Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bini in surgery

He just went back. I was so thankful they gave him a little Versed (sp) so he was loopy/chill when they took him back. It was actually quite hilarious too. It was better on me him to have him not remember what was happening. He only reached for us once with a little wince before he was out of sight. Oh, and I only cried a little bit, no ugly cry yet. Score!

We've been thinking about this day for so long but it's here and now I'm just anxious to see his little face post-surgery. They have a computer that tells us the progress on "the patient". Right now it says he's in his room. My momma brain is delusional and thinks this means he's yelling for me and they haven't started yet. :) More likely he's completely passed out and they've started on the first foot.

But I'm not the only one who's been thinking about it. Last week I came downstairs to find Trysten had made this notation to the lunch menu. It reads, "Pray for Bini" with a down face.

That was completely unprompted and made me cry just a little bit to think how much this little boy affects us all.

I will update when he's in recovery. Until then, here's a little video of our otherwise sane little boy all looped up on the miracle drug Versed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Brag Post

We had conferences on Monday for the big 3. If you aren't interested in my bragging and/or perfect explanations of the personalities of my 3 biggies, move right along. Cathy has some good posts about crazy run-ins with animals (did someone say coyotes and bears?)

Tomas was first. Obviously his was going to be a bit different. For those considering and/or going through an older child adoption I'll let you in on what our school is doing with Tomas. He's in 1st grade. He stays in his class for a good portion of the day but then goes down to Tariku's kindergarten class for math and reading. Also, every day for about 20 minutes or so he meets with the ESL (English as a second language) teacher for more intense-and more basic-instruction.

So his teacher, who is amazeballs by the way, said his smile lights up the room and completely makes her day. His absolute love of learning and desire to know exactly what's going on inspires her and the rest of his classmates. She said he's already come a long way and she can't wait to see what he's going to do by the end of the year.

His ESL teacher said he is the kid serious about learning. While others are talking amongst themselves he's studying her and waiting on her to teach him something. :) She did mention lately that she has had to ask him to be quiet from time to time, which she saw as a good sign because he was getting more comfortable. But she saw what we all see, he is one freaking smart kid.

And he LOVES school. Everyday after I pick him up from the bus, "Mama tomorrow school?' If it's a yes, he celebrates, if it's a no, "Oh no mama, why no school tomorrow? Oh mama this is bad." I hope he never, ever quits that love of learning.

Tariku was next. His teacher, as mentioned before, is one of Zach's besties' mom. But she's serious about education so we knew she wasn't going to sugarcoat anything. She said a few things:
-Tariku uses inititiative to help others. He shows caring and friendship to his friends.
-He shows perseverance to be the BEST reader. Wonder where he gets being the best. :) Sometimes he's too hard on himself!

Boy does she have him pegged! She also mentioned that kids in his class try to act like him all the time. His teacher said, "I NEVER tell parents this, but it's so true of my class this year. Tariku is the best student." And I don't doubt that for a second. He's smart (she said he's way ahead in reading and counting, etc), funny and so attentive. His teacher did mention that he never sits still (preaching to the choir a bit there) but she wishes she had a class full of him.

Darnnit that kid is amazing. I actually cried twice during his conference. The first time was when she had him start to "read" (he was more memorizing). I couldn't believe this was happening. I couldn't believe this little boy who spoke no English 2 years ago was reading. I kept thinking about his special people in Ethiopia and how much I wished they could see him. How proud they would be of him and how proud we are.

Then I cried when she told the story about a book she was reading that talked about a girl giving her mom flowers. Tariku raised his hand and said, "I have the best mommy in the world." That's kind of a big deal, he's not one of those kids who cuddles (he's way too busy for that crap) or randomly professes his undying love for us.

But sweet Jesus I love him and am so proud of him.

And then Trysten. His I was kind of most looking forward to because I haven't gotten the opportunity to talk to his teacher much. She was wonderful, it made us feel great about his year. She said a few things about him:
-He's very good at reading and math, he'll be starting time with the TAG teacher next quarter.
-She was hard on his behavior at the beginning of the year ("and it broke my heart to do so") to kind of set an example to everyone.
-She said he needs more "meat" in his writing. More details, more setting the scene, etc. This made us laugh a bit because it sounded more like his aunt Kara than his mom or dad who love telling stories. :)
-He's also picked good friends-phew!

We were obviously very proud of the fact that he doesn't hold anything back and that he has started to show more of his personality, I was pretty concerned about that.

So this was a little scrapbooking. All this to say, it sounds like the teachers have gotten to know our sons and it sounds like they are starting to love them a bit too. Not nearly as much as we love our boys, obviously. So proud to call them my babes, so, so proud.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tea with Grandma

Dailah had tea time with grandma yesterday. She lives for this kind of thing, she really does. And the people around her are good about humoring her on these "dates".

Dailah wanted to wear her "wedding dress", I happily obliged.

She also wanted "pretty hair". With just a few minutes before we had to be on the road I threw in "little snakes" and she LOVED it. In the car she was telling Tomas, "See I can't lean back against the car or it'll mess everything up."

On the way to grandma and grandpa's Tomas kept repeating, "Oh Dailah, you are so beautiful, oh mama Dailah is most pretty, right?" Her boys are so good at telling her exactly what she wants to hear. (The only two awake at time of tea, the other two came later).

The camera (and hotflawedmama) just love her.

Dailah with her grandma. Clearly they share some genetics.

While they took off for the party, we took off for the dog park. I love this community.
This is what happens to pants when you're at a dog park.

Our dogs are so used to grass they weren't always fond of the concrete. A couple of loners this two.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Zach and I were looking through old videos and came across this one today. I cried 3 times watching/listening to it. How in the world was this almost 4 years ago? Trysten is so, so precious. That's him on lead vocals/guitar by the way.

Oh my heart.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I saw this linked on my friend Cassie's blog. I had to copy it in full here because I know some of you don't click my links.

I mentioned how we haven't been to church in awhile. For the record, I don't expect "the church" to be perfect. I don't expect them to do no wrong, to not sin. I don't expect that at all. That said, before we left our previous church, they repeatedly justified their actions by saying in the Bible we are told to hold churches and their pastoral staffs to a higher standard. So that's why we're not back, we're doing just that. We expect more from our church. We believe the issues/sin involved with our last church are systemic and haven't been addressed, that's why we haven't been back. It'd be a whole new ballgame if they owned up to their failures and worked to improve. A whole new ballgame. I don't know who's right or wrong in this, I don't really care. We're just following our hearts here.

But truthfully, it goes deeper than that. This blog post sums up what Zach and I have been feeling for awhile now. We're not perfect, in fact, we're far from it. We don't do enough, we don't even come close. But wouldn't it be amazing if the church stood for something again? Wouldn't it be amazing if we stood for something again? I'm just ready to get down to Jesus' business and stop letting all of my excuses get in the way.


a while back i had heard about the eighth letter gathering up in canada, where 25 people will be sharing their letter to the north american church.  yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers, rachel held evans, announced an open synchroblog this week where anyone was welcome to share their own letter.  after a particularly wild-week-in-the-trenches around here i had this post on the tip of my tongue so i thought i’d just turn it into a quick-off-the-top-of-my-head letter instead.  here goes:
dear north american church,
you have developed a bad reputation.  you didn’t mean to.  i believe your heart is good & you have been so sincere in your dedication to Christ, of that i have no doubt.  the problem is that somehow you’ve become more committed to teaching the truth than actually living the truth.  to building successful businesses that are self-sustaining rather than living by faith & giving your resources away. by creating walls instead of bridges.

and the world’s started to smell out your contradictions.  you see, they are in need of hope and peace, not anger and control.  they are hungry for love and cups of cold water, not hate and picket signs.  they are desperate, dying, divorcing, and deconstructing, and you are spending energy on trying to prove your “this is what the Bible says” point.

and you’ve forgotten one of the most important things that Jesus did, that he modeled for us so beautifully–he restored dignity to people who had lost it. the sick, the lame, the broken, the desperate, the outcasts, the marginalized, the least, the last.  over and over, he healed them, lifted their head, and touched them with hope.  hope that the kingdom of God was available now and it wasn’t only for the learned, the put-together, the well, the powerful.  it was available for all those who were humble enough to admit their spiritual poverty & need for God.

the world does not need any more dignity-strippers.  they’ve got enough of that going on without the church’s help.

what the world needs are dignity-restorers.
  • people who are willing to call out God’s image in those that don’t know it’s there.
  • people who are willing to sacrifice their own jobs, time, heart, and money to change systems that keep others oppressed.
  • people who use their own power & privilege to make space for those without it.
  • people who are willing to give a rip about that one person who everyone else has given up on.
  • people who see beyond gender, politics, religion, socioeconomics, and all of the other things that divide and segregate us and engage in deep & meaningful relationships anyway.
  • people willing to go the long haul and offer compassion & love to the hurting instead of trite advice & easy spiritual answers.
  • people who will stand between the stone throwers & the one about to be stoned and advocate on their behalf.
  • people who touch the untouchable.
  • people who see the best in others instead of the worst.
it’s not going to be easy to make this change for you.

a cool website won’t do it.
all the right answers won’t do it.
going to the next great conference won’t do it.
putting the word “missional” on the tip of everyone’s tongues won’t do it.
to really become known as dignity restorers, you’re going to have to give up all kinds of things you rely on to keep you safe, strong, and protected:
being right.
systems that perpetuate money & power & control
hanging with people who are just like you
making sure you’re the “us” and they’re the “them.”
but first, your own dignity must be restored. you must get in touch with who you really are.  who you were meant to be.  not what you think you had to become to feel better about yourself.  yeah, Jesus can heal you, too.  humble yourself and touch his garment, seek his ways, and surrender to love.

and here’s the wildest part–if you won’t do it, can’t do it, refuse to do it, you need to know that others will.  right now, others are.  they are actually being “the church” instead of wasting time hashing over who can teach & who can’t, who’s right & who’s wrong, who’s giving money & who’s not.   they are just getting down to Jesus’ business without the trappings of “the church” and doing just fine.

oh but i have no doubt if all your resource, all your hands & hearts & eyes & ears & buildings & power & influence & hope could really be channeled to restoring dignity in person after person after person after person, the image of God uncovered in his people, shining brighter and brighter, would dim the darkness of this world like never before.
please, step into who you were meant to be.  it’s beautiful.  it’s better.  and the world really, really needs it.
so i got out what i wanted to say this week.  i really believe the world doesn’t need another sandwich board church sign on the corner announcing really good coffee & fun for families.  the world needs people willing to restore dignity where it’s been lost.
what would you like to say to the north american church? let it rip.

Last Saturday

we began the morning at an early 6:15 to get to Muscatine in time for the Walk 4 Water. It was a bit rainy, a bit lightening-y but still a good time where money was raised to build freshwater wells.

After that, it was off to the UNI Panther football game. They were supposed to have lots of blow up jumpy things for the kids but, due to the threat of death lightening, all of that was cancelled. We still managed to have fun tailgating a bit and then proceeding into the dome (praise Jesus it wasn't outside) at my incessant urging - I really do hate being cold.

Zach, ever the responsible parent, took the kidlet train to their seats.

We were all furnished with our UNI tees.
My sister promptly took a snooze sitting straight up, just 3 minutes after sitting down.
Trysten can't get enough of drawing lately, so here he drew the football field.
The princess in pink.
And two of my handsome habeshas.
Tomas was so excited by the whole thing he stood up almost the entire time. Maybe there's hope for him yet?
Bini, on the other hand, appeared to be a bit over stimulated so he was on laps drooling and staring into space most of the time. But for whatever reason, didn't want to leave. Weird.

Great Saturday, long day. This meant everyone in the house slept for about 11 hours that night. Good times.

Get jealous...

this is where we live.
Binyam (Dailah was sidelined due to poor decision making). :) This would be when he was literally scared to death and more excited than he's ever been.
I walked with him to make him feel better about it but perhaps my hysterical laughing was not helping?
She did manage to look precious even when she was in the doghouse.
These two are always like this. Seriously.

There's even archery!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Zachary Edward

(Last Thursday, gulp).

I surprised Zachy (that's what I call him, you probably shouldn't, it'd just be weird) with a babysitter in the afternoon. The man loves golf, so despite it having been 2 years since my last swing of the links (is that the phrase?) I took him to a golf course and bonded with him.

After golf we went to another of his favorites, surprise, pizza! Old Chicago is a fav of ours both for the delicious pies and the many choices of brewskis. Zach, always excited about my many photos.
I'm not quite sure how to tell you how much fun I have with this guy. Most of what he says can't be printed on this family friendly blog but believe me when I tell you I'm in danger of peeing my pants every time I'm with him. We were stuffed after dinner, but somehow he still managed to eat this HUGE bowl of ice cream.
The kids were so excited to celebrate daddy's birthday as well but had to wait until the ice cream, they didn't seem to mind.
This is the 9th birthday I celebrated with Zach, which is ludicrous to think of. I can say with absolute certainty that they keep getting better. He keeps getting better.

It's taken me so long to write this blog because there are only so many ways I can thank God for this man. So here's Nikki Giovanni to do it for me.


I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows north
because the Pope is Catholic
and most Rabbis Jewish
because winters flow into springs
and the air clears after a storm
because only my love for you
despite the charms of gravity
keeps me from falling off this Earth
into another dimension
I love you
because it is the natural order of things

I love you
like the habit I picked up in college
of sleeping through lectures
or saying I'm sorry
when I get stopped for speeding
because I drink a glass of water
in the morning
and chain-smoke cigarettes
all through the day
because I take my coffee Black
and my milk with chocolate
because you keep my feet warm
though my life a mess
I love you
because I don't want it
any other way

I am helpless
in my love for you
It makes me so happy
to hear you call my name
I am amazed you can resist
locking me in an echo chamber
where your voice reverberates
through the four walls
sending me into spasmatic ecstasy
I love you
because it's been so good
for so long
that if I didn't love you
I'd have to be born again
and that is not a theological statement
I am pitiful in my love for you

The Dells tell me Love
is so simple
the thought though of you
sends indescribably delicious multitudinous
thrills throughout and through-in my body
I love you
because no two snowflakes are alike
and it is possible
if you stand tippy-toe
to walk between the raindrops
I love you
because I am afraid of the dark
and can't sleep in the light
because I rub my eyes
when I wake up in the morning
and find you there
because you with all your magic powers were
determined that
I should love you
because there was nothing for you but that
I would love you
I love you
because you made me
want to love you
more than I love my privacy
my freedom my committments
and responsibilities
I love you 'cause I changed my life
to love you
because you saw me one friday
afternoon and decided that I would
love you
I love you I love you I love you

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It Finally Happened

2 years of officially waiting, 4 years of preparations and finally, finally...they got their referral. I'm going to be an aunt again. My brother and sister-in-law are going to be parents again. My nephews get a sister, my kids get a cousin, Dailah gets another girl in the family. This is all very exciting.

I can tell you this, she is beautiful. Stunning, really. Long eyelashes, big eyes, a little side grin that warms the heart instantly. She is, in a word, perfect! And I honestly can't wait to meet her.

When I told Dailah that she would have another girl to play with, to put make up on and to wear high heels with she replied, "That is so good mom because I'm really good at all of those things." Truth be told, she might be the most excited about this addition.

Leslie's birthday was September 3. I had gotten her a little gift praying that she would get her referral before I gave it to her. It was this (excuse my man hands, jeesh):
A necklace made by a local artist. My sister finally had a little pink in her heart and it needed represented in jewlery (obviously). So happy was I to give this to her, and how beautiful it looks on her!

I also dropped by this:
Stuff for the trip to Ethiopia. The basics, you know. Toilet paper, ear plugs, this-is-not-a-good-time-to-poop-my-pants medicine, the basics.

So there you have it, lots and lots of joy in our family these days. And certainly when my niece comes home, more joy to come.

I love you already baby girl!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

PFC Elmer Matthias

Yesterday my grandpa was able to go on an Honor Flight. My mom had been working her little butt for the last year to get my grandpa on one of these and it finally came to fruition.

His flight left super early in the morning (6am, ouch!) but was to get in at 10pm. So after teaching my last class, my sister and I drove to Cedar Rapids to welcome the vets back. It was a cool experience being there, not sure how to fully do it justice. There were well over 200 people there, some with ties to the vets coming home, others who just come to the airport to thank random vets. It was a very interesting dynamic to say the least.

My grandpa is a man of no very few words. He's not the kind of guy that patted the seat next to him and said, "Tesi, let me tell you about my time in WWII." That didn't happen. But he's still partially to blame the reason I turned out the way I have.

He is literally the hardest working person I know. At 87 years old he still helps my uncle out on his farm, and whenever he visits my parents he is taking long walks or pulling weeds in their garden. I like to think I get some of that get-up-and-go spirit from him.

I also like to think he gave me a bit of my sense of humor. He raised 5 kids who all turned out to be some of the funniest people I know so it's not hard to see they would've had to have a pretty good, hilarious role model in him.

He and my grandma taught me that marriage isn't all about laughter, love and googly eyes. There might be some yelling, some eye rolling and some self imposed time outs that need to happen to get through 62 years with the same person and still kiss like a couple of newlyweds.

But really, the two of them taught me to just live life. Don't let it pass you by, just jump in and enjoy it to the fullest. Cedar Rapids is over an hour from where we live. Kara and I were exhausted from our day but we knew we wanted to be there for our grandparents, because they were always doing that kind of stuff for us. I really can't explain to you how much I love them and how happy I am that I've been able to get to know them as an adult.

On to more pictures...after dinner we headed to the airport to wait for the patriarch. Grandma with Kara, my sister.

My 1st cousin once removed (also known as my cousin's little boy) Carter. Those eyes!
My other 1st cousin once removed, Max.
The gang who came to support my grandpa.
Kara, grandpa and hotflawedmama (please excuse the sweat and pre-pubescent acne on my part).
My mom, grandpa and uncle Neil (mom's brother).
 But this man, this man deserved to be celebrated and honored with such a crowd. He's good people this one, and I'm sure happy to share the same family tree with him.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

1st Orthaped appointment

Bini had his first appointment yesterday. It went exactly as we thought.

He needs at least one more surgery, possibly more depending on how well this one goes.

Overnight surgery.

3 weeks in full leg casts.

3 more weeks in knee down casts.


That was the basic gist of the appointment.

"Will he ever walk 'normal'? I ask

"Yes he should, though when he runs you'll probably always be able to notice a difference, his ankle bones are just kind of fused together from being older than most kids." The doc says. And then adds, "You'll want to get him the best education you can because he won't be able to work on his feet. People with club feet start noticing mid-foot pain in their 40s. That's at least 20 years before retirement so you won't want that."

Ironic, I suppose, since my son was born in a country where he would've had to work on his feet. Had he remained in Ethiopia, there's a good chance he would've been one of the beggers on the street. I'm not exaggerating here, I would say at least half the people we saw on the side of the street who were too old to be considered kids had some sort of lameness to their legs. Whether from club feet, polio or what have you. It's just too depressing to think about.

But he was impressed with how well Bini got around now (everyone is) which makes him optimistic for Bini's future.

I don't know, it was exactly as we thought. When we were considering the boys on the waiting child listing we figured, "Yeah, we'll get him home and then we'll have another surgery or so and it'll be fine."

And it will.

But it's different. This isn't some little boy in Ethiopia who might one day be my son.

This is my son. And I don't want him to suffer through this. Through the surgery, through a night in a hospital. Through 3 weeks with hot casts that won't allow him to walk.

This is my son.

Which makes this whole thing totally blow.

It'll be fine, he'll be fine, logically I know this.

But man what I wouldn't give to take his suffering.

So if I needed any reassuring as to whether I'm loving this little boy. There it is.

None of this leaves me with regrets, only a renewed vigor to enter into suffering with this boy who's crawled his way into my heart and made a home there.  So here we go.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Random Thursday

This will be seriously random, in no order whatsoever. Some good tidbits, some things I want to "scrapbook".

--Last week we were eating with Frank and Terre and my 2 nephews. Eli (my youngest nephew, 3 years old) says to Dailah, "Dailah guess what! When we were babies we loved each other. And guess what else, we still love each other!" It was just the most precious thing.

--At that same dinner Bini blew out his first birthday candle. When we told him to blow it out he looked at us deplorably, "But it's so beautiful." he seemed to be saying. He blew it out then looked at me with straight up mix of joy, surprise, wonderment." I looked at Zach and started laughing and before we knew it, Bini had stuck the candle wick in his mouth. These are things I take for granted that they've never known. Everyone knows not to put a hot candle in your mouth, right? Nope, little 4-yr-old habeshas not so much.

--This past weekend was Family Camp at camp. The kids were kind of sick so it wasn't as enjoyable as years past but still good times. Anyway, it was a chance to put the new boys on horses and alpine towers and archery ranges, etc. The horses, well Tomas told me in Ethiopia he used to ride them so he seriously got on like an expert. He also kept kind of trying to kick the side of the horse, I think he was genuinely bored with the guided trail ride. Bini, on the other hand, was half freaked out half peeing-his-pants excited. He hopped on and started spitting and drooling and clicking and mumbling "Abiyu" which we really do think loosely translated means, "Oh shit I'm going to die." But he actually ended up loving it and asks to do it again. So, gold star for us.

--Wednesday night I was cooking and Tomas came in. "Injera, please mommy, injera." I was really holding my breath hoping he forgot all about injera. I've seriously tried making it more times than I can count and I momma fail every. single. time. But there he was. "Well, Tomas, I don't know how to make injera." "Oh mommy, I show you." And he seriously went into every detail about it. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of cook who needs to know exact measurements and he didn't know how much teff and how much water, etc. But his brains continue to amaze me. Last night I decided I could throw him a bone so I made my Ethiopian fries (I just add some berbere to cut up potatoes and bake them). He walks in the kitchen, "Oh momma Berbere, oh Berebere I love you! Thank you, thank you mommy. Good mommy." Whatever, I guess I'm the kind of mom who appreciates the approval.

--Dailah walked into preschool yesterday, "Time for preschool, I'm going to go kick some butts!" No idea where she gets it, but I hope she tackles life with such tenacity and humor.

--Speaking of preschool, the littles teacher constantly tells me how Dailah is Bini's security blanket. I, of course, have noticed this. Bini copies everything she says to the point of absolutely driving mama insane and goes where she goes, including the bathroom. Every time. Dailah gets annoyed (rightfully so, if you ask me) and Bini needs to find some independence. Not sure how to work through that, any ideas?

--Tomas LOVES school. He gets sad on weekends, every night he asks, "School tomorrow, mommy?" I've noticed this is a theme with a lot of older kids adopted form Ethiopia. Not sure what it is, but man it's amazing. The other day I picked them up. Tomas didn't see me at first so I just sat back and what appeared to be the whole school asking him to play with them, chasing after him, saying good bye. It. was. amazing. And way more than I ever thought to pray for. He is learning, loving and just as beautiful and joyful as he always has been. What a huge blessing.

--On Sunday I finally took Trysten to Urgent Care. His sinuses had gotten worse, he had an unexplained rash that seemed to be spreading and he had a thing on his knee that had gotten huge. Turns out, he had a sinus infection, poison ivy and the wound on his knee was an abscess that had to be drained. It had gotten so infected it got into his joint and made it hard for him to walk. Apparently me telling him to "walk it off" the week before was not a good decision. Momma fail, face slap. Crap. Hopefully he's on the mend, though.

--I didn't want to leave you hanging from my last post. Check out this charity: water video. Do you see what a little perseverance can get you? Goosebumps, tears.

Live Drill Day 2 - We Hit Water! from charity: water on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It's that time of year again

when water events start coming at a frenzied pace. Our Water For Christmas team looks a little different than years past as our fearless leader has moved and probably because of that we have lost a few members. But after being in meetings with the group that's left, you should know there is still great passion in the survivors and a real desire to continue giving life to our brothers and sisters in Africa.

I was talking to someone the other day about my faith. It's kind of a tricky thing right? Like most things in my life, I'm a horribly flawed Christian. I literally have 0 Bible verses memorized (not bragging about this), I fall asleep trying to read the Bible nearly every night, we haven't been to church since some very un-Christian like treatment of some of our favorite people happened there. The list could go on. So I was telling this person that if they were coming to me for verses to prove something, then they were coming to the wrong person.

I'm not, as it's been said before, a Jesus tiny dancer. I don't know all the right things to say. In a verbal volleyball game I'd get one ace (did someone say John 3:16?) and that'd be all she wrote.

Here's the thing, I really believe my being a very empathetic person is a God given trait. I believe very much that Jesus isn't sitting on the sidelines shaking His long-locked head at what's going on down here on earth. I believe very much there are some mighty tears falling from those eyes. I believe with every part of me that Jesus cries every time shit happens down here.

And I believe we should too.

I don't know any verse to tell you why to get involved in our water campaign, I just know that every time a child dies because of a lack of clean water, Jesus weeps.

And I'm kind of not ok with that actually.

So we're back at it.

If you want to physically join us, we're Walking 4 Water again. Go here to get a form to fill out. September 18th in Muscatine, IA. I'll be there, with my 5 kids, my husband, my 2 ginormous dogs, my parents, my sister, my brother and sister-in-law and my 2 nephew dogs. You should be there too.

You can always go here to donate or become a part of our monthly givers.

Or you can save the date for November 13th. It will be our second annual "Wine to Water" party that I'm hosting. It's going to be just as cool, just as amazeballs as last year. Probably even more so, especially if you all come.

All I know is this, I wore a pair of TOMS that I took to Ethiopia with me yesterday. I looked on the sole and found a little of Ethiopia's red dirt left on the bottom. It was a physical reminder of the place in my heart/mind/soul that Ethiopia takes up.

This is a scratch I can't itch.

So read the statistics, think about it, pray about it, watch this video, whatever you need to do but I'm guessing if you open up your heart, the itch will take over you too. Just give into it, man. Join us.

Live Drill - No water for our birthday in Central African Republic from charity: water on Vimeo.

And that, will be one of my infrequent water blogs, I think you've heard enough about it from me. Oh, and just call me Sir Linksalot tonight apparently.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Here's the Thing

So Zach and I consider ourselves athletic. We both played sports since we were able to walk, we both loved playing sports throughout our entire lives and continue to enjoy doing some form of exercise still.

We've also been blessed to be at least decent at most sports we try. Zach played baseball in college, I ran track for part of it, in some cases we were better than average.

We also happened to have kids who seem to at least have the potential to be decent athletes. You know how you can just tell? Trysten can be pretty good when he tries and Dailah has pretty sweet running form, if I don't mind saying.

We also happened to have adopted Tariku, who could throw a spiral football 3 days after coming home. Tariku, truth be told, is some sort of freak of nature. He is amazeballs at every sport he tries. And he loves every second of physical exertion.

Binyam actually shows great aptitutde as well. Regardless of his club feet, the kid is athletic. A few days ago he was hanging in between the couches doing a few tricep dips (do you know the upper body strength that requires?) Dailah tried soon after and promptly fell. Bini, after years of not being able to walk, has learned to manipulate his upper body to gain an advantage. This means watching him wrestle his siblings is sheer joy. The boy is good.

Then there's Tomas. I'm not saying he'll never be good at sports, I'm just saying there's going to be a steep learning curve with this one. And honestly, Zach and I are at a bit of a loss as to what to do with a kid who shows little ability towards the sports.*

Zach took the 3 biggies to play golf a few days ago. We have this great course in Davenport that allows the kids to golf for just $1. The course is easy without many obstacles, thus perfect for kids.  Zach texts me at one point, "Tomas is horrible, he might just be a lost cause with regards to golf and/or athletic competition." (Note: it was worded differently but that was the basic sentiment).

Then he sends me this video.

Come on, that is just funny. 

*Please know that we really don't care whether any of our kids participates in sports, though we do credit our participation in them with teaching us many of life's greatest lessons: time management, healthy competition, and in the case of our collegiate participation-beer bonging.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Binyam's First American Birthday!

It's true. He's officially 4-years-old and officially very fond of whatever "Happy Birthday, Binyam" means. Because to him, it means lots of toys that he can call his own. And that is ok in his book.

Of course we tried to make a big deal about his birthday leading up to it. His brothers and sister were doing the countdown-to-birthday for him the past week with Dailah reminding him before bed on birthday eve, "Sleep. Wake up. Bini Birthday!" (My kids have become amazing at shorthand English, so have I if you don't mind me saying).

Donut run early in the morning, thankfully the "three bigs" had to make it to school early and I had to drive them. So I stopped on my way to school. The bigs got a donut and I got three so all was right with the world...until Tariku told me he wasn't hungry. That sound you hear is the sound of my brakes slamming quickly. Tariku? Not hungry? Uh oh.

I felt his forehead, burning up. Crap. Take Tariku to the school nurse, temp is over 102. Greeeeat. He comes home with me for a breakfast of Tyelenol. This guy had his donut for breakfast, none the wiser.

Then off to preschool. I made sure to buy probable 6 month old cookies stand over the stove for hours to prepare his birthday cookies for his friends.

After preschool pick up and a few classes for me, I dropped "the littles" off at aunt Kara's and took Tariku to urgent care...where we spent the next 3ish hours. When we were finally admitted Tariku's temp was 103.8. He hadn't eaten anything all day and wouldn't drink anything unless I held his mouth open and poured it down his throat. After screaming bloody murder a small wince when the strep throat swab was taken, it was confirmed...our boy (who hasn't been sick in the 2 1/2 years since we brought him home) had strep throat. Poor babe.

That meant we weren't going to be able to go to the Minor League Baseball game we had planned to go to with both of our extended families. At this point I was just happy it was Bini's birthday and not someone who "knew better" and had assumed the day would be filled with sugar and dream fullfilling. Even after the news that we wouldn't be going to the baseball game our birthday boy looked like this:

Turned out my parents and brother and sister-in-law decided they could risk possible death come give the birthday boy hugs so we went out for dinner. Bini got spoiled, I got alcohol, the kids were excited for him, there was lots of sugar and dreams fulfilled.

Trysten drew his brother a card complete with a few drawings of the two of them with their arms around each other.

Oh my Bini boy. He has come so far in just 2 months. Sleeps with no problems (as long as either Zach or myself is there, don't ask our Friday night babysitter who was up with him until midnight about that), hugs like a little koala bear, has a new look in his eyes that we immediately identify as trust towards us.

Not a day goes by that one of his brothers or sister says something like, "I had no idea we were going to get a little brother that is so cute and funny!"

I would have to agree.

I had no idea I would get a(nother) son who smiles so effortlessly despite his past, who fits into our family so well. A son who is smart, and funny and precious beyond my wildest dreams. A son who constantly puts his underwear and pants on backwards and sometimes inside out. A boy who today, out of nowhere, told his aunt that the airplane she got him was "cool".

Bini loves cars, is still leery of dogs, freaks out if he doesn't know where Dailah is at all times, doesn't mind being carried (but only by his older siblings, not his parents). The only food Binyam has ever asked for is Mac and Cheese (for some reason Iowa sweet corn never made the list) so we'll call that his favorite for now. No idea what his favorite color is but I will say he looks dashing in yellow. Bini's heart matches his eyes so if that tells you how amazing he is, then good.

Binyam, to me anyway, is the very definition of love. And tonight, even though he and Dailah were pulling shenanigans for WAAAAAAY too long instead of going to bed, I'll fall asleep praising God for His abundant blessings poured out over our family.

I'll pray for our family in Ethiopia who is missing this day but undoubtedly remembering it.

And then I'll fall asleep repeating, "Thank you, thank you, thank you" to the Man in the Moon.