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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SCARED - A must read!!

Tom Davis' new book "Scared" will hit book stores in a few days! I have the book in my hands now and have stolen a few quick moments this evening to read a few pages. It's going to be one of those books that is hard to put down!

The story takes place in Africa, with the kinds of atrocities and injustice faced by orphans and the poor every day. A photojournalist, scarred by the atrocities he has witnessed through the lens of his camera, encounters an orphan that changes his life. Amid the dust, hunger, disease, and fear ... a transformation, a redemption.

Tom explains, "I wrote Scared so people can connect with significant issues in our world in a different way, through story. A story based on truth that motivates the reader to get involved in the issues the book discusses. I hope you catch the spirit of that as you read ..."

You can pre-order the book today online (, or or request your local bookstore to order copies now. Proceeds from the book will support orphan care through Children's Hopechest, and a writing contest in Swaziland, sponsored by Hopechest, will pay for an orphan to attend university in Swaziland. Find out more at

When you are online ordering the book, you may also want to order Fields of the Fatherless, and Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds. Two very worthwhile reads also penned by Tom Davis.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book - send me a comment once you have read it! Be prepared to be moved by this book!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tryin' a new 'do ...

Just for fun, when Welsey woke up from his nap (therefore being groggy and relatively slow-moving), I took the opportunity to try a few twists in his hair. He has wonderful, soft ringlet curls and I was curious if I could separate them into little sections, and twist them together. This took me a little longer than 5 minutes, but definitely less than 10 minutes. I spritzed his hair with water and rubbed in a leave-in conditioner. Using a small, wide-toothed brush, I separated his hair into small 1"x1" sections and twisted them. I'm not sure how they will last through the night while sleeping, but they have stayed in place all day, and they are so cute.

Jayden, who always asks me to cut his hair as soon as it gets long, looked at Wesley's hair and said "Mom, me too?". We'll have to grow his out, but I'm game to give it a try.

We had a great holiday weekend! The weather was perfect and we spent lots of time outdoors. We camped in the backyard, had a visit from Grandpa and Grandma Wistrom, we tried fishing (with no luck), and practiced our golf swings in the back yard.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Backyard camping ...

It's been one of those pefect Minnesota weekends and tonight is supposed to be clear and cool - just right for backyard camping. Jay and the older 3 kids are sleeping in the tent tonight, where they can hear the frogs chirping ... and if they are lucky, maybe an occassional loon call.

Like a dummy, I asked Jayden if he had ever slept outside before and he proceeded to tell me about sleeping on the streets in Addis with his mother. He explained how they had only lived in their "house" (a single room with tin walls, tin roof and dirt floor) for a "little bit". Before that, he explained "mom no money ... sleeping streets ... me no pants, no shoes."

Of course I knew this - so it was one of those smack my forehead moments. I am sometimes concerned about him having sad memories or missing his mother, but he is so non-chalant and factual about his earlier life. He readily talks about his earlier childhood, and being hungry, and having no pants or no shoes, and he is happy to try to fill me in on all the details. His English is getting better and better everyday, but he does not yet have all the words to fully explain the things he can remember.

If the weather is nice tomorrow, I think we will take him fishing. I am looking forward to seeing his expression when he catches his first fish. We caught a toad a few days ago and he was absolutely freaked out about it - would not touch it and didn't want it anywhere near him (this from the kid who has watched a goat being slaughtered).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Adding "barber" to my mom resume ...

About a month ago, Jayden asked for a haircut. Up for the challenge, I pulled out the clippers, stripped off his shirt, and sat him on a stool in the middle of the bathtub. He winced a few times as I tried to get the clippers through his hair - and when we finished and I examined the job I had done ... it was OK except for a few tufts here and there that needed a little further clipping with scissors.

After that first experiment, I have figured out a few things. A few days ago he asked for another haircut and this time, I have it figured out and gave him a nice, clean and level haircut - with no tufts!

1. Wash hair and apply leave-in conditioner (for curly hair).
2. While hair is damp, run a pick or wide-toothed comb through the hair (a critical step!).
3. Lift up from the roots to comb out curls and get hair to stand up.
4. I use a 1/4" setting on the clippers. Run the clipper from front to back, and then side to side.
5. Comb or pick hair again to get any residual curls to stand up. Run the clipper through the hair again. This should finish up with a very nice, smooth cut. If you want, trim the sides a little more at the 1/8" setting.

6. Wash hair to rinse out clipped hair and condition again. Done!

This time, Jayden admired his haircut in the mirror and pronounced it "good".

Below are a few pictures of a teeny, tiny (quarter-size) turtle we found in our yard. He was barely alive when we discovered him and we have since nursed him back to health. He is happily and heathily swimming about in our turtle tank. Wesley has named him "Hulu".

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Losing a cherished pet ...

On Friday evening, we lost a cherished family pet. Our Abby was 16 years old in April (that's 112 in human years!!) and she was a big, patient, sweet-natured family dog that our daughters had known all their lives.

Her gait had become slow these past years, her face developed a distinguished white mask, and she was content to sleep most of the day in a sunny spot on the floor. We knew this day was coming ... and we were dreading it. What a difficult decision to make.

On Thursday, she stumbled many times throughout the day, and she was noticeably becoming weaker as the day wore on. She winced more often, and whimpered when we touched her.

The kids went to school on Friday, and called home several times to check on her. Knowing that she was in pain and uncomfortable, we made that very difficult decision to have her put to sleep.

The kids were unconsolable when we left the house. The vet was very compassionate and explained what to expect - that she would become very tired and fall asleep ... forever. We held her face, and looked into her eyes, and tried to soothe her tremors and her fear. She relaxed into our hands, looked into our eyes, and took one last deep breath. And then ... oh how we cried.

The house just isn't the same without her. This morning, I woke up and instinctively listened for her to stamp her feet at the front door, before I realized she wasn't here anymore. We are all missing her.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Jay and the kids made it a special day ... we went to church, blew bubbles, played in the driveway, went for a hike, and finished off the day with ice cream! What more could one want?? I hope you had a wonderful Mothers's Day too!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Six months ago today, on December 7, we stumbled off the plane after 30+ hours of travel from Ethiopia. That day seems so far away and yet it is still fresh in my mind. We barely knew these little boys that would quickly become such an integral and natural part of our family. Yes - being wrapped into a family is a blessing for them, but more importantly ... they are a blessing to us! These boys are our sons - they are as much a part of our family as our daughters who were born into it! How can that be after only 6 short months?!?!

The first several months were rough indeed. We had much to learn about each other, and those days can be treacherous, and trying, and tearful ... and transforming!

One of the rewards of adoption that I have really come to appreciate is the effect it has had on our daughters ... to them, adoption isn't a radical leap of faith, it's a normal thing that families do. I often hear them talk of their futures now in these terms ... "when I grow up I'm going to have 2 kids and then adopt 2 kids".

Spring has FINALLY arrived in Minnesota and the kids LOVE being outside! The 3 older kids have started the summer soccer season and Jayden will be participating in his first team sport.

In mid April, we celebrated Jayden and Wesley's birthdays. Jayden is now 8, and Wesley is now 3 (and completely potty-trained!!!!)

One more thing ... when I took my camera out tonight and motioned for the kids to assemble for a picture, Wesley pointed at the camera and said "smile??"
Yes, Wesley - SMILE!! - we have much to smile about!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Formula drive for Ethiopia

UPDATE: As of 10:30 am on May 6, you've given $6,110 to send formula to Ethiopia!! Children's Hopechest can now send at least 200+ cans of formula! Keep it coming!!

Children's Hopechest, an amazing organization advocating for orphans, is raising funds to deliver a specialized baby formula for malnourished infants at the AWAA transition home in Ethiopia. Please visit Tom Davis' blog (President of Children's Hopechest) for more information and to donate - or click the image below to make a secure and immediate donation and help save the life of a child.

We personally know of several families whose babies are alive and thriving because of this specialized formula. These babies arrived at the Transition Home in such a severe state, AWAA did not know if they would even survive. These sweet babies are so frail and sickly, oftentimes their bodies cannot even tolerate a normal infant formula. But once they were started on Nutramagin, they have started gaining weight, their eyes have begun to sparkle again, and the will to live and fight for survival is blossoming. AWAA has specifically asked travelling families to bring this specialized formula in their luggage - and Children's Hopechest is also helping with this great need.

Ethiopia Urgent Need

Tom Davis (Hopechest) posted about the formula drive on his blog yesterday and by today $3,000 has already been raised towards their goal of $12,500. Every little bit makes a big difference to a child and to the family that will welcome that child into their arms!!