Our Spring Break Stay-cation

For Spring Break this year, I planned lots of fun (and almost all free - yeah!) activities to do near our house. Monday - a play date with our friends Gloria and Eleanor. We had free passes to a local gymnastics open gym - which by the way I will never go back to as there was no adult employees ever and virtually no parent supervision either as most were simply chatting with each other - but ended with lunch at our house! Tuesday - Prairie Grass Nature Museum This is a free, one room museum run by a neighboring town's park district and we loved it!! There are two walls of life size animal and nature habitats and one in the middle of the room. There were several live animals: turtles, snakes, geckos, and rabbit for us to look. There are books and puzzles and baskets of animal and dinosaur stuffed animals and plastic figure. We saw real life chrysalis that will soon turn to butterflies. And there is always a craft and coloring pages. We made butterfly feeders and have the recipe for food. We'll be hanging those later in the summer. But I forgot to bring the camera so sadly, I do not have any pictures. Wednesday - Milwaukee County Zoo We have a family pass to the zoo and it is one of our favorite adventures! This time Gramma came with us!! Our first stop is always the Ape house where we spend lots of time, especially looking at the bonobos who have been known to run up and bang the glass and play peek-a-boo between two windows with us! We also look MJ and Mahul, a Mommy orangutan and her adopted child. Mahul came to the zoo right as we were starting the adoption process so their story has always had a special place in our hearts!
The boys spent a TON of time looking at animals before moving on to the next. Here they are looking at the camels:
And John at the ducks in the bird house, the room with all the free flying birds. He so got a kick out of looking up and seeing them fly:

Peacocks were another animal we spent lots of time looking at and John was too excited that he was able to get this close without the peacock walking away:
We discovered the best time to visit the Big Cat house, right before they eat! they were all awake and walking around. And anytime a zoo keeper walked by the exhibits, the animals would stop and watch where he/she was going. This is Ryan making a crazy face by who he calls Simba:
"Nola" looking right at Ryan:
And then at Gramma and John:
The two baby girl tiger cubs:

Our last stop was the gift store were Gramma had graciously offered to buy our special treat for the day. Here we are trying on masks to decide if we want that to be our treat.

Thursday - Volo Auto Museum

If you know the boys, you know their love for cars, especially John! They had actually taken a brochure for this museum, which is only a few minutes from our house, from a display at the zoo several weeks ago, and we thought this would be a fun thing to do over Spring Break.

Standing next to King Kong (they kind of know who he is because they have watched the part of the movie where King Kong and the dinosaur battle it out!);

Riding in the Flinstones car:
John standing next to a Cadillac, his absolute favorite kind of car. He lit up when ever we saw them at the museum:
Next to Doc Hudson:
Mommy loves Elvis:
Ryan loves jeeps:
Sitting in a real race car, you can just see Ryan's head:
and John's:
and Mommy's (notice my intense driving face!):
by a real United States Army helicopter:
riding some of the 50 cent kid rides:
This is a typical John face!

Friday - Lake County Discovery Museum

In honor of their recent accreditation by the American Association of Museums, this Lake County Discovery Museum offered a free day to celebrate!

Half the museum houses artifacts and displays about the history of Lake County. Very interesting for adults, not so much for little boys. But there are many things they can touch and play with throughout.

Ryan organizing Glen Rock pop bottles:

Sitting in a pretend boat:
playing with animal bones:
There is also a section where you can match the animal track puzzle pieces with the same animal track on a floor mat.

The other half of the museum is an art studio, changing displays, and a children's room. The children's room has pretend birds nests to build, bison and trees and prairie pieces to play with, bird costumes, a wigwam to build complete with Velcro birch bark pieces, and this:
a tree stump in which you put felt and plastic leaves in the top and they are blown out the side branch opening. My Mom also joined us for this day and it was a lot of fun!

Wow - can you believe we did all that in a week!

Daddy and His Boys!!

Cute, aren't they!?

Trying Out Our New Goggles

I think we're ready for summer!

Just a Thought

There have been many, horrible natural disasters over the last few years - earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, mud slides. They bring destruction and chaos and death and sadness. And they headline the news for a while, with counts of the thousands of lives lost or missing. It is all awful. But as I sat recently and listened to "2,000 confirmed dead and 8,000 still missing" a thought went through my head, "But what about the orphans?" Now, PLEASE HEAR ME, I am not in any way trying to make light of the pain and loss of recent disasters. But what about orphans. There are an estimated 4.3 million - that's right MILLION - orphans in Ethiopia. 4.3 million children will wake up in Ethiopia tomorrow without parents to love and protect and take care of them. 4.3 million is a really big number to get your head around - it's almost 2 million more than the entire population of Chicago; a little over 500,000 more than the population of Los Angeles; in fact, almost half the states in the United States have a smaller population than 4.3 million. And that's just the orphans in Ethiopia. Why are we not speaking about that ALL THE TIME!? But I know there are two less orphans in Ethiopia who I am blessed to call my sons. And I know there are hundreds of others who are not orphans because others in our agency have adopted them and continue to adopt them. And I know there is less because of the other agencies working in Ethiopia, working in Africa, working around the world, tirelessly, faithfully. So I had that thought and I'm not quite sure what to do with it. But I had to share it.


Mary Elizabeth (Martin) Smith: April 24, 1915 - March 13, 2011

My Gramma said to my aunt several years ago, should you ever come to visit and find me in my rocking chair dead, do not be said for I have had a wonderful life!

This is a poem I wrote for her 90th birthday. This is my Gramma!
Gramma Memories

When I think of Gramma, I think of Fannie Mae candy,
Choosing from the green bowl,
Chocolate chip cookies,
And warm cinnamon rolls.

When I think of Gramma, I think of playing cars on the green footstool,
One box with six games,
Sleep overs in the summer,
And a necklace with all our names.

When I think of Gramma, I think of red shutters with flowers,
Sliding down the hill on saucer sleds,
Pansies and lilies of the valley,
And showing everyone the upstairs beds.

When I think of Gramma, I think of New Year’s and Easter,
All the cousins playing boat upstairs,
The watermelon bowl with fruit salad,
And a little green table and chairs.

When I think of Gramma, I think of seashells from Florida,
Coming to all my plays,
Holiday cards,
And graduation days.

When I think of Gramma, I think of dresses and sandals,
Glasses and white hair,
A witty sense of humor,
And a rocking chair.

When I think of Gramma, I know love.

Four generations:

An Irish Blessing:
May the road rise with you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God keep you in the hallow of His hand.

The Story of You

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there lived a man and woman in the country of Ethiopia. This First Mommy and First Daddy had two little boys and they loved these boys so much!

But one sad day, First Mommy went to be with Jesus in Heaven. First Daddy was very sad and he tried very hard to take care of the two little boys.

Some time later the Lord whispered to First Daddy’s heart, “There are a Forever Mommy and a Forever Daddy in America waiting for two little boys.” First Daddy wondered and prayed. Could his little boys be those little boys the Lord spoke of? First Daddy was very brave. He made an adoption plan – he brought the two little boys to a special home to stay in until Forever Mommy and Forever Daddy could come for them.

Meanwhile, in the country of America, there was a man and a woman who so wanted to have children in their home. One day, God whispered to the man and the woman’s hearts, “I have 2 children for you in Ethiopia.” The man and the woman wondered and prayed. They trusted God and wrote a letter to Ethiopia asking if they could adopt two children. They waited and trusted and one day the phone rang. “We have 2 little boys for you!”

Now the man and the woman were a Forever Daddy and a Forever Mommy and they were so excited! They got their house ready. They painted the bedroom walls, bought a new bedspread, and laid out matching footy pajamas. They sent pictures and toys to their two boys in Ethiopia and waited for the day they could go get them and bring them home.

That day finally came! Forever Mommy and Forever Daddy took a long plane ride to Ethiopia. They rode in a white van to the Transition House to meet their boys. Forever Mommy and Daddy saw their boys and cried with joy. The boys saw them and one gave a big hug and one was unsure. Everyone was a little worried. How would they be able to talk with each other? Then they all played tag and everyone was happy and okay!

At last, the Forever Mommy and Daddy had met the two precious boys that the Lord had known would be entrusted to them since before time. And a Forever Family was born.

What YOU Can Do to Help Ethiopian Adoptions

Please visit this link:


The first item is a petition you can sign that is being sent to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia asking for reconsideration of MOWA's plans to decrease international adoption by 90% - PLEASE CONSIDER DOING THIS EVEN IF YOU HAVE NEVER ADOPTED CHILDREN - IT TAKES ONLY TWO MINUTES!!!!

Please Pray for Ethiopian Adoptions!!

I copied this from a fellow adoptive mom's Facebook page:

There are important meetings taking place in Ethiopia this week that could dramatically affect the future of adoptions there. MOWA (Ministry of Womens and Childrens Affairs) is the governing body of adoption in Ethiopia. Before the Ethiopian courts will grant custody to the adopting family, a recommendation letter is required from MOWA. MOWA has been understaffed for quite some time, and some families have had several delays in their court dates due to the MOWA letter not being available. It has been reported that MOWA generates approximately 50 letters per day. They are proposing that in order to combat alleged corruption in the Ethiopian adoption system, they must drastically cut the number of cases they deal with in order to have more time to properly investigate each situation and guarantee that the child is being adopted for all the right reasons. The proposed cuts are up to 90%!

This, obviously, would have adverse affects on many, many children. There are more than 4 million orphaned children in Ethiopia, alone. It takes a great deal of effort and paperwork for each child to be officially declared adoptable; but these proposed changes would create a huge bottleneck in their current system. The children in the majority of the orphanages are loved, but live in unspeakable conditions. There are thousands of orphans with health conditions that cannot be addressed unless they are adopted. And there are many, many good, loving families waiting with open arms to love these children as their own.

Please take a moment this week and lift up these important discussions in Ethiopia, pray for the families in the process of adopting or just beginning to adopt, and most importantly, pray for the children of Ethiopia. We serve a good, faithful and loving God, and we know He holds this situation in his hands. He will hear our voices if we cry out to him. Thank you, my friends.

For more information, check out this article:

Mama, can you come see me!

So we are getting ready to go play outside the other day and I send Ryan to get his coat. I then hear a small thump sound, not unusual with Ryan. But it is followed by a little voice yelling, "Mama, can you come see me?" I venture into the kitchen only to be met by the following site:

And what does this caring Mom do? She laughs hysterically and runs to get the camera all the while saying, "Wait, don't get up yet!"

Lest you think they are perfect ...

They're too cute, aren't they!!??

But just to add a bit of realism: they do fight - with each other - almost constantly. The latest things they do to irritate each other: Ryan to John, "Shj - ohnnnnnn, don't open your mouth!!" For some reason, it annoys Ryan when John looks at him with an open mouth and has nothing to do with whether he says something or not. John to Ryan, "R-Y-AAAAAAAAA-N, stop looking at me!" I think I remember yelling this at my little sister, (when I was in high school).

However, when one of them is sad (and not because of the other person) they are the first to jump to each other's defense.