Monday, September 26, 2011

Soccer Mom

Well, I think I've officially earned that title now. With 5 kids playing, being at the practice field 4 nights a week and 3 weekends of games under our belt, I'm pretty sure that qualifies me--yep, I think that about does it--I'm officially a soccer mom.

Last year, Caleb played baseball and the girls played soccer. It was a little too crazy having two different fields and trying to make it to all of the practices and games. We were kind of relieved this year when Caleb decided he'd like to try soccer. So, all 5 of our oldest kids are playing in the same league. The saving grace is that Caroline and Meron are on the same team and Caleb and Hermela are on the same team. Rahel is flying solo and Colton--well, we spend a lot of time on the playground and digging in the dirt during practices and games.

Meron's really starting to get the hang of it.
Here's an action shot of Caroline (there aren't too many of these as she's not so much into the whole running around and kicking the ball thing--I think we may try ballet next season with her).

Rahel is doing great. You can tell that she's pretty worn out by the end of her practices and games, but she sure tries hard. I can't even imagine playing on a sports team in another country just 4 months after landing there. We are amazed by her progress.

Hermela--well, let's just say she's fierce. They other day she said, "I can't wait until I'm playing soccer on TV." She just may have a shot at that with her determination.

A little brother sister action.

Orange throw in.

Caleb's spent a lot of time as goalie and really likes it.

So that's our Saturday mornings in a nut shell. I keep meaning to get a group shot of them all dressed up in their game clothes (they are after all the cutest soccer players I know), but I've yet to get my act together enough before we rush out the door on game day--maybe next week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

See Your Impact

Well, in just 5 days, the 5 for 5 campaign has raised another $8000 to help those affected by famine in Ethiopia! That brings the grand total up to $33,000 so far. Isn't that amazing! If you still want to donate, head on over to Sarah's "see your impact" site and give today.

In other fundraising news, Trees of Glory sponsorship coordinator Karen Wistrom has designed some pretty cute t-shirts that she is using to fund raise for the care points that she helps support. There are lots of different color choices and all the proceeds go to support the projects that the team going in November plans to do while in Ethiopia. She's taking preorders until October 10th only, so click over to her blog to check them out.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you Jessica and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps.

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (

  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.

  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!

I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Upcoming Guest Post

Two years ago, I didn't even really know what a blog was. At first, I visited Ethiopian adoption blogs to get a peek into what our lives would look like when our children got home. I searched for and watched any adoption "gotcha day" video I could find and poured over other's time lines and experiences.

After the girls got home, I knew that I wanted to do more to help orphaned and needy children. I began to take note at how other bloggers used their blogs to bring awareness and change around the world from their own home computers. I began to view this blog as a potential tool to help do the same.

Over the past year, I've seen God use this blog to raise THOUSANDS of dollars to help the kids at Trees of Glory. I am just amazed at what he has done through this simple little blog. On Monday, we will once again have the opportunity to join together and make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people that are currently suffering from famine in the horn of Africa.

Another blogger and fellow adoptive mom, Sarah Lenssen, has started a campaign called Ask 5 for 5. By giving just $5 and asking 5 others to do the same, millions of dollars could potentially be raised to help alleviate the desperate situation in Africa. Check out her vision here.

Next week is Social Media Week. Never heard of it? Me either. But I think it's a testament to just how big a part of our lives things like facebook, twitter and blogging have become. Instead of using these outlets for showing off our latest and greatest, wouldn't it be great if we used them to make a difference in the world?

On Monday, Sarah will be guest posting on this blog and over 150 other blogs to get the word out about the desperate conditions that are plaguing so many.

She is looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email her at if you're interested in participating.

Let's not be guilty this time of hearing the headlines and seeing the shocking photos of starving children and looking away. Let's do something about it!

Stay Tuned

Friday, September 16, 2011

Are We Guilty?

I've seen this article mentioned a few place today and it has really got me thinking. Having witnessed poverty beyond my imagination while in Ethiopia and then returning home to my comfy house to process it all, have I taken what I've seen (at the expense of those who are living it) and done anything to make it better for them? It's so easy to file those images away and get caught up in the daily activities that consume us. So many times, we put these things in the "oh that's so sad" category, but never do much about it.

But the bible says, "Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

Praying that the memories of those I've seen living in desperate poverty will not be forgotten or pushed aside, but will instead continue to spur our family on to do more to serve others as Jesus would.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Melkam Addis Amet!!!

Last weekend we celebrated Ethiopian New Year with our local Ethiopian Women's Group. We are so lucky to have been introduced to them through our Ethiopian Adoption Group. We had no idea that such a large Ethiopian community existed in our area. They offer weekly Amharic lessons and celebrations throughout the year. We are looking forward to starting to learn/relearn/reinforce (depending on which child you're talking about) Amharic and building relationships with them. We had such a great time visiting with our new friends.

the kids tried some coffee
This was before we left--all dressed up. We were actually about 40 minutes late to the party and when we arrived, the host greeted us and said they had just started serving lunch-traditional Ethiopian cuisine. I told her that we were on "Ethiopian time" (because we were so late) and she thought that was so funny. She said that they had actually been hurrying to be on time because they knew that Americans were coming.

Happy Ethiopian New Year

Friday, September 9, 2011

Look What the Mail Man Brought.....

Last week, Nick's parents sent the kids a package. It came on Thursday afternoon, but we had soccer practice, so we didn't have time to open it. Plus, I knew what was in it, so I used it for a little incentive to do a great job at school on Friday for daddy (I work Fridays, so Nick does the schooling). What do you know, I came home and they had had the best day ever and the house was even cleaned up. So, we finally let them open it up.

The boys got some lego guys (a highly prized possession around here) and some figurines that use to be Nicks-one bear playing baseball and one fishing--they loved that.

And the girls hit the barbie clothes jackpot. They were super excited and played barbies the entire weekend--even laying out clothes at night for their barbies to change into in the morning.

All their barbie excitement reminded me that I had a trunk full of my old barbies up in the attic. We got that down which provided a couple of much needed Ken dolls (up until then, Caleb's GI Joes were playing the part--much to his dismay) and of course there were several barbie babies to add to the fun (cause you know the babies were my favorite part about playing barbie :-)

Thanks Gee Gee and Grandad

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Crazy Hair Day

Tuesday was crazy hair day at our home school co-op. Half the kids participated.

The other half either chose not to (Caleb) or weren't allowed because I had just braided hair for 3 hours on Friday and Saturday for an Ethiopian New Year party that we attended last weekend.

That's some serious braid time and I just couldn't bear to unbraid it after only a few days--sorry girls, maybe next year.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rocking Time

Kind of fuzzy--it was a self portrait

A couple of weeks ago, I started "rocking time" back up. I did this for a while when Hermela and Meron first came home, but we slowly got out of the habit. The way it works is, each child has a night that they get to stay up a little later and rock with me in my rocking chair. We put the other kids to bed and then whoever's turn it is to rock waits for me in the chair. We usually read a book and talk and I get to tell them how special they are and spend some one on one time together (which is often scarce around here).

I found that if I schedule it in, then it happens, and if I don't, then it's hit or miss. My kids NEED it to not be hit or miss and I have found that I actually need it as well. I feel like it really helps me connect with them and refocus on all of their great qualities and how much I love them. You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you hold your infant close and gaze into their little eyes at the end of the day? Well, it's like that--except that now I have great big babies to cuddle up with. I find that it helps me to have those warm gushy feelings towards them--a feeling that can often be missed amongst the semi-chaotic pace of our family.

Each of our kids have a day of the week that they help me cook (Monday thru Saturday--oldest to youngest). So, I made their cooking day their rocking day as well. They also get to sit by me at the table that day (Colton always sits by me, but that's for other reasons :-) I found color coded magnets at the Dollar Store, so we just rotate the magnets and that way, everyone knows what's going on for that day. We also use them to rotate kitchen jobs and things like trips to the store with mom or dad or trips to my parents house.

The other thing about the rocking is that it gives me back a little of that babyhood that I've missed out on with half of our kids. Because we've adopted older children, we missed babyhood entirely. Rocking them has given me a little of that time back and even my biggest girl curls up in a ball on my lap and snuggles in. The girls talk a lot about their lives in Ethiopia and their feelings now during this time and I really feel like it's therapeutic as well as just plain fun for them.

I always say to my kids, "don't grow up too fast." Hopefully they won't grow out of rocking time too soon either.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What We've Been Up To.........................

Soccer season started. Our oldest 5 are all playing, so we'll be spending LOTS of time at the field. Rahel had her first practice yesterday. It is the first time she's had to do anything by herself since she's been home. We've always paired her up with one of her siblings for everything-church, art class, even dentist appointments. She really relies on them and is more comfortable that way, but the soccer league has strict age guidelines, so she has to play in her own age bracket. I really think it will be good for her to branch out a little. She was a little nervous, but she did great. When we left, she asked when her next practice would be--she can't wait to get back.

Our kids started their co-op classes. They're taking art, PE and American Folk (which is a history/dance combo class--I know, sound like a totally weirdo home schooling thing to take, but it is actually one of their favorite classes-lots of fun).

We built the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria

We learned about the wind and air around us.

And did some dancing to the itsy bitsy spider. Here's the great thing about having kindergartners and 4th graders in the same class--Rahel had the most fun of all with this song (because all of my other kids have already heard it lots of times before). If she were in a regular 4th grade class, she'd probably never learn that song (at least not at school, not that it's essential, just kind of one of those songs that everybody knows--everybody born here that is), but because her sisters are learning all of the common poems and sing alongs right now with their curriculum, she's also getting a crash course in American culture.

We've also added a new pirate to our crew. We found out that Meron has a "lazy eye" (we had to laugh a little when we found out a she's our least motivated worker around here-so the fact that she had a lazy eye was pretty fitting :-) We have to keep her good eye patched for the next month to encourage her brain to start using the right eye. It should correct itself (that's what we're praying for) and be just fine.

Aren't they the cutest little "twins"?

Those are some of the highlights (and don't be fooled-things aren't always this blissful around here, I'm just working on focusing on the positive these days and enjoying our kids). There's power in postive thinking--throw in some prayer and you're on your way to a great day.

Friday, September 2, 2011

God is Great, God is Good

.....let us thank him for our food. Right? That's what usually comes to mind when we hear that phrase.

God is great and God is good.

It's so much more than just a cute way to teach little kids to be thankful for their food.

God is great and God is good.

I've been learning that these two essential truths can determine the way we live our lives out.

I'm reading a great new book called "Sun Stand Still" by Steven Furtick. It has once again challenged me to shift my focus back onto God and strive to live my life the way that he wants me to and to follow the path that he's planned for my life and our family's life.

Over the past two years, we've seen God show up really big--particularly through the adoption of our girls-- and slowly but surely, the fact that God is great and God is good has become more of a truth for us. Not that it hasn't always been true . It's just that we've finally started to hold onto that truth and put it into practice.

Before we went to Ethiopia for the first time, I have to say that we had a little faith in a little God (I say little God, not because of who God is, but because of the way we thought of him). We knew in our heads that God was way bigger than us, but our actions showed otherwise. We were living the safe life.

Having seen first hand a world so different than ours during our time in Ethiopia, we couldn't return home and go back to status quo anymore.

I decided then and there that I wanted my life here on earth to count for something. I was no longer content to be a "Christian" that shows up to church an hour or two on Sundays and then lives like there aren't starving and orphaned children all across the world and needy people all around us.

I want to be a world changer for Christ and I want to raise a whole army of kids for him.

Furtick says in his book, "What makes world-changing Christians unique, audacious, and powerful isn't their perfection (you can say that again-that's my comment, not his, but it bears saying because perfection is just something I'm not and it's sooooo good to know that we don't have to be perfect to follow Jesus with our whole hearts). What makes world changers unique is their understanding of God's perfect nature and purposes in the world." It's understanding that "this God is someone worth taking risks for."

He goes on to say that, "what you believe about God will directly determine the legacy of your faith and your impact on the world for the glory of God."

"Great people of faith simply get a grip on a handful of essential truths-and then they hold on to those truths for dear life as they follow Christ in faith, one step at a time."

I told you it was a great book.

So if we just need a few truths to hold onto, I think that God is great and God is good is a pretty good place to start.

If God is great, then we need to give him the opportunity to show it. One way the book says we can do this is by living "a life that can only be explained by the existence of a God who is infinitely great." "Knowing God is great enables you to dream, pray, and live beyond your means because you know he is ABLE to respond" (insert us homeschooling 6 kids and raising them up for the Lord-definitely a job bigger than me--glad I have a God that is able).

Along with his greatness, let us not forget that he is good and "God's goodness means that all his greatness is meant to work in ours lives for our good. Not necessarily our momentary happiness, but our ultimate good."

As we look back over our lives and our daily struggles, we must remember that God has been good to us. Just that fact that we are alive shows his goodness and while difficulties are sure to come, we can rest in the fact that God is with us to help, save and heal us.

I think that when we start to cling to the truth that God is great (able to accomplish anything in our lives) and God is good (always with us), it changes the way we think about "our" lives.

It inspires me to dream big, pray big and trust big.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

AND THE WINNER IS.........................

Kay Jackson

Please email me at with your address so I can send you your new book.

If you weren't the lucky winner and need a good read, I of course highly recommend this book.

I'm almost done with another great one called "Sun Stand Still" by Steven Furtick (very inspiring--more to come).