The days on the long road of one families Ethiopian Adoption

This blog started out as a way to record the twists, turns, highs and lows in my families journey to adopt siblings from Ethiopia. Now our children are home and we have just finished celebrating our first year as a family.

I'm Kimberly (or Fendesha), an adventurous person who aspires to be a vagabond- but for now- I spend all of my free time travelling and my down time thinking of travelling. I'm a mom of 3 (the oldest being my gorgeous canine companion), a IT project manager, and on occasion I find myself the primary writer of this blog.

Happy Reading and thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Referral!!!

We are hoping that you all had a happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year...

INDEED-- it's been an awesome trip. First a fabulous week in London etc.. just popping around from restaurant to restaurant eating at each ethinic local we could find- (eating our way around the world with out leaving London one could say).

Then we travelled to Jim and Han's house in Norway for some much needed family time. Last night we gathered together some of our friends and we hosted a Murder Mystery night. Having no idea what we were doing - but we were all dressed up in 1940's clothing. Dagim our Ethiopian friend is here- he was dressed in a full tux as a very eligible and handsome rich bachelor, Denis with cigar in mouth wearing a sports coat pretending to be a rich movie producer- and I a famous actress that was pregnant - and the guy that I had an affair with- (whose kid I was carrying was just killed). Den's brother Jim was dressed like a woman (hysterical-as it was his first time in a dress-so he says-ha ha)- The girls were all giving him "how to walk in heels" lessons-laugh. Hans was dressed up like a comedian with one of those bright red sponges on his nose. There were past prime child movie stars, import and export businessmen- all in Character.

In the middle of this warped and hysterical scene of this crazy game- Jim's phone rang. And you can now guess why I'm emailing you. Denis and received a referral. Hiding in the bathroom from the noise-we found out the following details:

We'd like to introduce you to our "children":
Habtamu born on 10.13.2005, and his sister Debritu born on 10.23.2007.

We have to wait until the 5th or 6th to complete any paperwork because all offices are closed and then we are flying on Monday-Tufts says their medical report loos good so far- on .....we are so excited .....

Happy New Year to you all!!!!

Hugs and Love you all,
Kimberly and Denis

Sunday, December 28, 2008

England 2008

Hope that you all are having a happy holiday season.

Denis and I spent last week in England (London, Bath and Windsor). We discovered Hemsley's toy store (the entire store), saw the changing of the guard at windsor castle- of course we then pretended to march like soilders for the rest of the day, drank the water at the ancient bath house as part of the tour ( in Bath) only to find ourselves pooping our brains out in the public restrooms at the end of the tour.

I'm in the process of updating our snapfish photos- so by tomorrow you should be able to see the photos on

I'll send along the Christmas updates shortly.

Hugs and Peace to you all.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

it's "beginning to look a lot like Christmas".... GRIN....

Not much this morning for accumulation-but this morning we received our first snow. So, of course, we had fun with it!!! Sorry for the lack of posts lately, we are getting ready for the holiday's- one week in London (business) and a couple of weeks in Norway with family.

I'll post again before we leave...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

10 Magical Years

Hurray!!! Denis and I realized that this coming weekend we'll have been "dating" for 10 magical years.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful moments

Thanksgiving is coming and I've been thinking more about the moments in my life that I am thankful for.

Life can really throw some interesting moments your way- or really special ones that make you thankful for your life. As the stressful holiday's approach- I hope you all stop to think about the moments in your life that you are thankful for.

Growing up surrounded by people that had families that were far more intact and financially more fortunate than my family was, as an adult, I've worked hard to displace myself from that environment. I've fought hard and worked hard to put distance between the "haves" and "have nots" of my childhood- only to learn that the more fortunate I become- the more fortunate I was with out. Perhaps it's a realization that comes with age.

But now, as I think about my ability to travel around the world (mostly) as I desire, and I've seen poverty affecting people in ways I could not have imagined. I realize many of the privileges that I have are only because of where I was born and are because I was born with the ability to carry a US passport.

It's easy to overlook that some of life's most important gifts were given to some of us at birth.

As we watch our US economy crumble around us-I'm reminded that it's important to take some time everyday and remind ourselves of those "moments" we are most thankful for... not "what" we are most thankful for.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Any recomendations for restaurants in London?

This may be a strange blog but- I'm going with it anyway- (grin).

We're heading to London for business for 5 nights- just before the holidays.
Can anyone recommend a restaurant we should visit?
We prefer places that are not in a hotel and independently own but we're not picky.

(We have the following in mind to start with-Ethiopian , Indian and a pub night, but we're missing that nice customer recommendation restaurant or a nice romantic one if we don't have customer obligations)- any suggestions on all of the above?

Thanks a bunch!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Trip North- the details

I took a 14 day trip to the North areas in Ethiopia. We stopped in Dessie, Lalibella, Adwa, Axum, drove through the Semien Mountains- into Gondor - then down to Bahr Dahr and the Blue Nile falls. We got stuck in a town out side of some Gorge and we had 11 live chickens with us. Trying to figure out what to do with them was a challenge-laugh. Then we proceeded back to our lives in Addis.


We blew through 7 tires while travelling on the dirt roads
We got really good at changing tires-laugh.
We visitedwith family members and hotels along the way.
We went to cultural events, visited museums, argued, laughed and in all had a fabulous journey.
I saw poverty - fed children- visited traditional homes- spoke with different native individuals through out my journey and had the most amazing 2 weeks.

What I did during the remaining 15 weeks of my journey I've yet to document- so hang in there- I'll upload them as I*(locate them) and have time to upload them.

Enjoy the pictures.

BTW- I tried the program yesterday that "three continent family" used - and it's awesome (it's a new addition on the bottom of this page)- thanks "Three Continent!!!" There's a cute little slideshow with only 36 pictures of so if you want to see less pictures.


See me if you want to travel like this and I'll put you in touch with somebody that can arrange it for you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just some pictures of my trip to Wenchi Crater (not part of the trip to the north)

Shopping at the market

carrying water home

Children playing by the water- curious about my presence

Beautiful young girl - watching over her siblings

Traditional country home in Central-West Ethiopia

Get out the Vote!!!

I was so excited about voting this morning that we were there before the polls opened and stood in line.

I'm thrilled to say - It was a high energy - people smiling sort of line!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008


I was "Tagged by Three Continent Family". - see their link on bottom right of this blog.

Today may not be the best day to do this-or perhaps it is-since I'm feeling down I could use a good laugh. I'm not certain I can come up with 7-but here goes..

Share 7 random or weird facts about Me....

1)I love to travel and I compare everything I purchase to the price of a plane ticket. Because of this my passport is the most important thing I own. When I'm not traveling, I'm reading about other people traveling or researching travel or other cultures.

2)I enjoy being left handed.

Did you notice no matter which way you vote this year- there is one thing for certain- we will have a left handed President in the Office!

Silly enough- I'm excited about this.

The two lefties:

A little humorous story:
The Left-Handed Whopper (an April 1st Joke):
In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version."

3)Animals. I just adore animals and they seem to adore me.

They come up to me-they follow me around. I actually got the rabies "vaccination" when I went to Ethiopia because of how much Animals like me (and me them). Even when I try to avoid them-think Dr. Doolittle. In someways I'm fortunate-because all animals add such peace to my life. Sometimes I think I'm recarnation and they can tell-laugh.

I've had squirrels run over my feet, birds land on me- I've even picked up a wild hawk with out being harmed in any way (yes-I've had more than my share of bird poop on me too it seems), Donkeys have tried to come into my living space, chickens in hotel rooms, monkeys on my doorstep, and I've found sheep sleeping in my room. I've been able to walk up to animals other people cannot.

It's very strange- I have a strong kinship with the less "domesticated" part of the world.

4) We keep Cheyenne pepper in our pepper shaker in our house, because I don't like Black Pepper. Most people think it's because I don't like "spicy" foods. In fact- I love spicy foods. Just not the black peppercorn. Try to go a day with out black pepper. It's difficult. Although- I've learned as I've gotten older to eat things and be more tolerant of it- I still don't like it. Otherwise I would not be able to eat at most places and would not like most foods.

In an evil attempt to get you all to eat less black pepper you should know (ha ha)-

In a recent report- Black Pepper is one of the 12 foods when tested-that most frequently containing pesticide residue (grinnn).

5)My toes are shaped like fingers. I have a really long middle toe and shorter big toe-but my toes are abnormally long. They look like hands and are good for picking up things. As a kid I use to be able to pick up more with my toes than my friends could.

6)My Mini-breast. I went to the doctors once and asked about a mole on my chest- really-it's the size of a mole-the doctor told me after examination that while I was developing as a baby my body started to grow a third breast- good thing I was born on time!!!.

I don't know if I believe it or not-but this mole- and the doctors response sure has added much humor to my life.. :-).

7)I Love to bake alone (and to cook with Denis). We love having company - love to try out new recipes with our friends. Baking is a way for me to relax. The smell of the house-delights me. But when I'm busy- and I bake- it's a complete disaster!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Elevation of Addis- It's no wonder Ethiopians Can run!

From its lowest point, around Bole International Airport, at 2,326 metres (7,630 ft) above sea level in the southern periphery, the city rises to over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in the Entoto Mountains to the north.

USA Elevations
  • Mount McKinley, Alaska (20,320 feet; 6,194 meters) — highest point in all of US territory
  • Mount Whitney, California (14,505 feet; 4,421 meters) — highest point in the 48 contiguous states
  • Winter Park, Colorado (12,060 feet; 3,676 meters) — highest town in all of US territory. (Note: There is no development in Winter Park above the level of Alma, Colorado; Alma also lays claim to this title.)
  • Alma, Colorado (10,355 feet; 3,156 meters) — highest town with permanent residents above 10,000 ft.[1]
  • Leadville, Colorado (10,152 feet; 3,094 meters) — highest city in all of US territory

Exhausted-I lay down my staff of hope and cry.

  • Guantanamo Bay and the unjust tortures that are still being allowed,
  • The 20 months of election "news",
  • The never ending emotional roller coaster-as we wait for our adoption,
  • My ever increasing awareness of racism now-racism in the 60s,
  • The field of flags at our church- thousands of flags representing the soldiers that have died in the war-9 more flags added to the field-the names and homes spoken of the 9 that died this past week.
  • My daily concerns over the food shortage, racial tensions between tribes, and the impact of inflation on the people in the developing country that I love.
I broke down into tears of sadness and anger today - is anything going right?

Exhausted-I lay down my staff of hope and cry .

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We are officially number 2 in line . How exciting!

Our agency sends out this weekly email-I call it the "no news newsletter". When we first started this process- I use to live and breathe by the updates-they completely distracted my day.

So now when I check my inbox-on Tuesday mornings- It glares at me tempting me to open it.
I resist- I check all of my other email and then I try to start my day. It yells at me. I go get coffee, close my email... open it.. close it.. and FINALLY... I sigh- and think oh damn and open the useless thing.

Then I scroll down to the section that indicates the next dates for people in line for their referrals . This date hasn't changed since the 2nd week of April for people looking for siblings under 4- and there our date is!!!!

We are officially number 2 in line . How exciting!

The family that just received their referral- waited 21 months for their referral- the family behind them waited 16 months. We are reaching toward 17 months now. I'm hoping that we receive our referral when the back log of waiting famililies has completed most of their travel. It would be nice to have a shorter travel wait-giggle. It looks like families are currently going to wait about 6 months for their court dates (that's MARCH(ish)).. oh man oh man- not including christmas court closure challenges.

I'd be excited to learn what the sibling requirements are for theApril 24 family!! Does anyone know?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

48 hours in Addis

I just read this article from Reuters and thought I'd write my own- Here's what I suggest you do with just 48 hours in Addis.

If I had the chance here's how I'd spend it- (excuse the spelling errors)

10pm you arrive off the flight- you should go to the Milkhouse and see the city at night.

the next morning- get up eat breakfast -be sure to have a macchiato0 and early in the am go to a church- Bole MarieKadet (sp) would be a great one as it's the largest (although you should ask the receptionist at your hotel if it's a saints day of the month- I suggest you go to a church with the saints name instead)- After you walk around the church if it's lunch time- head to Ishi-Bunne's in that area- otherwise-go to AhMist Kilo- get a fruit drink at a fruit drink store and then visit the national museum - walk across the street if you haven't had lunch yet-eat at the Pizza restaurant across the street- or go to Lucy's and have a traditional meal (or Blue top but you'll find mostly other foreigners there) .

After the museum and or lunch- head to your hotel and take a rest it'll be hot and the middle of the afternoon. Be prepared for a long evening. If you are adventurous-and not with children- head to Aramedia's or another local Chat house (ask around on Bole-lot's of people speak english there).

Head out to the Cultural House around 7pm to see Dancing and have some traditional food -and enjoy trying the local beverage of honey wine. Then head to Cashances around 11:30-and watch some traditional music played at any of the local houses- you will have to stick your head in a few to see which you like-laugh. Have a st. George's beer in Cashanches.

Go back to your hotel for the evening and you've just finished your first day in Addis.

Day 2 -

Get up, eat breakfast at your hotel and head to Entoto first thing in the morning- see a beautiful view of the city and enjoy a quick tour of the church's museum. Don't forget to visit the houses in the back where the King once lived.
Have a snack and a coffee at one of the local coffee shops at the bottom of the hill from Shiro Meda on your way from Entoto. If coffee's not your thing- Tea is also great- and Coca Cola or Miranda is very popular if there no electricity.

Then go to ShiroMeda for a couple of hours and do a little bit of local shopping.

Later in the day-head to the Melenik Museum in Sidist Kilo and enjoy walking through the famous gate of Addis Ababa University enterance. If another museum is not your thing- then Head from Sidist Kilo to your hotel to drop off the items you bought while shopping or head to the Mercato and continue shopping.

Your day is almost over - now take a taxi to Top of the Hill and have dinner there.
If you have additional time- people watch from Kaldi's cafe at Friendship on Bole. It's not far from the airport and its a hub for activity. Have an ice cream and enjoy the view (noise) for a bit.

If you have additional days- pop upstairs to StoneAge tours and see my friend Mekonnen. He'd be happy to help you arrange a day trip (or more) out of the city.

other options-
Take a mini-bus to Amist Kilo and eat at the restaurant next to the photo shop that serves a great fried fish or take a contract taxi to Romaini's -their food is great.

If you would rather-Go to Piazza and have a long cup of coffee at the top of the building on the corner across the street from the electric company and Ethiopian Airlines office. Go in and confirm your flight with the ethiopian airlines office (if it's the next day). If you want to buy jewlery- the Piazza is the right place. Pick a store-there are many-but shop around and bring somebody local with you.

If you've enjoyed shopping -head to the Mercatto. If it's not your thing- people watch.

Imagine how this burden would impact your daily life.

Put on your imaginary hat:

Today you are living in a place where you have to drive from location to location around a crowded city (a very large city) to find a gas station that has gas. You get in this very long line- say for an hour or so behind taxis, buses, delivery men and ordinary "Joe the plumber" and when you get to the pump they tell you that you can only put 20.00 in your gas tank- that is equal to about 1/4 of a tank of gas. Imagine that you use Gas in your car and Kerosene to cook with. Do you have to choose? If so, which do you choose?

Now in our imaginary little world you only get paid when you are "working" not hourly. Let's just ponder how much the price of products and this added wait affects everything in your life....

Welcome to a day in the life as a resident in Addis this morning, my friends.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A simple twist of fate

Natnael is a 3rd grade boy that I had the privilege of meeting while teaching in Ethiopia. His mother and father have both passed way and he lives with his grandmother, his brother and a couple of other cousins. Natnael's family is experiencing serious financial difficulties that includes food shortages- his ability to stay in school was in jeopardy. While I was there I asked Denis to consider having us sponsor his education- he gladly said yes.

We then had the school call his grandmother and ask her to come to the school -but learned that she was already coming that morning because Natnael was in disciplinary trouble that previous day (laugh- a boy hit him and he hit him back).

We were called into the office when she arrived. The grandmother was very nervous- first the school talked with her about Natnael's disciplinary issues and she apologized profusely for her grandsons bad behaviour. You could see clearly in her body language that she was very upset with her grandson and greatly discouraged by this news. (At school -when a student is disciplined the parent is required to come in the next day- the students hate this).

After the school addressed his disciplinary issue-we told her that Denis and I had decided to sponsor her grandson's education provided he could keep in good behaviour and study hard.

Natnael's grandmother practically fell to her knees. We hugged, laughed and smiled greatly with her joy and helped her take a set. Between her sobbing-she repeatedly said "god bless us, god bless the school, god bless her grandson along with a million thank yous and blessings that I could barely understand with my limited Amharic". It was the most amazing moment. This woman came into a room with her shoulders down apologizing incredibly for her grandson- and left in tears of joy-standing straight. Her hugs were powerful and you could immediately sense that she was a woman of amazing strength and ability. You instantly admired this old woman-and as another woman-I understood with out words that her burden has been great.

She invited my husband, myself and a translator to her home for tea. We walked on a rainy afternoon down a dirt and rocky footpath past many homes- saying hello to his neighbors asking where their residence is. We passed a shared public toilet along the way and entered a small home with little or no electricity (perhaps the lights were out that day - one can never be sure).

We took a seat in the sparse but adequately furnished home and learned about Natnael. His father was a soldier like his Grandfather and both perished fighting for his country. Photo's of these two very handsome uniformed men were predominately displayed along side two other photos, one a man and another a woman. Natnael's mother later became very sick and passed away- along with his aunt (his grandmother's daughter) and his uncle (his grandmother's son).

I was teary eyed and speechless upon learning that his grandmother had lost all 3 of her children, she was now responsible for raising her grandchildren. The pictures of these smiling faces are hanging above where we were sitting and as she tells us the tragedies that her family has seen - she looks up and smiles at her children's photos. She goes on to explain the worries she has about her age, about how well the children were doing in their schooling, about keeping them in school with the cost of feeding them and the sparse ability they had as a family to make money given that all of the children were under 16. They did not have any servants and the grandmother made a very nice cup of tea for us.

Later in the visit we talked about how Natnael was in his schooling and we presented him with some school supplies and asked him personally if we could sponsor him. Asking if he would work hard and make us proud- telling him that of 800 children we were very happy to have selected him and that he should be proud. His grandmother was so very happy-she kept crying and blessing us over and over.

It was a delightful moment in time. To be able to witness one good woman's burden to be lifted slightly. To watch her light up as her grandson was offered this great opportunity. To share in the tradition of a simple cup of tea with another person- and a simple visit that has the opportunity to have such an impact for this family that has already experienced so much.

Life has this amazing way of throwing "simple twists of fate into our lives". A simple moment in time- a simple gesture leads to possibly- a whole new future for a young man and his family. Isn't it remarkable that this woman and I found each other. She being a strong woman who needed a break and I having the need after spending time in Ethiopia, to help somebody.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The post american world- newsweek

a long article but interesting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"I realize now that my approach was wrong, to search for "love" in another's song".

Evening All,

For years-I walked around with an empty spot in my life - nothing I did seemed to fill it. I took yoga, gave to the cause of the month-year, volunteered, joined my church- but that hole just seemed larger and larger as I aged. my DH once said to me - "I realize now that my approach was wrong, to search for "love" in another's song" and he was so right...

Ethiopia makes my heart sing. The children's laughter was music to my ears, their difficulties feed my need to find ways to try to make a difference on this "it's a small world", the love that I received as being a part of that culture-slowly over months seemed to have filled that hole in my heart. Ethiopia touched my soul, my heart and with months of exposure now is part of my daily thoughts and prayers. I can't thank the world enough for "my path" bringing the country into my life, or the family I stayed with for accepting me "as I am" and introducing me and inviting me into their life there. From that exhausting evening - March 13th-now-My world is truly a different place both physically and spiritually. And that hole- it's filling up.... all I had to do was find the right approach and search for "love" in my own song- my own way.

Of course, all life experiences come with their challenges. And currently my challenge is to continue to embrace this meaningful life change in our materialistically driving world while still enjoying those items with out guilt that we've achieved in our life. Balance- is the true challenge here for me-laugh.

May you all skip along the path to finding "your own song- and your own way".

This video touched me this evening and I just had to share it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Perhaps now would be a good time to make economics a mandatory class in High School

I know I know I'm never on the "popular" opinion side of things these days as far as politics go-but things in our country are really going nuts...

1) first we provide billions of dollars to the rich- and to make the honey pot more attractive we throw in a few extra billion for random social programs.. ugh. Is now a good time to talk about "privatizing retirement??"-laugh

2) Then we feel it's important to throw our state's stability to the wolves.. (or should I say dogs here?). ugh - see comic below.. he he..

3) Palin- are you kidding??? How embarrassing!!! As a business woman she makes me want to pull a rug over my head and hide until she's done embarrassing herself- good god! Too bad I can't afford a rug. Wonder why-please refer to 1 and 2 above.

Is there anything important happening in the US right now?? There are people actually starving in many of the worlds countries - they are so destitute that they are actually handing their children over to others to be raised by strangers.

Perhaps now would be a good time to make economics a mandatory class in High School!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Would you like to Volunteer as a Teacher in Ethiopia?

Getting ready to play soccer (football). It's the female teachers against the 8th graders.
Yes, that's me-but don't get any ideas- I had no idea what I was doing out there.

Teachers- and the upper school line up.

I heard from my "sister" Eldana in Ethiopia. The school her family owns just opened up the first floor of the school they are building and have an additional 21 students in 9th grade. They are so excited but overwhelmed.

They just received the results from the 8th graders national exam and almost all of the students passed in the 80-90 percentile. The lowest grade received by any taking the exam was a 69!!! I'm so proud of them and the students after reading that email I had to share it with all that would read. Go LemLem- they work so very very hard and it really shows!!

Hayel is proud to say that we have received sponsorship for one more student- prior to the paperwork being completed.. I can't wait to be able to watch our company grow! One more kid will stay in school- thank you thank you thank you. It's so exciting to be a part of something that really means change and a future to another child.

If you know anyone that would like to volunteer at a school in Ethiopia and teach- for a month or so- they need volunteers -currently it's difficult to keep teachers for what the school can afford to pay. The family is wonderful - the school is energized and I can put you in touch with Eldana and her mom. As a volunteer you pay for your trip and when you get to the school they board you and feed you in exchange for your work-they'd also get you at the airport I'm sure of it. You would need spending money. I can also put you in touch with somebody to help you travel if you'd like to do that as well at the end of your trip. Just email me at if you are interested.

Rangeley in the Fall

Fall is Gorgeous and the smell - when I say "the smell of fall" doesn't a certain scent come to mind? That smell of leaves falling and settling on the ground? Laugh. If your from New England or the North East I know you are thinking of the exact same smell I'm thinking of. If your in the south - the Smell of Spring time is kind of what I'm talking about here.

Having to turn on the heat, the freedom to use your stove to bake something, the deep breath of moist cool mountain air. I just love it here (in October- by February I'm the cheapest bid would be happily accepted-laugh).

This weekend - Happy Birthday to mee-laugh- Denis, Geneva and I visited our friends gorgeous ski in/out condo on Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley, Maine. We hiked most of the main trails of the ski hill (in the rain), we wandered around a water fall, visited a gorge I use to swim in as a kid and met a lovely woman that ran a bakery out of her house. After a depressing weekend in factory focused Maine last weekend- a weekend in the resort towns is exactly what was called for. My Dreamy Maine is back. I'll post pictures tomorrow- the camera's in the car and I'm so sick of being in the car. The weekend was awesome. We almost drove to quebec -but we had Geneva this weekend- and if we had thought of it-could have dropped her by mom's- but I'm so pleased we didn't. Watching her tromp around in the water-burrrr- and hike the mountain off lead-brought giant smiles to Denis and I. She so comes to life in the Colder weather -it's always delightful to watch!!

GO RED SOX!!! The game is totally tied up at the moment and my heart is pounding. Go Beckett... Why do they have him pitching already??? Ughghghghg...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pictures of the Fire Pit

I decided after a very rainy summer-that since we didn't go camping- I would bring camping to us. Here are a few pics of the firepit I build over labor day weekend here in our back yard. It was a big hit at our last BBQ with a few friends-they took the guitars out there- and played them around the fire at night. Delightful!!!

Total cost= about 100.00
supplies from home depot (4 rows of small landscaping retaining wall stones-first (buried) and second row 14, second 13, last 12), a few bags of sand and some crushed stones.

Directions- measure out the circle, dig a small circular hole a couple of feet down for drainage- fill with stone, then create your first two rings, add sand, add on your last two on the top. If you need to mortar it-which I ended up doing- make sure you use the fireplace mortar. That's all folks- it's pretty easy - I started it on Saturday, and finished it on sunday- putting in a couple of hours each day. Total around 6 hours plus shopping for the stuff (mortar took a bunch of that time)

Pictures of the Basement

The new bathroom

laying the cork flooring

The new family room-with floor. We started with concrete walls, our neighbor has helped us emensly (insert completed most of the carpentry here)- it's a work still in progress-but we started with concrete walls!!. It's starting to look more and more like a living space!! Yippy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dreaded Adoption update, the dog house turns to Kid house, and New England Fall time

It's been an adventurous and busy couple of weeks:

Adoption update:
As you know we changed our request from siblings- 1 child under 12 months and one under 2 to siblings 1 under 2 and 1 under 4 or twins under 4. After spending some time there and getting to interact with the children more we felt more comfortable with the developmental stages children who were slightly older were at- and perhaps we'd like to hurry our referral a bit more. Quite frankly- It's taking way to "fraken long" I'm tired of waiting waiting waiting and waiting.. oh and did I say waiting. Laugh. I still feel shallow saying it- but I want a referral- like yesterday.

We talked with our agency and they told us to expect a referral by spring. I was crushed (can you hear the sound of the bricks falling???)

On the homefront-

Denis keeps joking that the longer the referral takes the more "square footage" of our home is being dedicated to them. Our home which is currently one giant dog house for our beloved Geneva is turning into a playhouse for our "imaginary" children. You know how creepy we must look to the people that don't know we are adopting that visit our home?? We are two childless people with a playroom that has an active lego table on it, trains going around the ceiling of it and on another floor with a smaller play room that is decorated and contains a costume rack and a playset in the back yard with swings, the rock wall and a slide? My god... It's beginning to become a bit "embarrasing" could you say. Although we had the greatest compliment the other day when our friends walked into the playroom and said to us- geesh guys this looks like a daycare-laugh!!!!

A little more on the new costume closet with magnetic walls and soon a small book shelf. We have a costume closet now under the stairs of the family room and it's full of costumes- (you see my brother in law loves Marshalls so when he's visiting we go to many- this time being that halloween is right around the corner- I couldn't help myself and I bought costumes at each of them). There's a giraffe, lion, frog, turtle dragon, elephant.. to name a few ... I find myself wishing they were in Adult sizes - Denis would have had a blast in the Chicken outfit-and I've been tempted several times to put on the horse outfit. The kids that visited last week liked the turtle and the horse (clip clop clip clop -neeehhhh).

Our neighbor just finished helping us build a Lego table for the play room - (did you know Lego was a Connecticut company)? I purchased a table from the mill stores and he cut a square out of the middle of the table and drilled a hole in the removed piece. We affixed a canvas bag to space where the hole is and then added polyurethane to the table. It looks awesome! Denis and I have enjoyed plenty of hours of imaginary play over the past couple of weeks.

We just finished watching the last few episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Lost so we are finally caught up and can read the websites. OMG-I can't believe how BG ended!!! I can't wait to find out who that last Silon is... Starbuck, Apollo, or the obvious.. Baltar (ugh). And now they are one big happy family Silon and Humans??? What's up with the XO.. wow...weee...

And with Lost- they are so busy killing each other that it's not surprising only 6 escape. I have to say though- I enjoyed season 4 almost as much as season 1 and I'm glad I stuck with it. Sayid- "Naveen Andrews" is sooo HOT. It's no wonder People magazine rated him "one of the worlds most beautiful people". Somebody has finally trumped "Dylan McDermott" on my number one spot of "people to be stranded along on an Island with". "That's a little running conversation that my buddy I run with and I have started up"...

this year I've discovered what a commitment TV can really be- now that shows are available online I'm thrilled- it's exhausting to try to keep up with this stuff. Denis has started watching the Hero season and I'm going to start watching Prison Break (PB is HUGE in Ethiopia and everyone was talking about it while I was there so I have to watch it-laugh).

When my brother in law left last week from his couple long week visit with us - we met our new social worker -she's awesome (as our old one recently quit) and then I went to Maine to visit with my mom.

My mom lives in South central western Maine (Jay to be specific). This is the area I grew up in- now when I visit the area seems so depressed. It doesn't seem like the vibrant town where people were always busy and homes were being built and school and community activities were hopping (I grew up in Turner). The area seems sad to me- my childhood memories seem so far away. The factories are closing along with the few mom and pop stores that were there, the mall in Auburn is empty of stores, the Big Walmart's have moved in along with the commercial oil companies and chain convenience stores and the people seem to be getting heavier and heavier. The farms are turning to modular home lots (although smaller than I've been seeing elsewhere) and the old barns are colapsing from the past couple of bad winters. For sale signs are EVERYWHERE... What happen to the somewhat green Maine with farms and active people??? I grew up recycling, riding my bike, getting veggies from my uncle's farm for dinner and taking care of the horses.

It's amazing actually-because what I see now is the "adult perspective" as a kid- the ski lodges are still active, the schools still have their sports and drama, you can still swim in the lakes and go ice skating in the winter and heck- they now can have food delivered to their doors, all of the roads are tar, and they have their own private phone lines- did anyone else grow up with a party line-it was great for calling your neighbors (and listening into their lives-ha ha) ???

Delivery for pizza- now that was an awesome discovery when we moved away from Turner. Food directly to your door!!!WOW!! It's amazing how when you are not close to home you remember your home location as dreamy but as you get older and more distant from it- those memories create a kind of space time experience in your head that doesn't allow the place to change...laugh.

Well- off to Maine again this weekend. Even though Jay has changed the State itself is still my "home". And childhood memories still dance in my head in the fall. The trees are starting to change and it's GORGEOUS. I can't wait to hear the crunching of leaves under my feet with the dog running along in the woods off her leash. It's time to climb up an apple tree and pick off those last few macs, start thinking about baking and buying the foods from the farm stands to do so during the week after work, and of course-one must fling rocks into the lakes for people to stub their toes on in the summer to come-failing to skip them across the water that is still foggy in the morning and now too cold to swim in. The absence of the birds in the forest as the loons and birds are flying to their winter resorts. (ohh and let's not forget to put on those bright yellow coats that you never see the handsome dad's wearing in the LLBean catalogs so the hunters won't shoot you and your dog!). It's really the best time of year- with the colors surrounding you, last years sweaters freshly out of the closet and the smell of wood fires in the evenings... There's no place like New England in October.. and I can't wait.

County Fairs:
Went to the Big E this weekend. It's a must do once, if you love fairs -but my list for favorite fall fairs remains unchanged:
Blue Ribbon to Blue Hill Fair, Red Ribbon to Fryeburg fair and Yellow Ribbon to Topsfield Fair. But topsfield comes with it's warning label- you must go early in the morning toward the beginning or middle of the fair. It's way too crowded otherwise. The Topsfield lacks animals but makes up for it in Horticulture. The Big E.. well it just kind of Lacks-but if you're into the rides-they have a huge Midway and it's really a very very big fair. If you're pushing a stroller it's probably pretty good because it's all tar too.

Completely Selfish plug.

My Birthday is This Thursday so of course- the beginning of October is truly perfect time- it's also an awesome time for one to officially "age". Although to most our friends and family - I'm thrilled that I'll always be the young and springy chicken!! He He (the benefits of surrounding yourself with those older than you).

OOOOHH.. Dear Wonderful Hubby got me a ticket to see Madonna with one of my Neighbors on the 16th. I CAN'T WAIT!!!.... oh gooody gooody gooooody!!!!

Have a great week and I'll post again then. Perhaps I'll even post some new pictures-laugh.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws- PHEW

It's just about real!!! Hayle Education Fund for Ethiopian Children Incorporated is almost a legitimate company (in the state of Massachusetts only pout pout)- can you believe it?

After a couple of months of research,etc.. I'm now selecting my board of directors and am going to submit the paperwork to the state. Hip Hip Horray. Hopefully it will receive the stamp of approval with little hick-ups and I'll be moving onto stage 2- the EIN the IRS 1023 paper-chase. But I can create a website and start collecting some funds when step one is completed!!!

But since I need to celebrate the babysteps-boy did the adoption process teach me that one.. This is my little celebration-thanks for joining in...laugh. Now I'm off to complete stage 1 this week and then I get to "sit and wait" for approval. After "approval" I can move onto stage 2.

Cross your fingers and thanks for the help to all of you who have provided ideas and guidance along the way (an extra special reach out to!!!

Thanks a bunch!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

15 months waiting and "Three Cups of Tea"

So- here we are- waiting waiting waiting...oh and have I said "waiting" to start our family. I was prepared for 12 months- even 14 months. Granted- we put it "on hold" thinking we'd be right on top when I returned from Ethiopia and now that we are fully engaged again with our new fingerprints, and updated home study- etc.. I find it incredibly irritating that we are still at minimum "3rd" in line with really no end in sight. We were only 5th (guessing of course) when I left in March.

Granted- I should be saying "thank god" that we didn't focus on the adoption during the time period I/We were in Ethiopia- because at that time we desperately needed a break from it all. Now (from my perspective of March 2006 when we started all of this)- it's reached emotionally "ridiculous" and we find little pleasure in even talking about the adoption. In fact- we really enjoy talking about "other people's adoptions" giggle. We've been really privileged to see new families grow- and I'm so excited as this truly is the best part of "waiting".
I can't help but whine today though-damn I'm usually so good about this stuff.. Where's my cheese?? Ha Ha.. Although-"this line of folks waiting" - seems to be an awesome problem for Ethiopia to have-it's not making me feel any better about the length of time we're going to have to wait.

Okay- enough on that soapbox.. have you seen the following announcement???
This is where I will be tomorrow- come join me.

I'm so excited by Mortenson's adventures and inner strength- and to actually see him speak will be a complete personal thrill... Come join me!!!

Mortenson to Speak at Stonehill in September

Mortenson will visit Stonehill College on Friday, September 12 and speak at 4:00 p.m. at the Sally Blair Ames Sports Complex.

If you have not read "3 cups of tea" yet... please do. It's a great book!


Thanks for tuning in- but now I have to hurry back to the "waiting phase" of this adoption... :-)

Hugs to you all and good night!

The Waiting, Waiting, Waiting-oh and Still Waiting...Calderones

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


(a note from my host sister in Ethiopia)....

Happy Ethiopian New Year to you all- love Kim, Denis and Geneva
As the Ethiopian tradition during "Addis Amet" or New Year, early in the morning everybody goes to Church wearing traditional clothing. After Church there is a family meal of "Injera" and "Doro Wat". The girls go from house to house singing New Year songs and the boys sell pictures that they have drawn. In most places, in the evening families go to visit their friends and drink "tella". Really I'm not seducing you.

As you know, Enkutatash means the "gift of jewels". When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive trip to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her bolts by replenishing her treasury with inku or jewels. Today's Enkutatash is the season for exchanging formal new year greetings and cards among families and friends.

But know I'm not giving you card, no sweet flower to send, no gift of jewels to give. Just a sweet words saying have a nice Enkutatash. "Enkuan aderesesh"Happy New Year!!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

I think my husband is nesting..Giggle

Our Sixth anniversary brought about an exciting change in my Denis dearest..

Denis took the day off and we were going to go visit a museum- have a nice lunch- perhaps a nice long walk in the woods with our Geneva- but instead- our 6th anniversary was a "TACKY" one...

The basement project we started the weekend before took much longer than we thought it would. It was a ton of work but actually quite rewarding.

We borrowed "Uncle J's" table saw and went to work cutting out a puzzle into cork-literally- it took forever. We spent until 5am the first night working on it and continued on Tuesday night and then Denis took Wednesday off from work so we could do something "romantic or fun" as noted above and what did we do exactly??? We laid down cork flooring. UGHGHGHG.. Laugh. Yes everyone my yellow page husband did a home project with me. I was so proud-laugh!!! It looks great - for 2 neophytes!!

Following this he has been mysteriously "empowered" by his new home talents (he can cut wood- hurray!!!)- so he's proceeded to reconfigure the cabinets upstairs so that my pots and pans will fit better in our otherwise "cabinet less" Kitchen (on the bottom we have one plus the breakfast bar-literally)-laugh.

It seems he's decided to "rediscover" the garage as well. Yesterday he went to lowes (with our Geneva-the ST. Bernard in the back seat of the bug convertible) and they came home with long shelves sticking out the back of it - which apparently he is going to hang from the ceiling. He's going to "organize" all of the items that came out of the newly finished side of the basement. "We have extra siding, and a few things like that --that we can't throw out.."

I haven't blogged for a bit- Here's why:

Besides finishing the cork flooring in the basement-
  • We've built a fire-pit in the back yard
  • Cleaned out and organized most of the closets
  • We've painted the inside of a closet with magnetic paint which we are going to utilize as a small storage/play space in the new basement for the kiddos
Could it be that my husband dearest is Nesting???? Giggle!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Late night visitor

Denis let Geneva out into our back yard last night- around 10:30 for her usual evening stroll and pee before bed. This has been her routine for the past 3 years that we have lived in this house.

Denis began to hear noises – unusual noises-coming from the night-darkened area where the newly placed swing-set and little play house are in the back yard. As the noise increased in intensity - he called up stairs to me – “honey, I think we have a problem- do you know where the flashlight is?” He looks for the flashlight and I react in my normal- "knee jerk" way and run outside to see where/how my dog is. What in the world could she be getting into- is she stuck in that house?? Ughghghg....

As I approach the tree lined area of our yard, my heart pounding- the noise in the plastic house gets very loud and I turn abruptly around –running and screaming as I find myself being “chased” by a smelly skunk- Did I say SMELLY!!. The odor was awful- and right behind the skunk comes running – my wonderful but dopey St. Bernard! She is very excited to have an animal that she can CATCH!!! My dog was running up to this skunk over and over trying to catch it (insert dumb dog here).

Denis and I are yelling the usual amount of banter you would hear “get in the house, what are you thinking, dumb dog- come, COme and more COME, get over here.. etc!!!” Now he's joined me in our attempt to a) get the dog that is near the skunk, but each time the skunk runs in our direction we run for our “lives” back toward the house. Geneva picking up on our fear and the energy (???) – lifts the skunk with her mouth- throws it- and eventually but unhappily strolls our way.

SHE STINKS.. it’s now 11:00 or later and Denis and I are completely confused. What do we do?? She's really upset and asks for help- her eyes are all red and she's scratching at her nose Dawn dish detergent- somebody once told us about Dawn Dish Detergent. I think we should try it! Denis says “I’ll go inside and research what to do” –laugh. I’m like get me the dish detergent- we’ll try it and then figure it all out afterwards- she smells so bad….

So- 2 hours later we have a very well washed dog and we are walking with the little flashlight we found- around our neighborhood hoping she will dry well enough. Between the laughter- during our walk we discuss in depth our options for the night- sincerely confused about what to do with her when we return to the house. She has never spent the night in the basement and will probably be very unhappy. How about the garage-but there’s still a lot of construction materials around- will she be safe? Of course-there’s also that, we just had the basement finished- do we want the newest addition to the house to Smell like a skunk?? Outside? Should we tie her up outside? Hmm- options seem limited..

In the end- all of us exhausted, squeaky clean (or as much as you can be in this situation) and somewhat dry- her sweet dad (my dear husband) –totally caves in – gives her a good sniff test and says – “come on baby, It’s been a long night for all of us- let’s go to bed”….

Laugh- yes folks, the dog slept in our room with us. Now that’s true love!!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Americans abroad--the bad and good

My brother in-law who lives in Norway recently wrote to me and said ‘I can’t wait to chat with you about what it is like to be an American abroad’ giving me this idea for this blog entry.

As you know, America’s policies and actions greatly affect other countries- more so than other countries affect us. You know the saying “when America catches a cold the whole world sneezes”. It’s difficult to understand this statement until you’ve traveled and really acquainted yourselves with individuals that are not from the US.

You will find that most educated people worldwide-know more about US domestic and international policies than you do. I attributed this to the vast news channels they access and they don’t spend so much time polluting their minds with the crap masked as news that we see on Fox or other local broadcasts (I mean who really cares who Edwards slept with-JFK was actually a decent president wasn’t he- one would have to question his bedroom choices- of course it's all about rating not quality - and quality unfortunately doesn't sell (look at Walmart's popularity).

In fact why are we so obsessed with what happens in other peoples bedrooms after all (sex sells of course)????Most other countries don’t air their dirty laundry out for everyone to see (okay-so let's limit this by adding- other countries without a royal family –laugh).

Why do we avoid the tough questions and focus on our petty little issues?? –Simply look at the “issues” being discussed in the presidential debate… for god sake people- did McCain take advantage of Obama being on vacation- is this really a BBC segment worth listening to ??

So – you get my point- when some countries are dealing with issues of food costs, corruption, media prohibitions, educational challenges- we are critically talking about peoples vacations, bedroom behaviors and whining about our (still low from a global standpoint)- gas costs for our monster vehicles.

Enough on that- It’s challenging; the perception people have of Americans- some of them are more obvious and well known like that we are seen as gluttonous (we’re FAT- seriously folks- we are obscenely obese), and rich (we shop and shop and shop). Just look at the size of the vehicles parents drive- and how much "stuff" we insist on bringing when we "go anywhere". You should take a look at the list of the items- future adoptive parents- bring to Ethiopia with them- is hysterical-let's just stop there and say that it's clear that most of the world is also far less materialistically motivated than we are. These are the kind of humorous ones.

The one that troubles me the most is that we are seen as bullies in our international policies.

This is difficult for me as I am not –let’s say- politically inclined- in any way shape or form-and my opinions are usually harsh, candid and difficult to listen to-so I am going to "abstain" on elaborating on this subject.

As an American in Ethiopia- I really felt ignorant in the middle of many conversations ( and the few Americans I met that I discussed this with said they feel the same way when they travel). I did not know as much about the global economy. I learned how very geocentric the US -we have become (or always were, I'm not certain) fairly isolated from the rest of the world. I was surprised by how little I knew or really understood about global events. I didn’t know as much about world history, current events, heck I didn’t know as much about my own political situation.

I paled in comparison with my vocabulary, of course I can only speak (well) one language- the list goes on and on.. but basically- compared to the average upper middle income Ethiopian- I felt pretty damn stupid (more so than I do at home). Thank god people noticed I had a good heart and giving nature.

In most of the countries I’ve visited people are less cynical of others (than I found that we are but perhaps this is a "northeastern US attitude-giggle)- and have different expectations of people-overall as I travel I find most locations are more open and accepting to vast personality types.

American's are seen as doing a lot of good internationally on a personal level. People love the extrinsic nature most Americans are seen as possessing. This was a highlight of my feeling as an American. To be seen as charitable, giving and loving as a populace was a pleasure for me to hear.

American's are organized and clear in thought. Many other countries- specifically Ethiopia here- have difficulty planning things. We are a far more efficient culture - and I think it's because of how much we juggle in a day. Although they are very busy in Ethiopia- they are not efficient as a populace- in their day to day activities. Their thought process is not as analytical or all encompassing as many of ours are- true "planning" seems to seriously be lacking in everything from business construction to an individual's dinner plans.

That's all I can think of at the moment- and I’m not sure this topic is of interest to anyone- but I thought I’d put it out there…

Non-profits, NGOs and children

Children need so much in Ethiopia. But, it's really through education that we can truly help people elevate their day to day social status. When you are educated you can not only help yourself but your family members and when you educate a group of children- you are elevating an entire community. It's amazing to see the impact the teachers have on the children's lives in a developing nation like Ethiopia.

While I was in Ethiopia, so many families opened their lives and doors to teach me about life there. I saw a need - and I'm working on opening an NGO (international non-profit) to keep these poor children in school. Also, on a personal level to do what little bit I can to make a big difference in some of these families lives. It's amazing how many families need help to keep their children in school. Schools provided me with of pictures of children and their background information- children that are the poorest of the poor in these schools - many of the children I have met personally- that need assistance- and I'm very excited about having the opportunity to bring the information/awareness about these children to your doorstep. Together you and I can really impact a growing nation.

When you hear the stories, the reason for starting this NGO –and see how much you can affect one person’s life with very little money you'll be excited (I hope anyway). Our money goes so far in developing countries and I've seen firsthand what a small amount of money can do. It'll shock you. Soon the organization will be set up (a couple of months and finally I'll be happily asking you all for money- giggle.

I’d like to comment on another company doing a lot of “good” in Uganda:
Johnny Long has helped us get in touch with some people that work with Hackers for Charities (he's so awesome- everyone really in the hacking community is). So - while you are waiting for me- if you have the desire to give away any of your money- I strongly recommend that you give it to them. In-case you missed that - it's And if you don’t know the name Johnny Long- look it up, if you’re into computers or hacking at all- you’ll be intrigued.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

There is something Magical about Ethiopia

There is something Magical about Ethiopia

Have you ever met anyone that went to Africa- came home and said "boy that sucked"??

My trip to Ethiopia was life changing. Ethiopia has this magical power that pulls at the heart strings of people who visit her. Ethiopia expertly played mine as if my heart were a harp and it an expert harpsichordist.

The unmasked poverty, the innocence of its children, the tribal diversity of its people and the rich cultural traditions fed my heart and soul what it had been missing in the rich but empty western life I lead.

On my arrival I was shocked by the things I saw: Poverty presented to me in the streets and in the villages. Poverty represented by her people in an unimaginable volume, presented in every imaginable way. There were so many children begging along in the streets- big kids, little kids- kids holding smaller kids, groups of boys sleeping together on the crowded, diesel intoxicating sidewalks- often protected by a dog or two. Men with deformities, disgustingly exposing their deformity, hoping to extract what little sympathy you may have left in you- asking for 10 Cents, or men with really thin bodies holding a letter in Amharic saying that they were diagnosed with Aids, gave it to their wives, lost their jobs, their wives and now live on the streets trying to support their non-infected children, women with children at the car windows begging –with a similar story. Soon you become desensitized to it- you eventually walk down the street saying hello to them all- saying “ Eg-zabia-estaling” or-“may god provide you with all of your needs”. You can’t support them all- so you find more effective ways to funnel money into the communities (or given the corruption you have learned about you hope that they are more effective). Money to the churches for specific functions, money to food banks, money to orphanages, money money money. “Misses Money” has a small amount to share- and so many places will take it- who will use it best and who needs it the most????

The electricity and water rotate on and off throughout the week but it’s hardly noticeable. You work around it. Big corporations work around it, the locals drink a Macchiato at the shops that have generators. They sit and talk- a little about the government and recent events, then family, then friends- sometimes about a school or their education. And the poor people look in- sometimes walking into the restaurant in their ripped up rural clothing asking for a Birr (10Cents) – sometimes receiving some change, mostly not. The lucky poor have become entrepreneurs- they sell lottery tickets or sing for the money-but not so many. Most are so destitute that they sleep or sit rocking them-selves back and forth while they beg –noticing you as little as you notice them-some mothers asking their children to beg (teaching them what they need to know to survive). There are so many-that at times- you’ll find yourself tripping over one-as you hurry to your class or on through the congested taxi area-trying to score a spot for yourself on that mini-bus. That mini-bus you need to catch, they are going to stand outside the windows of, looking in- with their hand raised- the children -happy to receive even a half of piece of gum from you. They will wonder around the mini-bus standing – asking for some change- at the door while you are sitting sometimes for 15-20 minutes for the bus to fill up. Mostly the buses fill up quickly because of the transportation shortage (in that case you’ve waited outside for that 15-20 minutes to catch the bus) but sometimes you will sit there waiting for your ride-while the poor person stands there staring at you – asking for money. All he wants is 10Cents or 1 birr… but you do not give it. You hold onto it- tired of the requests- tired of feeling like a walking ATM. Tired- of not knowing what your 1 birr can do to really help. These poverty stricken people are not like the poor at home. They are barefoot, hungry, barely clothed. As you walk around you see little to no drug use- even cigarettes are not popular. Especially not with the hungry- they are a luxury- these are the world’s real poor people you are saying no to.

You are a foreigner and are reminded by the children every day that you are different- that your white skin, blue eyes- stand out. They call to you “Fereng or Ferengi”. At first you hate this, then you make a game of it and play with the children.. Calling back or giving them the smile they desire (only encouraging this behavior you dislike-but you laugh at the irony). I would joke fully yell back – Habesha, Habesha- or “Ethiopian/local” and the children would giggle some-more. The poor children laugh and play in the streets – the middle class children seeing you as an example of what they see on TV. Do you have a boat, do you have a house? Have you been on a plane? If you are alone- Are you lost? They come up to you- hold your hand and practice their English. Some ask for a Birr, or Dabo “bread” after being with you for a while, some right away, some not at all. You never know.. but all of them want to be with you. I would sometimes have 10-12 children walking to the bus with me. Sometimes just one would come and we could have a nice talk, sometimes a small group of 4-5 boys wanting to know where I was going or if I knew about football- often they would ask me to buy them a football.

I would meet other volunteers that would say- they didn’t like Ethiopia- that the poverty was too much or that the culture is learning to beg and has become a culture of aggressive begging to foreigners. That other African nations have not been affected by this and that foreigners created this behavior with the hand outs in the first place. There is always a westerner blaming something on somebody it seems. The the reality is- they are begging for food- not for beer money- or shelter (they probably have some sort of plastic to cover themselves with on the street during the rainy season). The poor that we see in Addis, they are lucky, they are the countries are the rich poor people.

There is something magical about Ethiopia. I believe the magic that touched me was finally the ability to really make a difference. Ethiopia is a place in the world where you leave feeling like you can really do something to help. The little bit that you as a single person can do, really will impact people’s lives- perhaps an entire communities. In Ethiopia, your time, education, a little bit of hard work and some money -can really make a difference. In the western world where we hurry past the street bum that has a shelter to sleep in and Nike's on his feet-and we think about the time we volunteered at the food kitchen or the money we gave to the church, where we recycle and drive our hybrids to shrink our “carbon footprint”, where buying the fair trade “label” is how we are “empowering” a farmer, a real impact is seldom tangible.

In Ethiopia- what you can do for the “world” is Tangible. You can see it, hug it, watch them smile-laugh- and sadly- even be thanked for it. And for this reason alone- Ethiopia really is magical.

Meme Stevens- Beautiful Song- get Kleenex

Oh the places I've Been (and might go again)