Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Mehaber

We got home last night, tired and happy. The Summer Mehaber was a trendous amount of fun! I'll post more photos later, but will put a few of my favorites here. I can't thank the organizers enough - they did a fantastic job.

Miss A can really Hula!

Look at all the beautiful children!

Learning traditional Ethiopian dance.

The Ethiopian dancers were fantastic!

Playing Saturday night in the lobby with new friends.

This photo says it all!

10 hours each way in the car.

How many more hours????

The wild game of Duck, Duck, Goose!

Still takes my breath away...

Fun, Fun, Fun!!

Warming up before the Walk for Water

Walk for Water T-shirt design

The Walk for clean water for the rural school

How do you throw this thing?

Sisters forever

The only photo with me in it, I think, thanks to a wonderful CHSFS staffer who took the photo.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Packing up...

We leave tonight for the Summer Mehaber in Minnesota. Lots of last minute changes to our trip this year - older daughter who is coming with us, can't leave work until 6pm today. We were going to return on Monday, but now have to make it Sunday, as Wood starts his new job on Monday (good reason to cut a trip short, however).

I've had a very rough week at work this week, and am looking VERY forward to getting away for a few days, no matter how short. I found out yesterday that my district manager will be doing her semi annual district check at our store next Wednesday. I'll have a LOT of work to do when I get back to get the store and myself ready for this day long review of my store operations.

I'll post pics of the event when I get back. My incredibly cute fundraising pair are up over $600 for the Walk for Water funraiser on Sat!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is it a trifecta?

"Trifecta" - a term is used to describe any successful or favorable phenomenon or characteristic that comes in threes

Do you know what I just realized? G hasn't coughed or had ANY issues since we changed her meds after our Children's Hospital clinic visits. No coughing whatsoever, or any need to use her rescue inhaler, even in the humidity. This is a first for us. We changed two things about her medication routine - the dr switched her from her nebulizer to the Pulumicort Flexhaler, and added Prevacid, an acid reflux drug. She is on an adult dosage of the inhaled steriod, so perhaps soon we can titrate it down to the lowest dose needed to maintain her without symptoms.

Wood's been taking the kids to the park daily, and this week he says that she is starting to be able to run without quickly getting winded needing frequent "rests" or needing her inhaler at all. Hallelujah!

1. Woods job
2. My test results
3. G's significant improvement of her health issues.

It's a trifecta of blessings!

Lord, there are marvelous things that I do not know, nor can I comprehend.
things that happen in my life, and things that happen in my friends lives.
Lord, I desire to be thankful, to appreciate everything that comes across my path.
Lord, so often life hurts, I get angry -- upset, I do not understand, yet You ask me to be thankful for everything, and have faith.

Lord, help me to be thankful, when the rains come, to see that obstacles and problems sometimes build character and godliness in me, to be a mirrored reflection of Your Son to reach others.

I thank You for prayer, That I can come before You and call You Father.
That I can cast my burdens on You.
Lord, I thank You for my heart, the treasure and light You placed in there.

Lord, help me to endeavor, to be thankful for everything.
Lord, it seems most of the time, what happens is about me.
Lord, I thank you that You gently remind me that the things are not about me, however, my life and what happens is more about You, Your will, and Your Kingdom.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

I have a new favorite comb!!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this for A's super, super thick, kinky curly hair. It made quick work for combing out a twist out tonight.

I had the entire thing combed and braided (4 big braids) during a single episode of Go Diego Go. Yahoo!!!

You probably can't see from the picture, but it has a double row of tines which are kind of twisted? The comb is from Goody's Mosaic collection, for textured hair. Cost me a whole $1.47. I'm going to be checking out more products from this line. That's the only part of the collection that's available near me, but we're going to Minnesota in just a few days.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Birthday Party...

G had a few friends to the local paint your own pottery place for her birthday party today. Afterwards, our family went to the beach as it was almost 70!!. A great day was had by all!

Test Results!

Yahoo, we're on a roll with good news this week! MRI and ultrasounds results back, and no biopsies or surgery right now! I have to have them repeated in 6 months, but that I can handle!! Wow, we are truely blessed!!

AND....I'm off work for 2 whole days. I don't think I've been off for 2 consecutive days in months and months. I feel fortunate when I get one day off each week. Today is Miss G's 6th birthday party with her friends. And tomorrow, as a Father's day gift for Daddy, the girls chose to buy tickets for a local community kids production of "Cinderella". Isn't that what every father wants for Father's day, a live performance of "Cinderella"?? Anything for his girls.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Spring is here!!!

It's in the 60's!! Hallelujah!!! We dug out the shorts this morning - first time this year. Uhhh, it is June 20th, for goodness sake! We'll take it though, that's for sure.

I'm going to try and call for my test results today, but I'm not overly hopeful, but I'm sure by Monday.

Wood took the girls to the beach yesterday after school. It IS Lake Superior, so they didn't do any swimming (water is frigid right now), but they loved it anyways. In the picture above, of the girls in the water last year - that's as far as they went. It can be like stepping into ice water until about August. Then, there is some water that is somewhat warm in a few limited locations. BTW, that's one of our favorite pictures of the girls. I had it blown up and framed for Wood's office as a gift for him last year.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I can't even begin to describe the relief that Wood is back among the employed. It wasn't just the stress of him being off work. The emotions with him loosing his job due to racism and the color of our daughter's skin are beyond words. Still. Honestly, that was something I thought just didn't happen these days. How wrong I was.

Yet I know that we have gotten but a glimpse of what it means to be black in America. We still benefit from "white privilege" most of the time, interspersed with isolated incidents of racism and bigotry towards our family.

I don't think I will ever look at this issue the same again. There is much work to be accomplished toward achieving the equality that MLK Jr. so eloquently spoke of. And it is a fight that intimately belongs to us, as individuals and as a family, and that we will be actively involved in. We cannot sit passively and "hope" for change. What happened to us shouldn't happen to ANY family.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wood got the job!

what a blessing!! Thank the Lord!!


I had my ultrasound appt first. I could see the woman zeroing in repeatedly on a round spot on the ultrasound screen. The area looked large, but obviously it WAS magnified. It appeared to be next to the clips that was left in in December. The ultrasound went fairly quickly. Then she said that because of my history, the radiologist wanted to review them before I left. I waited and waited. Almost 30 minutes later, she came back in and said I could go. She said that the radiologist had called MRI and told them that I was on my way. They, of course, wouldn't tell me a thing.

Usually, they just make sure they have readable films and let you go. They were reviewing the films for longer than I had been receiving the ultrasound.

When they let me go, I wasn't late for my MRI appt, or even close to being late. There really seemed no need for them to "call ahead" and let them know I was on my way. I actually arrived there 10 minutes early. Or were they calling to let them know to focus on something specific?

Or is this just a sign of high anxiety and an overactive imagination?

Oh, and I will never do another MRI without a mild sedative. I skipped it this time because I needed to get back to work immediately afterwards. Laying in a coffin like tube, face down, in the most uncomfortable position (my ribs are still aching) for 25 minutes while you are in a state of high anxiety anyways is too much for me, I think. Your face goes into something that resembles a face thing for a massage chair? This time, however, they covered the vinyl parts with a blanket. I felt like I was suffocating breathing in and out into this blanket and it got HOT. I was desperate for fresh air. My arms were held over my head, like I was diving, with an IV in one arm for the contrast. Uggh!

Monday, June 16, 2008

second interview...

Wood has a second interview tomorrow! Actually, his interviewer is buying him lunch. I think this is a good sign, thank you Lord! I'm soooo praying he gets a job offer tomorrow.

Tomorrow I have my ultrasounds and MRIs. Really praying that those two areas that they just weren't able to biopsy the last time because of how close they were to the chest wall have not changed, grown, or look different in any way, shape or form. Keep us all in your thoughts. The anxiety I feel while waiting for the test results is excrutiating.

Happy 6th Birthday!

G is 6 years old today. It hardly seems possible that my sweet baby girl is 6! Happy birthday! Here are some glimpses from G's first 6 years:

First winter in the UP (ok, it was like September, but it gets cold fast up here!

Two years old at Sea World in San Diego with Daddy.

With Big sister M, who is about 16 in this photo. G is 1 year old!

My first birthday!

Loving my Kangaroo Korner Fleece Pouch sling.

At the Botanical gardens in San Diego (age 2)

More Botanical garden photos

Wow, why does my big brother get all the cool toys for Christmas????

Now I'm three!

Snoozing the day away in my Ergo!

The whole gang!

Posing in my cool new diaper that mommy made me (it's a Chumbas!)

Helping mommy sew diapers!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Clean water.....

Again this year, our family will be attending the 4th Ethiopian Kids Community Summer Event in Minnesota. What is a Mehaber? Mehaber is the Amharic word for an occasional gathering of friends and family. Each year this event has grown – last year there were 700 people from 17 states and 3 countries. The Ethiopian Kids Community is a group of adoptive parents who know how important it is to stay connected for our kids.

Last year, A and G (along with the other children) raised money for Ethiopia Reads, a literacy program in Ethiopia. Enough was raised to open a new library! G and A raised $500! This year, we join the other families to walk to raise funds and awareness of the need for clean water in Ethiopia.

Project: "Water is a very vital natural resource for the development of human beings. Currently, about half of the total population of the country (Ethiopia) does not have clean water access" (Asfaw Dingamo, Minister of Minstry of Water Resources).

Children's Home Society & Family Services (our adoption agency we used for bringing A home) is in the process of building a school in Hossana. The goal is to provide an educational facility (grades 1 – 8) for up to 400 needy children in Hossana Town. The project will include classrooms, library, kitchen and lunch program, bathrooms and a water system. A clean water system at the school is essential to the success of the children.

Founded in 1889, Children’s Home Society & Family Services is a non-sectarian 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that meets the needs of children, individuals and families in our community and around the world through vital programs and services. Each year they touch the lives of nearly 35,000 children and families through it’s programs and services.

Through international adoptions, we are reminded daily of the need to support vulnerable children throughout the world. There are tremendous needs to assist with medical equipment, food, school supplies and donations for facilities where children live. Through many hands and hearts we can care for the future sons and daughters of our families and for the children left behind.

You can help children too.

Walk sponsors needed: Please help support our efforts to build a clean water system at the new school in Hossana Town. A, G, older daughter M, Wood and I will be walking on Saturday, June 28, in honor of those who struggle to find clean water every day. Please keep Ethiopia's most vulnerable children in your prayers, and let us know if you would like to sponsor G and A on the walk on June 28th.

The girls have raised over $250 so far for this project.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

job interview

Wood had a job interview the a few days ago. It's a completely new field for him, but his 20+ years of management and customer service experience would be a perfect fit for the job. But, because he's not "in" that field, it's a long shot. One of his reference called him yesterday and said that they were contacted for a reference. That's a good sign. Pray that this comes through for us.

My MRI is scheduled for next tuesday - I procrastinated long enough in getting it scheduled. Boy, do I really need this upcoming "mini-vacation" to to Summer Mehaber in Minnesota!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Parenting for tolerance

Here's a good resource - Beyond the Golden Rule - A Parent's guide to preventing and responding to prejudice.

It contains age-specific sections offering practical advice about the challenges and rewards of parenting in today's diverse world.

You can download the entire handboook from the website.

I never feel quite prepared to respond to bigoted comments. I have the "perfect" response about 10 minutes after the encounter is over. Look here for some great, practical advice.

Speakup - Responding to everyday bigotry

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


It was 45 degrees today. There is no summer up here, is there? We had customer's in my store today looking for fleece, jackets, sweatshirts. Ahhh, I love June....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

G is a First Grader......

She came home from the final All School Mass today wearing a tag pinned to her dress that said "G - First Grader". A was also all excited. At her school, when they enter the classroom in the morning, they velcro their nametag to the classroom board. She excitedly told me "momma, momma, my name tag was missing! Do you know why? I'm not in the 'lellow center anymore, I'm in the Purple center! Aren't I growing up??"

Too fast, my beautiful girls, too fast.

China's one-birth policy

Several years ago, I had a woman who was a recent Chinese immigrant in the Department that I managed. She told me about having to take a pregnancy test each month at work, how there were limits on if and how many women at work were "allowed" to be pregnant at any one time, and the severe consequences of having a pregnancy, even your first, without permission. The entire workplace would be punished if a woman got pregnant without prior permission. I was horrified at the level of intrusion into her life.


Death tolls from the Chinese quake now top 65,000. Hollywood's Sharon Stone wonders aloud whether "karma" explains the tragedy because (she said) the Chinese are "not nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine."

Amnesty International reports hopes are fading that the Beijing Olympics may lead China to reform, warning in an April report: "It is increasingly clear that much of the current wave of repression is occurring not IN SPITE OF the Olympics, but actually BECAUSE OF the Olympics."

But to me the most shocking reminder of how horrifying the Chinese government remains lies latent in this week's headlines: "One-Child Policy Has Exceptions After China Quake," as the Associated Press wrote.

Families with only one child killed in the earthquake "can obtain a certificate to have another child, the Chengdu Population and Family Planning Committee in the capital of hard-hit Sichuan province said."

The government will give you a certificate so you can have another child? How big of them.

Tibetan Buddhists have their friends in Hollywood, and the international human rights community still frowns on torturing political activists. But China's brutal oppression of women's bodies and basic disrespect for human life generates a collective yawn in the Western human rights community.

Throw an AIDS/HIV activist in jail? International outrage, naturally. But who really cares about the right of an ordinary Chinese woman to have her baby?

Chinese population policies spawn an ambivalent (at best) reaction in the West because so many agree with the goal, they tend to downplay or ignore the means.

In China the government owns everything, including women's bodies. Women must apply to their work unit for permission to get pregnant, and whole groups can be punished if one woman gets "illegally" pregnant. The "illegally born" are a serflike caste who can be denied equal access to a whole host of government services necessary for life under communism. "One Extra Birth, Whole Family Sterilized," warns a government propaganda poster (examples of which are collected and translated by the Laogai Research Foundation).

How does this "policy" work? One woman, a Muslim ethnic Uzbek in China named Mahire Omerjan, testified to the Laogai Research Foundation what it was like to "illegally" conceive her second child in the 1990s.

"Those at our company who were in charge of our planned birth knew I was pregnant. ... A few months later, they said, 'You can't have this child. It's not in keeping with the spirit of related documents.' ... 'I'm five months pregnant. We have our religious faith. By our religion, abortion is not permitted. It's a crime," Mahire replied.

The company bureaucrats didn't care.

Mahire pointed to laws permitting ethnic minorities to have more than one birth, pleading for her baby's life: "Many times I spoke with my bosses, requesting permission to have the child."

Alas, policies were violated; action must be taken.

"Finally, my unit decided to take me by force to the hospital for an abortion. I was then six and a half months pregnant."

Company officials tried to get Mahire to see reason: "'If you don't do what we want, we'll suspend your wages, cancel your bonuses, levy a 2,500 RMB penalty on you, suspend all benefits you are enjoying now. And your child will never have a residence permit. He'll be a nobody.'"

This is what a "non-forced abortion" in China looks like.

In the end, three company officials showed up at Mahire's house with a Nissan van and drove her to the hospital. When she saw the needle they were about to insert into her belly, "I told the obstetrician, 'Doctor, don't give me the shot. I want to go home. I want my child!' ... But the two nurses started pressing my arms with all their might. One of the nurses said ferociously, 'Who told you to get pregnant! Who told you not to act according to the planned birth policy!'"

Remember Mahire when you read about other human rights violations in China and when you watch the world's athletes come together in Beijing this spring.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Summons

One of my favorite songs from Church, and I really needed to hear it this morning.

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?
Will you love the 'you' you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?

Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?
Christ, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I'll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Our Applebees experience

the other day continues to bother me immensely (see Friday, June 6th post). Wood and I didn't react fast enough to the comments the man made to A about her skin color. While both Wood and I believe we should have responded quickly, we disagree about "why". Wood feels that, given the older age of the man, that he is unlikely at this point to be "educatable" and he wouldn't have "gotten" what he said wrong. He feels the only point in responding is for our daughter. I feel the main purpose in responding is also for the benefit of our daughter, but also to let him know his comments and his intrusion on our family dinner was rude, racist and unwelcome, to say the least.

The incidents we have encountered since adopting A are significantly changing my opinion of other and the world around me. I don't think the change is for the better. I feel somewhat bitter, angry and can see how I'm starting to view all people I don't know with a level of suspicion. Some people I try to talk to about it just don't get it. One of the greatest luxuries afforded by white privilege is to be able to say, "I don't need to worry, discuss, be concerned or be educated about race because I am white. I just concern myself with one race - the human race."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A's preschool graduation...

A turns 5 in August, but her birth certificate says Dec 24th. So she will be in preschool 1 more year. She will be moving from the Yellow center to the Purple Center, with the "big kids".

Friday, June 6, 2008

People should mind their own business....

We went to applebees tonight for dinner. I could see that an older couple seated near us kept looking at us. As they left the restaurant, they stopped by our table. The woman commented on A's braids - that was fine. The man leaned down over our table, and put his arm next to A's arm. He asked her "so, why are you so dark? Have you been out in the sun too long, is that why you are dark like that?" Then he put his hand on her head, chuckled, and said "when they are little, THEIR kind is really pretty cute".

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Went to the doctors today - he scheduled me for an MRI and ultrasound. Oh, joy. Here we go again. He practically guaranteed me that I'm in for a surgical biopsy.....or, he said, I could just go ahead with the bi-lateral mastectomy. Maybe I could just start signing my entire paycheck over the the hospital directly....

G's test results....

Her immunology studies seems to show that her immune system is functioning as it should. The bloodwork that detects antibodies to allergies was almost undetectable - just as I believed. G has never shown any signs of allergy or asthma triggers, except for exposure to extreme cold, illness and physical activity.

Her radiology studies showed that, at the time they were done, she was getting plenty of air into her lungs. However, she wasn't able to expell a significant potion of the air when she exhales - which is basically the description of active asthma.

Our specialist says we will go ahead with the changes to her meds, and he'll see us in three months to re-evaluation. He really wants to see her the next time she is sick, if we can swing it financially.

I went through my blog a few days ago - she was so sick last fall. I had forgotten how bad it really was. We had 27 consecutive days of using the rescue inhaler. I was beside myself with fear and worry. She really is a lot better than she was. She just needs 6 different medications to do so.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Today in Africa...

Today in Africa, 6600 people will die of Aids/HIV. 3000 more will die of Malaria and another unknown thousand will die from malnutrition. The African dream of merely surviving through the night is still a long way from becoming a reality. Today can be the day that we begin to look at the world outside ourselves. Today, we can begin to make a change. We must first realize that life isn't just about us and that there is a world outside America.