Saturday, July 30, 2011


Duh nun a nun a, buh buh buh buh buh buh BAD, Bad to the bone........ that's my littlest loves theme song--at least some times. He can be the sweetest little thing. At night, I ask him, "who loves Colton?" and he'll say, "mommy, daddy and Jesus." Then I'll ask him, "Who loves mommy?" and he'll say, "I do." So sweet right?

Well that sweet little buddy also has a little strong willed wild child side (he gets it from his daddy :-) that has from time to time manifested it's self in the form of creative writing-----only not on paper.

Yep-that's permanent sharpie on our leather recliner, wall and wooden entertainment center.

We had been playing dentist and practicing for Rahel's first cleaning (she had been to the lab the day before for blood work and lets just say that didn't go well). So I thought a little game of "dentist" would be helpful. I had labeled all their little flossing tools with their initials so we wouldn't have any mix ups and mistakenly left the black sharpie on the "dentistry table." After we finished, I went into the kitchen to start dinner while a few of the kids continued to play. Well, it wasn't two minutes before my little reporter (aka Caroline) came running in saying, "mom, Colton colored on your wall."

I was less than impressed with his artistic creation. We did thankfully get most of it off (something called goop off Nick went and got).

Anyway, we figured that we'd have a little fun with our 4-wheeling free spirited guy this summer.

And got him a hair cut to match his personality.

He loves it!

Good news is you can brush that mow hawk right down if need be.

He sure keeps us on our toes.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Well Fund Update

Thanks to all of the generous donations and bracelet purchases made on this blog, I was able to donate $1075 to the Trees of Glory well fund today!!!!

Karen updated the overall total in her post here. So far, we are over half way there with just over $12,000 left to raise!!

Click over to her blog for further updates on Trees of Glory and remember I still have lots of those very attractive Ethiopian bracelets for sale. For every bracelet purchased, $10 goes directly to the TOG well project. Click on the button on the top left of this page to get yours today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Beach Trip

My younger three girls all have birthdays within weeks of each other, so my parents gave them a combined birthday weekend at the beach (super generous and a treat for the whole family). I love that kind of present because it doesn't take up any space, but still leaves great memories.

Here's a shot of all the kids on our balcony (it took about 10 tries to get one with everyone looking).

The hotel had a great pool with a water slide, splash park and lazy river.

Rahel wasn't too sure of it at first (she even backed out the first time and had to walk all the way back down).
But once we got her on it, she wanted to go again and again.

All the KIDS had a great time on the slide :-)

I wish I could have had a picture of Rahel's face when she saw the ocean. It was complete awe and joy. She smiled ear to ear and said, "look mom" and pointed to the ocean. She grabbed a boogie board and headed right in. She's done an amazing job learning to swim in less than 2 months. All of the kids except Colton are now swimming fairly well, but I still insist on life jackets in the ocean for everyone. Caleb said, "but mom, that's going to embarrass me." (his cousins were there and he wanted to be cool) I said, "Caleb, I'm not concerned with your coolness factor, I'm concerned with coming home with all 6 children intact." He got it and finally got in WITH his life jacket on--I just have too many kids to watch in open wave filled water--not going to risk it (sort of a phobia of mine--lakes are even worse than oceans--can't see the bottoms--whole thing freaks me out).

Caleb chillin in the sand

Meron completely melted after we came up from the beach and crashed in under 2 minutes (protesting of course and saying that she wasn't tired...) in a lounge chair. She slept by the pool for over an hour-that girl can sleep anywhere (and don't miss that nap time or you'll be sorry b 4:00 :-)

There was also a great indoor playground that just happened to have 5 slides in all of my kids' colors (well, except for a yellow one for Hermela, and Caroline is really pink, but red is her alternate....). Our kids are all assigned a color for their cups, toothbrushes, towels, wash keep things straight around here and avoid using 30 cups a day and to keep laundry down a little. They all happened to be wearing their colors as well which made for a fun picture.

We had a blast! Thanks Gee Gee and Paw Paw

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Water Emergency

Thanks to a few more generous donors, we are now at $1045 for the Trees of Glory well fund.

I received an email that Karen Wistrom (sponsorship coordinator for TOG) sent out to all of the sponsors. She further described the desperate drought situation sweeping across Ethiopia and other African nations.

Click here to view an article featured today on CNN's website. The situation is described as "staggering hunger." It so scary to think of all of these people suffering and the number seems to be climbing each day.

Karen also said that the crops at TOG are failing due to the lack of water. That makes me so sad as we were just there 2 short months ago and the crops had just started to come in. I can't imagine the disappointment they all must be feeling after working so hard to get fields planted.

The fact is that without water, it is just impossible to grow enough food to sustain these communities.

Please consider donating in any amount to this fund. It has now become an emergent need.

You can donate or purchase a bracelet to help support the well fund at TOG at the top left side of my blog.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Well Fund Update

So far, $915 has been raised for the TOG well fund!!!!!

Isn't that Awesome?

$600 of that is from two donors taking the challenge issued in my last post. Little by little, my friends at TOG are getting closer to having that well.

And let me tell you, it couldn't come at a better time.

Click over to this article on Tom Davis' blog (author of "Red Letters" and founder of Children's Hopechest) to read about the devastating effects of the drought in Ethiopia.

Officials are estimating that more than 4.5 million Ethiopian will be in need of emergency food this year--an increase of 40% from last year.

If you remember in the video posted here, Girma said that they were just praying that water would come from the sky as there is no water available at TOG.

They're waiting for the water to fall from the sky, but their country is already suffering from drought and wide spread food shortages.

Praise God, the children at TOG are in the sponsorship program, but think of all those that are not.

Remember that if TOG is able to drill a fresh water well, it changes things for an additional 100-200 children that can be added to the program. Not to mention the benefit it will have on the surrounding community, crops and livestock at TOG.

This is big.

We can be a part of the solution.

Check out the article and pray about how you can get involved.

I still have over 40 bracelets (that's $400 if they all sell) and of course you can just donate in any amount at the top left hand side of my blog.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Challenge For Trees of Glory Sponsors (and anyone else that reads this blog)

I asked Karen how much more (of the approximately $50,000) money is needed to complete the well at Trees of Glory. At last check, we still need to raise $24,000.

Wow! That still sounds like a lot (even though more than half of the funds have already been donated).

So, I like numbers and I got to thinking--if there are over 80 sponsors (I know some people have multiple kids at TOG) and $24,000 left to raise and we divided that amount by the number of sponsor families ($24,000 divided by 80 sponsors), each sponsor would only have to raise $300 each and we could reach our goal!

Karen also said that she'd LOVE to have all of the money raised before she leaves for her trip to TOG in November. So that leaves just 4 months to reach that goal.

Now, I know that most of us don't have and extra $300 just sitting around--we certainly don't-hence the bracelet fundraiser. But if you spread it out over 4 months, that's just $75 a month--and I know we can spend that on a quick trip to Walmart these days, but still don't necessarily have that money sitting around (again--the bracelet fundraiser).

There's lots of ways to raise money with blogs and facebook and other social networking. Plus, you can't underestimate the value of a good yard sale (one of my least favorite activities--yet we raised $1400 last year for our adoption doing one).

Lemonade stands with your cute kids--if you can stand the heat--throw in some baked goods and you're in business.

I know some of you are crafty and definitely more creative than me........

So what if we all banded together and contributed 1/80th of the need for this water well, we could meet Karen's goal over the next few months and get those kids some water.

Now, if you're reading this post and think to yourself, "well, I'm not a sponsor at TOG." Fear not--you too can join the fun by donating any amount via the donate button at the top left of my blog or

by going to the Hopechest website
clicking on GIVE
select "designated gifts" and enter your donation amount
enter ET21190000 in the "reference" block
and Trees of Glory Well in the "notes" section

Now, this post isn't intended to be a guilt trip and certainly not a requirement of sponsorship, just a brainstorming session and the realization that if we break down that big number and all give a little, it adds up pretty quickly.

Well Fund Update

It's been a great first few days for the Trees of Glory well fundraiser. So far, we raised $275 from donations and bracelet sales.

I had a request from a buyer to send her bracelets out early, so if you ordered any time before noon on Wednesday 7/13/11, you bracelets are on their way-estimated to arrive in 2-3 days.

I had intended to just do one shipment a week, but if you order by midnight tonight, I'll go ahead and ship again tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you who have contributed so far!!!! Almost half way to our goal.


Now for another way you can help raise money for the TOG Well. A very talented and creative friend of mine has started up a non-profit to help raise money to help others. She is currently helping to raise funds for the TOG well.

Heather doesn't have a sponsor child at TOG (at least not yet), she's never been to Ethiopia (at least not yet :-), but what she does have is a huge heart and a vision for change.

Read this post from Karen Winstrom's blog (TOG sponsor coordinator) to find out more about Heather's vision to change the world OnePurse at a time.

She currently has a super cute 9 West diaper bag (pictured below--with the $80 price tag still attached) up for raffle on her blog. For just $5 per entry the bag could be yours.

Just go to her donate button on the top right hand side of her blog and donate any amount-each $5 increment will enter you into the drawing: $10-2 entries, $50-10 entries....... Click over to view the bag in detail and make your donation for your chance to win a great prize and help kids receive the water that they so desperately need.

The drawing will take place on Sunday, July 17th at 6:00 pm, so don't delay!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bracelet Fundraiser for TOG Well

So as I posted in my last post, by friends need our help. One way that you all can help them is by purchasing these very popular Ethiopian "love" bracelets that I brought home from my last trip there. Last time I offered these on my blog, they sold out in just one week, so I'm hoping for the same success this time.

We have a friend who owns a little shop in the touristy shopping area in Addis and she special ordered these for me in May when I went to pick up Rahel. I have about 60 of these this time in three different colors (update-yellow bracelets sold out).



I'm offering these for a donation of $10 each plus $3 shipping. I can ship up to four bracelets per package. Unfortunately, I'm not savvy enough to figure out how to allow you to order multiple bracelets at a time, so you'll have to order each individually. I'll credit you back the additional shipping fees if you happen to order more then one bracelet. Sorry about that extra step. I have lots of red and black bracelets, but only 3 remaining yellow ones (update-yellow bracelets sold out), so if those are your favorite, don't delay.

To purchase the bracelets, click on the paypal button at the top left hand side of my blog to place your order. Please remember to select the color of bracelet that you would prefer.

Please be sure to include your shipping address. I will be shipping orders out on Friday of each week and your items should arrive 2-3 days later. So if you order today, you'll receive your bracelets by early next week.

My goal is to raise at least $600 for the TOG well.

I've also added a donate button in which you can donate funds to the well in any amount without the purchase of a bracelet.

I'll keep you posted on our progress.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Message From My Friends

While I was at Trees of Glory, I had the privilege of speaking with Girma and Simret (care manager and director at TOG) about the difficulties and limitations that they experience daily due to their great need for clean water. After only meeting them twice, I count them as some of my dearest friends. It is not every day that I've had the experience of meeting people with such loving hearts and such a clear devotion to the Lord and His command to care for the least of these. Listen below as these two amazing people share their hearts and their struggles with you.

What I love most about this clip is how clearly they articulate the partnership that we as sponsors and members of the family of God are in with them. They talk of us as "serving along side of them in the kingdom of the Lord." I pray that we will not take that partnership lightly. They are in the trenches each day happily caring for more than 100 children under fairly tough conditions. Let's work as they do--with our whole hearts--to provide them with the resources that they need to continue to do that.

To donate directly to the Trees of Glory Well Fund, go to

click on the GIVE button

go to "designated gifts" and enter the amount of your donation

in the "reference number" enter ET2119000

in the "notes" section, specify TREES OF GLORY WELL

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

She Dreams In English

Our Rahel is quite the sleep talker. I noticed it on the first night in Ethiopia. She'd talk several times through the night, but I'd only catch a word or two here or there.

When we visited Nick's family last week, we all slept in his parent's basement. One night Nick and I were getting into bed when we heard her start up again, but this time instead of Tigriniya, she was speaking English.

I guess her mind is starting to make the switch.

She's also making good bonding progress. When she first got home, we'd tuck her into bed, kiss her and tell her we love her. At first, we got no response to that. Lately, she pulls us in for a big hug, kisses our cheek back and says, "I love you to mommy/daddy."

A few nights ago, after hugging and kissing all the girls, Caroline said, "I forgot to hug you mommy." So I gave her another hug. Rahel then said, "me no kiss" so that I'd give her one more kiss before I left the room. She thought that was so funny :-)

I'm so glad to see her start to open up and settle in with our family.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rahel's First Road Trip

Nick's grandmother got remarried last weekend, so we loaded up the fam. for a little visit. Not only were we celebrating his Granny Pat's marriage, but we also celebrated her new husband Hack's 80th birthday!! How often do you get to have your 80th birthday celebration on the same day as your wedding??? We'll we certainly thought it warranted the 10 hour drive to be there. Plus it gave us a chance to introduce Rahel to some of her extended family.

To have and to hold........we love how these two embrace life!

Colton loves Mr. Hack---welcome to the family!

At Granny Pat's house before the big event.

Nick has 4 grandparents still living and the kids got to spend time with all of their great-grandparents.

Papa and Shirley


And of course our hosts-Nick's parents (SC Gee Gee and Grandad)

I've gotten several comments about the kids' matching clothes--these are gymboree, compliments of my mom--super cute! She and my Aunt Debbie are the culprits behind most of the matching garb. I love it and it actually makes it much easier when I'm counting heads if they're wearing coordinating outfits. We don't dress them alike everyday, but we usually do when we go out for an event (and that's of course when I usually have my camera--so it seems like they're always matching, but that's just on the blog).

Caleb and daddy got to go to a baseball game with our friends while we were there.

And we swam 4 days in a row. Rahel is an official swimmer (officially swimming from one side to another-not officially able to save her own life in the water--which is actually more dangerous and nerve racking than when she was cautious in the water :-). During our trip she got super brave, took off her life vest, jumped off the diving board and swam to the side. She was so fun to watch. She'd observe the other kids do it first, then she'd go to the shallow end and practice swimming, then she'd head down to the deep end and take the plunge. So impressed with how fast she's learning. I think it helps that the younger kids are swimming--she doesn't want to be left behind.

That's Rahel swimming to the wall in the back!

Overall, a successful first trip with our family of 8.