Monday, November 30, 2009


Tariku-double ear infection
Tesi-probable sinus infection
Our house-good times

'Tis the season!


I'm seriously considering just using the day of the week in the subject line every time.

Yesterday after getting back from Peoria and taking long naps we decided to decorate for Christmas and pick out a Christmas tree. If you'll remember from last year we're huge fans of the trees with more personality, and did I mention free? So we did that again. Haven't taken pictures of the final product yet so you'll have to wait on that. I know, you're on the edge of your seats.

Trysten up close whilst looking for the tree.

Tariku close up whilst looking for the tree.

How Tariku carries everything. Seriously, Trysten has tried to do this and can't do it for some reason. Tariku, on the other hand, just swings it up and there it sits. It's a testament to nature over nurture, I think.

I know it's dark but this is the moment when Zach taught his boys the fine art of farmer's blow. Mmmm.

Dailah close up whilst looking for the tree.

I do love Christmas. Even though I had begun to feel under the weather, Christmas music, decorations, it all brings me back. Love it.

The africa we won at the Wine to Water party. Isn't it amazing? I seriously love it.

Just a little perspective on how big Abe is.

Abe dancing with me during Christmas music. He loves it.


Found us in Peoria, IL to meet my mom's side of the family to celebrate the holidays. I love doing this for many reasons but the main one is simply because I always have fun with that group of people. How can you not have fun when there is a lot of card playing and whiskey drinking. Germans, what else would you expect?

There's also the small bit about going to a hotel and letting the kids swim until they're sufficiently prune-y.

Just in case you don't believe me that Zach is the best daddy in the world, here's proof. While I sat on the sidelines and took pictures (by that I mean I read my Esquire magazine) he was in the water swimming with the kids and throwing the kids and acting like a dolphin. He's seriously the best.

Not quite able to swim on her own, she got a lot of daddy time.

Look at his smile. Seriously smiles all the time.


Pretty sweet cannonball if I do say so myself.

This cracks me up. Look how skinny he is. Jumping with no fear, love it.

Doozie getting thrown.

Playing cards.

An enthusiastic game of Headband, that would be my mom with her arms raised in victory.

Trysten playing slapjack with my uncle and grandpa. After coming home and playing with me, I had to make an apology after noticing how bad he cheated.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


It did happen here too, but I've been enjoying all the things I'm thankful for and I've just forgotten to blog. But here you have it, the thanksgiving blog-4 days later.

Every year we begin the thanksgiving events with the YMCA's Turkey Trot. I run the 1 mile and Zach runs the 5 mile. I LOVE this family tradition. This year, Zach took Abe and they of course made quite the impression.

On the way to the Turkey Trot, Doozie was feeling a little under the weather.

The 1 mile runners. The boys were big fans of sprinting then walking, sprinting then walking. Made it tough to actually run a mile but it was lots of fun watching them get excited.

Waiting to spot daddy and Abe. Puh-lease can't believe I get to call them mine.

Sadly, the only picture I have after the trot is this one. Doozie with 2 of her aunts. Emily and Leslie. The rest of the time can pretty much be summed up by the fact that I wanted to go to bed at 6:15.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Purse

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So today I wanted to show you one of the things I'm thankful for.

A girl, I said it. I'm thankful for a girl.

Because only she would have a purse that held such interesting things. (Lest you think this is her only purse, I must divulge that this is one out of many).

So here we have it. Contents:
-7 real chapsticks, 1 fake chapstick
-2 containers of eye make up
-1 cheek sparkly blusher
-2 smaller purses to hold...
-3 bracelets
-1 doll brush
-1 hair clip
-1 tiara
-1 Halloween key chain
-1 toy stingray

So if you don't have a girl yet, you should get one, because everyone needs these kinds of things on their couches.

Monday, November 23, 2009


$30,000 now. The weekend has raised $30,000. That's 1500 people. The moms and dads, sons and daughters. It's so hard to believe. $30,000 in one weekend. Last night's party in Muscatine that Cassie and her mom, Candi, put on was a HUGE hit. By HUGE I mean they raised $17,000! Then there were the other 10 speaking engagements Scott went to.

I don't have pictures of any of those yet, Amy was one of the official photographers of the weekend, but I do have some of the Wine to Water event.

The Klipsch men. So beautiful, such big hearts. I love them so very much. P.S. My specific Klipsch man is rockin the bowtie.

I did get to dance with my beloved about an hour after the party officially ended (but a half hour before it unofficially ended).

Leslie, Scott Harrison and myself.


Some of the people congregated around the dessert table. It was hard to capture the vibe in pictures as the flash lights up the place and it was quite dark in the actual space. But you can kind of see it here, with the Africas on the wall.

Listening to Scott. I can't say enough how great the presentation is. I've heard it many times this weekend and I'd listen to it many more. Because it's not just his delivery, which is very good, but it's the people who tell the story for him. The people who taste "liquid gold" for the very first time.

Rene and her daughter, Grace. Scott bought Grace a Water for Christmas bracelet, which she was very proud of.

My sister-in-law, Kait (in red) and her friend who came from Chicago for one night. Beautiful people that I love.

One of my favorite parts of the night was when my friend, Amy Rowell, brought some people from World Relief. Refugees from Liberia and a few other African nations got to tell me personal stories about their fight for water. They also enjoyed the wine too! :)

Just a few of the Muscatine crew. Helped set up and tear down and throughout the night. Beautiful hearts in that small town.

My husband and his brother, Jake surrounding "Boomer" and "Papa Smurf". They helped with the water walk. We had set up a space where people could walk with full jerry cans to see what exactly Africans had to do. The average African walks 3 miles for water, I think it was a very poignant example.

My mother-in-law, Terre (clearly looks run in the family), a good friend Lee Gaston was there as well. He bid on one of the Woodfire Grill auctions.

Zach and my good friend, Chrissy, who also helped set up and spread the word. Her smile clearly lights up the room.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wine to Water Party

Went well. Exceeded expectations. It's 8:45 and I'm seriously going to bed in 10 minutes. I'll write more tomorrow but I just want to tell you that the party went well. How well?


I'm just not even sure how to believe that.

Oh, and Scott Harrison (President and Founder of charity: water) tweeted that the party was on par with the parties in New York. We think he's enjoying the water weekend as much as we are.

But I was/am so happy with the event. Didn't realize I had been holding my breath for the last few weeks, and not sleeping and drinking 4 times the amount of coffee I normally do.

But I was and I did and now my breath is light and full and I'm going to sleep for 12 straight hours tonight.

Knowing that the community and the people in it who I love so very much rallied around something some of them were just hearing about.


Thank you so much to everyone who helped, bid or came.

I, of course, didn't have my camera. My father-in-law was our official photographer and I have yet to pick up the CD of pictures yet but you can find some here. But you'll have to wait on explanations for tomorrow.

For now, good night and thank you, from the very bottom of my most humbled heart.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

And So It Begins...

Water weekend is upon us. After so many months of planning and preparing it's incredibly difficult to believe it's here. I woke up this morning just plain giddy. Let's do this already.

Last night I took a small hiatus from water to be with the family. It's been at least a few weeks since I was able to hang with Zach without working on the computer or running around like a mother hen gathering random things for the weekend. But it's exactly what I needed as a reminder. A reminder as to why I do this.

Because water frees up more time for the families around the world. Because we spend a little time here, they get to spend more time there. Less time getting water means more time with their family. Undoubtedly doing the same things we did last night with our extra time: telling stories, giving hugs and kisses, singing and dancing.

So I'm ready to do this. Ready to find some clean water and free up some time for the moms and dads on the other side of the world. There have been a lot of moms and dads on this side doing everything they possibly can to make that happen.

Just wait, wait for the pictures and the stories. They're going to be great. Thanksgiving is coming early for us and for them.

Friday, November 20, 2009


The kids have been saying A LOT of funny things lately. I've forgotten most of them but I wanted to record one from Trysten because I think it shows just how old he's getting.

Last Saturday I asked all three of them to clean up before bed. So they clean up for approximately 2 minutes and all come out to tell me they're done.

So I begin to stand up and say, "Ok, so any toys that are on the ground or are not where they're supposed to be are getting thrown away."

Trysten, without missing a beat, says, "I did not see that one comin'!" Then proceeded back into the toy room to complete the mission.

I just thought that was hilarious.

That's all I got for today. Tomorrow is the party. Right now it feels a little bit like I have a big track meet tomorrow. It's that nervous-excitement-let's-just-get-it-over-with feeling. Ready to break ground on some clean water. Ready to introduce more of the Quad Cities to this most essential task.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Fun Begins

And now for the fun.

Part of the event Saturday will be the auctioning off of the Africas I told you about a few posts ago. Those were just a glimpse!

Now, I know most of you can't make it to the party but we want to give you a chance to bid on the Africas as well because THEY ARE AMAZING.

So go here and bid away. There is a place to leave a message with which Africa you're bidding on and what your highest bid is. We'll bid for you the night of the party. Highest bidder wins.

Seriously, check them out either way. What has been most rewarding about party planning is seeing local artists, bakers, and "laymen" get around this idea and just go with it. The Africas are the perfect example of this. Every single one, I want every single one.

So go. Bid. Rest assured if you pick the ones I want (not telling you which ones) I'll outbid you, so bid big!

F & F

First a word on my family and friends. Yesterday was a LONG day. I was up at 6:30 doing water party details. I did not stop for one second (that's pretty much no exaggeration) until about 9:30 last night. But it wasn't just me, my family and friends were doing the same thing. My sister "volunteered" to accompany me all day. So when I picked her up at 9:30, she was my captive for 12 hours. Can you imagine how awful that'd be? No complaining from her. Lindsey volunteered to watch my kids while she was babysitting my nephews. That's 5 kids. She did it so I wouldn't have to be getting 3 kids in and out of the car every few minutes. My brother, after being at school for 8 hours straight already, came and lifted heavy objects and did anything else I needed for another 4 hours. Leslie, well what would I do without her? My poor sister-in-law has been living on mostly coffee for the last few weeks and has the energy to prove it. Great ideas, hard worker, blessing to be sure.

And then my friends! Candi with her cold, Cassie with her Lani. Of course Jody and Amy were there as well. Theresa came and needed no direction, just did what needed to be done. Angie and J.D. came later in the night but their efforts showed as I unplugged everything as we were leaving. All of them from Muscatine, 30 minutes away.

Then my local friends, Chrissy, whose husband has been working a ton and skipped precious time with him to help me out. I know what a sacrifice that is! And Lynn and the rest of the Jarretts. Tom (the husband) gave us hope for more lighting and Lynn, well she just worked her booty off. Her girls hammered away at some pipe cleaners that will be used to mark everyone's wine glasses.

I mean, really. I got choked up a few times in the night just looking at everyone doing this. All for water. These people have heart and I somehow get to call them friends and family. I am one lucky lady.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2 Years Ago

We saw this face for the very first time.

2 years ago. So many of you have been with us since then. Can you believe it's been 2 years?

I wrote this then.

I'm not even sure what to say about that. I think I've said enough what he means to me. I think I've expressed that my life would not have been complete without him. That his entire spirit gives off light and love. That he. is. amazing.

Tonight I was giving the kids showers. Dailah and Trysten went first then were sent to clean up. Tariku and I got some time when I was drying him off, lotioning, clipping nails, etc to just talk. Sadly, that doesn't happen very often. It made me feel awful.

Because I remember the promises I made to his picture 2 years ago. And I haven't been great at a few of those. This boy strives to be worth my love every day (clearly not yet realizing he could do nothing to lose it), he deserves more one on one time to get to know me and vice versa.

So that's going to be my referralversary present to him.

2 years ago. I CANNOT believe it's been that long that I have loved this boy. I CANNOT believe the intensity of my love for him in such a relatively short amount of time. I CANNOT imagine what it will be like 2 years from now.

What an amazing blessing he is.

Monday, November 16, 2009

1,000 People

That's the number of Liberians who will taste clean water for the very first time because of readers like you who participated in $10 Friday. When you do the math, you get...

over $10,000. In one day. In less than 24 hours. $10,000.

That. is. incredible.

We got that "news" when we were setting up the space for the party on Saturday. And honestly, though I was/am a bit overwhelmed with the details, it put it all in perspective.

Who cares about centerpieces when 1,000 people will have clean water?

When moms won't have to watch their children die.

When girls can go to school.

When stories of generations will carry on because multiple generations can survive in one family.

Because of you. Because it's water and the other stuff just doesn't matter.

What an awesome day. Thank you so much to those participated in any big or small way.

Thank you, God, for giving me perspective when I so desperately needed it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


What do I do? Someone keeps hacking in and posting inappropriate things. What are we thinking here? I changed my password a few times, now what? I have it set where I can post from my email (I did this when we were heading to Ethiopia and blogger doesn't work there). Maybe I should take that application off?


Oh What a Day

Yesterday we got so much done. With just one week until the big party I am on overdrive figuring out the littlest things (did someone say a table for coats?) that I had forgotten until now. Thankfully I have a pretty terrific husband who went with me to all my errands yesterday, and terrific parents-in-law who took the kids to a movie, so I could have another person thinking about things that I was missing. But we're getting there and it's going to be great. I'm literally excited for the whole weekend, not just the Saturday night party.

So a few water things then we'll move on.

1) Cassie has a new button you can put on your blog or Facebook or whatever that will take people straight to the Water For Christmas etsy shop. Even if you don't put it on your blog, send people there as they start to shop for gifts!

2) Part of the Saturday night party's events will be the auctioning off of Africas that people have painted. I've seen quite a few of the 25-30 that will be there and I can't tell you enough how beautiful they are. The good news? You'll get a chance to bid even if you won't be able to attend! Look later this week for pictures of the Africas where you'll be able to bid on the ones you love. For a sneak peak, here is one from Amy's mom, picture does not do it justice:

And here's one from Dana:

Can you even believe their talent? I honestly want that I've seen. Oh, and for you Ethiopian fans like myself, my talented husband made one just for you guys.

So moving on...

After that day of work, we had a night of play. Hosting some friends for some homemade pizza. Then it was our almost weekly night of game playing with my brother and Lindsey. We like to play a card game called "Little Pepper". I have no idea why Zach and I continue to take them on seeings they beat us almost every time (lucky punks). :) Anyway, Zach and I keep trying to throw them a curveball, last night it was playing with the kids' jumbo playing cards.

That didn't work either, so we switched finally to a few board games. Since we won both, Zach and I have decided we're not going back to cards, our egos just won't let it happen. Love those 3 people, they keep me young. :)

And does this make up for not posting yesterday?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not Today

No totals today. But yesterday was huge. Did you get partially annoyed with every blog you visited talking about water? If so, you're heartless...just kidding. But really, I was moved to see it showing up everywhere. To say it went viral yesterday might be the biggest understatement of the century. It was EVERYWHERE, which will be huge come Monday *hopefully* when we get the totals. Thank you so much for partnering with us. Donating, spreading the word, praying, it all helps.

I just got out of the shower (I know, and it's not yet 9am!) and used the lotion I used while we were in Ethiopia for the first time since leaving. I'm homesick for a place I was never blessed to call "home". But, as one of my friends said, "If you left part of your heart there, it's possible to be homesick". And I did, I think I left a big part of my heart there.

I'm missing it today. I was looking at Tariku sleeping last night and just kind of praying over him. I was trying to just send my prayers across an ocean where they might meet with prayers of other special people in Tariku's life. I was asking God for another miracle, that of whispering in some ears, "Tariku is amazing. He's thriving. He has a zest for life unseen in other 4-year-olds. He is a blessing to everyone who knows him. He is yours and he is theirs and he is Mine."

And though I know our God is a God of miracles, I was aching to fly to Ethiopia and tell those people myself. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm a better mom, friend, wife, sister, daughter, Christian, human-because of you."

We were asked to never let Tariku forget about Ethiopia and it's struggles. Almost 2 years later and I can promise that Ethiopia and it's struggles are never far from my mind.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

First Gift

I was going to write this long post about why you should donate $10 to Water For Christmas today and then tell every person you know to do the same. I was going to do that but then I realized most of you already know why you should. If you're like me, at least 4 times a day you get asked to do something like this. $10 sounds simple enough so you tell yourself you'll do it later and then continue checking other blogs, etc. And then forget.

So do it RIGHT NOW. Click on the button on my sidebar and donate. Or go here to see a bit more then donate. If your friend says they'll do it, demand you sit next to them as you watch. Get as creepy as you'd like, it will be worth it.

I cannot imagine what could be done in one day if everyone donated just $10. Just 2 coffees. Just lunch.

So let your first gift this season be the gift of water. Donate $10 (or more!) today. Because somewhere in Liberia, there could be a whole lot of this happening if you did.

Just So you Know...

tomorrow I want you to participate in "The First Gift" campaign. $10. Ask everyone you know to donate $10 tomorrow. Tomorrow I want every blog I go to, every Facebook status and every tweet (I'll have to picture it since I'm not actually on twitter) to be talking about it. Because this could be huge.

On another note, getting so very excited for water weekend. Multiple reasons. But today, I got an email from this woman. An incredible, loving, beautiful, amazing woman, wife and mommy. She's coming. I am so. excited. to see her. Though I got to travel with her to Ethiopia and got to see her again at the Mehaber, this will just be different.

There's been rumors that another friend of mine from a certain state up north might come but I'm waiting for him to confirm (ahem, Tony).

But tomorrow. Ready, get set...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just Wondering...

is it a full moon out there tonight or something? My normally really well behaved, loving kids gave into the devils on their shoulders A LOT today. Argued with each other, talked back to me, lots of lies, totally ignoring me. It was just a weird day. I'm not at all exaggerating when I say they so rarely do that. But because they weren't listening my patience was short. And because my patience was short, the kids were in 7:02.

I'm guessing all of our behaviors have been out of whack because Zach has been gone for a few days. No one has voiced that exactly but we're all looking at each other like, "What do we do without that guy?" or maybe even more so, "You're a lot nicer when he's around." Lord knows they are thinking that about me as they lay their freshly bathed heads down on pillows tonight.

So when I was checking in on my blogs I came across this one. Because this Friday will be a big day for Water for Christmas. I hope you guys are joining, I've heard from many of you who are. But this blog put the words so perfectly that I'm feeling today.

How to be a mom to my three beauties and a sister to those around the world. How to be a wife and a woman trying hard to provide a few wells to Africa. How to be in the here and now and be making lists of everything that needs to happen within the next week.

I love all of my roles, I really do. But what I've learned these last few days is that all my roles are more special and more vibrant when I've got my man by my side.

So this Friday. Go here to get all the tools you need for it. Zach will be back then and so will my personality. :)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Water...what else?

I don't have the computer so I have NO idea how this will turn out, BUT.

Lots of good stuff. Go to to see one of the Africas that will be featured at the Wine to Water party (and perhaps online first, more details to come).

Also my friend, AnnMarie, is doing cool things in the great state of Wisconsin for water too. Though I don't have her blog on my phone, she will kindly make a comment on this post so you can go to her blog and buy some great shirts!

Jody's home from Liberia. I'm so excited to soak up what she learned there. Though I've never been, Liberia (and clean water) are on my mind.


We decided to go to a different church yesterday. It was a church we had been wanting to go to for many years because we know the Reverend and admire him personally and professionally. He used to work at the Y before he became a Reverend so he's been a family friend of my husband's family for a looong time.

Anyway, the church we went to is a Baptist church, with about 99 percent of the members being African American. We promised each other that we'd surround Tariku with as many people as possible that look like him so he wouldn't feel alone or weird for looking different than we were. Plus, we knew it was just as important for us to feel what Tariku feels most days.

I'm going to tell you, the church was amazing. I've NEVER been met with such open arms at a new church. When we walked in it was hugs, handshakes and high fives everywhere. "How are you doing"s and "God Bless you"s also in abundance.

And my Baptist brothers and sisters can WORSHIP! The 2 hour service (a tinch longer than the ones we're used too. :)) was very powerful for us, and I found myself choked up a time or two. Just powerful.

Because, as Reverend Parker said, "We're not in a museum, we're not in a library, we'll worship God and we'll call out to him because we need him and he needs to hear us say it!"

It reminded me a lot of our time in Ethiopia. A little different in that I could understand what they were saying yesterday, but the heart and soul behind the praising and the worship was the same. It was between them and God, and it didn't matter who was a witness.

Beautiful thing.

And Tariku? He did his infamous Ethiopian stare. It was pretty obvious he was comfortable in his seat. It was pretty obvious, when he stood to clap or yelled out, "Thank you, Jesus" that he knew what he was doing. It was pretty obvious that that boy is a child of God and knows it.

We know it too, my God yes we do.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Peeps

Tonight I got to talk to Cindy of this blog. It's always a little surreal talking to people who I feel like I know because I've followed their blog for over 2 years. I've even "talked" to Cindy on Facebook a time or two. Through email when they went to Ethiopia before we did and I told her to try to look in on Tariku. She was one of the families who, after receiving their call to travel to Ethiopia, asked if we were in their travel group. Told their social worker that we should be in their travel group and that we deserved it. In short, it was families like these that were my saving grace in those darkest of times waiting to get sweet Tariku.

And I got to talk to her today, which exceeded expectations. In hindsight I probably should've waited a few minutes before calling as I had literally just rolled out of bed from a nap and still had "morning voice" (at 5pm, so sue me). My "morning voice" just so happens to sound more like Zach than myself so I'm hoping I didn't scare her off.

A month ago our old adoption agency shut down their online forum where adoptive parents met to support and encourage one another. This part of the forum I credit for the many invaluable relationships I've grown to love, rely on and trust in. It also, more importantly on this leg of the adoption journey, was a great place for APs to go to discuss adoption issues, child rearing and various other topics. It was, in all honesty, one of the reasons we chose CHSFS. But they shut it down.

And today, after getting the chance to talk to Cindy who I would've never "met" had it not been that forum, I'm mourning the loss for the APs coming behind us. But am so, so thankful for bringing some amazing women and men into my heart.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

My Kind of Night

Totally realize I missed a day yesterday was just too perfect a night to leave the family and blog so you'll have to forgive me.

I love nights like last night. Where there wasn't exactly a moment of "amazing" but rather the calm that comes with just being a family of 5 who lives on 260 acres pretty much by ourselves. 70 degree weather in November. I'm not lying when I say I imagine heaven will be pretty close to last night.

It was just one of those nights where I went to bed praising God for a life of abundant blessings.

My one and only. Listen to his genius. He took 11 hammocks and made a hammock village in camp. I can say with all honesty, it doesn't get much better than that.

So rare I get a great picture of his authentic smile these days (usually just a "cheese").

Tried to get Trysten to do some glamourshots but he wasn't having any of it.

Even the sunset agreed the night deserved the very best.

Their own little mini village.

On the bridge.

I just thought she looked like a little baby in a papoose with a beautiful sunset in the back.

Lovin' it.