Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year ... 2010!

Happy New Year Everybody....

This is the first year in a long time that I did not get a Christmas Letter out or even Christmas cards. This year's events snowballed into the end of the year and left me wanting for simple days and as little stress as possible. Our year has been chock-full of good stuff and not so good stuff, but the promise of a new day is the best medicine for me always.

Christmas Eve we had Mesfin and family come over for afternoon lunch and catching up. Genet was in Ethiopia (her sweet sister, Tigist, had died suddenly).

Each morning I enjoy beautiful scenes as I make my morning coffee. My good friend Grace lives right there behind me, so I give a silent "good morning" to her as I smell the scent of my coffee brewing...

Morning coffee view

When we decided to move from California to Colorado ... I still find it interesting to realize that I'd never been here, (just a tad when I was really young, don't remember all of it), I didn't know anybody here, and moving would have lasting ramifications with significant relationships. I would be leaving everybody and everything that I ever knew and had spent precious time coming to know. What kind of crazy decision is that? But what I know for sure is that all of the decisions I've made as an adult and some as a young girl, have brought me such joy and happiness for years to come. I can take any one of my decisions and follow it through and see an incredible amount of fruition ... fulfillment, achievement, satisfaction! I can see the fruit that I've labored for. Some ripened over night and some took years. And right now, it all seems to be evident right before my eyes what my "Fruit Tree" looks like. It is huge, it has strong roots, it has strength that only God can offer it. It bears not just one type of fruit, but many colors and tastes. Sometimes ... too many for me to take in.

Our first Winter snow

Front yard tree

In my 40's, (okay...late forties) I can say that I am at a happy place. Certainly I am a constant work in progress, always. But you can't have in your 20's and 30's what the 40's can bring you if you do it right.

All this to say, September 29th, 2006, (the day we moved) marked a day creating yet another fantastic foundation for me and my family. Since then, we have continued to make fun and courageous decisions that have brought fulfillment and richness beyond our recognition. I love when I get to remind our boys that "You never know what is around the corner," especially when I know exactly what is around the corner that we are about to give them. Maybe it's something big, or what they've been asking for lately. But I feel like when I get to do that, I can only imagine what it is like for God to look at our life and say, "My Child, you have no idea what is around the corner for you!" He must want to scream out to us to make those U-turns, or keep on doin' what we're doin'. When I know that Brandon has major attitude for some crappy little issue and yet around his corner I have something big for him, it hurts my heart to decide to stick to it and give it to him. God does not take things away from us every time we make bad decisions, He keeps his word and so do I.

It took me a while, but I have found that when I reflect back on my life in California, I have no regrets for this move, this major life-changing decision. Sure I was sad to leave behind everything that I knew, absolutely ... but the idea of something unknown, something simpler, a not so fast paced lifestyle ... drew a fire in my heart that I couldn't put out. One thing about David and I is that once we make the decision, which is always based on careful thoughtfulness, we pretty much stick to it and move full steam ahead. And it has always been good. We trust our instincts and intuition.

There are so many changes that have taken place since we've moved and over 2009...

We added a new family member, Tigist! Big one, don't you think? The boys have grown very tall, Brandon being over 2" taller than I and I'm 5'7 and a half! Brandon has created many things with his hands and head ... a cross bow, a hover-craft that literally floated on air the length of a cement hockey field, a bow and arrow, artwork that blows my mind and other stuff I forget by now.

Evan and Tigist making letters

Halloween at Leah's house. She sure loves dressing up. She's tried to dictate what she'll wear each day by throwing a fit. I won't have this starting so early, so I just give her 2 choices and she gets to pick one. Sometimes she just can't decide and throws a fit...God help me, it's too early!

Learning letters with playdough

Evan took tons of pics of her in the house, outside ... they love to play with each other

Working her music career early on.

Did you like it Mommy?

This is Aman. Mesfin's youngest. I think they will marry one day. He takes care of her when he comes and kisses her. But today, she couldn't get a kiss from him at all.

Tigist dressed up to see the new Disney movie with the first black princess ... "The Princess and the Frog". Her first time in a theater. She wasn't too impressed with this new experience, just too wiggly and wanted something to do the whole time. We'll try again real soon.

This is truly how they feel about each other. At times it brings me to tears. Brandon being in the 9th grade now, High School, he's grown up quite a bit. He really gets into hands on projects at school and at home. He is 2 or 3 inches taller than I, I can't believe it. Some of our most precious times are little rides together running errands or a movie. And I know David has precious times with him to playing ping pong in the rec room upstairs.

More of Evan's pictures in the back.

Oh, my precious daughter. Full of joy!

"Evan, how many more times do I have to say cheese?"

Elizabeth gives her a pink Ukelele. Rockin' it!

This is the owner of our adoption agency, Joan. She had a 10 year anniversary fundraiser here where the night before this, was a beautiful sit down dinner. Many adoptive families came fromout of town and out of state to celebrate.

Aneata on the right was our agency rep. We still meet for lunches and Tigist loves to see her. It was so much fun when returning home from Ethiopia and bringing Tigist to the agency for the first time.

My 2 love-birds.

Now ... this is Abebe. He was our rep in Ethiopia during the time we went to pick her up. He and his wife run the orphanage, Sele Enat, so to see him here in Denver was such a treat. And for him to see not only Tigist, but all of the other children that they helped to bring home to their families...was just so wonderful.

Gilles and Melanie are waiting for their baby girl. They live in Hollywood where we use to live. We met over the phone last Summer, I visited while attending Deb's funeral in L.A. And we've been friends since then. They just got their referral of a gorgeous 2 yr. old girl.

Hanna runs Sele Enat in Ethiopia. It was so good to see her here too.

Tigist and Hanna

Evan is now teaching himself piano, he plays guitar and the drums every single day. Their interaction with people is so much fun to see, because that is where I see if all of our hard work "took." Evan sometimes cooks a whole dinner for us. He loves, loves, LOVES it when we play family games or cards.

Most times you can find Evan playing with Tigist. They do everything together. Evan is an amazing big brother to her and she loves him so. The other morning, I was looking on the video monitor to see if she was up yet, and I viewed something that brought tears to my eyes. Evan was waking her up and stroking her back and tucking her in (I guess she was still tired). He hopped into bed with her and just was so sweet to take such care of his baby sister. It was just precious to witness and know how much he loves her.

I guess I've inspired him by buying him the Guiness Book of World Records. I think he had like thirty-something shirts on at once. Then he couldn't breath and pleaded for me to help him get them off.

Thursday nights we have Family Fun Night and we make it a point to stop everything else at 5pm and it's all about being together. No I-Pods, I-Phones, computers, head phones, work ... this is our favorite night of the week and we get to check in on where the boys are at with what's going on with them for the week. Next week we're having a Dream-Nite, where we sit in the front room together and make lists and notes about what we expect of ourselves for the year. They get to pick their favorite drink, I make them a goodie bag of yummy stuff they like (cause we want to put them in a happy place, right?!!) and we talk about expectations! It's a time to focus on that one subject and think it through. David and I have done this for years between ourselves. We make a list called ... "I can't believe I .... " and then we fill in the blank. But the neat thing is, this list is things that we have not accomplished yet. It is a sort of bucket-list to work towards. We all know that if we put our dreams and wishes on paper, they are more likely to come true, so that is what we do. And it works!

David's business is taking a new turn this year where he will host a regular seminar across the US called "Home Recording Boot Camp". His first one plans to be hosted in L.A., which will be on his way to Australia taking Tigist to meet the few remaining family members who have yet to meet her. His sweet brother Rod found out a couple of months ago that he has a brain tumor of all things. He was just about to retire and vacation in the US to come see us and other places. David went to visit him earlier and will go back in March again. Rod is doing well now, but he continues to struggle with taking care of this. Bless his heart.

I continue to fulfill the orders daily for the business and blown away that everyday there continues to be orders from around the world for David's dvd tutorials ( We hope to pass this job on in the next month or two so that I can concentrate on perhaps teaching a half hour session at David's Boot Camps about Social Media Networking for Musicians. We'll see. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of extra time on my hands with a toddler in tow, but I really would like to see this happen, so I'll do my best. Hopefully we''' be traveling to the cities that some of you live in and we can have a coffee together. I'm going to be starting some podcasts about SMN (social media networking) with my friend Gina (she's in Orange County, CA) which really thrills me. I think this'll be right up my alley.

For those of you who has known me for a long time, you'll remember I use to sing with a vocal group called Crescendo in L.A. One of my most favorite times in my life was being a part of that group. I ended up bowing out as it was conflicting with my family time and David was then working his business as well as working at our church as the sound engineer. But the update of one of the members, Charmaine Clamor is that she is doing really well these days. She has the equivalent of an Oscar in the Philipines where she is from, but doing really well in New York and L.A. I'm so proud of her. She plays regularly in L.A. at "The Catalina Bar and Grill" on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood and if any body here likes really great Live Jazz, you should see her show there. I highly recommend it and I'm upset that I cannot see her regularly like I did when I live in L.A. I'm working diligently, however, with jazz radio here and the local jazz clubs and Filipino Community to try to get her and her band here for a Denver performance. It's my new mission I'm on!

Tigist grew 5 inches since she came home, yet she only gained 1 pound. It is clear that she has thinned out and grew taller cause all of her pants go a few inches above her ankle when I put them on.

It has absolutely been a wonderful year, despite some tough areas, did I mention the fire? Just a little damage. Brandon has to tell THAT story. This year I feel is going to be spectacular for sure.

Lots and lots of neat things happening. Stay tuned...

Back home Mimi's was my go-to place to meet people for breakfasts. It always seems so weird for me to see snow on the roof of our Mimi's here in Denver.

Halloween this year was at Leah & Kyles ... again. They are always so sweet to invite us.

The food was amazing here. Leah pulls out all the stops.

Leah ...

Ohhh, don't we love Thanksgiving?

Leah's pavlova dessert

Oh my!

Tigist and Aman ... isn't he adorable?

We love baking in the ktichen together. She even has her own baking utinsils.

Our visit from our California neighbors who now live in Texas. Terry and I had a day out in the city ... it was a great day!

Our friends from Texas brought Tigist a new back pack and "Dora" underwear ...

Our friends visit from Texas
Tigist, Me, David, Nick, Sabrina (hiding) Brandon and Evan

A Letter To A Child ... Meeting His Bio Mother!

Before Tigist came home, I frequented numerous blogs about adoption. When you adopt, the child's background and family connections can always be in question, especially for international adoption in 3rd world countries.

Our daughter, Tigist, came to us with absolutely no background, family info, birthday or even a name. Her name was given to her by the police officer who was called to pick her up in Bedele. That is how she got her name and I love it. My guess is that probably the day-long drive from Bedele to the orphanage in Addis Ababa compelled him to name her what means "Patience" in Amharic, her language.

I know that now! She is my daughter and I have to have a ton of patience for this remarkable child who wants to talk and learn so much in the times she is awake.
She is so easily stimulated by stuff, not toys, but books and conversation and play...I tell her I love her every day and when I say that, I have to try to keep the tears from falling because when I say those words to her, they come from not just a Motherly love place, but from a place of "God, thank you so very much for placing her in our family to love and take care of. She is Yours ... and we do not take that lightly. We are forever humbled by her presence in our life."

So back to my intro...

I came across a blog where this woman described her meeting with her newly adopted son's biological Mother in Ethiopia. They had to take a drive far out into the country where most of these broken families live in complete destitution. I'm not sure how many times I had to clear my eyes from tears streaming down my face before I finished reading the letter, but it is an understatement to say that this biological Mother had a kind of courage that I don't think I could even find in myself ... here is her letter...


Written by an adopted Mother to her newly adopted son from Ethiopia, Addis Ababa ...

It is 4:45am here and I can’t sleep anymore. Anteneh just woke up yelling, “Abat!” (Father) because he had to pee. He went back to sleep and I laid there going over in my head the most amazing day we had yesterday. It was one of the hardest, most memorable days of both of our lives. The best way to put it into words is in a letter to Anteneh-

Dear Anteheh,
We met your biological mother yesterday. It was one of the hardest things we have ever done but we know how important it will be to you as you grow up. She traveled 1 ½ days by bus from Harar to meet us. To tell you the truth, I was terrified. What was going through her mind? How would you react, seeing your mother after she gave you up 4 months ago? What would we say?

As soon as we walked into the room, both your daddy and I were overcome with emotion. I looked at her and she was so beautiful and tears just started pouring from our eyes. She looked at me crying and began to cry, too. It was amazing but as you saw her again, you smiled so big and stayed at my side.

We all stood there and she said, “Anteneh-this is your new mother and your new father.” And she looked at us and said, “I give this child to you in the name of God”. (This is all through a translator). Your daddy said, “We receive this child in the name of God”. We all sat down and you just kept gazing at her. She was incredibly beautiful. Long, confident face with a strong jaw and pretty lips. She was thin and sat gracefully with her hands in her lap and her legs crossed. Her hair was wrapped in a scarf in a way that reminded me of the famous profile of an Ethiopian woman with a long neck, face, and wrapped hair.

You look so much like her. I told her she was a beautiful woman and you look so much like her.
We asked about your family. She said that your father was a soldier and that he is dead and she is living with ‘the virus’ (which means she is HIV positive). I thought how brave she was to give you to us so early in her disease before her body was ravaged by it, giving you the best chance of being adopted because of your young age. She asked about our family and we told her about your aunts and uncles and how Aunt Megan is going to have a baby and how you have so many cousins on the other side of the family that can’t wait to play with you. And about your grandmas and grandpas that are so eager to meet you and especially about Grace and Luke who are so excited. She had seen all the pictures in the book we sent you and she asked to keep it so she could always see the family you are with. We said, ‘of course!’

We told her that you have a dog at home and you will get to ride horses at one of your grandma’s. She smiled. We told her that we would always help you to embrace your Ethiopian heritage and bring you back to your country in the future so you could again experience this country, firsthand. We showed her on a map where we live in America and pointed to the beach in Florida where we will take you in a few months. She said she had been told there were beaches there. We took many pictures and when walking back to the little room we were talking in, she saw three little orphaned girls who were from Harar and kissed and hugged them and was so affectionate with them.

As we watched that interaction, we could just glimpse the love with which you had lived your first 3 years and were so thankful. She was obviously resisting loving on you like that so as not to confuse you and we are sure to distance herself from you to lessen the pain. As we walked around, you asked me to hold you but I made you walk a little so that I didn’t hold you back from touching her or hugging her or walking with her, if that’s what you might want to do. We sat down with her one more time and told her that we would raise you in a Christian home and she said she was ‘very happy for that.’ Sensing that the time was coming to an end, I started to cry again and so did she. Hers was more of a soft cry and she would dab at her eyes with her shawl. Mine was a wet, rather less controlled cry. Your dad’s cry was like when Grace and Luke were born-where his face looked on the verge of breaking down but wiped his eyes with a bit of control. It felt so special to be going through this life changing time with your Dad-I can only imagine how much it has bonded us in ways we don’t even know now.

We gave her 500 birr (about 50 dollars) to cover her travel expenses which she had to pay out of her own pocket. We all stood to go. I held your little hand and hugged your mother for the last time-the way Ethiopians embrace-kiss to the right, to the left, to the right again. But she went further and kissed to the right again-making me feel so close to her. The thing that hit me so hard and that I will always remember about that hug was how good she smelled. She smelled like an incredible perfume and at that moment I wanted to remember that smell. I walked out with you and turned and watched your daddy do the same thing. We picked you up and busted into tears as we walked back to the taxi. We walked by some American volunteers playing with some older Layla House kids and they smiled and said, ‘hi,’ with empathizing smiles. We walked past Gail and she looked at us with a knowing smile like she had seen this same event unfold hundreds of times and asked how we were. I just squeaked, “OK-that was so hard.” And she smiled at us.

We climbed into the taxi and rode off, crying-thinking of what it would be like to have to give up Luke at 3 years old, which is what it was like for her. I was just thinking how incredible that experience was and how thankful we were to experience it. It is clear that God is so full of grace and mercy. That room had been full of brave people. Your mother, the bravest-for having the strength to give you to us-what an amazing gift to give to you-a chance at a life in a family who would love you and nurture you-and to spare you the memories of watching her life taken away from her slowly by AIDS. You were so brave, too. You stood there and nodded as your mommy who birthed you and nurtured you and taught you your numbers, your manners-all those things mommies teach-and taught you how to cuddle and love, told you that you were to have a new mommy and daddy now.

And I know is that we were brave to meet her, knowing that it was for the best for all of us-especially you as you grow and wonder where you came from
. Well, we are in somewhat of a dream world right now. We are rocked by emotion and counting the minutes until we can get you home to meet the rest of your new family. We are in awe at what we have experienced and will never forget this amazing trip. You are such a blessing already. You have no problem calling us ‘Abaye’ (Daddy) and ‘Emaye’ (Mommy)…and hug us and kiss us and squeeze us tight and ask permission when you want something (some of the time!). It is evident that this incredibly beautiful, strong woman we met yesterday gave you the best start in this world she could and for that we are SO THANKFUL. The love she gave you is the reason you are so wonderful and attaching so well to us. And we are in awe at how clearly God has shown us how merciful he is.

None of us deserve this gift He has given us of awesome you.
Thank you, God, for this wonderful experience-we are so humbled. Love, Mommy