fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Sunday, September 25, 2011

water changes everything

Ever think about all the different ways you used water today?
for me today- toilet flushes, washing hands, quenching my thirst, brushing my teeth, taking a shower, giving the animals water, watering my plants, washing off fruit and veggies, cleaning dishes, washing clothes and ice.   
For a moment: Imagine your life without access to clean water.

please watch this video on the water crisis from Charity:Water

Today was Mission Sunday at our church for the kids Faith Zone at our church.
I was so excited to be asked to organize the "mission" for the children this year!   
It wasn't a difficult choice for me to choose which cause. 
For me the issue of access to clean and safe water in developing nations is huge.

Of course, I think of Tessa's birth place, Ethiopia.
I think of her drinking the enat water.
I remember the women carrying jugs of water.
It is a fact that if Tessa hadn't been placed into the care center
and had stayed in her rural community the chances of 
her surviving infancy would have been decreased dramatically.
Every 15 seconds another child dies from water related causes due to unsafe water.

Here are some more facts on water in Ethiopia:
• The need for water and sanitation in Ethiopia is severe. Only 22% of the population has access to an improved water supply. In rural areas, these numbers drop even further.

• In the last 20 years, Ethiopia has experienced droughts followed by food shortages and famines. In rural areas, women and children walk up to six hours to collect water. Most people collect water from shal- low ponds which they share with animals! Other people collect water from shallow wells. Both types of these sources are subject to contamination as rain water washes waste from surrounding areas into the source.

• Ethiopian women carry large clay jugs of water from ponds back to their villages. These jugs can weigh up to 40 pounds! Often, young children are left home by themselves or with a slightly older sibling while their mother and older siblings collect water and their father works tends to animals or tries to earn money at a job outside the house.
• Water-related diseases are among the principle causes of death in young children.

What we are going to do....

The H2O project has inspired our children's Faith Zone to take this challege:
Make water your only beverage for 2 weeks.
Save the money you would usually spend on beverages.
After 2 weeks, donate the money you saved to the organization of your choice & give someone clean water for a lifetime.

H20 has a fantastic set of resources.....brochures, a score card to keep track of what you save on beverages, videos, posters, even a parent letter and statements to share with your organization.  There is so much more on H2O site to make this challenge a success! 

After we complete the H20 challenge, we are donating our $$
 raised to on organization that drills wells in developing nations.
we chose....
100% of the $$$ donated go directly to funding drilling wells in developing countries, like Ethiopia!

Today at church we introduced these ideas to the kids, watched the videos...the kids carried a 40 pound container of water, looked at their cups of dirty water an imagined life without clean water.  They are taking the challenge.
$1= clean water for 1 person for 1 year!!!
$10 = clean water for 1 person for life!!!!!
Our kids are taking the is simple and necessary!!
join us!!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

good-bye pool...

good-bye pool...

good-bye to splashing in the sun,  to cooling off in our own yard, 
good-bye to night-time dips in the pool while gazing at the stars and watching the bats "fly-by" us
good-bye to afternoon mommy margaritas with other mommies while the kids happily play
good-bye to  endless hours of entertainment.
good-bye pool parties...
good-bye to opening and closing the pool, chlorine and cleaning out the leaves from the giant oak above,
good-bye to saving swimming frogs and mice.
good-bye pool.  
it was a long life and now it is time to use you as a "skate/scooter/bike" ramp until you are filled in forever.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Touch of Sun...

Once in a while the sun does this....and lights up this little guy that lights up our world.

I Heart Faces - Photo Challenges, Tutorials and Tips

Sunday, September 11, 2011

referral anniversary

September is the date that sits in many hearts for many reasons.  And while we will never forget the sadness of this day, we also hold this day in our hearts with joy as the anniversary of our sweet girl's referral.

It was 2 years ago today that the hope in our hearts became reality.... you came into our lives.   It was the day that we saw your sweet face for the very first time on our computer screen.   It was the day we heard your sweet name, Tesfanesh, for the first time, and learned it means "you are hope".   We were in awe.   
The journey to you was long, and had unexpected turns and yet it was right where we were all suppose to be.   In that moment it was clear we were always on our way to you.

In two years we have come so far....and it yet it feels like we have been here forever.   
2 years ago that space in our hearts was full....full of the knowledge of you, full of joy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

my heart at ease....

At the same time I was dealing with some truly negative, ucky energy....
the universe sent me the most amazing knowledge and put everything back into perspective.

Tirunesh is with her forever family!!!!     My heart is at ease.....and full of JOY!
After some heart felt inquiries and the kindness of our adoption social worker, today I received word that sweet Tirunesh is indeed with her forever family.
I don't know anymore information other than just what I needed to know.  Tirunesh has been home with her family for about a year and a half.  So, it is clear that the major issues in her referral were thankfully able to be resolved....she is being loved and nurtured in her forever family and that is a true blessing.

Thank you God.

I realize that with the heartbreak of Tirunesh's invalid referral 2 years ago(see this post) that she was able to unite with her forever family, and as a result we were united with our forever daughter.  I believe it was all meant to be and is just as it should be.

Tonight as I rock Tessa I will be thinking of Tirunesh, knowing that her forever family is indeed looking in her eyes, that she is being held, cared for, nurtured and loved forever.

Thank you God, thank you universe.... for this knowledge, that puts my heart at ease and fills my heart with joy and singing with gratitude!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

art scam!!!

It appears I have been the victim of an attempted ART scam (I didn't lose any $ or my art).   It was was personal.
 I am really disheartened by this, but it is clearly a scam that required some on-line research for a "sale" this case a sale of artwork.

Here is how it went down:
I was contacted by a woman name "Sharon Scott" regarding two of my "Message from Swaziland" paintings.   (Clearly they came across my website    

This potential customer inquired about the size of the painting and then decided on the painting "Ever After", which has a $1000 price tag.  (I love this piece and was so please someone appreciated its message)
She was excited about the piece and expressed her "sincerity" regarding its message.  Then she said she would be arranging shipment of the painting through her moving company as her husband's company was moving them abroad to London from N.J.   She even provided addresses for both homes.  Then she said the shipping company would contact me....and "they" did contact me seperately.  
Here is that correspondence:
I have received  communication from Mrs.Susan Scott that we should work with you to ship some artworks with her other house decors to her new house in London , UK  when you two are through with the transaction,as she advise.
 I will like you to get back with the kind and nature of the things she want to ship.I will like to have your studio address ,so i can make arrangement  with any nearby Agent  that will be coming for the pick up  once you and Mrs.Scott are through with the transactions. Thanks.
I will appreciate your earlier reply .
Jeff Simmons.
Mac Movers and Logistics  LTD
504 Ridgeway Road,
London, SW9 7EX
T: 0870 863 9866
F: 0870 863 9867

 I told both "Sharon" and "the moving company" once payment was received that I would arrange the shipping with the moving company.  Then she said she was having complications with her pregnancy and was at her sister's wedding which was slowing the process of the payment.  (It all seemed possible at this point).   Then she said her husband was sending payment via royal mail as he was already in London.   There was a delay because of a mistake with my address and Hurrican Irene....then it was "resent".   

I received a check today, via air mail/royal mail...but it was for $3900.   Yep, not $1000.

Immediately I was disheartened and wanted to believe this was some crazy coincidence.   I called the bank, Suburban Bank and Trust, it was issued from, which is was legit bank in Elmhurst, IL.   The bank told me that this cashier's check was indeed fraudulent.   The only name on the check was "Dennis Friedhan", so I still have a a glint of hope that this wasn't "Sharon" as her name was nowhere on the check.  I know, the idealist in me....   But a part of me knew that this probably meant it was a scam.   
So, tonight I emailed "Sharon Scott" and said I received a check from Dennis Friedhan today and asked if this was indeed the check she was sending.   
"Sharon" wrote this:
Hi Jennifer ,
Good to hear you have received payment for the painting. Thanks for
your update. I am very excited and can't wait to have it on my wall. I
hope to give the it a very good home and enjoy the lovely piece for

Regarding the payment, my husband made a mistake and send your payment
with that of the movers because he didn't have full details of the
transaction since  i was sick when he sent it. I am very sorry for the

I told him about what inspires you to make the painting and he was
touched that part of the sales will be donated directly back to the
AIDS foundation in Swaziland. He can't imagine 33% of a population to
be infected with HIV/AIDS virus. Anyway, we will like you to go ahead
and deposit the payment, you can then remove the asking price for
"Ever After?" , additional $330 to the foundation  and forward the
difference to the movers.

Meanwhile , i  was able to get hold of the movers immediately i got
your email and they promise to get in touch with you and make shipping
arrangement. Try and keep me updated as soon as you hear from them.
Best Regards,
PS..Kindly acknowledge this email as soon as possible. Thanks .

As you can see "Sharon" really personalized this scam.....from finding my work on-line, showing interest, choosing a piece, setting up payment and shipment, even referencing that I donate 33% of the cost of the piece because 33% of the population of Swaziland (which inspired the series) is infected with HIV/AIDS.
 It wasn't clear that it was a scam until the very end, until today.  Looking back I see how they pulled me in.   They complimented my work, my efforts to give back.  I am sure they thought they had me "hook, line and sinker".   They developed a "relationship" with me and even induced sympathy for her difficult pregnancy while moving abroad while trying to complete this transaction.

Unbelievable.   Of course, I am disappointed that I didn't sell a piece of my work.   I was looking forward to it and that someone was genuinely interested in my art or its message.   But instead these people were interested in taking advantage of me.   
 I am disheartened....and infuriated by this scam.  
So, I want to get the message out there.....this is happening and it is VERY PERSONAL.   You open yourself up on the internet with your art, with your website, even with this blog and it is a reminder that you need to be on the offensive.   Sad state of affairs, for sure.  My hopeful and idealistic nature will not be deterred.   My efforts to share my art and "Message from Swaziland" will not change.    That is all apart who I am, but it is a lesson....and it is clear that I need to protect that part of myself as well.

Since I posted this one of my young computer savvy friends (Javi!) 
did some research and shared this link with me about art scams...
worth a look.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

back to school

back to school for all the little people.....they were all sad see summer end, but did have some excitement for the new year and seeing friends every day.  It became clear to me toward the end of summer as they were bickering constantly that they truly needed to go back!

The traditional Mickey Mouse Pancake for the first day of school:

Judson entered 4th grade.   He is far too grown up now.   He allowed me to take this photo and then was off.  
sniff, sniff....he is so grown up  ( I swear I say that way to much).

Drew entered 2nd grade:  He was a little nervous, but wanted to find his pal, Charlie so he walked off.

There he goes....

then he turned around because he  decide he wanted Mommy
 to come with him to find his friend & his class line.
I was more than happy to put my camera down and just be with him!

After Drew was all settled in it was off to Jack's preschool.
He is entering 4-K (4 year old Kindergarten) 
Jack is definitely becoming such a big boy.  
In fact, he is the tallest in his class....and has now told me at least 10 times, 
"Mama, I am the biggest at my school!"

As much as Tessa wants to go to school, and fights leaving Jack's school everyday, she is going to have to wait a little longer.
The boys all had great days to start the year off with.   Happy to be back with friends.  And equally happy the first couple days were homework free....Mommy likes that too.

Friday, September 2, 2011

in those eyes

2 years ago...I looked into those eyes, those sad eyes in the referral photo and my heart was broken, I was broken.   We were trying to grieve the loss of Tirunesh, process the facts of her referral, and the injustice that her referral was not valid.  We were trying to reopen our hearts and minds to the idea that she was not our child forever, and we are not her forever family.  Trying to see that our forever daughter was still on her journey to us and us to her.  

It was such a painful, heart wrenching time...I remember feeling so raw, undone, confused and hurt by the unexpected knowledge.   I had truly fallen in love with this child I had never held, only seeing her referral photo, seeing the sadness in her eyes, the confusion on her face in the photo and wanting so badly to comfort her.   She was my daughter in my soul and mind for months and when we were told her referral wasn't valid it was heart-breaking.   

Knowing what I now know, I see that things in Ethiopia are often confused in translation, that is part of what we think happened, but really we don't know for sure.   I believe her "supposed birth father" was protecting someone with his misinformation in the referral.  Whatever his reasons, I believe his misinformation came from a place of love and protection for someone, but that someone is unclear.

And so, Tirunesh had to wait for all of that confusion to be worked out to be placed in a forever home.   

I see know that Tirunesh was a part of the journey to bring Tessa home.  If we hadn't had Tirunesh's referral and we would not have been available to recieve Tessa's referral 2 months later.   I believe the same for Tirunesh's placement in her forever family as well.  She will never know we were apart of her journey, but I know it and pray it worked out beautifully.

As we traveled to Ethiopia 6 months after the heart break I was thinking about Tirunesh and I wondered.    I wondered... if she was at the same care center as Tessa?   Had her relinquishment been finalized so she was able to be adopted?   Had she been referred to her forever family?  Will I recognize her if she is there?   Would I see her?  

When we were at the care center is Addis Ababa I kept my heart open and prayed that I would see Tirunesh and recognize her.   

That prayer was answered.   

On day 2 at the care center I was alone walking up the stairs as I looked into a room full of toddlers happily playing.  I quickly scanned knowing that by then she would have changed dramatically but that Tirunesh would be about that age.  I watched for a moment and had hope.... and then I spotted her.  

There she was!  

She looked right at me and smiled and I knew.  I looked at a nanny and said in a questioning manner, "Tirunesh?" and she nodded yes.   I squatted down, smiled and she came to me.  She came to me and my heart filled with the same love and joy and hope that I felt when we received her referral.   As I held and hugged her for a moment I wanted her to feel that love.  As I  looked in those eyes I saw what felt like some kind of "knowing", or at least that is how it felt.  Perhaps God gave me that feeling to ease the pain of having to put her down and let go forever.

I had studied her referral photo so many times that I would have recognized those beautiful almond shaped eyes anywhere and believe I would still today.   Everything else about Tirunesh had changed.  She was not a frail little one any longer....she was robust, healthy and thriving.  She didn't have the look or face of a sad, confused and deprived infant any longer.  In those eyes I saw that she simply looked healthy, happy. and hopeful.

As I type this I wonder who is looking in those eyes now?  Has she has been home with her forever family for months?  With all the uphevel in Ethiopian adoptions recently I wonder....and am concerned and I want to know if she is o.k. and home with her forever family.  I want to trust that she is and that she has been home for months, perhaps longer.   On this day, 2 years away from the heart-break, my heart is aching with the unknown as I look in those eyes in the referral photo again.  I am trying to accept the unknown and trust this whole journey.  But I know today I will be looking for a sign, for comfort, for the hope...perhaps in those eyes of my sweet girl.

Thank you for visiting the fiddlehead report!