fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Monday, February 28, 2011 the hope

testing, testing.....1,2,3.....testing.

There have been many moments in the last year that I deeply wished we could do a quick and simple test on our connection, our attachment with our daughter.   Then, maybe, I would have the answers I so dearly desired.  Is she feeling secure and cared for?  Does she know I am her Mom...forever?  Does she trust us?  And then the big one....does she love me?

But the truth is that I do have a lot of that information, it is just hard to see it clearly sometimes.  Hard to feel it and to trust this process when I feel rejected, hurt and confused by her and our attachment, or connection.

The fact that Tessa was well cared for and loved by nannies (for nearly 8 months) in her ET care center leaves many with the impression that she should have come out of that situation unscathed.   She was healthy, clean and seemed happy, she was clearly adored by the nannies.  But it was a care center, an orphanage, and that can in no way replace being with a family, with a parent, a mother or father loving you day in and day out.

A year ago we were in Ethiopia getting to know our sweet girl.  A year later, here is what I do and don't know about Tessa's early months and making connections, and where we are today.

I don't have any idea how many times she cried and couldn't be soothed.
I do know that she when we met her she sucked her thumb fiercely and constantly...still does when tired.

I don't know how many times she cried and could not be picked up, how many hours she laid in a crib.
I do know she routinely lays in her crib, goes to sleep and wakes without crying as if it is second nature. *full disclosure*  I love that she is so incredibly easy to lay down, it makes my life easier.  I never had that with my birth children, but I realize this sleep training wasn't exactly from an ideal situation.

I don't know for sure how being held outward and given her milk by cup affected her.
I do know that she loved a bottle the first time I gave it to her in Ethiopia.
I do know that she wouldn't make eye contact with me and that my instincts told me to make sure we made this eye contact.  I fed her right at my chest, held inward and if she broke eye contact I would pull the bottle up gently from her mouth and give it back as soon as we met eyes felt right.

I don't know how much she played or how much playtime she would have been able to have with a nanny.
I do know she had no idea how to play when we got home (at 8 months).
I do know that it seemed like she didn't know how to "laugh"....and in time she learned.

I don't know if she was particularily attached to any one nanny.
I do know that after we arrived home, I was a nanny in her eyes for a long time....
I could feel it and see it.  When I realized she saw me as another nanny it did hurt but I also understood it.

Today, in this moment, it is crystal clear to me that this is all about Tessa's pain.  The grief, while it may be subconscious, it remains.  There had to be such loss before Tessa could become apart of our family.  And while Tessa was far too young to understand or remember it, her experience remains.  As humans we are innately wired to seek connection, to seek a caregiver to bond with, to survive.  To make eye contact, to feel secure and soothed by another, to have all of our needs met.  And the truth is that was impossible for our sweet girl in her early months.  So, I feel when that bond and security doesn't happen naturally early on in life, what remains is a wound of the soul.

I most need to remind myself of this soul wound when Tessa overtly rejects my love.  When she is hurt and needs comfort, but reaches for another.  When she won't let me soothe her.  It is in these moments she is showing me her soul wound.  She needs us to really "see" her and the information that she is able to give.

There are is also the signs that her soul wound is healing.  {we are healing, we are healing.}  I see the healing in the moments she laughs; when she makes a little expression just for me to see;  when we snuggle, sing and rock in our chair; when she says "Mama, hold me" and reaches up with those sweet little hands.   When the soul wound resurfaces I need to remember the journey, why it is here, what we are all suppose to be learning from it.

Through all of the ups and downs in this adoption journey (and there have been many), the journey has always been about hope.  Even Tessa's name is derived from her Ethiopian name, Tesfanesh, literally meaning "you are hope".  I do hope and believe that the soul wound will heal.   And I know that we are healing that soul wound everyday...I am staying with the hope.

testing, testing .......1,2,3.........connecting to the hope.

**Claudia over at is holding a blog symposium on attachment.  be sure to stop over and check out all the links...people sharing about this most personal and important topic!

i heart faces- anything but a face!

the i heart faces- anything but a face photo challenge!

I just love this shot, it is one of my all-time favorites, in part because it includes
 my best friend, Margo with her baby Kingston.  
And then also because
  what's cuter than a baby's backside?   ;)

I Heart Faces - Photo Challenges, Tutorials and Tips   check out all of the amazing shots at  i heart faces.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scavenger hunt Sunday

This week for the Scavenger Hunt Sunday I decided to 
interpret all of the prompts from one photos session this week.  
These winter-scape photos were captured at a friend's beautiful property here in WI.

 Capture the Sky:


At this address it is a sign of the everyday...

a sign of life in winter, a sign of hope for another season!

Isn't this rock wall wonderfully furry?

Check out everyone's unique interpretations here at Ashley Sisk's

Friday, February 25, 2011

love this...

how I love chandelier, found in a cool little German shop when we were living abroad in Strasbourg, France.   It now graces my dining room and I admire these colorful drops every day.  
A simple pleasure!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

never the same

a year ago....we left to our side of the world to meet these beautiful faces, these lives, this country of Ethiopia touched our lives and I was never the same.

I can't help but sit and wander back in my mind to where we were as a family a year ago.  On our way to meet our daughter, then just 7 months old.  It was such an intense time full of anticipation, love, the unknown, hope.   A year later I am in awe of it all.   At moments it feels so far away from where we are today.   Then in other moments I feel like apart of me is still there.  Perhaps it is both.

I just went back and read the few posts I was able to write while in Ethiopia.
They bring it all back and more.

links to last years Ethiopia posts:

we met our daughter today    (we met Tessa the day after we arrived)
this is big love            (going to Hosanna, Tessa's birth place, coffee ceremony & birth family meeting)
no mascara needed     (emotions...emotions....)
at of Tessa   (finally able to take photos outside of the care center at the guest house)
i will, i will...   (leaving Tessa's birth country and bringing her home)

When we went to Ethiopia I knew I would feel many things and tried to prepare my heart and soul.  I did not want to protect it, I wanted to open my heart and soul up, take it all in.  To be able to feel it for myself and also to fully share with my daughter one day.  I never knew how it would change me, make my heart grow.  When in Ethiopia, if you allow yourself to see and feel the injustice of this world's inequity, the poverty; when you really look into the eyes of the mothers, fathers and children; you are forever touched by this country..... but you can also feel the hope.

Tessa's name is derived from her Ethiopian name "Tesfanesh" literally meaning "you are hope"
Everyday I hold this hope in my arms, every day.  To have been entrusted with this hope and the life of one of Ethiopia's children, is both a privilege and one of God's miracle.   It has left me forever grateful, forever changed.  Quite simply, never the same.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday sweet Max.  You are "2" and Jeni loves you...

Here you were 2 short years ago....

look how you have grown.  Somehow you are just as sweet and snuggly today.

I love your sweet spirit.  I love how deeply you love your Mommy, Daddy, Lily and Charlie.  I love your love of books.  I love it when you make me a cup of tea with a donut from your little kitchen.  
I love it when you want to be snuggled and tickled.... how you giggle.

I love that I loved you before you were here.   I love that your Mom is my best friend and shares you with me.  I love that I get to be apart of your life as your god-mother and have the privilege of watching over you as you grow, as you change before our eyes.

Happy Birthday Max

Monday, February 21, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window. . .cold, icy.  So icy that the kids are home ALL DAY due to road conditions!

I am thinking. . .that I would like to start my spring cleaning.  Maybe spring will show up.

I am thankful for. . .the love and friendship in my life.  I really am.

From the kitchen. . . a lovely burning candle that smells so fresh.  Hot cup of chai tea.  fruit, lots of fruit.  again, a symbol of spring.

I am wearing. . .jeans, Packer t-shirt and long gray sweater.  I love gray right now.

I am creating. . .a new painting from our trip to Ethiopia almost a year ago.  Hope to get to it later today.  The link below is the companion piece to it.

I am going. . .(after Jack finishes his time out) to get all 7 kids in my house to the art studio 
(studio below...I know I'm spoiled)  ;) 

I am reading. . .   blogs & magazines,  right now because it is quick and satisfying.  "People" with Jennifer Aniston on the cover is for quiet time later today.  Rocks your world, i know.  There is a pile of great books bedside, which I will tackle on spring break.  Right now they just put me to sleep!

I am hoping. . for spring.   peace.  hope in the world.

I am hearing. . .6 kids laughing as they play, Bob the bulldog making noises playing with them, and 1 kid (Jack) whining to come out of  the"time out" spot.

Around the house. . .the kids are home from school with an "ice day".   It is busy and chaotic, but in a good way.

One of my favorite things. . . Gwen Frostic's book:  To Those Who See
To Those Who SeeIt is a book my grandmother gave me, that had been agift to her in 1973.  It is filled with poetry, beautiful papers and reflections of nature.  I recently shared it with my artist's group and they loved it too.  It is fantastic.

A few plans for the rest of the week. . . a couple days of the school routine, working out, eating better, getting in the art studio, watching a movie.  Then driving 5 hours to MN with 4 kids ALONE, to be with my Dad on his birthday, visit my family and  snuggle my baby niece, Eleanor.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing . . .

Sunday, February 20, 2011

one year ago-

one year ago-
you were smiling for and  being held by your nannies.
we were packing, organizing and ready to jump on a plane to Ethiopia to meet you
you had no idea your forever family was coming to you to bring you home
we knew you only known through reports and photos
you had never drank from a bottle and looked in our eyes.  you drank from a cup, held outward
we had never counted your little toes
you had only ever known a nursery with many babies and loving nannies
we had only ever known life with 3 little boys
you had your thumb to comfort you
we had a blanket to give you
you had not yet felt our love
we loved you already
one year ago the anticipation was so wonderful, so intense.
We couldn't wait to hold you in our arms at last and forever.
one year ago, sweet girl and now look at you!

And while I am sharing this "colorful" photo....I can't help but want to enter it in 

Project 64: Indigo Blue

A shade of indigo this little guy, my god-son.  
The cookie monster shirt use to be worn by my little guy Jack.

project64 button

scavenger hunt Sunday

Scavenger Hunt Sunday  
First time I have ever completed the challenge with all NEW photos from the past week!  
It was a fun challenge!

1. Chocolate:   
Chocolate covered strawberries from Nana for Valentines.  oh, so yummy.

2. Numbers
Drew is #7 , which he thought was pretty cool since he is "7" 
and he is crazy excited to be starting the basketball season!

3.  Canned Food
feeling inspired to make a little pyramid of cans...

4. Music
"Thriller!"  Oh, M.J.  how I loved you.  how I miss you.   
This record was well loved... and now even without a record player, 
I can't seem to part with it.  
As I pulled this relic out it was the first time my kids have ever seen a "record". 
 Drew was thrilled because I have made him into a huge M.J. fan too!

5. Stack:   
Proof I have a bit of an addiction to magazines....
                   I think the magazines we choose say a lot about ourselves.  For me my favorites- Oprah, Marie Claire, This Old House, Adoptive Families, Metropolitan Home, Better Homes and Gardens....and all those get organized, create color home mags.  
Of course, I am a People junkie too....
although I don't subscribe, just can't resist at a checkout!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Greek Pizza!

Normally, I am not the kind of blogger to share recipes, actually this is a first....because well, that just isn't on my radar.  I love (a little too much) food, but often am lacking in my efforts to be creative in the kitchen- unless it is something new on the wall!  

My dear friends, Cari Teff and Kate Stuart creators of "Bites" created this amazing recipe incorporating Odyssey feta cheese for a local cheese company, Klondike Cheese.   
They kindly gave me their permission to share this with my friends.

Odyssey Greek Salad Topped Pizza
(Recipe courtesy of Bites Catering)
½ cup mayonnaise
3 ounces cream cheese 
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups salad greens 
1 seedless cucumber, sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup kalamata olives, sliced
8 ounces Odyssey feta cheese, divided
1 pizza crust or flatbread, baked
¼ cup greek vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine mayo, cream cheese, 4 oz. Odyssey feta, and garlic.  Spread over prepared pizza crust and bake for 8 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix salad greens and veggies in a large bowl, toss with vinaigrette.  Place salad on pizza crust and top with remaining 4 oz. Odyssey Feta and enjoy!
Greek Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
In a bowl add balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, oregano.  Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

paper mama photo challenge: red

Red... Paper Mama photo challenge

This shot of our sweet girl from last summer....she was turning one and just about to walk, 
which as you can see she was excited about!   

I bought this outfit from the GAP's product
RED campaign (RED) raising $$ for the Global Fund to elimate AIDS in Africa 

This outfit sat in her dresser long before she came home from Ethiopia (almost a year ago now!).  
Here RED signifies hope for Africa...

The Paper Mama

Friday, February 18, 2011

decor rehab- art studio- part 2

The decor madness has continued....  I have rehabed a few more pieces, which all live in my art studio and love it.  The space is finally coming together.  Feeling like a space in which I can relax and create.

before on the coffee table:
A great thrift store find.  $10.   yeh!  
I gave it a good sanding.  Had a red stain that came through primer and required several coats, but is worth the result!  Also took the rollers off of it to paint.  I love that it has cast rollers.
i painted it a gray, sanded the edges, dry brushed on some white and then stenciled the top.

 Here is you get to see the studio coming together a bit more all in preparations for my art critique group that is visiting.  More on that "art love" gathering later.

For now, focus on my vintage chair.  I got 2 for $50 from the same thrift store!  (Even at this price, my husband doesn't understand these)  They are in great condition to boot!  Some may not get it.....but I love them.   Perfect for the studio.  And designer Amy Butler just came out with a new fabric that is nearly identical to this vintage one....what goes around comes around.

Amy Butler's Soul Blossom line.  love, love, love

look  at the fabric right above **
Well, maybe not identical, but it is very similar and very vintage like these chairs.  To top it off the window treatments that are being made are from the fabric that is right above it (in peacock).  Love!I can't wait for those window treatments to arrive!  it is the little things....but creating this art sanctuary for myself has been so very therapeutic!

Then this little table that was given to me......needed to be toned down a bit.

Used a paint to just dry brush a color over the bright color and tone it down a little, while letting some color through for dimension.  
I like this effect with a bright color underneath!

the table turned out really nice....great place for plants in the studio

Then we have this wonderful rug that I found at the Swiss Colony Outlet store here in town....once in a while you can really find a discount treasure!   The rug is so soft and fun, the kids love rolling on it's shagginess!  How to vacuum it is still a mystery, but like many things I will figure that out later. 

And then onto the framed mirror I found at an antique store... I really need to get a grip and always get a before shot.  But sometimes I just get so excited.

Trust me, it was gold and belonged in a cheesy, smoky, Vegas hotel.  But now it has a whole new life and message!

Now it is one of my "Favorite things"!!! 

the art studio has been re- created, it is inspired and truly loved!  Now I need to share, share, share it!

Check out other awesome DIY home decor "favorite things" at the link below....its just fun
 the speckled dog

Thank you for visiting the fiddlehead report!