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 15, 2010

Thank you for Hanging in there..

Our lives have taken an interesting twist in the past few months and thus a new blog has not yet been designed as promised. Thank you for hanging in there with us.

My brother in-law that we are very close to (one of our children's god-fathers) has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. We as a family are adjusting to this news. Although -how one ever adjusts to "planning" on the loss of a loved one that is close to ones own age, is a mystery to me.  I do believe however that despite what I thought-I'm excited to say that we will be heading off to Norway for the holidays soon- I'm just saddened by the reason ..........and even more so that we will not be bringing our children because we sat on their refinalization-and as of today-they do not yet have their passports. Although- It is exciting to think of having time with "just" us again...

Our business was keeping my dear husband out of town  most of this past fall- and when he was here-he was primarily focused on work.  Because of this- in the past three months- personally I like to believe that I have grown in strength as a mom. Still far from perfect-laugh. But I must admit- I became quite the competent family member-laugh.

My husbands travelling makes me think of those families with loved ones in the military on extended assignments and how strong and creative the resident parent must be. My heart goes out to them this holiday season and I am no longer just thankful for the freedom that is provided for my volunteer work as I can go freely back and forth to Africa and Europe simply because of the color of my passport--but now-also I think to the sacrifices their families are making for that freedom. Thank you....

As for me and my personal growth, I've been focusing on the details of running my non-profit. Now that I've seen some success and an interest in it-I'm truly inspired. So, although I am not a web-developer- I'd love it if you'd check out www.hayelkidsaid.org.  It's been up and running for only a couple of days now and it's not perfect but I'd say it's not bad for a first try!

I'm also working with a friend to create a travel company in Ethiopia. We are in the process of buying a vehicle as I write this and I'll be heading out this spring for an un-determined amount of time to work on both the non-profit and our travel company.  Yes, my return to Ethiopia this time is for an extended amount of time and the length is as of now un-determined.  Planning an extended move while all of the above pieces and parts of our lives are also moving around is proving quite challenging.

The name of the Travel company will be Exodus Travel. We've had about 10 customers in the past month or so and things are going well- although it's not yet with out it's hick-ups and we are still in the licensing process I remain hopeful. I can't wait to say more about this in the future.

So many transitions, so little time.  I hope to create a new blog -but I am looking for one that is not blocked in Ethiopia at this time and blogspot is. It seems to me that it would be exciting to blog about my impending departure from America to slowly becoming an Ethiopian Resident. So many questions yet-to be answered.

So, for those of you watching our lives- I hope this post keeps you hanging on. Someday soon- when the "dust settles" around us- I will start again.

Thank you for all of your support both those silent readers and public ones.  It's been nice to share our journey.  BTW - our kids- they are sooo amazing and the highlight to each and every one of my days!

Truly they are my sunshine in these otherwise cloudy winter skies...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

End of this blog and a long journey home

On my last trip to Ethiopia I learned a lot about my children's life from their birth family. It would not be possible for me to explain the emotions around meeting their family members, seeing where my children were born and learning of their day to day life before they came to us.  It felt like the birth family meeting I thought I would have-but did not last year.  I now feel a sense of closure or transition that I had anticipated but did not when we first brought them home.

Although I am saddened by the path my children had to take to become ours, I am and will forever be grateful to their family for making the tough decisions they did-for allowing their children to leave their loving arms and find mine/ours. Their Birth family and Adoptive families hearts all ache over their journey but rejoice and are excited about their new path.

With this closure has also come the decision to end this blog.  The focus of our lives is no longer on "adoption" but that of becoming a family and the ordinary challenges that go with it.  Together we are working and teaching our children to lead productive and happy lives-with any hope that will be through example. We will continue to balance their Ethiopian heritage and their American Citizenship. Our adoption was complete a year and 6 months ago. Sometimes it seems like yesterday-but mostly it feels like an eternity ago- a lifetime ago.   The first year was difficult-more difficult than I ever imagined it would be- and it is still challenging. But eventually, somehow- we became parents and our children also worked hard and are now very much our little Ethio-American children.  

Our life will likely take on the form of a new blog-full of adventure and unexpected twists and turns along with the expected ones- when I figure it out I'll post the link for a week before closing the blog officially.

Thank you to all of you who have followed us through this trying and exciting time of our life!

Hugs, Peace and Love to you all,
Kimberly, Denis, Habtamu, Debritu and Geneva...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Addis and modernization of my Bel-Air neighborhood

My intimate relationship with travelling back and forth to Ethiopia is now a young 2 and half years old- my interest in the country much older.  We have both grown and changed so much in this short time.  She has modernized herself in unexpected.  She is forever surprising me- this year with seat belt laws, cell phone and driver usage laws, rules around “zebra” crossings or pedestrian ways. She is exhibiting improved roadways and many more cars.  There are way more cars and with them traffic- it’s actually difficult to go near bole or around bole these days and the roads around bole are also congested with traffic.  There is traffic school for anyone looking to obtain their license.  Her schools are facing stricter regulations and consistent check lists, private online colleges have been closed, there is a data network for the cellular users, there are ATM machines outside of the banks, the internet is faster overall, there are pedestrian overpasses in Arat kilo that are not yet being used but are an eye-sore  when approaching the circle from piazza or from Amist Kilo.   They block the beautiful monument in the center.  There are new busses and more tractors being imported for commercial and public use.  It is green- very very green- and not the dusty polluted city I am use to seeing in March.  This cleanliness is due to the amount of rain though and not a change.  More homes are using filtered water, there are more banks- many of those are privately held- not gov’t.   They are enforcing copyright and piracy laws so the old music stores and video stores that used copies or rips of the videos or music have closed or are closing.  There was electricity and water for almost my entire visit- a complete but absolutely delightful experience might I also mention-laugh.  It’s amazing to see all of the changes happen in such a short 1.3 years.   Ethiopia feels like she is growing with me.  So many changes, such a short amount of time- it’s difficult to list them all.  I won’t get into the changes I have made- but let’s just say that if who I am today-met who I was 3 years ago- it’s likely we’d decide to be acquaintances instead of good friends-laugh.
I stay in the Bel-Air part of Addis. Hotels and more western homes are popping up everywhere between my visits. 

This road did not exist on my first visit. It was dirt, piles of rocks and the road we live on was a dead end.  Now it's practically a highway.

There's even parking spaces, Zebra crossings and gorgeous sidewalks.

A thank you from LemLem's Children.

A picture of some of the children in Addis allowed to stay in school this year due to our fundraising efforts in August. There are more children in Axum to be selected and a few missing from school this picture that will be attending in Addis.  It's amazing the difference in peoples lives you can make when we work together!
Thank you-Thank you-Thank you!!!!!!

(some of the above children are temporarily under our care until their sponsors can assist them again- if that happens the money from them will transfer to additional needy students).

3 more...

Eldana, LemLem (the accountant- coincidently,yes,she has the same name as the school) and I making the really hard but exciting decisions...

Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

C-ya in the fall.

It's unlikely I will update my blog while I'm away- but will hopefully return in October with lots of fun stories.
Hope you all have a Happy-Entutatash, Eid al-Fitr Eid and Meskel.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Fundraising results - preliminary

The preliminary results are in for this fundraising effort. We have managed to directly affect approximately 20 students with our efforts.

(We might see a change or two when I am with the accountant but for now here's what I think the division of money it's going to look like).

20 students directly affected as follows:
15 unsponsored children are being kept in school this year at 1/2 rate.
5 children received their tuition from their existing sponsors (people who visited the school in past but did not sponsor through an organization sent me their money).

as an added bonus- a few people (I've heard 8-but have not confirmed) discovered the good work of COEEF and offered permanent sponsorship to some of the un-sponsored children at LemLem.

THANK YOU all! I will write more when I return home regarding the details.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A summer 2010 summary

So, before I leave the kids are napping and I thought I'd take a moment and update you all on how they are doing. After all- with the trip coming up -it'll be a month before I can really talk about the kids again-laugh.

This summer started out easier than last summer- we didn't do as much travelling this year and we stay very local to where we live. Since Debritu can walk and talk now doing things with her is very enjoyable.   We actually have also seen much less of our friends than we usually do-we've been home a lot this year.

The beginning of the summer Habtamu had many sports camps and swimming lessons. Debritu is still to small for many of these things so she's been with me mostly. After H got out of class and took a nap we went and did things like the park or going to get an ice cream or swimming at the local lakes together so she really didn't miss out on much.  

The weather has been amazing so staying close to home has been easy. We visited the Aquarium for the first time with visiting uncles.  We spent an amazing week in Vermont- it was the only week that rained this summer but it was delightful none the less-laugh.  We also hosted a Fresh Air child for a week and had the most delightful time.

On the parenting side of things- this summer has been much better than last summer- less exhausting. But it did come with a different kind of challenge.  Denis started to travel a lot again. I'm psyched for the business-totally psyched! But it also means that the kids and I have been flying solo for a good part of it.   All I can say is thank goodness for my mother and the fact that although she works and I give her all the space she needs- with out here living in our home- I'd have lost my mind. Laugh.  She has given me some time here and there to get things that really need to be done completed.

3 weeks ago-Habtamu broke his collar bone and it's been down hill since.  He's feeling better this week and it's given me a chance to get a bit bummed out.  There's something about knowing he is going to be just fine that allows me to break down now-laugh.  I've always been like that- the one to fall apart once everything is over and done with.  The weather has been fantastic and for the past 3 weeks he has been glued to me.  I love his company but since he can't do anything and my company has amounted to what feels like nagging- "don't do this, stop that, honey-you're going to hurt yourself" - even I'm tired of hearing myself say it... ugh.

Debritu has been next to impossible lately with her temper tantrums. Screaming- No, I don't want to. Her favorite thing to say is "shut up habtamu".  All of us in the house cannot wait until she's grown out of this phase she is in! I know that she got this horrible saying from me-but the fact that she can't let it go-makes me crazy.  What do they say- if you don't like the behavior wait 2 weeks- they change so fast.  Let me tell you- if she doesn't change in the next two weeks I'm going to build her a nice barn that she can sit in when she's being her usual not so-joyful self these days.. ha ha.   I feel like my grandmother "if you don't have anything nice to say-please don't say anything at all".  Habtamu has taken to .. Mom D's doing this, D's done that, mooooooommmm D.... ya ya ya ya...

Now the little tattle tale Habtamu needs constant watching to keep himself from re-injuring himself this week and Debritu is exasperating me with her "shut ups" to say the least. In all sincerity though- if H was telling mom everything I did from peeing to touching something I'd be telling him to shut up too-laugh.

Emotionally for me- I need a break and I can't wait for it.  It's so funny to tell people when they call from Ethiopia and ask- what do you want to do-and I tell them sleep.  I just want to sleep. So-this Sunday can't come soon enough for me.  2 days after I leave- is the first day of pre-school and also the day he is cleared for "full activity".  Thank goodness.

I am hopeful that next summer we can manage through with out somebody getting seriously hurt, juggle den's travelling and my full time work.  I'm sure there will still be a small adventure, perhaps a hick up. I'm just thinking that I'd like it to not be an injury.

So- see ya "next year" in 2003 by Ethiopian standards and I look forward to coming back-resting. Missing my wee ones beyond my expectations and anxious to get back to work.

Hugs and love- me

Monday, August 30, 2010

3 weeks to "be free", to let my spirit wander at leisure..

Hi all,

I've been struggling with keeping my blog interesting this year. Partially because I barely have time to stay on top of the news as I'm with our children most of the time.  I don't want to blog about my children's lives all the time but little seems to happen these days outside of them.

So, I find myself 6 days outside of my 3rd and shortest trip to Ethiopia and notice that outside of fundraising I've barely mentioned the trip.  I looked back at some of my older posts and have to say- packing is the easiest it's ever been for this trip-laugh.  I'm throwing some clothes in a bag-grabbing my Malaria meds (out of the medicine cabinet) for my out of capital travel , finding my proof of Yellow fever in the piles that have taken over my nice neat home, grabbing my passport and printing my ticket.

Most of my planning time has been spent gathering a few gift and preparing hubby to manage the 3 weeks he'll have to juggle the kids with out me. My vagabond spirit is something Den and I knew would continue when we had a family-it's exciting to see that we are actually able to work with it-laugh.  Having my husbands support and understanding is wonderful when it comes to my travel needs-laugh.

So many people have asked me why I am going back.  Frankly and simply stated-my restless spirit has an incredible need to travel. With out a regular trip to the airport or the freedom behind the wheel of my car- or a chance to let my spirits roam- I am miserable. So, yes, I'm a mom, with young kids and to all of you questioning-here's my answer. My trip this year is a selfish one. I don't have any big "volunteer" plans, or big goals to reach.  I simply have a need to "be free", to let my spirit wander at leisure.

The itinerary is as follows:

  • Visit with friends and family and celebrate the new year. aka-Yumm- Tibs, Tibs, Tibs and hugs galore!
  • Travel south for a week and visit some places to relax aka- read a book and go swimming and find some quiet time. I laugh that I am going to Ethiopia to find "quiet" ha ha. But when compared to the zoo I now live in.. it will seem quiet-haha.
  • Come back to Addis - eat as much injera as possible while having dinner with lots of different friends so they don't see how much I am eating. ohh- coffee too... lots and lots of coffee.
  • Spend some time playing and laughing with the children at Selamta and visiting at LemLem School. aka-exercise after eating-laugh.

If I'm lucky I'll be able to fit in teaching a couple of English night classes while there.  I may even have the privilege of attending the graduation of some of my first students (at the practical language school near the piazza). They survived my first teaching assignment and happen to be graduating while I am there.  So, hopefully I'll be able to see them (insert opportunity to cry here).

I'm certain the trip will contain an adventure worth talking about, some humbling and gracious moments- like the graduation above and providing the money to the children that many of you have sent me.

But mostly- this trip is about taking time- time to sit,time to cry and  time to hug the people I love that live there. I hate that they cannot get visa's and visit me and that it's been so long since I've seen them. I want to hug the 10th grade students at lemlem (my old 8th grade students) and tell them how proud I am of their most recent scores on their national exams. And I want to walk in the dust covered streets (or mud) and negotiate the purchase of a goat or sheep in Amharic for the family for dinner. I'll probably have to visit the blind man again to get a decent price-laugh.

I want to feel alive- something I thought parenting would do a little bit of-but it has not-actually it's quite the opposite-ha ha. Having a family makes me feel a little like a trapped animal-and trapped is not something I can live with.  For some people - family is a way to "finding a home" for me that is not the case. The road has always been my home.  I feel more beaten up and personally defeated than ever in my life.  I need to feel the compassion that Ethiopia and her day to day life there evokes in me. I want to simply see the people that in the past 3 years have become such a distant but daily part of my life. This does not mean that I don't love my children, in fact taking time from my family only makes me love and appreciate them more.

My trip this year is simply to say- I love you and have not and will not forget you- and that's all. Perhaps, I am saying that to Ethiopia- perhaps a bit to myself too.  After all- 3 weeks at an Ethiopian's pace is really equivalent to a week at an Americans.

Hugs and peace

Friday, August 27, 2010

Teddy's latest...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Fresh Air Experience

We had the most amazing Fresh Air experience with our host son "Z".   At 6 years old this brave boy got on a bus-leaving all of his family, friends and the environment he knows- to spend a week with a family he had never met.  Although the week was not with out homesickness and missing mom moments - he was able to rally his emotions and very much enjoy himself.   

Last week- while Z was visiting with us.  We visited a farm, went to the drive in, and beat me when we played mini-golf.  He spent a lot of time looking around our house and marveling at the back yard. He attended a sports camp each morning, rode a horse, we had several picnics in the park.  He played at an arcade, slept outdoors, listened to music by a fireplace while cooking s'mores.  We went to the aquarium, to the local lake and to a baseball game. He tried out fishing with my mom and we went to a 3D I-Max film.  "Z" played a ton in the back yard, swam in our neighbors pool.  Z absolutely loved that our front door of our home opened directly to the outdoors as his home is in a large apartment complex in the city. "Z" loved our mailbox and would go with us to get our mail each afternoon.  For a couple of the nights our neighbors were over for dinner and on one of them we made his favorite meal- fried chicken and macaroni salad.  Although Chicken night was earlier in the week-he was still talking about how we all made chicken last night.

On a phone call with his mom yesterday- he asked "mom can I come back to this Fresh Air family next year?".  This surprised me as it is from the same boy who after 2 nights from home was ready to pack his bags and never leave his mother again.   With my eyes whelmed up with tears- I left the room to leave him some time to talk with his mom.

The sad moment arrived this morning where we brought "Z" back to the bus for his return trip home. On the way to the bus I asked him-"Z" what was your favorite part of this trip? Of all the things you did what was your favorite thing?  Z's answer? "Swimming in the neighbors pool."  

As for the rest of us- we're appreciating our lives here outside of the realities of inner-city life just a little bit more today and of course we're recuperating from an amazing week-with one very special little boy.  

Nap anyone?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chaos... total Chaos this week...

The past week has been a very very challenging week for our family- it included some of the most joyous moments in our lives and some of the saddest we've had in a while....

On Sunday, one of Denis' cousins (in his 40's)  being admitted to the hospital on Sunday, he dies mid week.  He had a rough life fighting alcoholism and has not been doing well for many years.  Death is a weird thing like that, no matter how the person lived their life and what thoughts or judgement you may pass as the years go by- when death knocks - you feel very sad and indeed helpless in some ways with helping the family members.  That's the 3rd death in less than a year for Den.. very difficult indeed.

On Monday the most amazing boy arrived at our home for a weeks vacation with us.  We enrolled as a host family to the Fresh Air fund (www.freshair.org) and I can't say enough about this organization or the child that arrived.  We have fit in an amazing week around the other challenges surrounding us.  I think with out the "need for fun" distraction he provided us with- this week would have been much different in so many ways.

 Habtamu broke his collar bone on Tuesday, so he and I spent much of the day at the doctors office and then watching movies.  Thank goodness my brother in-law Jim extended his trip - he was a blessing to have here so I didn't have to bring the other two kids to the doctors. He took them swimming instead and thus the beginning of the kid juggle for the week-laugh.

On Wednesday Denis business trip was cancelled and I rejoiced! Mom's job hours increased again- something she needs- but we sure could have used the help this week of all weeks. We also kind of laid low.  Mom tried to take Z (fresh air boy) fishing but the fishing line was a mess-and thus the trip was as well-laugh.  We made fried chicken with the neighbors for Z- who was very excited as this is his favorite food and had a fire outside in the firepit- to listen to the crickets, other noises and to hear the fire "snap crackle and pop".  Having a fresh air child in our home has really opened our eyes to city life vs. sub-urban life.  This polite young man manages to politely talk of guns and knifes at school-and the death of young men (he's 6).  Amazing.. my 4 year old talks about how "fast he is" and then Z jumps right in and can be a young kid here.. Amazing..

Thursday- Habtamu's on the mend, I lost Z's inhaler- oops,  Z and I go out, family wake for cousin... dinner with different neighbors. I tried to grill... and we ended up all eating hockey puck hamburgers and burned hot dogs...laugh.

Today is friday- and so far so good. We did sports, the beach and going to a ball game tonight.  Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday... What an adventure... I'm sooo ready for a nap now-laugh...

Well- my mental break is over.. Hugs to you all- and if you've ever thought of hosting a Fresh Air child... It has been a wonderful experience so far.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thank you Thank you Thank you

Hello Everyone,
I can't say thank you enough for all of you who have helped us get so close to our goal.  We only have 1600.00 more dollars to earn to reach the $5000.00 mark.  The school is very surprised and gracious to all of the help this money is going to provide toward keeping these kids in school.  

My apologies for not updating daily. My son broke his collar bone and we have a wonderful 6 year old visitor from Fresh Air (www.freshair.org) this week.  It's been an amazing week for our family- and you'll hear more from me next week.

Thanks again and please- continue the hard work of letting people know. WE Are ALMOST THERE!!!

Hugs and love- Kimberly

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Urgent call to Action - assist the children at LemLem School

This week I got off the phone with my host sister Eldana who is the principal at the school I teach at in Ethiopia and she told me a very sad story.

Due to the economic down turn in the US -Some of the 150 children who are currently sponsored at her school will not receive their scholarships this year.  They are trying to work with the Ethiopian Government, (and other organizations the children are sponsored through, and with the parents of the children to keep each and every one of those children in school this year).  The school is asking the parents who are struggling to pay 1/2 of the kids tuition and they are working with the external resources above noted to obtain the remaining of the monies. It is unlikely that the parents will be able to pay and it is more likely that the children will not be able to attend.

I ask you to forward this story to every one you know. I would like to see American's step up and help other Americans who are trying to help others but find themselves out of work or unable to keep their commitments to these children.  I'm asking for a 1 time donation of any monies you may be able to afford to assist me with this goal.  Many of them I have personally taught and some are currently receiving the highest grades in their class.  I do not want these children shown the door due to lack of financial ability to attend school!

I personally would like to raise $5,000 or as much of it as I can in the next 30 days.  At  $125.00 per student or half the tuition for the year we can together keep 40 of these children in school this year.  That's 40 less kids that will be rejected the ability to continue to be educated in a country where education is the only way to a better life. I depart on the 5th of September.

If anyone would like to verify this information- please call me at 617.304.2537 and I will put you in touch with anyone you feel the need to speak with.

I will be working early this week to determine an ability to send money using a credit card and tax deductible options for you all. If you don't care about the tax deduction please feel free to make the check out directly to me.  Otherwise I'll do the best I can to find ways to make this work for everyone willing or able to do anything they can to help these children so near and dear to my heart.

If you are not comfortable with my request- but still would like to help-a great organization that is 503c approved- that you can still help Ethiopia's students through is www.COEEF.org.

If you can help at all- please send any money, checks anything you can to:
Kimberly Calderone
17 Gregoire Drive
Marlborough, MA  01752

I will personally deliver the monies directly to the school and verify the receipt of it to all who can assist us.

with thanks in advance and with much urgency,
Kimberly Calderone

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Surprise- you have a goat and cake delivery

I had a goat and cake sent to the family in Ethiopia that I live with through Sitota.

Culturally it's strange when you send gifts. For example-instead of receiving front end pictures of the goat they send hind-end pictures so you can evaluate the size and value of your delivery.

The family was very surprised to have a goat and cake delivered to their door-laugh.  I only wish I could have been there to see their faces when their surprise gifts arrived.

Here is the goat and cake:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

first day of preschool


little Debritu started preschool today. She was so excited. Mom on the other hand is a little lost as she fins herself without children this morning.

haven't figured out how to rotate photos on my phone before uploading! Oh well-For now- may I suggest that you tip your head to the left while viewing this picture (laugh).
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Monday, August 2, 2010

Halie Selassie I and Bob Marley- War

"Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes.  And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war.  And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained.... now everywhere is war."  Halie Selassie I - (Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930- 1974).

This quote was made famous by Bob Marley -in the song "war".


Saturday, July 31, 2010

End of July - Reflection


This evening we ended a wonderful family day and an said goodbye to a busy month with dinner at Fasika.

It's the end of July-and what a crazy month it has been. I can't help but feel like June was a year ago- not a month ago.  Was June really only 31 days ago???

We've celebrated birthdays, traveled as a family for a week, daddy's been away for a couple of weeks for work,  family has visited from California and Norway.  The kids have been so good through all of this mayhem- sure we've had behavioral challenges and mommy and daddy are both burnt out a bit.  I just re-read some of my blog entries from last year and noticed that I don't feel nearly as exhausted and overwhelmed as it seems I did then. 


Next month has an equal share of adventures for us:
  • Tomorrow I am presenting on Ethiopia at 10am in the morning -tonight I'm cramming for the presentation. 
  • Debritu begins attending pre-school on Tuesday (summer program for starters)
  • Mommy gets some regular alone time as Habtamu also goes back to school and will officially begin her job hunt. It's official- the kids are in school now and I'm going back to work.  What a long strange trip it's been-laugh. 
  • We received our Fresh Air assignment and will be hosting a young boy for a week (can't wait)
  • Mommy will be preparing to leave for Ethiopia again on September 5th (eeeekkkkkkk).
  • Daddy will be travelling and bringing home some of the countries best cheddar I hope from one of his trips :-) (grin)
  • and family will be here..
Hopefully this warm weather holds out and I'll chalk this year up to one of the best summers yet: 



 

Friday, July 30, 2010

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ahhh..the family taxi..yup that's me

Ahhh... home again-things are back to "normal"... Denis flying out this week for work- his family flying in-bringing my mom to work a few times this week, attending playgroups with our little friends and celebrating birthdays-Habtamu is playing sports....Debritu getting ready for preschool- and me- I guess I'm the taxi for it all... Laugh!!!


Wow-my my how my version of "normal" has changed....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

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Vermont vacation at Smuggs:-)

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

September or November in Addis...

I have to make a choice as to when to fly to Ethiopia-fellow bloggers- help me. When would you go?
September:
Pros:

  • There to celebrate the new year
  • There for school starting
  • rains will have just stopped- should be beautiful
  • little "host" brother likely to be in town
Cons:
  • family will be busy with school starting
  • rains will have recently stopped-travelling outside of Addis a bit more challenging but beautiful I'm sure
  • will miss Debritu's first day of preschool-although she'll have started the summer program. 
November:
Pros:
  • friends from the local adoptive community will also be in town
  • Family will be less busy with their personal schedules
  • roads will be more "travel" friendly outside of addis
Cons:
  • will have to take a break from my "newly" started job  (with any luck)
  • no holidays
  • close to our holidays
  • host brother will not be there

Either way, I'm nervous about my trip this year because I have "nothing" of helping Ethiopia to show for my time here at home.  I hope everyone will understand that this was the first year I brought my kids home and that it was a lot harder to bring them into our lives than I had anticipated. I'm sure they will but I'm still anxious. I'm also broke-and with a gift culture - i'm a bit nervous because the gifts I'll be bringing will also be limited..after all-somebody else has gifted me my plane ticket to make it possible for me to even be there this year. (that's an amazing story all of it's own and I'm so grateful to be able to keep my word and still go to ethiopia yearly even though it looked like it wasn't going to happen this year. Miracles do happen!!).

What are your thoughts?  September or November???




Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ethiopia-the whole picture- A MUST SEE!

Thank you Peter Haskell!!! Thank you-
This video has been circulating facebook and other Ethiopian interest sites for the past week or so.
I finally got a moment to peek at it- and HOLY COW...
Finally a video that shows the glory, diversity and wealth of the Ethiopian landscape! Love it!!!!
If you have not seen this video yet- it's a must see!

Ethiopia: The Whole Picture from Paul Hassell on Vimeo.

Peter has another one I really like as it reminds me of the joys of teaching in Ethiopia:
It's called "A song and a prayer" http://vimeo.com/11676034

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ethiopian Roads



I'm in the middle of writing a presentation for the Ethiopian culture camp.  As a result I am going through the photos from my 5 road trips in Ethiopia. Humored, I thought I would share some of my on the road adventures with you today... Everything from Fog, to mud, wild animals, domesticated animals and car problems.  There are many-I couldn't decide...


Saturday, July 3, 2010

The other side of Ethiopia

The inevitable delema of being white and living in Ethiopia for any time is mentally balancing the disparity between wealth and poverty .  When you live like a resident in Ethiopia you will eventually find that you gravitate toward people who speak English well. And often this means -that you will rub elbows with the "richer" echelon of society.  No matter how much you try to make friends with the common population your experience will be jaded in it's depth due to your lack of ability to carry on a deep and meaningful conversation.

As a white person with local friends-you are often invited to the most amazing locations-and when weekends role around-it is sometimes difficult to balance the rich experiences with the more poorer main populace experiences.   Although there is much poverty in Ethiopia- one of the overlooked items is that there is also much wealth.  So if you are going to live there for any length of time- you best bring some nice clothes along with your comfortable walking shoes.

As an example, I was most humbly invited to a delightful and intimate party at the following location.
(I chose not to use my personal photos here because they have lots of people in them -and this blog is public).

The second location many of you will recognize.









Bead up my nose... Oh my...

As I have almost completed my first "elaborate" hairstyle on Debritu - knowing it's 4th of July this weekend and Ethiopian Culture camp next weekend- I decided to go with an Ethio-American theme.

When I'm nearing our 5th hour of working on her hair... I hear- mama -bead nose- hurts... Hmmm.  What could this mean? I've been really careful with the beads.  Are you sure Debritu? I look up her nose, touch her nose- nothing.  Then puzzled -step away for moment- looking for tweezers just in case and thinking "what am I to do??".  She starts screaming hysterically when I step away.  Hmmm-bead up her nose. Seriously? But I was right there, doing her hair- and she's watching TV,  is it possible?  Well-she's almost 3- anything in possible-laugh.  So- I turn up the lights- man handle her down to the floor and spread open her nostrils as calmly as I can- while struggling to get her to stay still so I can "look".

There it is.... Yup- she has a red bead stuck up her nose.  Now I Panic .. grab shoes - jump in the car and call hubby- what hospital do I go to? All the while I'm driving "fast" to the hospital- with my hazard lights on... Now, If you know me, I drive pretty fast to start with...I have calmed down immensely in my "parentage".. but I learned- some things come back very naturally-laugh.

So quickly down the highway we fly- I kept thinking- what if she gets this past the point of seeing it- what will they have to do? After all it's right at the point where is she pushes it even a bit- it might "disappear".  Hmmmm.  Denis calls the nurse and she calls me.  The nurse asks-"can you see it??, Yes, I can but it's high.  She says, okay-come into the office anyway?  There is one thing we can try- if it doesn't work we'll move her to the emergency room".  All the while I'm calming now and have a constant case of nervous laughter.


So, arriving at the office (one floor up from Emergency) they usher us right into a room-all the while D is screaming.

Here is what you do if your Daughter or Son gets a bead up there nose and you can see it!

  • A nurse held her down 
  • The doctor plugged the clear nostril.   
  • Then I blew as hard as I could into her mouth.  
The bead came flying out- along with some buggers onto my face...Ewwww.but totally awesome!.
So- if your daughter ever gets a bead stuck up her nose- try the little trick described above. 


The doctor then giggles and says to "me", now you know the trick.  

The doctor then explains... they see this a lot.

15 minutes later, the delighted Debritu and I head to the hospital cafeteria for a chocolate milk and some change for the valet guy.  The picture above is her hair still half beaded this morning..

Sunday, June 27, 2010

To tell or not to tell...

I often struggle with being a custodian of Habtamu and Debritu's story and not a teller of their life experience.  Instead- we're working to make a difference... or at least trying to...on a small scale:

  • By speaking out at culture camps- we are able to connect our children with others with similar life stories.
  • By speaking out to our church we are able to education others about adoption, society and inter-racial relationships- not to mention the realities of life is "sub-Saharan Africa". 
  • By asking for small amounts of money here and there; disadvantaged students in Ethiopia are receiving an education and we are working to keep families with disadvantages in-tact and functioning as a family.
  • This morning- H and D's story has inspired a congregation in Florida- to ask for and send money to Nothing but Nets. So, not only are our children inspiring others to make a difference - their story is going play a small part in  "making a difference".  Perhaps today-  one less family- may lose their mom or dad or sibling....by simply being touched or enlightened by a another's life experience.    http://www.nothingbutnets.net
I do believe that it is better for my children to grow up knowing that their story was told to help- when it was told.   Seriously- if we buy nets, fight malaria every way we can, earn money for vaccination against TB, educate others on adoption and adoption language and help other children/families to stay intact through  the difficulties of poverty (both at home and away).. perhaps perhaps we will instill pride and confidence in their story.  Perhaps they will dislike that I told the story- or perhaps they will believe in a bigger picture- and believe that their story was part of a solution... 

So when appropriate- yes, we do tell H and D's story.  We tell it with much consideration and concern -but yes we do tell it.  We also encourage others too (with permission of course).  

So, as custodians, we can only do the best we can.. and sure, we will make an occasional bad decision-like the rest of our parenting -giggle-but hopefully on the grand scale our kids will "turn out all right"...  :-).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Education First is looking for host families

Education First- www.efhomestay.org is looking for some host families in the Worcester Area. The kids are coming July 7th-August 2nd.  


They are gone from your home work hours-spending evenings and the first two weekends with you. If you are interested or can provide some meals and a bed- email pamela.shaw@ef.com or call her at 617.233.7467


There are about 8 teens (including 2 teachers 24+) looking for a place to stay.  There are planned drop up and pick up locations near the suburbs (ie: northboro, etc).. so if you think you can do it- or can spilt the time with another family.. give her a call. 


If they don't find "rooms" the kids have to stay home. 



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Out of the loop..and just "realizing it"

I found myself reading other people's blogs tonight along with some of the yahoo groups I belong to-regarding Ethiopia and Adoption.  It's been a year since I've dedicated time to this, and wow,  to my surprise-life has been happening all around me-laugh. 

I'm delighted to see some new blogs, and to view pictures of children from those that I encountered while waiting.  

Sure sure.. like most- I counted the months, days, weeks, sometimes breaths of the days we waited.  While we "impatiently" waited we checked off the list of things we had to do before the kids came, and we scrutinized everything about Ethiopia and Adoption.  I officially wore out my "refesh" button- F5-F5-F5-F5-F5 nothing new.?? close window- open it again-log in.. F5-F5-F5-F5-F5..phew 15 minutes passed- maybe something now... F5-F5-F5-F5-F5 for 20 months or so..laugh.

Then something happened..something nutty..... We actually went ahead and adopted kids.  
Like most I know,  I totally crawled inside my home and was shocked ... laugh.. no seriously shocked at what just happened to "my" life.  Are you kidding me- I'm now in "charge" of two kids?  Seriously- how did that happen??  What were they thinking?? Somebody-lot's of somebodies.. said we'd be good people to become a parent to two children at the same time- yeah me and him...  two kids.. no seriously??? What were we thinking... What were they thinking???  

Somebody once said to me- "god won't give you anything you can't handle".  Now, I don't know where I stand on my belief in god (or my disbelief for that matter).. but this saying has been in my head for the past year - every-time I hit my limit I hear it... Much like my other little mantras...  Recently, I just shared it with a new friend of mine-perhaps it's helping or haunting her too-perhaps if you are in our shoes- it will help you too. 

so-It seems every 3 months I'd get disillusioned- I'd convince my husband- we're not doing so bad-etc etc..Look we can go to the zoo. Look we can take a shower...  

3 more months..Look we can handle family visiting and juggle school schedules. 

3 more months- hey let's take a trip???? oops....

3 more months- I'm actually back to reading other peoples blogs..yes.. that's my big disclaimer today. It does seem like a simple thing-  looking at other people's blogs and reading yahoo groups- that use to be something I did in my down time.   Now, I think.... what is down time exactly???  Taking time to search the web-it's the last thing I have time to do..laugh. 

Well -here I am- yet one more stretch ... I'm actually searching the net, kids are sleeping. and Yes, I'm  reading your blogs and it feels GREAT. Yet to me- it's one more simple step toward a life that feels more balanced.   

Your blogs feel like a breath of fresh air- a chance to capture a moment back of what was once so simple....  

So, thank you all for keeping up your blogs and I can't wait to catch up on your  beautiful lives! 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Northboro Church Knitting group makes socks and sends them to Ethiopia

Our church (First Parish Church UU of Northborough) has a Knitting group.  They recently knit socks for the upcoming rainy season for a family of the Selamta Family Project.   Here is a picture of the socks arriving to the family in Ethiopia-Included in the email from the children- was a heart felt Betam Amaseganallo! (thank you very much) from the Family.



Our church has been so very supportive of our adoption.  First they hosted a public viewing of a movie called "black gold" -with advertising -etc.  At the event they sold fairly traded coffee, made popcorn and provided an opportunity to discuss it.  They have donated money to the ECC for new adoptive parents to learn more about inter-racial adoption... and now.. they have sent socks to a newly created family to help a mom take care of her children during this upcoming rainy season.   

Having the humble but wonderful opportunity to co-ordinate some of these opportunities is really making my heart leap for joy and tears come to my eyes.  I can't thank our congregation enough for being open to reaching out to the needs in Ethiopia and for embracing our efforts.  

Should anyone else like to ask their church or another local organization to do something for the Selamta group- simple or large- please email me at: kbrusstar@tbgsec.com with your idea and I'd be more than happy to put you in touch with the correct person.

A Lazy Day in Photos - June 6th 2010


Welcome - come on in and enjoy a rainy day with us...




Daddy Started the morning off with the kiddos- (at 4:45) Debritu gets up crazy hours at the moment because she's missing her binkie...mommy laid on the couch- wishing away a headache.










A few hours later mommy decides to jump in and gives daddy a break.  Habtamu and I play Cooties...



Debritu decides to play a lace up the bugs game.













Kids eating left over bagels while daddy makes eggs, sausage and hashbrowns... yummy yummy!










The kids went outside to play barefoot in the warm light rain this morning-but when I got back to them with the camera-I discovered that they decided it was a good day to roll around in the grass and play in the sand while - NAKED - so we've omitted those pictures :-)






ahh- back inside and it seems that it's time to have some independent play time for everyone :-)
Daddy and Habtamu leave for H's last T-ball game. Did I meantion it was a rainy day??? Note how well I dressed him today (not).















Debritu falls asleep (pheww) so Mommy misses the T-ball game and stays home.  Geneva decides it's also a good time for a nap so she goes to sleep with her.









It's noon....Habtamu and dad are off to T-ball, my mom is still doing our laundry (thank you thank you thank you mom), Debritu's asleep and it looks like the sun is going to come out.  Ahhh- A random chance for me mom to take a shower-maybe even shave her legs (I'll spare you the picture of  it though-laugh)! Yippy!


Mommy took 5 minutes and got to brush Geneva- A Pomeranian could easily hide in the hair I brushed off her.


1:00  Debritu up Eating lunch. 
T-ball game cancelled- boys are in-town. 
Nana is walking her dog.













From 2-4:00

Debritu learns "Do Re Me...." with Nana while daddy plays a completely different song on the guitar.  Debritu runs around pulling out books, toys and other random items looking for something "new" to do while saying "why, why, why" to everything. (Mommy is playing on You Tube researching braiding styles - hoping to find something she can actually do).







Habtamu decides it's a good day for a nap- can you find him in his bed?











4:00

Got bored- Decided it was a good time to head out to Chuck E Cheese.















Was having too much fun to remember to take pictures.. after this-laugh.











The kids are not the only ones that had fun it seems...laugh. Nana looks quite happy too....











Exhausted- we came home -and put the kids in bed.

 Hope you all had a wonderful Rainy Day yesterday.... Thanks for sharing ours with us.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

13 months as a family

Holy cow... 13 months.- Phewww!  If you told me 13 months ago that I'd be happy being home- not working yet;  that I'd be afraid of the dynamics of flying with my children; that I'd be going to Vermont for a family vacation (domestic are you kidding???).. I'd have laughed at you.  If you told me the kids would be the happy and complete focus of my life- I'd believe you-but I'd have had no idea what that really meant.  


The past 13 months-talk about a Roller Coaster Ride!!!  Mostly I think, I wonder how this all happened...How in the world did we become parents to our wonderful and beautiful children???   Their voices in the morning make my heart sing..Mummmeee..it's get up time..(Habtamu) or Mummmeee- "Wake up" (Debritu).. and of course my eyes still burn because it's so darn early.  My brother in-law was visiting and said to us "I don't know how you function on such a little amount of sleep".  Dad and I were both surprised by this comment- we thought we slept a lot- ..laugh.guess that could explain the "mood swings".


How did we get children that really are the perfect fit for our family???? How does this all work itself out-really??? 


We still remember what it was like before our children joined our family but don't desire to go "back" there anymore.  I don't cry about what we did "to" our lives nope.. I've moved on- I  cry because I'm at my limit.. and need a break-but ya know that limit keeps changing- keeps growing. Talk about a job that tests ya!.   


Things that use to matter to Den and I- don't anymore. The children have offered us so much perspective- so many changes.  Children have changed me as much as all my travelling combined and then some-but you won't hear me saying "why didn't we do this sooner", ha ha.   All of the changes are different- on a different level than the changes and excitement of becoming more "open or closed minded" through your travels.  The changes motherhood create in somebody I'm convinced are not  easily imagined by that waiting parent. 


But who I was with out our children- even it they magically "went away"- I'd never be that woman again- nor would I like to be. They are remarkable little people that change constantly and are so forgiving.  Why can't we stay that way as adults.. Why do we judge when our children teach us to forgive??  
  
13 months ago today we walked -exhausted and confused but delighted through the threshold of our home; I'm still exhausted, still delighted when I look, listen or watch our children and man I'm still  oh so very confused-but somewhere in all of this we've all changed.  Habtamu, Debritu, Denis and I- We've become a family with bonds.. bonds that I can't imagine being with out.  Bonds that make each day-and adventure.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Annual reports, adoption and our lucky children...

Our annual reports are due. This got Hubby and I thinking and talking-  As adoptive families from Ethiopia-we are so lucky to have to write annual reports on our children-what a great record of their childhood these children will have.
As many of you know-the questions are structured so year after year-our children will have answers like- - "how have you changed",  what was your school performance, and how was your health". Along with quick summaries to the events of their lives for that year.

Hubby and I were talking about how neat it would be- now that we are older- to have these to look back on.  To learn that we had RSV, or preferred to play alone than with others. To learn that we wore special shoes to learn to walk, or that we threw temper tantrums.  Wouldn't it be great to know that your grandmother died at age 4 and that you spent time with her-perhaps learning how her death affected your life.

Sure many of us journal here and there -but to have a year of your life consistently recorded in under 2 pages every year.

Since I often think about what was taken away from my children by the loss of their culture, never knowing what your biological mom and dad looked like or what their first year or so of life was like- I am thrilled to be able to offer them an account of their life with us.  Although it can never make up for their initial loss it will provide a history and some answers- answers to questions-that other kids-bio kids - are unlikely to have.

So - 3 Cheers to having to write this report.  Now, to hope and pray that their extended family gets to read it.

Bye Bye my love...

How do you say Goodbye to your "best friend"? The object that comforts you at night and during your mid-day nap?  Debritu's teeth are all in and it looks like she's starting the first stages of an overbite-so I have to be the tough guy and take her binkie away.  Why is it that the mom's always seem to have to make the tough decisions ...hmmmm?

The poor girl is in for a tough couple of days-and I'm guessing we are too-but somehow no matter how hard something is- I'm continuously empathizing with the children.  This is her loss - and it's a big one...

For us, it's just a few more hours with out sleep.   I have to wonder.. do we actually sleep anymore anyway?

1) Debritu says bye bye to her binkies
Here's my baby getting ready to be a Preschooler


and the trash truck come to take her binkies away
She's waving to the trash truck- while crying.. and saying bye bye binkies..bye bye...my binkies..goooooo...

IT'S A SAD SAD DAY....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

P'od about the Oil leak!!!!

I am getting more and more upset about the continuous Oil leak in the gulf.  


Why is it that we have to hear for months about Edward's affair with some woman (when 4 out of 5 marriages don't make it- is that really news people) and Angelina and Brad's life (exciting-sure, but enough already)-but the pollution of our seas and the damage and clean up that comes with it-is simply highlighted with concerns over "toursim"... good god!  People think.. Eco-Clean up trips!!!! Calling-Clean Oceans, Calling all of the www.ecotourism.com companies.. hell calling anyone that will listen...please let's get started!!!!


Think solutions people... Please think solutions...The BP oil giant obviously needs help- not just finger pointing and criticism.. but really honest to goodness help. Together let's save the gulf for goodness sake and news anchors and gov't, fishermen, cruise companies...etc..etc... can persecute the crap out of them later!!!!  


GRRRRRRRR.......

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ethiopia has recognized - Haile Kids aid organization as an NGO

Ethiopia has recognized - Haile Kids aid organization as an NGO.  This is a very long process in Ethiopia ( go Eldana!)  It's been a couple of years now-but Haile is slowly happening!!!!!  Haile means power in Amharic.  We chose Haile as the name because there is no more important power in a child or adults life than the type of power that education can provide. 


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.. one wish upon a star answered!  Now it's time to ramp up the US side of this project baby- hang in there!

LemLem School - has a new website!!

Many of you have seen pictures of my trips to Ethiopia. Those touching photos of the children smiling up at you, the ever enthusiastic teachers and of course the pictures from my trips with the daughter of the owner of the school.  It is Lem Lem and my months there that made me fall completely in love with Ethiopia.  


I'm so excited to announce that now I can share that love with you!!  One of the recent volunteers created a new website for the school!


Please Visit this website....pass it on to your friends and family..etc etc....


http://web.me.com/lemlemschool/Site/Tena_Yistiling!.html


If you are moved and or find yourself interested in volunteering,  or visiting the school while on another trip-and learning what a day in a school age child is like, if you would like to sponsor a student in need of subsidies or would just simply like to know more about the school itself- contact me at kbrus@yahoo.com and I'll put you in touch with the owner of the school. 










Meme Stevens- Beautiful Song- get Kleenex

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