Monday, March 28, 2011

On The Ground- School Update

In what will go down as my most favorite Monday morning e-mail message, I was informed by Dana Roskey (of the Tesfa foundation) that an organization called On The Ground had made a donation for the Kambata School...

$ 32,893.20


So, although the school is going to cost a little bit more than the original estimate (based primarily on Kololo's extremely remote location), we are almost completely there.

And, thanks to all of you, we have met OUR original goals here at eyes of my eyes.

Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. $10 or $32,893.20, every donation counts and is important. Thank you for coming together to make this happen.

More reason to celebrate on the 17th! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Can Meet the Artist, Get to Know Him Personally- Jim Hubbard

Jim Hubbard is an award winning photographer. And by award, I mean he is a photographer who has been nominated three times for a Pulitzer Prize.

In 1989, Jim Hubbard created Shooting Back, an organization dedicated to empowering children at risk by teaching them photography. The name was coined from a spontaneous comment by one of the young participants in the program: when asked why he was photographing his own world, the homeless child responded, “I’m shooting back.”

I met Jim a few years ago. I was hopeful that they would choose Ethiopia as a location for this project; Ethiopia definitely being a place full of small houses and big welcomes. I love the idea of children documenting their own lives. It is so interesting to see photos taken by small children, to see what their eyes see. I think Jim should still consider doing this project in Ethiopia, and taking me and my friends to pass out the cameras. Maybe we can swarm him at the event to convince him? Just kidding Jim. We promise to only swarm your photos.

 I am thrilled that Jim is donating a piece or two for our auction on the 17th. I don't know which ones they'll be, but they could be his I-phone photos from yesterday and I would still be thrilled. Give yourself a treat this Sunday and spend some time here. Be moved and inspired.

Thank you Jim.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Book (Bag) In Your Hands

The Eyes of My Eyes shop has its first item for sale. All proceeds go to the Kololo school! Purchase here. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Can Meet the Artist, Get to Know Her Personally- Christy King

Christy King is one of the great women we have in our Los Angeles adoption community. She is a single mom, and an educator. She has a really, really, really cute son named Eli. Christy makes these cool pieces. Notice the Amharic?

Christy is allowing us to offer one of her custom pieces at our auction on the 17th. Can you picture your kidlet's mug in one of her creations? I can. These are so cool in real life. Miss Tunsitu has one, and it is stunning.

Thanks Christy!

I Can Meet the Artist, Get to Know Him Personally- Jake Dorr

Jake Dorr is an incredible artist. He and his wife Beka are also parents to an adorable son from the Kambata Tembaro region. I am thrilled that they are going to collaborate on a painting, like the one pictured above, for the Fundraiser.

Beka, when she isn't busy chasing her son around, writes a beautifully honest blog.

Here is a great article about Jake and his work.

Did I mention that I am in love with my UPS man? I just follow him around like a puppy waiting for these beautiful creations to arrive in Los Angeles. I am constantly amazed at the outpouring of talent and generosity for this project.

Thank you Jake and Beka. I can't wait to share your creation on the 17th.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 23

The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.

I used to feel sad that I never saw you.

Now I know that I see you everyday.

Abebech- means she has blossomed.

Today we light a candle. And remember...


Monday, March 21, 2011

I Can Meet the Artist, Get to Know Her Personally- Cindy Mirkes

The amazing Cindy surprised me with these beautiful pieces.

Oil on canvas. unattached diptych. 8 x 10 sized panels.

I am in love with these, and I'm so thrilled that they are going to be a part of the auction on April 17th.

Cindy, her husband Craig, Steven and I used to all live together in one room in LA.

Ok, not really. But they did come to visit.

I am thrilled that I will see Cindy again soon. She is coming to the fundraiser.

Thank you Cindy, for this beautiful donation, for your gorgeous inspired writing, and for your friendship.

I am bidding on this one myself. You guys will have to fight me for it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Can Meet the Artist, Get to Know Him Personally- Marshall Garlington

When Marshall Garlington isn't busy creating sound for movies, he is taking pictures. He takes beautiful pictures. I can't help but admit that whenever I receive an Evite to a local event, I look for Marshall's name. If he is coming, a shout out a little 'yay!' (because I like him), AND because I know there are bound to be some gorgeous pictures of the kiddos.

Many of the photos on this blog are swiped from Marshall (like the M&m's on the sidebar). He is amazingly talented and I am so happy that he is donating several prints for the auction on the 17th. Here are a couple more...

Thanks Marshall, for you talent and generosity. Thanks for capturing my ugly cry at our baby shower, our first real family photo, our 2nd Genna, and so many more great memories. We love spending time with you and your adorable family. (That last link is to one of my all time favorite adoption videos).

See you on the 17th!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Can Meet the Artist, Get to Know Her Personally- Jennifer Rikkers

In January I received an e-mail from a woman in Wisconsin who wanted to contribute to the school and library. Jennifer Rikkers is a blogger, a photographer, and an artist. She has a lovely family which includes her Ethiopian daughter, Tesfanesh.  She is obviously very talented, and I particularly liked this series she did.

I thought it was incredibly sweet of her to offer to donate a painting. Imagine how I felt when she wrote to me to say that she wanted to create the piece around something that I had written. Imagine how I felt when this happened.

Jennifer told me that she'd like me to keep one of the paintings for myself as her gift to me. Insert. Ugly. Cry.

I am stalking my UPS man. She told me they were being delivered soon. Here they are again in case you missed the link...

I am keeping the first one. The second one will be auctioned on the 17th.

Thank you so very much Jennifer. I am moved beyond words. You are truly an incredible person.

More about Jennifer:

Jennifer Rikkers is a Wisconsin-based artist who specializes in mixed-media arts incorporating her original photography and love of painting.  She is a mother of four children, with a connection to Ethiopia as an adoptive mother of daughter who has now been home from Ethiopia since March 2010. 

Jennifer's paintings are soulful reflections of the people, objects, and situations that surround and inspire her in my everyday life.   Jennifer's art is an expression of her love and gratitude for each subject. Sometimes the attraction is purely aesthetic– the way the light hits a surface of a tree’s leaves, for instance. Other times, the subject has a message, thematic, or narrative significance that references her passion for a topic.

Using mixed media, Jennifer incorporates her digital photography into her paintings via a transfer process.  This use of both paint and photography results in a very personal, unique and soulful piece of artwork.  As an artist, Jennifer hopes to capture and communicate the moment or spirit of a subject by creating a sense of modern realism through dimension, depth and luminosity with the paint and glazes. 
Jennifer's intention as an artist is to evoke emotion and elements of contemplation while sharing a message.

Report Card- Kindergarten

Meazi has made improvements with sharing and taking turns. When a friend is upset, she is often one of the first to comfort them. She has a very warm and compassionate heart. Meazi is doing well in all areas of academics. She enjoys being creative with art materials and exploring with dramatic play.

 What a kid.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I woke up late today, 6 am. Since Saturday was the beginning of daylight savings time, I guess it was really my normal wake up time, 5am. I went to turn off my I-Phone alarm and heard the slap, slap, slap of Meazi's feet coming down the hallway. She was wearing a shirt I gave her to sleep in. It was a shirt I got in grammar school, the letters JULIE ironed on the back, a kind of baseball jersey with a white chest, and long purple arms. She had her gold sleep cap on. I joined her on the couch. She said, "Mommy, I want in." She climbed into my sleep shirt, Steven's shirt, a super soft grey cotton shirt he got from work, thin enough to sleep in, but with long sleeves to keep my arms warm during the cool night. She stuck her head up through the neck, her face now touching mine, her chest against mine. She put her head on my shoulder and we sat their together in his shirt, her in my shirt, the two of us a strange two-headed groggy person. We sat there silently for a moment and then she said, "They made you put Croq's on." She was taking about the orphanage and how they make you change your shoes, and put on a pair of their 'inside shoes'. I said, "Yes they did Meazi."

Melese woke up and called out for me.

If he hadn't, I would have stayed with her like that... forever.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Like Turo Mommy!

We had the pleasure of meeting Sara, her husband Jose, and their adorable son Turo, in January. I can't believe that it has taken me this long to write a post about it, and about Sara's incredible contribution to our library and school. Sara made these beautiful bracelets and sold them on Etsy.
I didn't post it here on the blog because I knew she would be inundated with requests, and she has a toddler boy at home. In my experience it is not easy to handle small, fragile objects around an active toddler boy. Speaking of that toddler boy, how cute is Turo?

And I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Sara for potty training Melese (almost). Turo used our potty when he was here. Melese was in the other room complaining to me that, "Turo has my potty!" and "Give it back! Mine!" Ever since then Melese wants to use the potty and whenever he is successful he yells, "Just like Turo Mommy!" So thank you Sara. Thank you so very much.
 Sara played dentist with the kids for hours. She has so much patience. I could tell that she is a fantastic teacher. My kids adored her. And, in what may be the world's worst hostess story, Sara and her family came to our house, Jose went out to pick up pizza for everyone, paid for dinner, AND bought ice cream that we never served. Nice. Dinner at Julie's is clearly BYOD. We owe you dinner in Michigan very soon. Oh and a sippy cup too. Melese has picked out a pink one with flowers for Turo. How will that go over?

Sara thank you for your handiwork. Meazi brought the bracelets to school for show and tell. She told her whole class about how she was trying to put a school and library in her hometown, and how lots of her friends were trying to help.

There seems to be one 'Melese' still available.

Thanks Sara. I think you are a lovely person (and not just because you potty trained my two-year old).

I Can Meet the Artist, Get to Know Him Personally- Fortune Sitole

(I am re-posting this post from many moons ago. Thanks Fortune, for donating a piece for our April event! Thank you for helping us build a school).


We met Fortune several years ago here. Fortune is an artist. If you have ever been to the Venice boardwalk, you know that it is no place to sell your art. It is wall-to-wall people...

One misstep by a slippery, sun-screened skateboarder can wipe out years of work. I read somewhere that Venice Beach is the second largest tourist destination in California next to Disneyland. While that may mean the occasional sale to a tourist, it is still a very difficult way to succeed as an artist. This recent article from the Los Angeles Times explains some of the challenges.

We would see Fortune frequently wheeling in his work, setting up, and settling in for a long, hot day in the sun. We bought this from him...

It looks exactly like the four hundred square foot house we lived in, in New Mexico. The painting cost about forty dollars.

A few years later, we were participants here.

Fortune's booth was two booths away from ours.

We commiserated about the inebriated festivals goers who really had no interest in purchasing anything.

Here is what Fortune says about his work...

"I want to foster an awareness of the conditions suffered by South Africans, who create makeshift shelters by optimizing outside space and leftover materials - metal, tires, stones, etc., whatever they can find to build their homes.

Fashioning my work as homage to my ancestors, family and community, these pieces are a reminder of the day-to-day life in black South African townships. But shanties exist throughout the world and my art actually tells a story of the universality of poverty.

The characters in my scenes are about communities who have overcome adversity and have progressed into the 21st century. Complex dimensions allow a peek down streets at women washing clothes, children playing, girls braiding hair and wandering drunken fathers. Pictures of everyday events, ironically set against the backdrop of vivid dawns and dusks, reflect the darker issues of economic enslavement, discrimination, poverty and hardships.

Shanties are slowly disappearing from South Africa’s landscape. Redevelopment and investment begin to paint a brighter picture for the future of South Africans, an encouraging example for the people of the world who are experiencing poverty today."

I find Fortune's art absolutely breathtaking. You really have to see them in real life to appreciate them fully. They are three dimensional. The work is vibrant.

I am happy to announce that Fortune has moved off of the boardwalk, and into Equator Books.

This bookstore is showing his work through May 30th. If you are in Los Angeles go check it out. Be sure to go on the first Friday of the month for extra  festivities.

If you are not in LA, you can see more of his art here.

How will my adoption impact Fortune? I believe Fortune's art will have an impact on my children. This it what my kids will see when they wake up in the morning...

Maybe it will remind them of where they came from. Maybe it will make them think of their birth mom. Maybe it will make them long for what they have left behind. Fortune knows a little bit about that. His wife and children still live in South Africa. He sure does wish it were easier for them to come visit him. It sure would have been nice for them to see their dad in his big, incredible art gallery opening.

I can't wait to bring my kids to Fortune's studio. It is a magical place. There are coke cans, and soup cans.  There are piles of sand and bags of rocks. There are little cut-out figures lying around, people, dogs, wheel barrels. Just walking in there makes you want to get your hands dirty and create something.  In Fortune my kids will see a man who has worked very hard to achieve his goals. They will see a man who struggled, and is still struggling with racism and persecution. They will see a man who has dedicated his life to fostering an awareness of the universality of poverty. They will see a man generous in spirit. There is a kind of warmth that radiates from Fortune. You can see it in that very first picture. You can really feel it in person.

Congratulations Fortune. We are so proud of you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

How do you say grateful in Amharic?

As you know, we are trying to build a library and a school in rural Ethiopia. If we are successful it will be the first school this village, Kololo has ever had. There are so many amazing things that have happened. There are so many ways that people are helping -runners, jewelers, 5k organizers, runners, pasta party planners, quilters, artists. People are reaching out in inspiring and wonderful ways. And those are just some of the people that I know, or who read this blog. I found someone to donate 180 t-shirts, and I found someone else willing to donate the ink to put Yadi's beautiful design on them. The first responders are going to work at the event. Things are coming together. We are raising the money.

Yesterday I discovered that my friends Amy and Jodi had created an entire clothing line. The proceeds of sales will go to the school. Unbelievable. Astonishing. Jodi has been working for months making the designs. Here are some of them, modeled by my favorite models who, unfortunately, seem to have a natural knack for this modeling business.

Dear Jodi,
You are an amazing person. Thank you. You didn't tell me what the name of your line is so I am calling it, "Jodiwear".

These are most of the current creations. Jodi will be making more, and is open to orders. Styles and designs will vary.

So. Incredibly. Grateful.