Last year, Angi and I discovered Because Every Mother Matters (BEMM) and we really wanted to help them.  But both of our families were in the midst of adopting and there just wasn't much we could do with our own checkbooks.  So, we decided to set up a booth at the Apple Festival to raise money for BEMM.  

We had a vague idea of what we wanted to do and we had some things we'd made ourselves.  Angi set the booth up to look like a cute little shop.  We set out fliers and business cards for BEMM.  We really had no idea what to expect.
But the weekend was amazing.  We met fantastic people.  I lost my voice talking about adoption, orphan care and Ethiopia.  And we raised $1500 for Because Every Mother Matters.

This year, we're going into festival season with a plan. We even have a name!
We chose the name re:MADE because we are not only selling wares we've remade from old and used stuff, but because we have been remade ourselves. 

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.  Titus 3:5

This year instead of raising money for one organization we're raising money for four.  All four are near and dear to our hearts and the heart of Jesus.  

Monday - Thursday of this week I will introduce each of these small, relatively new organizations, share with you their financial needs, the ways they are serving orphans and widows around the world and I'll show you a few things that we are excited to sell for them.  We'll have bags from Burkina Faso, soap from Ethiopia,  jewelry from Guatemala, so many exciting things!

The Apple Festival starts Friday morning.  We can not wait to see what this year brings!   
I did not realize that hair would be such an ordeal from day one.  Willow has a thick head of curls, about four or five inches long when pulled straight, so I've had a lot to learn pretty quickly!  

There are a lot of great sites out there to help us adoptive mommas.  So much so that it becomes completely overwhelming.  Especially if you don't understand the basics.  So, warning, this post will be of no interest to anyone but a fellow adoptive mom.

I finally found these two YouTube videos that break down hair typing in a very slow, elementary sort of way.  Now I (finally) know that Willow has 3B hair.  Not 3C or 4A like I had thought- which was WAY off.  
In this second video, she explains shine, shrinkage and moisture in a simple, but scientific way.  If you've just watched part one, you can skip to minute three, because she is basically summarizing part one.  For information on shine skip to minute eight.  For moisture skip to minute 10:30. 
We are so excited that Stuck an independent film about international adoption will be shown at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis next month!  We're definitely going.  

Some of our AWAA adoptive friends were actually interviewed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for this film.  Many other AWAA families saw the film crews working in and around Addis.  

What the film is about: 

Every day, communities and governments struggle to care for millions of orphans, trying to replace the most fundamental of human connections: a family. Colliding with cultural identity, human rights and international politics is the complex yet permanent solution for children: international adoption.

Traveling over four continents and into orphanages, living rooms and the halls of Congress, Stuck takes a clear eyed and sometimes painful look at the realities and conflicts that arise in the process of international adoption, and shares in the intense joy and fulfillment of families not made from blood, but created from love and commitment.

Indianapolis couple Nick and Lori Leroy are featured as they struggle to adopt their son Nate from Vietnam. In a case that garnered local press attention, Nick and Lori, with the assistance of Senator Richard Lugar, took their case to the highest levels of government.

For Film Festival ticket sales click here.

We started this blog (two years ago!) for support and so many of you have joined us along the way.  Now that we're home, we're torn between sharing too much of life now (losing our privacy) and denying all of those who have followed this journey from the beginning a real glimpse at what life is like for us now.  

So, I've spent a lot of time trying to decide how to find a balance.  A lot of bloggers have a Wordless Wednesday or an InstaFriday to share pictures without an actual blog post.  So this is what we're going to do.  We'll share a few pictures here on Wednesdays without a big wordy blog post.  

Of course this will be a highlight reel of our week, and should in no way be considered a complete and accurate view of life at home.  No one has the camera out when the baby is screaming at one a.m., but I'll try to keep the photos as fair and accurate as possible.  

So here we go... Wordless Wednesday #1.
Two weeks ago I found the book, Organized Simplicity, on another blog.  I bought it with the Kindle Ap and started reading it right away.  Then I started tearing our house apart, room by room, hauling out bags of trash and boxes (and boxes) of yard sale junk.  Logan says our house has lost two hundred pounds.  We have gotten rid of a LOT.  

Right now I am sitting at my computer desk with a completely empty surface.  For years the clutter on this desk has grown and overflowed with scrap paper, books, business cards, folders and junk I've kept just in case.  So I took every single thing off of the desk for a week, intending to bring back the things as I needed them.  I didn't bring back a single thing.  All of that clutter, that I've spent hours and hours surrounded by... I didn't need one single bit of it.  Who know?

One great thing about this book is the idea of creating of a family purpose statement.  I haven't finalized ours yet, but I think it's a good idea to have a written out purpose for our family.  Sort of a filter for new ideas, new things, new obligations... we can just ask ourselves: Does this serve our purpose?  

As I was finishing in one room and putting back the few decorations that I decided to keep, I put this word "Simplify" back on the shelf.  We had gotten it a few Christmases ago, and even though primitive isn't our style, we've always like the idea of Simplicity.  So we kept it up in the living room.  The S broke off once, but we glued it back on.  Putting it back on the shelf it fell off and broke again.  I thought for a moment about gluing it back together again and what it pain it was to do last time.  Then I thought about how hard it is to dust between those letters.  Come to think of it, I kind of hate that little sign.  I just laughed.  

We're simplifying... and I hope that you can tell it from our home and not from the glued-up sign in our living room, because that was just one more thing that went into the trash.
When I look at this picture now all I can think is, "Our babies lived in Ethiopia alone?!"  They all look so sad.  It's hard to imagine that our girls actually lived without us.  

These pictures were taken by Tracy in early March.  On the left is her little girl Olivia Selam, in the middle is Willow Temar (about five months old) and on the right is Aerie Paige Tsegenesh.  (Yes, seven names for three girls.)  In March, Tim and Angi had already passed court for Aerie and were back home.  Tracy was in Ethiopia for court and had just met Olivia, and we had not yet been to Ethiopia to meet Willow.  Aerie came home later that month.  Olivia came home to South Carolina in May.  

Last week we had Aerie over to our house to play.  I obviously had to dress Willow in matching colors and take 400 pictures of them.  One super-crazy little tidbit...  Olivia got a hold of her mommies phone and called me while Aerie was at our house!  It's never happened before or after.  She must have known her friends were together without her!  Someday, we'll get all three of them together again.
I don't know when I first found out about AHOPE for Children in Ethiopia, but I've been going to their website for a long time.  AHOPE is an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for children who are HIV+.  They have a nice website.  

Take a look and then come back:

I saw this nice website and I assumed (and we know what happens when we assume) that they had plenty of money, donations, and sponsors... 

On our last morning in Ethiopia we decided to visit AHOPE.  Logan, Willow and I were let out of a van under the AHOPE sign all alone.  We knocked and knocked at the gate and finally someone let us in.  We walked through and inside the walls we saw the same worn out playground, same small offices, same small living quarters we'd seen all over Ethiopia.

We waited outside, so obviously out of place, standing out in the sun with Willow strapped to me in Ergo, for the program manager to give us a tour.  He took us around the facilities.  They were nice... but no nicer, no fancier, no better than the likes of the other orphanages we visited.  And the "pharmacy" shelves were bare except for a few small and carefully labeled shelves with each child's ARV medication.  

Every day we've ever spent in Ethiopia we have had moments that were unbelievable.  Moments when I can't believe that I'm actually seeing what I'm seeing.  And after two trip I can say that standing inside this orphanage, looking at the shelves of ARV medication, that was one of the bigger moments.  

It's one thing to hear about "AIDS orphans in Africa" on television, to read about them on a blog, or watch youtube videos about them, like I've done over and over.  But to stand in their presence, to see their little names printed on the bottles of medication that are saving their lives.  Saving their lives, while children like them are still dying on the street in Ethiopia.  Standing there and seeing that with my own eyes... if only I had the words to tell you how that felt.

The program manager left us alone in the Salon, like a living room, to meet some of the children.  They were healthy and happy and friendly.  We were talked to, climbed on, slobbered on, whispered to, held hands, gave hugs and played.  Every single child had HIV and there was absolutely nothing that separated them from being normal, happy, healthy children and zero risk to us, as HIV is not transmitted by casual contact.  

Until 2005, AHOPE was just a hospice for children dying from AIDS.  Now, with ARVs the children are living, growing and even aging out of AHOPE.  They've had to create a transition home for the young adults to transition to independence.  You can read more about the history of AHOPE, it's future, and current HIV/AIDS statistics here.  

Back home, before taking this trip, I had assumed they had a pretty steady flow of American money coming into AHOPE.  I thought, surely they didn't need my help.  So when we've brought or sent donations to Ethiopia in the past, we haven't sent a thing to AHOPE.

But I was wrong.  They need our money and our donations as badly as anyone else.  We did have some crib mobiles and crib toys with us and we left those there.  But I would love to encourage any family traveling soon to bring them donations.  Here is an up-to-date list of their current needs:

The AHOPE website lists a whole bunch of ways for literally anyone, anywhere to give them support.  Check out the list to see if there is something you can do:

Here are some of our photos from that day.  Out of respect, we did not photograph any of the children.