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)

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.

Two Years Ago

March 20th, 2011

Two years ago today.

We were in Ethiopia.

Meeting Milo.

Milo 5 months

#26 Buy Nothing Day

November 26th, 2010

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget

by joshua becker on November 26, 2010

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran

I have countless holiday memories. Most of them center around faith, family, and traditions.

Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts that I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?

To that end, here is an alphabetical list of 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget.

1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.
2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…
3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.
5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.
6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.
7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?
8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.
9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.
10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.
11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.
12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.
13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.
16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.
18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.
19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.
20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.
21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.
22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.
26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.
27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.
30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.
32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.
33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.
34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?

Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.

#25 Turkey, Knittting and Cats

November 25th, 2010

Finished Thanksgiving dinner a few hours ago. Ate my weight in stuffing and mashed potatoes and apple pie. I’m now working on “dinner” which is a glass of pop and pretzel m&m’s.

Plans for the rest of the weekend include opening Christmas presents tomorrow (yep, two holidays, one weekend. That’s just the way we roll around here.) taking the girls to see Tangled. Leaving all three kids with the grandparents and running away on Saturday with Kevin and going out to dinner with the great-grandparents. Great-papa prefers places that serve steak and potatoes….mmmmm…..steak……

I’ve been working on a sweater for my niece. I started it on our drive and knit for about 7 hours in the car. I thought it was going to take me a few weeks to finish but I should have it done by the end of the weekend. I’ve got the sleeves and the edging left to do. I used the homespun yarn from Lion Brand and I’m pretty impressed with how the self-stripping has worked out. I’m using the pattern from the book Knit for Good. (Buy the book only if you are looking for ways to do knitting projects for charity. The book is mostly inspiration on knitting for others – only a few patterns. But the patterns in it are quick, easy and look impressive when finished.)

Stupid cats. Stupid cat allergies. Cat’s not even in the house and I can’t stop sneezing. This is reason #873 that I am a dog person.

#6 Cousins Pictures

November 6th, 2010

Every year when I was growing up, my grandma insisted we take a photo of all the cousins together before we got to open our Christmas presents.

And it didn’t really matter how old we got:
Christmas Cousins Picture

Or how ridiculous we thought it was:
2007 Cousins Picture
(yes, my two cousins really are that tall)

Which ever cousins were able to make it back for Christmas had their picture taken.

And significant others and children got thrown into the mix as well.

My sister and I both have kids now. And we do the same thing. Plus we throw in Christmas PJ’s.

Cousins Picture
Lexi & Ari in the Chair
Christmas PJs at Thanksgiving

(This is one of my favorites. No matter what we did we could not get the three of them to sit still or look at the camera at the same time. We blame the striped PJ’s.)

This year there will be 5 kids in the picture. 3 will look like they are having fun, 1 will look completely irritated at the whole thing and 1 will have no clue what is going on because she’s 6 months old. But they will all have their picture taken, together, in matching PJ’s.

And when they are in college, I will still insist on a picture, although I may ease up on the matching PJ’s.

Our Newest Addition: It’s a Girl!

June 15th, 2010

We haven’t talked about it much but we started down the paper trail of adoption this spring.

We figured we’d be bringing home our kid(s) next summer.

Plans changed. A lot. And it’s really exciting.

She’s an 11-year-old girl going into 6th grade and she’ll be joining our family this summer.

Due to the sensitive nature of this whole process, we won’t be sharing a lot of details.

But we can tell you that she’s almost as tall as me, her smile is amazing, she likes to ice skate and color.

It’s been a crazy week of checking paperwork, making “to do” lists and getting things ready.

And yes, it’s slowly sinking in that I am now the mom of a pre-teen. A middle-schooler.

This is going to be an adventure.

A Letter to Rahimeto’s Mom.

May 9th, 2010

Today is Mother’s Day.

I thought about you a lot today.

Are you wondering how your little boy is doing?

Are you wondering if he looks or acts like you?

I know you think about him as often as I think about you.

He’s doing great. Actually, he’s doing better than great, he’s amazing.

He can walk and talk (a little bit). He likes balls and trucks and bubbles and throwing things.

He’s got a big sister that he is crazy about. They run and laugh and argue and play and sometimes drive Mom and Dad up a wall.

He likes to hide and then pop out and surprise people.

Your baby boy is so sweet and affectionate. He loves to sit in our laps and cuddle.

He still sucks his thumb.

Everyone comments on his eyes and his smile.

I talked to him about you today. I’m not sure how much he understood. But I promise I won’t let him forget about you.

I will make sure he knows how much you love him.

And how grateful I am to be his mother.

How can I thank you?

You are 7000 miles away, wondering how your baby boy is doing.

You are 7000 miles away but you are and will be forever connected to our family.

“Thank you” doesn’t even begin to express how I feel.


Some Dork Turned His Tweets Into A Book (and you could win the book)

May 4th, 2010

And the winners are: The Schroeders and Jessica. Congrats.


The dork is my husband and the book is a collection of tweets about adoption, the kids, water, and life. And I’ve got 2 books to give away.

And the best part for every book that is purchased $2 will be donated to charity:water to build a well in Ethiopia.

Here’s how to win a copy of the book:

1. Leave a comment. Yep. That’s it.
2. If you tweet/facebook/blog about the give away, leave a second comment (with a link to where you posted it) and you get a second entry.
3. Donate to charity:water. For every dollar you donate, you’ll get another entry ($5=5 entries). Come back here and let me know you donated – we’re going on the honor system here people. If you don’t want to share how much you donated just e-mail me abbyhendricks at gmail dot com and I’ll put the appropriate number of entries in the hat.

Entries close on May 10th at 5 pm CST. Winners will be drawn by Lexi and Milo.

Good Luck!