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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We've been thinking about buying a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) for awhile now, and we finally decided to get one in time for the long Memorial Day weekend.  The weather continued it's snobbery on Friday with on-again-off-again rain and wind ...

The rain didn't affect the kids, they fished regardless.  Wesley would fish 24/7 if he could!

... but Saturday morning dawned with calm water and sunshine - glorious sunshine.  The kids never came off the dock or off the water.  

Until dusk, they were either fishing or paddle-boarding or paddle-boating - and we had a great family weekend by the water.

The SUP is suprisingly easy to stand-up on - it's stable and even the littler kids can use it with ease.  As soon as one would come in to the dock, another would pick up the paddle and head out.  Sometimes they stand on it, sometimes they kneel, and sometimes they sit on it and enjoy being on the water.

Hello Loon! 

Here's one of the funnier photos from this weekend.  Emme took this picture right after she said, "Mom, I think that bird is watching me."  She was right.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Update from Ethiopia (Webit)

In late March, we had gotten word from Ethiopia that one of the little girls that attends "Trees of Glory" care-point, was extremely ill and was being admitted to the hospital.  Seven year old, Webit, was born with a leg deformity that caused her more and more pain as she got older. 

On the day that she was to meet her sponsor family  (Laura and Charlie Herwehe) at the care-point, she had to be carried there by her older sister.  She tried to put on a brave face, but the pain was severe and Webit ended up whimpering and crying during much of their time together.

Her sponsor mom was extremely worried for Webit and inquired with the staff about her condition.  They found out that Webit had recently been treated by the village traditional healer (shaman) which had caused an infection.  She was in extreme pain and her little body was trying to fight an advancing infection.  Laura then contacted me to let me know the situation and to find out how we could intercede for Webit.

Webit's family faced two challenges ... number one, they could not afford any type of medical treatment for Webit, and number two, their first course of action was to take her to a witch doctor (traditional healer) for treatment in accordance with their cultural and religious beliefs.  When her family realized that the traditional treatment had worsened her condition, they were open to considering medical treatment although they had no hope of affording it.

Our staff at Trees of Glory and the Children's Hopechest team began the lengthy process of acquiring the medical clearances and permissions to admit her to the hospital in Addis Ababa.  We immediately contacted sponsor families and our blog readers to raise the funds for her treatment (which is now fully funded!!!).  Just as the permissions came through ... Webit took a sudden turn for the worse, and with permissions in hand, she was rushed to the hospital.  The care-point staff and her family wondered if it was too late ... if the infection had overwhelmed her fragile body.

After surgery, Webit's condition rapidly improved and she has been living at the care-point full time with her older sister so that she can get needed medical care, hygiene and healthy food while she recovers.  We are waiting for a doctor appointment next week, when the pathology reports will determine if there are any cancerous cells in the original bone deformity.  Please continue to keep Webit in your prayers!

Jessica Irvin, one of our sponsor families, was able to visit Trees of Glory care-point this week!  As a pediatric nurse practitioner, Jessica was able to check in on Webit for us.  Here is Jessica's email along with a photo sent by Hopechest today!!

Webit with care-point director, Simret. 
Her leg is fully casted but she is recovering well!

From Jessica ... Webit looked significatly healthier than she did in the photos that her sponsor had taken with her in January. She is still super skinny, but Simret  (the care-point director) says that she has gained weight since being at TOG. She was smiling and able to walk without assistance except for holding Simret's hand. Her leg is completely casted, so I was unable to examine the wound.  She is going to the doctor on Wednesday to have the cast removed.  Her coloring was good and all of the staff seemed very happy with the improvement she has made.

As always, I enjoyed my time with the Hopechest staff. They took me to their office here and were kind and helpful as usual. I continue to be impressed with the integrity of the services that they provide and trust that the kids are in great hands at Trees of Glory.

Jessica (along with her mom, mom-in-law, and her new adopted daughter) will be flying back to the U.S. on Saturday and we will look forward to more updates and photos.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Fish Story ...

This could be just another "fish" story because I wasn't actually there (with my camera) to witness it myself. But according to Jay ...

... the boys were on the dock fishing. It's spring, so the fish are not very wary, and they were biting on every hook thrown into the water. So the boys were pulling out fish after fish after fish.

Big brother Jayden, was patiently helping Wesley put worms on the hook, and take fish off the hook - in between baiting and fishing with his own pole.

Every time Wesley caught a fish (which seemed to be about every 30 seconds), he'd shriek, "Dad!!!! I caught a fish!!!!!!!  Come see it!!!!!!!"  The shrieking went on and on for about 30 minutes as they caught fish after fish.

Then Wesley's tone took on a higher pitch and he yelled, "Dad!!!!!!  I caught a fish!!!!!!  And it's REALLY BIG!!!!!"  Jay looked up to see Wesley's little pole bent in a big upside down "U" shape, with the tip of his pole nearly touching the water as he strained to pull up the fish.  Jayden started backing away.

Wesley kept yelling, and when he realized that he couldn't lift it out of the water as usual, he started backing down the dock until he dragged that fish out of the water and up onto the dock.  It was a bass - a big, fat bass that was at least 13"-14" if not larger.

When Wesley saw how big it was ... he dropped his pole and ran for the shore, leaving the fish flopping on the dock.  He kept looking back over his shoulder to make sure that fish didn't get up and chase him. :)

Jay helped the boys get it off the hook - and after admiring it for a few minutes, they threw it back.

Then Wesley said, "I caught a REALLY BIG fish!  DAD - GIVE ME A HUG!!!!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mama bird has been very busy ...




I think she's done now.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Tidal Wave Kind of Love ...

Do you remember the moment you first saw your baby's face and held them in your arms?  All the waiting and anticipation and worry ... and then those first incredible moments when you look into their eyes for the very first time. 

With our daughters, I remember their scrunched-up little faces, already beautiful and so perfect, and the eyes that couldn't quite focus but they turned toward my familiar voice regardless. 

And then a rush of fierce love that overwhelms your heart and you know at that moment that life will never be the same, because this babe has become the absolute center of your world. 

I remember those first days at home ... crying as I held my baby daughter.  And my sister was so concerned.  "What's wrong," she kept asking and I could only reply .. "Nothing's wrong ... everything is right and I'm so overwhelmed."  What I meant was that my heart was overwhelmed with a love that was so deep and intense.  It was like a tidal wave and it spilled over with tears.

When our "baby" girls were 10 and 12 years old, we saw the faces of our sons for the very first time (two little boys in Ethiopia who were living in an orphanage, hoping for a family).  Again, an overwhelming tidal wave of love and protectiveness.  And then, months later, those surreal moments when we met them face to face for the first time.  I still get choked up when I remember that day, just over 2 years ago.

Today, I reminisce about those first glimpses .. because my college classmate and friend, Debb Marquez and her husband Jeff, looked upon the face of their precious baby boy for the first time on Thursday. 

He's 2 1/2 months old - he's perfect and beautiful and living in an oprhanage on the other side of the world - and he has a mommy and daddy that already love him. 

A tidal wave kind of love. 

Check out Debb's blog HERE

This weekend - I'm overwhelmed with happiness and thankfulness for them.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sneaky bird!

Our purple finch has layed two eggs and as soon as she left the nest, a cowbird snuck in and layed an additional egg in her nest.  Now mama finch will have 3 babies to care for, instead of her 2, and she doesn't even realize she is raising another bird's baby!  Sneaky cowbird!

Wesley looking at the bird book and identifying the purple finches. 

Here's the page that identifies the cowbirds and explains how they lay eggs
in other birds' nests.  Thankfully the cowbird did not throw one of the finch eggs
out of the nest (as shown in the photo above).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's that in your hair???

Wesley was intently concentrating on a "project" at the kitchen table.  A few moments later, I glanced up to see him flipped upside down in his chair, looking for something under the table.

I went back to what I was doing and a few minutes later, he came over to my chair and asked, "Do you know where my pen cap is?"  I glanced across the tabletop but it wasn't there, so my eyes scanned beneath the table but I didn't see it there either. 

"I don't see it, Wesley.  It's OK, you don't need it to finish your project."  But he couldn't seem to get his mind back on what he was doing until he found that pen cap.

For the next 10 minutes or so, he searched around the table, wandering somewhat aimlessly around the house asking all of us to help him find the pen cap.  He seemed really at a loss as to how it could have disappeared into thin air.

Being the "attentive" mom that I am, after about 10 mintues I actually LOOKED at him and realized what the problem was.  By that time, he had given up in exasperation and had settled back at the table.

I got my camera, sat down across from him, and snapped a few pictures.  He ignored me as he concentrated again on his project.

"Wesley," I whispered.

His eyes rose to mine with a questioning look on his face, intrigued because I had whispered and had a smirky smile on my face.

"Did you lose something?"

Up went his hands as he animatedly explained to me once again how he couldn't find his pen cap and how he had searched and searched and searched.

"I know where it is!"  I announced.

He scowled as I continued to smirky smile at him.

"What's that in your hair, Wesley?"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Purple Finch in My Purple Flowers ...

Every year, right on schedule, I get a big basket of flowers for Mother's Day and within a day or so of hanging them on the front porch, a bird promptly builds a nest in the flowers. 

Which gives the kids a great view of the eggs as they hatch and the naked baby birds grow feathers and eventually fly away. 

We've had several different types of birds build a nest in the basket over the years.  One year - we even had a bird push the eggs out of the nest and lay her own eggs in the nest for the other bird to raise. 

This year - purple finches have moved into the neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I've been given a few gems, and I've shared a few too ...

I love coming away from a conversation knowing something new - especially if it's a little tip that makes everyday life a little easier!

I've had a few gems given to me lately and I've shared a few of my own too. Each family seems to have a few "tips and tricks" that they take for granted because they've "always done it that way" and they thought that "everyone did it that way." :)

If you have a tip or trick that makes everyday life a little easier, email me at and I'll feature one each week!

Kristy Tapper, who is a proud mama to 4 kids, blogs at Kristy has two kids adopted from Ethiopia.  With many adopted children, teaching them to make eye contact is an important step toward self-confidence, trust and attachment. Here's what Kristy wrote ...

"I've been thinking about the "gems" I take for granted in relation to your blog posts.  I just thought of one recently in connection with eye contact. 

Both of my sons, Andrew and Jadon, are quite social. They are both talkers, for sure. But they have both struggled to get in the habit of making and holding eye contact during conversation. They tend to look everywhere except at the person they are talking to.

I've read up on this ... and tried quite a few other techniques. I requested eye contact. I gently turned their face toward mine. I got down on their level. Still, they would turn those beautiful brown eyes away after just a second, and I would just feel like a real nag about the whole thing. 

Recently, I read somewhere to try tapping your nose (between your eyes) when you wanted eye contact from your child. I started trying it...and, for my kids, it is making a big difference. There is, apparently, something fascinating about the motion near the nose that allows them to focus on my face while they talk.”

After getting Kristy's note, I have been using this subtle technique with our boys and it works amazingly well! (Photo above is our Wesley, who is very comfortable and confident with eye contact now after we have worked with him to develop healthy trust and attachment.)

Megan Kucik is another adoptive mom with 4 kids (two adopted from Ethiopia). Megan wrote to me with this great suggestion!

"We have a lot of confusion in our house about glasses - four kids who all drink out of the same small juice glasses.

Nobody knows who drank out of which glass so the glasses were ending up in the dishwasher after one use for a glass of water, instead of being re-used. My husband came up with the idea of assigning each kid a color, and now every morning I put that color of silly band around a glass, and the kids can keep track of their glasses all day."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I wondered if he was subconsciously trying to tell me something ... :)

Happy Mother's Day!

Yesterday, the sun was out and it felt like spring for the first time since .... last spring.

We spent the day by the lake, as a family.

Which is one of my favorite things to do, and favorite places to be.  So - for Mother's Day, that worked out very well for me. :)

The kids got me my favorite Mother's Day present - a big, flowering, hanging basket.  Which I promptly hung out front and we can expect a bird to make a nest in it ... just like they do every year.

I love the things kids bring home from school (for Mother's Day) when they are in about 2nd or 3rd grade.  I still have Maea's present hanging on my bulletin board.  The one where she spelled my name "Karne" (instead of Karen) and wrote that I like "runing".  (I definitely don't like running.:)  She drew a picture of me with big, black, bushy eyebrows and big, red, kissy lips.  Very creative and artistic!

This year, it was Jayden's turn (3rd grade). He drew a picture of me. Overall - a pretty close likeness for a 3rd grader - but he left off my mouth. I wondered if he was subconsciously trying to tell me something?!?!? :)