How Long We Have Been A Family!

Count Down To Nate's 4th Birthday!

Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers

Monday, December 31, 2007

Joy To The World!

I wanted to share with y'all this very special gift my mom gave us for Christmas.

It is a beautiful music box that sings Joy To The World. All around it are children of the world (the front little boy is from Africa) playing different instruments.

This is such a thoughtful gift, and so meaningful to us!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Snow, Snow and MORE SNOW!

This is what I woke up to this morning! It is so beautiful!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Day after Christmas Shopping fun!

Today Paul & I braved the crowds today and did a little after Christmas Shopping.

We went to the ever famous WalMart, Micheals, Starbucks (a necessity for trips into Medford), even braved the mall for some exchanges, and ended at Harry & Davids, and Fred Meyer.

This is my favorite day to shop, and I continue the after Christmas shopping clear into January...the later you look at Christmas stuff, the larger the discount!

YEA, clearance!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


After several days of rumors of snow in the forcast, it happened! We had a real and true White Christmas! I can honestly say I cannot remember it every happening before! The pictures didn't turn out that great, but here is a picture when it was starting to stick.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Carols, Candlelight & Communion

This morning we did had a FABULOUS Christmas service. Enjoy the pictures!
This the amazing Megan Schaefer singing a beautiful rendition of "O Holy Night".

Every special Christmas and Easter service, Paul reads a Children's Story to the kids. The kids and parents love it! This years story was "The Legend of the Christmas Tree."

The absolute highlight of the service was Baylee and Rylie Vallo singing "Away in the Manger". ADORABLE!!!

Carols, Candlelight & Communion is a great opportunity to remember the reason why we celebrate Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In Loving Memory of My Great-Grandma...

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the death of my Great-Grandmother, Helen Holly Goodell. She was an amazing who I am proud to be named after.

I have included the Obituary so you can read about her!

Helen Holly Goodell
Age 95, a Puyallup area resident for the past 64
years, died December 20, 2006 at the home of her
daughter in Olympia, WA. She was born on October 3,
1911 in Bucoda, to Raymond and Susie (Cales) Marvin.
Helen met the love of her life, Val Goodell in 1926.
They were married in Bucoda on June 14, 1929. Helen
and Val lived in Frost Prairie until 1935 before
moving to North Dakota, Montana and returning to
Washington in 1941. They moved to Puyallup in 1942 and
settled into their family home of 61 years in 1945.
Helen was very active in her church, community and
business. She was an excellent cook and restaurateur,
owning restaurants in Puyallup for over 15 years. She
managed the lunch program for the Puyallup Playcare
Center for many years. A member for 50 years and past
president of Puyallup Business and Professional
Women's Club and was named "Woman of Achievement# by
the organization. Helen was an active member of the
First Baptist Church of Puyallup for over 50 years and
a former deaconess. She was also a member of the
Pioneers of Washington State, Olympia Chapter, the
Tacoma Magic Club, Ring 70, and president of a local
investment club. Helen loved to travel and made over
20 trips to Hawaii. She was a "genealogy bug",
researching the family names of Ruth, Marvin, Cales
and Goodell. She belonged to the Bunker Family
Association, a genealogical society for Bunker
descendants and traveled for many years to annual
conventions throughout the US and Canada. Helen was
preceded in death by her loving husband of 71 years,
Val; sons, Norv and Jerry; and great granddaughter,
Marissa. She is survived by sons, Donald (Patricia) of
Puyallup and Harold (Annie) of Fox Island; daughter,
Dorothy (Dennis) Staley of Olympia; daughter-in-law,
Friedl of Puyallup; 7 grandchildren and 11 great
grandchildren; sisters, Florence Harding of Chehalis
and Elizabeth Porn of Centralia; and numerous extended
family members. A Memorial service will be held
Thursday, December 28 at 11 AM at Puyallup First
Baptist Church. Inurnment will follow at a later date
at Mt. View Cemetery in Centralia, WA. In lieu of
flowers a donation may be made to Helen's late great
granddaughter's scholarship fund, "Marissa Ann Goodell
Shinning Star Scholarship Fund", in care of Kitsap
Bank, PO Box 2170, Belfair, WA 98528. Arrangements by
Mills and Mills Funeral Home in Olympia.

Pub Date: 12/24/2006
Tacoma News Tribune

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good bye Harry & David! It's been fun!

Tonight ended my seasonal job at Harry & David. It is a little bittersweet. I really enjoyed the work and the extra $$, but I will not miss working all day and all night.

I was asked the stay on through the end of the year, possibly lasting until the end of January. I have to understand my own limitations...and the fact that my husband misses his wife, and vice versa. :-)

Besides, my mom comes tomorrow!!!!!!!!! The last thing I want to do is work when she is here.

It's all good...I still get my 30% discount until October of 2008! WOOHOO!
Happy evening to all!

A Picture IS Worth 1000 Words!!!

I absolutely LOVE this picture!!! I bought the bow tie and glasses for $.50 at Big Lots, made my husband wear them for these pictures on his 30th Birthday in August. He was just lucky I didn't make him wear it to his party!

He is such a good sport! How could you not love such a cute face?! Ha Ha Ha!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

T-Minus 6 days until....

...MY MOM IS HERE!!!!!!!

I am SOOOO excited, I can hardly stand it!! My mom flies in on Wednesday, December 19th (the plane lands around midnight) and she is here until Christmas Eve!

I know alot of people say they have the best mom in the world, but I KNOW I DO!!! My momma could beat up your momma anyday! (I wish you could hear the attitude behind my voice and the finger snap!) :-) I'm just kidding...she is way too nice to beat anyone up. :-)

Anyway, just thought I would share my excitement!
Love ya all!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

December 7th Weekly Update for AWAA

This week we received a very detailed letter from the Executive Director of Programs, Susan Maines. It is long and quite involved, but I will post it for those who are more interested in how the program works. It also talks about upcoming changes, including the resignation of our Family Coordinator and the transition of our new African Program Director. Enjoy!

Dear Ethiopia Families,

I was planning on sending this email but have been waiting on the resolution of some of the details so that it could give you a full update on our Ethiopia program. This is a multi-faceted program, which we feel thankful and blessed has grown quickly but not always smoothly since it opened in September 2006. Let me just stop and say thank you to you all for your commitment to America World and your willingness to sign up to adopt from a new program. As you have probably seen there have been some pluses (our early families got referrals quickly and completed their adoptions) and many growing pains. We have needed to grow the program on many levels all at once and also reach a critical point where the program could support itself and the needed growth.

This summer we believed that we reached that point and therefore, began to take the necessary steps to see this growth happen. The most critical and timely piece was the opening of our own transitional home in Addis Ababa. America World Corporate staff with the assistance of our in country liaison laid the ground work in August and with the assistance of one of AW’s parents we were able to get the home up and running in November 2007. While there is still work that needs to be accomplished with the transition home we are happy to report the children who are currently in the home are happy and being well cared for as they wait for their parents to arrive. Some of you have asked about capacity in the home? We expect to be able to serve between 10-20 children dependent upon the ages and needs at any one time. There are three rooms, two of which are set up for infants or younger toddlers and one for older children. The number of children in the home will never be a given number but will depend upon the needs of the children currently in the home, the space, etc.

Now I anticipate that you’re wondering how the process will work with our new transition home. When a family accepts a referral from AW then that child will “transition” into the America World home and will remain there until the parents arrive and the placement is made. We anticipate this time frame to be somewhere between 2-3 months. We expect that there will be an ebb and flow to the transition home and that it will serve the needs of the program as they are right now. Certainly, this will be one area we will monitor closely over the next six months or so to be sure that we have adequate space to continue to serve the needs of the program.

Another area we have been working on developing for the program is the travel piece of the adoption process. For those of you who this is your first experience with America World let me say that we have years of experience arranging travel groups for our China adoptions and in fact this is one aspect of the process that we consistently get rave reviews on. Laurel and I have been working with our travel department on this aspect of the Ethiopia program and they are taking over responsibility for travel with the New Year. While all the specific details of this are still being developed how this will work in general is twofold: one, we will be sending travel groups to Ethiopia and two, when you get to the travel portion of the process, you will work with the AW travel coordinator rather than your family coordinator for the arrangements of travel.

Well, I think we have reached the part of the program you probably have the most questions about. As I believe many of you now know Laurel Ludwick is getting married in mid December. She will be out of the office December 13-21st. During that time Christi Hicks, Latin America Program Director and I will be covering the Ethiopia Program. You can contact Christi with dossier/paperwork questions and she will review and process any dossiers we receive. On that note we will authenticate dossiers received in the office through December 14th. They will get authenticated the following week and sent to Ethiopia on December 21st. Any dossiers received the week of December 17th will be held until the New Year for authentication as our offices will be closed the week of Christmas. Please don’t send us your dossier unless you can guarantee arrival before December 21st. I will be available for questions on referrals, court dates, and to convey any pertinent information for specific families. As mentioned above, the America World offices will be closed December 24-January 1, 2008. Staff will be returning on January 2nd.

Now that covers the program through 2007. Normally, Laurel would share this additional information with you herself but because I am writing and this is a key piece of what is happening with the Ethiopia program I asked her permission to share her information with you. For personal and professional reasons (Laurel is pursuing a master’s degree in social work) Laurel has resigned from her position as Assistant Director of the Ethiopia Program. We have recognized for awhile that the program needed a full-time director but because of other priorities, especially in-country, we had held off on that. I am pleased to announce that Duni Zenaye will assume the position as Africa Program Director on January 2, 2008. Part of the duties of this director position will be the family coordination piece that Laurel did as well as developing and growing the program in Ethiopia and possibly in the future other Africa countries.

As most of you know and have met Duni through our intake process, I would request that you not contact her on matters dealing with your Ethiopia adoption until after January 2nd. In order to facilitate a smooth transition for the intake department and our potential and actual applicants it’s important that she focus on training her replacement. I’m happy to take and address any of your questions or concerns. I’m confident with the new Program Director that any concerns families have expressed to America World about communication issues will be addressed. I will say one thing about communication now though. Whenever you have a large program with many applicants (and right now there are about 130+ families enrolled in the Ethiopia program) it is easiest to address general topics of concern to many in a general and mass format. AW has developed our weekly and monthly updates for this purpose. We try to use that vehicle to address any general program information that we have in any week that would be of interest to all families in the program. We will continue to use that format and will do our best to see that information is pertinent. Another area that AW has given to families as a vehicle for information and support is the Ethiopia chat group. I feel that one way we can support you, our families with this vehicle is to moderate it so we are going to have AW staff person moderating the group.

Another area that I would like to address is referrals and the court process. As many of you know during the past year we have worked exclusively with one orphanage, Kid’s Care, and have received all our referrals from there. While we cherish this relationship, we are working to expand the orphanages from which we receive referrals. We have made a commitment to the Addis city government to support their sponsorship program (required to conduct adoptions in Ethiopia) and hope to develop those relationships more. We also are open to and desire to develop relationships with other orphanages as well. For those of you who don’t know, when we consider working with an orphanage part of the negotiations would involve a monetary commitment to development projects in or for that orphanage. We take any potential commitments seriously, and therefore might choose to move slowly in any negotiations.
Families have asked us whether or not the delays in court will affect the referrals we receive. While court delays do not directly affect referrals, referrals are affected by the space we have available in the transition home at any one time and therefore court delays do indirectly affect referrals in that children might not move out of the transition home as quickly as we might anticipate and space might not be available for other children.

One final piece to the program that I would like to update you on is to let you know about another change in staffing. Rachel Ward, who has been our TN Director of Social Services for the past few years, is moving with her husband in late January to Addis. Rachel will be adding her support and expertise to the transition home and the program pieces of the in-country work.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about anything outlined in this letter. It has been a joy and a pleasure for me this past year to directly oversee the Ethiopia program. In this time of preparation for the birth of the Christ child, we pray that our Lord is preparing each of your families for the advent of the newest member(s) to your family. We pray continuously for you and the program and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Susan B. Maines, LSW, LCSW
Executive Director of Programs
America World Adoption Association


Friday, December 7, 2007

Questions you should never ask to adoptive families...

This blog post was shared with my AWAA yahoo group. As I read it, I laughed, yet kept nodding my head, as many of these (rude/nosy/insensitive, etc) questions have been asked of us. This is not meant to offend, just to educate.

Taken from

Talking Adoption: A Primer for Non-Adoptive Families
As a local adoptive mother of three, I’d love to take this time to get on an adoption soapbox for just a minute or two. And you, the people of Lexington, need to listen. I know this is true because I see you in the mall. I talk to you in line at the grocery store. And I sometimes try to run and hide from you on the soccer sidelines. You need help, my fellow neighbors. Help learning how to talk to adoptive families about adoption. And I am here to be your guide.

For starters, let me get one thing out of the way right now. There’s a difference between asking questions about my family because you (or someone you love) are starting an adoption or are seriously considering it or simply because you are just nosy and curious. It takes me about three seconds to figure out, just by sniffing, which category you fall in. If you are in the former, by all means—ask away. But if you fall in the latter, I must shake my head and wonder why your parents failed to teach you any manners. Why you feel justified in asking me personal questions about my family when I wouldn’t dream of doing the same about yours. And why you are rude enough to do this in front of my children.

Here’s a list of questions you have asked me while you met me in some public place here in town:
Are they adopted?
What are they?
Where’d you get ‘em?
Where are they from?
Are they related?
Do they know they’re adopted?
Are the real?
How much were they?
Do you know anything about their real mom?
Why did she give them away?
And…some of my favorite unsolicited comments from you over the past few years:
Too bad you couldn’t have any of your own!
That’s so sad that their mother didn’t love them.
They must look like their Daddy!
I could never love someone who wasn’t my blood.

And…comments made directly to my children:
You are very lucky to be living here with these good people!

Although it’s humorous to read back through these now and roll my eyes with a sigh, when I am waiting in line in a store with my three little ones, who are busy bouncing, singing, jumping, and testing out the candy bars, it’s anything but.

If you are curious about adoption because you think you may be interested in it, then by all means, ask advice from those families you see at the mall. But if you’re simply trying to make “small talk,” then take a minute to breathe deeply and ponder whether your question is any of your business.

I’m happy to talk about adoption in general with anyone at any time. But I would never give out personal information about my child’s own adoption story to another person, least of all a stranger. If the question feels like it’s none of your business, then it probably isn’t.
If, after reading this and sitting in the naughty chair for two minutes, you still cannot control your nosy instincts and must proceed with the Twenty Questions while we are waiting in line to pay for our milk, then try to be a bit more choosy with your words.

Instead of: Real parents, Try Saying: First parents/Biological parents/birthparents
Instead of: He’s an adopted kid. Try Saying: He joined their family through adoption.
Instead of: Are they real sisters? Try Saying: Are they biologically related?
Instead of: Did they cost a lot? Try Saying: Is adoption expensive?

With the number of adoptive families in the US continuing to grow rapidly, the day will come when I can run an errand with my children and no one will seem to notice or care. I can see that golden sunrise in the near future.

But in the mean time, try to control yourselves when we meet on the streets. Use your good manners, watch what you say, and please. Stop. Touching. My. Children.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

AWAA Weekly update for the week of November 30th

Due to a slow down in the MOWA’s processing of the necessary letters for court, the five court cases set for November have been rescheduled for Dec. 7th. Please continue to pray that all goes smoothly and for the staffing needs of MOWA. Rachel Ward and her husband Barrett are in Ethiopia for 10 days. They will be working with Girmachew and the transition home staff as we continue to work on getting the home up and running 100%. In this season of thanksgiving we are especially grateful for all of the generous gifts that have come in for the transition home. On behalf of the many children who will pass through those doors in the future, we say thank you and God bless.