Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pilot and the Peapod

You may recall that in 2007 I wrote a book. I wrote it for Avery in hopes that he would develop a desire to read. He didn't. I wrote a query and a book proposal and sent it off to one small publisher in Maine and they didn't bite, so I gave up on it. I decided that I'd self-publish two copies of the book for Avery and Mina - who the characters in the book are loosely based on.

The two books came in the mail a within a few weeks. I hated the cover I had designed and the formatting was off. I tucked both books away in the bottom of one of my nightstand drawers.

Two weeks ago, out of nowhere Avery asked me if he could read the book. I told him I'd look around for it and let him know if I could find it. The next night he asked me again. I went upstairs and located the book at the bottom of my drawer and handed it to him at bedtime.

Each night I noticed a dim light coming from his room. He was reading it. Totally unprompted. After the forth night I asked him what he thought. He told me he really liked it. He said it wasn't even like he was reading, it was like he was watching a movie in his mind.

I was thrilled. This renewed my vow to fix the cover and editing and get two good copies to the two people who inspired me to write it.

....so....that's what I've been working on all weekend....

Upgraded cover. I took this picture yesterday and monkied with it in Photoshop.

Now that Avery has read 10 of the 13 chapters, he can help with the creative process. I asked him to draw some simple sketches depicting each chapter.

In the book, it looks something like this:


Monday, May 30, 2011

Say Cheese

We celebrate my mom's birthday on Memorial Day weekend. Traditionally this provides an opportunity to get a picture of Grandma with all her grandkids. But there are challenges when trying to get a group shot with 7 kids ranging in age from 3-14...

He doesn't want to.

He's not ready.

He's not ready.

He's not ready.

...and I could post more...

However, I'll spare you and show you where we ended up:

Crazy town.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kid Art

Amaya's school puts together a book of all her art work throughout the year, and at the end of the year I end up with a big binder of her fantastic art. The best thing about these books is reading the commentaries. The teacher takes the time to date stamp each piece and ask the child what she was drawing. I love these more than words can say.

"This person was once sad and then someone came and held her"

"This is a castle on screaming grass. The grass is screaming because the castle is standing on it."

"This is a suckernator that sucks something and burps really loud"

"It's a lot of obstacles that a lady went through"

I've had a long-standing love affair with B.Andreas' Story People - provocative art based on this type of kid drawings. How much more meaningful are these Amaya originals?

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Am She

Happiness is stumbling across a poem you wrote 2002 - one that was written to your 16 month old daughter...and finding that 9 years later it still rings true. So glad I found this tonight, I loved reading it to Amelle and seeing her eyes smile. I forgot that I used to write.

To Amelle

I am all that is gracious, wondrous and true
I am She
Soft like the clouds that cover the earth
Like a song sung by birds chirp
Like soil that grows flowers and fruit
Like my mother, and hers - built to suit

I am calming and humble like a gentle breeze
Bearing life as it carries seeds
I am She
Like the sky, vast and knowing
Like a flower, blooming and growing

More than just the leaves of a tree
Roots, bark, and branches are all that is me
Leaves but bloom once a year
Roots stay solid when they disappear

I am She

Defined - Inside, out
More than my face, is what I’m about
All that is genuine, remarkable and pure


I. Am. She.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I need a baby

...to test out some of my photography stuff. I'm messing around with the lighting in my house to see if I can take pictures of little babies.

I don't want stuff like this to happen with a real baby who has a real mommy who wants to have pictures of her little sweetums. This baby's bonnet is blown out by the light on the right, but then her face isn't real sharp. This perplexes me. If I have enough light to blow out her bonnet, I should have enough light to get a crisp shot.

Something has to change. Before I try a new lens, I beg Maya to be my subject. I need skin, not plastic.

But clearly she isn't interested in being my model today. Even though I took her to Chuck E Cheese this morning, followed by lunch at her favorite "restaurant"(Subway) , I still had no credits in her bank. However, she was happy to play photographer's assistant and hold my light reflector (a piece of white posterboard) for me.

So back to the old faithful baby. I believe this is Amelle's #1 girl. She loves this baby, and I'm starting to see why. Very even tempered and cooperative. She's not a real looker, with her scarred up face and her unusually bumpy head, but what she lacks in aesthetics, she makes up for in personality.

I switched lenses, covered her strange head with Maya's old baby hat, and was able to get a shot that was less blown out. Still a little shadowy on the left, but my assistant went to watch cartoons so my reflector was propped up by cushions, further from the subject than I would've liked.

Then I changed out my backdrops to see how black would work. I also photoshopped the baby's face and her bumpy head. (It was the least I could do). And I disrobed her to get a peak at these:

Heaven help me. If these were real, I swear I would've kissed them. I love me some baby toes.

Somebody send a real baby stat. ...Before I start feeding and changing this one.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pictures for Regular People

I didn't take the suggestion seriously until two weeks ago, when it came from my photographer friend, Audra. I mean, I'm not a photographer, so why would anyone want to pay me money to take pictures? ...even if it was for a good cause.

Maybe the suggestion just felt more credible coming from a professional. Or maybe the looming $7400 adoption fee made the suggestion to take pictures as an adoption fundraiser, peak my interest.

Outside of being my own family's photographer (I'm known as "auntie camera" in our small family circle), I've only had one real photo shoot. Last year a friend from church asked me to take pictures of her baby. If success is measured by the joy that resulted from that shoot, then it was highly successful. My friend absolutely loved her pictures, and I loved playing photographer for the day.

Over the past week as I've been preparing to reveal my plans, I've struggled. I am so critical that every time I uploaded a picture I'd find something wrong with it, until I absolutely hated everything and almost scrapped the whole idea. But then something amazing happened. The evening I hit my pinnacle of self-disgust I received a FB message from someone I didn't know. She said that she had seen the pictures I did for Jess last year, and her baby was turning one, and she wanted to know if I'd take pictures for her. I blinked hard as I looked at the screen. She wanted to know how much I charged. Ha! I felt like this was the Lord's encouragement for me to move forward. I decided that I would charge nothing, but start an adoption fund that would accept donations from people who might want to compensate me for the session. In short, I decided to trust God.

On Wednesday, a second person asked me to take pictures of her family. Two people in one week! That's God.


I guess I'll be taking pictures this summer.

My site is here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just a Hair

Today the girls asked to get their hair cut.

Maya was particuarly pleased with her new do.

And was more than happy...

...to model for me.

But she did ask me to pay her a dollar.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dark Days

When it comes to our adoption, I try very hard not to play the “what if” game. It’s too dangerous for me because fear is a cruel captor. It’s so slick, it just creeps in and before I know it my soul is in turmoil. Today fear snuck in via a series of emails. The first was from CIS telling me that my case was still waiting to be assigned to an officer. They reiterated that their current processing time is 75 days. Ugh. That puts us WAY behind schedule. The second email was from my sweet waiting boy who has somehow heard the news that adoptions have been slowed down by his government:

Hello my sweet mom
How was the day? My day was went well. I am very happy to Skype you. Hearing your voice make me delighted, --Mom I heard rumor that Ethiopia government is going out new rule on adoption area. I think until September they going out only in per day five children, can out through adoption. The number of children will decrease so Gladney and other companies are in dangerous. So the process must be fast cause the time is short. I love you and I miss you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love your son

I want to wrap my arms around him and comfort him, but I am a world away and powerless. Today I forgot to believe that my God is bigger than my fears. I forgot that the all-powerful, all-sovereign Creator of the universe is my loving daddy. I allowed my mind to crack open the dungeon door and before I knew it I was engulfed in darkness with venomous thoughts swirling wildly around me. What if the program shuts down all together and we never get him? What if we have to wait so long for a court date that he becomes too old to adopt (15 is the max age allowed)? What if we never get to bring him home? What if God’s plan is for him to stay in Ethiopia? What if I don’t get my way? What if God fails me? What if God has another plan and it’s different from mine? What if. What if.

I wrote back to B, encouraging him with scripture and reminding him to pray…but then I wallowed in my own anguish all day. The thought of him never getting to come home is unbearably painful. If you’re reading this, please pray that God will bring our boy home soon and that his heart and mine will be at peace with God’s perfect timing.

..but 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

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting Stinks

I really really really hate waiting.

But at least I have some diversions.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


It's 7:30a on Mother's Day and I'm waiting for a skype call from B. Earlier in the week he sent an email telling me that he wanted to skype on Sunday. On Friday I got another email telling me that a friend at his orphanage told him he could use his computer to call me at "7:30 tomorrow". So...on Saturday morning I got up and sat by the computer waiting for his call - it never came. Today I am doing the same in hopes of getting hearing his voice, seeing his smile and his twinkling eyes. I'm waiting.

The whole adoption process can be summed up with one word, "waiting". He's waiting to come home. We're waiting to bring him home. If it's not one thing we're waiting on, it's another. Right now it's our government (USCIS), next it will be our adoption agency (waiting for his referral), then it will be the US Embassy (reviewing our dossier), then we'll be waiting for a court date, then our travel date, then we'll be waiting for time itself to pass so we can get there. Then we will finally be able to bring him home. God willing.

The biggest problem with this whole thing is that I absolutely hate waiting....and I'm terrible at it. For many weeks I have been sensing God's big loving hand on my shoulder, saying "patience". That's it. He tells me "patience". I suppose he's reminding me of my prayer to transform my spirit and make me more like his son. (Galatians 5:22).

And so I wait. It's now 7:45 and it seems like maybe he is unable to call. [sigh]. Maybe 7:30 tomorrow, or maybe not at all.

I will be waiting.

Friday, May 06, 2011


My niece Joelle, is thirteen.

and tonight she had her 8th grade social.

I can remember when she was born.

I bought her a green sleeper and wrote "Sweetpea" across the butt with fabric paint because I thought she looked like Sweetpea - the baby from Popeye.

...she doesn't look like sweetpea anymore.

She's just gorgeous.