Our family of three :)

We're together!!  We are having such a great time learning our daughter, discovering our new roles as a mom and dad (both as parents and as husband and wife), and just soaking up all our time together with our friends here in Addis.  We have been incredibly blessed to have traveled with some fantastic adoptive families who have become very special to us.  We have also LOVED our time as a family of 3 with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters.  Oh my goodness part of me just doesn't want that to end!   If it weren't for the reality of Heaven, I might just get on the plane kicking and screaming ;)  But honestly, there is an amazing family we are coming home to and we cannot wait to introduce our daughter to you all!

If we could describe this time here in Addis, I think bliss might fit it well.  We have had such a sweet reunion with our daughter and her personality melts us both!!!  We've also been broken in with the pee, poop and puke, so we're not totally oblivious to the reality of having an 11 month old.  For this child we prayed, and as we begin to unwrap this little gift, we are seeing how God was very clearly preparing our hearts for this newness in life.  From my transition from a wonderful career as an RN to my new role as a stay at home mom, to the numerous books and classes we took, to the advice and words of wisdom that came at just the right moments, we are loving every moment with her. Waking up in the morning and looking over at the pack n play FULL is the best feeling <3  Pinch me!

I know by this point every single last one of you reading this is here to see pictures (yep, been on your blogs for that same reason too!!), so here's what daily life with Natalie Degeme is lookin' like at "home" and with her nannies .... 


So close you can almost taste that freshly roasted coffee

Its almost go time.  I can't believe it.  Degeme's bag is done.  Our bag filled with clothing to donate is done.  We have to pack ourselves tomorrow and then that'll be it.  We'll drop Brie (our laid back black lab that we adore) off at my parent's place.  We'll cross off the last few things on our list or just realize we didn't even need them on there in the first place.  We'll attempt to get some sleep, and then in the wee hours of the morning, my husband's parents will graciously come load us up and drive us to the airport. I cannot believe we're really, really going to be on a plane and headed over to begin our family of 3.  It's amazing.  Sitting here on the couch in a quiet home, the dog is snoring and my husband is fast asleep upstairs while my mind runs a mile a minute.  It's not even all important stuff, some of it's just random stuff. Exactly like that book Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti.  I'm doing the spaghetti part like.a.pro. :)

We are really looking forward to this trip for so many reasons. One of them is because I have been so drawn to spend time at Korah.  We met an remarkable man of God on our first trip. His name is Bisrat, and I long for each and every single one of you reading these words to hear his story.  It will bring tears to your eyes.  It has the power to change your life.  He has lived in Korah and comes to serve us as our translator while we stay in Addis Ababa.  Even more, he serves our souls.  Watch this linked video below.  Although it doesn't feature any of the friends we've met yet, it shares the story of Korah and of Mission Ethiopia (an organization we'll hopefully get to visit).  My goal is to simply show Love to every person I am priveldged to meet.  One of the things Mission Ethiopia does is make necklaces.  I brought one home in June and it is just beautiful. It's handmade, from the Earth, and it's character speaks to the woman's hands who made it.  I absolutely love it and hope to be able to bring some home with us.  (To watch the video, you can pause the music below if you scroll to the bottom of our blog)

Finally, (I know you're thinking I ought to wrap it up about now)....there is a blogger woman named Jen Hatmaker.  Some of you may be familiar with her name because she is well known among the adoptive community.  Just this past week, Jen posted a fantastic message titled "How to be the Village".  Please, please, please, take some time and read this.  I found myself laughing out loud at her hilarious, but oh so true comments about the life families like Justin and I have chosen.  Thank you for being our village!

Click here to read her blog:  http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/02/how-to-be-the-village#.TrH3-Z7PbLI.facebook


Red light....GREEN LIGHT!!!!!!

Justin and I are ecstatic, giggling, crying and praising God at 2:21 in the morning:  We received the news that our daughter's paperwork has been cleared by US Immigrations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We'll await news from the US Embassy for a visa appointment and when we can travel (hoping next week!).  Thank you, everyone, for the numerous times you've prayed, texted, called, encouraged and put a hand on our shoulders as we went through this long process!  God is amazing!  Thank you Jesus, for sustaining us and allowing us to experience Your heart's desire for adoption.  To say we're overwhelmed is an understatement!  

Baby girl:  may your heart be filled with this life giving Joy that is from Christ alone.  You have a forever family and we cannot wait to have you in our arms again!!!!  I've waited since June 23 to say this: SEE YOU SOON!!!!!!!!!!  We love you, xoxoxox!!!

Psalm 9:1 “I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.” 


"A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. ~Lois Wyse

This past weekend was a blast!  Let me back up a bit and mention that from November 7-18, this home is full of hope and anticipation.  A month ago, we were told that our daughter's paperwork was insufficient and would be forwarded to Nairobi, Kenya.  At that time, they told us it would take 1 to 2 months for our file to travel the African terrain before anyone in Kenya looked at it.  We were devastated (just read the post below and you'll have a fully picture of that).  Then something amazing happened.  In our sorrow, God revealed that He would  provide a nation, a group of now 60+ families who would sadly receive the same email.  Feel the same grief. Email the same dozens upon dozens of Senators, Congressmen, and many other government entities.  And come together to support, guide and love one another.  We formed a group and began "meeting" other AP mom's and dad's from many different agencies.  We shared funny stories, scripture and virtual shoulders to hoist one another up as we waited.  Then we learned that US Immigrations caught wind of the growing number of families stuck in this process and they decided to go to Ethiopia themselves.  Files would be held and not sent to Kenya.  Instead, Nairobi was moving into Addis.  The dates: November 7th thru 18th.
And so here we are.  And boy is the anticipation building in our home.  What we know is that US Immigrations will either review our family's file and state that we have cleared (oh was a JOY that would be!) or we will receive an email that says we are being investigated further by the Nairobi team.  Regardless of the outcome, we are prepared to hear sometime before Thanksgiving.  This is what has been communicated to us by multiple government entities and so we wait.  Trying throughout the day to surrender any anxiety back to the God who restores, gives strength, and who allows me to come back time after time and soothes my soul best.
In preparation for this week, a group of 5 of us "Waiting Momma's" went on a random adventure, drove/flew into Baltimore this past weekend, and shared 36 hours of wonderful, joyful time together!  Random??  Totally!  Worth it??  Absolutely!  Some of us had meet in Ethiopia on our first trip to court, but all of us have formed an incredible community of support and friendship during this process.  Here are a few pictures from our weekend of "therapy" :)  It was a blast!  Now we're ready to hear about our case and all the other waiting families!!


Update on our delay

First and foremost, thank you all for the amazing ways you came along side Justin and I to encourage us two weeks ago.  The first 24 hours were filled with tears, frustration and fear; yet over the first two days following that dreaded email and in the week and a half following, we have gained the deepest sense of community and confidence.  Even greater, we have felt the Lord draw us in ever so close, and as we navigate this stage of the process, He is making it clearer than ever that we can confidently trust that He is bigger.  We are not alone in this delay, we have connected with dozens of other families who daily are getting word that their case is being held as well.  As the numbers add up, a community is birthed.  It's amazing how so many people are rallying around this little community.  You guys are awesome!  

On the adoption front....
The biggest development is that we received an email from Immigrations stating that they are coming in to help the U.S. Embassy in Addis and anticipate that we will hear something sooner than 2 months.  (YES!)  We have spoken with our agency several times and they continue to advocate and provided us with important information.  We have also contacted people in Washington D.C. who have greater access and are signing on with us with passion to bring our daughter and all the other children home.  With caution, we share our stories, and each day we learn that someone else is hearing about our experience and they are ready to help in big ways.  These children are going to come home.  We are so thankful for what these leaders are doing.

On the mommy front....
It has been a humbling reminder to me that throughout this, I am not alone.  I know that I realized that in my head, but my heart just wasn't getting that memo.  Insert: incredible friends & family :)  Let me just say, these girls have sent updated pictures of Natalie Degeme, come over, called, taken me out for girls nights out or just time with their families, sent notes, even gifts, all to say that they are here with us as we wait for Natalie to come home.  They have let me cry, reminded me that its ok to feel frustrated and to want to do whatever it takes get this baby girl home. There have been some down right hilarious nights of laughter and fun, and it has been the most awesome time of growing closer to the women God has placed in my life. How important friendships are :)
During all of this, God is deepening my relationship with Him.  He is amazing.  He is honest in His Word.  And He loves our daughter in a more profound way than I could ever experience.  And He is showing me that all this love we have for our daughter, these plans, dreams and incredible longings we have for her.......those are what He has for us.  As I drove through town, looking goofy to the drivers around me as I blared a new song from the duo Shane Bernard and Shane Everette, I began to sense that this song wasn't just written for a daughter from her dad, but for us daughters from their Dad.  I love music [thanks Mom :)] and I couldn't wait to share it with Justin.  These words are beautiful and I know that my dad had these words woven throughout my childhood as his little girl, and that my husband desires for our daughter to hear the same message... So listen to it, girl friend, and realize that this song is as much for you as it is for little Natalie.  :) :) :) 

GNO- photo scavenger hunt: try and squeez to fit us all in something....
GNO--everyone has to drink from the same glass

She's growing so fast!

We love our daughter and can't wait to see this little face again!

Playing with a special little guy who will be a forever friend.  She's fascinated by his picture book that his mommy and daddy sent him....and even tried to take it from him!

My dad and I on my wedding day. I love this picture :) 

The most beautiful picture of our daughter and her daddy.


I wish we didn't have to write this...

Below is an email that was sent out to our family and friends.  We felt the need to share it our our blog because we know just how incredibly supportive people have been through this whole proces. Thank you for coming besides us, every step of the way.  We believe Degeme will be home in God's timing....

Dear Family & Friends,
This morning Justin and I received some very difficult news that we feel we need to update you on. Our case has been determind as having insufficient evidence to allow us to bring our Degeme home at this time. [Please do not ask us to go into details. Thank you for respecting our family's and our daughter's privacy with this.] We have learned that the US Embassy is now forwarding our case to another government entity and we were told that, in about 1-2 months they will notify us that our case has been reviewed and what additional paperwork they want.
We have no idea what this all means. We don't know why our government is making this so difficult, however we recognize that this battle to bring her home goes beyond men's hands. God is true to His word, and we are reminded that He is in controll of all the uncontrollables in our lives. Hopefully, this morning we will be able to talk with our agency to gain a better understanding of what comes next.
Right now, we ask that you would be covering our family in prayer. Please, understand that we appriciate your concern, but it has become incredibly weary to explain what is happening over and over or going into specific details. We know you care, but we need you to support us without all the details. Believe us that we will update you as we feel we can--we very much appriciate your encouragement and prayers. It's the fuel that keeps us going. Thank you for coming alongside us each step of this process. We see God in the details of this network of support He has given us. He is unmistakable. We have amazing family, friends, dear freinds in Ethiopia and a new extended family of other adoptive parents whom we could not do this without.
We have dedicated ourselves to His calling to build our family through adoption and we love this little girl beyond words. Thanks for taking the time to pray for our little family.
Because of Christ,
Kati & Justin


Pinterst is my one of my happy places!

If you haven't checked out Pinterest yet, break yourself away from this post and go have fun!  This website has become a great outlet for me to gather up ideas and put my mind to work on getting crafty!   It's a place to put all your "favorites" into one place, that you can visually keep organized.  I just love it!  

Want to be inspired by a quote?  See it on Pinterest.  Want to know how to make a wreath for the season?  Find it on Pinterest.  Need inspiration in the kitchen or taking a meal to a friend? Check out Pinterest.  Need vacation to a beautiful place, but not able to hop on a plane?  You'll be able to get away on Pinterest.  Over the past month of discovering this website, I've been spending lots more time in the Mom Cave :)  VERY best thing about it is that I am finding ways to use what we have around the house and/or finding things that are free on Craigslist or in the trash [enter a former post] or spending very little to create some great stuff!  Using my passions and being mindful of our budget are two things that equal success.  

Here's my how-to from yesterday's Pinterest :

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

inspired from this picture:
salted caramel frosting
That's homemade Salted Caramel Frosting...

So then I got to thinking, "I really like that.  It sounds like a drink at Starbucks. Starbucks is an expensive habit.  Wonder how I could make something like that at home?"  So I got on Google and wah-lah, look what came up:

Without hesitation I began looking through our pantry, and luckily we had all but 2 of the ingredients.  Score!  All credit goes to the talented baker Kate over at Grin and Bake It--she has got some delicious ideas!  Here's how my cooking went :)...

Gathering up and taking inventory.
Used Chatfield Coco Powder from Mustard Seed Market
French pressed Godiva coffee...that just so happened to be on sale last week, so I got it for my man....and then the recipe called for it.  Sweet :)
mixing things up.
use a wooden spoon
my secret must have---makes measuring for cookies, cupcakes, muffins, etc a breeze
the batter was already a little thin, adding the coffee got me doubting...
Happy to have nonstick.
"wow, they set up just right!"
lets cool off.
meanwhile, make the homemade caramel. don't worry, you totally have this girlfriend!  briefly stir the sugar and water together...and then let.it.be.
it starts to bubble....and then after about 5 minutes on medium-high heat it starts to loose the bright white color
ooh here comes some caramel color!
look--it totally turned out :)  remember: do not stir while it's on the flames.

I put the cream and the vanilla together in a measuring cup and then spoon-by-spoon slowly added it to the hot caramel while stirring frequently.
pouring the cooled off caramel into the butter cream frosting

this smell really good!
used a piping bag, snipped off the tip, inserted #5, and with the help from Kristin at Decorate This I was able to create...
topped off with gold colored sugar crystals from JoAnn's.  
 So that's it!  Tonight is Girls Night, and I think I'll top these cute cupcakes with some drizzled caramel deliciousness.  Now, go find your apron, spatula, turn on some great music, and get baking!!  I'm always inspired by others, so share your fun baking too :)