Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year End Review

Well, Thanksgiving, two birthdays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, our anniversary, lots of baseball, family gatherings and a trip (currently in progress) to visit friends and family have all come and gone.  The 2013 holiday season is nearing an end and so is this year so here is a glimpse of how we celebrated the past month.

This is not really a holiday picture, but it is one of my favorites.  Look at how Eli stares at his daddy.  He just loves, loves, loves him and daddy feels the same way.  Such a sweet relationship between these two buddies.

We decorated the tree on Thanksgiving weekend.

 Then we squeezed in daddy's birthday.  The big 3-4!!

 Next up, a gingerbread decorating party.

Nick's mom came down for a surprise whirlwind visit.  This weekend we decorated, went to Caleb's tournament, went to the Nutcracker ballet, the kids had their Christmas play at church (we have video, but no pictures of that: Hermela played the part of Mary like a natural, Caleb made an awesome shepherd, Caroline was a caroler and Meron and Colton went out on a limb and played the part of children).  After the play, it was off to see a boat parade and a drive through nativity.  I think we wore her out! 

The finished products! 

Switching gears, we drove straight to Caleb's baseball tournament.  Prince Eli enjoyed the usual royal treatment.

Caleb's team played two great games and Caleb had one of his best days of baseball yet.  He hit well, got on base, scored several runs and pitched his tournament debut inning with two strike outs and a hit that was caught in the out field.  Such a good day for him and so fun to watch.  To top it off, the team won the tournament and Caleb got the honor of taking the team trophy home!  Worth all the LONG days at the fields!

Next came lots of baking fun.  I've baked my grandmother's Christmas cookies every year since she passed away.  Now I have lots of helpers to assist me.

Christmas Eve was spent first at our church for the candle light service and then at our home for our annual Christmas Eve  party.  We've done this for four or five years now and each year it grows.  This year we had almost 70 people and unfortunately, I took zero pictures.  This is one of my favorite nights of the year because we spend it with most of our favorite people.

Then Christmas morning.

Next, we celebrated Colton's birthday eve at home.  He's 6 now!  That sounds so old.  Colton is our ball of fire, full of energy, takes life full speed and is a ton of fun.  He's smart, loves baseball, isn't afraid of hardly anything and lives life to the fullest.  We pray great things for you Colton and know that God has many big plans for your life.  This summer Colton asked Jesus into his heart and we pray he will continue to grow in his love for his saviour!

We drove to visit Nick's family on Colton's birthday and arrived to a fun birthday celebration.

We've been visiting with friends and family ever since!

Nick's parents surprised the kids with a game truck yesterday.  The kids (big and small) had a blast!

Nick and I had our 12th wedding anniversary on Sunday and will celebrate with a night away later this week!  We watched our wedding video Sunday and took a walk down memory lane.  My favorite part of the ceremony was when our pastor prayed that, "God would richly bless our marriage."  Hearing those words 12 years later as we watched the video with our 7 children was pretty awesome.  God has no doubt richly blessed our lives beyond our wildest dreams and we continue to be blessed by that prayer that was prayed 12 years ago.

So that about wraps it up.  

So long 2013!

Praying I will love more in 2014, focus more on the people in my path and live a life open to what God has for us in the coming year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Let's Do Some Shopping!

Well it's that time of year again when gift giving is on most people's to-do list.  It seems stores put up the Christmas decorations earlier and earlier to coax shoppers into the buying spirit.  Christmas has become so commercialized with so much  focus on stuff and sales (and I'm guilty of contributing to the frenzy).  But, I recently found out about a really great and easy way to help whole communities of people while you shop for all of those wish list items.

I've written about this amazing organization before, but I want to highlight Africa Windmill Project (AWP) again.  Africa Windmill Project was founded by good friends of ours who work with the highest level of integrity and ethical standard and with great passion and love for the people of Malawi. 

photo borrowed from AWP web page

Africa Windmiqll Project focuses on educating and supporting rural farmers as they work to feed and care for their families.  They do this by working directly with the farmers and by supporting other organizations as they work with farmers. Currently Africa Windmill Project is focused in the central region of Malawi.

photo borrowed from AWP web page

AWP is doing amazing things with farmers in Malawi and making strides towards the people of Malawi becoming food secure.  Go here to read more about AWP and follow along with their blog for regular updates here.

So how can you help AWP continue it's mission of helping Malawians become self sufficient and successful farmers?

It's simple.  Go shopping!

Amazon has created a way to easily and effortlessly contribute to Africa Windmill Project by simply buying the things that are already on your list.  

The program is called AMAZON SMILE and Amazon will donate 0.5% to AWP every time you shop via the AMAZON SMILE site and select "Africa Windmill Project" as the beneficiary.

That's it.  

Amazon Smile carries all the same items as the regular Amazon site, so you won't be missing out on anything by switching over to Amazon Smile.  You shop and families across the world in Malawi benefit! 

 Now that's Christmas giving at it's finest. And,  this program is available all year long, so remember it for all your online shopping.

Pass it on.............................................

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Happy One Year Home!

Last year on this day, we arrived home with our sweet seventh child Eli Tesfa.

It's crazy that it has already been an entire year since Eli joined our family.

He has brightened every day since he's been home (I can't say he's brightened every night, as he's been a challenging sleeper, but there have been many nights that I have cuddled and kissed this sweet boy even through my weariness and marveled at how lucky I am to get to be his mommy).

He is absolutely pure joy!

I've said it before, but it is the only way to put it.  He has brought such joy to our family and we can't even imagine not having him.

It's interesting to think about life without him as we were SURE we were done adding children when we went through the adoption process for Rahel, our sixth child.  I have often said to Nick, "What if we would've said no to Eli?"  We would have missed out on so much.

His funny personality
His cute litte voice
His nicknames for everyone (Ra Ra-Rahel, Bru Bru-Caleb and Colton, La La-Hermela, Moan Moan-Meron, and Line-a for Caroline)
His muscle flexing
His nightly round of kisses as he screams "Nigh Nigh" to everyone in the house and proceeds to kiss each one of us and then turns his cheek to get his kisses
The way he rocks it out to a beat in the car and points out EVERYTHING to us so we can see it with him
His under bite grin
The way he pats me when I rock him
How he covers his eyes with his hands and says, "hide"
And most recently, the way he raises his hand and says, "meeeee" anytime I'm passing things out to the kids---he wants to make sure he is included in everything

He is such a treasure and loved dearly by all.

We have been given a gift and we are truly blessed!

Happy one year home!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween 2013

We had a lot of fun this year celebrating Halloween with our newest little pirate.  Eli was still waiting in Ethiopia last year and we all loved seeing him all dressed up.  While I really don't love Halloween on the whole (too much fuss, to much ugly stuff and WAY too much candy), we sure did have a good time dressing up and hanging out as a family and with friends.

 Eli the pirate.

 Meron as Jasmine.

 These two are good buddies.

Caleb as Obi Wan Kenobi (had to google that spelling :-)

Colton the gladiator.

The cute little pirate again...with a silly little face!

Caroline the pop star....a self made costume (my favorite kind).

Hermela the movie star (a dream come true....although she's looking a little to old for my liking here :-).

Check out this hairstyle.  I know I'm not supposed to boast, but I'm pretty proud of this one!

Cleopatra....pretty authentic if you ask me.

My crazy crew.

Pumpkin carving fun thanks to our farm field trip.

 We go to a friend's neighborhood each year, but Nick and I have never dressed up.  I don't think I've ever dressed up as an adult.  This year Nick called me about two hours before we were supposed to be ready and suggested we wear costumes too.  Nick was a baseball player and this was the best I could do, a graduate.  I could have just driven our big white van around the block and gone as a bus driver, maybe next year.

Happy Halloween!