Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Spence came to Nashville tonight to do a little Home Depot-ing that we can't do in Cookeville. So Nana kept C while I took Spence to Gojo for a little Ethiopian fare. He liked it much more than I thought he would. He also thought it was cool to not use utensils. And I'm really developing a taste for injera. We chatted with the owner briefly and he said they can do a coffee ceremony. He also said he thought there were only a 100 or so Ethiopians living in Nashville. That's a little disappointing.

Gojo is so close and so cheap, I'd like to become a regular and get to know their small community better before we bring home our little one.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Elaborate bedtime routine

This post is dedicated to Mama Norma and Papa Connie, who are in Canada and missing their Little C.

It all starts with a 3-foot climb onto the bed. First she has to throw her sippy cup up and any stuffed animals she may be clutching. Then she moves the bedspread aside to find the tiny ledge for her toes. Once she hoists herself up, we choose bedtime books. Her three favorites: Only You; Llama Llama, Red Pajama and My Two Hands/My Two Feet. Then we go kiss Daddy's picture and a few others (this is our Nashville routine). There are serious lip prints on all the framed photos. If we had pics of the entire family, it would take an hour to kiss them all.

Then we gather sippy cup (usually empty, but still imporant), stuffed kitty, stuffed bunny and blanket (and not just any blanket; it has to be the fuzzy one with her name on it) and she climbs onto my lap in the rocker to sing. She instructs me on the songs to sing. It varies from night to night, but here are the regulars: Jesus Loves the Little Children; Jesus Loves Me; Grace (which is actually the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, but grace is the word she remembers); Up to the Mountain (a Patty Griffin tune) and Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Then, here's the newest addition to the routine: I place her in bed on her back, cover her and arrange all her stuffed friends around her, and sing one of the above songs "one more time" while stroking her cheek and forehead. And if I forget the last part, she reminds me. "Cheek!" Finally, she reminds me who we're going to see tomorrow. "See Daddy. See Nana."

I say yes and make my escape. It's a routine that keeps getting longer and more elaborate, but I love it as much as she does.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


The other day I was watching Caroline play in her new sandbox. She talked to herself, sang her favorite songs and seemed totally content to play alone.

But it made me a little sad. She has lots of play buddies at day care, but I rarely get to see those moments. It makes me wonder if she'll love having a little brother or sister, or prefer to be a loner. Sometimes she's more independent than I wish she was, but I guess that's a good thing for now. Spence and I are both close with our siblings, and we want that for Caroline too. Hopefully by spring she'll have a little one to get in trouble with.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dearly beloved

My Nashville office is in a house in a commercially zoned neighborhood. There is a small grove of trees separating the back yard from a very large cemetery. In the winter we often catch graveside services out our back window.

The office also has a cat, Shelby, who has lived with me at various locations, but now calls Iris Drive his home. Because I travel so much, he gets more love living at the office where Cindy and Karla work 5 days a week.

Shelby frequently cats around in the back yard, sunbathes in the front. And sometimes doesn't come back when we're ready to leave. Like today. Cindy was heading out for lunch when she remembered she hadn't seen Shelby since she arrived at 8:30a. So she stuck her head out the front door and hollered for him. "Here, kitty, kitty." No reply.

Then she stuck her head out the back door and shouted at the top of her lungs, "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty! Shelby!" At that moment, a voice came from the tree line, "Ma’am, we’re having a funeral over here."

So anyway, we're holding Cindy's funeral Thursday (Shelby's too, if he doesn't come back). Cause of death: mortification.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Not your grandma's porch swing

This is the birthday present my sweet hubby made me (back in June). For the past 5 years, we've logged a lot of time on our front porch in a swing that used to be his grandmother's. While it served us well, we decided it was time to upgrade. This is the Mercedes of porch swings. It's made of poplar, much of it salvaged from several barns Spence tore down.

Note the contoured arm rests and handy-dandy drink trays (or beer holders, as we call them).

Eventually Spence will make and sell these. You can see his lamps here. Thanks, sweetie!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ethiopian cuisine in the neighborhood

Yesterday, Caroline and I rediscovered a neighborhood treasure within walking distance of our little Nashville house: Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant. I knew it was there, I'd even been there once when it was a scary hole-in-the-wall. But it always looked so deserted I wasn't sure it was even in business anymore. A few months ago someone painted it a bright orange and changed the name from Lalibela to Gojo. Well, last night we decided to give it a go, and it was an absolute delight.

The little girl who waited on us was from Addis Ababa and had lived in the States for many years. She was still in high school and said she came here for the education opportunities. She was helping out her aunt in the restaurant for the summer. She said a family had come in that same day saying they were adopting from Ethiopia. I wish I knew who? I ordered the vegetarian combo. My favorite was the shiro wet (ground chickpeas) and Caroline liked the ye atkilt wet (green beans). She was not a fan of injera, but she kept trying it thinking it would be more like bread. We'll have to work on that one. I'm eager to take Spence and try some new dishes. I think they will do a coffee ceremony too.

In other news...three Bethany families passed court on Friday and are officially parents of their little ones. They will travel to Ethiopia in the next couple months to pick them up. Yippee!

Tender moments and milestones

Caroline has never been the lovey dovey type. She's not big on hugs, and cuddling has to be on her terms. One routine we've established that I'm so thankful for is the bedtime rock. She snuggles up to me in the rocking chair while clutching her bear lovey and instructing me on which song she wants me to sing, usually Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Last night she was particularly cuddly, gazing into my eyes as I sang. I soaked up every moment of it, stroking her hair and cheek and resisting the urge to hold her just a little tighter. I silently prayed that I would have tender moments like this with our Ethiopian child one day too.

At that very moment she nonchalantly put her finger in her nose and deposited the contents right on my t-shirt. It brought tears to my eyes.

In another special moment, as I was unloading my car from the weekend, I came back inside to a disturbing quiet to find that C had opened the bathroom door (I didn't know she could do that) and was unloading cupfuls of toilet water (an obscene amount of toilet water) onto the bathroom floor and hall carpet using her plastic, Lookouts baseball cap cup (see post below).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Take me out to the ball game...

Caroline enjoyed her first baseball game when we went to see the Chattanooga Lookouts Friday night. We trekked up the hill to the stadium in 90+ degree heat and an unrelenting sun.

Little C happily collected her freebies: a Lookouts cap and a fan.

She ate ice cream out of a plastic baseball cap, no spoon required. She also ate a hot dog and pizza, two of her favorites.

Visited with her cousin Savannah, who turned 2 that day. Notice the sweaty, stringy hair?

And spent some time torturing the little girl (well, pretty much the whole family) in front of us. She pulled ponytails, removed caps, scratched backs, played with curls, fanned and poked the entire family of 5 before we finally called it quits at the bottom of the 3rd and let the family enjoy the rest of the game in peace.

Here's cousins Baylee and Jordan looking all glamorous.

We had a great time, but I think I enjoy the close-up excitement -- and air conditioning -- of the Tech basketball games better.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just in case

Tuesday I took an infant/child CPR and first aid class at the Red Cross. I have two fears regarding Caroline's safety -- choking and falling/injuring her head. Before this class I would have only had a vague idea what to do -- now I know exactly what to do.

I write this because I want to encourage everyone I know (and don't know) to take this class.

I not only learned rescue breathing and CPR, but also how to assist a choking victim, recognize signs of stroke, stop bleeding, treat a snakebite, help a seizure victim, etc. And none of the recommendations included applying a tourniquet, sucking out poison or shoving something into someone's mouth.

As I sat in the 5-hour class, I recalled many situations when these skills would have helped me, but I didn't know enough to step forward. Now I do. You should too.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th fun!

This year, we celebrated the 4th in a non-traditional way. In fact, we never even left the valley. We went to visit our neighbors Hector and Susie Black about 6 miles upriver. They own Hidden Springs Nursery, which includes an amazing blueberry patch. Caroline's strategy: one for the bucket, 50 for my tummy. She got the hang of picking the blue (not the green or red) ones real quick, and she wasn't afraid of crawling right in there to get the good ones. But her bucket never saw more than 4 berries.

We also went wading down Roaring River Gorge, appropriately named because it is gorgeous. This is the same river than runs by our house, but it's about 10 miles upstream where the gorge walls are 100+ feet high. This is a Class III-IV section when the water is high, but in the summer it's a great place to wade and swim. This is Spence's sister Allison.

It's so hard to get a family pic where everyone's smiling!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy birthday, Jordie!

Big birthday wishes to my niece, Jordan, who turned 10 today. Wish we could be there to celebrate with you. We love you!