life as we know it

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Review

This year has been a busy one for us. We've traveled to Ethiopia, I've accepted a new job, we've learned a lot about our hearts and our God, been broken and built back up and I think I've experienced every emotion in the book. Our year in review, as told through our blog.

In the beginning of January, I was grateful for my blessings as I remembered the car accident I had been involved in the year before. Also in January, as we were preparing for our trip to Ethiopia, I reflected on the idea of hope and what it means to others.

February was an amazing month for us. I spent a few days in New Orleans at the American Physical Therapy conference, then met up with Nick in DC and took off for Ethiopia. Nick addressed the question of whether we were going on a 'mission trip' and I talked about some of our projects in Ethiopia, while being broken, just as I had prayed for.

Our return to the US came in March, along with a post on some of the bumps that can be (and were, in our case) encountered during our trip.

Nick and I were so, so lucky to have had the chance to attend the Empowered to Connect conference, sponsored by Show Hope with Karyn Purvis (it was so good, we're going back this year). I talked about some of the changes that had happened at Kebeb Tsehay, an orphanage that holds so many memories for me and feels like home.

Gladney published an article I wrote about some of the projects from our most recent trip to Ethiopia in their May newsletter. Nick was the volunteer coordinator for the first annual Northern Colorado River Run for Orphans 5K event, I had an embarrassing hilarious moment and we focused some energy on our house.

June (and the whole summer, really) were really hard months for me. I was going on six or so months of working 6-7 days per week and I was overwhelmed about the idea of our daughter growing up in an orphanage.

July. Well obviously I didn't have anything to say to the blog world during the month of July. I told you it was a really hard summer.

I tried to make up for it in August by giving you a quick rundown of our summer and then our basement flooded. 

A conversation with a friend in September allowed for a much needed breakthrough for me as I worked through all these emotions that had been building up and overflowed this summer. This was followed up by a visit from some of my very best college friends.

Although I didn't talk about it on my blog, I accepted a new position as a clinical manager and physical therapist at the end of October.

November kicked off our biggest fundraiser to date, Nick introduced you to our love story and I told you about what we do in Ethiopia.

So far this month, in December, we revealed how we finished off our week with Give1Save1, we shared our video and we learned a little bit more of what we want Christmas to mean to us.

Of course we had many other fun (and some not so fun) adventures along the way this year. I'm looking forward to what (and hopefully, who) 2012 will bring for our family. Thanks for being apart of our lives.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is there an app for that?

I thought I should follow up on Kelly's post about how smart our tech has gotten. She made me think of a recent trip we made to the mall, in particular the Apple store. It's one of those places you walk in and if you aren't careful someone may catch you drooling over all of the shiny new i-things.
This particular store had about a zillion people shoulder to shoulder in it so I wasn't interested in the latest and greatest, all I wanted was a charger that actually worked! After bothering the nearest 18 year old who will one day be my boss, Kelly and I chose the cheapest charger we could find and went to look for the check out counter..... We would still be looking if we hadn't found another employee who explained how things work now-a-days.
My heart rate elevated just a bit as he took my card and swiped it through this card reader that was attached to an i-phone he had slung on his hip like he was Quick Draw McGraw (feel free to google that one). After the receipt was emailed to me and I was convinced my identity had just been stolen, this fine young gentleman told Kelly and me that people don't need to check out at a register (or at some guys hip) if they have an i-phone. He explained that there is an app that lets you read bar codes of the items in the store and charge them to your i-tunes account just before you walk out of the store with them!
How in the world do they keep people from i-stealing? I feel like I would totally exaggerate my i-purchase if we ever went that route (we probably won't have an i-phone until nobody wants them anymore, but if we did...). I could see myself being a complete dork; holding the charger up in the air as I scan it like I'm saying, "I'm i-buying this! Don't think I'm i-stealing it when I walk out with it! The i-receipt is in my e-mail I promise!"

Anybody remember actually walking to the TV to change the channel? How about moving the rabbit ears to  get reception? After our experience at the Apple store I get the feeling that our kids will be saying things like, "Hey do you remember when you had to wait in line to check out at the store? How about when you had to talk to people?" 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Too Smart?

Nick had new tires put on my car last week. It was desperately needed since my tires were so bald I felt like I was sliding into first when I came upon a stop sign, and like roadrunner where the wheels would be turning but the car wasn't going anywhere when I tried to leave a stop sign. We have been saving up each month for the tires since we had an idea they were coming soon (another Dave Ramsey shout out!). The following day, Nick drove my car to work to try out the tires and the battery died while he was there. Now I have never had the battery die since I've owned the car for the last 3.5 years, but Nick says it was something about corrosion on the battery terminal. I'm still wondering if he left a light on or something ;)

Either way, apparently when my car battery dies, it wants you to reset the stereo system; some sort of anti-theft protection deal where you need to enter a code. So I get in my car today, and try to turn on the radio. It says, “enter code.” Huh? I don’t know what the code is. I, therefore, texted Nick who told me he needed to look at the paperwork to find it. What happens when our cars are too smart for us? Now I haven’t test driven one of those cars that can parallel park itself, but isn’t that kind of an important thing to know how to do? Does our reliance on technology impair our ability to complete tasks that we used to have to do independently? I always cringe at the idea that schools these days are encouraging the use of calculators for math and not even teaching long division. I recognize we frequently have access to calculators, but isn’t there something to be said for completing a math problem without the assistance of computers? I know I'm supposed to be from a somewhat techy generation, having mostly grown up with computers (hey, Oregon Trail was a computer game), but I wasn't that two year old who knows how to operate the iPad independently. Hey, I still don't know how to operate an iPhone (see The Age of the Cell).

Needless to say, I completed my drive in silence. This actually proved to be somewhat torturous, because although I am really sensitive to loud radios or bass (I’m one of those highly sensitive people, or HSPs as we are sometimes called), I’m even more sensitive to those little rattles and shakes that cars have. Like the rattle in your dashboard, or the change in your console shaking against each other; it makes me shiver just thinking about it. Now to find that radio code!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful and quiet Christmas here in the Mortellite house. As we wind things down, we're thankful for the gift of Jesus and what that means for our salvation.

We hope you and your family had a blessed Christmas, as well!


Thursday, December 22, 2011


It isn't a surprise that I love Give1Save1 and the girls over there, right? So I'm pretty pumped that the opportunity came up for me to become a contributing blogger. My first post is up today about Ethiopian Christmas. Go check it out and support the Alexanders this week!

Betam Melkam Genna!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I have known UNICEF and what they do as an organization from the days when I was in elementary school and trick-or-treating for change to help support their organization. Remember these?

Well, if you've allowed me to get on a a soapbox about international adoption, you may have heard me speak negatively about this organization I once blindly supported. In the most basic of explanations, UNICEF takes the stance that children are better off remaining in their culture, whether that means they may spend their childhood with a family or not. I argue that growing up in an orphanage is a culture all it's own, and not necessarily that of embracing the best of the heritage their country has to offer. In a country like Ethiopia, 1 in 6 children die before the age of 5, a statistic that accounts for ALL Ethiopian children including those with families and those without.

Do I think family preservation is the absolute best solution? Yes. I do. Do I believe that all adoptions, Ethiopian or otherwise, should be done ethically and that there should be a quality system in place to ensure the integrity of the adoption process? Yes. Of course. But I also believe that adoption (domestic and international) can bring beauty after the tragedy, recognizing that the tragedy exists in the form of loss.

I could go on, but I saw an article posted via Facebook today and I appreciate the points it makes regarding UNICEF's stance on international adoption. Check it out for yourself and you can make your own conclusions.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I was in a store picking up a small white elephant gift and I saw a sign. It said 'last minute gift ideas.' WHAT do they mean last minute?! How did this happen?!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Age of the Cell

So I've been sans cellular phone for a day now. No clue where it is, or where it could be. The phone itself really isn't anything special. It's a flip phone (am I, like, the only person in the world who still sports one of those) and I don't get new phones until my previous breaks. What I can tell you about my previous three Sprint phones...they have all needed to be replaced around 2-3 years old because when I plug them into the charger, a little charging component (maybe a wire or something) breaks off in the phone and it will no longer charge. 

My only criteria for the next phone...that it flips. You know, so I don't get that embarrassing butt dial. I'm really not important enough to have to check my e-mails all the time and rarely am I dying to play angry birds, so fancy phones, albeit fun, are not a necessity for me and are not something I want to spend a lot of money on.

That phone though? Has pictures of my little girl on it. A friend visited her in her orphanage in the fall and texted me a few pictures. I see them clearly in my mind still. And I'm praying it won't be all that long (no, I still have absolutely no timeline what so ever) until I see her face again in real life.

I have thought about just not having a phone. Plenty of people don't have cell phones. But then I wonder how things would go on. I mean, seriously. Don't people need to get a hold of me to tell me something? In truth, yes. Because I have responsibilities that require me to be accessible. And because I get calls for personal reasons, and for work, and maybe some day, for our adoption. If for nothing else except that reason alone, I will find my phone or at least replace it with an equally unassuming flip phone. For a few days, though, you may be out of luck trying to reach me.

Unless you facebook me. Because I'm on there too much.

Or if you e-mail me. I check that a lot.

Or if you comment on my blog. I'm lurking frequently.

Or if you call Nick's phone. Although he doesn't answer his phone (seriously). Maybe you should actually try texting him.

What did we ever do without technology?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

...Christmas! The tree is decorated now, ornaments adorn our dining room chandelier, bows wrapped on our storage boxes and glittery trees add a little sparkle to our dining room table. A beautiful Advent calendar also adds some decoration to our home. I've been so excited to begin an Advent tradition in our home and having received the calendar for Christmas last year, I figured this was our first opportunity (yes, I now know, having researched some advent ideas, that we could definitely have advent without the official calendar). Well, here's what I can tell you...Advent takes a lot of planning! Whew, that snuck up on me (yes, Dave Ramsey, I know, Christmas comes EVERY December, it's amazing!). The first day, I put a little piece of candy in. Nick opened the little door and although I don't know what he (or I) was expecting, that piece of candy was a bit disappointing. See, neither of us love candy. I think I had to guilt him into eating with some sort of statement about how important celebrating the Advent was to me this year.

I think our second advent present was on December 4, when I cut the label off something we were already planning on eating. Hm, that may be the last day I did something. I'm missing the point though, aren't I? See, I understand it in theory. 

Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means arrival or coming. The point of the Advent season is to prepare and celebrate the COMING of Jesus. So why did I think throwing a piece of candy that Nick and I didn't care about into a little door would someone create a beautiful tradition honoring all that the Advent is meant to be? Yeah, I know, doesn't make much sense as I reflect back on it.

Okay, so perhaps the Advent calendar this year will simply add to the decor to brighten our house for Christmas. But next year, I've got some big plans for that calendar! (Maybe I should start now, knowing my record.) I'd love to put a verse, an activity or project each day that would encourage us to reflect on the meaning of Christmas, the birth of Christ, and what this means for us as Christians. I guess Nick and I are lucky in the sense that we haven't started Christmas traditions with children yet, because up until this year, I bet they would have included things that revolve around presents, Santa and perhaps some of the hustle and bustle, when really, my heart desires to have a Christmas like this.

Here's praying our Advent can really reflect the spirit of the season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Our Give1Save1 video

In case you didn't get a chance to see it the first time around, or if you're like Kelly and just like to watch it over and over and over and over again :), here is our video from the amazing week at Give1Save1. Our friends, family and even amazing people we don't know gave us our biggest fundraising week ever!

 We hope you enjoy the video and thank you for taking time to listen to our story.


Friday, December 9, 2011

An Ode to my Father

Today is my dad's birthday! 

Happy birthday to you,
happy birthday to you,
happy birthday dear dad,
happy birthday to you!

My father has taught me so much. He is such a loyal man, offers great advice, understands the emotional aspect of decision making (this is a big one for me, ha), is a wonderful family leader and has such a servant's heart. He has showed me what it means to serve others and has made me truly believe "this, too, shall pass."

Love you dad. Hope you have a wonderful birthday and we wish we could be with you to celebrate!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Spirit

Nick and I have the whole get the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving tradition. Well, we stuck with that this year. We even brought the few plastic totes of decorations and ornaments we have up from the basement and got the lights on the tree. And now? Two weeks later? That's all that is still there. And those plastic totes? Stacked on top of each other in our bedroom (only because my 94 year old grandpa flew into Colorado to visit this past weekend and I didn't want them sitting in the living room. Otherwise, they'd still be there). I'm not sure what it is that has made me less jump head first into decorating for Christmas than normal. I've also been really wanting an Advent calendar for many years. My mom bought us one last year, which is sitting on buffet table in the dining room, but here's my other confession...I've only done two days of Advent. I'm sure not all bah humbugy and I'm enjoying the excitement of celebrating Jesus' birthday, Christmas music and apple cider, but I just have a little less energy this year.

I also did something else out of character for me. I bought our daughter a present. It has been easier for me to try and distance myself from tangible things that make my heart ache more than it already does, so our little one does not have a bedroom that has been planned yet, or toys ready to be played with, or stuffed animals gathering dust. Want to see what we bought? 

Amazon is having a great sale on selected Melissa and Doug toys for $10 for today only. Another doll I have my eye on is this gem

Her name is Rahel and she's Ethiopian! Unfortunately, this one won't be making it into our house (at least until we bring our daughter home!).

Tomorrow, Nick and I will be starting the day early running around to take care of some adoption-related paperwork. How many times do you think two people could ever be fingerprinted? I should open my own storefront. The good news...our medical documents expire in the not too distant future (at least in international adoption terms) and our agency didn't recommend that we needed to get them redone immediately. Maybe we'll be bringing her home sooner than we think?! Here's hoping...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Give1Save1 Final Total

Can you guys believe this past week?! The Mortellite household certainly cannot. We will post a proper thank you, hopefully attempting to convey at least a sliver of the gratitude we feel to those who supported and lifted us up this week. Until then...inquiring minds may want to know our final total.....drumroll...


That number is astounding. I must mention that we have adoption payments due this week totaling...$4590. So as our Give1 week came to an end, we were just a few hundred dollars shy of fully funding those payments. A very generous person knew of the payments coming up and made up the last bit through their donation. I'm still processing this week, and if you ask me about it in person, I make no promise that I won't get a bit teary. You guys are the best.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's new?

Hey guys! What's going on? Nothing too much around here...pretty quiet week for us.

WHAT?! No way! We've got crazy things happening this week over here. Well, actually not so much here. More here. Go check it out and spread the word! While you're at it, you can read a few other ways to help if you missed it from earlier this week.