Friday, May 23, 2008

And I'm Off!!

So bright and early tomorrow I will be on a plane, on my way to Miracle Ranch! I am so excited. I've had an amazing week with friends and family, and will miss everyone so much while I'm gone. I had lots of fun tonight making s'mores with my family in the backyard, and then jumping on the trampoline till dark with Aaron, Tekle, and Lacy. I only had to choke back tears a few times :)

I will definitely continue writing on this blog because I want to keep people updated on Z's adoption. I will also be writing a separate blog for Miracle Ranch and would love if you guys checked it out!

Here some pics taken this last week of just a few of the faces I'm going to miss this summer!

As you can see, Aaron is pretty happy to have Jesse home from Namibia!

What's more precious than a sleeping kid?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Feeling Pretty Loved

My parents had a fun little going away/early birthday BBQ for me this weekend! It was really interesting to see how the party brought together people from so many different areas of my life. There were friends from high school, friends from church, friends I've known almost my whole life, newer friends, relatives, and a van full of Dinomights. There were babies, toddlers, grade schoolers, middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students, graduate students, adults, and my sweet grandparents. It really made me appreciative of the incredible community I have here. How did I get so lucky to have all of these amazing people in my life?

The adorable face above is Edward, and he is someone I am going to miss A LOT this summer! I tutor Edward through Dinomights and he is a total sweetheart. I have had so much fun getting to know him better this last year. He is one of the most pure-hearted, thoughtful, generous, and hilarious kids that I know. He is ALWAYS thinking about others. I remember one time we went to Dairy Queen and he ordered a kids meal. Most kids get those primarily for the treat right? Well Edward decided to only eat his hot dog so that he could save the chips and ice cream for his two little brothers at home. Also, whenever someone gave him candy at school on a Tuesday (tutoring day), he would make sure to save me a piece in his pocket. Edward tells some of the most amazing superhero stories you will ever hear, and one time told be that if I wanted, I could just call him "Speedy Boy". We have had so much fun this year with intense Connect Four Competitions, "Hip-Hop Sundays", BBQ's, and a trip to the zoo. His love for life and people makes him a joy to be around, and he has taught me more than I'm sure he'll ever realize. I am already looking forward to hanging out more in the fall!

FOUR days till I leave!! Crazy.........

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Eight kids?? How do you handle the LAUNDRY?"

As you can see, we have a pretty efficient system:)

Actually, to be honest, our laundry room can be a pretty scary place. Even with such a cute little helper!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Few More Details

Thank you all for the congrats! We are so very, very excited. In the words of Aaron:

"She is so cute! I want her to come home RIGHT NOW!"

My sentiments exactly.

To answer Nikki's question, no, unfortunately I do not get to travel this time. My Mom is going for sure and we are hoping that the finances work out so that my Dad can travel too. I want to go so, so, so, bad!! Although I got to have the trip of a lifetime when my Mom and I brought Tekle home, so I guess I should be happy that my Dad might get to have the same experience :)

Here's a little bit more about Z:

~She likes dolls
~She likes balls
~She is described as calm, sweet, and quiet (Hopefully she isn't too intimidated by her not-so-calm-and-quiet-but-still-very-sweet siblings! Although my Mom says she needs a more laid back kid to balance the rest of us...)
~Zenebech and Aaron may be "virtual twins" if she is closer to 3.5...but if she's 2.5 she will be the baby of the family.

I will share more details as we learn more about her. We are using AAI this time (although we still love CHSFS), so hopefully we will get a few pictures/updates from other traveling families.

And this is a little off topic, but I thought I'd share a sweet moment between Tekle and Aaron that happened last night when we were reading stories before bed...

Aaron: "Can I come on your bed too?"

Tekle: "Sure"

Aaron: "Thanks! I really love Tekle. He's a nice brother. He put my band-aid on for me today. And I put his stickers (on the sticker chart) on for him today too! What do you say for that Tekle?"

Tekle: "Uhh that was nice..."

Aaron: [insert 'mommy' voice] "Do you say thank-you?"

Tekle: "Thanks dude"

And then Aaron smiled a very satisfied sort of smile :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'm Going to Have to Change the Name of My Blog

Because I have a new SISTER!!!!!!

I have been dying to share the news, but had to wait until things were more "official".

She is between 2.5 and 3.5 years old years old and waiting for us in Ethiopia.

I wish I could share pictures, but we have to wait until we are through court in Ethiopia. Let me tell you, Z is GORGEOUS. She has huge brown eyes, amazingly long eyelashes, and adorable chubby cheeks!She is just beautiful and seems to have an inherant grace about her... We sent her picture to Jesse in Namibia, and he said he almost started crying when he opened the document. Jesse is a very unemotional guy, so it was very touching. Jesse also told us that Z is the new screensaver on his computer--he's such a proud big brother!

We got her file and the news that our agency considers her ours last night (along with new PICTURES!) Needless to say, my Mom is feeling pretty blessed this Mother's Day :)

Welcome to the family sweet girl!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Random Family Stuff

Guess who braided Tekle's hair??

If you guessed Isaac, you are correct!

Speaking of Isaac, he deserves a huge CONGRATULATIONS on his acceptance into the arts highschool he auditioned for last week. Isaac loves to perform and is especially passionate about dance (mostly hip-hop but he can't wait to learn other forms too). We think this school is going to be a great fit for him.
He also just got a job at the movie theatre, so this has been a good week!

As for me, my freshman year of college is complete! Overall, I loved it. I had some great professors, met some cool people, and learned a lot. I am planning on majoring in Social Work and minoring in Spanish and have really enjoyed taking classes in both of those areas. My Spanish professor was hilarious which made it easy to pay attention in class. My social work professors were awesome too and I learned a lot from them. I really appreciate how my school prioritizes interactive learning in community. Next year I will be living in a community house with other college students that focuses on building relationships with kids in the neighborhood through tutoring and mentorship. We will tutor kids for two hours each week, and do monthly weekend events with them. I am very excited :)

Another highlight of my year was playing intramural sports. I played tennis, volleyball, and soccer. It was basically the same group of kids on my volleyball and soccer teams, so that was fun. I played tennis all through highschool so I was pretty confidant in that, but I can't say the same for volleyball and soccer. My team was very patient with me though...

Aaron came to stay with me my last night in the dorms and had a blast. We got icecream from the vending machine, played pool in the game room, and hung out with my super cool roommate. His favorite part of the night though was going to see the basketball players in the gym. He was in complete AWE, and would have stayed there all night watching them if I would have let him!

Another cool part about Aaron's visit to college was that he was able to meet a bunch of the Ethiopians that work at my school. At one point he had about 10 people surrounding him and asking him questions in Amharic. I think he was a bit overwhelmed with all of the attention but I was so proud of him because our Amharic practice payed woman asked him "Simeh mano?" which means 'what's your name' in Amharic, and without missing a beat Aaron replied "Tariku". Tariku is his middle name, but he responds to both. It's funny because if someone asks him what his name is in English he says Aaron, but if they ask in Amharic he says Tariku.

So now I'm living at home again, enjoying my last 3 weeks with the family before I leave for MEXICO!! :)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tell Two!!

The following is a post written by Erin, an amazing adoptive Mom of 11. Two of her beautiful children are HIV+ and Erin has done an incredible job of educating people about what it means to be a child living with HIV. PLEASE read her post and then accept the challenge to "tell two"!

Today I have heard from several different parents of HIV+ children who are facing negative reactions to their adoptions based on the stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV. It is extremely frustrating to me that in 2008 there is still so much unfounded fear caused by a lack of education, that results in nasty, ugly and mean treatment of people who are HIV+ and their families.

The reason people in the U.S. are not educated about HIV is that most people don't care, because most people in this country are not affected by it. People still see it as the problem of homosexuals, drug users and people in Africa. The reality is, HIV/AIDS is everyone's problem. It is a devastating problem in Africa and many countries, but there are many, many Americans living with this disease as well. In fact, new cases of HIV in the U.S. are now being seen in the largest numbers in heterosexual women. HIV/AIDS is a HUMAN problem.

Living with this nasty disease is hard enough, but compounding that with the misguided fear and judgment of society is beyond tragic, and as the mom of two HIV+ children, it is sad and frustrating.

So, if you are one of the many who check in to this blog every day, I am asking you to do me a favor. I want you to tell at least two people about HIV. Spread the word that...

- HIV can NOT be spread through causal/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other causal way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).
- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.

If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at

Help me spread the truth about HIV, and take a tiny stab at the stigma against HIV. Tell your friend when you talk on the phone. Tell your spouse. Tell your parents. Post it on your blog and ask other people to tell their readers. Ask them to pass it on as well. I would love to see this spread beyond the adoption blogs.

Even if you have no real interest in HIV/AIDS, even if you are not involved in adoption, even if you don't think you know anyone who is HIV+... education and knowledge are always a good thing. It is so easy to say to someone, "hey, guess what I learned today?" and it is even easier to put it on a blog or in an email.

Do it for me. Do it for the other adoptive families and the HIV+ orphans that are waiting for homes. Do it for Belane and Solomon. Do it for all of the other people on this planet living with HIV. If everyone that reads this blog tells at least two people, that is a whole bunch of people we can reach and a little bit of difference we can make.