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Growing garden and dreadlocks

We are really enjoying our growing garden.  We’ve eaten lettuce and swiss chard a few times each week  and picked our first jalapeno, banana pepper and tomato today!  We should have a few decent zucchini and summer squash by the end of the week.  Yum!  Here’s today’s pick.  Oh yeah, we picked basil too.  I’ve got to get some pictures of the actual garden. . . our cucumber plant is humongous!  I’m definitely going to be giving away cucumbers in a few weeks.  Any takers???

Then over the weekend I put dreadlocks in my hair. . . . I was inspired a few weeks ago by Tara over at her blog http://www.theorganicsister.com  I did get permission from my sister first because I will be in her wedding this summer. =) Rachel you’re an awesome sister.  And then a friend from my summer camp days in Northern Maine help me take the plunge when I saw her beautifully knotty hair.  Here are my before, during and after photos!  And a thank you to all my friends who so kindly accepted my crazy hair. =)


A big thank you to my hubby who stayed up late into the night Friday back-combing these all for me!  Its going to take some time since my hair is pretty straight and fine, but I’m really liking it already.  I found some great scarves and hats to wear, but around the house with the kids, the cut off arm of an old t-shirt works just fine to contain the poofiness and frizziness for now!


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For a Good ol’ Laugh. . .

So the kids and I were inspired by this blog and decided to put our $2.oo hula hoop into action.  Fun times were had by all. . . and continue on a daily basis.  Can I count this as a homeschooling activity???  Phys Ed – right? =)

So here’s the kiddos giving it a whirl on Monday

Here’s Joshua showing us all up that evening

And here’s where you better take a break and use the bathroom so you don’t have any accidents while watching my hilarious attempt which is ANYTHING BUT GRACEFUL.

And finally here’s the kids doing their spinning trick

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Green Thumbs

Well, Joshua and I both grew up in families that had large backyard gardens and we were both responsible for weeding and harvesting. . . However, I’m finding that just “being in a family” that had a garden, doesn’t make you an expert gardener! =)  There is so much to learn and know.  The community we live in has an area fenced off where families can rent raised bed garden plots, so this spring we’ve taken the dive and invested the $20 (rents it for the entire year!) for a 4×12 foot plot.  Since we’re a little behind the game and I didn’t get any plants started earlier in the spring we visited the local farmers market this morning for a bunch of seedlings.  The kids and I will head over to the garden this afternoon and plant them in.  But for now, here’s the photos of us digging up the rye that was planted in the bed and turning over the soil.  I’ve also added in picture of the flowers we planted in front of our house.  I think Grampy Blackstone will like the dahlias I’ve got in there, and Grandma Silvieus, its nothing compared to your master garden, but I think you’ll appreciate the colors!  Enjoy. . . more to come once we’ve planted our seedlings!

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And Here’s the finished product!  There are 4 types of tomatoes, jalapenos, banana peppers, green and red bell peppers, onions, beets, lettuce, swiss chard, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, and a watermelon.

And the kids herbs we planted in pots.

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Thank you Adventures in Odyssey

I’m not sure how many of you might have been privileged enough to enjoy the fantastic made for radio audio stories of Adventures in Odyssey as a child. . . but I listened to MANY 30 minute adventures throughout my childhood.  Go HERE for a link to the website.  Many character building life lessons were taught through the tales told and the family discussions that followed.

Well, for Christmas our children were introduced to the series and here are a few of the memorable quotes that Fikadu and Tigist now have memorized by heart.  Fikadu has popped a number of these quotes on me at the most hilarious times.

So here it goes:

Thank you Adventures in Odyssey for introducing my child to the Knock knock joke.  After one year in America they final know how to go on endlessly with mindless, nonsensical, jokes.  Such as, “Knock knock, who’s there?, Orange, Orange who?, Orange you gonna let me in”

Thank you Adventures in Odyssey for the completely annoying, yet hilarious word, “Snickerbonkers”  That my children repeatedly shout out throughout the day.

Thank you Adventures in Odyssey for giving Fikadu the line, “Math, I HATE math!”  Up until then he had no idea how to voice his utter frustration.

And finally Thank you Adventures in Odyssey for the quote that just about made me wet my pants! Fikadu one day walked up to me and said, “Hey mom!  I’m an ice cream taster. . . its a dangerous job!”

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Loving those around us. . .

Yesterday while we were out running errands we were driving through a shopping center and Tigist said, “Mom, there’s a man sleeping on the ground there!”  Now, we live in a fairly nice neighborhood and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a homeless person just “lying on the ground” so I was kind of taken aback and said we’d continue onto the bank, but we’d drive back by on our way out and see if he was still there.  Tigist then proceeded with questions about if he had a house, or a blanket, or any food.  She was obviously very concerned for this man.

What an incredible teaching moment!  While she unfolded the heart of God and gave me a picture of compassion, I had the opportunity to respond in showing both children what that could look like.  After our jaunt to the bank we did drive back around and see a man sleeping on the ground just as Tigist had pointed out.  In that moment I wrestled with a whole rush of fears and struggled with the desire to just drive away, rationalizing that he was asleep and we shouldn’t wake him up.  But I couldn’t, I knew that the Holy Spirit wouldn’t allow me to just walk away.  I’ve done that before.  So we called Joshua who happened to work in the office building just across the street, and asked if he could walk over, talk with the man, and offer to buy him lunch.  What a blessing!

While the kids and I drove home (we thought it best that Joshua have the first conversation with this man) Joshua was able to hear Danny’s  story, buy him lunch and share Christ with him.  When we got home Tigist said, “Mommy, will daddy give that man a house?”  As I thought about this I was struck by her thoughtfulness, but also her faith and trust that we might just have the resources to give this man a house! (we don’t)  But then she asked why someone hadn’t adopted him, like we had adopted her.  This broke my heart.  I can see her beginning to understand the significance of her adoption.

Later in the evening Danny gave Joshua a call and asked for a ride to the metro so that he could get back to the shelter in DC.  Joshua picked him up and I packed a sandwich for his dinner.  An hour later Joshua called and said he was on his way home, he had the opportunity to love on this man and enter his world and has arranged to bring him to church on Sunday.

I want situations like this to mark my days.  I no longer want to pass by the needy around me, forget the orphan, avoid the widow.  Lord, may this year be marked by loving my neighbor.

Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.

Matthew 25:37-40 “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?  And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.””

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Celebrating a year of God’s Faithfulness!

One year ago today we landed at Dulles International Airport and since that day God has been unfolding His wonderful plan in our family!  Today we celebrate His faithfulness and take a day to recount all the joy we’ve experienced this past year!  Fikadu and Tigist – you are the children of our hearts, conceived many years ago, and born in our hearts out of love.  We are so grateful to God for you!

Click HERE to view our Year in Review Video.

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Merry Christmas from the Taylor Family!

Dear family and friends,

While I sit down to draft our Christmas letter in our living room this year I look around and see sights vastly different then a year ago! I see a blanket fort covering my coffee table and couch, children’s toys, homemade colored pictures hanging by the desk, and I hear two sweet children going over math flash cards inside the fort. Our cat Scat periodically jumps out of the blankets to attack our dog Belle. Wonderful pictures of God’s kindness and faithfulness to our family. I pray that each of you have also experienced a year full of the love and joy of family.

As you know, we traveled in January of this year to Ethiopia to complete our adoption of Fikadu and Tigist. This journey was extraordinary in numerous ways. While we had fallen in love with the pictures of two adorable children we got to embrace them for the first time and take in much of the culture they spent the first years of their lives in. This 7 day journey was memorable in so many ways and you can read all about it by clicking HERE and reading about our time in Ethiopia.

The months that followed were filled with many changes as we sought to understand each other and teach Fikadu and Tigist English. While we experienced our fair share of misunderstandings this transition went better than we had ever imagined and stretched us as we focused on communicating in creative ways. Our greatest lesson learned was that love and playfulness go a long way in easing this major life change. We’re a family that loves to play, share, dance, and laugh together. You can click HERE   for some great dancing movies and HERE for some fun pictures and Taylor home videos.

This summer Fikadu and Tigist experienced the awesomeness of Northern Maine that was preceded by the not so awesome car ride that took as long as the flight from Ethiopia to Virginia! (17 hours) We spent a week in Maine attending Aunt Hillary’s wedding and meeting Joshua’s side of the family, followed by time at G & G Blackstone’s house and camp. You can see the photo highlights HERE.

The summer ended with a trip to Ohio for a Silvieus family reunion. It was a fantastic long weekend spent camping out in Grandma and Grandpa Silvieus’ front lawn, swimming and fishing in the pond out back, and seeing the vastness of Lake Erie. The kids loved the waves and sand; and Josh and I had a wonderful chance to reconnect with family we haven’t seen in such a long time. You can see pictures by clicking HERE.

Since Fikadu and Tigist have joined our family we have made the decision to home school. This started in January when they first came home with a desire to have as much time as possible with them and focus on catching up with English and reading skills. But we have loved our time together and this fall we decided to jump in full swing and order an entire 1st grade curriculum. I have gained a love for teaching and watching Fikadu and Tigist learn new things each day! In August we had a little family celebration complete with certificates of accomplishment and a chocolate cake! I’m continually amazed at their progress and ability to absorb so much information in the short 11 months they have been in our family!

Just recently we celebrated our first family Thanksgiving together and what a plethora of things we had to be thankful for! We drove to Lynchburg and stayed with Melissa and Aaron and had a great time visiting with Luke and Anna and Mom and Dad Blackstone who flew in to celebrate. Some of the highlights were baking together, puzzle building and Lego cars. You can see the photos HERE.

As we prepare for our first family Christmas we look forward to seeing the delight in our children’s eyes as they open presents and are blessed with gifts like never before. Because for sure there will be more packages, bags, and bows then they have ever seen gathered in one place as we visit Grammy and Grampy Blackstone, Nana, and Grandpa and Grandma Taylor. They’ve begun to catch wind of the idea that there may be a gift or two or ten involved with Christmas and its fun to watch their excitement grow. But even as I realize that they have no idea of the extravagance they are about to encounter I also remember the poverty and sorrow they lived in less than a year ago. They have never had a Christmas before. Last year they were waiting in an orphanage for a mommy and daddy they did not know, with only a hope and prayer that their lives would soon change.

I simply can not end our Christmas letter without mention of the 143 million orphans still in need of a family. You see, what we thought was a simple decision to create a family has become so much more. We are changed by what we have seen and experienced. You just CAN’T walk away from 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone and go back to normal American life. In the Bible Ephesians 1:4-7 says,

Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. ” (NLT)

Everyday we have a very tangible reminder that God loved us enough to adopt us into his family. And this motivates us to reciprocate this same kind of love to others. We are excited to begin pursuing a second adoption in 2010 and look forward to having another face or two in our Christmas cards to come! Feel free to stop back by our blog often for updates, or read through previous posts.  May you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year! God Bless You!

With love,

Joshua, Bethany, Fikadu, and Tigist

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