Saturday, January 31, 2009


That's just who we are.

It starts with my dogs, who don't discriminate.

They eat hooves.

And spinal columns.

They also brought home the deer hide but I thought I'd spare you a bit.

I was going to yell at them and tell them they were gross until I saw our dinner plate last night. That apple doesn't fall far from the carnivore tree.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ode to Dogs

Cathy has been having a hard time deciding whether to break down and get her little girl a dog. I'm in no position to advise her to say no. So here is our most recent ode to our dogs. Zach keeps measuring Abe, thinking he's small for a great dane. I keep reassuring him he's quite large, but perhaps it's because he almost comes up to my belly button. That might be why. But aren't they beautiful?

Here I Am!

We're alive, on the mend. So I thought instead of talking, talking and more talking I would show you our last few days in pictorial review.

I walked into my room to find the two youngest in our dog kennel. Breastfeeding their babies. Motherhood can be so surreal sometimes.

Dailah looking at herself in the mirror after I put a smidge of make up on her.

And really, her eyelashes simply amaze me.

Unbelievably cute and PG (isn't Dailah's hair and the bubbles perfectly placed?)

Just too cute to pass up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Strep Throat=sucky

Tariku, Dailah and I all have strep throat and it sucks. I'm totally wiped. Just wiped. So wiped, in fact, I wasn't able to teach my classes this morning which is so depressing to me.

Blah. That's it, just blah.

I wish we still got that pink medicine the kids get. Mine smells like...well, you know, whenever I open the bottle. So that's great.

Positivity....hmmm, Tariku had to get a strep culture at the doctor. He looked at me like, "How in the world could you have let them do that to me?"

I almost laughed, he was so cute. Then he told me that it was okay, he knew I had to let them do it.

Love him.

Monday, January 26, 2009

300 Strong

So while I've been away, a lot has been happening over at Jody's. Have you seen it?

You've seen me write about it hundreds of times. Well it never ended for those of us who it affected so deeply. So Jody did some math and came up with the following. I'll let her tell it but I encourage (no, demand!) you join. It doesn't just make sense, it's is impossible for me to understand why you WOULDN'T want to be a part of this!

So here is her blog (I'll copy and paste for my mom). :) And then go here to sign up. If you want me to sign up for you, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

'300 Voices'
Never underestimate the ability of a small group of committed individuals to change the world; indeed they're the only ones who ever have." (Margaret Mead)

OK, here we go.

Sometime in December, I did some rough math. I was all excited because I thought I was onto something. I wondered, "So if we raise $60,000 every year at Water For Christmas, how many years would it take us to give Liberia clean water?" I furiously typed numbers into the calculator. Hit the equal button....

300 years.


That's a little discouraging.

But it haunted me. And I couldn't shake it.

We have to use this. This is too important.

I might be busy in 300 years. And more importantly, the thirsty cannot wait that long.

Wrestled with it. Heard from so many of you that said, "Now what?"

And settled that we simply will kick it up a notch...or 300.

We will expand our borders, involve more people...300 times.

And then it won't take 300 years, we can do it in one year.

So here's the plan. Stay with me.

We need 300 people.

300 people to make a committment to 300 Voices...Water for all Seasons. This will be a commitment of $20/month. (that's $5 a week, $240 for the whole year). WFC fund will stay open all year. We get 300 people to commit to $20 a month for 2009 and that's an additional $72,000.(Did you get that? For your $20 a month, combined with 299 others and their $20 a month that is $72,000 in 2009. That's 15 wells!) That's a lot of money. For little sacrifice personally. (as always, 100% of money goes to charity: water. They use 100% to drill fresh water wells and clean water solutions).

But beyond that the idea is to keep water on the hearts and minds of a 300 person team. For where our treasure is, there will our hearts be. So we give all year. We pray. We dream. We plan. And then in November 2009, we kick off Water For Christmas with a team of 300. (Now, you are not committing to anything as far as next years campaign don't have to do anything. But I think you will want to. But there will be no obligation to be involved in Water For Christmas 2009).

This is how it will work: is being developed. And will be ready for launch later in the year.

But for now, go here to sign up. Give us your name and location. We will start of list of people around the country who are committing to Water. (you can do your donations with $5 weekly, or $20 a month, or a $240 donation for the whole year--whatever is best for your budgets). We will not bombard with emails--but if you want monthly or weekly reminders to donate we will do that. If you don't do online giving, and would like to mail in checks, you can still do that by making checks payable to Charity Global with Water For Christmas in the memo line. Please mail checks to: Charity Global-150 Varick St. 5th Floor, New York, NY 10013. We will even send you a set of 12 envelopes if you would prefer to send a monthly donation by mail.

We will have a counter showing how close we are to getting 300 people.

There's a new blog badge for the 300 Voices...use it if you want.

Anyone can join us. Talk about it. Blog about it. I know many of us who participated in WFC 2008 were having a hard time shaking it. A hard time letting it go. So this is for you. But even if you were not a part of WFC at all but would like Water to be one of the things you give to in 2009, you can still join us now.

At this point, all it means is a $20/month commitment. The giving is just to force us to put action behind our causes. And provide clean water for thousands in the process. And then ideally in November 2009, we have people whose treasure has followed their heart and they are ready to go. We reach 300 times more people with awareness about clean water. The money is multiplied. And clean water will erupt from the dirt of Africa's floor.

We will be one voice. 300 strong. For clean water. For life.

By signing up you are simply saying, "Water matters." And we believe that enough to give $20 of my treasure each month. For people who live without the many comforts and necessities that are my own. It's that simple.

I want to make it clear that this is merely part of who we are. It's simply part of loving people the way Jesus taught us to. We cannot love thirsty people without giving them water to drink.

I wouldn't do this if I wasn't confident in you guys. I've talked to you on the email, on the blogs, in the churches, at the schools. I've heard the stories of others that I don't know. And I just believe there is a force here. A force we can combine and channel. And use to make big impact.

I'm so excited to partner, to team up. 300 times.

Now there will be resources available and developed throughout the year to help us all at WFC time. But right now, I want to see if we can build a team of 300. Simply 300 people willing to give to Water throughout the year. $20 a month.

So. You want in?

Go. Sign up. We'll add your name to the growing list in the sidebar (it may take up to a day for your name to appear after joining).

(There will be continued updates about all the WFC wells throughout the year. It looks like I may personally be on the ground in Liberia to report back to you about how the Water money is changing and saving lives. And clarify further why we can't stop. Why we must keep it fresh on our hearts and minds. Even if it's only $20/month. Times 300).

Sunday, January 25, 2009


DId you miss me?

I was gone all weekend at a training. A really awesome, really intense training. I went to a Bodyflow training (go to and check out Bodypump, Bodystep and Bodyflow to see what I'm talking about).

You all know how much I love watching bodies in motion, bodies full of strength and passion. So my cup runneth over from this weekend, it was just awesome. Plus, I'm a freak who likes to work out for 27 hours in 3 days. That's just me.

But it was powerful, I seriously missed my family. Zach made it back okay but I was quite preoccupied with the training so tomorrow will lend itself to lots of "getting back to normal stuff."

How did the kids do without me? Well I came home and it was like a daddy bootcamp.

Dailah was wearing underwear and had no accidents all day.

Her pacifier was allowed only in her bed.

The boys had learned how to brush their teeth (instead of play for 3 minutes with a toothbrush in their mouths).

I think I need to take a few weekends off a month and maybe something will happen around here!

Hope you're feeling as calm and centered as I am!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jigs Up

I'm not nearly as cool as I think I am.

Did you guys see that last post? Yeah so I was so pumped up last night when we stayed at my sister's house (no water out at camp) because she had high speed internet.

So I finally joined Facebook because everyone keeps telling me to.

And somehow I emailed every single person in my email list. That is so embarrasing. I have no idea how I did that.

I apologize tremendously if I emailed you. You aren't the only one, I emailed the good folks at the government (who helped with the I-600a) so I'm sure they appreciated that.

So there it is. Jigs up. I am way out of my league with Facebook.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


My dogs are amazing. When Zach is gone, they are on high alert which has meant a lot of barking the last couple days.

I love it, a chocolate lab (on the heavy side) and a great dane (on the huge side) are intimidating!

If you weren't intimidated by that, how about the fact that I found an entire deer leg outside. A leg, complete with hoof.


MMM Good

Did you hear it?

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

This was part of President Obama's Inaugural address. Arguably my most favorite part. I, along with the rest of the world, watched the events yesterday. I cried, I smiled, I kept telling Tariku to watch the TV. I did all of those things I was supposed to.

What I really hope happens is people take all the passion they're feeling and throw it at something that will stick. We cannot put all of our hopes and dreams on one man, it just doesn't work. Obama knows it, which is why he asked that we take responsibility. Can you imagine how different the world would look if those 2 million people that stood in the freezing cold took that same elation and worked for feeding the world's hungry?

What a different world.

I'm hopeful today. Hopeful that people realize Obama doesn't stand as THE person who is going to change our lives but stands for the type of person who puts it upon themselves to change lives around them. Because he's not the second coming. He's a man who took what God gave him and used it to change the world he is living in.

And that is what I hope we get most from our President. It could go without saying that he will never meet the country's expectations if we continue to live like we have (out of our means, not helping our brothers and sisters both here and abroad) because very little will change. Should the country step up to the plate and start taking responsibility, truly anything is possible.

Like clean water for everyone in the world, for example.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Let's See...

I'm single-mommin' it this week. Which is never fun. My days continue like normal but I count on Zach a lot when he gets home. So things are different. I mean who else does this with their kids?

Alas, I just take funny pictures. That's my niche as a mom. Take pictures and then post them on the world wide web. I'm sure they much prefer my version of parenting.

Of the cheese.

Of the smaller cheese.

And our little gun-toting Republican.

MLK Junior

Little known fact about hotflawedmama. In 6th grade my class put on a wax museum. I chose to be Martin Luther King, Junior. It seemed perfectly natural to me at the time. We had learned about him, he was totally inspirational to me, so I wanted to "play" him in a wax museum.

I was in a teeny, tiny, town where there was a single minority. That's it, just one (and he happened to be my boyfriend...hey Mike Breneman!). So I put on the makeup (yeah I know, seemed right at the time) and gave his speech.

I think I've been fascinated with him since. As I've grown older and been able to read his material and listen to his speeches with different eyes and different ears, it's become an even bigger deal in my life. To picture what his dream meant at the time and to picture someone on national television discussing what was thought to be impossible is amazing to me.

It's like when I wrote about wanting to get everyone in the world clean water. It's like that but bigger. And to think we waited so long for even a portion of it to come true. I know there is still quite a ways to go. Anyone who has been to the southside of Chicago (or any large city) and seen what's happening there knows Martin's whole dream has not been realized.

But I have no doubts I owe a HUGE portion of my blessed life to him. My little boy, my Tariku. I have no doubts this little boy would not be in my life if it weren't for MLK, Jr. I hope I can continue to do my small part in helping America (and the world) realize the full dream but until then, I am just so, so thankful.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Today was quite the day for the kiddos (and mommy). We were able (compliments of Papa Frank) to go to Disney on Ice. It was enjoyable...people on skates putting themselves in awkward positions has always been entertaining for this gal.

After which we ate ice cream while watching the snow get dumped from the sky. All of this took so long nap times were negated. Though I feared the worst, the kids were quite good right up until (early) bedtime.

The highlight of the night came when I was cooking. Trysten (who is not feeling well again) took his shirt off because he was hot. Younger sibs followed suit. Then they proceeded to practice their best ice skating moves. Not to be outdone, I showed them how I can do a triple spin on our kitchen floor. Almost pulled a groin but their oohs and awwws were well worth it. Love these crazy kids. (And yes, Trysten eats...I have no idea where he gets the frame that could fit behind a baby tree).


Yesterday was our re-launch for 2 of the classes I teach. It was soo much fun. 45 people all working out and moving and loving it. It was just awesome. Seriously, seriously awesome. I love staying at home with the kids but I'm quite positive if I didn't have these classes to take up a few hours of my week I'd go stark crazy.

Plus they are the best fitness classes in the world. And getting to watch my husband lift weights front and center wasn't a bad perk either.

Emily and hotflawedmama teaching a bit of Bodystep.

The group.

The group second shot.

And the 4 of us. Katrina, myself, Jen and Emily. Thems some pretty tough gals.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Hair has been the subject of choice over here at hotflawedmama. Take for instance last night.

I was brushing my teeth, just discussing with my loving husband the few small differences I've started noticing in my face. Then I see this:

That, my friends, is my first gray hair (or, rather, gray root). I wasn't freaking out so much as I was incredulous. I'm still so young, I'm wondering why no one told my hair or my breasts that. They've forgotten that memo.

And then Tariku. His hair was getting so long. He cried pretty much every time I even reached towards a comb. At first I was going to have someone cornrow it or something...then I saw the price for that and got sticker shock. So we cut it. He looks like a little man, he really does. He also looks like the pictures we would get from Ethiopia. Brings back good memories but it just baffles me how much more I know the little boy from these pics as opposed to that earlier version.

But seriously, look at those eyes!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Recently Heard at Hotflawedmama

We're in the midst of potty training season with Ms. Doozie which is perhaps my least favorite thing of motherhood. The only reason I like it is because there is no shortage of hilarity when it comes to bathroom humor over here. Here's the latest.

hotflawedmama: Dailah go sit on the potty before lunch.

Trysten: I have to go too.

Dailah watches Trysten as he goes #1. He finishes his business and then goes to sit down. I look in and see Dailah assuming the male stance.

hotflawedmama: Dailah, you have to sit down to go peepee like mommy.

Trysten: Yeah she can't stand up to go potty because she's a girl.

hotflawedmama: That's right, girls sit down, boys stand up.

Trysten: That's right because girls have jaws.

hotflawedmama: I think the word you're looking for is "vagina".

Trysten: Yeah, that's it.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

7 Things

Adam tagged me on the 7 things about me blog. Hadn't done it for awhile so I thought, why not?

1) I love the TV Shows: Scrubs, The Biggest Loser and American Idol. I'm in quite the predicament right now seeings they're all on at the same time.

2) I HATE scary movies. I saw the Exorcist when I was in 8th grade and had nightmares for a few days. Haven't seen one since. No thank you. I value sleep way too much for that kind of craziness.

3) I have freckles. When I'm out in the sun for any amount of time more than 5 minutes, they come out in full force.

4) When I asked my hubby what I should write for the "7 things you don't know about me blog" he said, "You should write about me more." I'm not sure how that fits here but it does because you didn't know that.

5) My hair grows fast. I would say at the rate of 1 inch per month. Which is why I get my hair cut at a local cosmetology school for $7. If they mess it up, it'll just grow back.

6) My husband also said to mention that when I met him he hated reading. He's presently reading the autobiography of Nelson Mandela which is somewhere around 650 pages. Sometimes I have a positive affect on people.

8) The combined weight of my dogs doubles my weight. I don't know if that's the interesting fact or the if it's that I'm not remotely scared of those HUGE babies.

I tag anyone who wants to do this because I love reading these kinds of blogs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just a Spoon Full of Sugar

Started to watch Mary Poppins tonight with the kids.

Absolute classic. I love it even more as an adult, as a mommy. Though I spent most of the movie explaining things, it was still good fun.

Well done, sister suffragettes!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ganna Pictures

Since so many of you were begging me (oh, ok just Leslie) for pictures, I suppose I better show them. Only problem is that I didn't take too many. My mom, sister and I were cooking for about 4 hours straight (with Zach coming in to save the day with the pizza) so there was no time for crazy camera antics. That also means there was no game playing (plus it snowed something like 4 inches) and no music (what? no music!). From the time we just started to dapple in the kitchen until all 13 people were in the kitchen waiting for the food and sampling the cookies, there was just no time.

And it was so much fun. Tariku could tell something was different. He kept asking when the doro wot was going to be done and was obviously excited to introduce his guests to his favorite of foods.

I didn't get any pictures of the food and fellowship for the first few hours but did snap a few of our guests.

But it started with this: my dad taking a nap. He's under there somewhere, he found it a bit cold in our house.

Then we have our youngest Ganna celebrator, Ms. Cates Asleson with mommy Becky. Two of the cutest/prettiest people I know.

Doozie and my brother, Marcus.

Papa Frank playing the Wii (which was played for hours after celebrations). Can't be sure, but I have to think the wise men played Wii after Christ's birth as well. I'm not sure anything but the Wii could've entertained everyone for as long as it did. Good times, good times.

My dad and brother-in-law, Frank/Batman.

My mom, mom-in-law, father-in-law and love of my life-hubby.

Lindsey and hotflawedmama. Sometimes the hugeness of my head surprises even me.

Dailah helping my sister get her hat on.

The boys, serious cuteness.

And the family in our attire. It was past bedtimes so there was a squirrley factor we couldn't get past but not bad for our inaugural Ganna family pic!

At the end of the night I snuggled Tariku and was saying "thank you for being you and bringing all of this cool stuff into our home, etc." He said, "This was all for me?" I said, "All for you babe." He had the biggest smile, giggled and then turned over to sleep. He is just the sweetest guy in the world.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Better and Budgets

I'm feeling much better, thanks for the terrific comments! Thankfully it went as quickly as it came and I truly hope it stops at me. I cleaned and sterilized the place to be sure.

And then budgets...tonight I went grocery shopping with my new shoestring budget. It was literally the first time EVER I went with a list, with cash, and with a calculator. Since I could only spend the cash, the calculator was necessary.

Happy to report I was $2 under.

So I bought a Butterfinger for $.88 to reward myself.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Flu

Or something like it...

Got the yuckys.

Made one appearance outside today and then have been here mostly, on the couch. Which is awesome.

I'm rethinking my impulse to not get the flu vaccine today.

And honestly, is it even possible to be sick AND a stay-at-home mom?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

One of Those Days

I like to think that I have the power over my kids to enact a change in attitude by sheer will power.

Typically if they're especially sassy one day I'll win them over with enthusiasm, laughter and lots of love. 60% of the time it works every time (just a quick movie quote there, anyway name that movie?)

Today was not one of those days. Today will forever go down as the day of tattletailing. Not just tattletailing, but incessant, ridiculous tattletailing. That was just one of the many indiscretions committed by my babies today.

By 5pm I was convincing myself they NEEDED sleep enough that a 6:30pm bedtime was not just warranted but necessary.

Alas, 7pm it was and they were in bed.

Now, I wish I was laughing with them and snuggling them.

Such is the life of a mom.

Melkam Ganna!

Today Christmas (ganna) is being celebrated in Ethiopia. Because over half of the population is Orthodox Christians there, they go by the Julian Calendar. This puts today (the day of Epiphany) as the day to celebrate Christ's birth!

Very exciting to think about that beautiful country celebrating. I hope one day we can be over there to watch the festivities commence. Though I understand they celebrate more at Easter than Christmas, it would still be a good time.

This Saturday we're having family over to celebrate with us. We're hoping to make it an annual thing to continue to link Tariku with his culture.

We've saved some coffee beans from Ethiopia to roast. I'll be making doro wot, injera, lentil stew and homemade pizza. The pizza is for a couple reasons 1) it's Tariku's favorite "American" (one could argue it's Italian) food, so I thought we could join the cultures and 2) there are a few in our inner circle who dry heave when they eat Ethiopian poopers. :)

During ganna (we're combining ganna and timkat celebrations, by the way) they don't exchange gifts but do drink homemade wine and beer all day. Which sounded good to me.

They also play a traditional game guessed it, ganna, that is a lot like our field hockey. So we'll be trying that a bit. The Ethiopians believe this game was played after Christ's birth in celebration, so I'll go with that.

Another tradition is to wear all white so our family will be in our traditional Ethiopian attire and I've asked guests to wear as much white as possible.

Lastly, from my "extensive research" (meaning, I googled it), I found the Ethiopians burn incense as legend has it the "wise man" that brought frankincense was in fact King Balthazar of Ethiopia. So I'm presently on the market for some oil frankincense.

Should be a good time, stay tuned for pictures!

Until then, Melkam Ganna!

WFC Total

It's in. It's more spectacular than I could've hoped for. You ready?


Did you catch that?


I'm blown away by it, really. Truth be told I was skeptical we'd hit $50,000. Not because I didn't believe in you all (I did) but because of various reasons and I kept thinking about just how much $50,000 is.

But you all got it. You gave out of your poverty and wealth. You gave with joy and hope. It was truly awesome.

Suffice it to say this campaign for water changed my entire perspective on money. We're entering the new year which means redoing budgets, looking at the last year with a magnifying glass.

It's incredible to see before Ethiopia and after as far as our spending habits go. We tightened our budget for extra curricular things and spent it more on pursing God's heart. Then, like a lot of humans, we slipped back a little. Until Water for Christmas.

Our budget looks downright monastic right now. Which I love.

We're not saints, so we'll mess up, surely. It's undoubtedly a lot less than what you guys are doing.

I really want to work on this. So much of our lives have been spent on hoarding and collecting and all of that. I've found such pleasure from giving instead of taking (though truth be told I do enjoy my fair share of taking, see that in next post).

I hope it changed you too. We're going to continue to rely on you every month. :) You good with that?


Thank you, thank you.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hey, Sarah Palin

So...I was looking at the map at the bottom of my screen a few weeks ago. You can move over the little stars and see more specifics on the location, and noticed one at the very top. Hmmm, which part of Alaska is this? (We have friends in Alaska, you see). Low and behold it's Wasilla. So, I can't prove this, but I think it's Sarah Palin. Either way, whoever you are, happy you're here.

That map is cool but I think mine reboots every week or so. It's rarely working right but I enjoy it nonetheless.

Anywho, my mind is just consumed lately. It's times like this when I'm really happy I don't have access to internet 24/7. Well, actually, I'm really upset I don't but also know my children wouldn't know who I was if I did have full access.

So, I guess, with that said I'm happy.

Yeah, I'm happy about it, we'll go with that.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

This Little Thing

Rocks my world.

I love it. I seriously love it.

It's amazing. That little thing makes me believe it's possible that in just a few years we'll all have little GPS things embedded in our skin.

It's awesome and scary all at the same time. I hate it and love it all at once.

But mostly just love it. And my abs hurt, which is officially a good start to my New Year's resolution (see previous post).'s time for "Superstars of Dance". It's just what this ethnocentric lady needs. ahem. :)

Friday, January 02, 2009

An Inconvenient Truth

We just watched that movie. I'm kind of baffled...that it won so many awards. Didn't get that at all. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it but I think I was more convincing than Al Gore when I told Zach to start turning off the lights or I'll punch his nose with a rubber hose.

Perhaps also it's because I'm already on the side of "we gotta do it because it's the right thing to do." I didn't necessarily need to see dudes taking camera phone pictures of the ex-VP or him holding babies. For some reason that stuff made him lose some street cred from me. And the fact that he didn't mention how to SOLVE the problem until the very end. During the credits, which I couldn't read anyway.

I don't know, what'd you think? There's always at least a small percentage of possibility I'm wrong but it rarely goes over a small percentage.

What else? Life, just life is happening. I still can't believe it's 2009.

This is the year we'll celebrate our 7th anniversary (7!?!?!?!), my baby will turn 6, my other baby will turn 4 and the last baby will turn 3. I'll gain a niece from Ethiopia perhaps another one from Frank and Emily (what do you say guys?). Who knows what else? Zach? What do you think? Another adoption? Possibilities are endless and I sincerely think that's what I love about the New Year.

Never been one to make New Year's resolutions but I might change my mind after seeing this.

1st resolution ever: must get these abs and/or must figure out how to get these abs while still enjoying the Peanut m&ms I just consumed.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

First Pictures of the New Year

Zach reading to my nephew, Eli.

Zach putting Tariku where no child belongs.

Saw "Marly & Me" last night. Cried. Lots. Got home and wanted to just love on these two crazy kids but they had no room for me.

The boys shooting each other and, well, Dailah.

Uncle Jake playing with the youngest.

Doozie with Papa Frank.

Um, yeah.

Clearly cute.

Happy New Year!

So I had good intentions to mail out cards this year but then I decided to cut that expense (even though it would've been our first one ever) as part of the Water for Christmas campaign. So instead I'll put it here on the blog and email it to those who don't read this (what? there are people who don't read this?!?!?!?!)

Merry Christmas 2008!

I guess if I’m writing this 7 days after Christmas it hardly warrants a “Merry Christmas” but I hope you had a great one nonetheless! This is my inaugural Christmas letter, you see, so since none of you were expecting one I had plenty of excuses to make it late. ☺

Our year has been filled with more blessings than one family should receive in a lifetime. Though I can’t do them justice in a single letter, I will try.

Trysten (5) started Kindergarten at Buffalo Elementary School. He loved it from the beginning and looks forward to playing with his many friends. Truth be told, he does enjoy a good snow day as we found out just before winter break. He is starting to read quite well which makes his mommy and daddy proud. I’m still holding out hope for one of my children to enjoy reading as much as I do and if his zest for learning is any indication, he’ll be the one. He’s still my emotive one. That apple didn’t fall far from the mommy tree. In so many ways he’s growing (3 inches this year, takes showers by himself, etc) but he still enjoys “mommy and me” time at the end of the night in which we snuggle and talk about our feelings.

Tariku (3) joined our family from Ethiopia on April 11th. Zach and I took the trip of a lifetime early April to go to Ethiopia and learn more about that beautiful country our son came from. Since that trip, our lives have changed in so many ways. Tariku, being the biggest way, is the sweetheart of the bunch. If you need something, Tariku will walk through fire to get it. Always smiling, always laughing he proves that one can choose how they react to rather horrible situations. He has been very patient with mommy when he didn’t understand much English or when he was learning how to go to the bathroom inside the toilet. Above all, he has helped us learn how to be better humans. He too enjoys giving kisses and hugs but typically limits them to two per person because something more fun is bound to come up by then.

Dailah (2) has developed her personality and natural inclination to motherhood over the last year. As I type, she is cradling a cabbage patch baby and giving kisses telling her it’s “okay” and that “she can’t do that again”. Dailah is a constant mothering mirror for me as I hear my words come back to me in the form of a 2-year-old more times than I can count. She has her parents wrapped around that little nail-painted finger and, I’m afraid, knows it full well. She also has her brothers at her beckon call and can get a ride anywhere she wants if she just asks. She has shown me this year that a good sense of humor is often nature and very little nurture. She has been making us laugh since the day she was able to speak (and speak she does!). She is the little girl I didn’t think I needed and proves to me everyday that one smile or one giggle can turn a bad day good in a matter of seconds.

Aristotle (4, chocolate lab) still enjoys bones, food, protecting mommy and babes and running around camp being the mascot of sorts. Mascot, to him anyway, covers all sorts of sin. ☺

Abe (8 months, great dane) joined the family in October. He enjoys eating, bringing home deer antler, chewing on mommy’s snowman decorations and sleeping.

Zach (older) is in his 2nd year as the Executive Director of YMCA Camp Abe Lincoln. He loves his job and happens to be terrific at it. We live on site so he is often called out in the middle of the night to help someone get unstuck or fix a leaky pipe. It has helped getting a great Program Director who also lives on site but he still likes getting his hands dirty as well. The patriarch of this family is where I go for constant laughs, love and joy. He is my sounding board, my ever-present calm in the mommy storm. Truly the light of my life, I have seen a side of him this year that makes me wonder what in the world I did to deserve a guy like him.

Tesi (1-year-older) is still staying-at-home with the babies most of the time. I’ve also enjoyed picking up a few more fitness classes (Bodypump, Bodystep and soon to be Bodyflow) and training just a few special clients. I look at this past year as perhaps the most pivotal one in my short life. I’m fairly certain when they cut my body open when I die (also known as an autopsy) they will find the outline of Africa seared on my heart and brain. I can’t shake it, I can't forget about it. It’s become not just the place my son was born but also the place that has given me a life anew as well.

Since going to Ethiopia Zach and I have been gloriously ruined in a way we’ve never been. Upon our return home, another adoptive mommy and I started an “orphan ministry” of sorts at our church. Every month we (with many others) try to do something that will positively affect “the least of these” that are so close to God’s heart. Things like raising money for life-saving Plumpy-nut in Ethiopia, delivering backpacks to the local social services for children in the foster care system and, most recently, Water for Christmas. The ministry has now grown international and I couldn’t be more humbled to see everyone’s eyes being opened and hearts growing soft. God works in some pretty awesome ways. Over $50,000 (which translates to about 10 fresh-water wells) is heading to Liberia where it will save many lives.

Above all, this year has been the year that has taught me to rely on God more than ever. To trust in his ever-lasting grace that has yet to disappoint. May you, this year, find the peace that comes with being gloriously ruined.

On that happy note, much love in the New Year!

Zach, Tesi, Trysten, Tariku, Dailah, Aristotle and Abe.