All In

Today was a big day. I wasn’t really expecting it, but it was a big day.

We were at the doctor’s office (Trysten has tonsilitis…sweet). The other two were playing when I was reading Trysten a book. His book finished and I just looked at the three of them playing. Then stared at Tariku. I love him.

Not just love him but I REALLY love him. After 8 months I can finally say that. I’ve loved him in some way since the first time I saw his picture but it’s so different now.

I can honestly say that the last 8 months have been an interesting lesson in parenting an adopted child while having biological at home. It was different for awhile. I knew EVERYTHING about Trysten and Dailah. I could describe everything about them from the first time I knew I was pregnant to the present day. Tariku, on the other hand, there were/are so many questions. Did his mom kiss him like this or sing to him at night? When he calls me mom does he know what that means? There is no doubt that it is a whole different ballgame to jump into mothering a child who has so much history. (Never was it bad, just very different)

Then today I seemed to see a whole different personality. More spunky, more childlike. He teased me more and was laughing a lot. It hit me that this little boy has the most incredible survival instinct. In the Ethiopian care center they described him as “selfish, sociable, doesn’t like when kids take his toys.” At the time I shrugged it off as toddler behavior (which was part of it to be sure) but now, after knowing the REAL Tariku I realize it was just his way of surviving.

Of saying, “My world was just rocked and in case it’s going to happen again, I’m going to do what I can for me.” I don’t blame him, I’d try to go out in style if that’s what was happening to me anyway.

But that is so not him, with the exception of sociable. I feel like I could describe him, now, just as easily as I could his brother and sister and that’s a HUGE step in this process.

It seemed to hit him today as well. Tonight when I lay in his bed just giving kisses he was staring straight in my eyes and just looking hard. I can’t really describe it. But I just looked back. I was blissful just staring at him and knowing I would have a lifetime to do just that.

Then he gave me a big kiss and said, “I’m glad you’re my mommy.”

I could finally say with no trace of doubt, “Me too, baby.”

It was awesome. I love him so much and can’t believe the blessing that came in this beautiful boy.


Raindrops Keep Falling…

FYI: This was originally danced to “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” but the copyright didn’t allow us to post on youtube with that song. So bare with us.

Dancing…Laughing…Being with Family and Friends….it was a great time “Dancing for Water For Christmas”. The Pedersen’s and us were all a bit nervous, but when you look at the whole picture of “why” it became very easy! God works in mysterious ways…finding Tesi and her Water Buddies to start this wonderful mission, finding people who would never have thought to dance on a video (can we say the men in this dance?), finding generous men and women who are willing to reach a little deeper this Christmas for people who need water so much.

John and I are very proud of Tesi and throughout much of her life, have found it hard to say no to her and her siblings “ideas” or
whatever they have asked or needed us to do. Pretty sure you are not going to “Donate before Watching” our video – but hopefully you will because it is the right thing to do.

“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will is to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think of these things, there will be born is us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”- Calvin Coolidge

God’s blessings and Merry Christmas to all – John, Connie, Marcus Dawson

hotflawedmama note: My family and friends are truly amazing. (And seriously, how precious is my dad when he gets his little solo walking in front of the group, too cute). My parents are far above average for the things they’ll do for their kids and grandkids. I’m so proud to be their daughter. And yes, we laugh like this all the time. I had to leave the laugh on there, my aunts and uncles will all recognize my mom and my laughs from miles away! Enjoy!

Love Actually

Presently watching it…presently enjoying it. I won’t divulge how many times I’ve seen it (only because I lost count after 20) and I just love it. It is only partly due to the British accents. Love ’em. But I also agree with the theme of the movie, “Love actually is all around.”

Today was another great day with the fam damily. A bit of arts and crafts this morning.

Then went shopping with my dear sister while the kids took a nap. Never going to do that again. I hate shopping around Christmas. I’m typically very good about having shopping done soon after Thanksgiving but have not been up to par this year.

Must do more tomorrow.

Kids are feeling under the weather. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection on Friday and the junk seems to have settled in my lungs now. Yipppeee!

Love is all around.

In better news, WE DID IT!!!

We got $5,000 on Friday! From the beginning we were hoping we could get enough people to “buy into” $10 Fridays to build a well and it finally happened.

One well in one day. Total is up to $45,000. So sincerely amazing. Is it not?

Today, at the mall, I was reminded why I love giving Water for Christmas. I felt absolutely no pull to go into shops and look at the various gadgets that could “improve my life” when I knew that same amount of money could literally GIVE life. Quite the trade off I think.

Have a happy rest of the weekend. Getting snowed in more and more here in the great, white Midwest. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Coldy Coldy Day

Today gave new meaning to snow day. Last night it sleeted pretty much all night so this morning Trysten’s school was cancelled. By 9am we were trying to figure out how to keep him entertained. He, like his mom, is not very good at “just hanging out” as we always think of a hundred things that could be done or would be more fun.

We tried this: Daddy and Tariku playing guitars and singing songs.

And taking funny pictures of how big Abe is.

So after 20 minutes of telling him he couldn’t play on the computer or go to the Y 42 times, we decided we were going sledding!

We didn’t realize originally that the ice made it slippery to walk through the snow, especially for hotflawedmama who has no snow boots, just generic Uggs that aren’t exactly waterproof. But alas, I sucked it up and away we went. Told the boys to follow daddy’s footprints (as it was working for me).

Daddy and Doozie took one sled.

The boys and mommy in the other.

Then the boys went down together (dogs following closely behind).

And Doozie wanted mommy to hang with her.

Tariku was LOVING going down by himself. Trysten, like his mommy, is always a bit more hesitant. Tariku was this excited each time.

Then, after loooong naps (Trysten and Dailah and mommy aren’t feeling the best) we made some made-from-scratch Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here are the kids excited about the possibilities.

And then the making of it, the kids and mommy’s behind…

The best part…the batter. MMMM…

You Got $10 on You?

So it’s here. The last Friday before Christmas (how crazy is that?)

The total for WFC as of Wednesday is $40,000. That’s 8 wells. I can’t even believe it myself. Jody said a few weeks ago that we could get to $50,000. I called her crazy and told her to not get her hopes up. Let’s prove me wrong.

I think that’s easily doable now. WIth all the various things going on around the country/world raising money for Water for Christmas I now think what was impossible a few weeks ago possible. Perhaps even on the low side. That is so exciting.

God’s goodness is almost too much to take sometimes, it really is. PLEASE partner with us on this last of $10 Fridays before Christmas. Go and donate. It’s nothing to you and EVERYTHING to someone else.

Thank you, from the deepest part of my heart, thank you.


I had hesitated blogging about tonight. Tonight was a big night for me/Water for Christmas/Dancing for Water and I didn’t want to jinx it by blogging about it.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that JB Young Intermediate School has been featured the last couple of days. Of course there is a reason…they are an amazing school that is blessed with creative, loving, generous and fantastic teachers and administrators (full disclosure: the associate principal is my brother-in-law, Jake).

After Jake danced for water he emailed everyone he knew (we ask everyone who dances to do this) and the good people at his school loved the idea. One particular teacher, Jessie, got REALLY excited. Told all of her kids who in turn got REALLY excited. So it was decided…the school would hold a dance. A dance for water.

I can’t really put into words what tonight meant to me. It sounds a bit silly, perhaps, that I would be that excited about a junior high dance. But it really was my “dream” for Water for Christmas coming to fruition. I want to build wells, of course, but I also want people to first KNOW about what’s going on a world away. REALIZE that people go without such a basic necessity or at the very least go to great lengths to get it.

Particularly people who the rest of the world has written off as not capable of enacting change. Young people, people without “resources”. People who don’t even know where to start in the “saving the world” idea or feel overwhelmed at the amount of things that need saving.

My point in dancing is to show that EVERYONE can do SOMETHING. Those kids won’t be able to build a well today but who knows what they’ll be able to do tomorrow. After learning they can be agents of change the sky truly is the limit for them. That is a pretty powerful thing to equip them with. All with water. Make a change locally as well as not-so worldly. I like killing two birds with one dancing stone.

And the kids got it. Oh did they ever! Since Jessie (the aforementioned sweet teacher) caught the bug the students have researched charity: water, talked about water, wrote about water and heard about water. Then tonight 200 kids showed up. Junior high students filled with joy, hope, love and the belief that they could make a difference by dancing.

They did. They not only brought in hundreds of dollars (total amount to be determined tomorrow), but they renewed my hope and admiration in that age group. They were truly an inspiration to me tonight and I hope they got half as much out of it as I did.

For a school that our community has all but written off, they were the ones to open their hearts and minds and let this story of their brothers and sisters in Africa trickle in. And I will be forever changed by it.

On to pictures. Some of the things the kids/teachers put together to raise money:

A snack table that included cupcakes, bottled waters relabeled by student drawings and various other goodies all for sale for $1.

Sheila set up a face painting stand. $1 gets the coolest face paint I’ve seen!

These administrators volunteered to get pies thrown in their faces for $1. Did I tell you they were amazing?

One teacher brought his Guitar Hero and kids could play for $1.

These teachers signed up to get egged…for $1.

Kids made bracelets that they sold for $1. If a kid bought one, they were allowed to wear hoods during the day. Genious.

More random ones: The doors opening at 4pm sharp. Excited kids.

Leslie and myself eager to get the party started.

The dance started on the bleachers…perhaps that’s how they do it now?

Jake getting the party started by just throwing down some sweet moves.

Jake talking to reporters. Yay!

I was seriously jealous of their moves.

Jake entwined in an official dance off.

They showed the videos of Jake, Sheila and the other students.

There were small dancers too (wearing the shirts some of the students made and sold, all proceeds going to WFC!)

And then Morgan (shown here teaching Leslie the “Superman” move). She was most enthused about water. She sold cupcakes like it was truly her business after which she would comment to the buyer “Thanks for saving Africa!” or something similar. Loved her spirit, loved her enthusiasm, loved this picture.

Hope your night filled you with as much goodness as mine did me!

JB Young Teachers and Students…and Da Vinci

“Water is sometimes sharp and sometimes strong, sometimes acid and sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and sometimes thick or thin, sometimes it is seen bringing hurt or pestilence, sometime health-giving, sometimes poisonous. It suffers change into as many natures as are the different places through which it passes. And as the mirror changes with the colour of its subject, so it alters with the nature of the place, becoming noisome, laxative, astringent, sulfurous, salty, incarnadined, mournful, raging, angry, red, yellow, green, black, blue, greasy, fat or slim. Sometimes it starts a conflagration, sometimes it extinguishes one; is warm and is cold, carries away or sets down, hollows out or builds up, tears or establishes, fills or empties, raises itself or burrows down, speeds or is still; is the cause at times of life or death, or increase or privation, nourishes at times and at others does the contrary; at times has a tang, at times is without savor, sometimes submerging the valleys with great floods. In time and with water, everything changes.”
—Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci pretty much said it all, but we have voices, too. JB Young students got behind the cause. They danced for water to help raise money to build wells in Western Africa to stop people from dying because they only have dirty water. Kids made videos and wrote blogs. On December 18, 2008, the 8th Grade Class at JB Young is hosting a dance to help raise money for this charity and have a little fun at the same time. We’re raising money by throwing eggs and pies at teachers who have volunteered for this honor @ $1.00 a pop, and, of course, dancing to help raise money. We’re selling Dance for Water tee-shirts and decorated water bottles to raise money for this very worthwhile cause. Many students and teachers have donated money and time to support this cause. If you can, please donate any spare change or extra dollars to help the children of Africa.

–Thomas Newberry

Water. Dance. Blogs. School. Passion. It’s not often that these words come together, but when they do, magic happens. One drop of water—Ms. Bishop showing the Dancing for Water website to her social studies classes—quickly became a flood of energy and creativity. Kids watched the videos of Associate Principal Mr. Klipsch and art teacher Ms. Mesick DANCING for water, and their ideas immediately began to fall in a torrential clamor that ended only when Ms. Bishop began working with students and the Klipsch family to transform their ideas into reality.

We are blessed with the fire of creativity and activism, kids who care, and adults who will go the distance for kids to make learning and growing both fun and relevant.

-—Ms. Searle

We are dancing for water because we think people and kids in third world countries should have clean water. The children in the third world counties are dying because they do not have clean water. They have to walk up to 3 hours to get clean water. We think it’s not fair that we have more water than we need while the people in Africa struggle hard to get just enough water to stay alive. We get to take showers and drink clean water without doing anything except turn on a faucet. The people in Africa have to walk to lakes and rivers to find water that is so dirty we wouldn’t even think about drinking it. They drink water that has been used for human waste. We are dancing for water because we think the people in Africa deserve what we have. Please give what you can so people in Africa can get clean water for their families.

–Kevi’Ahnna Wilmington, Nicole Green, Shayla Gales, Vera Clay, Shawnaya Thorpe, Sheniquia Wilson, Sierra Stokes, and Taylor Greenwood

Having water in the United States is like having air, we take water for granted. But in most of the world, water is a precious resource that not many people can afford. Woman and children in parts of Africa travel three hours to get water that is not even safe to drink. Forty-five hundred children die each day because they are forced to drink polluted water. On this planet, 1.1 billion people do not have clean water. How can we help? Just 10 billion dollars would solve this problem. I KNOW THAT SEEMS LIKE A LOT, but with about 6,740,422,806 people on this planet, just one dollar can go a long way. Every last penny goes toward the building of a well in a community that doesn’t have one. To donate to this noble cause, go to

Remember, 1.1 billion people are waiting. Help them live another day.

-—Meghan Essary