Friday, September 30, 2011

Who wouldn't want to win a trip to Aspen?

My friend, Mary Beth Picker, is guest posting on my blog today.  I met Mary Beth  through email a few years ago after she wrote an article on adoption for our college alumni magazine.  Last winter we finally got to meet in person.  She and her husband, Casey, are true examples of living out their faith.   I can't help but think of Mary Beth and Casey when I read this verse... "Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." 1 John 3:18  They have a passion and love for the people of Ethiopia and specifically the village of Adami Tulu and the school that they have helped to build in that village. Would you please consider being apart of the life changing work that is occurring in Adami Tulu?

Thank you so much Tracy for allowing me to post on your blog about a subject that is so important to me.
Over three years ago, my husband and I began our journey to adopt our son from Ethiopia. And since that time, God has been filling our hearts with an overwhelming love and passion for the people of Ethiopia. We returned a year after our first adoption to bring our daughter home. After arriving home with her, we knew we had to do more.
We have been so blessed to team up with other adoptive families around the U.S. and with Lifesong for Orphans. Lifesong is doing some amazing work through a small nursery school that they support in Adami Tulu, Ethioipa. You can read more about Adami Tulu here.
Last year, we, with five other families, raised over $40,000 to build a new building, restroom facility, and gate at the Adami Tulu school. In August, we got to return to Ethiopia to see the new building. We had an amazing trip, and have absolutely fallen in love with Adami Tulu. You can read more about our trip here and here. The school is changing the lives of so many vulnerable children in the area by offering them a wonderful education and two nutritious meals a day.
We’ve returned home with the knowledge that we have so much more to do in Adami Tulu. So we’ve agreed to continue our work with Lifesong by raising funds for another school building on the Adami Tulu campus. This will enable the school to expand to include 1st and 2nd grade. More details will be coming soon, but we’re anxious to get a jump start on fundraising. We know that this project will cost at least $50,000. But, for these sweet faces, we’ll do anything!

We are very excited to announce our first fundraiser for our next phase of the Adami Tulu project: another Aspen Giveaway!

Our Aunt and Uncle have, once again, generously donated toward our fundraising efforts. Only this time they’ve offered us not one but FIVE stays at the Hyatt Grand Aspen.

Any one of these November stays might make a great early-Thanksgiving get together for you and some friends or family!
We will begin the giveaways today and draw winners on October 15. To enter, donate $20 by clicking the link for the stay that you’re interested in. For every $20 you donate to Lifesong for Orphans, you will get one entry in the drawings. By the way, 100% of your donation will go to our work in Adami Tulu.
Here are some details and pictures about the Hyatt stays:
Hyatt Grand Aspen has complimentary continental breakfast, a pool and hot tub, fitness center, fire pit, daily room cleaning and nightly turn down service complete with chocolates. There is even a little hut by the hot tubs where you can hang your robes to keep them warm for you! The hotel is within walking distance of lots of shops and restaurants in Aspen.
The retail value of each stay is approximately $2,500.

To get to Aspen, you could fly into the Aspen airport. The hotel will pick you up and, since everything is within walking distance, you can go without a car during your stay. Or you could fly into Denver and rent a car to drive to Aspen. Or, of course, you could also just drive to Aspen.

Hyatt Stay Giveaway #1:

  • Sat.- Sat. November 5-12 (full week stay)
  • Studio Unit (Like a nice hotel room with small kitchenette.)
To enter the drawing for Giveaway #1, donate to Lifesong for Orphans here:

Hyatt Stay Giveaway #2:

  • Sun.- Thurs. November 13-17 (five days/ four nights)
  • Two Bedroom Unit (Two Bedrooms and Bathrooms, Kitchen, Livingroom, Dining Room, Washer and Dryer, etc.)
To enter the drawing for Giveaway #2, donate to Lifesong for Orphans here:

Hyatt Stay Giveaway #3:

  • Sun.- Thurs. November 13-17 (five days/ four nights)
  • Three Bedroom Unit (Three Bedrooms and Bathrooms, Kitchen, Livingroom, Dining Room, Washer and Dryer, etc.) Maybe a family could do an “early Thanksgiving get together” in this one.
To enter the drawing for Giveaway #3, donate to Lifesong for Orphans here:

Hyatt Stay Giveaway #4:

  • Tues.-Sat. November 15-19 (five days/ four nights)
  • One Bedroom Unit (All the things a two bedroom has but only one bedroom and bathroom)
To enter the drawing for Giveaway #4, donate to Lifesong for Orphans here:

Hyatt Stay Giveaway #5:

  • Tues.-Sat. November 15-19 (five days/ four nights)
  • Two Bedroom Unit (Two Bedrooms and Bathrooms, Kitchen, Livingroom, Dining Room, Washer and Dryer, etc.)
To enter the drawing for Giveaway #5, donate to Lifesong for Orphans here:

Just imagine, you could win a stay in Aspen, just for donating $20. What a deal! Plus, you get to be part of this amazing project to help these precious kids in Adami Tulu.
If you are unable to use one of the stays, you could donate your entry to a friend, or minister, or someone who could really use the time away.
Help us raise money to expand the Adami Tulu school and spread the word about our giveaway. Please repost on twitter and facebook! Thank you!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Step Closer...

Great news!!  Yesterday we got word that the probation officer's report we were waiting on was filed with our agency.  Now the lawyer can file our affidavit with the court in the UG!  So, while we get to hurry up and wait again, we are getting close to meeting our boy for the first time!

And, considering that news, we had the perfect ending to the day yesterday.  We enjoyed a Ugandan feast with friends last night and the ones who cooked for us were missionaries in UG for ten years!  We had no idea when we planned this dinner two weeks ago that we would actually have something to celebrate! :)  Here is a picture of our dinner... we had beans and rice, greens with gnut sauce, cabbage, chicken and posho. This would truly be considered a feast in UG because most people are not able to afford all of this food!

Thank you for your prayers!  Please keep praying for the process!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The goat from "A Goat and the Smelly Cat!"

 Isn't that picture awesome?  Just look at that those children!!...and the goat too. :)  This goat will provide milk for these children and income for the orphanage from selling the milk, too!

Back in May I introduced you to the Kyengera Orphanage in Uganda and my friend, Tonya.  Tonya and her family have adopted the entire Kyengera Orphanage. You can read that post here.  In June, Jake and Elyse had a bake sale to raise money to buy a goat for the orphanage...that didn't go quite as we planned because God had another plan for providing a goat for these children in Uganda, and once again, He showed us his love and grace.  Then, Jake and Elyse invited their friends over for ice cream and those friends brought enough change to pay for a year's worth of vet fees for the goat.  It was incredible to see these kids from the age of 2 all the way up to 12 bring all of their change for kids they will most likely never meet this side of heaven, but they all wanted to share what they had. Their willingness to share was such an example to me. 

If you would like to learn more about the work being done at the Kyengera Orphanage go to  Kirabo Seeds.  We are already getting excited about the next project they are working on...starting a library for the children at the orphanage at Kyengera!


Monday, September 19, 2011

A Hungry Child Can't Wait: Ask 5 for 5!...guest post

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5
Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you Tracy and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support, healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

Friday, September 16, 2011

J turns 2!!!

J will turn 2 on Saturday!  We will MISS being with him but we were blessed recently with new pics of him!!  I wish I could show you his face but hopefully soon! :)

Happy birthday sweet boy!!  We love you!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Sky Top and Apple Crumb Pie

Each fall (or almost fall)  for the last ten years we have headed up to the mountains to Sky Top Orchard.  It is one of our favorite things to do!  If it were not two hours away we would be up there each week!  We can't wait to bring J there! :) 

Our favorite kind of apple!! :)

When we pick apples...I have to come home and make an apple pie! In college, I had an education  professor who shared a great apple pie and his recipe with us. I have made it ever since! 

Apple Crumb Pie
6-8 apples (or enough to fill a 9 inch pie plate)
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 sugar
3/4 cup of flour
1/3 cup of butter
pie crust

Pare apples; thinly slice and arrange in 9 inch pastry-lined pie plate.  Mix 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle over apples.

Sift 1/2 cup of sugar with the flour; cut in butter till crumbly.  Sprinkle over apples.  Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.  May need to cover edges with foil the last 15 minutes of baking.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


It is always so wonderful for us when we can get little glimpses into Js life and personality! We found out that J loves flip flops.  He wears them all the time and even carries a pair around with him!  He also loves to give high fives and drink orange soda!  We are so grateful he is happy and loved! 
We continue to wait for paperwork...keep praying!