Friday, February 27, 2009

Colorado is a strange, strange place

Every day I read the Denver Post online. It seems at least every week or so there's some sort of political controversy around here...usually some Republican senator from Colorado Springs that's popped off with an insensitive or ridiculous comment during debate.

This state fascinates me...we have Boulder, which as we all know, is not particularly conservative :), and then we have Colorado Springs, the mecca for all things right-wing and military and James Dobson-y. Denver's maybe in the middle but it seems more "left"ish. In fact the one time we were IN Colorado Springs, we were interrogated because we said we were from Denver--gasp--did we know any Republicans they wanted to know. Come to think of it not really. :) (Okay we know MAYbe a couple. I refrained from mentioning that part of our reasoning for choosing Denver over Colorado Springs was the political culture. Not because we don't like Republicans but I've found there are benefits to living in a more diverse "live and let live" type of place.)

Anyway it's all quite amusing and this week the Denver Post did not fail to disappoint. Some (Republican) senator from Colorado Springs said something really, really dumb about HIV in a discussion about whether or not pregnant women should be required to be tested for it. I've always been a registered Republican (though now I'm "Decline to State") and I don't remember the legislators in California continually popping off with controversial statements like that. I even worked for one. (Though he was extremely moderate in his views, in addition to being Hispanic, so I don't suppose he WOULD be saying ignorant things about minorities etc. which I have heard said here.)

Well that's all. Just wanted to say that Colorado is a little strange in this way. If nothing else it is quite entertaining!

EDIT: I just read in full what the man's statements were and I'm upgrading them from "dumb" to "heinous" and "evil."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent etc.

Last night marked my very first Ash Wednesday service--I've never gone to a church that observed it, but now I do, so we went.

My freshman year of college I remember for the LIFE of me I could NOT figure out why everyone was walking around one day with dirt on their was Ash Wednesday and apparently you attend church and have ash put on your face. I'd had no idea! (I was and remain really uninformed on the historicity of the Christian faith. Which is a shame, considering I've been a Christian my whole life.)

Anyway I LOVED going last night--the music and scripture and message were so great and really set the tone for some good contemplation and reflection.

Thus begins the season of Lent and I still am undecided on what to give up. I'd like to do something, but not sure what. What are you doing???

On a side-note, did you know that Fat Tuesday is also National Pancake Day? Because apparently back in the day people were wanting to use up all their dairy products etc. before the start of Lent, so they'd make pancakes. We hit up IHOP Tuesday night because they were giving out FREE pancakes with the opportunity to donate to the Shriners for children's surgery. Not a bad deal! The kids had a blast, and I didn't have to prepare dinner. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My bad attitude towards reunions

I've been getting emails and info lately about my upcoming 10-year high school reunion. If I still lived in California maybe I'd go, but living so far away I doubt I will. I'm still in touch with my closest friends from high school and honestly if I did go it would probably be to see what became of people--and to laugh at them (which, let's face it, isn't very nice. I'm kidding. Mostly.)

Looking back I never really had any school pride...I went to some football games, but I think that was just to make fun of the marching band (and have an excuse to go to Denny's and eat ice cream afterwards.) I was really involved in some extracurricular stuff but I wouldn't say I had any school spirit per se. And by the time I graduated I was ready to be DONE with Atascadero High School. I had a great time, but it was because of my friends (most of whom I'm still in contact with and still see), and some of the best times were actually spent skipping OUT on school to go get frozen yogurt or just go home early. (I really did get good grades though. AND I was a "Top 30 Senior." It CAN be done! Oh it feels good to work the system...)

Kevin's high school didn't even have a reunion (he wouldn't have gone anyway). I guess I'm one of those weird people that doesn't really care...this idea about going back and trying to impress people--or having to pretend to BE impressed--or trying to recreate the "good ol' days"--is just too much. (I KNOW that's why there's so much alcohol consumed at these events!) Partying with random people you went to school with ten years ago but haven't talked to since and never partied with to begin with...yeah, not me. Awkward. (Can you tell I'm an introvert??!!!)

Again, if I still lived in California, 45 minutes from where I went to high school, I'd totally go. And I'd make my best friend and her husband go. We'd probably sit at the table and laugh a lot. It'd be worth it for sure. But sadly, I'm not sure it justifies the plane ticket, and I'm also not sure I could convince my friends to attend, as they've taken a similar stand. I think that's why we're friends.

Did you go to your reunion? Or not?

(Tamara??? Did you go last year?)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Family Culture and Education

Now that Anna's about six months away from starting kindergarten, I'm getting asked what we'll be doing for her schooling. I've shared on here before that we've decided to homeschool but I don't believe I've broached the "why."

When I mention to someone that we're planning on teaching our children at home, I'm quick to share that it has nothing to do with the public school system (of which Kevin and I are both products). Really. I'd have no qualms sending my children to learn at our neighborhood school. I'm not afraid of them occasionally being exposed to ideas that may be different from ours. In my opinion that's actually a POSITIVE thing--they'll need to love and live with varying types of people throughout their lives, and what better time for them to first experience this than while living under our roof? (Basically in all things I refuse to buy into the Religious Right's scare tactics. And now I'm stepping away from the soapbox...before I get on and can't get off.)

So why homeschool? I've had a hard time fully articulating my thoughts on this but an amazing woman who always inspires me, Lisa, blogged recently about how every family has a "culture", a way of life that is unique to their family. This really put into words some things I'd been thinking about. What kind of relationships and life do we hope to foster in our family and what is the best way for our family to achieve that? We have four children within three years of each other. They are each other's primary playmates and best friends. Our older kids adore their younger sister and she spends her days keeping up with them. It's priceless. No they don't always get along perfectly, but God has really knit their hearts together. Our days are spent pretty simply, just living life together. I love it (most days anyway!)

Public school, for us, would introduce a pretty different lifestyle--getting all four kids out of the house by 8 a.m., spending time in the car for pickups and dropoffs and extra-curricular activities. The kids would be apart a lot more, segregated by age, and family life would look really different. Not bad, just different.

Homeschooling seems like a really great fit for us. I LOVE the idea of learning along with my kids, reading great "living" books together (aka literature and original sources as opposed to textbooks), and just having a really natural approach to education.

Something I'm REALLY excited about is a program Anna will be attending. It's fully funded through the public school system, but it's an enrichment-type program for homeschooled kids. One full-day per week she'll GO to school--kindergarten will be a self-contained kindergarten class, but starting in 1st grade they get to choose from different electives. This school offers a ton of fine arts that I am SO excited about! My kids would have the opportunity to do dance, piano, violin, choir, it's awesome! Plus they'll still get to have that time away from me, doing their own thing, making friends, learning to respect non-parental authority, etc., and I think there's great value to that.

I have no clue what the future holds for us, how long we'll homeschool, or what next year will look like. But I do think this is the path God has us on for now. I'd long worried that if we homeschooled, my kids would be isolated from friendships, and that they wouldn't be exposed to diversity in any way (part of why we value living in a city). But over the past several months God has blessed us with many dear friends with Ethiopian children that we see very regularly. I never dared imagine my sons getting to grow up with so many kids that share their background--but they are. (There were, including my boys, 10 Ethiopian children at our house the other night.) Crazy thing is I'm not just friends with these people because we all have adopted kids--that may be how we met but these are really amazing people that I feel so blessed to know and I can't wait to get to know them better. Also amazing is that three of these Ethiopian children attend our church, and we adore their families! (Our church also has families with children from Korea, Guatemala, China, it's pretty cool.) And some of our Ethiopian friends go to the homeschool enrichment program our kids will be going to!!!

All of that to say I feel like the Lord has really affirmed our desire to do this. I used to want to homeschool, then I got scared off by the stereotypes (I guess I'm weird like that) and was concerned about my sons never knowing anyone else with brown skin (HUGE value for us), but we already feel blessed beyond measure by the people in our kids' lives and God just seems to have removed all the barriers I saw to homeschooling. I can't wait to start and there is just something really magical about witnessing your child learning to read or mastering a skill. I can't wait to see how our family culture plays out and the benefits that will come from homeschooling.

So that's where we're at, for now. There ARE some other reasons I'm wanting to homeschool but this post is already ridiculously long as it is, so maybe I'll save that for another post. (And I do reserve the right to fail miserably at--or just plain dislike--homeschooling and enroll my kids in public school at any time. Just so we're clear.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Three years ago this past Sunday...

I met these little guys. They were sleepy, and sick, and one of them had a gash on his head, but they were oh so sweet. I'll never forget the moment I scooped up my son for the first time, picked him up out of the orphanage crib and held him tight. And I'll always remember how no one could find my other son, because he was hiding on a shelf on the ground.

To this day my boys love hearing the story of the first time we met. They giggle with glee when we talk about how Yosef was hiding on a shelf. They say they want to go back to Ethiopia. Biniam says he wants to go back to help people, and Yosef says he wants to go back "to see some things." (If you ask him what, he'll tell you "beds, and lightbulbs.")

On Sunday evening our family cuddled up on the couch and pulled out the amazing scrapbook a dear friend made us of our trip. We talked about Layla House, and AHOPE, the people we met and the things we saw.

Three years in and Ethiopia seems distant, like another world. My sons have no accents and no memories, just their names and some paperwork that speak to another place and another time, a part of their lives that is lost for now but may not always be. So far there is no overt sadness--that may come in time--just optimism and and a child-like love for a far-off land.

Mostly, though, they are my sons, and I am their mama. Motherhood in this case is profoundly mysterious...Weren't you always my sweet boy? Haven't you always been with us? The answer is, of course, no. First you lived with your birth mom, then you lived in three orphanages, and when you were 16 months old you came to be mine. The life you lived in Ethiopia, while you don't remember it, will always be part of who you are, something treasured in our family. We love you dearly, and while we mourn the losses that come with adoption, we rejoice because Yosef and Biniam, you are our sons.

The past three years have gone quickly. I am so grateful that the Lord called us to Ethiopian adoption, and that He gave us the grace to follow after Him. It was a huge unknown, a leap of faith for two 24-year-olds. Except it really WASN'T--because God, knowing us all too well, pretty much told us we had to do it and there was no question in our minds. A gift, to be sure.

So Sunday we celebrated the fact that three years ago, we stepped into an orphanage compound, in a relatively obscure corner of the world few will ever see, and took two 16-month-old boys into our arms. Told them we would be their mommy and their daddy, and that we'd never let them go. We became a family.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu planning?

In my quest to be more organized, I'd like to be a little better about meal planning. How do you do it? Where do you get inspiration for recipes? In particular, does anyone out there have any good ideas for vegetarian meals? We don't eat a ton of meat but I'd love to eat even less. So, lay 'em on me!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy V Day

I finished Jane Eyre today. SUCH a beautiful story. What more can I say?

Kevin's been working, working, working on the house both last night and today...painting doors, some trim around the windows, etc. etc. Right now he's at Home Depot. It feels SO GOOD to be getting some things on our "house to-do list" checked off.

This morning my husband surprised me with a 1-pound box of chocolates from Sees Candy. OH YEAH. We're not really "gift exchangers" so this was such a sweet surprise. The kids had pink oatmeal for breakfast. Tonight we're all going out to dinner--not sure where, but we've been tossing around the idea of going for Indian or Thai food. YUM. And yes, I did indeed say all of us are going. I love eating out, and the kids get so excited, and it is just really special. We don't do it often, but I hope as they grow they'll have fond memories of those special times when we went to a yummy restaurant to celebrate something as a family.

I hope you're having a great Valentine's Day--filled with lots of love, hugs and kisses! Here are four of my favorite valentines:

Friday, February 13, 2009


So I am comPLETEly wrapped up in Jane Eyre right now. I can't stop thinking about the goings on at Thornfield or the complex story that is unfolding between Mr. Rochester and Jane. I just don't want to put the book down. Ever. Kids can take care of themselves, right? And husbands too?

It's naptime. Kids are quiet. Book is beckoning. So are the chocolate chips. Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Something really weird about me

I had no idea what to post today so I came up with this blog title and the following factoid:
When I'm hormonal I crave pepperoncinis.

Yes, about every 35 days or so I indulge in these spicy little treats. Sure they're meant to go on sandwiches, but I don't like them that way. I like them plain, right out of the jar. I'll eat about 5 in one sitting. And there may or may not be multiple "sittings" per day.

Your turn. Let's hear something strange about you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I've been dared

My friend Jennifer put a dare on her blog saying if eight people blogged their daily schedule, she'd share hers. So I'm going to be really brave, go out on a limb and tell you what my typical day looks like. Prepare NOT to be dazzled...:)

7:30-8--Wake up. No, I don't get up early. And no, I don't feel bad about it! Sometimes I get on the computer right away, though I try not to.
8-9--Get clothes out for the kids, make breakfast (oatmeal and fresh fruit). We don't do cartoons in the mornings unless I'm not feeling well or something.
9-12--Kids play with toys, play outside, color, I'll read to them, etc. I take a shower, spend time on the computer, read a book, read my Bible, or sometimes do housework. :)
12-1--Have lunch (usually PB&J, cheese and veggies)
1-3:30ish--Naptime/quiet time. Kaitlyn and Biniam nap (Katie sleeps in the girls' room, Biniam sleeps in my room), and Anna and Yosef play quietly in the boys' room. During this time I either usually go on the computer, read, or do housework. (What an exciting life I lead!)
3:30-5:30--Kids get up, play, sometimes watch a video. If I haven't showered yet, I do it now.
4:30--Kevin gets home
4:30-5--I start dinner
5:30--Dinner (we all eat together every night at the table. I feel like this is so important in our family.)
6:30--Clean up kitchen, get kids into pjs, bedtime story, every other night is bath night.
7:30--Kids go to bed.
7:30-10:30--Kevin and I hang out. We either play games, read, watch something, chat, etc.

Not every day is like this, but it's generally the way it goes. Other assorted random facts:

--I usually do some sort of laundry every day.

--My kids don't eat a lot of snacks, but they have three square meals a day and if they're hungry in between meals they can have something healthy (usually veggies.) My pet peeve is when they eat such a big snack that they won't eat their next meal.

--Every other Monday morning we go to our church's moms group/bookstudy, sometimes we do playdates, and make the occasional trip to Costco. More often than not though we're home during the day. I'd say my biggest time-waster (surprise, surprise) is the computer. (Blogs, Craigslist, and homeschooling/curriculum sites.) Not all of my time on here is a waste obviously, and there's nothing wrong with doing things for fun, but I DO get sucked in and then regret the way my day has gone...and when I look back, it's because I spent too much time online. Darn.

--This is the last year that our schedule will be so completely open and relaxed, because Anna will start kindergarten in the fall. Mondays she'll attend school all day and the rest of the days will do homeschool. So even though it'll still be somewhat laid back, it will definitely be more purposeful and structured than it is now. I think that will be really good for me, but also a little sad. There's nothing like the carefree life of a toddler!!!

--I don't do structured one-on-one time with my kids very much at this point, because they get random individualized attention all throughout the day. Today, for example, while the big kids played in the snow, Kaitlyn wanted to stay inside. So she sat on my lap and talked to me. She and I generally end up getting a lot of time together.

--Kevin and I instant message each other throughout the day. I love it.

Okay, now it's YOUR turn to do a blogpost about your schedule!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Sweet Anna Elisabeth is five today. Five. I cannot believe my baby girl is growing up! It is bittersweet to be sure, but I have to say that as the days, weeks, months, and years go by, it just gets better and better. Anna is growing into such a sweet, funny, generous, compassionate girl who loves Jesus, her family and friends.
Five years ago today when my water broke and six hours later the doctor handed me a 7-pound-13-oz baby girl, I was 22 years old and a first-time mom. I had no clue what parenting would entail, but one thing I DID know was that I was head-over-heels in love with my daughter. I still am. Even moreso, which you never think is possible, but it is. My heart grows more for Anna each and every day. This past year has brought some big changes (moving to Denver), and the next year will too (starting school). God never ceases to amaze me in how He cares for and provides for my children.
So I'm rejoicing today in the gift of Anna's life, and anticipating the joys ahead! Happy birthday sweet girl!!!!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Monday Monday

Nasty cough: check
Hoarse voice: check
Husband who woke up at 5:30 am with the stomach flu: check
Missing church bookstudy this morning: check
Four kids to take care of: check
Posting a picture of Kaitlyn falling asleep at the table because it is about how I feel: check

Hope your week kicks off a little better than ours did!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

But isn't it the sabbath?!

My kids observe naptime/quiet time every single day. For a good two hours after lunch Anna and Yosef play quietly, and Biniam and Kaitlyn nap. Every day.

Except for Sundays! Whatever the reason, they refuse. Kaitlyn and Biniam don't fall asleep, and quiet time doesn't go as smoothly as it should for the other two. What is it? Are they guzzling coffee during Sunday School???

I love a lazy Sunday afternoon. Kevin will watch sports, and I like to read, nap, or make a trip to the store. Sundays are supposed to be relaxing. And laid back. So why is that the ONE day the kids are wide-awake???

Oh well. I'm looking forward to tonight because Kevin and I are taking a ministry leadership class through our church that should be really interesting. I'd initially told Kevin he should take it, but then he suggested we both do it. There are six sessions, and tonight a sweet friend is coming to stay with the kids.

So the sun is shining, the chili is simmering away in the crockpot, and Kevin's watching a basketball game. But all four kids are awake. And upstairs. Happily chattering away as they sit in the playroom coloring. Hmmm, not such a bad Sunday after all!

(I guess when your siblings are so much fun, you don't really want to nap. Here are some pics of the kids, inseperable of course!)

Saturday, February 07, 2009


The weather in Denver has been BEAUTIFUL lately, but this picture is from a snowy day awhile back. Oh, to be a kid again!

Hope you're having a fabulous Saturday. We've been working around the house and Kevin's headed to Home Depot for some doorknobs. I think it's time to take a break from work, have some coffee and read a little Jane Eyre. There's nothing quite like a quiet day spent at home!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Melkam Genna!

Did you know that Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7? Most Christians in Ethiopia are Ethiopian Orthodox, and they use the Julian calendar, so January 7 it is. :)

This year we went to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant with two other adoptive families that we're friends with. (Both of them also happen to go to our church! So Ethiopia is well-represented. :) )
Anyway, we all had a blast, and how could we not with ten kids between us??? The food was DELICIOUS, and I do hope this becomes a yearly tradition!
We took a serious picture of the kids, and then this silly one. Heehee!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sister sister

One of the best things about having four kids this close in age is getting to see the relationships God is building among them. Anna's three years older than Kaitlyn, but they are so incredibly close. All four of my kids play together, and the older three have ALWAYS joyfully included their little sister.

Sometimes a small part of me wonders what on earth my kids will think about the fact that they have so many siblings so close in age to them. (I'm an only child, so I don't know anything about having siblings.) But then I'm reminded of these sweet, special times and realize that my kids adore each other and what an amazing gift a sibling is.

We are HUGE believers in NOT forcing relationships. I don't make my kids play together, and I don't put any pressure/expectations on them in terms of spending time together or being close. We of course have a rule that they need to be kind, but other than that, they are free to do whatever. Amazingly, they all love each other SO MUCH.
Over the past couple of months I've gotten some pictures of Anna and Kaitlyn in action. I know they're three years apart, and that is a decent age difference, but I do hope they remain close. Really my prayer is that my kids are always close with one another, and that they continue to be some of each other's best friends!

Anna LOVES getting Kaitlyn ready for bed. Here she is, putting Kaitlyn's pjs on.

Anna doing Kaitlyn's hair.

Kaitlyn sharing her cookie with Anna.

Hanging out after lunch.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Hospital By the River

Have you:

Read this book?

Seen the Oprah episode?

Ever heard of an obstetric fistula?

If not, you NEED to.

This book is troubling, heart-wrenching, inspiring and important.

It tells the story of Reg and Catherine Hamlin, Austrailian obstetricians who have spent their lives in Ethiopia treating fistula patients. Catherine authored the book. She rocks.

Ever since I started Hospital By the River last week, I've been really, well, bothered by the whole thing. What we take for granted in Western society, and what childbirth is like for impoverished women in third-world countries with no access to medical care. It's awful. Really, really awful.

Not sure what else to say, just that the book is really impactful and makes me want to go back to Ethiopia. Some of it is hard to read--it's pretty descriptive--but I think I NEED to read it. I have no frame of reference for the horrors of week-long obstructed labors and the painful, humiliating injuries that result. And then being shunned by your husband. Banished from your village. Left to die. All because your body is a little bit broken.

As a woman, I am so, so glad for this book. It's been really eye-opening and if these stories aren't told, most of us won't know what it means to give birth in a developing nation, or how fortunate we are to have excellent doctors and medical facilities at our fingertips. And then we also need to spend more time peering into the lives of people like the Hamlins. Sadly our society focuses almost exclusively on pop culture when we COULD be reading about people who have literally given their lives away for the sake of others. People who make US want to give OUR lives away. (Doubtful you'd find Catherine Hamlin on the cover of "Us" or "People.")
So give it a read. I think you'll be glad, and bothered, that you did.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Self sufficiency

A couple of months ago I was talking to someone on the phone. I finished up and went into the kitchen to put the phone back, only to discover that Biniam had made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. All by himself. And he was sitting at the table eating it.
I guess I'd forgotten to put the ingredients away after lunch, he'd gotten hungry and decided to just help himself. Of course I HAD to take a picture!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Grandpa Perruzzi's treats

When we were still living in California (and contemplating a move to Colorado) we took a trip out here to visit and check things out. We left our oldest three kids with my parents for the week.

My dad started a tradition that week. Each night before the kids went to bed he came up with a very creative dessert for them, giving it a name and serving it on a fancy tray. Desserts like "Teddy Bear Parade" (vanilla ice cream with 3 teddy grahams on top and some chocolate syrup) and "Rocky Mountain" something-or-other (I don't remember what it was, just that it was a Colorado theme since we were in Colorado.)

Anyway, during our visit to California this Christmas my dad did not disappoint, coming up with a slew of new desserts with fun names. My kids LOVED it, and I seriously think he should publish some sort of recipe book for grandparents where he can share his treat ideas!

I know years from now my kids will still be talking about Grandpa Perruzzi's enthusiasm for fun desserts that he came up with himself just for his grandkids!

Random sidenote: my maiden name is Perruzzi (very Italian.) My married name is Heldt (very German.) Before getting married I felt like people always had a tough time spelling and pronouncing my last name, and once I was a Heldt that would get better. Well, guess what, it's actually WORSE now. NO ONE can spell Heldt, I get mail addressed to "Brianna Heidt", or people call me "Brianna Held", it's hilarious. Apparently Perruzzi was easier after all!

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