Wednesday, July 30, 2008

bringing them home

I've had people ask me in the past how they might help orphaned children, if they themselves are not adopting. There are lots of ways, but one way is by supporting a family who is currently adopting.

I'm participating in a walk-a-thon on Saturday for a sweet, sweet friend who will be bringing home two children from Ethiopia later this summer. The costs of international adoption can be high, just like giving birth to a biological child is high--but without health insurance.

If any of you would like to donate and help bring these precious kids home, please email me for more information!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mile High Music Festival

So I survived the big weekend! It was seriously HOT. Really, really HOT. I spent from about 9:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday at the festival, minus a few hours on Sunday when I came home. There were lots and lots of people there, 40,000 on Saturday and about 60,000 or so on Sunday.

We handed out a bunch of brochures, sold some tshirts and signed up a couple of sponsors, and had several people sign up to be part of an email list. People were of course at the festival to have fun, hear music and to party, so all things considered, we did okay. Our booth itself wasn't much to look at--I was sharing it with another nonprofit who wanted their sign to hang, so mine had to be taped onto the table and all I had was masking tape (it was SO WINDY.) I'd wanted to use my Ethiopian tablecloth on the table, but couldn't find it, yet realized early on that I was glad I stuck with the ghetto wood--because people were continuously spilling beer on the table.

And as a fantastic bonus (hey, I'm only human!), Kevin and I got see Tom Petty and Dave Matthews! They were the headliners of the festival, so we saw Tom on Saturday night with my brother in law and sister in law, and the Dave Matthews Band Sunday night. Yes, all four of our kids were at the concerts until 11:30 p.m. Tom Petty is one of my all-time fave's, he is such a cool old rocker. (It really made me miss my friend Sara, fellow Tom Petty enthusiast and who I went to my last Tom concert with.) Dave Matthews was great, but they played a lot of new music that I didn't know, and they DIDN'T play "Crash", what's with that?! We also saw a little of John Mayer.
Biniam nice and cozy during DMB
Anna kept asking, "Is the concert over yet?"Yosef was a little sleepyGetting creative about how to get all our stuff, and kids, back to the car. He was happy to help!Me and my girl at DMB. Exhausted.

Just an aside--I totally missed my kids all weekend, it was horrible! I'd get up with them in the morning, get them ready for the day, and then I'd leave and we'd all hook back up at night at the festival, but I was so homesick for them during the day! I am SO GLAD to be an at-home mom, I cannot even tell you! Short of my husband being abducted by aliens, an at-home mom I will remain. For sure. Definitely. Not that working outside my home has EVER been on the table (for either Kevin or I), but it just reinforced that even if it means that someday we have to move to Arkansas and live in a single-wide trailer--seriously--I will be home taking care of my little ones!!! (Don't worry, I'd definitely get some pink flamingos to put outside the trailer to spruce it up.)

So that's the story. People were interested in the Hope Packets I made so I think that AHOPE probably does have potential to gain sponsors at events. Not sure what our next one will be, but I'm hoping to get some stuff together so churches and individuals can hold their own sponsorship drives.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bad blogger alert

Yes, I am a terrible, no good, very bad blogwoman! I haven't posted in over a week and I don't even have a reason, I just haven't felt like it! (Nothing special about the pictures in this post FYI, it's just us before dinner on my birthday, and me and Yosef on Saturday afternoon. You can kinda see my new 'do in them. Also they are proof that we ARE alive and well, even though I never seem to blog anymore!)

Nothing too exciting happened this week, oh who am I kidding, I read books 2 and 3 in the Twilight Saga (hurry up book 4!!!!) Which deserves a post all its' own. Thursday night I ventured out to a church ladies sewing night. I know, pick your jaw up off the floor, I ACTUALLY COMPLETED A SEWING PROJECT! Martha Stewart (and Emilie Barnes) would be so very proud. I made a pillow, which I'd intended to use as a throw pillow for my couch, but it turned out bigger than I'd envisioned, so it might go on my bed instead. Who cares, I completed something, and it's actually not grotesque! :) I'll do a post about it with pictures soon.

I've also started on my NEXT two projects: refinishing my childhood bed for Anna (and by refinishing I mean spraypainting, which totally makes me feel excited, like I'm doing graffitti!) and making her duvet cover. I found some fun sheets at WalMart that I will use to make the duvet, and I can't wait to make some little throw pillows to match it.

The sheets look vaguely familiar and I THINK my friend Jennifer might have this same bedding for her girls? Not positive. It's a whole coordinating bedding set but I wasn't a huge fan of the comforter for my little ones, so a homemade duvet it will be. I haven't done much yet on it, just cut off part of the top because it had stripes on it that I didn't like. They say imitation is the best flattery, so hopefully if it IS the same bedding, Jennifer will forgive me! I've searched far and wide for sheets I liked to make a duvet, and quite literally these are the only ones I've found that I wanted. I think I'm getting picky in my old age. :) But all sheets seemed to either be solid, polka dots, or too adult!

On the bed itself, all I've done so far is paint two of the bedknobs (which used to be brass, and now they are a fun turqouise-ish blue. The main part of the bed will be white.)

With carpet going in in a few weeks, I gotta get busy!

I'll do a post about the music festival later. It went okay--not great, but okay. We didn't lose money, but we didn't make a ton either. I promise I'll post about it soon though! Yikes, I guess I have quite a backlog of blogposts to do!

Friday, July 18, 2008


My big project that I've been working on is finally good to go! Here are the details:

I am involved with a nonprofit organization called AHOPE for Children. They run an orphanage in Ethiopia for HIV-positive orphans, as well as a community program that assists HIV-positive children and enables them to remain in their families.

This weekend I'm launching a new sponsorship program for AHOPE (the backbone of AHOPE's funding comes from people like you and me who commit to sponsoring an HIV-positive orphan for $30 per month). People can sign up to be a Hope Partner, and they'll receive a packet that contains a child's name, photo, and bio, along with a letter about AHOPE and a brochure.

I'm debuting this program at the Mile High Music Festival here in Denver tomorrow and Sunday. AHOPE will have a booth where we'll be displaying our brand new banner, we'll have our Hope Packets, and our fabulous AHOPE tshirts can be purchased for a donation. Ultimately I'm hoping to get the word out about AHOPE and hopefully snag some sponsors!

The music festival is being headlined by Tom Petty and the Dave Matthews Band. There will be 40,000 people in attendance tomorrow, and 50,000 on Sunday.

So that's what I've been busy doing. If you've emailed me lately and I haven't written back, it's because I've been either working on this stuff, or making sure my kids don't get in the way of the people installing the hardwood floors in our house. Next week things should be back to normal! (Except for Monday, when they're working on the hardwoods again...Angela, are you busy???)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The "other man"

Yes people, for the past week there has been another man in my life. We email and chat on the phone late at night, and spend time together during the day. He's a great listener, solves my problems, and makes me feel so happy and free.

So who is this mystery man? Well, his name starts with a "C". And he works at Kinko's.

This guy seriously deserves a raise. I am completely computer-illiterate, I have no background in graphic design whatsoever, and all I know how to do on here is blog and read emails. In the midst of this project I've been working on for AHOPE, which I will soon reveal (oh, the suspense!), I have had to design some things, and let's face it, I hit a few snags. And "C", sweet "C", helped me fix all of them, spent time fixing my design and surprising me with something I thought wouldn't work out, helping fix something that had gone wrong on something ELSE, having my things done in record-time...and THEN he even gave me a 10% discount because I didn't have the non-profit certificate to avoid paying sales tax. Be still my heart!

Okay, that is all. Just wanted to tell you about my newfound friend and the good times we've had over at 1440 South Colorado Boulevard. Oh and just so you know, Kevin's totally cool with it--he likes how I come home happy from Kinko's!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Aw, shucks!

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes! (And to Kevin for the super sweet post! So thoughtful!) In honor of me being are 27 random thoughts.

1. I cannot believe I am 27, and in 3 years I'll be 30. I'm actually an adult, and that is scary.

2. I got my hair cut yesterday and it is pretty darn short. I THINK it's fun and cute, as opposed to masculine and not cute. It's very messy, which works great with my hair, which is also very messy.

3. Sometimes I still think I'd like to get a nose ring. Kevin claims he wouldn't like it, but I say he would. Just like he never wants me to cut my hair, but he always ends up liking it. Still can't decide if I could pull it off or not. You gotta be the right type of person, for sure.

4. Last night my drink of choice was the Georgia Peach. Yummy. Good thing they are so expensive, so that I only order one, because I feel like I could drink about five, they taste so good. But that would not be prudent. :)

5. We are so nearly out of diapers. Hope we make it to Costco tomorrow before we have to start using paper towels or something!

6. The weather is so hot here. Like swelteringly hot. The kind where you don't want to go out. This is a big adjustment after living in Santa Maria/Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo for so long. And where is the rain? Where are these supposed Colorado thunderstorms???

7. When I call Kinkos to ask questions, they are incredibly friendly and helpful. The one time I went into the store for assistance, they were totally rude. What gives?

8. I could so easily be a vegetarian. I'm not, but there are so many yummy foods that aren't meat. There was a week or so where due to various circumstances we ate a lot of it and it so grossed me out. SO ever since then I've been making things without it and yeah, I definitely think I could live without red meat for sure, and maybe other meat too.

9. Is there nothing quite like an ice-cold glass of A&W or Henry Weinhard's root beer?!

10. Today was a really tough day. I'm completely exhausted, we're having some hardwood floors put in so they were here ALL DAY working on them with a loud saw, and I'm quite busy with AHOPE things. I feel tired! And hormonal to boot.

11. So because of that, I'm cutting my 27 things short for now. Instead I'm going to go sit out on the front porch with Kevin and eat ice cream cones, just the two of us. Have a great night!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Brianna!

Today is the 9th birthday Brianna has had since I've known her. The 1st one we had just met a few months prior. This would be the last July 14th that my heart still belonged to me: by the 2nd, I was in "trouble deep." We'd been dating 9 months, I was ridiculously in love and mulling over proposal ideas. I would decide on one and carry it out about 2 months later. By the 3rd, we were newly married and enjoying the last of our magical "kick-back days" (between getting back from our honeymoon and me starting my job) in our box-filled Goleta apartment. By the 4th we had moved to Santa Maria and were living in a 1-bedroom apartment that just 22 days earlier we had learned we were sharing with a teeny tiny little girl. As of the 5th, Anna was 5 months and we were smitten with her. By the 6th, the smittenness had only deepened. By the 7th, two little men answering to the names Yosef and Biniam had added their playful and loving presences to our now "cup runneth over" lives. And by the 8th, the little Katie bug with the big, blue eyes had already let us know that there was a new sheriff in town. We were smitten all over again.

Today, the 9th, I sit here in our new home in Denver thinking back on the amazing near-decade that I have shared with Brianna. She's out getting her hair cut and when she gets back, the kids and I are taking her to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Another fun night for the Heldt fam.

I'm so thankful for my wife. And I figured every once in awhile a guy is allowed to shamelessly tell the world how great his girl is. And you are, Brianna. You are a wonderful wife and a terrific mother. A loving daughter and faithful follower of your Lord. You're beautiful and you're funny and you make me feel like I can accomplish anything.

And your kids love you too, babe. Here's what they said when I asked them what they love about you or why they love you.

Anna: I love her--about when she goes--takes me to the park, to picnics, to the tea parties, that's all!

Yosef: Because I love her so much!

Biniam: I like to say happy birthday...she makes me pancakes.

Kaitlyn: (grunt)

But if my translation is correct I think she said, "I love her because she is a terrific mommy. She is very loving and patient and she takes such good care of us."

I couldn't agree more. Brianna, thank you so much for sharing your birthdays and all your other days with me. I count it a tremendous privilege to be your husband and the father of your children. I can't wait to share the next 9 birthdays with you. I love you. Happy Birthday!

(Posted by Kevin)

Saturday, July 12, 2008


So we are holing ourselves up for most of this weekend to get our respective work done...Kevin is working on house stuff (drywalling, installing doors, patching the roof, building a stair), and I'm busy with AHOPE work. My goal is to have the major things done by the end of tomorrow. I'm pretty excited about all of it--can't wait to show you what I've been up to!

We do have some fun things planned however--this evening we're going to see a free movie outdoors at Washington Park here in Denver, and tomorrow night we're having dinner with friends.

But today we are working hard. :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

3 degrees of separation

Stumbled across this panel discussion today between Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne. I thought it was SO interesting and I loved getting to hear each of their insights. It's a little long but if you're interested, it's definitely worth watching!

Three Degrees of Separation

**Shane Claiborne (the one on the far right with the awesome dredlocks) is one of my all-time favorites--he wrote a book, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical that made such an impact on me. He has a new one out, Jesus for President, that I still need to read. AND I just found out that he was speaking in Denver Monday night and I missed it! Shoot!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Tuesday night our family headed down to the World Vision Experience AIDS Exhibit and to hear a wonderful presentation called "Are You Okay with This: A Conversation About AIDS." The discussion was EXCELLENT. We heard from two different World Vision representatives, a woman who has developed curriculum being used across Africa to educate about HIV and AIDS, and a local reverend who has been living with HIV for 20 years.

Even though I blog a lot about adoption and Africa, on a day to day basis I don't even really think about where my kids come from. I mean I KNOW they're from Ethiopia, and I know their story, but when we wake up in the morning they're just Yosef and Biniam, hungry for breakfast, full of energy, playing Snow White with Anna (they alternate between being the witch and the prince) and making Katie laugh.

The presentation opened with a video called "Are You Okay With This?" about the AIDS pandemic (I tried to find it on the internet to post here, but couldn't.) This is totally weird but I nearly burst into tears watching it...something just hit way too close to home and as it was talking about the orphans left in the wake of this horrible disease, I kept thinking, my sons, my SONS, are two of those! My kids are those very statistics! All I could think about was their birthmom, and their biological sister, and the heartbreak I remember reading about two and a half years ago when the FedEx truck showed up with their history. The video ended with the words "Are you okay with this?" and I seriously wanted to cry out, NO! I'M NOT! (Don't worry, I didn't! :) )

Then hearing the man speak about living with HIV, and his personal journey, had me tearing up too. The pain he experienced, friends he's lost to AIDS, it was all really sobering. What an amazing testimony he has!

The exhibit itself, which we walked through afterwards, was extremely powerful as well. We went through the story of a little Ugandan girl who was HIV positive. It's a true story, the exhibit was AMAZING, and super powerful. At the end you are supposed to pray, and leave a message on the prayer wall. I about lost it in the exhibit too! (What's wrong with me?!)

I walked away from that evening feeling...broken. Nothing I heard was shocking or particularly "new" to me--having sons from Ethiopia, and having been there, I feel like I deal with this information on a regular basis. But somehow yeah, I felt grieved, I think because I was reminded of the reality of where my kids come from, and where SO MANY still are. What a blessing also to see the passion the different speakers have about their jobs and what they do. There are people out there who care. A lot.

Not sure exactly what the "takeaways" were from the whole thing. I guess I felt humbled, and encouraged, and saddened, all at the same time. I guess I feel even more convicted about living a life of simplicity (probably a blogpost all its own), using the resources we have to help Africa, and about always remaining open to adoption. Yes I do feel we'll adopt again, although I couldn't tell you when. Not now, I am pretty confident of that, but sometime in the future. We think about siblings where at least one of them has HIV. This has been on our hearts for a long time. It is exciting to think about what God might have for us.

At any rate, seriously, if you live near Denver, or if it comes to a city near you, go see this exhibit! It'll only take up about 30 minutes of your time, and you can take your kids with you.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Guilty pleasures

LOVE to read, but I generally don't read a lot of fiction. My sister-in-law likes to joke that I only read books about making the world a better place. WELL, sometimes a girl's gotta branch out a little.

A very fabulous someone, who shall remain nameless (as I don't know if they want to be outed), has gotten me hooked on Stephenie Meyers' Twilight Saga. I started the first book on Sunday afternoon and I finished it by 10 am the next morning! I have a hold on the second book in the series at the library. And the movie is coming out in December. I will be seeing it.

Yes, it may be "young adult" fiction. (About high-schoolers.) Yes, it has vampires in it. (But they're nice ones!) Sure, my (somewhat-neglected) husband thinks I'm a loser. But sorry people, I gotta have my Bella and my Edward!

So don't judge (come on now, it's written by a Mormon woman and therefore free of alcohol, drugs and sensuality), and ya'll gotta tell me--who else is secretly and obsessively reading this series???? What has been some of your own "guilty pleasure reading"???

Monday, July 07, 2008

Will you come?

If you live in the Denver area, PLEASE consider coming to see this FREE remarkable exhibit, World Vision Experience: AIDS--Step into Africa.

Maybe the AIDS crisis, or what is happening in Africa, isn't even on your radar screen. Or maybe you've been meaning to learn more about it. Either way, I encourage you to go check this out! I haven't been yet but would like to, so maybe we can go together.

It's at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, and runs from Sunday, July 6th through Tuesday, July 15th. You can reserve your free tickets online (therefore avoiding a wait) by either visiting or

They also have a number of exciting related opportunities going on all week.
So yeah, please come. :)

Is your Ethiopian child from Layla House?

I'm wondering if anyone out there has a copy of the September 2005 Waiting Child video from AAI, that they might be willing to part with, or make a copy for us.

We loaned ours out and it was lost. It's the only early video we had of Yosef and Biniam and one of our only glimpses into their past, which I'd hoped to have for them. I am just devastated over this, so please email or leave a comment if you can help!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

First fancy haircut

A few weeks ago I took Anna to get her hair cut at a salon--for the first time. The kids had a ball coloring with chalk, watching a video, and Anna got to sit on a pink scooter during the cut. They each got a lollipop at the end.

I love her hair short, but I miss it long too.
As we were sitting in the fancy children's salon, I couldn't decide if I thought the salon was cute, or over-the-top for a child. For some reason it seemed kinda creepy to me and like it was trying to make kids into adults. (That's fine if you think that I overthink things. I'm sure that I do!)
Not to mention the cut cost nearly as much as I'LL pay for my OWN haircut. (Yes I refuse to pay more than about $25 for a haircut. I'll pass on the blow dry/style if I have to!) I'd hoped to spend $10 or less, but because I found out that Fantastic Sam's charges $15 for kids to get their hair cut (what a scam!), I assumed I wouldn't be able to find places that charged less. SO I went to this fancy schmancy kids salon.
Well, according to my subsequent Google research, some places DO charge less, and that is precisely where we'll be going next time. :) To me, the treat and excitement about going to a salon (especially for a kid!) is just in going at all--Anna doesn't HAVE to sit on a scooter to have her hair done. If I could, I would do it myself at home, like my mom used to cut mine.
Sorry if it seems like I'm being WAY overly philosophical about a child's hair. But these were my musings while I sat there. There are so many things we feel "entitled to" in our society of affluence. I think the art of being content is a tough one to master, especially being surrounded by so much stuff and so many opportunities. I want to give my kids a simple upbringing and an appreciation for simple things. Not to mention if we can live with less, we can give more.
ANYway, that is the story of Anna's haircut. It even passed her (long-hair-loving) daddy's approval. Now if I can find time to get MINE cut...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Disgruntled Tuesday parenting thoughts

Today was frustrating. Okay maybe not across the board--I was able to get a bunch of laundry washed, folded and put away. I read a little bit in a great book I recently started. I even read some great things in Psalms and Proverbs. And got a few emails written. of my kids is basically on my (frayed) nerves. Said individual's attitude, in particular, has been bugging me lately. Today this little person refused to stay in bed during naptime and just doesn't seem to "get it." They even had the nerve to say they DIDN'T get out of bed, when I'd just caught them moments before. (Remember I said they don't seem to get it???)

During times like these I start getting paranoid, begin questioning all my parenting techniques (like I have so many), and about a million other things. Does this child have a hard heart? Will they learn to obey God? Why does their attitude stink? (I never said I wasn't neurotic!)

Trusting the Lord is hard in general...and extra hard when it comes to my kids. At the end of the day, as much as I seek to know and understand my children, only God can truly know their hearts, and their dreams, and their past hurts, and the content of their souls. He has made me their mother and wants me to train them in the way that they should go, but ultimately, He knows.

Which is good, because clearly I do not.

(Also good is that in about two hours I'm meeting some girlfriends for dinner. And I may just go all out and have a drink too!)

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