Tuesday, December 23, 2008


We are finally home and getting settled in. We ended up renting a car and driving from New York to Chicago and a friend picked us up in Chicago for the rest of the journey home. We arrived home at 4:30 am on Monday. Yesterday was long and hard, but we all had a good night sleep last night and are taking it easy today. The girls LOVE their brother and are being very helpful. I will post more later, but wanted to let everyone know we are home and safe. Thank you all for your prayers. We felt them!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Still Stuck

Standby flight for tonight didn't work. Did get a hotel, but there are no other forms of transportation available either. Hopefully tomorrow brings better news.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting Home

All day today we watched their flight numbers, hopeful whenever we saw they were still on. Dismayed when watching national news and seeing video of Detroit with ice and snow. Got the text from the previous post, and prayed. This afternoon Curt sent a message saying they were on standby for an 8:30 flight tonight, and confirmed for an 8:30 flight Saturday. We prayed they could make the earlier flight. Curt called and spoke with the girls on speaker phone to let them know. We had not told them about the chance of the delay so as not to worry them too much without need. They took it well, though with some more behavior issues this evening, most likely not just from the change in plans, but from not having an entirely consistent life the last 10 days, and from being snowed in for most of that! Emma changed her journal for today from "Mom and Dad coming home with Zion" to "NOT" to "MAYBEE!" after the phone call. Abi is "monkey mad" at the weather, Emma just wants to slam a door maybe to make her feel better.

We all went out to dinner tonight - both sets of Grandparents, the girls, and me (Mandy!) Curt called while we were eating and said they had found a hotel and would be staying the night and next day for the 8:30 flight Saturday. They should arrive in Chicago around 10:30, where Curt's brother will pick them up and deliver them to us. Please pray that no more weather disrupts their travels, and that their spirits will be lifted. Pray that Emma and Abi remain the angels they have been in the face of missing mom and dad. Thank you for your support of this wonderful family - they can feel your prayers and most certainly covet more for the future - in their immediate travel needs, and in their transition to a family of five.


Curt's Text reads:
...flights cancelled everywhere. Mean people. Please pray.

We received about a foot of snow last night here in Southern Wisconsin, and it is moving through, messing up travel in Chicago and Detroit, meaning that while Curt, Kelly and Zion are safely in the country, they can't really go anywhere right now. Will update more when I hear what the next plan is.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coming Home Soon...

It has been a wonderful adventure, but we can't wait to be home now. Yesterday we went shopping at local shops. That was fun. We also went to the leprosy and TB hospital and Kelly bought a lot of hand made items (1,590 birr worth). The money goes to support the hospital. Amazingly it was very difficult to find my traditional soccer jerseys I get on trips. We had to drive to a special shop to get them. Pray for our flights and that Zion Degamo does well. He is very happy today and smiling a lot. He is a super fun baby and he feels like ours, which we were worried about. But why worry when God is in control? Silly us. OK, see you all soon. Miss you all tons.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To the Embassy and Beyond

We had our visa appointment today and we are all official now! It was very intimidating (the place) but the process itself was quite easy. We had Degamo in our room over night last night. He took a bottle for us and slept well and we were quite encouraged. He did very well during the Visa hearing today and even slept in his sling. After the visa hearing, we went to a Golf Club for lunch and relaxing, he was not loving the fact that we have thrown off his whole schedule. When we returned to the Hotel this afternoon, he spent most of an hour screaming and then finally took a nap. He woke up from his nap and took a bottle, but was still fussy. We think he may be teething and his tummy is having a hard time adjusting to different formula. We are just relaxing in our rooms for the rest of the night and taking turns listening to him fuss and holding him (it is Curt's turn right now). Hopefully he returns to his happy self soon. All of the nannies are always telling us how happy he is, so I feel like we ruined him already! Keep praying for us, all are tired, but happy and excited to be heading home in just over 48 hours. Tomorrow (Wednesday) they are having a going away party for the kids (I am bringing lots of kleenex) and in the afternoon, we are going shopping. We fly out at 11 pm (here) on Thursday.

We will be in contact as soon as we are back in the states, which is suppossed to be 10 am in New york on Friday.

love you all

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Last night we spent at the traditional restaurant. The food was good, a little spicy, but good. The dancing and music was amazing. We have some video we will have to show you all. Today we did not get to see Degamo because they wanted to give the nannies a break on Sunday. We went to an Ethiopian church that Dr. Fikru goes to this morning. It was very similar in style and order of service to Living Word, but we didn't understand a word, yet our spirits still connected with the service and the people. We were the only white people there. After church we went to a resort southwest of Addis. Kelly took a lot of pictures and I rode in the "yak yak" (kayak) around the lake all afternoon. It was a very beautiful place and we got to see some of the more rural areas on the drive there and took some pictures. The food at the resort was also very good. I ate Nile perch that was huge and amazing. We are looking forward to tomorrow when we can play with Degamo again and he get to come back to the hotel and spend the night with us.

Love you and miss you all. If you are caring for the girls give them extra hugs and tell them how much we miss them.

see you all soon.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday Update

Spent more time with Degamo today. The babies were out on the balcony when we got there, they were all naked and getting rubbed down with vaseline and sunning themselves. They were so happy and we said we are going to have to get a sun lamp cuz there is not nice warm sun in Wisconsin right now. He smiled when he saw us this morning and let Curt hold him for quite a while. We went to the National Museum this afternoon, very interesting. Tonight is a traditional meal and show. We are really feeling the time change today. Keep praying for us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Meeting the Baby

Newest update from Curt & Kelly:
We met Degamo this morning. He is so sweet and wonderful and perfect (of course). We got to snuggle and play for about 2 hours this morning and then went back this afternoon for another hour or so. The nannies love him so much and made it abundantly clear that he is a favorite. Everyone is very friendly and accomodating. We will hang out with him tomorrow morning and then we are doing some touring in the afternoon. It is sunny and mid 80's but not humid. Feels so good. The other family that is here adopting as well is very nice and we have enjoyed getting to know them. So far so good on food, I had spaghetti for lunch (real daring, I know, but it was some of the best spaghetti ever). We are done for the day, and are going to crash in our room. Love you all and miss you. We are waiting for the phone to be delivered, so we will try to call once it is here.

Curt, Kelly and Degamo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Travel Update

Sister Mandy here! The ice/snow Tuesday did not delay any travel plans - original flight from Chicago to Minneapolis was cancelled, so they flew to Detroit and waited 4 hours. I texted Curt all day while they were waiting (I was bored too...)

When the girls and I got back from piano lessons today, I had an email from Kelly:
We are here, alive and well and tired. It is just after 11 pm, so hopefully we will sleep. We get to meet Degamo around 10 am tomorrow. All of our luggage arrived fine and we did not miss any flights. Love you all. Miss you tons.

I will update more when I hear anything.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It is Official!

This quilt will be traveling to Ethiopia Dec. 10th-19th... we will be with it and and we will be wrapping our little Zion Degamo up in it and bringing him home to stay! Our case passed the Ethiopian courts yesterday and he is officially ours. :) We will post details of our trip and pictures of him when we get home. We appreciate and covet your prayers through out this adventure. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Adventure

Adoption updates first: We received a Court Date yesterday of November 26th. That is a lot later than we had hoped and may mean that we do not get to travel until January. Super dissapointed, but not much we can do about it. Keep praying for us! We have been super blessed with gifts for Zion Degamo, also, our finances seem to be falling into place so that is good.

This past Monday was suppossed to be one of the last warm days for a while, so we took off and went to a local lake. So wonderful. The kids (including Curt) played in the sand, we ate a picnic lunch, went for a hike that included many discoveries, and did some fishing. The fish were biting so much that before the bobber had landed completely, it went under. We caught around 8 bluegills in a 45 minute period. Enjoy some shots from the day.

Bucket of Snails (catch and release of course):

Daddy, I am coming up your mountain!

Daddy is soooo King of the Mountain~!
Click on the pictures to make them bigger, you have to see Curt's face!

More pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gratzmom/

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


We received the referral of a 3 month old baby boy today! He is beautiful and we are so excited. We cannot post photos or much personal info until he is officially ours, but I had to share my news here. We will not have a court date until the Ethiopian courts reopen after their rainy season, so as of right now it looks like late October/Early November before court and then 3 or so weeks after we pass court, we will travel to Addis to get our little guy. If all goes well, we will be home before the end of the year. Keep our family in your prayers please. There are other families in our program who leave tomorrow to pick up their children, so we are praying for them too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Remember me?

Yes, I am still alive.

No, we don't have a referral yet.

We are surviving and trying our best to find happy distractions.

I will post here occasionally, but after the adoption is all over and done with, I will probably shut this blog down... working on priorities. Would much rather be sewing than blogging, sorry. Not that I don't love you all.

My sister, who loves me, bought me an early birthday present of a Flickr Pro account (that so does not mean I am any sort of "pro.") So check me out there. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gratzmom/

Love to you all!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Think about something else...

What isn't lovely= The adoption waiting game... We are currently #4 on the list I believe. One of the families in this area received their referral (the call from the agency that basically says, hey, we have a child that we think matches your family) a week or so ago and I was really hoping that meant we would be coming up soon too. There were 2 more referrals this week, but not us. We are getting closer, but the wait is tough. I keep telling myself how good we have it, because our wait is most likely only going to be 3-5 months (we are almost at 3 months right now since our dossier was approved). China is currently a 2-3 YEAR wait from application to bringing a child home. Haiti is around 2 years, so I will not complain. We will most likely have our little one home before the end of the year and we didn't start the process until Feb. of 2007. Every time the phone rings during the week, my heart stops a little. I am very excited and the anticipation can get intense at times. So I am trying to think about different things.

What IS lovely: 4th of July with family and friends (and no pictures because my batteries died as the parade started and I didn't have time to put new ones in for the rest of the day). Our house is right on the parade route, so we have decided to have an annual open house sort of party. The front lawn is open for parade watchers and then we do a potluck style lunch after the parade and hang out in the back yard by the river. Canoe rides included for free. Everyone usually goes home late afternoon for some rest before fireworks. Then we head to Curt's office parking lot to watch the fireworks. I am sure I have said it before, but I LOVE our small town.

Black Poppy (from my lovely sister) Bee Balm ( I like to call it the Bad Hair Day Plant)
More Black Poppy

Queen Anne's Lace (a weed to some people, but not me)

My Crazy Family :

If you click on the pictures to make them bigger, you will see that Curt is breaking a water balloon over poor, little Abi's head. Too which she responded "that's cheating Dad!"

Perfect weather and time to do what I love. So far today I was able to laze around in bed reading a good book, fertilize all of my plants, watch the fishing and water balloon fights that Curt and the kids were enjoying, take pics of my beloved flowers, and type this post. It is only 10:30. We still have blackberry picking, some baking, HGTV watching, and grilling out at Curt's parents. All in all a great day. Hope for some sewing tomorrow and we will call it a perfect weekend.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hmmmm, what should I blog about?

First there was the wedding for my Dear Friend/Sorta Daughter, Natalie. I was in charge of decorations and flowers but ended up sort of being the wedding coordinator. It was crazy and chaotic and the tornado whistles were going off as I ran in the house to take a shower 45 minutes before they were supposed to walk down the aisle, but it all turned out wonderfully and I am so happy for Natalie and Pierre.

My funny wedding story... The bride really wanted fish on the tables for the reception and in the vases on the alter (sorry, no pics of that, too busy to take pics, grr.). We agreed that Betas are expensive, so we would just do 4 Betas and the rest would be cheap goldfish. I picked up the fish at the pet shop and asked the guy if it is ok to put the Betas in a bucket and the goldfish in another bucket until the day of the wedding. He said sure. Well, he must have misunderstood me because I brought the fish home and put all the goldfish in one bucket and all 4 Betas in another bucket and then went outside for a few minutes. When I came back in, the water in the bucket with the Betas was splashing all over and they were shredding each other's fins. I screamed and grabbed cups from the cupboard quick. As I was scooping the fish out, I said to them "if you can't play nice together, then you can't be in the same bucket, " and told them they were grounded. I think I need some serious help. I am disciplining the fish now. They all lived and now I have a funny story to share and a word of warning to other ignorant Beta owners out there.

Last weekend we had a very large, very successful rummage sale and all the work and mess that goes with that. This week, I am trying to get back so some sort of routine and get my house back in order. I think we are almost there. My husband promised to help me do the floors tonight and I have to dust upstairs yet and then my house is somewhat clean. I neeeeed to weeeeed the gardens, but that will be done a little at a time over the next week or so. Now on to the pictures...

I dropped off a van load of stuff left over from the rummage sale at St. Vincent DePaul's and came away with 2 vintage pillowcases to make bags out of and a brand new pair of red, Mary Jane style Keds (for $3.25) and some clothes for the girls and some videos. :)

The garden is growing nicely and the girls have been feasting on fresh peas. We don't even bother to cook them, just eat 'em straight off the vine.

First Galardia bloom of the season. Again :)

Trying to enjoy summer as much as I can. I made the "to do before the baby comes home" list and it isn't pretty. We are currently #7 on the waiting list (as far as I know), so we should hear something in the next month or 2 and then will hopefully travel before the end of the year if things go well! Yay! I guess that is all my rambling for now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Like I said yesterday, we went to Rotary Gardens on Emma's birthday to take some pictures. Emma loves to use my camera and I thought maybe I could get some decent pictures of the children, not to mention, this is one of my favorite places on earth to go. I did get SOME decent pictures of the girls, but most of them were either of them running away, doing flips or being goofy. I love that my camera does a decent job of capturing action because their facial expressions are always best when they are moving quickly. At least the flowers were cooperating.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

7 Years Old

Emma turned 7 on May 22nd. I can't believe it, but it is true. I know every mom says that they can't believe how fast their kids are growing up, and that is true, but it just seems to me like 7 is no longer a little girl. 6 still seemed little, but 7, not at all. We have decided that the kids can have a "friend" party every other year, so this year was just a family deal for her. That was very difficult for my social butterfly to handle (no worries about socialization for this homeschooler...she creates her own social opportunities everywhere we go). On her actual birthday, Curt took the day off of work and we headed to the Madison Children's Museum and lunch at Pizzaria Uno's on State Street. We had to be home by 1 for daddy to head off to his last track meet. The girls and I rested for a bit and then we went to the Beauty Shop for Emma to get her first "big girl" haircut at the beauty shop (I have always cut their hair up to this point). Then we went to Rotary Gardens in Janesville to take pictures. Aunt Mando was able to meet us there. I will do a separate post just of garden pics another day. We ran and played and had too much fun and then headed to McDonald's for supper (her choice, certainly not mine). Then it was home for full facials with make up and everything and manicures. We finished the night by curling up on the couch and watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on DVD (perfect!). On Saturday we had the fam over for Emma's party. She chose a Luau theme this year. I made her a dress and we had some basic decorations and of course the cake. Super fun birthday for a super fun girl. She said it was all perfect, even though she was scheming right up to the end on how to get some friends here too.
In her birthday outfit.

Big Girl Hair Cut!
This one shows her personality perfectly. All dressed up fancy, but ready to build something too.

Looking 17, not 7.

My mom bought Emma a model rocket kit for her present (at Emma's request). Daddy spent several hours with them on Monday assembling and firing the rockets. Good thing we have a before picture, because 1 rocket is pretty much burned up and the other one is evidently orbiting the earth and never returned.

Our "Luau" cake, designed by Emma, decorated by mom and Mando.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Bag

I have been volunteering to do some pattern testing for Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio, now also of Pink by Post. The latest (and my favorite so far) is this great bag that she calls the Mail Sack. I tested it in March and she released the pattern officially last week. This is my original version, made from her original pattern with no alterations or corrections. There were some small alterations made in the final version of the pattern and I am planning on making the final version in more neutral colors ( I have been dressing to match the bag). It is the perfect bottomless bag. I took it to a track meet last week and had an umbrella, sunscreen, sunglasses, a water bottle, a fleece pullover and all my usual notebooks, wallet, pens... in it. I found the bag easy to make and learned some new techniques with it. Kathy does a great job of writing instructions in a way that seems conversational instead of formal and technical. She is also amazingly generous and kind, so go visit her sites.
The outside view. It is made out out hoarded Amy Butler and Heather Bailey fabrics with matching linen.
The inside has a zipper pocket and 2 other pockets for sunglasses, etc.

It is meant to be worn across the body sling style. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of me wearing it that way. You can see it in the reflection.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


The first weekend in May, Curt had a computer geek conference to attend in St. Paul, MN. He was going to be gone for 4 days and the business was paying for a room and none of his partners were going with, so the girls and I decided to go along. I knew we were not going to be able to see Curt much or spend much time with him, but we would be able to do some fun stuff and it would be better than staying home by myself with the Hoodlums (as I like to call them). It worked out that My Mandy was able to come with also and spend part of the weekend with us and part of the weekend with her husband's brother and his family. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza (way out of our league) which is happily situated on the Mississippi River and very near many great sites. We were within walking distance of the Minnesota Children's Museum and the Minnesota Science Museum and only a short drive from Grand Avenue (shopping!) and Como Zoo. Our 4 days were quite full and fun. If you ask the girls, the best part was the hotel pool and watching Chronicles of Narnia in bed on hotel cable. If you ask Mandy and I, the worst part was no TLC, HGTV or Bravo on the hotel cable! When Mandy posts pictures, I will link to her Flickr, because she was the main photographer of the weekend, but here are a few of my shots.
Face painting the Children's Museum. Notice my really cool bag in the mirror reflection. I will post about that later today or tomorrow.
My little scientist. Her only hope for the Science Museum was that she would be able to wear a lab coat and goggles like a real scientist. Wish granted. We got to scrape cheek cells and look at them under a microscope.

Como Park Zoo/Amusement ParkOur Hotel from across the river (the dark grey building). We had an amazing view of St. Paul and the river from our 12th floor window.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Getting Closer

We have officially finished our Dossier and went yesterday to have our fingerprints done (they have a security checkpoint at the USCIS office that we had to go to, like at an airport!) So now we are at the sit and wait part of the adoption process. We had to go to Milwaukee to get the fingerprints done, so we left the girls with a friend and spent a nice day together. After fingerprints, we headed to the Mitchell Park Domes and then went for some lunch. Here are a couple of shots from the domes.

I want my back yard to look like this... Ok?

I have been super busy in the garden and doing some Spring cleaning (or trying), so the posting will be even less than usual. I am trying to get a photo of the crazy robins in my yard, they aren't afraid of me and get super close. I will post that and a story to go with it when I get a chance. I hope you all are having a wonderful Spring. I finally feel semi-confident that Spring is actually here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lovely Quilts

I went to a quilt show with my aunt on Monday night and thought I would share some of my favorites. I walk around these things in kind of a haze with a silly grin on my face taking lots of close up pictures of quilts that I either find stunning or inspire me for future quilty projects. As posting pictures on Blogger can be sort of a pain in the rump, I am only posting a handful of my favorites. You can click to make them bigger. The picture quality is clearly not my best ever, but the lighting was lacking and carrying a tripod around to make the camera steady enough really is not so convenient. Also, if you have ever been to a quilt show, you know how pushy those quilt ladies can get, and if you haven't then believe me, you take your picture and get the heck out of the way!
This entire quilt was done with fabric selvages (the edge pieces that you usually cut off and often contain the name of the fabric manufacturer, fabric line and designer). They are all about 1" wide strips. Crazy!
For Mandy. She based the design off a picture she had taken. Lots of layers of fabric on top of each other to get the shading on the trunk. For the leaves she used actual leaves as templates and traced them onto fabric.

I love old quilts. This quilt is a new one made from some old parts. The mother of the lady who made it found a stack of Dresden plates unfinished at a flea market for $.75. They ripped them apart and made them into fans. Added some more pieces and added the black background blocks. She added the appliqued vines and her mother embroidered in the solid black blocks. I love the wavy border and think the black just really makes the whole thing. I have a few Dresden plates that I might attempt a smaller version of something like this with.

The flash really washed this out, but I loved the fabrics in this also. There were repeated fabrics, but it had very "eye spy" quality to it. I have not been brave enough to do anything with these angles yet, but this inspired me.
The quilt on the rack is approx. 100 years old. The quilt hanging is a reproduction of the same quilt. Amazing hand quilting and wonderful job recreating the original quilt.