Friday, August 31, 2012

Wampus Cats

Tonight - for a little while - the girls were honorary Wampus Cats cheerleaders and dancers.

And they loved it!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

How They Roll

You'd think I pose these girls - but nope - this is just how they roll!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I Love To Learn!

Ansley - one of Meron and Mebrate's favorite people on the planet - is an incredible dancer. She's also an incredible person who spends time teaching the things she loves (ballet, tap, etc) to young kids. The girls absolutely adore her...

Well - tonight we were blessed to be allowed to have the girls sit in on her ballet class, her tap class and then attend a gymnastics class.

When I told Mebrate this news, she was beaming from ear to ear when she said:

"I am SOOO excited! I love to learn!"
And learn they did!

They followed Ansley around with gigantic smiles on their faces...

They jumped when she said "JUMP!"

And they stretched when she said "STRETCH!"

And man... this opportunity would have NEVER happened at the beach!

After dance it was time to hit the gym for some gymnastics - which was scary for some folks...

And a walk in the park for others!

Ansley - what a huge blessing you were to the girls tonight!

Thank you for your gigantic heart, happy smile and the way you love our girls!

Blessed to have a role model like you in their lives!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane Uncle James

Uncle James is turning into a hurricane.

Meron is straight up sleepy...

But Mebbie and Will are going strong!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Storm Troopers

So - we ended up having to bail outta our awesome spot at the beach. It was a tough call - but the safety of my girls and the idea that we wanted to have some fun on our week off together and not just sit in a room while torrential downpours swirled around us helped us make the decision.

But where to go? We looked at a lot of spots - the beaches nearby (and far) were all experiencing the same thing - TERRIBLE WEATHER!

That's when we knew where we had to go. We piled in the car and 12 hours and 46 minutes later we pulled in to the one spot that brought squeals of delight from both the girls...

Uncle James, Aunt Stacy and Will and Ansley's house!

The girls were absolutely ridiculously good on the way here - I mean total TROOPERS for us. No whining. No complaining. No fighting. Just hanging out, making us laugh and watching some movies.

And kudos to these guys for letting us just barge into their world at midnight on a school night. They're already listing out all kinds of fun stuff for us to go do as a family.

Our goal was to be happy, be safe and be together. Mission accomplished.

We're making lemonade, people...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another First

We made it here early this afternoon to check another thing off the "firsts" list.

See - a certain little somebody has never had her toes in the water, her bootie in the sand (sorry Zac Brown Band, we're g-rated 'round these parts!)...

And she was LOVING it.

Heck - even big sis Meron has only been one other time and she was like 10 months old. So it was a big time for both of them.

We jumped waves.

We built sand castles.

We buried feet.

We wrecked sand castles.

We freaked out together over sea weed touching us.

We came back to the house and swam another hour in the pool.

We ate an incredible dinner put together by an incredible mommy.

And then - most of us looked like this:

It was an incredibly awesome start to our week at the beach and a blessed day for sure.

Because unfortunately... it might be our last day as well.

See - now we're dealing with this:

And things ain't looking so hot for where we are sitting right now. So we'll play the morning by ear - HOPEFULLY get a little bit more beach time - and chances are - we're packing up and heading out.

But - by God - we'll head out safely as a family and we will make the most of every second together.

It's all about the time we spend together - not how or where we do it.

But - for the record - ice cream for breakfast will hopefully help ease the pain of it all...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More Than Food For Me

I got back to my car after a meeting today and had this awesome voicemail...

Meron was hanging with Laura today and the TV was on and "hunger" was the topic. She dropped this beauty with zero prodding or questioning.

She preaches me to me on so many levels. Blessed to be her daddy...

Friday, August 24, 2012

People Always Say My Style Is Wild

I love this girl's style. She makes me wish I was 4.5 again. So I could make much cooler style choices.

Keep rockin' your wild style Meron!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Can I Hold Mebbie?

The other day Meron asked:

"Daddy - can I hold Mebbie for a little while?"
It's what she wanted to do. And Mebrate wanted to be held.

I pray they NEVER grow out of each other. EVER.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


This girl right here is a blessing undeserved to me.

She has changed me and grown me and opened my eyes in so many different ways.

Mostly though - she introduced me to God in ways I never even imagined possible. And she personifies love to me.

Thank you, Meron.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wanna Come?

Our church has kicked off a new campaign where everybody who calls North Metro "home" is challenged to invite somebody to church with them. The leadership wants "100% involvement."

Well - no worries around here - as Meron was more than willing to get going with this.

She had been brainstorming on it Sunday and Monday and she asked a few questions about how she was supposed to do it... Laura was awesome about explaining it to her - she said "You thump them about the head and shoulders with a bible and guilt them into going...."

KIDDING! She told Meron to just invite whoever she wanted to and give them the card. It was that easy.

So this morning at school she grabbed her card and said:

"I know who I am asking!"
They all headed in to the school and Meron walked up to her friend Savannah. After hugging like they do every day, Meron handed her the card and said
"Would you like to come to church with me?"
And boom - it was done.

And truth be told - she had just done what most of us won't even attempt.

But she didn't stop there. She already has two more cards ready for tomorrow and I picked up some more tonight at bible study - cuz she's on fire!

I get it God. Please don't ever think these daily life lessons are lost on me.

I wanna be more like her. More like you.

In Atlanta and wanna join us on a Sunday? Holler at us - we'll meet ya in the parking lot and even sit with ya!

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Got It Made

My man Special Ed said it best. He said this in his song "I Got It Made":

"I'm kinda spoiled 'cause everything I want I got made,
I wanted gear - got everything from cotton to suede,
My hair was growin too long, so I got me a fade,
And when my dishes got dirty, I got cascade,
When the weather was hot, I got a spot in the shade,
I'm wise because I rise to the top of my grade,
Wanted peace on earth, so to God I prayed,
Some kids across town thought I was afraid,
They couldn't harm me - I got the army brigade,
I'm not a trader - If what you got is greater I'll trade,
But maybe later 'cause my waiter made potatoed alligator soufflé;
I got it made"
I feel ya, Ed. I feel ya.

I get to come home to these three every day. I got it made.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Nurturing Their Nature

Mebrate is growing into the early body of a track star (long lean legs, zero BMI) and Meron is either gonna be a gymnast or a football player (fearless tumbler she is).

Either way - we wanna nurture that natural Ethiopian in there and see what happens - 2028 Olympics anyone?

Truth of it all is this - they love coming to the field with me and I love having them! I don't care if they ever run a mile for fun again - I'll take these days now where they actually WANNA hang out with me!

M&M - you guys make my field workouts so much more bearable - thank you for being you and keeping me company!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mebbie Day

Today we celebrated "Mebbie Day." The actual day was the 14th but our week was nuts so we held off even mentioning it to her until last night.

What's Mebbie Day, you ask? Well that's the day Mebrate came home to be a permanent part of our family. And we celebrate the heck outta those days around here.

So today - we celebrated that nutty little Hoffman up there.

And we made sure to let her know throughout the day how incredibly happy and blessed we are that she made our family photo look like this:

Man I remember it like it was yesterday when she came cruising up the escalator with Laura at the big, huge, overcrowded Atlanta airport - she was looking pretty terrified.

We relive it often here cuz both Mebbie and Meron love to watch the video over and over and over (shhhhh! truth is - Laura and I do too!) You can check it out below if ya wanna (I'm gonna pause and watch it for like the 7,345,923rd time).

Wow - it is crazy for me to think it has only been a year - seems like that little girl has been around forever. I guess she kinda has - God etched her on our hearts when He put us together.

But she bonded, adapted and became a Hoffman so quick it was NUTS! Looking back at Day 1 and then the incredible smiles on Day 2 and it just floors me.

Or then I'll compare these pictures. And it just blows me away.

See that picture right there just reeks of the redemption that God is in the business of. I mean - we are some spoiled rotten people around here to have literally watched it live itself out right in front of our eyes. He is ALL ABOUT REDEMPTION. He is all up in the middle of it.

And we are blessed by the living, breathing reminders of it every single morning. I often thought that feeling might diminish or go away. It hasn't. Not one bit. It's only gotten stronger.

So tonight - at our celebratory dinner (we let them pick and we go chow down!) - Meron and Mommy had gone to the bathroom and Mebbie and I were enjoying some good conversation. She was beaming smiling like she almost always is and she looked at me and said:

"You know why I am so happy and smiling?"
I said "Tell me why Mebbie..." and she said:
"Because it's Mebbie Day daddy! It's my day!"
She was about to burst with happiness. I said "Well - what is Mebbie Day? Can you tell me what it means?" She didn't even hesitate when she said:
"It's when we are happy because I came here to stay forever and not go back to Africa!"
After assuring her she was definitely here to stay and some quick discussion about Africa and how we LOVE it and how we'll always go back there to work and visit and help - she looked at me and said:
"I will go back to Africa one day though Daddy. To pick up some babies..."
And she just smiled that huge, sweet, adorable, heart-melting Mebrate smile.

And she's lucky we were in public surrounded by a bunch of people - or this guy here would have been weeping.

We prayed for so long before she came home for God to do the work on her heart that we were missing out on - to just go ahead and make her a Hoffman before she even came home.

He did that and so much more. She is part of this family and a Hoffman to the core.

Happy Mebbie Day girl! You have made us all better people and we can't wait to celebrate these days for years and years and years to come!

Friday, August 17, 2012

It Ain't Over Til It's Over

The end of summer in GA (heck most of USA now) isn't marked by the first day of school or some date on a calendar. At least not around here.

Nope - we measure by the first day you can wear a long sleeve t-shirt all day without sweating your butt off. And we got a ways to go.

So after school yesterday we busted out the lawn sprinkler to get a two-for-one deal as we watered part of the front lawn and drenched the girls in the process.

They were pretty stoked...

There were hydro-cartwheels...

Some good old-fashioned water collection...

A wee bit of goofiness (okay - a TON of it!)...

A water-pedi...

And smiles.

Lots and lots of 'em.

I ain't gonna lie - I can't stand the GA summer.

But if a late-summer soaking in the blazing heat brings out the squeals and laughs and smiles like it did yesterday... I'll suffer through it every single time.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Africa Next Year?

When ya tell a little prayer warrior that you're gonna be praying about something - especially about something she desperately wants to happen - well heck - I should have known she'd be spending some time praying...

When I walked into her classroom yesterday to pick the girls up their teacher motioned toward Meron and said:

"She going to Africa next year?"
I caught Meron out of the corner of my eye just smiling and smiling as I said "Jury is still out on that one - we're praying about it..."

Her teacher looked at Meron and said:
"Oh I know! We all know! She has us all praying about it!"
I looked over at Meron and she was just grinning...

Then her teacher said:
"Matter of fact - today Mebrate was called up front to pray and when she was done Meron called her over and whispered something in her ear and then Mebrate came back up to the front and said..."
"God - I just wanna pray for Meron and that she gets to go to Africa next year with mommy and daddy and I stay home with Granny. In Jesus name. Amen."
Working every angle ain't ya Meron?

I love, love, love that she believes in the power of prayer like that.

Never, ever lose that sweetie. Ever.

P.S. we're still praying about Africa!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Orphan Spirit

You can read a lot about the "orphan spirit" that a child can embody when they come home after spending some time in an orphanage. And I know it exists and it happens and there are tons of theories on how to approach it and love them through it and all of that.

We've experienced some things but truth be told - we've been blessed. I fully believe we worked through a LOT of ours on the front end - on our knees praying for Mebrate from the day we got her name and picture until a year later when she came home (which - incidentally - happened to be a year ago yesterday!).

So I say all that to say this - we believe in it - we just don't want to perpetuate it around our house. So we don't chalk much up to "life in an orphanage" and we just tend to love hard and strong through most things.

She's been home a year and it feels like forever - and so it can be easy to let things like the "orphan spirit" fade to the background. I was reminded of the reality of that spirit today.

The girls started school this week and today - the day I am always privileged to get them dressed and get them to school - was their first chapel day.

They were looking DOPE! FRESH! FLY!

And Meron - in all her "big girl" glory was quick to tell me "I can get dressed myself daddy!" so I went in Mebbie's room to help her out.

As we put each piece of her chapel day outfit on, buttoning up her shirt, smoothing it out, putting on her little tie, centering it, getting her dress on right - as we did each piece... well... her smile seemed to grow bigger and bigger and bigger. Until it almost swallowed her face and she was standing a little taller. A little prouder. All because of a dress of her own.

She was quite literally beaming. And then I remembered two days earlier when i had shown her the big stack of school supplies that were hers and watched the same radiant smile spread across her face as she said "Those are all mine daddy? My own?" and then ran to tell her sister that she had her own... pencils.

We take so much for granted. So so much. And in that moment today - as I pulled her in for a gigantic, inescapable bear hug and just squeezed her for what seemed like forever - I realized the orphan spirit can be deeper seeded than imagined.

We'll continue to not perpetuate it around here - we believe she was BUILT for the moment she is in and that included her path to us. But I will be more aware of the fact that the spirit isn't completely gone - and may never be.

Mebbie - I bet I get so much wrong on this whole daddy-ing thing but I know this much - I'mma keep loving you through anything you need loved through - and I'll keep growing and learning in the process!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just Look Down

Man - we spend so much time running around frantically trying to find God in our lives. Where's He at? What's He doing? Am I listening? Am I following?

It can get exhausting. And fact is - most of the time - He's right under our noses. In my case - I just gotta look down.

And I see HIM.

Bright-eyed, smiling, wanting to play. Wanting to be with me. Wanting to hug me and love me.

He's right here with us. All the time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back In Session

Today was the first day of school for the girls... and let me tell ya - Mebrate was PUMPED UP!

It was really cool to see her so excited and so proud of her own school supplies. The girl is brilliant (no bias there at all) and I am anxious to see how she does this year.

We kept her and big sis in different classes to let Mebrate start to kinda come in to her own but they'll still see each other at lunch and playground and stuff (Meron knows she is the protector).

They both found their desks right off the bat...

And I cannot believe how "big girl" they both look.

Looking forward to another fun school year...