Last year, a few months before Christmas, I asked Jen (who by the way is seriously one of the most crafty/creative/talented people I know) for ideas of what I should do for stockings for our family. I wasn't sure what to do...do I make them all matchy-matchy or do I do something different for each kid?! The only thing I did know was that I wanted something creative and unique that could illustrate how unique our family is/will be.

Jen suggested that I make a stocking for each of my children. She had the idea to make a two-sided stocking; one side could represent us and the other side could represent the birth family/birth country. Now, if you know me you know that I'm not very crafty. I can copy ideas I see pretty well, but as far as coming up with ideas on my own from scratch...yeah right!!!
Jen said that she would help me brainstorm ideas and she'd guide me through the process of making Allie's stocking.

Unfortunately, the stocking didn't get finished for Allie's first Christmas. We all got so busy with Christmas, school, and with the exciting news about Addison and we set it aside. As things often go when you have little ones, we haven't had time to get back to our little "project." I just assumed that we'd finish it a month or so before Christmas this year.

Today, Jen and Addison stopped over and Jen said she had a little gift for me. As I opened the bag, I almost started to tear up. Jen had spent the past week finishing Allie's stocking and it's amazing! It represents so much to me. It represents an amazing time of the year where family and friends are filled with love and giving, it represents Allie's birth mom who is one of the strongest and courageous women I've ever met, and it represents a truly amazing friendship that I am eternally grateful for.

This is the side of the stocking that represents us and our family. We wanted to have one side be more "traditional" as far as a stocking goes. This picture doesn't do it justice! The bead work that Jen did on this side is AMAZING!

This is the side that we did for Allie's birth family. I know it's not what you'd picture on a stocking or to represent a birth family, but we've only met "T" two times. We met her two days before Allie was born and then about 10 days after Allie was born "T" and her pregnancy councilor came to our house. You can about imagine the fear that we had leading up to "T" arriving. Remember that just 6 weeks before, our first adoption had fallen through. We were scared of losing this little miracle that had already captured our hearts. When "T" arrived, we greeted her at the door and she handed us a HUGE box and a big gift bag. We introduced her to Allie for the first time and honestly our fears melted away. "T" has such an amazing presence about herself. We had a wonderful afternoon...one that we will cherish forever.

As far as the box goes, it was from the Great Harvest Bread Company. It was filled with monster cookies, delicious breads, and wonderful granola. She said she had asked people what she should bring us and they told her to bring food. She said, "All new parents need good food to eat." I was amazed. She was bringing us gifts...shouldn't we be giving her gifts?!?!

In the gift bag was a card, a book, and lots of clothes. In the card she wrote to us about how amazing we were, how lucky she feels to have found us, and she even congratulated us on our new family! The book was a "Carl's walk in the Park" book that her parents had given to her for Christmas when she was a child and they'd even wrote in it. She was giving that to Allie. The clothes were adorable clothes that she had bought for Allie. For the most part, most of them had...you guessed it....giraffes on them. "T's" strength amazed us that day, and ever since that time whenever we've seen a giraffe stuffed animal, piggy bank, or an outfit with a cute giraffe on it we think of Allie's birth mom. It only seems fitting then then that Allie's second side of her stocking have a giraffe on it.

I hope that Allie enjoys her stocking in the years to come. I hope that when she looks at it she can see how much we respect her birth family. Most of all, I hope Allie is lucky enough to have a friend that would work as hard as Jen did to help complete such a special gift for our family.

Feeling better!

Allie has been sick for the past week! Last Wednesday afternoon, she began running a high temperature, she stopped eating, and then shortly after that she began vomiting. We thought it was probably just the flu, so we waited it out for 24 hours. Then, we took her to the doctor only to discover that she has a double ear infection and the beginning of strepthroat! Yuck...poor thing! She was miserable! We had went since last January with her as healthy as can be. Hopefully this gets it out of her system and she doesn't get really sick when school starts.

Since she was feeling better, we decided to go to the park today. She always has a blast running around, playing with the other kids, and going down the slide. Hope you enjoy the pictures!


Allie LOVES to cruse around at Grandma Klukas' house in her car...she's such a little goof!

My New Sandbox

Here's Allie playing in her new sandbox that daddy built her.

Our Little Swimmer



We finally broke down and bought a new laptop and it arrived today!!! I'm so excited to be able to have all of our pictures in one place and to be able to just check my e-mail again. It's amazing how disconnected from the world you feel when you don't have a computer!

I thought I'd share a few pictures with everyone. As far as the Twins game we went to goes, Allie did AWESOME! She actually sat through the ENTIRE game! I brought a huge diaper bag full of things for her to do, but she stayed busy and seemed to enjoy herself...we were so proud of her and the Twins even won!!! It made for a really fun weekend for us all!


Why Ethiopia...

~ One in ten children die before their first birthday
~ One in six children die before their fifth birthday
~ 44% of the population is under 15 years old
~ 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of
~ The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years old
~ 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest
in the world)
~ There are roughly 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia
~ Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country
in Africa
~ Half of the children in Ethiopia will never attend
~ 88% will never attend secondary school
~ Coffee prices (Ethiopia's only major export) declined 40-60%
from 1998-2002
~ Ethiopia's doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000
~ Severe drought struck country from 2000-2002
(first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year
no animals)


15 month check up

On Monday, Allie had her 15 month check up. She's now 35 1/4 inches tall and 31 pounds 3 ounces!!! She's off the chart in both height and weight...in fact, the doctor said that she's actually the height of an average 26 month old! She commented on the fact that Allie "sort of makes her own growth chart." Other than that, she's hitting all of her developmental milestones and she's doing great. She can say tons of words, drink from a cup, use a fork, scribbles on paper, walks, runs, takes one long nap in the afternoon and sometimes a really short one in the morning, and is on the go ALL the time. She's just so busy!!!

We continue to be extremely thankful for what we've been given. Allie is our everything (cliche but true)! I struggle to even remember what life was like without her and I feel so lucky to be able to spend so much time with her this summer!

Last Friday, Cory built Allie a big sandbox in our backyard. As soon as our new computer comes (I finally broke down and bought one today), I'll post pictures. Allie has so much fun playing in her sandbox and it was fun to watch Cory's face seeing what he'd built and how much she loved it!

Have a great weekend and we'll hopefully have some great pictures to post after Sunday...we're going to a Minnesota Twins game becuase it's "Adoption Day" at the dome! We just hope Allie can sit through a couple innings.


New Pictures

Last weekend, Allie and I went to my mom and dad's. We had a great time and I just wanted to share some pictures with you.



One of the things that we've come to realize lately is that not all of our friends and family members are open to our news of another adoption. Now, I'm not talking specifically about ONLY our family. I've noticed that our families are not the only families that struggle with the choices we've made. Our family (and friends) aren't the only people that let fear dominate their reactions. They aren't the only people that has a lukewarm reception (or a downright cold reception, in some instances).

Families are tough nuts to crack sometimes. As the person announcing your adoption-in-process, you want nothing more than your family to jump up and down with excitement. You want them to ask you what you need and for the crafty ones in the family to start knitting or sewing for your new little one. You want them to ask questions about how the process is going and to show some genuine excitment when things are moving forward (or genuine disappointment when things don't go as quickly or smoothly as you'd hoped). You want your family to play an active part in the process...just as they would if you had announced a pregnancy.

But all too often, this isn't the case.

Instead you hear stories of families who ask ridiculous questions like "will the child be sick and diseased?" or "Do you realize they have HIV in that country?" or "Why don't you adopt from country X (where there are white children) instead of from country Y (in Africa)?" "Why are you choosing that agency or that country?" or "Why don't you just adopt domestically again, it went so fast last time?"

Family members (and friends) will often site lots of reasons why interracial adoption is bad...or they'll tell adoption horror stories (that may or may not have any truth to them at all) that they've heard from a friend of a friend of a friend. They'll give a cool reception to the adoptive parent's faces, and then talk about how bad the decision is behind their backs. They'll wonder how on earth you could afford to spend thousands of dollars on an adoption process when you are just a teacher. They'll wonder if we are making "wise" choices for our family and for the child we already have at home. They might even say (and they have) that we should just be greatful for Allie. They won't think about the fact that had we just announced that we were expecting, the news would be received in a completely different way.

In the end, friends and family will probably think of a million reasons NOT to support you. They react in fear.

When all they really need is ONE reason TO support you.

They LOVE you.

One reason is all they need. But instead, they let fear override them...and you, the adoptive parent, have to suffer the consequences of their fear.

How sad is that?