Ugh! Please Don’t Make Me Do Math! or Shameless Begging for Your Support

July 3rd, 2012

I’m starting a new job this fall. I’m moving up from the world of kindergarten to the big leagues of second grade. I have taught second grade for exactly one day. I was a substitute, and if I remember correctly, I think it was only half a day. Whatever. Second grade is going to be awesome. I have a general idea of what second-graders can do, but I have no idea what my specific class can handle. This is a rare summer. I’d like to be done with vacation and back in the classroom, just to see what they can do.

When I met with the building principal she mentioned that math was an area the school struggles in….there is additional support for the reading program but not for math (yet).

Here’s where the begging begins. I have set up a donors choose project. I’m hoping to get piles of math manipulatives, math puzzles, math activities to work on when other work is completed, math games, and anything else that can be used to supplement the math program when it is not specifically math time. I set up math in stations that teach the same concept in various ways so everyone can pick the way that works best for them. So, everyone has to learn subtraction. Everyone gets to pick from the following stations….hula hoops and bean bags (to subtract the number of bags in the hoop from the number out of the hoop), number lines large enough to hop on, number bond cards, puzzles with math facts, manipulatives to show the work visually, worksheets for those who need the paper and pencil approach, dry erase boards to quiz themselves with….everyone picks the style that fits them the best. But in order to do that, I need stuff….lots of stuff.

So, here’s my project:

If you click on the link, there are two ways you can help…

1. Consider donating. Everyone who donates gets a personal thank you note from my class.

2. Consider repostng. Anywhere. Everywhere. Facebook, blogs, Twitter. I figure the more people who see it, the better the chance I have on getting the whole thing funded.

New Clothes from Old Clothes

March 18th, 2012

Last summer my grandma passed away. My grandpa wanted all of her things (clothes, purses, jewelry, shoes) cleaned out as soon as possible. We all took things we thought we’d use but here’s the thing, my grandma shopped. A lot. There are 4 girls in my mom’s family (out of 8). And there are a lot of granddaughters and great-granddaughters. And we all got multiple purses and shoes and clothes and there was a ton left.

I took a few piles of skirts and sweaters that I planned on wearing (what can I say, my grandma had style) and a few piles that I thought I might be able to do something with.

In the last couple weeks I’ve started taking apart the  clothes and making new stuff for Lexi and my niece, Ester (who was named after my grandma).


Any one who knew Grandma will appreciate this: every time I check the pockets of  a piece of clothing, there is a tissue.


So, here’s what I’ve done:
This stylish yellow denim jumper
Became a cute dress for Lexi:


This summer sweater vest:

Became a skirt for Ester.

This was a long smocked skirt my mom made for my grandma.

Now it’s a little tunic dress for Ester.

This was a wrap denim skirt.

Now it’s a wrap skirt for Ester
And the other half is a twirly skirt for Lexi.IMG_2268

These were all fun to make because I didn’t have a pattern to work with – I just played around with the material I had to see what would work. I also tried to use the hems that were already there, buttons or zippers that were in place. I added some bias tape to the yellow dress, some fun lace and patches to the denim skirts, but that’s basically it. And they don’t take long at all. I did the yellow dress and the two denim skirts this afternoon.

(Sorry for the sideways pictures. Every time I tried to turn them, the computer flipped them back.)

6 years of Lexi

January 31st, 2012

Lexi turned 6 today.

(funny side note – it’s freakishly warm this January and when we left the hospital with Lexi 6 years ago, we were wearing sweatshirts it was so warm.)

January 31, 2006 – Madeleine Alexis Hendricks showed up at 11:57 am
Jan 31

Year 1 – Barely mobile – but very proud she had just moved from the coffee table to the chair and back.

Year 2 – She wanted her hair long. All of it. And ponytail holders and barrettes never stayed in place.

Year 3 – She let us cut her hair.

Year 4 – Yep, she really is that cute.

Year 5 – Her wild side – bounce house mania.

Year 6 – School. Reading. Officially a big kid.

2011 – A Year in Pictures (and a few captions)

December 31st, 2011

Lexi’s 5th Birthday. She picked “hearts” as her theme.
Lexi's 5th Birthday
Lexi's 5th Birthday

Lexi and Milo hung out at Claire and Ian’s house….their mom did a lot of babysitting for us that month.
Victoria let them do cool things like finger paint
Lexi Finger Painting
Paint with cars
Milo Finger Painting
And had cool toys.
Lexi Lacing

Kevin and I went to a Red Wings game.
Merry Christmas: Red Wings vs. Wild

Lexi and Milo discovered their love of pinatas at Ian’s birthday party.
Pinata at Ian Melkamu's Party
Pinata at Ian Melkamu's Party

Our friend, Brad, came to visit.
Brad Visits

We decorated Easter eggs and attempted a family picture for Easter morning.
Decorating Easter Eggs
Family Easter Photo

Cinco de Mayo and more pinatas
Cinco De Mayo Pinata

Lexi started soccer.
Soccer Practice

We did our first family camping trip and the kids fell in love with all things camping.
Memorial Day Camping
Memorial Day Camping
Memorial Day Camping

Best friends came to visit for Kevin’s birthday.

Cousins came to visit.




Best. Date. Ever.


At the State Fair…
2011 Minnesota State Fair
…eating their weight in food.
2011 Minnesota State Fair

Lexi started kindergarten.
Lexi's First Day of School
I started kindergarten.

Kevin redecorated our room.
I Love You in Sticky Notes

Lexi and Henry at a Twins game.
Twins Game

Bowling for my birthday.
Birthday Bowling

Kevin and I went to Mankato, MN for the weekend and the kids stayed with the grandparents.
We biked in the Minnesota River Ramble.
Minnemishinona Falls

Milo’s 3rd Birthday.
His presents were all thing “Go Car”
Go Car Boy
And his birthday…all invited guests were over 30.
Milo's Birthday Party

Ran in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.
Green Bay Turkey Trot

The annual cousins picture in matching pj’s.

This year’s theme: Uncooperative Children.
2011 Cousins Picture


Milo got a guitar.
Playing Guitar
Lexi got a ream of paper.
Opening Christmas Presents
She also got tickets to see Cinderella at the Ordway.
Ladies off to Cinderella

(If you want, check out 2009 and 2010)

Catching Up…

September 25th, 2011

The running thing is still happening. It’s slowed down more than I like due to school starting…just need to get into a new routine. I am signed up to run a 5k at the end of October and there is another one in the works for spring of 2012.

Lexi is in kindergarten now. Finally. She loves it. And I’d like to apologize to parents everywhere for the cutesy, sing-song things I teach your children that they come home saying all day long.

My school year is back in full swing. We are currently stuck in limbo while we wait for the construction on the new building to be completed. The waiting is not sittign well with a large portion of the student body. The words riot and revolt have been tossed around quite a bit…not by the teachers but to describe the students.

It’s been a crazy month…teaching out of boxes, not having all our supplies, no gym or playground. It’s been a little crazy. However, we are moving this Friday. On Monday, we’ll be in our new classroom. We are on the first floor (no more stairs) and kindgarten has a bathroom in their classroom (no more class trips to the bathroom).

I can’t complain about my class though. I’m nervous to say that they are going to be an easy class (every time I think this, they end up being an insanely difficult class). So far things are going smooth. They take consequences well and seem to learn from their mistakes. They work quietly, follow directions and engage in class discussions. Mostly, they seem very excited to be at school.

Happy September
My birthday was on the 22nd. Since September was/is crazy, Kevin has decided that September is birthday month. I’ve been getting a present a day since September 1st. Fun stuff, coming home or waking up to find a present waiting for me. Lots of fun stuff like books, a mixed CD, magnetic pictures of the kids/family, chocolate in various forms…it’s been good.

We finally painted our bedroom and the office. Our bedroom went from 1980′s lavender with a flower border to a deep wine and grey. Kevin’s office went from white tines with about 6 drops of blue to a dark blue and grey. We rearranged the bedroom, finally bought a bed frame for our bed and it looks so much nicer in here. I still have to paint the bathroom and the closet. I’ll get to that later.

Now, all I need is for things to calm down just a bit. That would be good.

A Hungry Child Can’t Wait: Ask 5 for 5

September 20th, 2011

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5
Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you finally. and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can’t wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we’ll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren’t so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world’s first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond–or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity’s baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don’t do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn’t want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother’s hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya–the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, “I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm.” The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. “We don’t have enough food now…our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues.”

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on–in nine generations of 5x5x5…we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It’s so so simple; here’s what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!

I’m looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at if you’re interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn’t wait. She doesn’t wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn’t wait for us to decide if she’s important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on…please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped–you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don’t move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you’re life is busy like mine, you probably won’t get back to it later. Let’s not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let’s leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

When Words Will Not Come

July 22nd, 2011

Drought in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and other parts of Eastern Africa

Famine declared in Somalia.

Read this post. I could not say it better then Rebekah does.

Sign the petition being sent out by ONE.

Support Doctors Without Borders.

Support Our Families.

(via Cindy Burt)

A Funny Thing Happened During Summer Vacation…

July 13th, 2011

I won’t lie. This summer started off pretty crappy. We spent the later part of spring and early summer sorting out where Yeshumnesh was going to live, what to do with all her stuff and how to say goodbye to someone who is part of your family. So, pretty crappy is a little bit of an understatement.

Now, if you know me, you know that I can handle stress pretty well but what I don’t do well is telling people how I’m really feeling or how I’m doing. Yay for growing up in the mid-west where we don’t actually deal with our emotions, we just shove them out of the way and say “I’m fine.” when someone asks.

When I was in college, I figured out that a good way to deal with my emotions was to go for a walk. I know, rocket-science, right? I didn’t just walk…I basically through a 19-year-old version of a temper tantrum. Stomping, kicking sticks and rocks, and generally pounding all of my emotions into the pavement. Don’t judge. It worked.

Back to this summer…all the emotions were starting to bubble to the surface. I needed to do something. A bunch of my friends had been posting on facebook about this running program they were doing called Couch to 5K. Yeah, I liked running about much as I like chewing glass. I’ll find a different way to feel better, thank you very much.

Woke up on June 14 at freakin’ early o’clock and could not get back to sleep. I got up, downloaded the C25K app on my iPod (first app I ever paid for by the way), got dressed and went for a run. Did I mention that I didn’t have running shoes, owned exactly one pair of shorts that are totally not meant for running, had to carry my iPod which caused it to keep shutting off and, oh yeah, it was raining? For 30 minutes I listened to a peppy British woman say “Run” and “Walk” and I hated every second of it.

By the time I got home, Kevin was just getting up (see, I told you it was freakin’ early) and asked me where I disappeared to. Because I’m 99.9% sure that “Hmm, Abby must have gone for a run” was probably not his first thought. I told him I went for a run. And got a “you did what?” reaction. Told you, running just isn’t my thing.

Except, here’s the funny thing…I’ve learned it might be my thing. The next day I went out and bought shoes and shorts and one of those iPod holders you strap to your arm. I have the Nike sensor thing you put in your shoe to track your work outs. I made a playlist of 142 songs. And I ran. Every other day for about 2 weeks. And I sprained my knee.

Yep, in a brace for two weeks and was going a little stir crazy. I would wake up in the morning wanting to run.
I’ve learned a few things:
I’m not as crappy of a runner as I had convinced myself I was
Waking up early in the summer is a good thing.
Don’t stare at the ground while you run or you’ll get motion sickness.
After not running for 2 weeks, being able to run again feels good.

So, now what? First of all, I promise this won’t turn into a running blog. But I do have a goal. Just a few details to work out before I put it out there but it’s brewing and it’s going to be good.

(Oh yeah, I also dealt with the stress by repainting my bedroom, Kevin’s office, the bathroom and our closet, along with rearranging the bedroom and convincing kevin we need to go furniture shopping – but I’ll post about that later.)

She’ll always be my daughter.

May 12th, 2011

I have three children.
Two live in my house.
One no longer does.
She came into my life last June and lived here until March.
Sometime around the holidays we began to notice a change. Not bad things, just changes.
Changes that showed us some parts of her past that were a surprise to everyone.
And changes that showed us she was not were she was supposed to be.
In April we made the decision to allow her to move to a new home, another family.
A place that, we hope, can provide what she needs and can devote all of their time and energy into helping her heal.
I wanted so badly to be that person. To be the one to help her heal.
But it was clear that living here was not what she needed from us right now.
What she needed from us was a chance to move on.

She doesn’t live with us anymore.
We’re legally not her parents.
But she will always be my daughter.

Some Thoughts on the Death of Osama Bin Lauden

May 2nd, 2011

I’m at a loss for words.

I know that I don’t want to teach my children to dance and cheer for the death of another human.

I understand why so many are craving justice.

I’m scared that our world is moving toward justice=death=celebration.

Since my own words are failing me, I find myself agreeing with the thoughts below:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr. (From The Strength to Love)

“There’s a Jewish midrash that is something like after Miriam and Moses and everyone crossed the Red Sea and the Egyptians drowned, the Angels were rejoicing until God reminded them that the Egyptians (as awful as they were in that story) are God’s children too and God mourned their loss.” (Swiped from a Facebook update)

“When Americans are killed and our enemies dance in the streets, we call it disgusting.
Now one of America’s enemies is dead. We are dancing in the streets and we call it justice.” (Swiped from Twitter)

“Nothing has been won. It is only another loss that can, for now, help some of us to feel better about the losses closer to us. But that’s not a victory. It’s a compromise.” - Justin McRoberts