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.)

Locs – Day 1

April 30th, 2011

I’ve wanted locs in my hair since I was in college.
I never did it though. I wasn’t 100% sure my hair would hold locs. I didn’t know how to maintain them. And I was broke.

Today I had a friend put about 50 or so starter braids in my hair to see if it would hold. I’m really hoping it does. Fun part is the ends. On extremely curly hair, you don’t need to do anything to the ends when you finish the braid, they just sort of hold themselves in place. My hair isn’t quite curly enough for that. So we super-glued it. After these are in for about 2-3 weeks, we’ll do my whole head if they take.

And here’s how they look after 1 day. When I have my hair down, you can’t see any of them. It took Kami about 2 hours to do these 3 rows. My whole head will probably take 8-10 hours. I got a lot of knitting done, so that’s a bonus. Plus I get to chat with Kami and her kids, which is also fun.

It only took a year…

December 8th, 2010

My Christmas present from last year arrived yesterday.
New Piano
I’m super-excited about it.
New Piano

Milo thinks it’s pretty great as well. He kept telling me to sit down.
New Piano
I started campaigning for a piano about a year and a half ago.

Last year, my Christmas present from Kevin was a piano. We shopped around for used ones but never found one that was quiet right. We had a few people who wanted to get rid of pianos and give them to us but those fell through as well.

Summer got crazy busy. Then school started, one thing after another and pretty soon it’s Christmas time again.

I found a piano on craig’s list. The pictures looked nice. Basically, the people moved into the house and the piano was already there. We checked it out and yesterday had it moved into our living room.

As an added bonus, I now have a place to display my Nativity set in the living room, instead of on a shelf in the basement.

Gingerbread Train

December 2nd, 2010

Lexi and Milo built a gingerbread train tonight.

Look, isn’t it cute?
Building a Gingerbread Train

And here’s their version:
Building a Gingerbread Train

Sort of a Christmas Train Wreck.

A few more pictures:
Building a Gingerbread Train

Building a Gingerbread Train

Building a Gingerbread Train

Building a Gingerbread Train

Building a Gingerbread Train

#11 Cuteness from Milo

November 11th, 2010

Some random cuteness from Milo:

He sings the Veggie Tales theme song (or at least part of it). The part he sings goes, “There’s never, never, never been a show like Veggie Tales.” And then the character falls over.
Milo sings: No, no, no, no, no Boppy Toes! and then falls over.
He calls forks “porks” I think it’s because he pokes people with forks so it’s sort of like spork=spoon & fork. Pork=poke and fork.
He loves to unpack the dishwasher. I let him do the silverware drawer. He pulls out every fork and says “mama pork?” “daddy pork?” “Lexi pork?” “LaLa pork?” and then tosses it in the drawer. Also, after he’s finished, it looks like a bomb went off in the drawer because sorting isn’t his strong suit.
He calls Yeshumnesh “LaLa”
He can say Ethiopia and can find it on a map. (Okay, he says Opita and finds Africa on a map but we’re getting close.)
He can’t say “Milo” but he can say “Rahimeto”

#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.

A Long-term Dream

January 9th, 2010

When I was in college I wanted to travel. And I did, a little.

I spent a few weeks one summer in El Salvador and I spent a month in London, doing part of my student teaching.

I seriously considered joining the Peace Corps. I called them, requested the information, even sort of settled on going to Papua New Guinea or El Salvador (I really enjoyed my time in El Salvador and at the time I knew enough spanish to survive.)

I would go to Perkins and sit for hours with a friend who would listen to me talk about wanting to travel, to see the world, to join the Peace Corps, to just do something with my life. And he would tell me to make sure I sent him a postcard from wherever I was. At the time, I was 99% sure it was what I wanted to do when I graduated. I wasn’t in a relationship, I had no desire to go to grad school and I knew that come graduation day, all my friends would be scattering all over the  country so, why not?

But plans changed in an unexpectedly good way. That same friend is now my husband. We’ve got 2 kids, a house, a couple dogs. I’m a teacher and I love my job.

And 11 years later I still  can’t shake that need to travel, to experience living somewhere that is nothing like here. So I’ve come up with a plan. An exciting plan with a very real possibility of working out.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that AHOPE, an organization in Ethiopia that cares for children with HIV, is always looking for voluteers. They specifically request people who are social workers, nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, and teachers. A volutneer needs to there for a minimum of 6 weeks but can stay longer if they wish.

Guess which teacher wants to move her family to Ethiopia for a summer?

I don’t want to go this summer or even next summer. I want to wait until Milo and Lexi are older. If we are going to move them half way around the world for a summer, I want them to experience it, to remember it, to fully participate in the experience.

I’ve already contacted AHOPE to see if this is even a possibility and got a resounding “yes” so now, we just need to make things happen on our end. It will be a lot of work to make this happen, another reason why I’m not trying to plan the trip for anytime soon, but I really think this will happen.

I’ve also got a second plan that involves staying in Ethiopia for a year but we’ll just stick to the plan of going for a summer to see how that works out for us. Then I’ll start plotting a longer stay.

It’s exciting to think about. It’s scary to think about. It makes me happy that we will be able to take Milo back his birth country and Lexi will see probably the most important piece of her brother’s life. I want this to happen.

Best Picture of Lexi

January 2nd, 2010

I was looking at our flickr account an came across this picture of Lexi. I’m guess it’s her eyes that make this picture but it’s now one of my favorites.


2009 Photos: A Year in Review or An excuse to post a ton of photos

December 29th, 2009

Here’s our year. It’s not even close to everything that happened this year but it was a good year.


Now that we had our referral and the holidays were over we started to get things ready for Milo’s arrival.

We built new shelves in the closet, put together bunk beds and put up the crib.

Closet Shelves Building Bunkbeds with Papa On the Top

Lexi got a much needed hair cut.

Lexi Pre-Haircut Lexi Post-Haircut

And we got ready for her 3rd birthday -  she requested a “W” cake for her party. (In case you’re wondering. This year she wants green circle cakes. Nope, no Elmo birthday cakes for us.)

Licking the Cookie Dough Lexi's Birthday Party


We passed court! Milo was officially, legally, 100% ours. We also got his birth certificate and a travel date.

Playing with a Nanny


We started to get ready for our trip to Ethiopia. We borrowed the three biggest suitcases ever.

Our last photo as a family of 3. About 15 minutes after this was taken we headed off to the airport.

And we were off.

Packing Lexi Family Photo On the Plane

This was the first day we were able to bring Milo back to the Guest House from the Care Center.
Kevin, Abby & Milo!

And headed back home.
A boy from our travel group. We were all waiting for our connecting flight in DC. He held Milo for a while.
And friends we met at the airport. They went through a different agency but live in St. Paul. Our kids are about 2 months apart in age.

Hanging in the Dulles Airport Hanging in the Dulles Airport

And we are officially a family of 4. Lexi met us at the airport.

Meeting Milo


Lexi decides to sleep on the floor. She did this for several weeks. And she and Kevin did a lot of work for Start Seeing Art.

Lexi Asleep on the Floor Front Street Rec Center Mural by Unknown

Our first Easter as a family of 4. And Lexi enjoying being the big sister.

Hendricks Family at Easter 2009 Lexi Holding Milo

Kevin and I (and the kids but they are always barefoot – we’re lucky if they have pants on) went One Day Without Shoes.

One Day without Shoes


I braved it and drove to Green Bay, by myself, with both kids. My sister was there and we took the kids to Bay Beach. Cheapest, greatest summer entertainment for kids under 10. I love this picture because I have the same picture of me at about 3 years old riding the same ride.

Riding the Bugs

Kevin and Lexi wore their Red Wings jerseys to church on Pentecost Sunday. Milo wore his as well.

Red Wings Fans

Kevin’s hair getting longer. In May he challenged people to help him raise $600 for http://www.charitywater.org/. That’s enough clean water for 30 people. If the goal was met by his 30th birthday (a month later) he promised to shave his head. People donated $2300.

How Bad Do I Need a Haircut? Lexi Trying to Carry a Jerry Can

He also walked about 2 miles from the Misissippi River to our house carrying the can Lexi is holding above. The can was full and weighted close to 25 lbs. On a daily basis, people without access to clean water carry these cans close to 3 miles for water. It’s mostly women and children who fetch the water.


We went to White Robin Farm for a family photo shoot. It was a ton of fun. Lexi helped.

Hendricks Family Photo Shoot Hendricks Family Photo Shoot Lexi Taking Picturs

Kevin’s birthday. Before:

Kevin & Kids

And after:

Shaving My Head Bald Kevin

July and August

We took care of 5 kids under 5 for a morning. Two belonged to us and three belonged to a friend. We got out of the house and walked to a park to wear everyone out.

Babysitting Five Kids

But the best part of the year (after bringing Milo home) was flying to Connecticut and visiting our best friends for close to two weeks. We ate out a lot. We played games. Made a lot of popcorn. And just hung out.

The Hendricks & Yenters

Lexi also sat in on one of Uncle Tim’s lectures at Yale.

Tim Teaching at Yale

We saw Times Square and Tim and Nicole took the kids home and Kevin and I saw Stomp.

Visiting Times Square in New York

We met up with other college friends in Amherst and hung out for the day.

More Bethel Picnic Girls Holding Hands

Kevin with two of his college roommates and me with one of my college roommates

The Guys Abby & Rachel

August is also the State Fair. This is Lexi being “State Fair People.”

Lexi in her State Fair Swag


Happy birthday to me.

Abby's Birthday

We also got to meet and hang out with Mark Horvath from InvisiblePeople.tv.

Mark Horath & The Cherry Mark Horvath Ready for Action


Happy 1st birthday, Milo. In case you were wondering, he does like cake and he does like chocolate. Even tried to swipe his sister’s cupcake.

Cupcake Time

Halloween. I cut the jack-o-lantern, per Lexi’s instructions and she decorated it. Lexi was a Green Princess and Milo was a scarecrow. This year, the costumes were made by me.

Lexi's Jack-o-Lantern Ready to Trick or Treat


It was freakishly warm around here in November. This is how warm Lexi had to dress to go rake leaves with her dad.

Raking Leaves with Lexi

Milo became extremely mobile, deciding the quickest path from point A to point B was a straight line, no matter what was along that line.

Milo Scaling a Box

We went to my parents house for Thanksgiving. Every year Joanna and I buy the kids matching Christmas PJ’s and insist on a picture. This year, 3 really excited kids would not sit still so every picture is just a big ball of stripes.

Christmas PJs at Thanksgiving Christmas PJs at Thanksgiving


Kevin tried to teach Lexi to ice skate. She wasn’t a fan.

Skating with Dad

We went to Kevin’s parents’ house for Christmas. Lexi insisted we take this picture after church.

Hendricks Family at Christmas 2009

And of course, present opening.

Christmas MorningGood Use of a Dump Truck

And seeing Papa’s pigeons.

Pigeons with Papa

And hanging out with second cousins. Emelia and Milo were the newest second cousins this year. Emelia is 9 months in this picture and Milo is 14 months.

Second Cousins 2009 Family Christmas

We got back from Kansas to discover there was a lot of shoveling to do.

Helping Daddy Shovel

And on to next year. Here’s to 2010.

It’s a raffle for water.

December 7th, 2009

For every $5 you donate here (use the big yellow button that says “donate”) you will get a chance to win all of this.

Most of it is from Starbucks and a few things are from water4 christmas or charity:water.

You’ll get one water 4 christmas tote bag, one water 4 christmas water bottle, one copy of The House at Sugar Beach (about Liberia), two cute Starbucks Mugs, two cute Starbucks tumblers, an assortment of Starbucks candies and cookies, two Starbucks charms from Rwanda, Starbucks Mocha powder, African themed Memory game, cute tote from the Starbucks Africa collection, Africa trivia game, the official charity:water bracelet and a surprise that’s not listed.

Seriously, that is a pile of loot for $5. For every $5 you donate, your name will be entered in the drawing.

Oh, and there will be a new coffee & water box every day this week. And if you win shipping is free.

So, go play.

P.S. After you donate, leave a comment here with the number of tickets you bought…and be honest. She gets a print out of who donated.