Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Book in Her Hands-Library Update.

Please take your hand and scroll over to the sidebar. Notice how close we are to our Ethiopia Reads goal. Now take your hand and pat yourself on the back.

Thank You. You are awesome.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, February 21, 2011

Birthday Wish For Chris

Last February 19th, after I read her two bedtime stories, Meazi turned to me and said, “Mommy, I think my Daddy is sad about his Mom today.” I asked if my husband had said something to her about Chris. She said, “No, I just think so.” Remarkably, this date was Chris’s birthday. Her eyes got wide and she yelled, “Mommy! Why we did not celebrate? We didn’t even get a cake!” I told her that since Grandma Chris wasn’t here to enjoy it, we didn’t feel like celebrating. She was quiet for a moment and then said sternly, “Mommy, next time we are going to celebrate for her. We are going to get a cake. We will get a candle. I can make her wish for her. It is her birthday.” 

When I wrote that article for In Culture parent, I actually wrote the wrong date. Chris' birthday is the 20th of February, yesterday. She would have been 66 years old. We didn't get a cake, but we did find a way to celebrate. On our way to Chinatown, I asked Meazi if she wanted to visit the wishing well, and make a birthday wish for Chris there. She said she would. As we got closer she told me that she was going to wish for roller skates instead. I didn't have high hopes. Steven had shown Meazi and Melese an album that morning, old black and white photos of his family. The wishing well has little dishes scattered to collect coins. In front of the dishes are small signs like, 'health', 'long life', 'money', and even 'vacation'. You can be pretty specific about what you wish for. We gave the kids all the coins we had.

Steven bought them those annoying little snappers that you can throw or stomp.

We did a little shopping.

And exploring.
Then we went to one of very favorite restaurants in Los Angeles.

The food came, Meazi took a couple of bites, turned to me and said, " I wished for 'love' and 'happy' for Grandma Chris."

I wish you could have met these two Chris. They are remarkable.

Happy Birthday.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How to Fly A Kite

The conditions have to be right- some wind, but not too much. They’ll need some guidance, how to hold the string, when to start running, how to let out more string. You’ll want to let them do it themselves, to build confidence. It’s a delicate balance; one missing element and the whole thing comes crashing down.

The second time we took the kids kite flying was a clear, crisp, cold day last October. Meazi had gotten a beautiful butterfly kite for her birthday that September. I had filled a crock-pot that morning with ingredients that would hopefully, miraculously form a delicious Chili Verde. There seemed to be a medium wind, strong enough for flight, but not too volatile for novice fliers. Steven assured me that we wouldn’t be gone long, and that it was safe to leave the crock- pot going, even with our very antiquated, faulty electricity. We bundled up the kids, threw the kite in the trunk, got traveler mugs of coffee, and put a bag of dried mangoes in the front seat, in case we got hungry.

We drove to a nearby park where we knew they had some large, open, fields. There was a group of men playing soccer on the front field, so we walked to the one at the very back. The artificial grass was soaked, and our jeans soon became muddied. Steven got the kite up and running. Meazi took a turn, an old pro by now, having perfected the art last January when she was, in her words, just a little girl. The kite soared, dipped, evened out, Meazi was running and laughing, Melese gazed up with big eyes, “Birabaro!” he cried (Amharic for butterfly). I took a turn while Meazi yelled out tips, “Run faster Mommy!” A feeling of joy surged through my veins, Oh yeah, I remembered, this is why people fly kites. I gave the kite back to Meazi.

I told Steven that I needed to get Melese a dry pair of pants as he had been sitting down to watch. The air was getting much colder, and the sun was setting quickly. I picked up Melese and walked the long way back to the car. I got him new pants and saw my forgotten coffee in the cup holder. I grabbed it, took a swig, and felt the warmth in my throat, still hot. “What a perfect fall day,” I thought.  I locked and closed the car door. As I turned around, Melese in my arms, I saw the kite, high in the air, indeed a beautiful, vibrant, birabaro. I looked for Meazi and Steven below. Instead of them I noticed a family of four, a man, woman, and a boy and a girl. “How great,” I thought, “Meazi is sharing her kite with another family”. I was frankly surprised that Meazi would share something that she treasured so much, (sharing, up until now, had not been her forte). I walked a little faster, eager to praise Meazi for her generosity.

As we got closer I saw that Meazi and Steven were nowhere near the kite. Meazi was sobbing, chest heaving, face soaked with tears. The kite was stuck in a tree, that family of four was not flying it; they were just staring at the spectacle of a giant butterfly tangled in a tree. The wind had really picked up now. The gusts were keeping the kite flying strong, the tree now its navigator. I looked at Steven, his face tense. “What’ll we do?” I asked. “We’ll have to wait for the wind to die down,” he said. Meazi was inconsolable. This wasn’t your everyday crying; this wasn’t the superficial crying of a kid not getting what they wanted. These cries were frightening, they came from a deep, deep, place. Two security guards came out. They had a tall white stick. I don’t know what they normally used it for. As they approached the tree, Steven mentioned to them that if they tried to use the stick to loosen the plastic blue handle, the wind would definitely take the kite, and that would be the end of it.
It was getting colder. Meazi could not stop crying. It was past dinnertime. Who knew what was happening with the crock-pot. Steven told me to take the kids home, and that he would wait there for the wind to die down. He was wearing shorts and didn’t have a coat. I could see that he was cold. “I’ll call you”, he said, “You can come back and get me later.” I told Meazi that we were going to go home, and that daddy was going to stay and work on getting the kite back. She was a mess. I managed to walk the length of the field again, and got both kids into their car seats. Meazi cried the whole way home, “My beautiful kiiiiiiite, my beautiful kite.” I tried to console her. I told her we could get a new kite. She said we didn’t know where Amy and Tunsi got that kite. I told her that I would ask them, that I would find out, and that we would get her a new butterfly kite. Her crying was reminiscent of the crying we heard from her in Ethiopia. It was from a deep place. I wanted to soothe her; I wanted her sadness to stop. It was supposed to be an easy, breezy day, full of light and wonder. Here we were instead, wails and tears, darkness falling, dinner burning. I got them into the house. I got them into their dinner seats. I dished out their Chili Verde. I put some rolls in the oven to be warmed, hoping that maybe the warmth of a hot dinner would somehow fill the place where the grief was emanating from. We had a few bites of food and my phone rang. It was Steven. “I’ve got the kite,” he said. “ Daddy has the kite!” I screamed. I told him we’d be right there. Meazi grabbed her coat; I got Melese bundled up again. I turned off the oven and put our bowls on the counter so the dog wouldn’t finish our meal.

Meazi was quiet on the way over. After an initial expression of glee, “Daddy saved the day!” she became quite quiet. I am not sure what she was feeling. We picked up Steven, kite in hand, the coolness of his body filled the car. We returned home, and sat down to finish our dinner. Steven told Meazi about all the kites he lost as a kid. He told her the first loss was the hardest. He managed to convey to her that the joy is found in the actual flying of the kite, and that the kite is indeed replaceable.

I spoke to my mom on the phone that night, I told her all about the kite and she said, “It was another loss for her.”
Sometimes a kite is just a kite, but sometimes the wind changes, and a butterfly can get caught in a difficult spot. As that continues to happen, we’ll just have to wait patiently for the wind to die down.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shop 'Til You Drop!

I am putting together a little online shop. That way I'll be able to sell Fundraiser T-shirts. (I am still working on those, trying to get a generous printer to donate services).

The shop will be stuff M&m like, and sweet things like HONEY!

I am working on the details (payment options, prices, etc). I hope to support the Kololo school with T-shirt sales.

Here's a peek. Please give me your feedback! And yes I hope to have Keep On Truckin' merchandise.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

18 Months

We have been home, as a family or four, for eighteen months. I have a big post in my head, but don't have the time, or energy to spit it out tonight. I started getting up really early, 4 am early, in an effort to write a bit before the kiddos get up. Inevitably, Meazi somehow senses that I am awake. I hear the slap, slap, slap, of her bare feet in the hallway, and then I see her groggy, naked, self (except for her silky pink sleep cap), round the corner to join me on the couch. She then says the same thing she says to me every time she finds me attempting to write something, "Mommy, since I haven't really been getting a chance to do Starfall at school as much as I used to may I do some now on your computer?" Starfall is this, and she digs it. I usually say no at first, and then cave from the relentless asking.

Then I just kind of watch over her shoulder as she plays- too late to go back to bed, too early to do anything other than sit there. I start the coffee and think about what kind of yummy processed foodstuffs I can cram into her eco-friendly lunch box for school.

Melese rounds that hallway corner shortly after, clad in his hand-me-down H.A jammies that he now calls his "sun volt" because Steven started calling him that the first time he wore it. The orange and yellow stripes indeed make him look like walking sunlight.  He tears his black silky sleep cap off his head and tosses it on the ground just like that peddler in Caps For Sale. He joins me on the couch, wraps his arms around my neck and says his first word of the day, "Mommy."

They really are something, these two. I know that most parents feel like their children hung the moon, but I think there may be actual scientific evidence indicating that these two, were indeed responsible.

What would I have liked to say if it weren't 11:19 pm, and I weren't about four minutes away from completely dozing off?

 That 18 months feels a lot different than six months. That I am a lucky person. That I would have waited another ten years to have the gift of these children in my life. That I don't deserve them. That I fail them. That I'll keep on trying. That I love them so, so much.

I have to go to bed now. Goodnight, and Keep on Truckin'.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Additions to The Family.

We have bees again! Yay! New bees, and a new bee foster family! And soon...HONEY!

We also have a new, uhm, nephew? Cousin? Foster child?

Flat Stanley! A visitor from my nieces, Betsy and Abby.

He's been to our favorite pizza place...

 And has assisted us in our Valentine's Day preparations.

Today he is headed to culture class. How do you think his Eskista will be?

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Can Meet the Artist, Get to Know Him Personally- Dale Nigel Goble

 A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from a lovely woman named Shauna. She lives in Canada with her husband and her three children. Her boys are from Kambata. Her daughter Molly started a fundraising campaign to build a well in Addis Ababa. Shauna's friend donated some prints for her daughter's efforts, Because she was so successful (quickly raising the 10k for the well), Shauna asked if I would like to have the prints for the auction in April. (Who does that?!) Dale agreed, and so we have nine beautiful Peace Prints like the one above.

How cute are Shauna's kids ?

Learn more about the incredibly talented and generous Dale, HERE.

Thanks guys. Amazing. Truly Amazing.

* I am still trying to figure out if I should do some sort of online auction as well? Or maybe interested parties could bid by proxy? Enlisting one of the incredible families that are coming to bid for them? Let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 3, 2011