Wednesday, November 30, 2011

my spot.

17 part six

i would like to proudly announce that i have finally learned how to shoot in manual mode. after approximately a 5 second lesson in ethiopia. and um.....i am obsessed. i hardly did any editing on these photos besides a little vignette to smooth out the edges. 

also, the sunset was made for me tonight. minus that the sun was shining so bright because those clouds were packed full of s-n-o-w.  so......

i think trees without leave might be my new favorite thing. winter may be my least favorite but at least it makes for some beautiful pictures. and freezing hands. plusalso, the wind was blowing and i was wearing a dress....which is not a good combo turns out.

but seriously, my state is the prettiest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

a sneaky peak

but just one, itty bitty, teensy tiny sneak.

our brand new bedroom light! i can't stop gushing. it's too pretty.

and the color of our walls. even though you can't see it. i'm head over heals for my new house. i can't wait to share. =]

quiet time

i know i've been ultra quiet lately.....but we're moving, painting, organizing, and we just didn't have internet. BUT TODAY WE GOT IT! except we booted qwest/century link whatever the hell that junk was. and we got optimum which is supposed to be all better and amazing and faster and evan was on hold for TWENTY FIVE minutes yesterday. so....if our internet is anything like their hold process, i will not be a happy camper.

i've been ultra stressed lately and i'm attributing that to moving and settling in. i swear, i need a profesh organizer to come situate our junk. i just don't have the time.

our bedroom is finished minus i need to make some curtains and a bed skirt and hang my art and buy a matching duvet cover. so......if you can call that finished.

everything else...not so much.

i had a not-so-mini break down yesterday over life and such and today i think i'm okay. i vented it out had some of nature's comfort food (mashed potatoes) and some grape koolaide because i'm eating lunch at my parent's house and they're from the 90's.

 and i took this picture this morning of the prettiest sunrise from my gigantic living room window. as you can see, there is nothing to block my view. just a park and some trees, and if you ask me, those add to the view quite nicely.

so far, i'm loving my new house. i started an art project last night and dreamt up another for my craft room and i cannot wait to knock them both out and wow your socks off with my creativity.

and when i finally charge up my camera, test out my new internet and get home from the j-o-b i'll maybe share some photos of our progress thus far.

i hope everyone is having a far-less stressful week than i am. <3

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This year I am incredibly thankful for so many things. But in light of my past few days, I want to give thanks for my amazing family and their selflessness.

For parents who spent their entire evening moving my stage 4 hurricane home.  Junk wasn’t even in boxes, people.  And my parents scooped it up, loaded it into all our cars and trucked it across town.  In the dark.  In the snow.  On a weekday. 

For in-laws who spent their entire weekend painting my new home. Who skipped watching a football game, and graciously listened to it on the radio, to finish the painting.  Who only planned to spend a few hours finishing up the following day, but ended up attempting to unclog my drain and spent an unexpected entire day cleaning/drain fixing/painting.

For husbands who are all about the little things.  Like roses and hand written notes.  Like letting me have the first shower.  Like making the bed while I’m in the shower because that’s my least favorite chore. Like remembering my favorite foods at all our restaurants and surprising me with dinner unexpectedly. Like always holding the door for me. Like remembering little things I mention and bringing them to fruition when I least expect it.

I’m so thankful for this beautiful life I’ve been given. I hope you all have a blessed thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

i lost my place but i can't stop this story

i remember when they made me go to that not-so-empathetic therapist after her accident. in the basement of a house-turned office, who was the father of one of my coworkers which made it nearly impossible for me to do what they wanted. which was pour my heart out to him so he could neatly wrap it up in a condensed report and prove to them that i was fine. instead, i kept it not-so-neatly, but very tightly, packed away and just unpacked a few things to satisfy him and them and prove that i would be okay. he told me to focus on my current task. okay, so you're brushing your teeth. front tooth, front tooth, back and gums. i've never forgotten that advice because it doesn't work. my mind refuses to stop when it starts. and when i wake up remembering it consumes my entire day.  i practice talking myself through my current tasks. right turn, slow down, stop. look both ways, wait...okay go. in between, that's when it creeps up. it's not what you think, because that only creeps in when i walk to my car at night in the dark. it's the other things. it's what you said three weeks ago. it's who you dated when we broke up. it's how you reacted when i showed you my colors. it's how you act when you're near me. it's the way you used me. i can't unpack the millions of reasons why i constantly feel like i'm on the verge of tears. why a single word will bring a flood of memories. why a thought that once flashed through my mind now lives there permanently. why i live behind walls that i can so easily disguise because i'm too messy to unpack everything and teach myself to just breathe, breathe, breathe.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

home owning day three

so far we've only had to battle
1. one clogged sink drain;
2. one spilled can of wood stain;
3. three cans of the completely wrong color of paint (thank you sherwin williams)
4. fourish inches of snow;
5. five degrees;
6. and one indoor doggy poop.

the sink: umyeah. if you ever have to snake your drain, don't. hire a plumber. even the dads couldn't get it fixed so we had to snake it AND hire a plumber. lose, lose.

the wood stain: i was prying it open and it just shot out of the can. all over the counter, clogged kitchen sink (btw, stain + water = no. and we had to use turpentine to get it off the sink.), the floor and my leg. it completely soaked through my pants and stained my leg. i thought it was a bruise when i went to the bathroom later on and had forgotten about it. this giganto brown smudge on my thigh. but no. and it doesn't come off. least my hand rails look pretty.

paint: i really really really wanted this color i had seen in a picture months ago but couldn't duplicate via the cards-o-color from the paint stores. so i picked out a few that i liked and evan made the final decision. evan's dad opened the can of paint and hello fluorescent yellow, you're not what i want on my walls. oh, and we bought 3 cans of 30 dollar paint. luckily, sherwin williams retinted it for us. but i don't know how much darker it really is and i forced myself to not even look in the living room until it was finished because just the thought sent me into full on panic attack mode.

and obviously the rest of those things are out of my control. it's suppose to be practically summer (50 degrees) on wednesday and i expect the snow to melt and my pipes to be fixed and my stain bruise to go away and my walls to paint themselves and my junk to uproot and reroot 14 blocks west.

i am running on too many emotions right now. i've had like 3 panic attacks in the past few days and i just need to be moved and settled in. i am so frustrated with people who have no tact and people who take things too far and people who are just plain rude. i let myself get overly stressed and overly anxious and overly emotional about the littlest things. i'm definitely looking forward to the 3-day work week....and that's all. i need some serious down-alone time. in my not-florescent yellow living room.

oh, and want to hear a funny story? so evan's parents are selling their saab so evan is driving it around. free advertising, basically, except they repaid us by painting our house. anyway. so evan went to wendy's for lunch in the saab. with the "for sale" signs. and his dad's cell phone number. like 3 hours later his dad gets a text that says, "hey *honeysuckle forever*" he responds, "i think you have the wrong number." texter goes, "no, you're selling the car, right?" he then hands the phone off to evan who is a mastertexter. evan says, "oh yeah, sorry. do you have any questions?" person says, "how much?" ---um, ok. first of all, you're "interested" in this car and you're TEXTING?! ahhhhhhh1ghskghskjrqjgNO. second, don't be rude and weird with the stupid text signature, 8-years-old.------they talk for like a minute about the car and i'm annoyed because if you're interested, don't text. so texter then informs evan that she's the girl from the wendy's drive through. evan's mom and i are pretty sure she's just flirting with him so he says, "well, it's my dad's car and this is his phone so if you have any more questions feel free to give him a call." end of text chat. no. like 15 minutes later she says, "i have to say that you're pretty good looking. LOL." and to that he says, "um yeah, i'm married."

and now we can never eat at wendy's again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

guess what we did yesterday.



and i lost half my face in the process.

things will be pretty quite while we move our crap and get settled in. i have to take a million pictures of the "before," before jamie and i "DIY the shit out of it!"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


this is the transformation of the little boy who became and orphan a year ago. who watched his father kick his pregnant mother to death and then was left at new hope by his grandmother with his older sister. away from the life he once knew, and dumped into a home of 40 other children. whose grandmother left him kicking and screaming in this new life where only God knew what a difference a year would make.

this was the dechesa who wouldn't let me hold him, or hug hum, or even play games with him. who smiled only a little, and never at me.

i really worried for decho, that he would forget the evil his father had tainted him with, and that new hope would change him. and that was my prayer.

and if you had seen this boy a year later, you would not have recognized him. the little boy who immediately grabbed my hand and walked with me, who kissed my cheek goodbye when we left, and whose changed being was just too much for me to handle.

i can't even put into words how different this he is. how active and energetic. how happy and smiley and friendly. how mischievous and silly.

how much he wanted to be around me, or maybe that was me forcing him to, but the time he wanted both evan and i to sit next to him. hearing him call my name and wave me over just ripped my heart right open. and then there were the 43 million kisses i got. we'd play this game...i'd blow him a kiss and he'd waddle right over to me and kiss my cheek. over. and over. and over. it will never get old. orphan kisses are the sweetest kind.

and we bought him new shoes because you can't live in africa and have your tootsies poking through, it's just not right. so we got him these brand new tennies for his active little self and he was so excited and proud to walk around with his brand new stylin' kicks. and when zelalum reminded him to tell us "thank you," he hugged me and whispered it in my ear. and that's when the tears started on the last day. and we had only just arrived.

seeing changes like this makes my heart happy. makes it okay to come home, because when i come back, i know that God's going to be doing something even bigger in this sweet little boy's life.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

before and after

the only thing i had planned for my entire day yesterday was to beautify my dining room chairs. since we're moving and can't afford to just up and buy new furniture (unacceptable, but i'm coping), i'm going to make all our stuff new, myself.

stage one: dining room chairs.

(excuse the crappy cellphone pictures. thanks.)

we had these horrific microfiber seats that attract every stray dog, cat, and human hair and dust and dirt.  and you have to spend 45 minutes a day smoothing all the little microfibers to face the same way, otherwise they just look absolutely ridiculous.

so i fixed.

i had some left over fabric from when i made closet doors (because mine fell off the track every time you even just glanced their way). and since ALL THE CLOSET DOORS IN MY NEW HOUSE WORK LIKE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO (i'm screaming because i can't even wrap my mind around having stuff that actually works!) i no longer need the curtains. so i chopped them up and stapled them to the chairs and now we have the prettiest dining room chairs.


AH! they look like new chairs. (andrea, it's yellow, gray, and brown) and no more nasty microfiber!

evan and i knocked this project out in 2ish hours and had so. much. fun. we used a staple gun, which was awesome because we really have no experience with power tools because i'm 4 and i have my dad/brother do all my handyman stuff for me because evan and i are clueless. anywaaaay. we used a staple gun and we were staple happy. next, we're going to steal a saw and make new legs for our couches.

big things are happening here, people! big things!

and, if you're wondering, this was the easiest project ever. the hardest part was taking the seats off the chairs, which was mostly just time consuming with the 4213 screws and nuts and bolts in each chair.  i think evan and i will probably start an upholstery business because we're obviously professionals.

Friday, November 11, 2011

be still, my heart

i apologize for the sort of crappy cinematography. i clearly missed my calling as a camera.......person. or whatever.

but is this not the sweetest thing you've ever seen? i ran out of camera card, that's why the first one abruptly ends. and excuse roza/jitu's shirts in the second video. GROWTH SPURT!

aren't my babes the absolute cutest?!?

this is my favoritefavoritefavorite ethiopian song. i make them sing it to me 5325804+++ times when we're there, and i've almost got it down. and no, i have no idea what it means. it's just pretty.

so long, 640

i was pretty sure i jinxed us last time i said that evan and i put an offer in on a house and yada yada. because we didn't get it. =[

but then we found another house, and it's even better. we close next thursday at 11:00 am and then IT'S ALL OURS!!!

so excited i could pee.

i feel like it should be bittersweet to move out of our first home. but i'm overjoyed and ecstatic.

we have a million wonderful memories here....

like the time evan woke me up at 4:30 by saying, "hey solder!"
or the millions of times we laughed so hard we cried ourselves to sleep.
the two times we tried to make pizza and failed miserably.
but the many other times we made the most delicious meals.

or the time i brought home a kitten!
and then she had 6 more!

and the bajillion times we've locked ourselves out. like 15 minutes before we were leaving for our honeymoon (i crawled through the kitchen window).
and the rest of the time when evan accidentally locked the garage door (i've lived here for a year and a half and i've never had a key........)
and the time i took the garbage out and shut the door and sat outside with my pups for 3 hours waiting for evan to get home (i didn't have shoes or i would have walked to my parents').

this is the house we rented together as newlyweds. that taught us how to share with each other. and how to dig trees out of cement. and how to scoop poop after 9 months of winter. and how to get wax off the carpet. and how to keep your dogs from barking at 4:00 am.

so, i guess it is a little bittersweet. but we've done the rental thing for far too long. i can't wait to paint chevron stripes on my CRAFT room walls. and for evan to have his man cave. and for the things that break to be our responsibility to fix. and to learn how to tile a bathroom. and to install a garage door. and dig up that apple tree and replace it with a cherry tree.

and i'm excited to no longer have obnoxious people living below us. and next to us. and across the street. and to be in a nicer neighborhood. and to have a PURPLE front door.

so, SEE YA, avenue d, it's been real.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

50 books for 2011

21. The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers

i think this has been my favorite book this year. i cried so much and told evan, "this book is so, so sad. but i love it." i could not put it down and i had to force myself to stop reading before my trip so i'd have some good plane material. it was consistently amazing through the entire book. and it was one of those books that make me feel like a loser for not writing it first. i don't usually reread books but this one is going back on my list. if you're looking for a book to read...this one. seriously.

22. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.

this was a free book from amazon and i am so intrigued by the civil war and early southern american history, this immediately grabbed my attention. it's a "classic" which can sometimes tend to be dry and boring, but i was enthralled the entire way through. and also embarrassed by my race. i'm not kidding, people can be disgusting.

23. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

another freebie. and i'd never read it. loved. just like the movie, too! baha jk. seriously, i think lewis carroll might be a genius.
so i didn't make my 5 book mark....but i think i did pretty good for having a bed time of 8:30 and having basically no free time whatsoever. i may or may not have been a part of a wine party on our plane ride home so that might have taken up a good portion of my plane allotted reading time. ahem.

Friday, November 4, 2011

little jitu

i desperately want to believe that this story will have a happy ending. so that's my eternal prayer.

little jitu.

i thought the first time i met her was when she was chucking large rocks just inches from a couple naughty little boys. but after going through my pictures i realized she'd been hanging around me all week. furthermore, her half brother is one of my orphans. soul mates.

back to the rocks.

i see this tiny little girl running down this dirt street, arm cocked, rock in hand. she throws it at a little boy, stops to pick up another, then starts the cycle again. i'm like 3 times her size so i chase her down and scoop her into my arms, prying the half-boulder from her little hands. she kicks and screams and immediately starts bawling, while the little boys just laugh and stick their tongues out at her from a safe distance away.

you have to understand something. there really isn't the word "no" in ethiopia. parental figures don't really discipline their kids. in fact, jitu sat outside the church every single day, all day long. never once did a parental unit come looking for her. i even kidnapped her for an afternoon and no one even realized she was missing. parental units also throw rocks, hit kids with sticks, and chase kids down, so these kids are only learning from not good parenting. vicious cycle.

i took it upon myself to play mom. i was good at it, too. every time i saw a foot meet shin, or hand meet face, or teeth to an arm, there i was with my finger and a sharp "NO."  i know that two weeks of my "play nice" and sign language really probably did nothing, but a girl can dream, right?

but poor little jitu. every time i turned around some little boy was teasing her, pulling her hair, pushing her, or doing something to offend her. fight or flight instinct? FIGHT. her little dagger fingernails scrapped countless arms and her fangs drew blood several times.

she'd snap in an instant, too. one second i'd be swinging her around and the next she'd be punching and kicking her way out of my arms.

i loved on that girl so much. just to show her what real love is. i don't pretend to know what her home situation is like, or why she is the way she is. but i gave her what i could in the little time i had. and i know her brother does the same when he goes home in the summer.

but the day i scooped her up to keep her from throwing those rocks i got it, too. punched in the face, the throat, the chest. scraped arms and face. kicked anywhere those little legs could reach.

poor little babe.

the day she snapped she bit my arm so hard it left a mark for two days. she was laughing one second then chomping down the next.

on our last day there the church had a going away party for us. little jitu sat outside the church waving me over as i stepped out of the van. i picked her up and carried her in (kidnapping, essentially) and brought her with me to our little service. i cuddled her and kissed her sweet face the entire time. i wanted to show her love but more than that, i wanted her to know that this church is a place of refuge. as the women from the church walked around with bowls of popcorn and grains for us, tietu, the pastor's wife, thoughtfully offered some to jitu. she knew she was not a member, probably didn't belong, and it was probably rude of me to bring her in. but that just melted my heart. becasue tietu is amazing. and i hope she's part of jitu's happy ending.

ps. that's her twin sister obisee. i thought she was an angel until she tried to bite me, too.

i have laryngitis.

self diagnosed.

but it's what half the team took home from ethiopia, and apparently i didn't sneak away from it. (secret: i love losing my voice.) anyway. i could make a bad joke about how "i went all the way to africa and all i got was lousy laryngitis." but i won't.

instead i'll awe you with some pretty pictures i took in africa.

yes, that thing under the petal looks like a spider BUT IT'S NOT i assure you. it's a new flower bud. I'VE CHECKED.

okay, so that last picture is DC. not africa. but fall there was ahhhhmazing. and clearly there is a LOT of pink in africa. it's kind of amazing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

when we signed up for this trip to ethiopia, we expected it to be the same as last time. some sort of project at the orphanage, aka me hanging out with my kids because i don't even know how to hammer a nail, let alone build something. we didn't find out until twoish months before hand that "oh by the way, you do know we're building a church in town so don't expect to see the kids very much."


i can't just fly half way around the world and be 15 minutes from these kids and just "not see them very much."

it's not that i didn't believe this person, but i just chose not to. i honestly felt like i would see my kids a bunch and even if it wasn't every day, it would be much more than once.

and that's exactly how it went down. i saw them A BUNCH. partly because i'm spoiled, and partly because i'm a girl and can't do any sort of handiwork to save my life.

so we built a church.

last year our group found the church and the pastor asked for our help. so we came. we had the walls built before we got there so we could focus on the roof and the floor.

obviously i was part of the floor crew. are you surprised? what with my extensive knowledge of roof building and no fear whatsoever of heights? ha.

anyway. we started on the floor immediately. we moved the pews from one side to the other, hauled in rock after rock after rock of this black lava that was sooooooo heavy. we used wheelbarrows that were made of two long sticks by which to carry the dang thing, and then scraps of tin in the center to hold objects. the wheelbarrows themselves were like 30 pounds. and then they'd load you up with a million pounds of rock. basically, my arms are so buff right now.

this guy slung that sledge hammer for like 8 days straight. also, that is rock for dayzzz.

look how tiny those "beams" are! ah! i was not getting up there. ever.

we hauled rock in and hauled dirt out. we moved the pews again. we hauled some more rock. we got rock in our eyes. we got dirt in our eyes. we had dirt in places i didn't think dirt could go.

but we had SOOOO much help from the church members. they hauled rock, moved the pews, smashed stone, scooped dirt and hauled it. they were amazing.

my favorite part was writing blessings over the church via bible verse on the walls. we wrote with chalk before we painted.

"For God commands His angels concerning you,
to protect you in all of your ways. 
They will lift you up in their hands
so you will not strike your foot against a stone."
Psalm 91:11

we had church service and prayed over the kids and the pastor and his wife. it was powerful and holy. even though i only understood the 30 minutes of english.

every day someone would mention how we couldn't believe the church went from having just walls and some tarps for the roof when we got there, to having four walls, a floor, a stage, and a real roof when we left. we had some mighty angels surrounding our work.

borrowed from another team member. finished paint and floor. roof is on, all they need are the ceiling tiles.
it was a lot of hard, manual labor and it was a very good sleeping aide. i don't think i was awake past 9:15 once. and if it got past 8:15 i was in panic mode to get in bed for my 9 hours of sleep. 

i made some new amazing friends, met some adorable babes, and i now have a home church on the other side of the world. win, win, win.

god is good, all the time. all the time, god is good.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


i am exhausted.

i've barely been home 48 hours and i can hardly function like a normal human being. on monday i went to bed at 6:00. PM. SIX! that's for infants. but guess what time i woke up?! THREE.

solid nine hours of sleep.

i made it to 8 last night before crashing. and i forced myself to sleep past three. this cannot be a common occurrence. i'll never have a normal life again.

i haven't even uploaded any pictures from my trip. i haven't even begun to think about the stories i want to tell.

i'm just tired and i just want to sleep.

i also may or may not be having a not-so-mini mental break down today over my life.

i hate that you always need a vacation from your vacation. let me tell you, work is not a vacation from your vacation.

what is also not a vacation is when work gives you three hours of videos to watch on your own time. aka at home.


ethiopia. i don't even know where to begin, except to say that the plane ride there was the most smooth, nonturbulant, easy flight i have evereverever had.

the only bad part was when we arrived early into addis air space and the airport wasn't quite ready for us to land. so instead we circled for a good 30 minutes. and then pretty much dive bombed the runway and almost hit a squatter who lived next to the tarmac.

it's just different there...

but when i walked onto solid ground, and stopped for a minute to gather myself, i heard God say, "did I not tell you to trust Me? I promised I'd take care of you." after my near cardiac arrest over just the thought of boarding an airplane, i was very pleased at the thought of safety. (and solid ground beneath my feet.) and that that was the best flight of my entire life.

the entire two weeks i didn't even think about the plane ride home. it popped into my mind a few times (mostly during prayer when i know unseen attacks were going on) and just as quickly it was gone.

i don't think time could move any faster. and every time i think back about those two weeks, it flies by even faster in my mind.

i came home with plugged ears, stuffy nose, a cough, and a sore throat.

and also a full heart, new loves, new friends, and a new little girl to sponsor.

oh and over 700 pictures.

i promise i'll share some real stories and real pictures tonight.

let this adorable piece of love tide you over until then.

it's sort of pathetic how much that one single picture melts my heart. is my family not the prettiest?

23 before 24

17 part 5

Give me a break for not posting this in it's actual month. I was on the other side of the world.

Also, when I took these pictures, it started snowing.

Sick. I'm going back to ET tomorrow.