fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Saturday, December 31, 2011

looking back on 2011

As I think back on 2011 it was a wonderful year in the life of the Rikkers

some of my favorite photos from 2011....  its a small glimpse and they are
no particular order (because that would mean that I would need to be more organized!)

Hubby turned 40.

 But he stills got it!

Jack is getting to be such a big boy....he is 5 and loves his buddies
Sometimes they end up in a tree and other times in the muddy stream...

My sister got married.....and had her 2nd baby in 11 months.  crazy girl...I love her.

 We attempted a family picture at her reception....nice try

 Halloween in the neighborhood....riding the trailer in the country trick or treating with friends
 Our crew of characters...

A trip to Mexico as a family....relaxing in the hammock with my sweet girl.

Our oldest, Judson, is 10.
Yep, 10.  I can hardly believe it.  
He is growing and changing to fast for my liking and I have to accept that.
I love him so....

Jack on 2 wheels this summer (age 4)
He was so proud....and it brought tears to my eyes!

 Jack is growing so fast...he is spunky and sweet.
One of his favorite things is tickle time.
Here I am tickling in bed (after I was recovering from back surgery)

Bob the bulldog continues to love, and snuggle and sometimes ends up with frozen drool.

Its the last year we swam in the pool, it became a ramp and then went away forever.

 Drew has an incredible love of life.  He is a happy guy and is usually smiling.  
It has been a great year of growth for Drew in so many ways.

 Nana's birthday.....I love this picture of my Mom
She is now retired and we get to see her more.  yeh!

 we were with Pops on Father's Day...I love this picture of him too.

Our sweet girl, Tessa, 
She has grown so much this year.
And "we" have grown up so much this year.
This was the year I really felt our bond was complete.

Tessa is very much to say.  She loves to sing and dance....and her favorite thing, other than Daddy, is Yo Gabba Gabba.
she is dramatic....she is 2 (need I say more?)

There were sad good-byes....
to a loving cat name "Felix"

And recently, to our beloved Opa (Andy's grandfather)

 We had a wonderful Christmas....and fun making our holiday card.

There is alot to say "chin chin" to!

Cheers to 2011 and the new year to come!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I have a thing for Almond Spritz Cookies.   
I mean it is basically butter, flour, sugar and a bunch of almond (we always double or triple the almond).
There is also the fact that my Mom and I have made these together many, many times while I was growing up.
So, to me that smell of almond smells of love.

First, get your hands on a cookie press...this is a vintage one with a twist press and disk for different shapes.  I bet there are more updated cookie presses, but I am partial to the beautiful vintage kind.

Here is Mom stirring up trouble....

Then clean up and smell the almond extract.....ahhh

 Mix it all up.

 Choose the shape you want your spritz.  We started with flowers and then went to wreaths later.
Get the cookie dough in your cookie press.

Sprinkle on colored sugars or cinnamon imperials...

And of course, don't let any dough go to waste!
I still love licking the beaters.

These did not last long...

Here is the recipe (from :


1 c. soft butter
2/3 c. sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
2 1/2 c. flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix butter, sugar, egg yolks and flavorings thoroughly. Work in flour. Press through cookie press into desired shapes onto ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate. Bake 7 to 10 minutes. About 6 dozen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

snow wonder

This is the first real snow of the is magical.

Tessa has already snuck out the door to touch the snow at least 4 times and it is only 8:15 a.m.!   

We will be getting out there to play today, but couldn't resist sharing these photos of our sweet girl in wonder of the snow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas moment

I love Christmas....and all the moments that come with them.
Getting the tree up...the stockings too.
eatting chocolate from the advent calendar.
Lighting our four pine trees outside and seeing them glow

Of all the holiday traditions in our house my favorite has to be the Christmas pyramid... 
which was the best purchase I made while living abroad.
It has its own magic as the angels twirl and the bells chime.  love it.
And love this "moment" from Tessa's first Christmas with us last year.

This year we made it to Brunch with Santa.   Three of the four kiddos were there.  It was the first year Judson chose basketball over Brunch with Santa.  I get it, but I missed him being there for this tradition.   It is a wonderful event and of course the main event is giving your wish list to Santa.  All the kids were very excited to do so.  I had my camera ready as I knew I might catch a "moment".

2 years ago I caught this moment when Jack was 2 years old and met Santa for the first time.   
Oh, the trauma.   .....but it just makes me laughout loud still!!

So, I was ready for any possible moment this year. 
With Tessa being really excited about meeting Santa and showing no signs of worry I really didn't think she would have the same kind of moment Jack did. 
That is until Daddy put her on that strange man's lap.   That is not o.k. and Tessa told the world, just as a 2 year old will do.   

And yes, it was hilarious again.   I was (not so secretly) happy to have 
another classic Christmas "moment".
It still makes me giggle....what is wrong with me?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

holiday card for you....

There are sooo many people in out lives that I want to connect with during the holidays.    This year I wanted to give people a little something to have a jolly chuckle about.   (Maybe I needed that for myself too!)

For all of you in our lives through this blog world, through the internet....thank you for touching my life. For all of my friends and family that keep up on our crazy lives here....I love you.  Thank you for your presence in our lives.
And so I give to you the Rikkers Holiday card 2011!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours.....
"Oh, what we will do for a silent night"

All Rikkers kids merrily consented to being tied in Christmas lights
 and silenced with apples in their mouths to give Mommy and Daddy a "Silent Night".
It was nice while it lasted!

Happy Holidays!  May you be bit by the spirit of the holidays.....Love, the Rikkers

The Paper Mama

Friday, December 2, 2011

Searching with Ethiostork

It was over 2 years ago that we recieved Tessa's referral and the photo above of our sweet girl.   I knew she was meant to be our child.   On that day I read her referral and I knew in my mind that she would have many questions for us one day about what I was reading.  The fact was that there were so many empty spaces and unknowns in her referral.  Those unknowns made me feel a deep sadness, one a mother imagine's for her child.  I knew I wouldn't be able to answer those questions.   I might be able to answer a couple of those questions imagining the context of her birth in Ethiopia at that time in history.   We would just have to imagine.

Until a couple months ago I didn't even realize it was even possible to search for our daughter's birth family in Ethiopia.   All we knew was she has been "left to be found", she didn't have any sort of known birth history.   It was through this big blog world, that I saw another adoptive family had done a birth parent search with "Ethiostork".   I checked out Ethiostork's blog  and I couldn't get the thought of a search out of my mind.  Knowing that we could at least try.....we might find out more about her history and her birth family.    

There is also the realization that 2 years have passed.   That is 2 years from the pain of it.   But that also means 2 years where information could be fading or lost.   I realized I didn't want any more time to pass.  That NOW was the time to search.

I think it might be a common feeling as an adoptive parent, but I felt a bit vulnerable in this process.  I didn't want someone to take advantage of us and our desire to connect to our daughter's history.   I saw Ethiostork's website and all the resources that they provide for Ethiopian adoptive families.  Conducting a birth parent search is just one aspect of their service to adoptive families.   After researching, conversations about the process with Duni, founder of Ethiostork, making sure it was all legitimate, talking with other families (via email) and then doing some soul searching, I new the time was right for us to do a birth parent search for our daughter and took the leap.

It was a bit of a leap of faith.  But I trusted that Ethiostork would represent us well, and do their best to find out any information possible.  While I never thought this process would ever be possible, I had fantasies that I could one day search for her birth parent....but we know full well that "I" couldn't just waltz into an Ethiopian village and start asking very personal and sensitive questions.  It takes the right Ethiopian person, who knows the culture, the language, the systems to do that investigating and to ask those really tough questions.

I knew that in this process that the information we had could lead to a dead end.  Of course, it would be impossible for Ethiostork to guarantee that a birth parent would be found, but they did say they have had good successes.    So, this process was about trust and hope....that if we sent an Ethiostork investigator out into our daughter's village that he/she would be able to uncover some information that would lead to a birth parent or relative.  If there was a dead end in the process more than anything I wanted to be able to tell Tessa that we tried.

Of course, each person's birth parent search is bound to be very different. There may be painful realities.  I can tell you in our case it just took the right person to ask the questions to get to the truth.  The truth that was right there below the surface.   It didn't take long at all to find out the treasured information about my daughter's birth history and first family.    

I know now that things in Ethiopia aren't always as they first appear.  Sadly, people are so often in desperate situations and are forced to create stories to bring children into care when they can't care for them.  It is a fact....a very sad fact.    It is also a fact that Ethiostork helped us uncover the truth.  They have given our daughter the answers.  She will know names, she will know context and will even know the treasured face of her first mother because Ethiostork created a DVD of their interview.   It is an incredible gift.  I am so grateful I listened to my instinct, trusted and took the leap to search for our daughter's first family with Ethiostork.

This is our daughter today.....
today she will point to her shirt and say "Africa".  I ask her, "Where were you born?" and she says "Oo-pia".   Some day she will know even more and will have answers.  Having her story she will be able to have a better understanding of her past.  Her story is apart of our family today and for future generations, and we are so grateful to know it.

If you are reading this and would like to talk more about our journey with Ethiostork and our birth family search in Ethiopia, please email me at
take care.

Thank you for visiting the fiddlehead report!