fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Monday, April 26, 2010

She Smiled at Me in Ethiopia

She smiled at me.

She smiled at me..... so today I can send you this smile from Ethiopia.

The I heart faces challenge this week is simply: Smiles. I have a load of amazing smile shots, especially of my little people who all have amazing smiles.  However, this shot of an Ethiopian girl out the window of my bus absolutely captures me for so many reasons. Brings me back to that moment when I was needing a smiling face out my window. Sadly, most the children that came to my bus window didn't share this smile.
She smiled at me...she exuded hope with this smile.       Smile today.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bubble boy

Don't we all just love bubbles?  I am pretty sure they make the world go round.

It has taken some getting use to our new schedule with Tessa....nap times more specifically.  She is a champion napper, so Little Mr. Jack and I had some alone time this past week on a beautiful day.  It was so fun to get the bubble maker going.  And how adorable is it that Jack was also wearing his Tigger hat!?  That was not my making....just happened and I loved it.

Jack is at such a wonderful age.  He is all about exploring, having fun.  It is so sweet when he says, "Mama, play with me?".  This time I was able to say "Lets go!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Heart Faces: "Collages" photo challenge

The I heart faces challenge this week is "collage".  While I have painted many collages using my photos, creating one digitally is entirely new to me.  I love expanding my photo creativity!  I did my homework and created my very first collage of my "fiddleheads" last night using (posted in previous blog entry).     What fun! could possibly become my new obsession! 

 Of course, my submission "born of my heart" has to be about bringing our sweet girl in my arms.  And how perfect....the bleeding hearts are in full bloom in my garden helping me symbolize it all.   

Click on the collage to take a closer look and enlarge it.   (I wasn't able to display it any larger on the blog because of the technical savvy only goes so far)

Do check out all the amazing collage submissions on! click on the icon below

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Embracing fiddleheads

It is spring and the fiddleheads have sprung!  I just love seeing the fiddleheads resurface each spring.  It really is one of my favorite things.   

The way the fiddleheads uncurl and show themselves.  How they are ever changing and growing. How after a long winter they resurface... they are hope embodied.  Can you see how human they feel?  This fiddlehead is watching over her baby fiddles....

Here are my fiddleheads in my first digital collage.  It was a challenge to try a few new techniques with picnik's free editing to create this collage of my little fiddleheads.

 Here they are in all their sweet cuteness.  Gosh, I love these little people so much.

Embrace the fiddleheads in your life today...

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Not of My Flesh, Not of My Bone, but Still Miraculously My Own. 
Never Forget for a Single Minute, You Didn't Grow Under My Heart, but In it. ~Fler Heylinger 

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Comments, Questions and Answers

Since we began the adoption process we have heard many comments from people and many questions.  "Why are you adopting?"  "Why did you choose Ethiopia?" "That baby will be so lucky"  "You are so wonderful to save a child from that situation"....I could go on and on and on.  I would field the questions, be gracious with the compliments and admiration.  Admiration that is not warranted.  We don't deserve admiration.  We wanted a child.  Yes, wanted.  We chose to bring a child into our family through adoption.    While I understand all of it, I have also been struggling with it.

Since we have come home with Tessa, there have been even more of  COMMENTS and QUESTIONS coming our way.  The comments:  "She is the luckiest baby in the world"  "She won the lottery for families" "I bet you just wanted to bring a bunch of 'them' home with you".  Each comment comes from a kind place that is meant to be a great compliment, but one that is thoughtless all the same.  People don't think about the greater meaning in their comment, not to mention the unspoken assumptions about race, culture and social class.  It isn't fair to slap a child with the "lucky" label because it implies that they are in-debted to you in some way.  She shouldn't have to carry "luck" or being indebted with her as apart of her conscience or her story.  I won't allow it.

Is it lucky to be born in a country stricken with poverty and famine?  Is it lucky that her birth family was not able to care for her?  It is lucky that Tessa will never know her birth family and have so many questions?  Is it lucky that her birth family had to suffer the greatest grief to give their daughter a different life, in order for us to have the greatest joy?  That is not luck.

Of course, as every adoptive parent knows.....we are the ones who are so blessed.  We are the ones that wanted a child and were blessed with a child through adoption.  I do believe I am lucky in many, many ways.  For instance, to be born a woman in America is very lucky.  But I also believe that it is a "God thing".  God brings people into our lives for reasons.  Family and friends.  It is not just luck that Tessa is our daughter or that we are her forever family.  God created her journey to us and our journey to was a complicated journey and involved so many people and one based in love.   The truth is that Tessa has been sooo loved.  She was so loved that she was given a different life.  It was that love in Ethiopia that began her journey to us and our love that began our journey to her.  That is love, not luck.  Only something greater than all of us could bring Tessa into the world and into our family forever.  Only God.  That is not luck.

  Now for the questions:  "What happened to her real mother?", "Do you know anything about her birth family?"  "Is your husband black or is she adopted?" , "Did you meet her mother?", "Do you wonder what her birth parents look like?"   So much curiosity coming at us.

 You can almost see the curiosity in people's eyes, what they are wondering.  I understand it, it is human and natural.  But I find it is so interesting that so many people can't help themselves and ask the most personal questions.  Actually, it is invasive.  It is almost as if because we are very visible as an inter-racial adoptive family that strangers give themselves permission to indulge their curiosity and ask the most personal questions.   When I was asked "What happened to her real mother", I was surprised and gave a generic response "Well, her birth mother was unable to care for her.   My response was meant to re-language her comment of "real mother" and also give an answer that doesn't disclose personal information.  It was the best I could do in the moment, but perhaps it is just the most I can give.  It is Tessa's story and it is not available for other's curiosity.

Now that I am an adoptive mother am I obligated to share my most intimate stories and feelings with a curious stranger?  Am I obligated to try an educate people about the most basic adoption language?  Teach them boundaries?  I know the answers to these questions, but this experience certainly does make you question yourself.

Last week a stranger was told in front of me that Tessa had just come home from Ethiopia by my son's teacher.  I was fine with that, not feeling defensive and instead relishing in Tessa.  The stranger immediately asked with Disneyland type excitement "What is is like THERE?"   The enthusiasm in her voice caught me very off guard.  I responded with confusion to her enthusiasm "What do you mean?"  The stranger responded with her continued excitement "Do you need shots to go there?  It just sounds so exotic!"  I was so surprised and immediately felt defensive of my daughter's country, a country I love, and this woman's complete ignorance.  I said very directly, "Ethiopia is a very beautiful country.  But it is a country with extreme poverty and famine and desperation."  She responds cheerfully, "Oh, so, they aren't exaggerating about what you see on t.v.?"  Now I am dumb-founded.  I responded plainly with a blank face "NO".  End of conversation.

I shouldn't be so surprised, but I am.  I know that I have more knowledge about Ethiopia and Africia than the average person because of my interest and experiences.  Perhaps it is just discouraging to see such lack of awareness.  To witness people be so clueless about something so personal to me.  To see others be so centered here and not look outside their privileged lives here.

The questions, the comments can really feel like an ambush at times.  I know there will be times that I feel like educating someone, there will be times that I don't want to share my feelings and other times that I will.  There will be changes on how I feel about certain questions and comments, but they aren't going to stop. And so, I will take each question and each comment "in" knowing that this is apart of the journey for me and for me to give to Tessa.  I hope to handle the questions and comments with grace knowing that with each comment and each question that I am ultimately going to be preparing Tessa to have boundaries, to respond with grace and to be secure in her story and centered in what she knows for sure about herself and our family.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

It is Easter Sunday.  Two kids were all a buzz about the bunny we saw running across the yard last night and what he must be up to.  The oldest one is officially in the "inner circle" when it comes to the Easter bunny.  He seems to like that knowledge, and yet still totally loved the Easter egg hunt.  Tessa is absolutely adorable in her Easter dress.  This dress was given to me a couple years ago and has since hung on her wall because it is so beautiful.  And now just look at her in it!  Seriously....could you be cuter!  It is as girlie as it gets and we love it!

The Easter egg hunt the front yard amongst the daffodils and other signs of spring everywhere!

Oma, Opa, Omie and Opie all drove down for the afternoon from Ripon to spend the day with us.  It was so nice to have them here, especially since we couldn't go anywhere with Andy on-call.  They even brought Easter dinner!  yahoo!   We had a wonderful Easter Sunday!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Message from Swaziland show

Lately I haven't been feeling like an "artist".  I have been immersed in full Mommy mode.  Adjusting, trying to stay afloat in the new normal, trying to be present.  I haven't been in my art studio for over a month- a long time for me.  So, to have an art show right now felt a little strange.  How was I going to be able to embrace that part of myself right now?   Would I be able to for the opening or would I have to "fake it til I make it".  Here, I have soooo long dreamt of a solo art show in an art gallery.  Really it has been a dream of mine.  And on top of it I was going to be able to show works I was both so proud of and wanted others to witness....and yet I was feeling disconnected from it.

I had applied for a solo show at the Monroe Arts Center about a year and a half ago. Our small community has a growing arts community within it and our Arts Center brings in all kinds of art and culture.  I am so grateful for their presence here!!  I have also been excited that I would be able to share these works with the very community that helped support my journey on AIDS Walk Africa in Swaziland!  April 1st my art exhibit "Message from Swaziland" opened at the Monroe Arts Center (showing the month of April).

To see all the works displayed so beautifully in the space was amazing.  It has been nearly a year and a half since I displayed the entire series together...and boy, is it powerful.  I was able to speak at the opening reception and really felt I was able to communicate what the series is truly about:  opening our hearts and mind to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Swaziland.

I walked away from the gallery that night feeling satisfied.  I was grateful to be supported by my family and friends.   I felt lucky to be born a woman in the USA.  I was hopeful that new people had heard the message...and proud that I had been able to share it.  I felt like an artist again!

Thank you for visiting the fiddlehead report!