Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." - Romans 15:13

Monday, December 23, 2013

Little Hands

Ellie and Faith while riding in their car seats.  So cute! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hershey Park Happy

We made a visit to Hershey's Candy Lane.  It was a perfect night to go -- almost 50 degrees and not at all crowded.  The girls made a visit to see Santa.  They weren't overly impressed -- but Ellie did ask for a puppy!!  We also got to see real reindeer and an awesome light show. It was a fun night.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Preschool program.

Today was the girls preschool program.  Here's a few shots I took on my phone before we left for the program.  Not the greatest quality -- but you get the idea.  The girls did great singing and ringing their jingle bells.  Too cute!  

Friday, December 13, 2013

First Movie

 We decided to be brave and take the girls to their first movie -- Disney's Frozen.  We went in without having any expectations -- afterall, how many potty breaks can a two and three year old take in 90 minutes :)

Armed with a very large popcorn, two sippy cups and two slightly sleepy girls, we headed into the movie.  They were super excited! 

They actually did really really good!  Each girl only took one potty break and they only spilled their popcorn twice ;).  And, we all thought the movie was cute... Especially, Olaf, the snowman.  

Maybe we will try it again soon!  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's snow much fun

Our first measurable snowfall!!  The girls couldn't wait to get out and play. Ellie still isn't crazy about snow.  This is only her second winter with us and they didn't have this cold white stuff in Ethiopia!!  

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Faith, were you into mommy's lipstick?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

So Thankful for my family and friends 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Quote #5

It is important to realize we adopt not because we are rescuers.  No.  We adopt because we are rescued.  -- David Platt - - The Gospel and Adoption

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Quote #4

I always questioned if I was ready to adopt then 
realized no child was ready to be an orphan -- 

Elliana Geneme Baxter, December 2011

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quote #3

Faith is taking the first step, even when you can't see  
the whole staircase -- Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Quote #2

If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one.  -- Mother Teresa

photo courtesy of FeedOne.com

Monday, November 4, 2013

National Adoption Month

In honor of National Adoption Month... and leading up to our Orphan Sunday/We Love Kids event at church, I decided I was going to post a few quotes I've run across relating to adoption, sponsorship, foster care, etc.   Here goes the first one . . . 

Do for ONE what you wish you could for for everyone -- Andy Stanley

photo courtesy of Ricebowls.org

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Break My Heart For What Breaks Yours ~

As we were taking our first trip to Ethiopia to meet our daughter for the first time, I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His.  I returned from that trip crushed.  I had 17 hours on the flight home to absorb what I had seen, and that wasn't enough time.  Still, nearly 3 years later, I’m trying to put my arms around what broke my heart on that trip.  
Ethiopia is a beautiful country full of beautiful countryside, people and culture.  But the poverty, neglect and heart-breaking situations I witnessed changed me forever.  I cannot look at things the same any longer.  There were many things that broke my heart on that trip (orphans, children needing sponsorship, families that need food to feed their children, lack of clean water, etc.) but the orphan is what spoke to my heart the loudest. That’s why I’m a little passionate about children, in general. Once your eyes are open and you can see clearly, you never see the same and you can't ignore it.  

Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act.  Proverbs 24:12

For our family, God led us to adopt internationally.  There wasn't a formula or one particular reason -- other than the subtle hints God used to help us with our decision.  Don't get me wrong, we made a million excuses in the beginning as to why we couldn't or shouldn't do it.  We listened to many lies from people who didn't understand God’s calling on our family, and we wondered ourselves if we were cut out for this . . because we knew we were far from perfect.  But the Truth is, we were all adopted by our heavenly father.  He adopted us – not as perfect people, but as broken, needy and selfish people.  And, going to a third world country showed me what a selfish person I am. Many times people make excuses for NOT fostering or adopting or mentors because they feel that they are not qualified. 

But, it only takes ONE person to make a change in the life of a child.  Adoption, fostering, temporary care, mentoring, etc.  is all the same.  These kids need someone and you don’t have to be perfect, and they certainly will not be perfect either.

November is National Adoption Month and the first Sunday is typically dubbed "Orphan Sunday."  That’s why I am hosting a Sunday in November (November 10th) at our church dedicated to helping children locally and globally – find fulfillment, forever families, mentors, sponsors and friends.  Maybe God is tugging at your heart to ‘do something’ but you don’t know what that 'something' is.  Come find out how you can make a difference in the life of a child!  

If you are local, PLEASE come share a soup and bread luncheon (to signify the plight of the orphan).. and listen and gather information on how you can help a child in need. 

The luncheon begins at noon, followed by the program at 1:00. We will be sharing our story of adopting Ellie, and showing a video of our journey.  Please contact me for additional details or to RSVP.    

Here's the Agenda -- 
Sunday, November 10th beginning at Noon
Mountain Ridge Church, 32 Big Dam Road, Dillsburg, PA

12:00-12:45 - Luncheon & Meet and Greet  
1:00:1:15 -   Welcome and Intro
1:15-1:25 -   Fresh Air Fund (HOST a child 1-2 weeks in the summer)
1:25-1:35 -   Compassion International (SPONSOR a child)
1:35-1:45 -   Bair Foundation 
1:45-1:50 -   Older Child Adoption Experience 
1:50-2:00 -   Bethany Christian Services
2:00-2:05 -   Safe Families (Temporary/Emergency care) 
2:05-2:15 -   Rice Bowls & Closing (Feed a hungry child)


Friday, October 4, 2013

Beads and Bows and Barrettes, oh my!

So, I've come to the conclusion that our house is getting overtaken by hair accessories.  Between all of the rubber bands for Ellie's hair (that seem to break when Ellie's hair dries), bows for Faith's hair, and now with the addition of beads into Ellie's hair, this mama was finding herself swimming in a sea of hair things!  Faith absolutely hates to have her hair messed with, but Ellie LOVES it.  She could sit for hours, but half of the time I had 4 or 6 containers of 'hair junk' surrounding me and I was feeling a little overwhelmed . . . 

That's when I decided to take matters into my own hands and get a little organized.  

I also started to practice putting beads in Ellie's hair.  I noticed that if I did 2 strand twists or braids in her hair, by morning (or when it dried), they were standing on end like Pippi Longstocking.  (ok, for those of you who don't know who that is, see here)  But, with the addition of beads on the ends of her twists or braids, it gives enough weight to keep them hanging down straight.  It's lovely and lasts for about a week [or until one of the girls decides to pull them out :)]    

Here's a picture of my practice sessions. She's such a good girl and is so patient when I'm playing with her hair!  For me to do 6-8 braids [only about 1/2 of her head] it takes me over an hour and that's with using a bead stringer.  I give her the task of picking the color and counting them as she strings them onto the bead stringer -- it's great practice for colors and counting and she loves the one-on-one time.  I'm hoping with additional practice that I'll improve my time in parting, braiding and beading!  

My next lesson -- learning how to cornrow! 

Referral-versary #2

One of our Referral Pictures
September 9th marked our 2 year anniversary of receiving Elliana's referral.   I can honestly say, I FORGOT about it until a few days later.  Ugh, mommy guilt.  That's like forgetting a birthday...

But honestly, we are so busy doing life right now -- and Ellie is so much a part of our family, that we can't remember life without her.  But, we cannot forget the day that God answered our prayers with the referral of this shy little girl from Epio (as Ellie calls it).  And, I still have to shake my head in amazement as I remember how God delicately orchestrated the plan to bring Ellie into our family - (our surprise pregnancy -- Ellie's birthday being the same day we found out we were expecting --  Elliana's Ethiopian name and American name literally meaning the same thing -- and all the intricate details surrounding her story) .  You can read about our referral day here.

It just seems like yesterday that we were in Ethiopia drinking in the culture, the people and the beauty.  We've already talked to Ellie about going back someday when she can go too and I am thrilled that she is opening up more and more every day -- and allows us to talk with her about the past.   I am very sad, however, that the care home Ellie stayed in between court and our Embassy appointment has closed, and our adoption agency has since filed bankruptcy.  This makes me very sad because it's all a part of Ellie's story... and now those parts of her story are gone.  But the good news is none of those things about Ellie's story define who she is and her 'story' continues to evolve.

Big 3 Year old! 
When I look back at pictures of her, we cannot believe how much she has grown -- in size and personality!   She's such a big girl, fully potty trained, attempting to write her name, talking up a storm and such a beautiful girl.  We continue to be amazed at how our comfy family of 4 has turned into a crazy family of 6!  At times, I'm sure we look like a circus rolling into town, but that's ok! And, I often wonder what life would be like for Faith, without a big sister like Ellie.  We are so blessed to have her in our family.  Happy Referral-versary Elliana Geneme!

Crazy Sisters! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Daddy's Lil' Helpers

The girls are all about being helpers -- which is great!  I hope they are still 'helpful' when they are teenagers.  Ellie is in the 'question' phase of her toddlerhood so she wants to know why there's a hole, where the plant came from, why its being planted there ..... Etc...  Faith thinks we will get fruit from the plants ... Maybe blueberries, strawberries or grapes... She says.... 

"Do it gently ... Where's the worms ... Can I take my shoes off... Can we make a sandcastle ... Its so beautiful daddy ..." are a few things I can hear them saying as I write this.  They crack us up -- always!!  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


First Day of Preschool via my iphone!
The girls started preschool last week.  It's not that they need to go, but we thought it would be good for them to get out of our house 2 mornings a week and socialize with some little ones their own age.  It also gives Nana and Memaw a break!   After orientation and open house, I suddenly found myself thinking, "I've made a terrible mistake . . . my babies are too little to go to preschool . . ."     It's only 2.5 hours 2 mornings a week, but, nonetheless, I was a bit nervous the first day.

We arrived early, so we decided to let the girls play on the playground for a bit to shake off any anxiety [maybe I should have played on the playground!]  Soon, it was time to go into their classrooms.  Brad videoed the girls walking down through the hall, anticipating a tearful goodbye . . . (we had a plan in place in case one of the girls or both had a meltdown) . . .when we arrived at their classroom, they both walked in, gave their teacher a flower, and all we saw was the back of their heads going!  Ha!  Ellie told me later that "Faithy cried for mommy . . ." but the teacher said they both did really well! Wheww!  

The next day, wasn't quite as easy.  Faith is going to be the one who doesn't like goodbyes.  Ellie walked right in and said "bye mom."  Thank goodness for that.  Ellie was the one who I thought would have problems with separation, but I think since we've gone over things with Ellie, she's good.  As long as she knows what to expect and what the progression of the day will be, she is super calm and at peace.  My girl loves routine!  Faith, on the other hand, is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl!

It's a small class -- only 8 children, so I really like that.  They both come home with the funniest stories, especially as told by a 2 and 3 year old.  Ellie said everyone likes to  'touch her hair,' and Faith told me all about "Ruffie" the class "stuffed animal" pet.   Today, Faith told me they played "instruments . . ."  I asked her what type of instrument did she play, and she said, "oh, all kinds of instruments but mostly jingle bells."  That girl cracks me up with her vocabulary.  Last week we were going out to eat and Faith said she wanted 'clam legs'... we chucked and told her clams didn't have legs.  She probably meant 'crab legs.'  Her exact words back to me were, "Yes, I understand, but I really want clam legs . . ."  I kid you not!  She's like a sponge soaking up ever word we say!

Their first "assignment" this week was to fill out an All About Me sheet and bring a picture of their family.  This gave me the opportunity to talk with Ellie again about adoption and how all families are different.  We talked about Africa and Ethiopia and our plane ride home, her friends from Ethiopia, etc. These conversations typically make Ellie very anxious, but more and more, she's allowing me to share with her.  She's still not crazy about looking at pictures from Ethiopia, but we are working on that.  We also talked again about how Faith was in my tummy, but Ellie was always in my heart.   It's so cute when she tells someone that.  She doesn't understand the entire statement, but someday she will.  

Picture Ellie's teacher sent me from her first day!   She looks a little shy!

Faith's First Day!  She doesn't look very happy! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


This year is going to produce a lot of growing pains -- for me!   I now have a high school senior and a freshman and two little ones starting preschool next week.   How does that happen?  It seems like the boys were just in preschool.  I remember their little backpacks and their excited little faces with their cute grins.  Now their backpacks are bigger, and so are they.  We are looking at colleges and talking about careers.  

I'm excited to see them grow and blossom and learn from life experiences, but there is always a part of me that would love to keep them little -- and tucked under my wing.  Is that bad? 

I know that's not God's design for our children (or the parents).  Children will sprout wings and fly, but this mama bird has to get used to that!  Luckily I have exactly 8 months to prepare myself and the little ones -- they get upset if someone is missing at dinner time!  (And hopefully I prepared the first of the flock well)

Good thing I have these two to keep me busy!   

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bye-Bye Giardia!

Yay, it's true... we've finally gotten rid of Giardia in our household.  We've been so busy, that I haven't had time to write about our 'experience'... because you just-can't-make-this-stuff-up and the story is kinda complicated.

There's lots of twists and turns to this story that includes lost stool samples, a lab catching on fire, researching the wrong parasite, and the list goes on . . but long story short... We got rid of giardia -- Praise God!   But, we waited almost 4 months for a 'treatment' plan from the Infectious Disease specialist, were given a course of medicine -- 2 kinds -- retested, received another POSITIVE result and then waited several weeks for a phone call that NEVER CAME.   

After receiving no return calls from our referring pediatrician or the ID doctor for 2 weeks, I contacted Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease to schedule a second opinion.  Hopkins quickly agreed that we needed to get Faith to them ASAP, but I first needed to gather her records. I drove directly to the Infectious Disease Dr's central records department to obtain her records.  To my surprise, her medical records only consisted of 5 pages. . .  no clinical notes, etc.... just a 3-page referral letter from our referring pediatrician, and 2 lab results . . . one from March and one from June.  

My eye's quickly scanned the lab result from June, which read, "NO GIARDIA OR CRYPTOSPORIDIUM PRESENT - NEGATIVE"

**!! What?? Are you serious.  I didn't know if I should celebrate or be really angry!  After a few frantic calls, it was discovered that the nurse who gave the results to me, accidentally read the MARCH lab results, not the JUNE results.  I am so thankful that I decided to gather and review her records on my own.  Her referring pediatrician was going to retreat her again with the same meds (for another $300 and 2 weeks) . . . because he was literally out of ideas and maybe this time it would work (I'd heard that before!!).

But, bottom line -- the girls are BOTH Giardia free  -- It only took 16 months, 9 treatments, 7 different medicines, and lots of patience and prayer.

The thing is, I was so confident that the treatment worked  because I had a feeling of calmness every time I prayed about it -- it was a sense of "don't worry about it .. I got it covered..."   So you can imagine my  devastation  when we received the positive results.  God and I had it out.  I stewed for a couple of weeks -- teetering between trusting the doctors to come up with another plan or jumping ship and starting the process over again with a whole new set of doctors.  Once I talked to Hopkins and they requested Faith's records, I was still irritated because I was starting the process all over again.  I could have had them all transferred as they suggested, but something in me urged me to go get the records my self.  I'm glad I did -- and then I felt horrible for doubting what I already knew deep down in my heart . . . I'm sure if God was a god of "I told you so's" He would have used that opportunity to "tell me so" ... but He's not and for that I am grateful. 
I cast all my cares on You O Lord for You care for me. 1 Peter 5:7

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Beach Pictures

More beach pictures... sorry... (and my sister in law took all of these too!!  I can't take the credit).  Ellie wasn't feeling the best and Faith was a crazy lady, ripped her headband out and started throwing sand everywhere..... so we don't have too many of either of them -- but the ones we got are cute!

Ellie Chillin' (not a happy camper)

Faith (before the sugar set in)

Colton & Delaney 

Delaney, Dylan & Colton 

Boys with cousins, Jack & Nathan

I would love to know the conversation here . . . 

Goofing around . . . 

C & D
There's a smile! 
and another one! 
C & D