Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Future Penpals at SOS Children's Villages!

(by Liz) For Ru's "Homecoming Day" we wanted to honor her birth country and find a way to give back; one that she could be involved with as she grows up. We were thrilled to find out that the SOS Children's villages program works in Ethiopia.  This group, which started in 1942 to address the orphan crisis in Europe after WWII & has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize 14 times, describes their mission this way:

SOS Children's Villages - USA

"We build families for children in need.
We help them shape their own futures.
We share in the development of their communities."

In Ethiopia they have villages in Addis, Awassa, Dire Dawa, Harrar, Bahir Dar & Gode. Here is a link to a page describing more specifically SOS' work in Ethiopia. > SOS in Ethiopia

What is really rewarding about their program is that you can sponsor an individual child in Ethiopia who will grow up in the care of their Village program. You can write, receive photos and letters and, if you're able to travel to Ethiopia, you can even arrange to meet them. What's more amazing is that when you sign up to sponsor a child, you can ask for a certain age or gender too; our little Habesha penpal is exactly 2 months younger than Ru - to the day! 

I hope that their friendship as they grow will help span the distance from Ru's home culture and shared orphan background. Already Ru talks about "her friend" and brings the photo to show her friends at daycare.

So, if you're looking for a way to stay engaged in Ethiopia and give your children a real live connection to their culture and background, look into sponsoring a child through SOS! Add your request for Ethiopia/gender & age to the "special requests" field in the "Additional Information" part of the form.

Want to Sponsor a Child in Ethiopia? Here's the link:
Sponsor a Child | SOS Children's Villages

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Inspiration Gondar

View the rest of the line at Zazzle
(By Liz) I've been meaning to designed a line of stationary inspired by the very stylized aesthetic of the religious mural paintings of Debre Birhan Selassie in Gondar. Finally, I've gotten it off the "to-do" list and into the "done" one!

>>See the new line here on Zazzle.

We were told at the National Museum of Ethiopa in Addis Ababa that the Ethiopian style emerged out of religious illuminated manuscripts that were influenced by early Italian clergy. Can you see it?
Also, we were told that if the characters depicted have two eyes they are good, while if they're shown in profile with just one eye, they're evil. Bet you'll be looking twice now too!

While researching photos I came across this blog for an adventurous couple the Goodboons who've caravanned across East Africa in a Scarlet Toyota...


Ethiopian Incense - Frankincense and/or Myrrh?

by Liz

The smells were such a profound part of our experience in Ethiopia; the burning eucalyptus, the burning trash piles, the burning incense, the roasting coffee, the berbere. I brought back some incense and some berbere. It was a good start but I wish I'd thought it through a bit more. 

For one, I had nothing to burn this resin incense in. I also had no charcoal. Now, I'm trying to put it all together with an exhaustive internet search taking up my precious few hours of baby nap time. The goal - to make a presentation on Ethiopia to a local group here in town. I have music, I have berbere, I have art and crafts and books... the incense is a bit harder task.

From what I've found (and I may be wrong)... Frankincense is the primary incense used. Here is what one source said:

click herefor Ethiopian Frankincense @ the Hermitage

  • Frankincense is a sap or a gum of a tree and plays a big part in Ethiopian life. It is burned to clean the spirit in one’s house and to have tranquility and calmness. It is often used during meditation and prayer. 
  • Frankincense can also be used as a breath freshener. Chewing Frankincense cleans one’s teeth and gums.
  • It is said that Frankincense was offered to Jesus Christ when he was born since the stable in which he was born was unclean. 
  • Ethiopian’s also use Frankincense during cold and flu season. It is often burned to relieve cold and flu symptoms such as runny noises.

It requires charcoal and some sort of charcoal resistant burner. I remember having the opportunity to buy ceramic ones in Addis. Stupidly I did not. Its not an easy task finding either an attractive one or an Ethiopian one now that I'm back in the States. Add that to my wishlist with the Ethiopian Nativity set. I guess I'll just have to go back!

There are lots of places to buy incense; many of them cater to stoners and witches... I was looking for something a bit more authentic... so it came down between the Absynian Market which didn't look like it had been updated recently and the Greek Orthodox Holycross Hermitage of West Virginia. The father responded very promptly to my web inquiry so... the monks win.

Its so authentic it makes me feel just a little... unorthdox! Well, wouldn't be the first time!

I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Of Black Babes & Barbies

by Liz
I've always been a fan of Barbies. That shade of vibrant pink still hits an instinctual pang of joy. Why did I love them? I now know it was the early yearnings of my inner interior designer. I didn't like baby dolls much and I didn't do what I now know is called "role playing" but I did build Barbie houses. Houses, and apartments, mansions, garages, tree forts, cabins, swimming pools, islands, boats - you name it - anything that I could imagine decorating or dressing.

Looking at Barbie now with her impossible figure lending credence to a life of Barbie botox & boob jobs, I'm caught between a mother's protective instincts and a deep sentimentality for my own Barbie time. Was she a good influence in my formative years or bad?  With one Better Homes and Gardens feature under my belt (see the May 2010 issue - last page!) and a career in graphic design, I'd have to say she was an early inspiration.

So, I've decided to bestow one upon my little girl and carry on the pink banner to another generation.

Next wrinkle; my daughter is black. And I'd like her Barbie to reflect her color, beauty and natural hair. So I set out upon a quest that has rankled millions of moms before me as I discover just how hard it is to find diversity in our culture; Barbie is no exception. Although each store has one or two pink boxes labeled "African-American Barbie," a quick glance shows most of them to be the same old Barbie in a different dye lot; long straight hair and all.

I've found two good exceptions, and the search wasn't easy. I wonder if Chris Rock has the energy to set upon the Barbie industry next?

Barbie Basics #004 (above to the left, found on is a long-legged gal ready for the catwalk with a tight short 'fro. And the Barbie South Africa (to the right, found on is truly regal with bronze lips no less!.

If only they had bigger hair!

Anyone else out there had better luck? Please let me know!

By the way... I bought the South African one. She loves it and named her "Tia." The "Pink Afflication" has begun in House of Robertson.

Below are some links to the Barbies mentioned above and new ones too as I come upon them. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wonderful wonder & Easter Outfits

by Liz

These are the things that make memories...

...hunting Easter eggs with the "quasi-cousins,"
...rolling down the hill and getting grass stains on the new yellow leggings,
...getting balloons in church cream sundaes at the kids table
...chocolate eggs
...coins in the basket
...bubble wands
...trying out the scooter with "aunt Bethany,"
... jelly beans.

As she'd say; "want more."

And the dress, delightful... Mama wants more (hint: Target Genuine Kids clothes can help!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Skin Saviour

by Liz

Went to Florida with my Habesha babe. Logged some pool and sun time (yes even in these chilly days) and got some dry dry baby skin.

Found Cetaphil in my Momma's cabinet. Slathered down the babe and Wow! I'm a big convert. Her skin has never looked so great. It doesn't smell as delicious as my previous Sally Beauty Coconut Oil lotion (in fact it doesn't smell at all)... but she just glows! Thought I'd share the secret. Oh, and the cheapskate in me also found out that the Walgreens store brand works wonderfully too! Shine on Sisters!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The cute, the clever and the downright creepy

by Liz

A little surfing tonight on YouTube turned up some cute Ethiopian kids songs and this Ethiopian kid's animated character which is just creepy! It looks a little like the Ethiopian doll I bought in Addis... just a little flabbier...

1) the cute children's song
2) the classic Teddy Afro
3) the creepy Senzero show

Ethiopia & adoption on my mind... again

by Liz

Oops, I did it again.... I read Melissa Faye Greene's "There's no me without you."

It started out innocently enough to fulfill my book club's book review obligation. A quick re-read accompanied with photos from our trip to adopt little Ru in July 2008. This will be a breeze. Right?

Well, except that its so heart-wrenching, compelling and packed with facts and beautiful description that I couldn't pay it the injustice of a breeze-through.

I hadn't read the book since way before we'd submitted our dossier to adopt from Ethiopia in 2007. Now, as I am (still) wrestling with writing her Lifebook, I was struck with the realization that, for our little girl, this is the closest thing I have to explaining how she ended up here in rural Ohio with us.

As I'm sorting this all out, our social work agency, Catholic Social Services of Miami Valley asked me to participate in their Adoption Fair as a representative adoptive parent. Sitting in that room surrounded by adoption agency tables... it was almost too much to bear and I'm pondering the leap again.

That book should come with a warning label... "those who read this book may just end up pushed off the adoption ledge!" Yes, I'm teetering...

Latest Designs

by Liz

I'm tickled with these latest designs I just posted on zazzle.

They're based off a pair of statues we bought in Ethiopia. The word "Konjono" means beautiful. I'm thinking of making some parents to go along with these little kiddies... but for now I rest! Enjoy.