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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Soccer Goal = Root Beer Floats

Our daughters are avid soccer players, so we started a family tradition several years ago ... score a goal and we celebrate after the game with root beer floats. We seem to have more and more root beer floats during soccer season as the years progress!

Tonight, Jayden (8) played his 4th soccer game since arriving in America. He's doing great - really getting the hang of it, and he's quite a natural athlete. He had several kicks that just missed the goal and then suddenly ... he SCORED! His little fists shot up in the air over his head - triumphant - and then he put his head back down and focused on the game. Tonight ... we had root beer floats!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A driving lesson from my Ethiopian son

Contrary to popular belief, the traffic in Ethiopia (specifically the capital city of Addis Ababba) does NOT look like this serene picture (below).

It looks like THIS ... with cars and taxis (and all manner of goat herds and donkeys) converging at each intersection and somehow navigating the chaos. When we were travelling in Ethiopia, I caught myself repeatedly gasping as we swerved to avoid another car, or a goat, or a pedestrian. At one point, we actually bumped someone, and our driver and the pedestrian exchanged a few heated words and then everyone was on their way again. As the saying goes in Ethiopia ... "If you can drive here, you can drive anywhere!"

So a few days ago, I'm driving with a few of the kids and we briefly get stuck in traffic. Traffic was really backed up for several blocks around the traffic lights, and I was at a stop sign trying to turn left, against the traffic. I ended up sitting through about 3 stop lights before we were able to merge into traffic.

After waiting for awhile, Jayden started looking around and trying to figure out why we were stopped. "Mom, why no go?" he asked. So I pointed to the stop sign and explained what it meant. Then I pointed down the street to the traffic lights and explained what the red lights and green lights mean. He took it all in, and then with a little exasperation in his voice, he asked again, "Mom, why you no go?"

What the heck, I had just gone through the whole stop sign, red light, green light explanation. With a sigh, I started to explain it again. Instead, he pointed to the lane of oncoming traffic, which was empty for a moment because the light had not changed. "Why you no go there!?" he asked. "Or there?" he asked pointing to the median and the gravel along the side of the road.

"In Ethiopia," he explained to me, "you just go."

Kids ... they make it sound so easy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our Ethiopian Kiddos!

We had a fun evening with the Hutchinson family who live just 30 minutes from us. By now, the kids are all so confortable with each other, and within moments of walking in the front door, they all head off together to play, like there has been no time between our last visit.

We travelled to Ethiopia with the Hutchinsons as they adopted two little girls and we adopted our two little boys. We never fail to realize the amazing "coincidence" that brought two families from MN (within 30 miles of each other) to Ethiopia at the exact same time to adopt our kids. We have so much in common and have shared so much (in Ethiopia and throughout the entire adoption journey before and after our trip) and our friendship is truly a blessing! Here's a photo of all the kids from today.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Free book offer!

Tom Davis, author of the outstanding new book called "Scared" has just announced that his publisher is so enthusiastic about the message in this book, they are offering a FREE pdf download for a limited time. Find out more by clicking on the badge below. Or, if you want the real live book in your hands, you can purchase it at most local book stores or online at web retailers like

Check it out!

Scared - A Novel on the Edge of the World from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Turtle Eggs & Injera!

The turtle eggs and the injera have nothing to do with each other ... they are two separate incidents but made for a fun blog title!

So, about the turtle eggs ... It's turtle egg laying season in MN and Emme has been on the lookout every day. During a walk one evening, we happened upon a turtle digging a hole. We were careful to approach slowly so we would not scare her off. She hissed at us a few times, but once she got the hole dug, she began laying eggs ... 13 eggs in all.

You can barely see a little glimmer of white down in the hole - that's a turtle egg!

Once she started laying her eggs, she ignored us completely and we were able to get close and watch the whole process!

With Wesley strapped into the stroller, and unable to distract the turtle, I tiptoed up to the hole to take pictures. "Hold my camera case for me," I asked him. This is what he did with my camera case.

Over the weekend, we went to an Ethiopian community event in Mpls with the Hutchinson family. (The Hutchinsons travelled to Ethiopia with us and adopted 2 little girls, when we adopted our two sons.) The first thing I noticed were the numerous other families that looked just like ours! The second thing we noticed was the delicious smell of spices and food that brought back instant memories of Ethiopia. Jayden sniffed the air and with a big smile on his face said, "Mom! Smells good!" Needless to say, both boys devoured their injera and doro wat. It was delicious!

At the Ethipian Kids Community event, we also purchased a large, picture book for our kids called "Tsion's Voice." It is full of pictures of every day life in Ethiopian and we have spent several evenings pouring over the pictures with all of the kids. There are many pictures we recognize from our trip - from curbside fruit stands, and butcher shops, to goat herds and meal preparation. It really is a great book to have for your Ethiopian children. The website is

Friday, June 19, 2009

A glimpse of the past ...

Today, the boys had a doctor appointment ... just a check up, no concerns. As we checked in and got settled in the waiting room, Jayden (8) asked me, "Why doctor?". I explained it was just to make sure everything is OK. Satisfied with that answer, he went back to playing with a puzzle. We got called by the nurse, and went in to check their height and weight. As we settled in to the exam room to wait for the doctor, Jayden waited for the door to close and then he asked me again, "Why doctor?". Taking note that he had now asked me twice, I explained that the doctor was just making sure they were healthy and that everything is OK.

He gestured toward his arm with a pained look on his face, "Here?"

"No, no shots", I said.

"Here?" he asked, making a pricking motion to his finger.

"No, no owies," I reassured him. "The doctor is just going to make sure you are OK".

He sat for a moment thinking it through and then a slight, wave of worry passed across his face and he asked, "If no OK, where go?"

Suddenly it hit me what he was asking. "If no OK, we go home," I said.

"If no OK?" he asked, wanting reassurance.

"Yes, if no OK, we go home. We always go home together. Maybe we will come back to see the doctor again, but we will always go home together. ALWAYS. OK?"

"OK", he said. And then a little while later, he said ... "I go first, Wesley go second".

I don't know exactly what happened in the past that made him think that if he was not OK he may not be going home with us, but once again, we get just a tiny glimpse into the past, and the fears and concerns our adopted children carry with them. I think it takes time, a long time, for it to fully sink in that they are now part of our family forever. F O R E V E R . Hopefully today was just another brick in the wall of security we have been building around our sons as a family.

On another subject ... On July 16, we have a hearing with a judge to finalize our re-adoption in the state of MN. The boys legally became our sons back in November, in Ethiopia, but on July 16, they will become US citizens, instead of "Permanent Residents" and they will officially become Jayden and Wesley, instead of Dagmawi and Tariku.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer vacation!

School was done on Thursday, and on Friday we left for our summer family vacation destination, Sanibel Island, FL! This was our 10th year vacationing in Florida as a family. Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th year, what started as an interesting destination, turned into a family tradition ... one that all the kids (and there are 10 of them now!) look forward to each year. We spend the entire week on the island, with nothing to do but spend time together in the pool and on the beach. All of the kids are busy swimming, looking for shells, and catching fish! Below are a few of our favorite pictures from the trip!

Here are all 10 of the kids, together on the beach. The crazy antics of the uncles got all the kids laughing and smiling at the same time.

Maea showing off a stack of sand dollars.

Here's the whole crew ... my family, all 18 of us.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"I'm proud he's my brother!"

Jayden (8) had a soccer game tonight. Watching first-graders play soccer is an interesting event (especially after watching our 10 & 12 year old daughters play soccer, where they play their positions and really get the strategy of the game).

With first-graders, when you see a big cluster of kids on the field, the ball is somewhere in the middle of the cluster. Jayden is one of the smallest on the team, but he holds his own.

During the second half, he was picked to play goalie, and not a single ball got by him. He's very quick and very determined, and he hurls his body sideways to block and catch the balls. We were watching from the sidelines as he blocked ball after ball after ball. Maea commented "Hey, he's really good!" A moment later she quietly said ... "I'm proud that he's my brother."