February 28, 2013

The Braid

"One of the Brown girls had her hair in a heart braid at class on Friday," she says with an accusing smirk.

I'm up to my elbows in coconut oil and hair.  It's washing day and we have already had an issue.  I washed and began drying using the hair dryer.  Which caused pouting and tears from her, anger and frustration from me.  All because she wanted me to use the flat iron to straighten her hair.  Her wet hair...with a flat iron.  She couldn't see that her hair was being straightened with the brush and hair dryer.  So she pouted and shrugged and pulled against the brush.


I reacted.  I turned her to face the mirror and her glare softened.  She apologized and I continued brushing.  Letting my hidden anger out with a sigh.

She barbs me with her comment just as I finish drying her hair.  It's glowing and soft, perfect for braiding. I tell her as much, then she follows with her comment.  Supposed to be an offhanded remark, but I read into it.  I grunt.

Yeah, I grunted.

Because, I just spent an hour on your hair and now, I think, you are going to try to make me feel bad.  She doesn't disappoint me, as she follows up her comment with, "Heart braids are probably too hard for you.  It would be impossible for me to have one."

Oh, here we go, try to manipulate me! Are you daring me to braid your hair into a heart?

Funny.  Bonding over hair.  It always starts with contention.  As I work the coconut oil into her hair, our hearts soften too.  This heart braid, she thinks I can't do it.  And I accept her challenge, just to prove my worthiness.  I always feel this way around our youngest daughter.  A complicated relationship that makes both of us so insecure.  She puts me in a place in order to prove myself capable of raising her.

I. Am. The. Adult.  Said with a foot stomp.


We talk about this heart braid for a minute and agree that it's worth a try.  She cranes her neck and I braid as quickly as I can.  The braid begins to take shape and she chatters happily as I listen.  When it's nearly done, I show her my handiwork and she's delighted.  I'm delighted.  We share a victory.  So much more than just a braid. 

Dear me, what will we do when she begins to do her own hair?  Or the salon? She'll fall in love with another woman!

February 22, 2013


The stream running along the Kind Hearts property is infamous around our house.  My husband, being the marine scientist turned Coast Guard marine safety guy, was mortified to hear that a tannery and alcohol factory were dumping into a water source.  My family gave a whole hearted 'tsk, tsk' the first year I came home with pictures of the swampy, murky, foul water.  Last year the water project was well underway and we were relieved to see the children receive clean water.

That was expected.  Money was raised, plans were made, well was drilled, and water was provided.  It wasn't as easy as it sounds, but expected nonetheless.

So, this year as we strolled down to see the pump on the property, I was surprised to hear that we were going to see the new water point provided just off site for the village.  I vaguely remembered hearing that they would be able to provide water, as a ministry, to the surrounding village, but it was forgotten in all of the other excitement.

We held our breath as we scrambled over the stream-of-death and climbed up the small ravine to a dirt road.  As we stepped out of the eucalyptus trees, we were greeted by a small crowd of villagers.  They were waiting.  For us.


I feel confused often during our time in Ethiopia.  Language, culture, life...it's confusing sometimes.

This group knew we were taking this tour and got together to thank us.  Complete with a coffee ceremony and speech.  An unforgettable moment and completely unexpected. 

It's the ripple that everyone talks about.  Make a change somewhere and it has far reaching effects.  We raised money to get clean water for the kids.  Since the water was there, clean water was provided for the village.  The village women were walking miles each day with jugs to get clean water from the nearest water point.  Usually, if a child was in the family, the chore would fall to them.  A chore that would require most of the day, walking miles to the water point, then lugging a jug full of gallons of water back home.  Imagine the freedom and delight when this water point began functioning!  Their long line of jugs waiting to be filled was beautiful. 

So my big take away from this trip?  I love, love, love the children.  I adore visiting friends at the carepoints and delight in spending hours with the Hopechest staff.  Those are the reasons I love going on the trip.  I expect those things.  But seeing a group of women whose lives have been radically changed because of the work at the carepoint?  Totally unexpected.

A beautiful ripple.

February 18, 2013

Kind Hearts School

This is my third attempt to share this wonderful news.  Instead of being eloquent, I'm just going to blurt it out:  The fundraising goals have been met and exceeded! Plans are being finalized and soon there will be new school buildings on the property at Kind Hearts.

In November, we toured the property.  We have taken this tour each year.  It offers new visitors a chance to see all of the rooms and land that make up the Kind Hearts school.  It also gives those of us who have visited before the opportunity to see changes that have been made.  We did the usual touring, but I was poking around thinking of everyone back at home.  I really wanted to show you the lack of desks in each of the brightly painted classrooms.  I wanted you to see the little plastic chairs that are a hot commodity as children squeeze around the scant tables in the existing classrooms.  I wanted you to see the dark storage room turned classroom that has allowed dozens of children to attend class without waiting for the new buildings to be completed.  As I poked my head into this storage room, I pulled the door off of its hinges, and had to get help from a friend to get it propped back up.  These kids really need new classrooms!

My purpose on this tour was to share it with you.  

Now, we got the news that the fundraising is complete.  There is enough for the buildings and for new desks! This is a project that will make a difference in the lives of the children at the care point AND the children who have yet to be enrolled.  I took these pictures during our hand print project time.  Crowded rooms, which are overcrowded because we have the kids in larger than normal groups, mean that some kids just get comfy on the floor.  The existing classrooms are bright and cheerful.  Plans are to duplicate the existing building, adding four new rooms!
Karen has children who are waiting for sponsors.  If you think you would be interested in investing in the future of a child, contact her.  Seeing their changed lives is worth far more than $34 a month.  Your sponsorship provides more than just an education.  It gives each child hope.

February 1, 2013

Elijah's Party

If you've been around for a while you know that five times a year I lose my mind.  Five birthday bashes that have to blow my children away.  It puts me into a frenzy.  First figuring out what to do, then how to do it within reasonable limits (ie. no pony rides in the backyard and NO, I'm not hiring entertainment).

This year, we had no plan for Elijah.  Poor guy, he suffers since his birthday is just a week after Christmas.   We barely recover from the holidays before we remember that his birthday is...well, tomorrow.  The two big boys got a CSI science set from my parents for Christmas.  It got me thinking about parties and science.  Two words that shouldn't be used together in a sentence, but I am a nerdy science lover.  We chatted it up a bit and decided to investigate CSI parties.  Unfortunately, I kept finding non-murder mystery parties for kids.  Those sounded uber cool to me--see previous nerdy remark as explanation.  That literary, character based fodder falls into Everett's realm.  Elijah would be frozen in terror if we gave him a script and told him to 'act like this character' with a group of friends.  Probably not a good idea for his birthday party.

I happened upon this little gem.  A download for $19.  Most of the work done, but still requiring hours of detail planning.  I loved that the kids were working things out to solve the crime.  I was nervous about the gruesome factor. I took it a little farther by sending id badges along with invitations.  We made up funny names like "Rob Bersnatcher" and "Bea A. Heerow".  I did speak to every mom before the party, explaining that my husband was going to be 'dead' and they would investigate his murder.  They had six different stations to visit trying to decipher hidden messages, match DNA evidence, footprints, and fingerprints.  They had a blast, competing on teams of detectives trying to be the ones to solve the crime and win the prize.

My mom and her team working on morgue information.  Too bad they discovered that she was actually the murderer!

I'm naturally worried and overly sensitive to exposing kids to things that are scary.  This party put me on edge.  I didn't have anything to worry about but my own child!  Josiah took one look at Seth (whom I had "bludgeoned" as he was at an art easel in the basement) and touched his head, then pointed at him and said, "Is he, the blood, is he..."  I guess the red paint and fake wound were a little much for him to see on his own father.  He did refuse to visit the 'morgue' and check out the morgue photos (I had to bludgeon Seth the night before and take morgue shots for the party).  That said, view the next photo with caution.

Notice his hand covering his mouth, he knew he would smile or laugh as the kids chatted about the crime scene.