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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- What's THAT smell?!!

What a title. I promise I'll explain...... later.

Yesterday evening Dustin mailed off a care package for Jonas. We included the picture album, the blankie, and a stuffed animal we've been sleeping with for many months now. I was excited to hear from Duni that they will make sure The Boy gets his goodies. I also heard from another mom with a son in the orphanage along with Jonas that we can expect an update soon. I was super excited to hear that! I am anxious for new pictures of our Ethiopian Chick Magnet. (He sure makes all the women in this family swoon)

In other fabulous news our agency has hired a spectacular American doctor who works in ET to keep tabs on all our precious ones. She's known as the best in the biz I hear. What a relief to my mommy heart.

So back to the reasoning behind getting our stink all over Jonas' stuffed animal. That may seem really strange to my non adoptive friends out there in bloggy world but the idea there is to provide a basis for Jonas to recognize us by the familiar and, I hope, pleasant smell of his stuffed animal. Hopefully, by the time we arrive he will have become fond of his stuffed elephant and therefore enjoy or at the very least recognize our smell when he meets us. Many adoption behaviourist/attachment professionals suggest adoptive parents use the sense of smell as a tool in their parenting tool box. We're willing to do whatever it takes. Every night before bed D and I would each reapply our respective cologne and perfume for the sake of stinking up said stuffed elephant. The thing is we pretty much have to commit to consistently using the same scents for at least a year after Jonas comes home. I've even gone so far as to consider which shampoo, conditioner, soap and laundry detergent I can stand for that long. Same with lotions. We tend not to be creatures of habit in this area so it took some planning for us. We want to smell consistent. (Ha! That's funny to type.) Attaching in Adoption and Parenting the Hurt Child have more to say about the subject of using the sense of smell as a tool for attaching and bonding so I won't lecture on. Instead, I want to share a really cool story about how a certain smell can get locked in a child's memory, particularly during the stressful turbulence of coming into a new home.

A woman shared this story on an AZ ethio adoption YG I belong to. She told us that she wore her hair curly when she travelled to pick up her child in Ethiopia. Since that time she hadn't been wearing it curly. When she styled her hair curly again a long time later (possibly years... can't remember) her child told her that she smelled like Ethiopia. The hair gel she used had triggered his memory of her scent when he first met his mommy. Now, if that isn't a powerful in-"scent"-tive (yes, I know that is a HORRIBLE pun!!!) I don't know what is.

PS- tonight is the first time the weather has felt even remotely fall-ish. It's not scorching outside anyway. The kids are squeezing every last drop of daylight while playing outside. I feel like baking something. And rolling in a large pile of leaves.

Okay, I'm over the last part.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yeah Foil!

I may be the last person on earth to try foil packet cooking. In case there is one other person out there I am posting this to convince them it's a good thing. My dad's wife had us over and made chicken and veggies in foil packets and they were delicious. Since then I've tried salmon and now I prefer this cooking method for it. My favorite is to zest an entire lemon and mix the zest with sea salt and pepper and rub the salmon down. Then I jam a bunch of squash, zuchini and bell peppers in a packet w/ the fish and broil the individual servings for a few minutes. SO EASY and you can't beat the clean up. Yeah for Nanna Janna who turned me on to the joys of foil. (now please don't tell me there's some aweful chemical in foil that cooks into the food during broiling or you'll ruin my day!!!)

Amharic Vocab Words (AVW)

I am trying to learn AT LEAST 5 new Amharic vocab words / week. I will share them with you. I am spelling them according to how the Lonely Planet Phrase Book spells them though upon hearing them prononced on my language software I did a few doubletakes. In parenthesis I will do my best to write them phonetically in English as I heard them pronounced. Good luck! (you'll need it :))

This week's are:

te-na yis-tel-leny (tay-nais-telany): It's a greeting. Literally: May health be given to you.

deu-na hu-nu (dena hoonoo): saying goodbye to more than one person

ow (aow): Yes

ay-del-em (eye-dell-em): No

e-shi (eh-she): okay/yes

e-ba-kon (e-bah-kwo): polite form of please

Friday, September 26, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Benefit Concert Update

We went to the concert to benefit Hope for the Hopeless tonight. It was held downtown at the Salvation Army Citadel. I'd say there were roughly 50 adults in attendance. Maybe more. A few people, including us, brought their children with as well. I really enjoyed having the girls with us and I think it was a great experience for them since we have separate children's services at our church they haven't had the opportunity to attend adult worship.

The night included a special sign language performance of "I can only imagine." I particularly enjoyed this. It' was so beautiful to watch. The sign for "be able to speak at all" really got to me. The woman just grabbed her throat as if the words wouldn't shake loose and the look on her face was so expressive. Beautiful.

It is always special to me when I have the privilege to worship Jesus among believers from different congregations, denominations, and backgrounds. Tonight was no different.

Our total neared $3000.00 for the evening. Praise God. Surafel leaves for Ethiopia soon. There are a few more fundraising events planned. So far $4000.00 has been raised. About $10,000.00 more is needed so that the buildings can be finished and the kids can move in.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- One Month

Today is one month since we received our referral for our sweet Jonas boy. I remember when our other children were at his age how much development took place within a month's time and my heart aches to be missing so much. He's almost 6 months now. He could be 8 or 9 months before we travel to get him. I pray often for his caretakers and especially that he has a special nanny to attach to who will mother him through his difficult waiting stage.

I've begun to mourn some things. For his losses most of all, for they are many. Then, for our losses as his family. For the time we can't get back. For the space between knowing of him and truly knowing and loving him. I will never be able to reconcile my heart with having to wade through bureaucracy while my son waits in an orphanage. I can only bend my knee before the Sovereign and trust He is in complete control and ask for that special peace that transcends my ability to understand.

I would like to ask for prayer for Jonas. We specifically ask for pray for his health.

In other news I am excited to have begun shopping for donations. I have most of our nanny gifts covered. I've also organized our packing list. It's very long. Dustin was in shock over some of the stuff on the list. He though I was going a bit overboard but I told him I had all the experience of our fellow AWAA YG families who have travelled ahead of us telling us these things were indeed necessary. Then I reminded him that since I was bearing the weight of the packing responsibilities and all he had to do was simply show up on the day of travel he had better back off or I might let him do some of the packing ;) That did the trick. He told me he trusted my judgement and decided he'd leave it at that. (U-hum. I thought so, buddy.) I am consciously trying my best to be considerate of the weight factor because if there's one area I know about my tendency to slack off it's in carrying our bags through airports. I tend to let my hubby do the lion's share of the work in those situations. I am sure it was with that eye that he cast a weary glance upon the packing list. Overall I am a very light packer. I have had many a gal pal comment on my ability to do so. I'd love to be able to cut our list in half but we just don't want to be in a new country without something we desperately need for our new son. It's not like I can send D off on an errand to the corner store to pick up what we need. Some things may not even be available there. Better to play if safe than sorry. Besides, whatever we don't use I can donate to the orphanages.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

SO Funny!!

I have mentioned before that I enjoy reading Stuff Christians Like but this post had me laughing hysterically. The comments are priceless. Seriously, Group Sax almost made me pee. You'll get that after you've read the comments.

WHAT are you still doing here? Click the link already!

New Gadget

So, there's this new Blogger gadget that is supposed to add you- my dear bloggy world friends- and your precious little profile pics to my side bar when you become a follower of this blog. It's kinda like the Twitter follower thing-y. I like it, but there's a problem. I have no little pictures to display because but right now I have zero followers. If you stop by here regularly won't you join so I can have a little picture of you over there because everyone knows mini things are cute and I want to see your cute little mini head on my side bar :)

If you decide to add this feature to your blog I'll stop by to return the favor. I get most of your updates via my bloglines reader so when you change your features I don't always notice it right away so be sure to leave a comment here and let me know if you do.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicken Tortilla Soup

As I've begun to prepare for travel I've also been planning which foods I will make a freeze for the kids and my mom while Dustin and I are away. As I was cooking tonight I thought of all my AWAA buddies who are probably doing the same thing. This is one of very few recipies I can claim as my own. It's a hodge podge of the best ones all blended together to make Dustin's favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup. I thought I'd share because it's super quick and easy to make and also adaptable to your family's tastes. I haven't ever frozen it because it is always eaten up right away and it contains many ingredients I keep in stock. That combined with the quick cooking time means there's no need to plan ahead.....unless I won't be here to cook it. I imagine that it freezes just fine (though, I would not make the tortilla strips ahead of time and freeze those).

Dustin's Favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup

8- small corn tortillas

2 tbs olive oil

24 oz low sodium Chicken Broth

1 cup water

1-28oz can diced tomatoes

1-4oz can diced green chiles

1-15 oz can black beans

1-15oz can white corn

2 or 3 chicken breasts diced into 1/2 in cubes

2-Bay leaves

1 tbs diced garlic

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper (Or to taste. We like a little heat so I add more than this)

Pinch chili powder (again, I probably add more)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Juice of 1 medium lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. ona cookie sheet brush tortillas on one side with oil. (Instead I use 100% olive oil spray to get the job done faster) Cut into thin 1/4 in or less strips. Bake about 15 minutes until they are golden brown.

In saucepan combine broth, water, tomatoes and all juices, beans, corn, bay leaf,garlic, cumin, red pepper and chili powder: bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil reduce the heat to med-low, add chicken and simmer until cooked through approx. 7-10 mins. Add cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls. Garnish with cheese and top with tortilla strips. Serves 6.


You can also add 2 cups white or wild rice to this dish to make it even more filling.

Any other veggies your family likes would be fair game for this soup. Bell peppers are good but thay would take an extra step of sauteeing them first and then adding them to the soup.

Not everyone will have one of these so I omitted it from the recipie but when I make this soup I tend to precook the chicken in a pressure cooker with salsa and some garlic for a little extra flavor though in time crunch it's easier to cook it in the soup and still just as yummy. When I use the pressure cooker I shred the chicken instead of cube it since it's hot and just add it right to the soup.

If you try the soup let me know what you think.

More Sewing

I made a diaper bag today. It's an exact replica of the one I posted about here. I gave that other bag to my sister when she had Ethan last October and never got around to sewing mine until today. It took me about 2 hours and I have to say again that I LOVE the pattern. It is quick, easy and, I think, super cute. (The link to the pattern is in the other post). If I get inspired again I would like to make some more bags in different colors/patterns.

Hubby made a comment about all the black and white happening lately. I never realized how much I like that color combo. I tend to wear a lot of black (a habit left over from my days of working in the salon, I guess) so I figured a black and white diaper bag would match most of what I wear, along with the black sling.... and the baby blanket was to match the sling. Yes, I know. I am a matchy-matchy freak. Now you know why I like black. It goes with everything. Anyway, now I am set. I can't think of anything else I need.


I've been bitten by the Nesting Bug. I've come down with a case of Momma Mania. It's almost been a month since we received our referral for Jonas. Courts reopen in just a few weeks. Up to this point I had restrained from purchasing anything for the little guy but all that has changed. I've let loose the flood gates. It feels weird to be spending the money now only because we've been scrimping and saving for many months now, but these are all things we need.

I made Jonas a baby blankie last night. I thought the fuzzy trim would be textural and fun but I think it kinda made the blanket look girly. Oh well. One side is satin and the other is soft and fuzzy.

I also ordered a black sling this weekend. I can't wait to get that and give it a whirl. I plan to make my sister come over with my big chunk of a nephew Ethan (11mos) and see if I can get the little guy to sit still long enough for auntie to wear him around for a bit in the sling. A test drive of sorts.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Some Pictures

I made a fun little project for Jonas today. While shopping at Babies R Us for some essentials we'll need for our precious boy we came across a plastic photo book. It looks like it can withstand some wear and tear, not to mention a fair amount of drool. I couldn't resist the opportunity to make baby's first photo book for him. I was able to get online and download an Amharic keyboard so I could type out the translations for Father, Mother, Sisters, and Beloved Child. The photos aren't great but you can get the gist. I want so badly to show off the adorable pictures of Jonas but I must wait. I hope and pray I can get this over to him before we arrive. I can imagine the nannies holding him on their laps while he bats at the strange looking people in the pictures.

**** By now even I am sick of seeing myself use the same photos for everything, but you see I refuse to have any new family photos taken without our boy Jonas. It just wouldn't feel right. I feel his absence too much, so the overused photos will remain in protest of our separation until he arrives home. Then, I will be running us to the nearest photog!!

As promised, though a little late, here are the girls showing off their earrings.

Rory couldn't spare the extra two minutes to let me take another picture of her. She's a busy girl, you know, and isn't a huge fan of posing for pictures or performing for home videos. What can I do? She can't blame me when she's older and has 50% less photos from her childhood than her siblings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Benefit Concert

If you live locally we want to invite you to a concert to benefit Hope for the Hopeless. Windows and Doors is a worship concert comprised of praise bands from several local churches and is free of charge. It promises to be a great time of fellowship and an opportunity to spend an evening in worship and praise while prayerfully considering giving to complete the building project for the first two dormitories on the Hope for the Hopeless grounds. Please join us!

See you there :)

Windows and Doors Worship Event
Friday, September 26th
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Free - Love offering will be taken
The Salvation Army Citadel
628 N. 3rd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ

Monday, September 15, 2008

Most Recent Ramdomness

1) I've been directed to a really cool guest house in ET. There's a link under the websites I like on the right but here it is in case you want to check it out. Ethiopian Guest House was begun by a family who adopted through our agency. It's super swank.

2) Rienne mowed the lawn today under her dad's direction. The kid was amazing! Dustin took photos of the momentous occasion. It's such a big kid thing to do. Where did our little baby go?She's super motivated to help us around the house to earn extra cash. She wants her own iPod. She's got a LONG way to go to save up for one of those.

3) 2 out of 3 kids had ears pierced last Sat. Number 3 goes tomorrow. I will post pics of the proud little girls tomorrow.

4) Dustin and I are praying like crazy that we can have Jonas home before Christmas. It would be such a sweet Christmas gift to be able to spend the holiday finally together as a family. We'll see. All my nerves are on hold until I see the courts reopen. But, once the courts reopen the anxiety and sense of urgency will come flooding back with a vengeance (not that I don't feel the deepest sense of urgency to have my son home with me... it's just that I've accepted that nothing can happen during the closure and made peace with it.) I will be interested to see what kind of progress happens in Oct. The first group of families w/ our agency have court dates Oct 8th. I am hopeful they will pass immediately w/ no complications. Last year there were some hold ups which AWAA took responsibility for. They are confident such will not be the case this year but there is uncertainty about what to expect because international adoptions in ET have exploded since last year. We are told that there are now 71 adoption agencies licensed to facilitate adoptions in ET. They all want to get their people pushed through courts as well. It will be interesting to see how the courts handle the influx of cases. I pray God's hand will move these cases swiftly along and get these kids out of institutional care in into their homes!

The girls are growing more anxious to get their hands on Jonas too. Rienne has broken down in tears a few times wishing her brother could be here. The wait is getting to her now that she has seen his photos. She's such an incredibly sweet and caring girl and having the photo has helped her to really experience the reality of her little brother's existence (not much unlike her mom int hat way ;)). Rory and Ally talk about the big plans they have for him. Plans to read him books and play games with him. Poor Jonas will have 4 mothers to deal with I am afraid.

That's all I can think of for now.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I just finished A Long Way Gone: Memiors of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. I highly recommend this book. Beah is one year younger than myself. As I read through his ordeal of surviving through civil war attacks on numerous villages and his eventual joining of the ranks of boy soldiers I could remember back to what I was doing during that time. While I was dealing with typical Jr. High drama Beah was fighting a war which had claimed the lives of most of his family and friends. His childhood was one filled with unimaginable suffering and loss. This is a book I consider to be a must read.

I am just diving into Field of the Fatherless by Tom Davis. We will be offering this book as part of a preparatory study which is aimed at launching our Orphan/Adoption Care Ministry at PVC. I have read Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds by the same author and know that this title won't disappoint.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Hope for the Hopeless

If you've been reading here for any amount of time you've most likely heard about Pastor Surefel and Hope for the Hopeless. Now you can go and read about it for yourselves. The blog for Hope for the Hopeless is finally up. Please follow this link and check it out.

Would you do me a favor? If you like what you see will you make mention of it on your blogs? Pastor Surefel needs $20,000.00 more dollars to complete the dormitories for the children so they can move onto the property and Hope can save money on rent. Rent saved means FOOD IN THE MOUTHS OF THE KIDS!!! It's just that simple. Also, if they don't occupy the land soon the government can take it away.

Please join us in praying for Hope for the Hopeless.