You Didn't Think I Would Write About My 
Family Today, Did You?
And in case you were sleeping or tending a sick child or at the grocery store or just plain living under a rock... go HERE!
That's Right, Baby!

Hee Hee. Just for fun.

So perfect


What did I say in my last post? That you shouldn't fear your kids growing up? That's all well and good until you send them on a middle school ski trip. He's sleeping in a room with his friends. He took a bus up multiple mountain passes in the snow, and he has to take it back on Sunday. He gets to snowboard for 2 days and try his hand at the trick park (ramps, bowls, half pipes). He has to cook his own food in his hotel kitchenette--where there is no microwave. He forgot his watch but somehow has to keep track of what time it is so he can catch the shuttle off the mountain and back to his hotel. And somewhere in there remember to change his socks and underwear.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? If you're thinking that there are so many ways for this trip to go wrong, then yes, you're thinking what I'm thinking.


Book Review
When the people of Egypt were at the height of their protests, Carver had a discussion with David and me about peaceful protests. Carver is at a great age. Seriously. Do not fear your kids getting older. It just gets more exciting and you get to introduce them to amazing current events and slowly brainwash them to buy into your political views. (Did I just say that out loud?) Ok, not exactly. You teach your kids what you believe and beg them to hope they feel the same as you do about certain issues as they mature. When the people of Egypt were peacefully protesting, we talked with Carver that this style of opposition has a long history and was especially evident in the sit-ins in the segregated South of our country. To our horror, he had never seen a picture of those sit-ins. Thank goodness for Google images, which I used as fast as I could to find some photos. The look on Carver's face, though, as he saw innocent people with flour and syrup and milk streaming down their heads while sitting peacefully at counters made me inwardly sob. We searched through many images, and as I did, this book popped up.
Sit-In by Andrea David Pinkney

It's a well-written account of the sit-in movement at food establishments across the South in the early 1960s, starting with 4 friends at Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina. Did you know North Carolina happens to be Lily's home state? Mmmm hmmmm.The illustrations are vivid, the text is simple, and the message is powerful. I highly recommend it. I especially love the last page of the story that includes a "recipe for integration:"

1. Start with love.
2. Add conviction.
3. Season with hope.
4. Extra faith to flavor.
5. Mix black people with white people.
6. Let unity stand.
7. Fold in change.
8. Sprinkle with dignity.
9. Bake until golden.
10. Serve immediately.
*Makes enough for all.

I don't know about you but I think that's a recipe for life. Is this suitable for all ages? I suggest kids 7 and older. Although the text is simple enough to follow, the topic and historical facts included in the pages could be lost on a younger child. You'd have to decide for yourself if you think your kiddo could take it all in. And you can just bet your bottom dollar I'll be writing to the author.

The other book I recently read to Zinabu was this.
Superhero by Marc Tauss

A fun and (overly) simplistic story of a boy who changes into a superhero when the city's parks vanish. A cute tale of his imagination and science skills as he restores order to the urban jungle. The information about the books says it's for kids ages 3-5, but that's not the case at our house. Z is 7 and he loved it. I love that it features an African American boy using his brain.


What's In A Name
Carver Thomas Michael. Carver after George Washington Carver. Thomas after a dear friend of ours who inspired up to adopt in the beginning and passed away from cancer. Michael because that's what his first mama named him.

Lily Roberta Shanice. Lily because I fell in love with the name. Roberta after my mom, who is one of the biggest inspirations in my life. And Shanice, because that's what her first mama named her.

Jon Zinabu. Jon because that is David's middle name. Zinabu because that's what his first mama named him. It means "rain." He never goes by Jon. He always has been and always will be Zinabu.


Happy Sunday



I think I found David's Father's Day present here. Love it.

Only 8 days until the Academy Awards, and if you are not pulling for Colin Firth for Best Actor, you can kindly go somewhere else. Not to be rude, but I have made my wishes clear. You know where I stand.


What To Do If...
there's not much diversity around you.

A few posts ago, my friend K asked my thoughts on what to do when surroundings are not exceptionally diverse. What a great question. Though I was raised in very "white" schools and neighborhoods, I have been so fortunate as an adult to have had great multi-cultural experiences with people I know and places I've lived. K was specifically asking in regards to raising her young daughter and how she can better expose her family to more diversity. Here are my thoughts:

1. Start small. Start with baby steps and vow to do a little more each week, month, and year. Set realistic goals for your family and break those goals down into bite-size pieces. Having attainable goals helps spur you on to making more goals in the future.

2. Use your library. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I doubt many of us have truly exhausted all the resources available at our local library. Make an attempt to check out at least one book each week for your kids that includes characters that look different from your own family. Maybe you're thinking "Duh, Cathy, we do that all the time." But I remember Zinabu's dinosaur phase when all he wanted to read was dinosaur books and I had to plead with him to read books about real live people. Perhaps your kids have their favorite authors and you get their favorite stories again and again and you're not introducing them to deeper topics as often as you think. Publishers do a wonderful job these days of including a variety of ethnicities in picture books, but you can also dig a little deeper and look for stories about a variety of people and their cultures. Also, libraries often offer classes and presentations for the entire family that are free. Keep up on the schedule at your local branch and take advantage of anything that looks interesting. If there's nothing interesting being offered, bring it to your library's attention. I bet they'd be thrilled if they knew their patrons wanted something more multi-cultural.

3. Visit big cities. Leave your comfortable suburb and jump into the nearest large city. You may not have much diversity in your neighborhood, but that shouldn't stop you from going out and finding it. Do not be afraid to go to a metropolitan area and have lunch there or visit the parks. Take in a movie or eat at a new restaurant. Just walk the streets. Surround yourselves on a regular basis with people who are different from you. If you never do this, if you never allow your children to see everyday people who have a different skin color or speak a different language, they can grow up scared of anyone who does not look like them. I see it often in other children where we currently live. Elementary-age children who stare at my kids as if they're aliens. Or young mothers who assume all young black men are thugs and out to assault them. Visually expose your kids to diversity.

4. Change your place of worship or school. This is a tough one for a lot of people and I realize not entirely realistic for everyone. We live in a city that allows us to pick whatever school we want. We are not bound by what neighborhood we're in. Therefore, we make sure our kids are not attending all-white schools or surrounded by all high socio-economic families. Not everyone has that luxury. I get that. But as much as it is up to you, consider making a change in where you send your children to school and where you worship. Our church happens to be a wee bit too conservative for us, but it is probably the best at integrating people of all races and all backgrounds. We love that.

5. Find a pen-pal. There are multiple organizations that allow you to sponsor a child in impoverished countries and change that child's life for the better. And that is all well and good. But be sure your kids don't think that every person in Africa or Asia is poor and helpless. Google "pen pals for kids" and you'll find a list of websites that can get your started. Let your children exchange letters or emails with other children from all over the world. If you find a successful pen pal, get to know that kid and his/her culture as best you can. Anything that will help your children learn that the world is so much bigger than their own backyard.

6. Travel. Yes, we'd all love to win the lottery and jet off to Australia at a moment's notice, but seeing as how that won't happen anytime soon... plan your family vacations with more purpose. There is not one state in our country that is lacking in history museums or cultural treasures. We're headed to the Grand Canyon for spring break, and my plan is that we visit a Native American reservation and dig into some of their history as we're traveling.

While these idea barely scratch the surface, they're actions we can all take to help bring the world to our children. I hope this helps, and I'd love to hear your ideas as well.


Je Veux Apprendre le Francais
I'm throwing down the gauntlet and forcing myself to expand my brain. My puny little brain that has a hard time remembering where the car keys are. Frightening. But I want to try something new. I learned Spanish in high school and college, and I was pretty decent at it. Of course I've lost most of it from not using the language. Kinda important to use a language once you learn it.

Anyhoo, we are T-minus 13 months until our trip across the pond. David and I are thinking of a quick trip to Scotland and a jaunt to Paris during our week in London. Technically, we don't need to learn French for a day trip to Paris, but wouldn't it be fun? Wouldn't it be so extremely cool to make an attempt at the language? If your answer is "yes" then read on.

I'm starting with an audio version of French for Dummies while I look at my options. Ideally, I would find a French class through our school district as part of their adult education curriculum. If I can't find that, I'll contact the French teacher at David's school and see what she suggests.

I will confess that when David and I first tossed around the idea of a trip to Paris, I was hesitant. I was basing my opinions on rumors that the French are mean and haughty and especially rude to Americans. Awfully rude of me to judge them before meeting them, don't you think? People are people, period. And I don't ever want my children to overhear me say anything negative about a culture or country before I've actually met them or set foot there. So I've changed my thinking and will do my best to acquire a basic level of the language, go there with an open mind, and soak it in.

Please know this is incredibly huge for me. Incredibly. I do not sign up for things that are, in reality, hard work. I don't like going to places (like a language class) where I have to put myself out there and admit to being confused 99.9% of the time. I'm sure this will happen. A lot.

Wish me luck.


Google Comes Through
Sometimes Google isn't my friend. Here are a few topics I've researched that more or less led me to the brink of insanity: dyslexia, headaches, lumps on collarbones, certificate of citizenship, giardia, dog training, french cooking, how to reinstall your printer, and rabbits. Google is going to send me to an early grave.

But this time Google came through. I was looking for Jane Potter, the co-author of African American Who Were First. And I found her. Then, through a bit of finagling with a writer's group, I sent an email that I asked to be forwarded to her. Guess what? She wrote back!

She and I have been exchanging emails this past week, and she is so happy to know that her book is changing our lives. Turns out African American Who Were First is out of print, but she also wrote African American Firsts: Famous, Little-Known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks in America. In 2002 she wrote a new version of the book. A completely updated and expanded versions, still called African American Firsts, with Obama on the cover was published in 2009. It has lots more people and photographs, so you can bet we'll be purchasing that one for our permanent library.

Joan was also kind enough to ask for my children's names so that she can personally write a note to each of them. How cool is that?

My introverted personality does not often go out on a limb, but this is the perfect example of why I should and should do it more often. The world is at my doorstep, and I just need to reach out and grasp it.


Epic Fail
Several months ago, a new Ethiopian restaurant opened up in our humble city. The food is wonderful and the owner is from Ethiopia and has a passion for Ethiopian children who are living in the United States. A month or so ago she began Amharic classes for children. (Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia.) Friends of ours take their daughter, Frehiwot, and have said it's fantastic. Zinabu even told us he would love to relearn Amharic.

A win-win, right?


I didn't account for Zinabu's perfectionism to rear its ugly head. He refuses to go. Literally refuses. He actually began crying when he thought we were going to sign him up. He told me he wants to learn Amharic without other people around. Uh... what? He doesn't want anyone looking at him or noticing him or being in any way aware of his presence. This is common for him but we're usually able to work around him. For example, we went to a school roller skating party the other night and he put his roller blades on and stood by the wall for the first hour. Once I quit looking at him and stopped telling him to get out there and have a good time, he eventually made it onto the rink. He puts so much pressure on himself to do things perfectly. And if he can't do it perfectly (like roller skate or learn a new language) then he just plain won't.

The force is strong with this one.

So even though there is a fabulous Ethiopian culture/language class being held once a week only 3 miles from our home, we are not attending because he just

And I won't make him. That would just have the reverse effect and he would be miserable and most likely wind up hating Amharic and all things to do with Ethiopia. Which we do not want.

Perfectionist children are hard. Do you have one? Yes, he's brilliant in school. To the point we could probably have him skip second grade next year if we wanted to. But his brains are no match for his need to do everything perfectly. I'm stumped.


How Could I Resist
Buddy has some new bling. I found it here. An I.D. tag with the symbol of the London Underground. I think it makes him look quite dapper. And for an animal that spends a ridiculously large part of his day licking his private parts, he needs all the help he can get.


A Change

I love blogging. It's weird, but I do. I like taking a little time each day (or every third day depending on whatever is going on in our lives) to write about what we're up to, share photos of the family, and document how we're changing and growing. I have been so thankful for this blog because I can go back months or years ago to relive memories and gasp at how small my kids appeared. I also love the people I've met through adopting from Ethiopia and blogging. (Pause for a tissue break.) Words just can't describe it. Blogging has been good to me.

But I'm ready to be more intentional in my family with certain things, and that's going to show up here. I'd like to start writing more about how I'm raising my children in our community while teaching them to be culturally sensitive. I want them to be aware of their own uniqueness and heritage and, moreover, be open to the uniqueness and heritage of those around them. Reading biographies aloud has started us on that journey, and it challenged me to look for other ways to bring the world to my kids.

I hope you stick with me. You'll still get plenty of family updates, and you'll also get my attempts at creative parenting. Really, how could you resist that?


It's on. Come one, come all. To my house. This summer. Come for a day, a weekend, a week... who cares! I can't wait to see you all. Kids are welcome, but Rebekah RSVP'd first and she has dibs on our guest room. We have 3 other bedrooms to put you in, as well as a very spacious basement floor. Flying in? I'll pick you up. Driving? I'm pretty easy to MapQuest. Come with a spirit of adventure. I will start the Colin Firth letter writing campaign right now to see if he will come perform a one-act play for us. I'll keep you posted.
Time To Save The Date

Or pick the date... then we can save it.

The big blogarama-gaga-gathering will be sometime in July. Here. At my house. Be there or be square. With the knowledge that I can't make all your travel plans ideal, we are looking at the weekends in July.

July 1 - 3
Pros: A holiday weekend so more time to travel. Everyone would be likely to come.
Cons: A holiday weekend and Colorado will be utterly packed with people. Travel could be harder. The weekend after the Midwest camping trip and some of you will still be recovering from that.

July 8 - 10
Pros: A little easier to travel. Colorado will still be crowded but not as bad as the 4th.
Cons: Chandra couldn't come because she already has travel plans.

July 15 - 17
Pros: Another weekend when hopefully everyone could come. We're wide open.
Cons: David will be gone that week (possibly me with him) returning home on Friday the 15th. It would be tight but I could make it work.

Vote for what works best for you and I'll just have to decide. I am leaning toward July 1 - 3, but am open to anything.


Cue The Best Music You Can Imagine...


Baby, It's Cold Outside

Instructions for entertaining yourself:
1. Grab a bunch of library books.
2. Carry them to the living room and spread them out so you can see every single cover.
3. Bring your CD player to the living room.
4. Put a kid's mystery chapter book on CD in the CD player.
5. Listen to your chapter book while reading picture books.
6. Make mama happy with all the literacy going on.


Spinach Cheese Pie
The best part about being the only vegetarian in a household of 6 is that when I make something really yummy for myself, I get to be the only one who eats it. Case in point, my beloved spinach cheese pie. My mom heard me moaning in the kitchen as I was eating it, piping hot out of the oven, and asked, "What are you doing in there?" I was really nice because I shared a small portion with her. But I ate the rest by myself. Then I made another one yesterday. I ate it for lunch and dinner. What's left will be devoured by me before 1:00 this afternoon, no doubt about it. It's that good. I originally found the recipe from Mollie Katzen, but I've adapted it and made it a wee bit healthier. And if you're a vegan, let me tell you.... you're so missing out.

2 T olive oil
1 1/4 cups chopped green onion
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
Finely grated rind of one lemon
1/2 T parsley
4 ounces of reduced fat Feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups low fat or fat free cottage cheese (I've tried both and fat free works just as well)
1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 pie crust (from scratch is best)

Heat oil in skillet or saucepan. Add onions and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Stir lemon rind, parsley, and feta cheese in to spinach mixture. Combine cottage cheese, egg, and Romano in a separate bowl. Add to spinach mixture. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir well. Scrape all this goodness into a pie plate. Cover with pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees until pie crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

And there you have it. Good luck making it last more than 18 hours. The original recipe calls for philo dough on top, but this seems to beg for pie crust. If you don't have any green onions on hand you can substitute a regular onion, but they turn brown while cooking. Green onions are best. Much lighter and a better flavor for this. 

My uncle recently spoiled us all and made homemade ravioli and marinara sauce for us. All I had to do was heat it up. Best. Dinner. Ever. Thanks, Uncle Jim!

It's -17 outside right now. We're incredibly thankful for a house, food, heat, water, and each other.