kar-ik-ter] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation –noun
1.the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. such feature or trait; characteristic.
3.moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4.qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5.reputation: a stain on one's character.
6.good repute. account of the qualities or peculiarities of a person or thing.

A Bit off topic, but it really does relate to how we want to raise our two new girls that will become a part of our family very soon. We use a reward and discipline system called The Champ Ladder that my husband and I created. See what Mary Owlhaven had to say about our Champ Ladder...she uses it and has 10 kids, half of which are adopted. When our kids are at the top of the ladder, they love it. They get their weekly allowance for being on top or they don't get it for being below step 6 on the ladder. When they are towards the bottom of the pretty much sucks. It's to encourage them to think ahead, think about their actions and how THEY are in control of what privileges they have. No blaming Mom and Dad for not being able to have a sleepover...they knew they were not high on the ladder and they had a chance to change it, but weren't motivated till the day they are invited to have a sleepover. Ohhh life is so tough for them. Please click on The Champ Ladder in blue to check it out. If any of you Moms need it, but are financially strapped, just email me and we'll get it to you. And let me know how it works for you. But if you are a parent and consider yourself not perfect and often challenged by your little ones AND big ones.....then you NEED this.

The state of my kids' integrity is vital to how they act in the world, treat others, how they act when nobody is actually's more important than what they do as a career. My husband and I hold this virtue high within our household.

I find in interesting how children can grow up and become adults and still hold onto their child-like ways. I sometimes find it shocking, less and less lately though, how being unaccountable for your actions has less stigma attached to it. As an adult, if you get caught in a lie, no big deal. Here are Senators, Governors and a President Clinton all in prominent positions, yet attach no stigma to what their recent actions have caused young people to believe. It's absolutely sickening and pathetic. All you have to do is watch the news to see the world at its best with its issue of accountability. No one is at fault. Let's point the finger at.....whatever......pick anything, but yourself. Nobody has done anything wrong, everyone is the victim. It’s very unsettling to me when I see this, but what it does do for me is make sure I am not a part of that stereotype. And most importantly I do not allow OUR children to become a part of this growing epidemic.

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister and finance minister of Malaysia and currently a prominent advocate for democracy, freedom, responsible business and the rule of law – was named "Honorary President of Accountability" in Malaysia. He is the 'global voice of accountability' for government. He believes that the issue of accountability is at the root of all the world's major social and environmental challenges. Isn't that interesting? I should send him a complimentary "Champ Ladder" for him to use on his staff. I bet that if the parents of the grown up children now would have used our Champ Ladder, there would have been more accountability and less finger pointing.

I'm raving, aren't I? .....I think it's worth the read.... so refresh your coffee and read on!

In a "perfect world" we would like our children to admit what they did wrong and make it right. But the world we do live in is far from perfect and we have to deal with just how to discipline and reward our children. I once read where Mother Theresa was asked by a man who had traveled a long distance to see her: "Can I go with you, I want to change the world?" She turned to him and said: "Then go home and love your family". The best place for all of us to start is in our own homes, then our communities and then our cities and state. Who knows we may just change the world.

What drives me crazy in the process is the yelling from us as parents, the arguing from our children and the constant challenging us as parents. It makes me crazy in my own house. This is exactly how Champ Ladder has come to light. My husband and I were sick and tired of all of that. So much so that we thought, "There has got to be a better way". We looked everywhere for a solution and found that there was not much out there that fit our needs. A book on the subject was too lengthy, and we needed something NOW! So we created it ourselves and fine-tuned it over the years to get our system to a place that made simple sense and the entire family could understand and use. When people come to our home and look at the fridge, their first comment is not about the magnets and pictures, but on the laminated Champ Ladder we have boldly attached. They say, "Now that is a great idea!" My friend Darla Shine who wrote a fabulous book called "Happy Housewives" lives on Long Island and has a really fantastic website (click on the blue Happy Housewives or click on my favorite links to check it out). I had convinced her that if she came to L.A., I could get a lot of Moms together for her to do a book signing. I did and she came. So when she stopped by my house and saw the Champ Ladder on our fridge, she was the one who encouraged us to market this for other families. That it should be out there. So I wrote a Companion Guide to go with it, which I just love and could've wrote a whole book, but I needed to keep it brief. David fine tuned the Champ Ladder so that people could customize it to their families needs and children's names on it. Or one for a boy and one for a we took her advice and sell it now all over. I'm considering starting podcast on "Parenting.......and Stuff!" so that is kinda exciting to think about.

Our hope for our 4 children, God bless 'em, is to grow up to be happy, responsible, trusting, loving men and women who will treat people with compassion and with an understanding of where they are coming from. I find it very disheartening when I speak to a mature adult only to find that they talk about people in such a bad light...I guess because it makes them feel better about themselves. This quality is so unattractive that even sometimes, if I'm going to see that person again, I have the heart to say something about it. I know we all have our own story to tell. It makes us who we are. But how can we have compassion for others if we don't seek first to understand them?

Imagine putting on a pair of "Glasses of Compassion" each morning which make it possible that when you encounter people throughout the day, you see what is going on in their life. That's how God sees us actually, isn't it? For us, it would become too much to take. But what if when you put them on, you knew that the lady standing in front of you in line for your coffee at Starbucks who is not focused and just taking her sweet time to order and pay, what if she just found out last night that her son has autism? Would that change how patient you are standing behind her? What if the man sitting in the park is letting his kids reek havoc on the playground with other kids' Moms wondering why he is such a bad Father to let his kids act in such a way....but when you put these glasses on you can see that he just came home from work last night having been layed off and no hope in sight to keep his home? What if the new kid at school is being shunned because he didn't "grow up" with the rest of the class (you know how year round school works) and not only has no new friends, but is being taken advantage of, verbally abused and even punched by a classmate. Perhaps if the other children had these "Glasses of Compassion" on, they might have found out that he just left his whole life behind and his best friends when his parents decided to move to a new state? Everything he knew has been left behind and traded for bullying, foulmouthed little brats (okay, now I'm talking about my oldest son's experience here) who couldn't give a rip about how he is feeling with this transition, putting him in a position of regretting moving at all. If the other kids really knew, would they have more compassion for him?

There are reasons that people do the things they do and I am always interested in finding that out. As painful as it may get sometimes, I will even ask people to be totally honest with me so that I can grow. Why would I want to keep a bad habit? Why shouldn't I know about it? My close friends know that I ask that of them. And trust me, they use it. So does my husband....ouch!!!! Part of our children's creed is "I love God and all His creations, therefore I am compassionate and truly care about the feelings of others." How can we be hurtful if we "truly care about the feelings of others"! This is our hope.........for our 4 children.

Homeland Security Says ... We're O.K.!

I have received what agencies call "The Golden Ticket" from Homeland Security : the I 171 H. Condoleeza Rice says we're O.K. to adopt. I know people who have adopted and some of them are NOT O.K.! .......... Homeland Security was fooled. So I don't take this too personal whether they said we can adopt or not. I know we are good people and parents, so that's all I really needed. But without this with me in my hand in Addis Ababa, we cannot bring 2 girls back into the states. So I NEED it or we are stuck there for who knows how long before we can return home with our new family additions.

I have not received any more news about our girls. We've been told about children of all other ages, but we really need to be matched with what David and I have discussed at great lengths. Our agency keeps feeling us out for little girl infants that have come in...I really could appreciate an infant, but considering our ages, we are desiring children with a few years under their belt. Our agency kindly tells us of which children do come in and our name is at the top of the list on their office board. I have had my cell phone surgically attached to my hip so that no phone call from my agency will be missed and a back up cell phone battery so that every day my phone is prepared to receive that call. My 2 friends Shawn and Lory have received and accepted their baby girl infants and Shawn has a Court Date already. I couldn't be happier for them and hope I get to travel with one of them. I wait.......patiently.......still! I can do that. These girls have waited, so can we.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Brandon..........I have a teenager!

Today is Brandon's birthday. My oldest son is 13 and I just can't believe it. My husband took him away for the weekend for some "Manly" time. Actually, the best gift he received was a book that my husband compiled with the help of 21 other men.

A month ago, David wrote a beautiful letter to the men in Brandon's life who have meant something to him. Each man was to write a letter to a 13 year old with the best "life" advice they could give him accompanied by a picture of themself. He received so many amazing letters from the heart of men we so admire and respect. He got one from his youth pastor leader where he loooOOOves to go every Wednesday night. He got one from Pop in Australia with incredible advice about life and having lived through so much experience. He received one from our pastor Bob in Orange County where we use to of our most favorite people in the whole world. I could go on about the particulars, but this was one gift that could not be bought.

Our friends here in town lent them their cabin for a Man to Man retreat to talk about what it means to become a man. What a great time they had together.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Our 20th Anniversary ........... Today!

We are still going strong after 20 years. I could do another 20, 40 or 100 with my man. Happy Anniversary sweetheart. I love you more today than I did of all our years together. I won't get too personal here...but I sure do love this man.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Evan's Snowman

Evan's first snowman he's made

They became friends for a day...

They ran around the back yard, kicking the footy
and ate snowcones...

......and then, it was just........over!

.....that's Denver. Wait 5 minutes and the weather will change!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ethiopian Coffee...SoooOOO good!

Last Sunday, we attended church at what I'll just refer to as our Ethiopian Church. The last 2 times, David has brought his acoustic guitar and sang worship songs for all 3 of the classes of kids from 2 to 11 years old. Now when he comes, their eyes light up and ask him if he is going to sing today. David replies that he is going to sing and they respond, "Yesssssss!" It is so cute. I volunteered in the toddler class with about 20 boys and girls. I had 2 girls ending up attached to me by the end of the class and you know I loved it. They would be the ages of our girls. The frilliness, the dresses, the shoes....they are just so adorable. Just any girl stuff to me is so new and fun. Their personalities are so much fun.

After church, we took up the offer of our friend Mesfin and his wife to have lunch at their home. She, Genat, had prepared traditional Ethiopian food which was really good. Chicken in a dark sauce, spicy vegetables and of course the infamous injera bread. It felt really strange to eat with my hands. I was doing what I'd been taught NOT to do for 40-something years. The boys had no problem with that...gee? Ya think? They also ordered pizza in case the boys didn't like the food, but they did like most of it.

Mesfin's wife, Genat, is a nurse. Very modest and easy to talk with. We really enjoyed talking with them after lunch as the boys played with their 2 girls the same ages as our boys. Really fantastic conversation about many things. They came here 13 years ago. They also have a 2 year old little boy. It was neat to see how well the 2 older sisters took care of their little brother. I was hoping it would rub off on the boys. As we talked about lots of things after lunch, we felt like we really connected with them on a spiritual level. This was no surprise to me. When I think back to the very first time I met Mesfin at our local post office back in November, I knew what kind of a man he was then.

He apparently LoooOOOves pizza!

...and he'll show it to you too! Loves it!

I asked Genat if she uses Ethiopian coffee. She said yes, which led me to ask if she could make some while I was there cause I'd been reading and seeing so much about it. I asked her if she made it like they do in Ethiopia. She said yes and offered to make some. A resounding YES was my response. I watched intently as she prepared this for us. She gave some to me to make at home too, so I took these pictures so you can see the beans. Not dark like ours are they?

She took these beans that were very light green in color, roasted them in a pan on the stove, ground them, then brewed the coffee in a small metal coffee pot on the stove. Incense was burned in the living room where we would have the coffee. As I've seen in many Ethiopian videos, the "Coffee Ceremony" is just what I've described. It's all fresh, the beans are sometimes picked right off the plant that sometimes people have very near their home, and it is always brewed totally fresh from the bean to the cup. When she roasted it, it didn't smell like coffee, rather just the burning of the bean. I wasn't sure if I'd like it and I'm a very big coffee drinker, but without adding cream, just sugar, I found it to be REALLY good. It reminded me of a really good Starbucks espresso. I had several cups actually, the cups are small, and I felt bad cause she had to make some more. I guess I really liked it! She is so sweet and lovely. We could have spent hours more with them, but we wanted to be invited back, so we did actually go home at a decent hour! We will host them at our home next time and we'll make Australian pasties (we'll leave out the vegimite!) and pavlova for dessert. YummmmmO!

I might have to have their 13 year old help us here to translate or teach us Amharic. This is my biggest concern when the girls get here is how will we communicate. I'm thinking of making flash cards or ordering some so we can all learn together. Not just for novelty sake, but because I hear that that is one of the most stressful parts when you bring your new child home...trying to relay things back and forth and yet...everything is so new to them anyway.

Ohhhhhh...I just felt like life is so rich when I meet people like this. What a blessing they will be to our new little girls when they come home. What a blessing...I thank God! Really.

Beautiful Adoption Video Montage

These would be pictures that adoptive parents have taken while picking up their child. I recognize some of the people and children from some of the blogs I read.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Do this NOW!

In the upper left corner of this blog, you can sign up to be "emailed" when I post something new. I highly recommend this so you do not have to check to see if I've posted, but rather I tell YOU when I've posted. I use to do that with all of the blogs that I keep up with, but now, nightly, I get an email that says, "such and such blogs have updated" which lets me know who it is and I can either see it now or later, or ignore it!'s real easy, just input YOUR email address and let BLOGARITHM tell you when I post.

Thanks for reading........and comment often!! Perhaps you "lurkers" would like to "delurk" and introduce yourself. Where are you from? Are you adopting??? Just a thought!


My 2 Buddies Have Referrals

We use the same agency and are at the same place with our adoption process. I am so excited for both of them because we are all 3 at the same stage. They were waiting infant girls. I saw Shawn's picture of her baby girl and she is just adorable. This will be Shawn's first child. Lory is still waiting for some paperwork about her baby girl, but it must feel great to have that referral. Our Dossier should have been translated by now and probably approved in Ethiopia by the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA). We wait for our agency to tell us that we have a court date which will be handled over there by our facilitator, who I hear is amazing!! I can't wait to meet him.

Today is our 3rd of 5 adoption classes. Six hours long, but always full of really useful information about this process. They talk about it from every angle so there are no surprises. What I'm reading from many other people's blogs who are adopting from Ethiopia is that when they come home with you, it can be like postpartum depression. Like, for a year, you are envisioning this adorable little person coming into your home. You assume they will be happy because you have EVERYTHING for them and they long for you think! But sometimes, not all the time, the attachment can be a challenge, the wanting of their familiarity can make them scared and confused....

I recently read about a new adoptive mom packing the backpack to go to the park and the 6 year old freaked out thinking they were packing her up to go back. In her little mind, once again she was being carted off to who knows where. She the thought she was never going to see this family again. It just broke my heart when I read that. (And I've read how some other children will just eat all day long, thinking that they're next meal may not come for a while. Or hide their toys thinking that it was not theirs to keep. It's just heartbreaking!!)

They didn't know why she was acting strange, so they called up their Ethiopian friend who spoke Amharic who enlightened them as to why she freaked out. I think I need to make some Amharic Flashcards with standard phrases on them to use when they are here. So anyway, the classes help to put things into perspective. I am expecting anything can happen when our girls get here, so that we are prepared for anything that MAY happen. What I do know is that it does take on average 18 months for everything to fall into place. But it also can go very smoothly.

This wait it difficult. I'm putting an incredible amount of trust in the hands of my agency. I am a Mama Bear at heart and will make sure all is well in the end though. Those of you who know me (and David) know that we are fighters and we always WIN!!

I look forward to our class today and am thrilled about my 2 friends' referrals!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Evan in Concert! Sabrina, are you out there?

My youngest son loves to play in front of people and has written a few songs of his own. He wanted me to post this mini private "concert" so that his friends can hear his new song and a few well known songs.

He also plays "Hey There Delilah" for his friend who he was close to when we lived in California, Sabrina. He change the name Delilah to Sabrina........just for fun!