Friday, April 27, 2012


I felt like blogging.

 I told Shiloh to pick a number. (7)

I counted out the seventh folder in my terribly unorganized photo file folder.

 I asked for another number. (12)

 I counted to the twelfth photo and decided I would blog all about that photo.

 I was less than thrilled.

I got a much too dark photo of notes.

And then I remembered.

This photo was taken sitting in a basement type meeting room inside a hotel at a photography workshop. Using a camera lent to me by my friend Ross. Sitting next to my sister-in-law Abbie.  Listening to my friend Jennifer teach. While my other friend Missy waited upstairs for us to finish our lessons.

I learned about shutter speeds and iso's and f-stops and other such terminology that still makes my brain twist around just a very lot little bit.

And I remembered how we finished our lessons and all met up and walked to Chipotle to eat. I remember a conversation I had with Jennifer about what it might be like to visit Africa as she had done and was gearing up to do again.

I remembered that since that conversation I couldn't get the notion of actually going to Africa out of my mind.

I remembered that whole running girls weekend. I remembered eating out at 'new places only' restaurants. 'Cept for Chipotle (NEVER say no to Chipotle) and Marble Slab. I remembered extra bananas and roof top sitting.  Leaning too far over and does everyone smoke? Funny mind games and marching protests. Silly picture posing and excitement over shampoo. that it? Jogging shoe buying and closed already Starbucks. Garage parking and overnight bag hauling. Walking and walking and eating. Lots of eating.

Looking at that photo I know now exactly which dial to turn and button to push that would lighten that baby right up. Abbie taught me a cool cheater trick and my friend Laura who I met when I did indeed actually go to Africa gave me lots of good tips and how to's about my new camera.

I'm so glad


A) married Blake

B) introduced me to the word blog

C) showed me Jennifer's blog

D) loves photography like me and wanted to go to this class

Caution: throwback ---->Thanks,Abbie!


loaned me his camera


talked with me about how a mom of many small children could indeed travel outside the country continent


made it possibe for me to go


is such a photography expert and she was able to teach me how to get a handle on all that darn sun they have over in Ethiopia.

Everything just worked out so nicely. :)

All that from one boring black photo.

No wonder I didn't delete it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Remnants of Ethipoia

Sometimes it seems almost as if I never went on this adventure. Life is as whirlwindish as ever here at home as we go from one thing to the next. Chores. Errands. Running. Class planning. Fund raising. Gift shopping. School book organizing (again). Seed sprouting. Goodwill box filling. Yet always in the back of my mind are those ten days. And there is something I remember.

(Do you know what this is?)

Ten warm and sunny and SLOW days. Some may call our days there whirlwindish (if they are inclined to unabashedly make up words and ignore the red squiggle as I often do). We did a lot. We saw a lot. We met a lot of people. I've discovered though that when you have four young children you don't even know you are living a  hectic life until you are away from it. Suddenly you are staring at your own still hot coffee wondering just exactly what to do with it. Busy to some but with time to think about myself and time to pay attention to the details I will still call my time there restful.

(Here this may help. Is it becoming clearer?)

The organization (GHNI) I traveled with is all about networking. It's right in the name. Global Hope NETWORK International. Connecting real people with other real people. Finding the combinations that can get the job done. They made SURE to allow us the time to connect with people back home. Face time our friends with similar skin tones. Skype with our kiddos. Blog about our experiences and post photos. Update often on Facebook. E-mail anyone who may share an interest in what we were doing. They know that someone knows someone who may have something to offer.

(Now you see it don't you?)

Someone who can build water purifiers. Someone who can sponsor a village. Someone who would make a one time donation. Someone who knows the ins and outs of what will grow (or not grow) in the dry climate of Ethiopia. Someone who would like to make this trek and see for themselves. It could even be you. It was me. What did I have to offer? A little known blog, a small monthly donation, an eagerness to see.

While away our team often brought our computers together and googled ways to purify water....

and doodled scientific scribbles and pondered...

and blogged to try to convey all that we had seen...

making sure to keep our gadgets close at hand in case we received an e-mail offering a different perspective or perhaps to record something at a moments notice so it could be brought home and explored further

We put our thinking caps on and thought and thought. Sometimes it seemed as if the answer,the key to clean water for the village of Megaladi was right in front of us. Yes. No. Maybe?

I didn't have a charger for my computer so often at our laptop play dates I would journal and get some practice in with my new camera.

We've been home for a while now. We still have questions about how to help. We can't set our computers up like this anymore.

But our team still comes together. We still talk of the people of Megaladi. It just looks a bit more like this.

Had it not been for another's blog, had I not seen that it would indeed be okay for a mother of many small little ones to leave them for days and days to go out of the country, that they would survive, that you simply come home and get right back into it,that they would be exactly the same size when you returned as they were when you left, I would not have had the courage to go. Spirit of adventure of no.

Through networking we (my family and I) learned we can actually support real far away people. We can actually go on trips and meet our far away friends.

Ethiopia is really there. I saw it. These people are really there. I met them. EVERYONE in Ethiopia isn't in a desperate situation. But some are. GHNI is a group of people who want to reach out to another group of people and they believe networking to be one of the best ways to meet their goals.

We went to Megaladi, Ethiopia and we met the people. We fell in love with the people we met. Now we network for those people. We use our blogs,we use our local papers,we use our small groups,we use casual conversations with strangers. We use our twice monthly meetings with our trip leader to keep us going strong. Networking was a big part of what we did while we were gone.

It was one thing I remember about my trip. A piece. Something I can tuck away to remember anytime the people of Ethiopia come to mind. I don't have much that is physical left from my time away but I have this. I have my remnant.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just Say No

It was a nice day. Cloudy breezy cool. We were working outside and I sat on the front porch watching Camille play in the yard while Shiloh ran for supplies. A man pulled up across the street. He got out of his car and was already half way across the street before I saw him. His hands were pressed together and he said

Please please let me mow your yard. Please...please...?

I uh well would you mow it for? Just the front I added quickly.

He looked around.

He named a price.

I told him I would text Shiloh and see if he wanted him to do that.

And then as we waited (and waited) for a reply he went into a long winded explanation of how he is starting a new job on Monday. It's in Mesquite. He has to commute. It is at a produce place and he would be delivering produce. This sparked an interest in me because we were just putting in our own garden that same day. I asked if it was organic produce he would be working with. He said yes. He needed gas to commute for a week until he got his first paycheck. He lived one block over. He lived with his disabled mom. His rent is 475 a month. His mom gets one paycheck from the government each month. He's been out of work for 3 month. He was clean. He smelled nice. His goatee was trimmed. He looked....healthy. He pleaded. PLEADED for the work.

I took it as a man doing what he needs to do to get by. I told him I wasn't SURE Shiloh had any cash and we don't keep checks. He was persistent. He insisted. I told him where our mower was. He had his own gas.

He came right back saying he couldn't start it. It was broken. That's kind of true. We just rig it up when we need to use it. He told me he could get a mower.

I asked 'You have a mower?'

He stated again 'I can get one.' Then he asked for a pencil and paper to write his friend a letter (his word not mine) because he was just going to help himself.

I swear. If you give a mouse a cookie...

He wrote his letter and left. He was back in minutes with a mower. I had checked on the kids in the back since he had walked back there and the rooster promptly attacked Camille. I finished cleaning her owies and went to look out of the window.  I watched him. He was speed mowing. Motivated? For sure. I saw a cigarette in his mouth and began questioning his motifs. The whole 'If you are so desperate for cash why do you spend it on cigarettes' thing rolled through my mind. I told myself maybe he was just using what he had left. I almost believed myself. But then THEN a second car rolled up. He shut off the mower and went to the car window.

Hmmmm his mower friend? They spoke. They got louder. It sounded like a woman now. His mom? Maybe disabled meant unhealthy. Not crippled old lady as I had imagined. Who knows. After they yelled a bit the car drove off. He continued mowing. I frantically texted Shiloh to please hurry home dear so I don't have to deal with this anymore. 

I watched in awe. This was certainly the fasted mowing job I had ever witnessed.

Shiloh came in the back door. I barely had enough time to explain the whole situation before Mr. Speedy Mcmower knocked on the door.

Shiloh went out to talk to him. He offered him the 7 dollars he had in his wallet,explained that we didn't have a check and offered to go to the gas station to fill up his tank for the rest of what we owed. I had told Shiloh I was now doubting weather or not the money we would pay him would indeed go toward gas.

I peeked out the window.

He wanted none of that. He wasn't angry. He just simply took the 7 dollars and left.


You don't want free gas?

Thought so.

Maybe I should have known when he begged and pleaded. Or when he told me to explain to Shiloh that if he would maybe overpay him he would re-imburse the extra after he earned that first paycheck. Or when he added in the sob story of his mother and how he her only noble son lived with her to care for her. Or when I saw a little something flash on his face just before he answered that 'yes, the produce is organic'

Uncertainty. That is what it was. I can see it now. Uncertainty of how he should answer.

I'm not very quick on my feet. It took me time to figure out that most probably he wanted some quick cash for a certain habit. But by that time he was half way finished.

All I know for sure is we got what we paid for,he has my pencil,our rooster will be leaving us in the near future and we STILL need to mow.


It was a good pencil.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Silas On Positive and Negative Behaviors

Silas started doing something yesterday that was a first for him. It took me a minute to realize that what he was doing was a new to him thing. I see his sisters do it all the time.

It was time to get into the car. He gathered up his green composition notebook and a pen before running out to get buckled up.

He carried it around for the rest of the day working on his drawings.

At one point he told me (as I was driving) to 'Look at my drawing,Mom'.

I told him 'Buddy,I'm driving and I can't look right,now can you tell me about it?'

I turned down the radio and tuned into his voice. This is what he said:

There are two forests. A big one and a small one. The big one is for all the good people. The small one is where the bad people live.

I thought he was pretty perceptive. I liked the way he separated good and bad into categories but I wanted to know more about what he was thinking. I asked him 'Who lives in the big forest?'


Then he continued:

Bad guys and robbers and...and...snapping turtles live in the small forest. 

I thought this was a little funny but didn't want to alter the course of the conversation by laughing so I was quiet until I could talk with out a smile. He continued before I responded.

But the snapping turtles can live in the big forest too. If they don't bite.


'So they can move from the small forest to the big forest?' I asked.

Yeah they can. If they do the right things and no biting.

And that is the insight of my four year old. What I take from this is that people can make their own choices but even if they have chosen things that led them down the path to the little forest they can always change course by making different choices and move on up to the big forest.

Now if only we could figure out a way to convince him that Indians are not for catching,cooking and eating. Indeed. I would hate for him to grow up to live in the small forest even if he does look pretty cute in stripes and behind bars.