Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pinecone Turo

If Turo got to name his future brother or sister, he'd call the baby Pinecone Turo. Catchy, eh?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kololo Sponsorship

With a month to go before his fourth birthday, Turo is on the verge of reading. He can identify the letters, and the other day he told me “th” was a blended sound. He’s like a little literacy sponge. And as I watch him learn, I can’t help but think of what life would’ve been like for him in Ethiopia. What life is like for millions of children who do not have access to education.

I wish that all children had the opportunity to delight in letters, to attend school in a place that makes them feel special and to believe that their dreams are possible. As you may remember, my friend Julie (who is amazing) is making this happen in one rural village in Ethiopia. She spearheaded an incredible fundraising campaign and raised enough money to build a school and a library in Kololo, Ethiopia. This school is currently under construction and will serve 250 students. It's just incredible.

Through my bracelet sales from earlier this year, one student's education in this new school is already sponsored. Now I hope to sponsor another student, so I have made 25 more pink and Ethiopian-flag inspired bracelets to help me reach this goal. Ten dollars from the sale of each bracelet will go directly to The Tesfa Foundation's sponsorship program. You can check the bracelets out at my Etsy store Heart in my Heart.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Becoming a big brother

We are trying to prepare Turo as much as we can for his new role as big brother. We have books. He took a class on becoming a big sibling. We talk about babies and how he'll be such a good, helpful big brother. I'm excited to see him in this new role.

Turo practices gentle touches

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To be hung by the chimney with care...

My mom taught me some basic sewing skills a few weekends ago so we could make Christmas stockings. It was pretty fun. Now I'm wondering what other things I could make...

Monday, November 28, 2011

e-mail #1

November 22
Yesterday we received our first “pregnant client situation” e-mail. It outlined a birth family’s situation and asked us if we wanted to be “shown.” The birthmother is due in less than two weeks. Could they pick us? Maybe. What if they pick us? Wow! We could be parents of a newborn before Christmas.

I can’t imagine having to make this decision for my child. I really can't wrap my mind around what it must be like trying to decide based on a letter and a book who will love and honor this little person. How scary and totally overwhelming.

I’m trying not to get myself too worked up over this. But I did spend some time last night making a shopping list and looking at carseats. Just in case. And we’ll need the info at some point anyway, right? I’m reminding myself that it is very likely we won’t be picked and that’s not a judgment against us. We want a situation in which a birth family feels good about their choice, about us, about the home we will provide for our child. (And that “our” encompasses everyone)

My heart is already pounding. Will it do this all day? Probably. Will I feel like throwing-up if my phone rings with an unknown number. Very likely.

But this potential excitement for us, means a loss for many other people and one tiny, innocent baby. This is the hard, tough part of adoption. Brutally hard. Unimaginably hard. So I send peace and comfort to this family and for whatever decision they make.

November 28
After obsessively checking my e-mail more times than I care to admit, we got word late Wednesday afternoon that we were not chosen by the birth family. And I have to say I was a bit bummed. As much as I tried not to start thinking about a Christmas baby, I couldn’t totally stop my imagination from going there.

Now I’m back to planning a fun December as a threesome. First on the agenda - my dad and step-mom come for a visit this weekend!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In his younger days, Turo was not a picky eater. He was happy to try whatever you gave him. Now, he has developed a more discriminating palate. This isn't usually a problem at breakfast or lunch since we pretty much eat the same sorts of food for those those meals. But dinner is a whole other deal (plus if you add the fact that I'm vegetarian and Jose is not, nightly cooking becomes a challenge). I don't want to make Turo his own meal totally separate from ours, and I don't want to turn eating into a power struggle. So usually I try to offer whatever we're eating plus something easy I know he will eat. I encourage him to try everything on his plate, but I don't force him to eat anything or count out the bites he has left. I'm hoping that eventually patience and persistence will pay off and he'll stop being so picky.

My version of dinner the other night: quesadillas & chickpea/spinach soup

Turo's dinner - tortilla & shredded cheese (he does not enjoy the two together) and carrots (which he has recently embraced because I cut them into little pieces and he can count them).

And if I really want to get him to eat his dinner, I can offer up a banana as an incentive. I do love that a piece of fruit can be a bribe to eat other healthy things.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Last month our 15 year old male neighbor babysat Turo for a couple of hours. Jose set up the Wii for them and I failed to mentioned to our neighbor that Turo isn't allowed to play the sword fighting game on Wii resort (it's not super violent, but they knock each other down and fall into the water). Well, they pretty much played that game for duration of our date.

Turo now likes to recreate this scenario with his play people. We talk about how fighting isn't nice and that we don't push/hit our friends. Yet, here is Bert ready to knock Baby into the "water."

How much of this do I worry about? Peace loving moms of older boys have told me stories about their sons turning sticks and bread into guns. Is this a boy thing? As long as Turo isn't actually hurting real people is it okay to create somewhat violent imaginary scenarios?

The other night we were reading Martin's Big Words (which is a beautiful book by the way) and it talks about how MLK taught love and how to fight with words not fists. I made sure to point this out to Turo.

Maybe we need to stage a peace rally with the play people...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More photos of my yard

I'm lacking a green thumb and get discouraged at my inability to keep my yard/garden looking amazing (using only "green" methods). I was going through fall photos from last year and found this one of my sad, brown grass.

Then I looked at this one I took last weekend. And it made me feel like maybe I am making a little progress.

Things that turn my heart to mush

I received the following facebook message from Jose yesterday:

Forgot to tell you this:

Turo in the car this morning -

Mama is amazing
Me: She sure is.
Turo: And beautiful.

I kid you not...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Anna Maria

I'm not sure if I've mentioned Anna Maria before, but she is Turo's imaginary friend. She popped up last January while we were in San Diego on vacation. She comes up from time to time - on the other end of a phone call, across a crowded room. Apparently she spent some time in Mexico, had a few near death experiences and currently lives "far, far away."

Recently things with Anna Maria have taken an interesting turn. When Turo doesn't like what I have to say, his response often begins with "well, Anna Maria can..." The other day I told him to tell her to "mind her own business."

Maybe I need to have a chat with Anna Maria's mom about their household rules. I'll have to ask Turo for their number.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The change of seasons

For the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to get our yard ready for winter. The dead plants have been cut down, outdoor furniture has been put away, leaves have been raked. And as much as I love the summer, I do look forward to having one less set of chores to worry about for a few months.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Turo Day

Turo didn't have preschool today due to conferences, so I decided to let him have a major say in what we did today. I kept my household chores to a minimum and really tried to stay in the present with my boy. After waking up, we snuggled in bed while watching Elmo & train youtube videos. We raced & "bammed" trucks into various targets for over an hour. Then there was some cartoon watching before lunch. Turo's main request for the day was to go to the mall, so he ran and played with some new friends for almost two hours. And I ran into an old friend from college, which was an added bonus. When we got home, we played outside until it started to sprinkle, read for a bit, had dinner and then continued the truck racing/bamming game until bathtime.

Some days I feel like I spend a lot of time saying "in a minute" and "hold on" to his requests for play and attention. There always seems to be something to cook, launder, sweep, mow, weed, scrub, tidy, fold, wash... I do spend time each day with Turo, but often it is in chunks in between household chores or errands.

It felt good to give ourselves the day just to hang out and play. We need to do this more often.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Numbers, numbers everywhere

Turo has started noticing numbers. In the grocery store, on the pages of his books, in the car, on the tape measure... It's amazing to watch him make these little discoveries.

(Don't worry Turo doesn't sit in the front seat without a seatbelt. He just likes to "play drive" when we get home.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I think I might be a runner

I finished my first ½ marathon on Sunday. In 2:31:19 (that’s about 11 ½ minutes per mile, in case you were wondering). Although I officially started training for this thing back in August, the seed was planted much early by my brother. Back in March, over lunch, we caught up and chatted about a wide variety of topics. And somewhere in our conversation, I brought up marathons and how I had no idea how people could do that. His response was something along the lines of the important thing is to just start. Go out and do a mile, then the next day do a little more and not get caught up in the big, overwhelming picture. This advice really applies to lots of things in life doesn’t it? He’s a smart guy, my little brother.

When I was thinking about ways to raise funds and awareness about the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, I wanted to do something that required a commitment on my part. As I brainstormed, I kept going back to running. After a little research, I discovered the Detroit Marathon was about eight weeks away. I would try to do the 13.1 miles and use it as a vehicle for fundraising. I just had to start.

Eight weeks later, I was standing in the dark at 7am with 20,000 fellow runners. Getting ready to run for Ethiopia, for the awesome people who donated $1680 to aid those in desperate need and for myself.

Waiting in my "wave" for the race to begin

We ran across the bridge to Canada (and came back via tunnel)

My cheering section and fellow runner (Jose pledged to run the 5K if I met my goal of raising $1310)

Friday, October 14, 2011


The beginning of a blanket, each stitch filled with hope and love,
Summer 2008

Finally finished, January 2010

Sleeping boy, October 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011


When we got to the waiting stage with Turo, we knew there would be several months before “the call.” Having this timeline didn’t stop me from obsessing, checking the unofficial on-line list of other waiting families and thinking a lot about our future child. Six months passed between the time we were put on the waitlist and we got the call that changed everything. Then we waited another five months before we were on the plane to go meet our son.

This time around we wait for a birth mother to choose us. So we could find out tomorrow or two years from now that we are about to add to our family. Unlike pregnancy or even our first wait, there are no timetables. We entered the “pool” of potential families October 3rd. The next day my phone rang twice with local, unknown numbers, and I about had a panic attack each time.

To alleviate some of my anxiety, I e-mailed our adoption counselor just to get clarification about how the call will go down. We’ll get an e-mail first asking if our birth family letter can be shown, then we’ll get the call if we’re picked. At that point we’ll meet and decide if both parties want move forward with an adoption plan. Then we’ll wait some more. Wait for the baby. Wait until parental rights are terminated by the courts. Wait, wait, wait…

Now I’m obsessively checking my e-mail countless times a day. Each time I hit refresh, I hold my breath as I skim the group-ons and daily deals to look for the e-mail that may bring us a step closer to our second Baby Barto.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


During high school everything was saved. Notes from friends, play bills, photos, articles from the Shopping Guide that featured me or my friends, band programs, report cards, ticket stubs, birthday/Christmas/Easter/Valentine/graduation cards, awards… Neatly organized by year in binders (see my mom’s influence here). Then packed away in Rubbermaid tubs, moved from Michigan to Texas and back again. Taking up space in the basement. So, when we organized, I decided it was time to sort through these boxes and re-prioritize what should be saved.

It was tough trying to decide what should be scrapped (and when possible recycled). I kept items that represented a special person, event or moment and let go of the rest. Going through years of memories was an emotional job. Each photo and newspaper clipping was a reminder of that teenage version of myself. The nerdy, involved in everything, Euphonium playing high schooler. With this whole big exciting future stretching out ahead of her. So many possibilities. What would that Sara think of who she is now? Would she recognize the woman she became?

The bag of photos that didn’t make the cut remained in my garage for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t quite bring myself to heave it into the trash. Tonight I finally did. I lit a candle and said a little good-bye to that old part of myself.

And the empty tubs were filled with onesies, small blankets and other baby paraphernalia. Ready for the future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

13 Ways Glimmer of Hope is Helping

Through their fundraising efforts, Glimmer of Hope is supporting agencies on the ground with the following efforts:

1. Malnourished children are receiving nutrient rich food

2. Mobile health clinics are providing check-ups

3. Water is being delivered to areas in need

4. Children in the Dolo Ado refugee camp are being offered educational activities

5. Reunification programs are being provided to children who have been separated from their families

6. Basic necessities are being given to families in the Dolo Ado refugee camp

7. Fortified food is being offered to lactating and pregnant women

8. Interim care is being given to displaced children

9. Vaccinations are being administered

10. Water storage and water trucking is being provided to the Dolo Ado refugee camp

11. Fortified food is being distributed to people with HIV/AIDS

12. First aid kits are being handed out in the refugee camp

13. Bringing hope to those in desperate need

If you would like to contribute to Glimmer of Hope, please visit my fundraising page at

Sunday, September 25, 2011

13 Reasons I'm Running for Glimmer of Hope

1. The Horn of Africa is suffering from their worst drought in 60 years.

2. From June-August, over 29,000 children under 5 died due to hunger and illness, and it is predicted that without aid thousands more will die.

3. 13 million people are at-risk due to a lack of food and water (which is about three million more people than live in the entire state of Michigan).

4. Children under 5 and women are most effected by the food crisis.

5. Mothers shouldn’t have to decide between helping their dying children and their healthy ones.

6. The UN estimates that 750,000 Somali people could die from hunger in the next four months.

7. Six regions of Somali have reached the famine stage (which the UN states to be at least 20 per cent of households face extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition in over 30 percent of people, and two deaths per 10,000 people every day).

8. Nearly 120,000 Somalis are living in the crowded refugee camps of Dolo Ado in Ethiopia (including children who have been separated from their families).

9. People living in refugee camps also are at-risk diseases like measles & cholera.

10. Families, often with malnourished children, are walking for days in search of assistance.

11. Food prices, as a result of failing crops, have increased dramatically making it hard for families to purchase the basic necessities.

12. The World Food Program estimated that 700,000 people in southern Ethiopia (which is where Turo is from) will need food assistance.

13. This is my son’s homeland. I'm forever connected to this place and her people.

If you would like to make a donation to help the people of Ethiopia and Somalia, you can visit my fundraising page at

Here are some links from which I collected the above information -

Thursday, September 22, 2011

13.1 for Ethiopia

Shebidino, Ethiopia. This was the dateline of an article about the food crisis last month. This is also the region of Ethiopia Turo is from. After reading this story about the impact of the “green” drought, I decided I needed to do more to raise funds and awareness about the humanitarian emergency playing out in the Horn of Africa. I felt an e-mail to family and friends linking aid agencies wasn’t enough.

I decided to run in the Detroit ½ marathon on October 16th to raise money for families impacted by drought, food shortages and conflict. I’m not a big runner. Up until a couple of months ago, I went to the gym so Turo could go to Childwatch and I could read magazines on the elliptical or listen to This American Life as I walked around the track. So, running 13 miles felt like a meaningful way I could demonstrate my commitment to Turo’s birthplace and to the people who are trying to survive in the face of unimaginable hardship.

I have chosen to fundraise with Glimmer of Hope, a non-profit that is working with groups on the ground in Ethiopia. Glimmer’s partner organizations, which include Mercy Corps, GOAL and Save the Children, are providing vital services for the Somali refugees streaming into Ethiopia and for Ethiopians living in drought stricken areas. 100% of all donations to Glimmer of Hope will be sent directly to Ethiopia. A separate endowment pays for administrative costs for the agency.

My goal is to raise $1310 ($100/mile). I would be honored if you sponsored a portion of my run. Together we can help address the overwhelming need facing the people in the Horn of Africa.

If you would like to make a donation, you can find my fundraising page at Please, let me know if you have any questions or would like more information about the work Glimmer of Hope is doing in Africa.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who needs Martha?

My mom claims she loves to clean and organize. That "it's not work if you enjoy it." As a messy teenager, this wasn't always a good mix. As a messy adult, I totally take advantage of her passion for tidiness. This week she used her vacation time to come help me organize my basement. Isn't she awesome?



Monday, September 12, 2011

The most diverse place to play in our town: The Mall

Back in the gloomy days of winter, we discovered the mall play area. It's really a simple set up - big space to run, random things to climb on, seats for parents and it's free. (well, there are also little kiddie rides that do cost money, but even then it's still a pretty affordable place to play.) And there is the added bonus of a certain coffee shop down the hall.

But my favorite thing about the place is the diversity of children playing there. Turo is not the only kid of color. Parents are scolding their offspring in a wide variety of languages. Once there was even an Ethiopian family.

I'm not sure what this says about our society that the melting pot of our community is the mall. But I'm glad that we've found this little multicultural spot.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Many months, three applications and a homestudy later

So, it seems there will be a Baby Barto after all. Back in January we decided we were ready to adopt again from Ethiopia. We contacted our old agency and started in on the paperwork. One of the steps was to get a new homestudy, so I called up the people who had completed our post placement reports. While on the phone, the social worker asked if we had thought about domestic adoption. Not really I told her, but asked her why she wanted to know. Welll, she had a birth mother who was looking for a family with an African American or bi-racial element to it. She was due in the summer. We decided to explore this possibility, filled out more paperwork, made a book of photos and waited. She didn’t pick us.

Right around this time things in Ethiopian adoptions were changing, becoming more uncertain. We wondered if it made sense to invest the time, emotion and money into a program with an unclear future. But we also didn’t feel totally comfortable with the domestic agency we had worked with. We did some more research and found a local agency that we dig. We had to let go of our visions of another Ethiopian in our family (for now anyway). We’ve filled out more paperwork, attended classes and had our homestudy yesterday.

Now we have to make a book of photos and we’ll enter the “pool.” In this adoption, a birth family will choose us. It will be open. More than likely we will bring a baby home from the hospital. I have started to knit a blanket. Jose has bought tiny Michigan pajamas. Turo has books about being a big brother.

We’re getting ready to become a family of four.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

For rebecca

When my husband showed me this photo, it made me think of the one of Eli and the helmet. I bet our boys would have a blast together.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Time for a tie

Friday we celebrated the marriage of my cousin Suzie and her lovely husband Brian. (They had a soft serve ice-cream machine at the reception, how great is that?) We are so happy that they have found each other and are so glad to have Brian in our family.

And Turo got to sport his first tie, so of course I had to document this.

Aren't these guys handsome? I'm one lucky gal!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Fun: Cozy Coupe

2009 2010

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Inspired by

"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)" - e.e. cummings

I now have

("heart" in Amharic)

Monday, August 15, 2011

DI (almost) Y front Yard

Remember my goal to keep my yard all natural? Well, I've pulled a lot of weeds from my grass this summer. A few weeks ago I decided that my lawn needed something to distract the eye from the weeds. So, I bought some scrawny apple trees (inspired by a book my sister sent about turning your yard into garden), bushes and flowers that were on super sale, hired a guy to pull up the sod and then created a little "island" in the middle of the yard.

This spring

Turo "helps"

Apple tree island

(maybe I can bake a pie in 15-20 years)

(the rocks in the border once resided under my yard)