Monday, January 31, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

I'm not really sure how we got there, but apparently we have.

We may or not be at the point in our parental career where we need to be talking about sex.

Let me say this, to some extent we already have. We've talked to each kid about body parts (naming them with their actual name) what they are used for, etc. The older boys know where babies come from, how they are made (basically), etc. We (and by "we" I mean "Zach") have discussed erections and various other penile goings on.

But I really feel like the older 3 are getting to ages where we should be saying more or discussing more. (Much to their chagrin, I'm sure).

So I'm looking for advice. What did you all do and at what ages? Any good books? Any good places I could send them for the next 15 years until they've gotten all this figured out and I can just go back to teaching them how to read, do math and, in general, have non-serious conversations?

The thing of it is, I don't want to screw this or them up. I want them to know sex isn't gross or bad or taboo, that it's good (in the right context, in the right time, etc).

I don't want them to be 14 and have sex because they're curious about something their parents never discussed.

No thanks.

But I don't want to give them more information than their young minds can hold. Or plant something in there that shouldn't be for the next few years.

How did this happen? I swear just yesterday I was staring into the eyes of my babes as babies and/or toddlers and now this?

"What to Expect When You're Expecting."? Cliff notes: Babies eat, sleep and poop.

There should be a book titled, "How To Survive Conversations about Sex Without Embarrassing Yourself and Your Husband."


Commence to the sage advice, please.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Week

It's been a week since I wrote last. Crazy!

I still don't have a lot to say but I know this...

The last few nights, even more than usual, I've been just so happy, so blissfully happy.

That when I stop to pray all that comes out is

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Sunday, January 23, 2011


-Zach is home after a week away. Whew. The kids actually did really well. I managed to stay relatively sane. But the fact is I missed him. He's an amazing dad but I missed him more in the husband capacity. He's just my best friend. A week of only texting my best friend makes me feel so very isolated. How did I get so lucky?

-While he was gone I let the kids take turns sleeping in my room with me (I did so under the guise of it being something special for them, but I loved it!) My favorite part about the whole thing? Waking up randomly and just watching them each sleep. They looked so peaceful, so beautiful. I had never done that with Tomas and Binyam. I couldn't believe how much closer I felt to them afterwards. Why did I not think of this? Why did I not remember how I used to watch my bio babes sleep and pray over them, touch their faces, etc. Felt so good to do that to ALL of my babes.

-We re-launched all of the classes I teach this weekend. It was a big "Winter Wellness Weekend" at all of the YMCA's in our association. Over 1000 people participated in group fitness classes this weekend alone. I think that is so awesome. So, so awesome. And I got to spend a lot of time with some of my dearest friends, and connect to some really cool people, and do one of the things I am really passionate about. My heart is full!

-(Almost) Every day the kids and I do "5 minutes of dance". We just put on some music and move. Tariku has some pretty amazing moves. He's the kind of kid who hears a song once and can sing the words. He's always clapping on beat and moving his little shoulders in perfect synch with the intricacies of the music. So we're dancing and giggling. I'm twirling with Tariku and when he twirls in he whispers in my ear, "Mom, are you sure Tomas is Ethiopian? I thought we were all good dancers?" Yeah, Tomas lacks some in the "smooth" category. But he certainly gets an A+ for heart.

-My niece's court case goes back to court tonight/tomorrow. Leslie should hear the results tomorrow. Please, please pray for them, light a candle for them, think about them. I'm so ready for her to be theirs. And ours. I'm so ready to meet her!

-Veggie straws. Do you know about these? Can (and should) be found at Sam's Club. I'm obsessed. They are delicious. Go get you some. You won't regret it.

-I've always struggled with acne. ALWAYS. In high school I was on Accutane (which, coincidentally, those crazy TV lawyers are offering me lots of money should I sue because of all the side effects, etc) it was that bad. And now? Not a whole lot better. Anywho, Trysten tonight puts his little hand on my shoulder, "Listen, mom, I know I look like you and people say I act like you, but I REALLY hope I don't get those." Yeah me either. Totally blows.

My kids crack me up. I love food and being an aunt. I missed my husband. The end.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


All from my phone (sometimes the only thing handy that can capture memories).

This is how we road trip. Abe (great dane), Tomas and Dailah in back. Trysten, Tariku and Binyam (and Aristotle-chocolate lab-in their footwell). Good times.

The Bergers and I did a special NEW YEARS EXTRAVAGANZA in our classes. It was so much fun. Disco ball, crazy clothes, water out of champagne flutes. We know how to make fitness fun, just sayin'.

Got a date night with my hubby on Friday night. We went to dinner and then spent the rest of our night in the bookstore. It's my heaven. If you have ever dreamed of going to a bookstore with me (and why wouldn't you have dreamt that?) this is what I look like.

And then painting. The only rooms we had left to paint in the house were: Trysten's, and the big boys's bathroom (or "the stink hole", as I like to call it). My parents, who are amazing, came to help out again. First, Trysten picked bright orange. It actually fits quite nicely.

Then we painted the stink hole a baby blue-ish color. Here is my dad with his "help" the two littles.

After all of the painting (and during) my dad helped complete Zach's "to do" list. One of those tasks was fixing Trysten's drum set. Just thought my dad looked precious on that tiny little seat.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

6 months home

Incredible. 6 months with Tomas and Binyam. It has been a pretty great 6 months.

I don't even have a whole lot to say.

Tomas's english has come a long, long way. He's starting to really understand letters and how they are used to form a word and a sentence. Now when he's upset, he can tell us why and can even sometimes work it out himself (saying things like, I didn't like that he said he didn't like me because I really like him and it hurt my feelings, etc). Just yesterday he said something at the dinner table, a full sentence, with very little hint of an accent and I almost weeped. What am I going to do when Tomas no longer calls Batman "Butt-man"?

Right now we are working with Tomas on the art of choosing friends. It seems Tomas might be befriending kids who are on a one way highway to bully-ville. Tariku will often tell me a story (without Tomas there) about a kid - we'll call him - "unoriginal" who pushed another kid into a locker. Tariku talks about how scary "unoriginal" is and how he gets in trouble a lot. The next day Tomas will come home telling me "unoriginal" is his best, best friend and he loves him so much.


We think, because of that, Tomas has been a little more aggressive lately. After some consequences and lots of love, he's stopped the aggression and came home Friday reporting that he told "unoriginal" he could not be his friend as long as he treated people bad. I call that progress!

Either way, Tomas makes friends so easily. And Tomas is a big kid. We understand we need to continue to encourage him to befriend the type of people who won't take advantage of his big-ness.

But we are excited about his energy, his intelligence, his laugh and his overall charm. We are excited he's ours!

Binyam struggled a bit over Christmas. I really should've seen it coming and scaled back a bit. By Christmas morning he was exhibiting weird behaviors (instead of talking he would kind of suck in a breath, look to the side and mumble) and just craving constant body contact. During our celebration at the Klipsch's he actually peed and pooped his pants...for the first time ever. Then he sat in it (without telling us) for over an hour.

Things were bad.

The next day he did the same thing so we completely retreated into ourselves for the next week. Things got better.

The last week he's done the same thing a few times (though at night). He's struggling with something and I can't quite put my finger on it. We'll get through it. I wish he had more of the language to at least hint to me something, but it's still coming.

Interestingly enough, when we were in Ethiopia, the nannies pointed to Binyam and said, "He's actually smarter than the other (Tomas)." We didn't really understand it at the time. I think something was lost in translation, because what we think they were recognizing was simply: Binyam will not say a word unless he's sure it's the right word for the situation. Where Tomas just kind of says stuff constantly, Binyam takes his time. When I'm talking to Zach, Binyam will watch and listen. He'll listen to what we say but he'll also be taking in the non-verbal things we are doing to describe what we're saying. Binyam seems to process it all and then a week later he's able to bring up a similar situation and sound, well, American.

It's incredibly interesting to watch, but a little discouraging when we try to just get him to say something we know he knows.

Binyam also loves to play up the "baby" roll in the family. I think there are a lot of reasons for this. Zach and I fought it for awhile but we recognize that, of all of our children, Binyam has more needs than the rest. Not only his feet, but he's dealt with some real crap in his short life emotionally as well. So we've gave into the "baby-ing" a bit. It's hard though, right, when I'm looking at a 4-year-old to treat him like a 2-year-old?

But we do it. Because he's funny and sassy. He's cute and precious. He's, in short, worth it.

And because we seriously love these two. I was talking to a friend the other day and kind of shook my head in wonder, "How did we get so lucky again?"

We did it all wrong...twice. We adopted out of birth order. Twice. We artificially twinned two of them, kind of (Binyam and Dailah).

We did it all wrong.

And yet, it's all-right. They are perfect for our family.

6 months home with these two and I'm so looking forward to the rest of our lives. The different joy they bring to the table, the different stories, the different personalities, it makes life exciting and interesting.

So, so thankful for them.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


just before christmas I facebooked how disappointed i was to find there were very few books (appropriate ages) for my babes with brown skinned characters as the protagonist. 

one of the best parts about my hubby's job is that we get to meet people from all over the world who come to our small part of America to be summer counselors. 

for the last two years there has been one such person, from barbados, with the counselor name of "Tada". you can find his face here, he's the one front and center in the left hand picture (not making the bunny ears, obviously). 

tada read my facebook post and promptly went to work searching for books that fit my description. 

yesterday the kids received a package in the mail.

with this written inside: "to trysten, tomas, tariku, binyam and dailah. this book traveled 2,800 miles, but your brothers traveled 3, 800 miles. it's a small world after all. :) merry christmas, tada!!!"

how cool is that? such an awesome guy...who is coming back this summer again! very exciting. 

today i'm reveling in some barbados-love. 

*my first post without caps. mama no likie. might have to go back. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas Part 3

Last weekend we were able to road trip to my aunt and uncle's to celebrate Christmas one more time with my mom's side of the family.

I LOVE that I am still really close to my aunts, uncles and cousins and that my kids will know these people as family!

It was about -100 degrees windchill but Tomas still wanted a horse ride.

Dailah and Bini thought they did too but this was about the moment Dailah realized that was a ridiculous suggestion.

Bini insisted it was what he still wanted. On he went. As he returned, his eyes were watering, he was drooling and there were 2 lbs of snot dripping from his nose. Good times. From sub saharan Africa to the frigid Heartland.

My kids with my grandparents.

All of the great grandkids (though we were missing a few who couldn't make it!)

The grandkids (minus a few).

The kids (minus 2)

Monday, January 10, 2011


Today was an "oofta" kind of day.

My alarm didn't go off in the morning. When I woke up (after the bus was long gone) I checked and rechecked the super cheap thing and it was fine. Anywhooo, got the big boys to school about a half hour late.

I noticed everyone was just really tired after the long weekend with the grandparents. This presents itself in different ways with each kid but it certainly starts to feel a bit like the surround sound is on and the music is tuned to channel "drive me freaking bananas".

Didn't help that I've had a headache for about a week. (It's not a tum-a...Kindergarten Cop shout out! Hay-o!)

So the kids got home and were all up in my business in a way they usually aren't. On a different day, on a better day, I would've understood they all needed a little break. A break where I went into each room for a little one on one time. Instead I set out a snack for them and went to do motherly things (you know, things like laundry, feeding the dogs, Facebook checking).

I get a call from Zach asking if I'll bring the kids and meet him at our friends's house.

So I head to the kitchen to fill up my water bottle.

And stumble upon quite the disaster area. Chairs everywhere, popcorn everywhere, etc, etc.

I have issues with cleanliness. I know this. I'm working on it.

But I called for the kids and -let's just be honest- yelled at them. Discussed how disrespectful it was, how it wasn't responsible, etc etc.

I've tried to be honest with my kids about my feelings. I want them to know feelings are normal. That anger is sometimes just a mask.

So I told them that they hurt my feelings. That sometimes when they don't clean up, it feels to me that it's because they think my main "job" is to clean up after them. I told them that I hate being upset with them. I love playing with them, I love cuddling them. But I don't know how else to react when I come and find something like this.

And then it happened. Dailah started crying. And then Trysten. Tomas began wailing, Tariku started sniffling and Bini lost his crap.

I asked why they were crying, "We just love you so much, mom, we're so sorry." Mmmk then I started crying.

I got in there and asked for a group hug. I told them I forgave them for the mess and asked them to forgive me for my ridiculous outburst.

Then we got in a huddle and did a little "team" chant.

Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I forget that we're a team and that sometimes there will be team members not pulling their own weight.

Most of the time I forget that team member is usually me.

The most brilliant part about morning is that I get to start again.

Tonight I'm just so, so thankful for that.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Adley's Baptism

This weekend we took off for my hometown to witness my niece Adley's baptism. Great weekend. Great service. Great people.

And great photo ops!

The lady of the hour.

Getting baptized

Aunts, uncles and cousins

The grandparents

The Godparents

The crew who showed up to support our Adley

These two took time out between pictures to be ridiculously cute

The precious family

Lunch after, deliciously prepared by my mom. Here, my grandma with Adley

Dailah was biding her time until she could hop in the picture. She loves her great grandma, and also happens to really love Adley too. I love this picture.

But not as much as I love these people.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Smelling Salts

loved this from here...

 Jesus hates suffering, injustice, evil, and death so much, he came and experienced it to defeat it and, someday, to wipe the world clean of it. Knowing all this, Christians cannot be passive about hunger, sickness, and injustice. Karl Marx and others have charged that religion is ‘the opiate of the masses.’ That is, it is a sedative that makes people passive toward injustice, because there will be ‘pie in the sky bye and bye.’ That may be true of some religions that teach people that this material world is unimportant or illusory. Christianity, however, teaches that God hates the suffering and oppression of this material world so much, he was willing to get involved in it and to fight against it. Properly understood, Christianity is by no means the opiate of the people. It’s more like the smelling salts.”

Thursday, January 06, 2011

All I got

Remember this post?

Tomorrow I get to collect on my most generous gift from my Bodyflow participants.

I'm getting a one hour massage.

And I'm so excited about it I might not sleep tonight.

And that's all I got.

It's the small things in life for this mama.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Old Pictures

On NYE Zach and I stumbled upon some old picture CDs. So fun to see. For your viewing pleasure:

Trysten with my father-in-law at a wedding.

My brother and a few friends visiting baby Trysten.

Trysten giving Dailah (in my belly) a little hug.

Trysten fishing with Papa John.

How could I not post this?

Trysten with one of our friends (who lived with us at the time). They were so precious.

Mid hair-cut. Only Zach would do this...and then take a picture of it. Trysten is still cute.

And then this. Proof we weren't always as cool as we pretend to be now. Gross. Avert your eyes.

Welcome 2011!

We had such a great time bringing in the new year. I told the kids they could try staying up until midnight this year (I think I'm deranged in multiple ways). I planned many ways to keep them entertained throughout the night.

First, we had dinner, complete with sparkling grape juice for the kids.

We gave the kids showers and then settled in for the next chapter of Harry Potter (we've been reading the first book as a family).

After that was a quick game of Life. Interestingly enough, Tomas made the best decisions. Went to college, became a doctor, lived in a trailer until he had saved enough money to buy a house just big enough to fit his family. I was impressed!

And cream!

Daddy showed the kids his skills with the DS.

Tomas wore ridiculously small PJs, apparently I was the only one disturbed by this.

Bini posed his tiny little body.

Dailah started to get a little crazy, or as we like to call her "Delirious Dailah".

Movie (Ice Age) for kids, some time with Z$ for me.

At about 11, Dailah looked to be the only one who could still continue for hours unscathed. I negotiated a deal. They go to bed now and have a sleep over, or go to bed at midnight and sleep in their rooms. They chose sleepover.

An hour later, I was forcing my husband to take a festive picture with me. This marked the first time in 9 years 5 years that I stayed up until midnight.

Happy new year to all of my blog buddies! I wish you health, happiness and more joy than you can possibly imagine.