Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Merry Christmas To Our Dear Family and Friends...

We have just sent out our Christmas cards to family and friends all over the world. David's family is all in Australia (with the exception of this year where 6 of them are here for 10 days ... yay!!!) We have friends now in Ethiopia, Italy (my childhood friend, Devin), London and Sweden. In fact our friend from Sweden married an Ethiopian woman (and you all know by now what Ethiopia means to us!!!)

Below are just some of the photos we took that didn't work out. The picture we sent out was so much work to get that picture, but we have 50 pictures that could not be used with blur, someone not looking, someone's hair in their eyes, the cat's tail in Tigist's eyes, Tigist trying to kiss all of us ...

We normally do our Christmas photos and letter about what we've been up to for the previous year by sending them all out to everybody. But this year, we are posting our letter on our blog so people can choose to either read it or not. I know you're out there ... you guys that don't like reading these things ... so you can just look at the pictures here of what we've posted over the last year when we started this journeyed!

Personally, I love reading all of the Christmas "Letters" that we get. It's a fabulous way to find out what everyone has been up to "At A Glance". Always have loved reading them, so keep 'em coming y'all!

So ... here it is!

"Our Christmas Letter ... 2008"

We could not have asked for a more spectacular year if we tried. Have we been blessed this year. We have so much to be thankful for, truly. It was one year ago when we decided to adopt our daughter from Ethiopia. And although we started out asking our adoption agency for 2 girls (we were hoping for siblings ... if only to bless them by keeping them together) we did not get our prayer answered the way WE wanted, but actually the way God would have planned this out. And I trust His plans more than mine!

We brought home Tigist Sophia Wills on August 18th, 2008. The trip was awe-inspiring, emotional and absolutely unforgettable. When we arrived at Denver Int'l Airport, our boys met us there with some of our dear friends to witness this precious little girl coming to her new home after being orphaned in her homeland. You all know, if you've followed this blog, that we do not know anything about her background or if her family is alive?
In 2004, our trip to Botswana, Africa proved to be the key to us ending up going back again to Africa to complete our family. Many people have asked, "Does she have a family? A Mother? How old is she?" Does she have siblings? Well, we don't know any of that. But what we do know is that her future would have been short and quite honestly ... dim. From where she was found, it was not a place for orphaned little children. I still wish I knew how she got her scar on her thigh and one gash to her head that left a scar. But more importantly, she seems to have no scars to her heart and soul. Thank God! We didn't know her birthday or her name. So we gave her the amazing birthday of August 9th as that is the day we met her and she met us. Her name was given to her by the policeman who picked her up in the West of Ethiopia, subsequently driving her 500 miles East to the capitol ... Addis Ababa, where she waited so patiently for us to come to her. Although we are sad that we can't offer her more information about her background or family, we have an incredible connection to Ethiopia and her culture here in Denver. There are 20,000 Ethiopians here in Denver ... can you believe that? Some of our closest friends now are Ethiopian and we are truly blessed to have them in her life with such passion and love to offer her.

I could literally write a book about how our family feels about Tigist and the part she plays in this family, but it's all actually in this blog written over the past year. I wish I could write daily, but my time does not allow for it right now. Thank you all for offering your support over the past year while we jumped through hoops to bring her home. We received so many prayers, a handfull of baby showers, so many cute clothes that make it so much fun to dress her every day, cute dolls and blankies, tap shoes from Caren and ballet shoes and outfit from Aunt Kathy ...

Tigist is doing exceptionally well and her visit to the Doctor recently reveals just that. If you were all here ... I swear she would kiss every one of you on the lips and say "I loo loo"... (I love you). She has such a kind heart and is especially gentle to little infants and babies smaller than her. She kisses babies in strollers at the mall and is not shy at all. Sometimes when I look at her ... it's just too much to take what she means to our family. The boys are genuinely excited to see her every day.

David's business is growing in that he has been doing more producing of DVDs in the past months. This will help us out should we be hit sometime in the future with this current economy, but as for now, we are fortunate not to have been hit. Our buyers for David's DVD tutorials are individual sales, so they just keep on buying his product from all corners of the world. I work about an hour or two each day processing, fulfilling and shipping orders daily. So thank God for his niche in this industry that keeps our family afloat! We sold my motorcyle to help out with the adoption costs, but we still have David's bike that we both ride. I'm a very fair weather rider, where David will hop on it after a job around the house just to cool off. But I love getting on it and riding around town. We celebrated 20 years of marriage this year! Not bad, eh? That was why we stopped by Italy before Ethiopia just to celebrate what we've been through together over the last 20 years. David has been my amazing husband for over 20 years. He's my fine wine that I just savor every year.

Brandon has been working very hard in his 8th grade year. After a tough year in 7th grade just feeling like there were not any kids there that he would choose to be friends with (and that's all I'll say about THAT subject), Brandon and I had a long talk about the possibility of completing 8th grade at home through an on-line E-School. This is a program free through the district and follows the district curriculum. His grades have improved and so has many other aspects for him. I am so impressed with his discipline and willingness to work hard for this to be successful. He may attend High School next year for just a couple of classes ... we'll see. I'm working on getting him into another school in another district. He continues to draw, play guitar, take guitar lessons and ride his electric mini-motorcycle around the neighborhood with Tigist on board waving to all the neighbors.

We love that the boys are still loving playing guitar and Evan is no exception. He learns new songs every week, plays the drum and snare at school in the band as well as being a part of the jazz band at school. He takes lessons at home and loves playing songs for Tigist as she listens intently to her big brother. Evan skateboards anytime he has a free minute and has the gashes and bruises to prove it ... should you need that proof! And in January, he and David will attend their annual NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants)in Anaheim for David's business. Evan cannot wait to eat In-N-Out EVERYDAY!

This Summer, the 4 of us drove to California to attend my sweet Grammie's Memorial at my sisters home. David flew back home to get back to work, but the boys and I hung out and visited anyone and everyone who would see us. And of course I would have been a neglectful Mother had we not stopped at In-N-Out at least a dozen times. But we had fun and the drive back was long, but gave me a chance to contemplate seeing my friends and family again since we moved here 2 years ago. I've learned many things in my life ... but one thing I know for sure is that I will NEVER again take 2 kids so close in age on a 15 hour drive AGAIN! Okay ... I feel better now!

In March, Brandon turned 13, which we consider to be a big deal here. He put on a suit and David had a limo pick he and Brandon up to go out to dinner at an incredible steakhouse called Elways here in Denver. David had planned months in advance to have the "Men" in Brandon's life write him letters that would prepare him to enter his new life as a young man. Brandon had received 20 letters from men he greatly admires and couldn't believe they all took the time to give him such precious words of wisdom. They then went to a cabin for the weekend, just he and David for some man time!

My sister, Kelly married the man of her dreams in April of this year. Greg is an amazing guy who absolutely compliments her and everything she is. They are both just so giddy about finding each other. David's sister, Sue is coming to our house for Christmas and New Years with her 2 grown children and each of them are bringing a significant other/friend. So 6 people total. We are so happy to be having family here for Christmas in Denver.

Experiencing Italy before picking up our daughter in Africa was just breathtaking. We stayed at a 100 yr. old Villa and the owner was so perfectly Italian. That was a trip we will always treasure. By the end of our 10 days in Italy, when we hit Rome, it was exciting, but quite honestly I was so anxious to meet our daughter the next day. It was only a 6 hour flight from Rome to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and we couldn't stand it any longer. We knew that it was only hours before we would hold her in our arms. I'm hoping David puts together the video montage very soon so we could post it here on the blog for you all to see. Just incredible ... and then you wonder if life can get any richer.

As for me ... I've been very busy with a little switching it up in my days with a 2 yr. old. She arrived here knowing absolutely no English, but now talks up a storm and listens to everything we say so she can repeat it. I've been so busy, but I feel like I have nothing in particular to report for myself. Becoming a Mother again to a daughter is the highlight and I'm just so busy to sometimes recognize that I have a daughter now. She is so much fun to take shopping and she makes me laugh all the time. Everyday is Christmas for us just seeing what she gets up to that makes us smile, cry, laugh and hug her so tight. The choir at church continues to be a blessing for me and the women whom I've come to know are so sweet and loving to our family.

Thank you for participating in our lives. We treasure you all and wish only that God will bless you with riches you've not even imagined.

Here's to an amazing 2009.

With love,

The Wills

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tigist Enjoys Neighborly Fudge!

I came out of my office to check on her and she'd gotten up on the kitchen table, 2 huge vanilla fudge pieces in her hands and she says ... "Ooh la la?" ... looking for my approval. I just laughed and said, "Yes, sweetie! Ooh la la!" I have the same picture at her age on my Mom's kitchen table eating icing out of a bowl. It just took me back and it made me happy. I was happy she climbed on the table and took advantage of our neighbor's really great fudge.

I think she was just enjoying it so much that she didn't even care if she was going to get in trouble. She is just so cute.

I can't believe she let me take some from her hand.

... but I did leave her some to munch on. I did that for you Mom!

"Ooh la la!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Snow has come ... Merry Christmas Tigist!

Well, too much time has passed since I last wrote about what we've been up to. It is simply because my time restraints have changed ... and we all know why.

Tigist is still doing very well. Her challenges still lie with simple 2 year old things, like getting frustrated by not feeling understood and not having the words to tell us exactly what she wants. She turns to naughtiness if she doesn't get what she wants sometimes, but I can see clearly that she is trying so hard to learn as many words as she can to use to communicate better. It's interesting ... when I first saw a couple of pictures of her, I had concluded that she was going to be a very bright young girl. There was something about looking into her eyes that I could see a certain maturity about her. Now that she's been home for 3 1/2 months (Wow! It seems longer than that) I can see that this was all correct. She is so bright and listens to every word people say to her and repeats it.

Tigist's favorite things right now are:
  • She loves, LOVES the snow, yet at first was terribly frightened by these white things falling from the sky. She sits by the kitchen sliding door with a big bowl and big spoon scooping this crazy white stuff into her bowl, tasting it, smashing it, throwing it out the door ... she yells, "Snow!" the first thing in the morning when she realizes it is still out there. The first time I held her and walked on the snow, she frantically repeated, "I gotcha! I gotcha! I gotcha!" as that is what we say to her when she feel frightened and needs reassurance. It was so cute.
  • She loves scrambled eggs with melted cheese in it. She likes sitting at the kitchen island watching me make her eggs. Her patience is better about not being able to eat them immediately cause they are "hot, hot!".
  • We watch some cooking shows together and we talk about the ingredients, especially "eggs" and "stirring". Then when I'm cooking in the kitchen, we turn on some Renee Olstead and cook and dance and sing. Fun memories for us.
  • She loves to ride on Brandon's "Momo" ... his new electric "motor-bike". He takes her around into the cul-de-sac and up the street.
  • She has grown to love Elmo in Sesame Street. Thomas the Train comes in second.
  • She loves for us to read to her. The stories have to be short and lots of pictures, but it is one of her favorite things to do.
  • And she loooOOOOves to go "Ciao". Putting on her shoes means we are going somewhere and that to her is very exciting, because she gets to find the "Moooooona" in the sky.
  • She loves to hang out with Evan in the basement. Evan is so patient with her and loves it when she comes to his school and she blows kisses to all of the kids.

We had a recent Ethiopian teen girls fundraiser at an art gallery in Denver where I roasted, grinded and brewed fresh Ethiopian coffee for the guests. There were about 6 women who've adopted from Ethiopia who fell in love with Hanna Fanta just like David and I did, and ended up raising about $15,000 for her shelter for the girls back in Addis Ababa who have no place to go. So I'm a pro now and love making it at home.

Tigist is ready to step into the snow for the very first time.

Still unsure ... but clearly excited.

The boys would pull her in this mini-sled all over the back yard.

Once she falls, she can't get back up because she's dressed like a big marshmellow in these snow clothes.

Her hands got cold.

So beautiful the foilage looks when it is blanketed with so much white.

The Momo in the snow.

We went to Evan's school for the DARE graduation. I always knew where Tigist was by looking for a group of kids bending down. She makes friends very easily.

The big Momo! Lunch at Fatburger.

A trip to the mall while Daddy is shooting video at home. He needs the house quiet, so we get out and about.

These boots were made for walkin' ... so that's just what we did.

Tigist hiding between columns at the mall.

We were graciously invited again to enjoy Thanksgiving at our friends Kyle and Leah in Parker. She made this beautiful Pavlova and I made the Pumpkin Mouse Tart next to it. What a fun time we had with 10 adults and 13 children. Kyle and Leah themselves have 4 small kids.

Pavlova dessert made by Leah.

Our backyard.


Out front.

Looking out the front door.

The deck. We love making snowcones from the snow and pouring cherry or lime juice on it. The are unlimited and we have as much as we want. How cool is that?