Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Giving

As I've been pouring over other Ethiopian adoption blogs lately, watching new referrals and court dates and anxiously anticipating others, the one thing I've found is that so many people have had such great ideas for gifts. Gifts for birth mothers, care takers, other children in the orphanages, etc. I am kind of bummed out that I hadn't thought of many of these things, or more bloggers hadn't gone before us so I could copy some of their ideas. There is no heat in Addis (yes, pretty much anywhere except for the hotels), so the best birth mother gift that I have seen is a hand made quilt. My mother-in-law is a master quilter and I'm sure she would have been thrilled to have made such a special quilt. And I would have loved to be able to wrap Sophie's birth mother in a warmth that would forever remind her of her daughter.

I also wish that I had brought more for the other children. We brought lots of random things, but with up to 120 kids in some of these places, you really need to have a LOT of things so as to avoid anyone being left out. We ended up leaving a lot of our bags of goodies with Belay so that he could distribute them as he saw fit, but I would have loved to see all of those beautiful eyes light up with even the simplest of gifts.

I guess my main point in thinking about what we could have done is that there are still so many ways that we can still help. Several friends have asked how to make a donation in Sophie's name in lieu of another baby gift that we don't need. I think this is probably the best gift we could ask for. One friend gave directly to the Gladney Fund and another donated a farm animal to a needy family in order to break the cycle of poverty through Heifer International. John and I sponsor two children from Rwanda (and will add two more to our sponsorship - to have one for each of our own children) through World Vision. The kids love to receive the letters and pictures from our sponsored children and love to send photos and hand-drawn pictures back. We know that one day, they will understand how truly important all of this is. We plan to make several trips back to Ethiopia throughout our lifetime and will include each of the kids in philanthropic projects right here at home as each is old enough to understand. This year, we plan to focus most of our annual giving on Ethiopia. After reading the recent accounts of Drew and Carey and the Mestas Family, I think it's best for those of you interested to go straight to their blogs to see about the specific projects.

Drew and Carey are involved in a great project that provides free wheelchairs for people around the world (and specifically in Ethiopia if you want to request it). You can donate one wheelchair for a mere $75. After seeing the many people in Ethiopia in dire need of a wheelchair, this one is a no brainer.

They also took some great pictures of the run-down playground equipment that we all saw at the orphanages, which you can view here and here. Gladney is trying to raise lots of money to pay for 5 new playgrounds for the orphanages. As you can imagine, the shipping alone is astronomical, so any little bit helps.

Finally, one of the other Ethiopia-specific projects near to us is the new library for the older boys at the Kolfe orphanage that we visited and that I wrote about in a prior post. I think the Mestas family explains it the best in their blog post entitled The Forgotton Boys.

If either of the Gladney projects are of interest to you, you can send checks payable to:
The Gladney Center for Adoption c/o Scott Brown.
Mail to: 6300 John Ryan DR.Fort Worth, TX 76132-4122
In the memo line of check write: “Ethiopian Humanitarian Aid”
I assume you should include a note if you want the money to go specifically for the playgrounds, Kolfe or if you want Gladney to decide how best to use it.

This year, we decided that none of the adults need to exchange holiday gifts in our families - we all have most everything we need and if we don't we usually just go buy it ourselves anyway. We're trying to simplify the holiday season and plan to enjoy it and the company of our friends and family more, rather than spending time stressing out about what to buy the uncle who has everything. In lieu of that, we're going to focus our holiday giving on some of the projects listed above and hope that you might be inspired to do the same. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sophie & her friends

I just started going through our pictures so that I can get them labeled and into an album before we forget who/what everything is. I need some help on a few. I know these babies were referred and Berahne was brought home in early November. I would love to have full, American names in the albums so that Sophie can see who her first roommates were. Also, I'd be happy to email these pictures. You can email me directly if you'd rather not leave a comment, and I would certainly take the pictures off if you don't want these up. Thanks so much!

The one in the pink next to Sophie looks SO familiar to me - can someone help me with a name? Robin, is this Pickles? I think the pacifier is throwing me off. I have stared at every picture on your blog, but since she has a HUGE smile in every one, it's hard for me to tell if this is her! The picture was taken by Lisa Holliday in August.

I recognize Berahne from Drew and Carey's blog (I have one more of him from our trip that I can also email you) .

Thanks for your help!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fun with Leaves

Hmmm, I don't think I should trust that face!
Yup, still just two down there...
Here are some more pictures. Although it was freezing outside today, the kids had a blast making leaf piles, burying each other with leaves and making leaf angels. I only brought Sophie out for a few minutes so that she wouldn't eat all of the leaves, but she loves being outside. Matt was still at school. Happy Fall!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Family fun

Ok, ok, here is a new post. I have had many people ask why I've been so lax, so I'm sorry for the lack of exciting news. I have to say, I was about to update last week when I found out that my blogging friend Jocelyn, lost her referral right before her court date. I have just been really sad for her because she had already fallen in love with that adorable little girl. The baby's birth parents decided that they couldn't give her up, so at least we know that she is very well loved all over the world. Jocelyn is moving forward as best as she can right now and will hopefully be able to open her heart to a new baby girl waiting for a forever home. Please keep her in your thoughts.

As far as us, we've been settling into life nicely - things seem so normal at home now that I haven't taken many pictures. We do have down time tonight between dinner and bed, so I made the kids take some new pics. I think they all look the same as last time, and Sophie even has the same outfit on! As far as milestones, Sophie is still teething like mad - she's an expert double-fisted-teether with 2 fingers in her mouth pretty much all the time. She finally started moving forward (as opposed to rolling everywhere sideways and scootching backwards), but is more dragging herself then crawling. She has gotten on all fours though, so I'm sure it will be any time. I think I better get baby-proofing, thought I'm not sure that's really possible with three other kids at home!

We've noticed that she's let her guard down even more. It seems so bizarre to say that about a 9 month-old baby, but it's true. Now when she sees us she literally screams with delight and kicks like crazy. Not that she wasn't happy to see us before, but both John and I noticed an entirely different level of excitement. It's really great to see. Sometimes the kids are so rough with her (with hugs and kisses, but still!). I'm amazed at what a good sport she is - she really seems to like it! I'm starting to realize how impossible a good Christmas picture is going to be with four. We can barely get a good one with three of them at once! OK, well it's bedtime for the kids, so more later.

A final Halloween picture
William LOVES Sophie
More loving
My pink twins
Me and my little ham
She is all over the floor these days - I better start vacuuming more!