Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children
What could be better than an Ethiopian welcome, FOVC style?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm in heaven

I love a good appliance. I mean, I really, truly, absolutely love a good appliance. The BEST GIFT Dave ever gave me (and he gives good gifts--it's his love language) was a Miele vacuum. Mother's Day, 1998.

The Miele died prematurely in 2005. Trying to be a bit more practical, I replaced it with a Riccar. Imagine my thrill, er, dismay, when the Riccar went on life support last week. Generous Dave encouraged, nay, exhorted, nay demanded I check out another Miele. How could I not submit?

So I went straight over to Boulder Sew and Vac, the local purveyor of all things Miele. Believe it or not, the owners of the store are grandparents of a toddler boy adopted from Ethiopia. The boy's family is currently waiting for a baby girl referral from Ethiopia. The owners were happy to meet a little baby girl from Ethiopia (that would be Amelia). They took pictures and skyped their daughter (who lives out of the country). To add crazy to coincidence, it turns out Dave had met this family last year at Target when they passed through Longmont on their way home (to their far-away country) from Ethiopia with their new son.

Given the crazy and coincidental circumstances, how could I not go ahead and get the Miele? It's the Calisto S5280, complete with big power brush. This vacuum really, really sucks. And I mean this in the most positive and glowing way.

Like I said, I just love a good appliance. When I vacuum these days, I really do feel like I am in a dander-free, dust-free, HEPA-certified, nice little vacuum tracks on my carpet....heaven.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Most Important Words in the World

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
John 3:16-17 (The Message)

We Howletts wish you and yours a joy-filled Christmas. May you know--and may we show--the love of Christ now and in the coming year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Next Time You Drive Across Kansas..

...may I recommend:
  • DVD player for big kids
  • baby who is generally happy-go-lucky
  • fun navigation system for Dad (although it's not exactly hard to find one's way along the same interstate for 600 miles!)
  • XM Satelite Radio and a lap dog for mom

I guess the swanky minivan is worth it!

We have arrived in Misery, er Missouri, and it hasn't been too miserable so far. It's our own Christmas miracle, I guess.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

She says MAMA... she means it!

And it melts my heart!

She also plays, "How big is Amelia?" (Answer: Sooooooo big!),
waves bye-bye, claps, and points her cute little finger.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I heard this amazing song on this amazing blog that I read.

The song is by a young artist named Brooke Fraser. The song is called, "Albertine." Albertine is a young orphan girl that Brooke Fraser met while she was in Rwanda.

The haunting refrain goes like this:

"Now that I have seen I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
Now that I have held you in my own arms
I cannot let go..."

Father, what is next?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Too beautiful

I love this girl!

So many thanks to Ross from our small group (that's Ross Greiner Photography) for this picture of Amelia. He took it while she was watching the Christmas program at church.

I can't decide if we should book a "family Christmas" sitting, or a "family in January" setting. Ross's work is so fantastic, it's hard to choose!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Dave found this website called The Advent Conspiracy. The concept is this:

Christmas can (still) change the world.

The Advent Conspiracy challenges us to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all. Could it be more simple?

The idea is to reduce consumerism and change the world. Watching the video clip (below), I learned that Americans spend $450 BILLION each year for Christmas.

Elsewhere in the world, 1.8 million people die every year from water-borne illnesses. This includes 3900 children every single day. In fact, the lack of clean drinking water kills more people every year than anything else.

The world's water problem could be solved--once and for all--with just $10 billion. A small fraction of what we in America spent on Christmas last year.

I'm convicted and I'm challenged. I want to change the world. My heart hurts to change the world.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Amelia and the Angel....and angel hair

This is one of the paintings we got at the Art for Ethiopia fundraiser. It’s the one Amelia loved so much. In fact, she couldn’t take her eyes off it! There was a huge mix-up, and we almost had to give it back for another buyer. So many thanks to our friend Shawn, who saved the day!

We don’t know what it reminds Amelia of, but the rest of us think of the statues and art we saw in Rome the week before we met Amelia. It’s a pretty big painting, and we have it hung in the entry. When Amelia is in her high chair, it’s so cute to watch her crane her neck to get a look at her angel. And when we go up or down the stairs, she likes to pause to get a look, do a little giggle and smile.

Speaking of angels....Amelia has something happening on the top of her head. I wouldn't call it regular "hair" yet. And "bird's nest" seems a bit harsh. So let's just go with "angel hair." (Aside from the difference in color, it does look a bit like the pasta.)

Physical Therapy

Amelia has been working really hard at physical therapy. Our physical therapist, Jessica, is incredible. She comes to our house each week and plays, er, works, with Amelia. I think we had all underestimated how malnourished Amelia was when she came home. Not because of her life in the orphanage--but because she was likely premature, and her first mom was likely so malnourished, and her serious reflux only made everything much worse. But she is thriving now, thank God!

Something we have learned about malnourishment is this: When a young child is malnourished, her body feeds her brain first. And then her organs. And finally, her muscles. Isn't God amazing? We wouldn't be able to help Amelia catch up when it comes to brains or organs. But muscles? No big deal!

Here she is, poised to crawl. (Just overlook the drool.)

She has a belly--yea!

She loves her sissies.

Bath Time--Before and After

Here are pics of one of Amelia's most favorite activities: Bath Time! (Or perhaps more appropriately called, Sink Time.)

Bath time is the one time in the day when Amelia doesn't have to wear a bib....because all her drool just drains into the sink!

Look closely at this one--see what I mean about the drool?
And now here is a picture of our very first bath, when we were in Ethiopia. It was taken exactly four months ago. It's hard to recognize her as the same baby. Hard to believe it's only been four months...because it seems she has been with us forever. Thank God for His love and grace to all of us!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hanna is (almost) in the house!

Hanna Fanta, founder of Children's Heaven, will be in the States for just a couple of weeks. We found out today that she will come to our house tomorrow, and she'll stay for a couple of days. We are thrilled to have the chance to spend a bit of time with Hanna, and we pray we will be able to bless her while she is with us. If you are in our area, and you would like to meet Hanna, let me know. She is such a wonderful, humble, beautiful and faith-filled woman.

Here's a bit about Hanna's work:

Children's Heaven serves orphaned girls ages eleven years and older. Without the safety net that Hanna provides, these girls would fall through the cracks, and they would be forced to make their way by begging or even prostitution. Children's Heaven ensures these girls can go to school (providing uniforms and supplies as well), tutors and teaches the girls, teaches them about God, and makes sure they have access to health care and plenty to eat. These girls have been orphaned and no longer have mothers. Hanna truly shows them a mother's love. Because of Children's Heaven, these girls have a chance!

As an example of the incredible work that Hanna does, click here to read about the Dumpster Girls pictured below. Hanna had just met these girls in July when we were in Ethiopia. If not for Hanna Fanta and Children's Heaven, there would be a lot more Dumpster Girls in Ethiopia.

Living as we do in the U.S., it's hard to comprehend that anyone, especially children, lives like this, isn't it?

Finally, I leave you with a two minute video about Children's Heaven.

Again today, be INSPIRED!

Art for Ethiopia

An organization called Ethiopian Orphan Relief held a fundraiser for Children's Heaven Saturday. You may recall that we spent a fair amount of time at Children's Heaven, and a lot of time with its founder, Hanna Fanta, when we were in Ethiopia.

The benefit was called Art for Ethiopia, and the goal was to raise funds to help Children's Heaven build an actual, permanent building in Addis Ababa for the teenaged girls they serve. (Children's Heaven currently puts up temporary buildings made of tarps and other materials, which the Ethiopian government occasionally makes them take down....)

We went to the benefit and had a good time. (Well, Amelia thought it was a bit too crowded and noisy, but it was her first fundraiser, so she's not yet experienced at these things.) Hanna Fanta is visiting the U.S. right now (a requirement for her U.S. Visa), and she was at the fundraiser. It was soooooo wonderful to see her!

We picked up some art for such a great cause. Amelia loved one of the pieces in her daddy couldn't stop himself from getting it for her. (Dads and daughters...what can I say?) Ethiopian Orphan Relief had set a "high" goal of raising $10,000. We heard today that $12,800 was raised. That's so fantastic!

Here's Amelia at "Art for Ethiopia," taking time out for a little snack.
(I think she was stress-eating.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Need inspiration?

If you could use some inspiration today, and if you have some time, check out this blog:

It's a well-written, inspiring and often funny blog about a family and their incredible adventure. This family recently adopted from Ethiopia. But that's just the beginning of the story....of God's calling and involvement in their lives, and of the big assignment they have accepted.

Here's a "Lory's notes" version to get you caught up on what's going on in this family now:

This family had accepted a referral for an Ethiopian baby, but she passed away before they were able to get her. Then they accepted a referral for Ethiopian twin babies....who almost passed away, too. In the process, they managed to befriend and bring to the U.S. an Ethiopian woman--married, former Olympic athlete--who was experiencing a high-risk pregnancy after losing one baby already. Well, Baby Christiana was born this week, with many complications.

It's amazing, what this family, and the larger family of adoptives families and Believers in Christ, have done. And what they continue to do. They all demonstrate what happens when we choose to love and serve outside of ourselves. And how beautiful and wonderful (and difficult, too) it is when we respond to God's call.

Stories like this make me want to be chosen to help change the world.

Be inspired today!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

America votes today

I hope you voted. We don't all agree on everything, but I hope we can agree that we have a wonderful country. We are the most generous country in the history of the world, for one. I love America!

Even with an almost-always-at-work husband and three daughters, I found time to make some calls last night. And I'm on my way to my poll-watching gig here in a few minutes.

And then I'm sure we'll be up late into the night, watching it all unfold. (I'm a political junkie, by the way.)

God bless our country!

Tammy D.--are you out there???

Hey Tammy,

I got your message, but can't find your email address / phone number. And I don't have the spelling of your last name (which to readers who aren't Tammy might sound lame. But her last name could have many, many, many different spellings), or I think I could track you down. Grrrrr!

I can't believe you found us! I would love to hear more about your family and what you're up to. Please post here or send your email / phone to our gmail And I hope you'll send a note, too, of course.

Waiting by the keyboard,

Thursday, October 30, 2008

She's a big 'un

I had Amelia weighed today: Drum roll please---she gained ONE POUND, TWELVE OUNCES in the last month. She's up to 14 pounds, 4 ounces. All of her eating is starting to pay off!

Also, she had her second physical therapy session today. It's great, the physical therapist comes to our house and they have a big ol' play date together. She is already making progress. She rolls and rolls and rolls. She's a great sitter-upper (but working on soft landings and getting to sitting) and she's now a pre-crawler. The therapist says crawling is a really important developmental stage, so we want to be sure she crawls.

Amelia has made so, so, so much progress since she came home just three months ago. In a way, it's hard to believe that she still has some catching up to do. When she came home, her gross motors were probably like a 3 month old's. At this point, I think she's in the 7 to 8 month range. We know she'll catch up. As the physical therapist says, "She's a hard worker!"

Amelia thought it was awfully fun to read the paper with Dad the other morning. (Don't be fooled by the newspaper section she chose--we're not making her get a job!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lil Pumpkin in Photos

Our small group went to Longmont's Halloween Parade yesterday, followed by a trip to the pumpin patch. Here is the morning in pictures:

It was still chilly when we set out,
so Amelia was in full pumpkin regalia.
Taking it all in...
I love a parade!
Mom, can I have some candy? (No!)
With her junior babysitter, Lucy Weber...
The Howletts 5
Pumpkin patches are exhausting!
The end!

First Cabin in the Mountains

With Dad working all weekend, the Lady Howletts (plus friend Rebecca) joined the Peratt family at the YMCA's Snow Mountain Ranch over near Winter Park.

Here's the view from our deck. We love Colorado!
Breakfast time...
...where Amelia discovered the joy of pancakes!She's just hangin' out, enjoying the view.

A first

Amelia has a sippy cup!

The Cost of Beauty

Allison came home the other night, concerned about bushy eyebrows. She asked me to thin 'em out. I don't think she had ever considered that beauty could hurt!

(Note: She's laughing, not crying...that said, she does have quite a flair for the dramatic. I'm not sure where she gets it--ha!)

(Here is our outcome. Understated, non-bushy brows.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Woliso (Amelia's home town)

My heart has been yearning and hurting for Ethiopia this week.

Going through some of our paperwork today, I found a document that sheds a tiny bit of light on Amelia's first days. She was born (or at least, she was found) in a place called Woliso. Woliso is in a rural area about seventy-seven miles from Addis Ababa, the capitol city.

During our time in Ethiopia, we never left Addis Ababa. I looked around on the internet, and found some photos from Woliso, and also a YouTube video. I have to say, it really strikes me and haunts me, to see where Amelia would have lived (or even died), had her first mom not found a way to give her a chance.

Here are some of the pictures I found:

This would be a kitchen area. I recognize the various pans and the
coffee pots that are everywhere in Ethiopia

A beautiful, but primitive, hut on a hillside.

It looks like there are monkeys in Woliso!
Such a sweet little girl.
The countryside looks green and beautiful.
Another little girl (can you tell I'm a girl mom?)
This is the school.
A beautiful place.
Another sweet little girl (yep, I'm still a girl mom).
I think that is coffee on the donkey's back.
On the way to town...
I think this would be "in town."
Finally, here's the link to the YouTube video I found. It was made by members of a humanitarian relieft organization who visited Woliso. More than anything, for me, it provided images and insights into life in the place of Amelia's heritage.