I Want Surgeries for Christmas with an Update!

We had "the talk' with our kids at the dinner table this evening.

The one about how they have a lot of stuff.  And how lucky they are that their bodies work, and if they get sick we have the best hospitals and doctors coming out of our ears in the Boston area so they will never have to wait to get help. And how this is not the case for most people in the world.

I asked them tonight at dinner, point blank, if they would be OK not getting presents from us or Santa and instead giving the money to help the above two beautiful people in Ethiopa get needed surgeries.

I cried as they said yes. They made a sign. They would like YOU to ask your kids, or yourself, if you want to make signs, too. They want you to ask if there is anyone in your family who would be willing to give to these friends, instead of you this year.

Please consider making this miracle happen. Please donate to Dr. Hodes' organization.  He treats so many who without him would have zero access to healthcare in Ethiopia. He said when he saw their pictures, "Send em over!" If you make a sign too, please come back to the comments and share the link to your picture! Share it on Facebook! Send it to your families and friends.

Make sure when you donate you indicate Liz McGovern in the "tribute gift" section so we can track how we are doing.

Let's give ourselves and our kids the magic of sacrificing for the sake of someone else this year. I have a feeling this could be an addiction. I almost can't wait until next Christmas...

*Update! Brahu, who has the tumor, had x-rays done which were sent electronically to the surgeon in Germany. He is now to have a CT scan done. He is being cared for by the nuns of Mother Teresa's with our help!  The money is already at work. Please, donate! Share this with friends and familty, if you need more details,  go here to my previous post to see how get to the donation page and how to make sure we know your donation is for these sweet friends in Ethiopia.


Give it away, give it away, give it away, give it away now!

** I bring you and important update on the two Kololo friends I introduced to you below. Dr. Hodes has an organization that supports his work called the JDC. (Or the Jewish Joint Distribution Council). They are the world's largest Jewish Humanitarian Aid organization and we can direct our donations for the surgeries through them!
Here is step by step how to make sure all our money covers the needed funding for the surgeries for our two friends in Ethiopia.  Are you ready? It's not hard:

1) Go to www.rickhodes.org just to see how amazing he is. Grab a hankie.
2) Then click "donate" or go straight here. Look, I did it for you! 
3) Fill in information and make sure to check the "tribute gift" option.
4) Select Liz McGovern to be the tribute recipient. We need only fill in the fields with asterisks (name, etc.).
5) Check "Do not send a tribute card" at the bottom of the tribute recipient page. I assure you, Liz doesn't need it. 

Done! And we will then be $2, or $20 or $200 closer to changing these lives.

Dr Hodes works tirelessly on behalf of those without access to medical care. But he needs us.

Let's make this happen. Check in often, spread the word, tell your parents you want two surgeries for Christmas. In fact, I think my next blog update about how fundraising progress is going just named itself.

**So excited to be working towards this with you. Let's make it happen!**

Original post:
Do you want to do something important this Christmas?  Do you want to do something really special? Has your family looking for a way to make a difference this season, some family or organization to help?

My friend Liz was just in Ethiopia and was connected with these two good people. I want you to meet them.

Now I want you to meet one more person: Dr Hodes.

He is in Ethiopia, and actually he has worked there for over twenty years. He's a hero. He says about these two sweet people "Send 'em over!"

He is going cure them with their respective ameloblastoma and clubfeet. But it's not that simple. He needs money to do that. He needs us. These people need us.  Go here to be apart of it.



I can't in good conscience blog about anything deep and meaningful when my kids are crying, eating the tips off of markers, my house looks like, well, even worse than normal, Hubs is on the plane from Ethiopia coming home as I type, Village Thread orders are pouring in and I am happy, flabbergasted, nervous, and staying up until 3am at least every other night to work on the orders and I am still behind.

I have three (THREE!) photography clients waiting for their pictures. I am working on them, bit by bit but it is taking too long. Biting off more than one can chew is an illness, people. I have a renewed profound respect for working moms because I need to face the fact that right now, I am working. A lot. What is the technical term for what I do? Work at home? I did work at home all the time before. But now I do work that has nothing to do with all the other things I have to do in my role as mother and home keeper. I am finding I don't know how to balance very well.

I confess these things because I have a list. And this blog cannot be on it much for the next few weeks. Shhhh, I shouldn't even be here. But I wanted to say for the record

1) November weather here has given my soul a lift and frankly, made up for a hideous, snowy October. Yesterday blessed us with incredible sunshine and we spent it at a lake. It really was that this warm.

2) Tsega is is the most buff baby I've ever seen. He's lean and thin and small, but his muscles are rock solid. I kid you not. When I rub his back I can feel the dip of his back muscles divided by his spine. He is ripped, no two ways about it.

3) You can tell how busy my hands and mind are that I am taking a break from cloth diapering. I really like cloth diapering. It feels like a good thing to do and I prefer them to disposables. I still am a massive fan of AppleCheeks diapers. But something had to give this month.

4) I am excited to share that two new artists have added their creative and beautiful pieces to our collection of clothing and accessories over at Village Thread. Here is a small hint of the lovliness, but you really must go to the website to see it all.

Ok. Gotta get back to photo organizing. No more irresponsibility. Really. I mean it.


Gratitude on Thanksgiving

Grateful for Tsega sitting 45 minutes for braids with not a peep and smile on his face.
Grateful for Stevie Wonder playing in the background while the children play as I chop yams.
Grateful for a working dishwasher.
Grateful for food.

Grateful Hubs found some folks in Addis with whom to share Thanksgiving. (Go figure: some LDS humanitarian missionaries invited him over meal today with a few Mormon Ethiopian families. My husband. A total stranger. Ethiopian members of our church. Mind blowing.)
Grateful for less screaming today.
Grateful for a warm house.
A working car.
Good health.
Laughing, singing kids.
Exceptional physical and occupational therapists for Brady.
Clean water.
Good friends.
God's blessings.

Today, I am especially grateful today for answers. 




This morning the kids let me sleep in. At 8:30 Cookie patted my cheeks with the first thing he says almost every morning Mama, I need to go potty. I was bleary-eyed and heavy headed and begged him to wait five minutes while I summoned the will to live ability to get up. I asked Samantha to go hang out with the babies while I got my act together, as they are much happier when they have a friend. Fifteen minutes later I went to fetch the patient Cookie Monster out of the babies' room and I was met with smiles and filthy faces. It took me a moment to register what I was seeing:

Brady and Tsega both had chocolate all around their mouths, down the front of their matching sleep sacks, and there, on the floor behind one of the cribs, poorly hidden by children not quite smart enough* to know how to be really sneaky, was a pile of at least ten candy wrappers.

I tossed the rest of the Halloween candy, and laughed. It was totally worth it for the extra sleep.

*The Eldest is smart enough to know she could argue I didn't tell her how to make the babies happy, only to make them happy. She was technically being obedient.


Believe it or not, I used to be a little funny. And fun. I was way fun when I was a babysitter. My kids would never believe this and I am sure most of the people that know me today who didn't know me before* would list a hundred adjectives before getting to "person who makes me laugh."

*Before what? I don't know. There was no Big Bang. I think there has been a gradual sloughing off of the funniness.

Every once in awhile I can come up with one liners. Like when a friend mentioned on FB that her kid wanted to know why anyone would want to watch a stupid Twilight movie I responded

                     they want to watch the stupid movie because their husband is in Dubai and they want to watch hot teenagers make out. duh.

Chuckle chuckle. No truth to that whatsoever. I was just trying to be funny.
(Read: I watched the first one that night from 11pm-2am while sewing and was both impressed and disturbed by how appealing the overarching Damsel in Distress and Teenage Passion themes were for me. There was a time when I might have wanted to be a strong, independent kick-A girl.  But really, if I am honest, I would love someone breathing into my neck all day saying they cannot live without me and they are violently protective of me and whatnot. I could get into that. He should stay near the neck region though, my legs basically haven't seen a razor in weeks*.)


Yesterday we had little Ethiopian Adoption Culture party/fundraiser in Boston, after which I had to jet very  quickly to church. When I arrived home I peeled off my jeans, put on a longish skirt and after a brief pause of shame, proceeded to *shave exactly six inches of ankle, the part exposed by the skirt. Just enough to not get kicked out of church. I am hanging on to my pride for dear life here, people.


A few months ago I feel like I totally had my act together. My kids were in a groove with helping with chores, not too much TV, sleeping was decent among the little people. I was making home made bread every week, home made peanut butter. I read a few books. I started a business, did a few photo shoots. I made homemade jam and designed puppy cupcakes, tried new recipes of cinnamon rolls. All of that breezy sanity is totally gone. All of it. Aren't things supposed to get easier as children grow???

Are the kids screamier? More dangerous, more violent than they were three months ago? Several times this week dinner time approached and I realized there would be no way to feed them because if I tried to cook* something bad would happen. It's so cliche I don't even want to bore you, but the moment I attempt to do anything but hold the two babies, there is screaming. There is fighting. There is crying, there is pulling on my legs, tearing apart shelves, couch cushions, toilet paper rolls crammed into toilets, falls down stairs, eating of crayons, etc etc etc ad crazium. The punishment for cutting apple slices for them is a box of DVDs dumped out. The consequence for turning on the oven and getting out some ingredients is a music stand used as a battering ram on someone's head. It is constant. It is loud. It is aggressive, and I hate using television but frankly, that's not even enough sometimes. 

*Cook is a strong word for what I've been doing lately for dinner, by the way. Even basic meal assembling like getting out cheese slices and bread still takes time. Sure, I could get Sissy to help me speed up prep, but then who is going to stand in the fray and try to stop the madness?

Brady is faster and getting trickier but has no sense whatsoever. Today he climbed up a full flight of stairs without my knowledge. I did not know he could do this. I literally couldn't find my little Polly Pocket eating vacuum as he was upstairs trying to find his brothers (who had the door closed and were tearing all the bedding off the two bunk beds and taking turns jumping off the top bunk into the pile.)

It makes me nauseated to think about my baby in slippery pants on our slippery wooden stairs dragging along a flashlight in one of his chubby fists no less... He just smiled when I freaked out on him like You knew this day was coming lady.

The good news is that all three boys fight over being carried in the Ergo carrier. They are voicing their need to be babied, loved and close to me.

The bad news is I cannot get anything done, and I am going to bed at 1, 2, 5am sometimes in the name of some time alone to think, to get work done, to breathe without people screaming at me. I am living two lives right now. There is Mommy Madness Me, and Peaceful Semi-Productive Me*.

*Sometimes the staying up is bad. Like when I watch Hoarders and then I start thinking I am a hoarder and I have to get up and go throw a few things away.

I should stick to Twilight and sewing. And praying this phase will end, because no matter how I try to describe it kids ages five, three, two and one is way harder for me than it sounds. They are nuts, and working very hard to make me so as well.

Final thought: I have no interest in celebrating Christmas in 32 days. None. If we could push it back to January like the Ethiopians that would be really helpful. I might be ready by then. I am seriously gonna work on that with Hubs.


Gratitude: Day I Don't Even Know Right Now

Grateful for the owners of Lucy Ethiopian Cafe, who have been kind, supportive and amazing from the moment we first stepped through their doors. So grateful to count them as our guwadegna.

Grateful for a morning with friends.  Grateful for my mother-in-law for coming and helping.  Grateful for her sharing the location of a secret parking spot in downtown Boston.

See this picture below? It's me explaining the awesome thing she is doing for Mudula Water
See that beautiful painting of a cute girl?  Marianne, my MIL, is painting custom portraits and donating 100% to Mudula Water. She can take your favorite picture, and paint it, and she is really, really good. If you are interested in working with her for some art for your home, please email me at scoopingitup at gmail dot com.

I am grateful for Ethiotherapy yesterday. So is Brady, who thinks fit fit is no laughing matter. This boy takes his food very seriously.

Grateful for my Village right now who have stepped up to calm my crazy.  Hubs is in Ethiopia still and though communication is limited he is making some progress on some important goals. I have only cried five times today so I think I am in decent shape moving into our first Thanksgiving apart.

Emotion much?

Grateful you didn't notice that I've been skipping and cheating with the Gratitude Every Day posts.

Thanks, Internets.


All his bags are packed: Gratitude Day Nineteen

Hubs is in on a plane right now on his way to attend to some personal family business in Ethiopia. I am green with envy that Hubs is going there without me. I feel like I've spent a decent portion of our married life missing out on things. It is usually because of our vast career differences - mine having often been lying in bed for months holding a barf bucket while creating life or taking care of said life once it is out of my body.

Today, despite my painful jealousy, I am grateful to my friend Gina who told me back in September when I fretted about the decision

Go with your gut.

As she uttered those words, time stood still for a moment and I had absolute clarity about something that had been ripping me up inside for months. To go now, or to wait a year or so until the kids are older and more ready for both parents to leave....I went back and forth with the pros and cons and had no idea what to do.

But in that moment my gut, heart, the Universe shouted in no uncertain terms that there was no way I should go and leave the Three Shrieking Eels very young and/or still-in-trauma-recovery boys. It is too much to ask of them to handle, and frankly, too much to ask of either set of Grandparents to handle. They are numerous (the children) and they are in a hard phase.

Gina's words stilled my troubled heart and in a few hours gave rise to my idea to ask if Hubs would go alone on our errand. (On a side note, Gina paints incredible pictures of Ethiopia, and like me, she is passionate about Mudula Water. Go look at her work!)

I am grateful Hubs is going for us. It simply made more sense for me to stay. I am grateful for my continued calm that this was the right thing to do for our family. I am grateful he took a massive shopping list and I have faith that he can totally do it. Reason 5,721 that I love him: he is good at shopping, unafraid to haggle a bit, and buys the right stuff and even enjoys it.  I wish you could see him in action. Ladies, he's taken.

I love these bags full of packages and letters to deliver for friends, donations for schools and orphanages, and a few small presents for some special people in our lives. I don't love talking about sponsorship on this blog, or almost anywhere because it can quickly turn into a "toot my horn" situation.

But I am grateful that Hubs gets to go meet a little guy who we sponsor. He gets to hand over pictures our kids drew, notes, some new clothes and shoes. He gets to hug him, show him love, kick a soccer ball with him and his friends. Let him know without a doubt that our family, from across the world, has his back as long as he needs it. I have dreams about getting this awesome kiddo to college, I ain't gonna lie.

Sponsoring a child to go to school, help make sure he's fed, clothed and sees a medical team every once in awhile is rewarding and meaningful to our children. To get to have a relationship with him, share letters and pictures? There are no words to describe the joy it is; the high. I recommend it. 

Happy trails lover boy. Come home in tact. Take a gazillion pictures. We are praying for your errands.  Afikerhalew, I love you.

Sometime, it will be my turn to go back to the place that has firmly captured my soul.  As Hubs reminded me as he packed last night, Ethiopia for our family is not a once in a life time experience. We will keep going back as often as we can. I am thinking home school semester abroad sometime. You know you wanna come...

I feel peaceful about that. Ethiopia isn't going anywhere. And for my boys, for today, neither is their Mama.


Gratitude: Day Seventeen

I am grateful for my eldest.

Who almost never balks at request from her mom, or a transition, or a chore. Who can memorize and remember and perform and recite to my heart's fluttering joy. Who helps me at least fifty times a day.

Who can handle a live drop off  "You run in, find your gymnastics class and listen to your teacher, I am gonna park the car and will be in with the boys in five minutes. The car is rolling, unbuckle the car seat, go go go!" 

Who doesn't blink an eye when the gymnastics teacher she's used to is replaced for the day by a hard core Russian ballet teacher who expects perfect discipline from five-year-olds.

Who can read like no one's business. Seriously, parents of 3-6 year olds. If you haven't bought Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, just do it. It works, and my kid reads. She doesn't guess words based on context clues and pictures. She reads.

Who handed me three dimes, two pennies and a quarter while I was doing dishes tonight. Mom, I don't want to do this, but it needs to happen. I just have to give this to you: will you please send this to Somalia? And tell Dad while he's in Ethiopia to go help, I mean, we are too far away, but he will be closer and maybe he can do something.

My girl hasn't forgotten that Somalia is still in crisis. That thousands are dying from starvation and diseases that spread through refugee camps. She hasn't forgotten for one minute, even though the media is totally over it.

Who announced to Hubs and I in the car the other day Mom, when I grow up and marry Daddy, will I sleep in the same bed as you guys? I know you don't want me to grow up so I will make you happy by staying in this house. Does that sound like a good deal? Yep, she still hasn't lost the dream.

I am grateful for Samantha. Without her I am quite sure I would need medication to cope with these boys. I hope that she will always let me adore her and enjoy life with her. The odds are not promising as I've heard rumors about teenage girls, but my prayer will stay steadfast and immovable that some part of her will want to be friends with her mom.


Gratitude: Day Sixteen

Can you tell by the pictures what is happening?

Any guesses? Have you honed in on the activity during which I took these pictures?

That's right, you are correct: reading the scriptures. As you can see, it goes over really well with the children.

As for me, I've had the worst personal scripture reading track record of my life over the last eighteen months. But even still, today I am grateful for the scriptures. I am grateful for the words that fill my soul, bring me a comfort, often tears to my eyes. They are powerful to me. I am grateful that even though we have days that it doesn't work, that the kids know it's important to me, and we have times where they do listen, and discuss. They know come heck or bad attitude, we are gonna try almost every day.

I am grateful for the scriptures that promise me that if I depend on God I shall "run and not be weary; and ...shall walk, and not faint."  What a profound promise, I mean, every parent I know needs more strength than she or he has. It is too much for all of us to do well. 

Some do yoga to find the will to go on, to go again another day. Some of us plan spa or day retreats, or invest in Starbucks, or depend on friends to vent.  All of these things are restorative for sure, (though I don't drink coffee so I cannot speak from experience) but I find an additional reserve of strength in the words Bible and Book of Mormon. I am grateful for this power in my life and I have felt it.

Two verses that mean a lot to me I wanted to share:

"And now, my sons (and daughters, I always add mentally), remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

To me this means that life is literally going to beat the crap out of us. It is not a matter of if, it's when. This verse says to me that there will be wind and storms and hail: horrible relationships, mistakes, injustice, disappointments, incredible pain, mental illness and physical illness, people we love will hurt us, people we don't love will try to tear us down, mistakes will happen, accidents are going to happen. The worst can happen: But that those things do not have to overcome us.

That a relationship with Jesus Christ -ya know, the one I said a few posts back I am trying to figure out how to have?- means these things do not have to make me terribly unhappy or ruin my love of self or love of life or any one else. My heart can be peaceful despite these storms.

I hang on to this promise. I don't always see it working in my life, but I hang on to it.

My other favorite scripture is, well, one I talked about about a year ago. Still on the path to finding it but I think I've made improvements.

I am so grateful.


Gratitude: Day Fifteen

I know I kinda already talked about him, but today I am grateful again for Hubs, who knows what he's doing when it comes to getting my little business venture off the ground. I am grateful for the research, phone calls, and info gathering he can do during the day that I cannot what with the noise and mess factor around here. My favorite thing in the world is yelling at a customer service person "hang on, the baby is eating his diaper." Every email or phone call or checking something Hubs squeezes in during his own busy work days are  blessings to me.

I am grateful for his support in all seventy-three hobbies I pursue, and I hope he always knows that he is my favorite hobby.

I am thankful to all the people that support and believe in me, who have ordered from Village Thread, who by so doing help our family give to organizations that need and warrant financial support and give my brain the creative outlet I need to keep me happy and just on the edge of sanity. I am grateful for the customers who've been patient when we went wildly out of stock on a few shirts, overhauled production by buying a screen printer ourselves, and am learning the ins and outs of taking on production ourselves. Some are still waiting for their orders. And they haven't burned my house down yet. Thank you. I think about the open orders day and night, I can assure you of that.

I am thankful for the beautiful models that help me sell our fabulous clothes. They let me pay them in shirts...

Well, this one asks for more than that...he requests candy as part of his compensation. And refuses to wear pants, so on the website, jammie shorts it is!


I am grateful for my new friendship and partnership with Clinic at a Time, and feel honored to use Village Thread to help them fund-raise.

It is fun to get to advertise like nutso for them because I don't make any money off sales of their wonderful gifts. Guilt free advertising! Woo hoo!

For the holidays we are offering the tried and true You Can Make Injera cook book, as well as an Injera Starter Mix (think, muffin or cake mix! Just add water...). Some of the gift sets include the Village Thread designed Got Injera? shirts, you can pick a gift set that includes an adult shirt, a child's shirt, or both!

Ordering before the holiday rush is vital. Because this is me you're talking about. Just kidding, I have lots of help with shipping of these for the holidays. But it is a fact that the gift sets are only be sold for another few days! Please, come join our Village, see if there are any gifts for you, because the more you buy, the more we can give. And that makes me so happy.

Really, everyone, thank you.


Gratitude: Day Fourteen

ፀጋ ታፈሰ Tsega turned two this weekend. I am so grateful for his presence in our family. I am grateful for his bravery in working through a traumatic beginning. For his willingness to let us love him and teach him. For his spunk. For his bringing out Cookie's boyish craziness (A boy cannot live by Polly Pockets alone, and that is exactly what Cookie did until his brother came along).

I haven't done my "as it stands" post about Tsega yet because I feel like words are not enough to capture this boy. You have to spend a day with him to really see his abilities, his smarts, his acrobatics, his antics, his love, his progress, his sweetness, his vulnerability, his strength, his consideration of his little brother, who he let share his birthday. Brady was developmentally about six months when his birthday rolled around this past June, so we didn't really do anything. We thought he'd like to get in on the action now that he's a little more grown up. Tsega doesn't mind.

I am grateful for those who came over to show the boys some love, with a very last minute invitation (read: I pulled a "holy cow we have to celebrate these birthdays this weekend because Hubs is going to Ethiopia next week and after that it's December and there is no sense in trying to pull together a party in December!").

I am missing half the pictures -- including some really funny ones of family and friends attempting to kill the pinata-- because my camera chose to die several moments into the party and a friend had take some on her camera, but I wanted to share a few I have of the special day.

Please sir, may I have some more?

Old friends and new friends

I think pinatas at birthday parties are totally underused. I loved this.

It wouldn't be a birthday (or a normal day for that matter) unless an entire box of something is dumped out. 

It wouldn't be a birthday or a normal day without Brady getting goofy and stealing shoes for this new trick

It wouldn't be a birthday or a normal day without dancing and some awesome tunes

Someone got a tad overtired.

Look how much he's changed in eighteen months.

We sure love our boys. I am so grateful.