Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What would you say?

I am so happy to report that I had another skype conversation with B and Solomon yesterday. This time it was just the three of us and B was more alert. He wasn't shy, but he still wasn't all that talkative.

I absolutely love skyping with them, but I’m never satiated, at the end of each call I immediately want to hop on the next plane headed to Ethiopia. I don’t know how to describe these interactions…they’re interesting. What did we talk about? Nothing and everything. The same thing you talk about with your kids.

I learned that B bites his nails (a Moore-family habit). That put a smile on my face, but not as big as the smile I had when I saw him pull out the (disposable) camera that Sam & Wendi gave him and begin to take pictures of me on Solomon's computer screen! Um...I am no longer sure that he isn't biologically ours.



Sometimes I learn things by observing and reading between the lines, but mostly I ask a lot of questions. I learned that the boys at Kolfe are fed three times per day – bread and tea for breakfast, injera and shiro (bean dish) for lunch and the same for dinner. They are rarely given fruit and only get meat 2-3 times per year. Solomon said that in the eight years he has lived at Kolfe, he has never seen an egg.

Their world is so incredibly different from ours.

So I had this idea to interview Solomon via Skype so that you all could see what it’s like to talk to these sweet boys. Solomon was game. So…what do you want to know? Leave a comment and I’ll ask the question. I’ll post a video of the discussion here in the next week.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kid Cam

I finally got around to putting some batteries in the kids' camera. I love seeing what they find photo-worthy. Usually there are a ton of self-portraits; apparently they find themselves very photo-worthy. One time there were several photos of a dead bird. You just never know what you're going to get. Whenever I download pictures from their camera it's like opening up a treasure chest.

Here is a slice of life through their eyes:



Bug in a bucket






Crazy sister or self-portait?


Big sister.




Chocolate-flavored baby cousin.


lil Avery? Who knew? At least he comes in peace.





She's crazy, but we'll keep her.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Miracle


I remember telling Dirt that I didn't want to visit Kolfe orphanage while in Ethiopia. I knew that older boys lived there and I didn't know what I'd say to them. Wendy and I were practicing balloon animals for our trip - for little kids. What would we do with 180 young men?

When we got to Ethiopia, I heard that Kolfe was home to boys "from 10 on up". The "on up" was given a definition: men as old as mid-twenties can sometimes live there. You see, in Ethiopia, orphans have no where to go once they "age out" of orphancare. There is no money for college and there are no jobs available. The orphanage lets them stay on campus just to keep them out of crime/jail.

I had no interest in going to such a place.

When the trip to Kolfe got pinched off our busy agenda I was secretly happy.

But God had a different plan.

At the last minute, Tom decided that we were going to go to Kolfe. I happened to have been sitting next to him on the bus and mentioned how I really didn't want to go. He replied, "Oh, you'll love Kolfe! ...these boys are amazing...everyone loves Kolfe".


[PHOTO REMOVED]

Nine months later, on Christmas day, I am skyping with a Kolfe orphan who I call son and who means the world to me.

I left Kolfe that day with a piece of a child planted in my heart. And every day since I have been trying to find a way to get back to him.

I checked the computer throughout the day, waiting for an opportunity to Skype. Then it happened! It was dark and difficult to see at first. 2pm here is 9pm there. Solomon was the perfect host...we chatted and he told me that someone was getting B, who was sleeping. There was a huge audience of Kolfe boys behind him, all watching and listening in.

And then I heard "here's B" and there was a shadow of a boy blending in with the night. Shy. Groggy. I think some boys had to literally push him in front of the computer.

I am perched with all three kids in front of our computer and we say "Hi" with big smiles. He says "Hi" back. Then we talk through Solomon. B understands us, but it not confident in his English, so Solomon translates. For the next hour and half, no one really knows what to say...but no one wants to hang up either. I ask a lot of questions about life at Kolfe and B is content to give one word answers. Just like Avery. Solomon fills in many of the blanks. After he warms up, he says things like "Mom, what is your favorite movie?", and "When are you coming to visit?".

I tell him that I am praying about it and asking God to open a door for me to come soon. I tell him that I will let him know when I have an exact date.

He smiles at Amaya, who is also a little camera shy. She recognizes him and whispers "B" to me.

He likes to watch Tom and Jerry. So does Avery.

Dirt comes down and says hello to everyone.
Amelle makes faces in the camera and we all laugh.

We show him the Christmas tree and talk about what an important day today is. The day Jesus was born. I show B his Christmas present: an astronomy book. Then I see the smile that melts me.

Family moments.

Merry Christmas.
**I just read Eileen Mestas' blog (also coincidentally titled "A Christmas Miracle") - read how Solomon joined her family's Christmas eve celebration via skype...and what he wrote to her afterwards. If you are interested in becoming a Kolfe mama, let me know. It definitely is an emotional investment, but the dividends are amazing and the rewards are eternal.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is it time to start Christmas shopping yet?


I think I just had a mild panic attack....Christmas is next week.

This leaves me with two big questions:

1) Um...why didn't anyone tell me?

2) How did Christmas get so sneaky and stealthlike?

I am so embarrassingly unprepared for Christmas. I feel awful. Our tree isn't up, Christmas gifts aren't bought, decorations aren't hung, Christmas music isn't being played.

What the heck has happened to me?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Better Late than Never

I took these photos at Thanksgiving...



How cute is Dirt with his parents?


...and the kids with their grandparents...


...and on an unrelated note...


THIS
is proof that I can't take a decent photograph of my kids.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Having a ball

Some families are football families...


...some are hockey families...


...some are soccer families...


...some like baseball...


WE are a basketball family.

Game ON!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

You Down wit OCC - Yeah You Know Me

...I know that was completely uncalled for. You'll probably have that stupid song stuck in your head all day. hee hee.
Operation Christmas Child (OCC) almost didn't happen this year...well, at least at my house. I heard about it at church two weeks before the boxes were due and I didn't think I had enough time/money/energy to pull off another big event. At first it was ON, then a week later after not having done anything to prepare, I decided it was OFF. Then 4 days before the deadline date, Monica (my beloved colleague) saved the day by convincing me to do it "smaller scale" than last year.
This translated into not inviting anyone, but filling more boxes.

Santa's workshop. All the mommas wrapping those awful shoe boxes (we had saved up all year). It probably wouldn't be so bad, but you are required to wrap the lids separately...which is a real bummer. Aside from shopping for the goods (which is fun), wrapping takes the longest (and is not fun).

[there are no pictures of the actual packing because it was a flippin' frenzy. We filled 32 boxes in 14 seconds flat]


Then my helper tagged all the boxes.

I love my helper.

Then my other helper, the big black hairy one, loaded all 32 boxes into the trunk and brought them down to the church. I love my other helper too.
Yay Operation Christmas Child - thank you for delivering these to children who have so little! What an awesome ministry, I feel so blessed to be able to contribute.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas is for Heroes

Send A Christmas Card to Our Soldiers In Iraq

Thanks to Xerox Corporation you can send a Christmas Card to a soldier serving in Iraq again this year. Just go to this web site, you can pick out a card from many that were drawn and designed by school children from across the country and add your own personal message to it.
Then Xerox will print it and it will be sent to them. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. It is FREE and it only takes a second. It's a wonderful way during the Christmas Season to them know we are thinking of them, and thank them for what they are doing. Please take the time to pass it on for others to do also. We can never say enough thank you's for what they do for us.



This seriously takes all of 2 seconds. Get your kids involved!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pens

I have been thinking a lot about pens lately. Yeah, pens. I know it sounds obscure, but you've had weirder thoughts.

My recent preoccupation with pens stems from Biruk's letter. When you ask a 12-year old orphan who lives in abject poverty what they need, you don't expect the answer to be "pens". "Pens, books for school, shoes, clothes". I have been a parent for 10 1/2 years and never, not once have my kids ever asked me for any of these things. These things fall under the category of "given". It's a given that they will have these essential items, they don't have to want for them or even ask for them.

This has struck me so hard because when I sent Biruk a package, I gave him papers and envelopes so that he could write to me - but no pens. I didn't even think about it; I guess I just assumed he would have access to a pen. Stupid American I am.

The reality of how little my new son has, is revealed through his wishlist. These kids have nothing. NO THING.

After I shared Biruk's e-mail with Eileen, she said this: "They only get one pen and pencil per boy and they treat them like gold. They need them for school and if they get lost or used up they can not get another one."



But God is so perfect because my dear friends Wendi & Sam Henry are headed to Ethiopia next week and I received this e-mail from Wendi this morning: just wanted you to know how intrigued I was by the 1 pen/year tidbit you shared...we are now taking 3000 pens with us to Ethiopia. Hugs, Wendi

3000 pens! Yay!

(in the above photo you will see my sweet son's shoes - the soles worn through to the ground, his truck where everything he owns is kept, and many other sweet boys at Kolfe who are living with unmet needs. )

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Can I call you mom?"

Oh my gosh, I am in such a tizzy! I just got an email from my sweet "son" who lives at Kolfe orphanage in Ethiopia.

You probably remember "B" from my many posts...his sweet smile has been plastered all over my two blogs, my office, and my house ever since I met him last April.

On Monday I received awesome news from a woman who also has a son at Kolfe - she informed me that she had her son Solomon set up an e-mail account for B. I was so excited that I quickly fired off an e-mail to him tellling him who I was and how much I love him. I asked him if there was anything he needed that I could help him with, I told him that I was sending him a package soon, and I told him to study diligently. Mom stuff, really.

But I have to be honest, it sort of felt like when I was 12 and wrote to Michael Jackson. He seemed so unreachable and I felt that chances were slim that I would actually get a reply. This wasn't my first attempt at trying to reach him.

But God is so much bigger than my doubts.

Today I woke up to the greatest e-mail I have ever read:

Hello Erin,

How are you doing? I’m so excited to hear that someone thinks about me every day in America. Wow how GOD plan is awesome!!! This is really amazing. Erin I remember you very well. I have still the poster that you give for me. I thought that you are forgetting about me before. I didn’t know that I have a place in your heart. I couldn’t believe when I read the message you send for me. I am so excited God because of God chooses you for me. I didn’t have an email address before. Solomon got for me this email address. Even I didn’t know why he did this before. I want to thank him. He is such a good young man. He is Just a role model for all kolfe boys. If he didn’t get for me this email address how can I found you?

Erin can I call you mom? I want you to be my family forever. I need clothes and shoes, exercise books. And pens for school. These are the problem I have but primarily I need some money that I pay for the Internet. There is no internet connection in Kolfe. I use internet cafĂ© by paying 20 cents for one minute. I am a student so; I don’t have any means of income. Even I wrote for you this message by the help of Solomon. He prints your message for me and gives for me the money to write for you. I need to talk to you at least twice a week. What do you think?

Erin school is going too very well. I am study hard to get good result than before. Thank you for your advice. I want to grow by God words and also Good student that proud his family. Erin know that you also a big place in my heart and I love you vey vey very much. R doing very well. I told about you for her and she is very excited. She also sends for you her love. I love you and miss you so much. I will talk to you soon until then the grace of our savior Jesus Christ be with you and your family.

Love,
B


Um..yeah. Crying.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Season Closer

A few weeks ago we headed out to Fort Foster to collect some beach sand for Amelle's community project.


Since it was a beautiful fall evening, we loaded up the truck with our bikes and decided to take our time.



It was likely going to be the last time we visited our favorite spot until next year.



Fort Foster is just as beautiful in the fall, as it is in the summer. The trees were ablaze and the groundwater only made the rides more adventurous.



Hanging on for dear life...don't you know that there are sharks in that ground water?




Daredevil!


weeeeeeeeee!



Anyone want to guess how this adventure ends?


Mind you, this thing is twirling around at the speed of light.



If you answered, "with a shower", you are correct.




This is our Disney.

I love it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Junk Posse

One of my RLC friends, Amy Bottomly, asked me to post this in support of her 2nd Ethiopian adoption. I'm so darn compliant, aren't I?

Seriously though, how cool is it that you can buy something cute from Etsy AND help someone adopt at the same time? Yep, pretty darn cool.

Tracy at JunkPosse makes amazing necklaces. She is currently donating 30% of the profits from a select group of necklaces to the Bottomly's Ethiopia Adoption Travel Expenses. Here are some of the necklaces.
Really great necklaces! If for some reason any of the above links are marked sold out, you can click on the JunkPosse store link right here to find the necklace listed again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Verse of the Day

Every day Dirt & I get a verse via e-mail; a guy from church sends them out to everyone in our church. Today's verse:

"....those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31


Speechless.

(see below)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Isaiah 40:31


I should have known something special was going to happen at church today. Mainly because I wasn’t going to go.

I missed zumba yesterday morning and thought about going this morning. We didn’t have the kids; I was thinking that Dirt could sleep in and I could just scooch over to zumba and feel good about having worked out today. Sure, I’d miss church, but that’s okay, there is no mandate that I have to go. We didn’t have any commitments at church and I was almost positive my favorite pastor wasn’t going to be preaching anyway. And so it was, a quasi-plan.

…until 8:15 when Dirt arose and asked me if I was ready to leave. My pajamas and morning breath told him I wasn’t. I suggested that he run to D&D and grab a coffee while I prettied myself up (translation: brushed my teeth and put yesterday's jeans on). We were sitting in our normal church seats by 8:40.

I noticed Dirt reading something in the bible during the offering and asked him what he was looking up. He told me that this morning, in the Dunkin Donuts drive thru line, he was behind a car with a license plate that said, “FAITH”. They also had a license plate holder that had two scripture references, Isaiah 40:31 & Hebrews 12:1-3. It was curious because it was obviously “custom”. Dirt was curious about what they were, so he was looking them up.

Church was good; good worship and good preaching. I was pleasantly surprised that my “favorite pastor” was preaching. I didn’t think about my earlier, thwarted plans at all. I never even mentioned zumba to Dirt – he didn’t need to know my unholy intentions.

After church a woman approached me and introduced herself. We had met once before. She had actually given the mother’s day message – which was pure perfection. She was a woman of tremendous faith, which resonated through her message. She encouraged women to support one another and to link up with a spiritually mature woman who can be sounding boards and support to us as we go through life’s trials. She told us about her special someone who challenged her faith and supported her through the loss of her teenage son years before. I remember looking over at her husband as she spoke, he quietly wiped tears from his eyes. I was wowed.

Just last week I was reflecting on her message and I expressed to Dirt that I needed to find a spiritually mature woman to “adopt me”. I don’t really have anyone in my life that I can go to about Christian stuff. I have Dirt, but he can only give me so much. First, he’s my husband, so he’s in everything with me, which doesn’t always lend itself to the best perspective, and second, he’s not a woman, a wife, or a mother. I need a Christian woman who is all of those things. Someone who can speak to me with biblical wisdom. But where do I find one of these?

I suppose I could actually go to one of the women’s events at church and hope to meet someone. There is no shortage of women’s conferences and bible study offerings. But I never do. I'm not real social, I guess.

So when this woman came up to me, put her hand on my back, and suggested that we get together for lunch some Sunday after church, I smiled and accepted. I couldn’t believe it. It was the Lord.

My eyes welled up the way they always do whenever I see God doing things in my life. I smiled as we settled in to Sunday School. Then something else really cool happened. In the middle of Sunday School we looked down at the handout and saw it in black and white: Isaiah: 40:31. This was the same sentence that Dirt had seen on the custom license plate holder an hour prior.
Um, do you know how many sentences there are in the bible? Only like a zillion. When the Lord picks one and puts it in front of you twice in one hour, you pay attention:

30Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

This was His message to us this morning.

Wait for the LORD.

So we wait for Him, but not alone.

Thank you Lord.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What's Wrong with Me?

I don't even want to talk about this. So don't ever, ever, ever mention this to me again, mmkay?
Halloween 2009. I actually had the kids costumes together in advance and I felt pretty good about them (translation: they were not plastic store-bought crap).
But on Halloween, I wound up being horrifyingly unorganized, and therefore, failed to get any decent pictures of the kids in their uncrappy costumes.
Before the night ended, I did manage to get a few shots. These are seriously the only pics I have of the kids, and they are wrong on so many levels.
Here's Michael Jackson. His white sparkly glove is in his pocket. I told you I didn't want to talk about it.

Here's my cute little kitty cat. Her collar is out of whack and her wiskers are almost completely wiped off. I hate myself.

Here's the Bride of Frankenstein. I am undeserving of my camera.

Here's the whole gang. We went trick-or-treating in Hooksett with my friend Monica and her crew. Good times. Bad pictures.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday. I'm not sure what that means for me; every Sunday is Orphan Sunday ...and tomorrow will be Orphan Monday, then Orphan Tuesday. The desire to help orphans doesn't wan. The burden doesn't get lighter.

That's not to say that there aren't days that get so heavy I throw my hands up in the air and say "I want out!". I want to forget what I saw, I want to forget that there is an orphan epidemic and go on living my life in ignorance. But that's when my Father steps in and wraps His arm around my shoulder reminds me that they're His children, not mine. And I remember how much of a privilege it is to be a small part of His mighty work, and how much I have learned about Him and about myself through the eyes of these little ones, and I feel thankful that I'm walking in obedience, even though it hurts my heart.



Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Of course I am thinking of BAM today, he has taken up permanent residence in my heart. During church this morning, I begin to miss him (sort of an odd feeling because I have only met him once - but I think most adoptive parents can relate to loving a child whom they have not met. The heart is powerful). I don't really know what to do with these feelings, so I look over at Dirt and tell him that I'm sad that BAM doesn't live here with us. He already knows this, and he knows that he can't do anything about my sadness; it's in the hands of the Lord.

Today I'm working on putting the final touches on a package that I'll be sending to BAM, via my friends Sam & Wendi Henry, who are going to Ethiopia next month. I so wish I could go with them. Some days it takes every ounce of willpower I have to not impulsively purchase a ticket. (Christmas gift idea alert, hint, nudge: RT plane ticket to Ethiopia) ;-)


I am kind of stumped about what to pack in an envelope to send to a son who is so far away. The envelope seems so small, and I want to send him everything. Of course the mother instinct keeps prodding me to toss in a pair of clean underwear and socks, but that might be awkward. So I revert back to things I think he'll like. Though the envelope is filled to capacity, what I've put inside it hardly feels sufficient.


Here Wendy shows BAM photos of our family. On this day, neither of us knew that he would become part of it.

There are millions of orphans in the world, will you do something this week to help one of them?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I'm Restless

...probably words that Dirt fears; but it's true. I'm ready for a change ...or even a leap. I don't know what that all means - stepping up, stepping down, left, right...I don't know. I just have this nagging feeling that what I'm currently doing isn't working and something has to give.

So I'm restless as I wait on the Lord. I'm asking Him for direction, guidance & wisdom and I'm looking forward with anticipation regarding what He has in store for me.
Hopefully it's not just a new hairdo, although I may be heading in that direction as well. (hold your applause please).

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Are You Ready for Some Football!?!

Today we had a little father/son (daughter) flag football game in the backyard.




The weather was pure perfection, and a flag football game was the ideal activity to get everyone outside.



What a blast! I just went through all 400 photos that I took and every shot depicted people smiling and enjoying themselves.



Good times!



I don't know who actually won. It sort of feels like everyone did.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Birthday Fun

Today we celebrated Maya's 4th birthday.


I know, we're a week early...but who's complaining?

At work, I have this teambuilding activity that I facilitate, where teams of professionals try to build the tallest freestanding structure using obscure materials. We usually give them PlayDoh, post-it notes, paperclips, clothespins, and some other random items.
As I was thinking about activities for Maya's party, I thought I'd do a similar activity, though since I was dealing with four year olds, I'd simplify it by just using PlayDoh.



Um...yeah. NOT recommended. A little awkward. It turns out that the other materials are actually CRITICAL.

The kids were wondering why the adults were laughing so hard. Needless to say, this child won the contest.



Though it was rainy, Maya got an opportunity to take her new ATV for a test drive. She's officially unstoppable.



..then she spent a good deal of the afternoon doing this. ...and amazingly, she did not get injured.

It was a good day.