Elihu’s Birthday

My nephew turned 3 yesterday. Still remember him being born. He looked JUST like Dailah when she was born. Lots of thick, brown hair. And now, they’ve grown up to be, what I lovingly refer to as, “the wonder non-twins”. Elihu John is hilarious. If he doesn’t end up being a lineman, I’ll be shocked. He’s my stocky lovebug. He speaks in a monotone that is so irresistible. Imagine a computer voice saying, “I love you aunt Tesi.” Yep, precious. He is Dailah’s best friend, her day is not complete until she’s seen him or pretended to talk to him on the phone. My day is so much better if I get to wrap my arms around this guy and give him a big squeeze.

It was also my sweet sister-in-law’s birthday as well. I loved this girl from the very first time I met her and it’s truly only gotten better since then. She is everything I wanted to be when I grew up. I am so, so proud of her (in the least condescending way possible) and love introducing her as my sister.

There might be a small family resemblance here.

Look at Tariku’s face, hilarious.

Niece or Nephew?

If you’ve been with me for awhile you know the only thing I love more than being a wife and a mom is being an aunt. My nephews bring me more joy than you can possibly imagine. Truly, they feel like another extension of myself as well, it’s a pretty awesome deal.

So a few months ago Zach’s eldest brother announced he and his wife, Emily, were having a baby. My excitement (and the rest of the family’s) was palpable.

In the end, come July, I’ll be an auntie again. I’ll get to spoil another little one with hugs, kisses and a gift from time to time.

By this time next year there is a decent chance that the Klipsch side of the family will almost double in children present at the table. And that, my friends, is a very exciting thought to me!

Since I love pictures, here’s the first of my future niece/nephew. What do you think? Boy or girl?

800th Post

I think it’s fitting that this is my 800th post.

During family prayers tonight I was almost consumed with God’s abundant blessings. This time of year always brings out the sappy in me, even more so than usual because I know where I’d be without the birth of sweet, 8lb 6oz baby Jesus and I know I wouldn’t like it.

-Our church (Calvary Church in Muscatine) took a special offering Christmas Eve at their 3 services. The offering was for Water For Christmas. The total is now in. Almost $70,000. In one night. These are the people I worship with every Sunday and a few I can call friends. These are the people who inspire me and challenge me. These are the people that the rest of our nation typically forgets. A really small town in Iowa. Building 14 wells in one night. God’s blessings are numerous indeed.

-I spent time with a good friend this past week. She’s in a marriage I wouldn’t wish on anyone. When I climbed into bed that night and snuggled up to my own personal furnace I just soaked in Zach’s goodness. I cannot believe how lucky I am to call him mine. The man I’m watching play Nerf Wii right now happens to be the very best person I know.

-Because of some amazing people, our adoption will continue. Last night when I was praying I couldn’t help but be humbled by the task of parenting other children. This whole mom thing suits me well, I think. When we were playing a family game of Trouble I realized that motherhood is where my passion and God’s kindness meet. His blessings on our house our plentiful.

There are more, of course. I mean it when I say I see God in the everyday. From the blanket of snow we’ve had the last couple of days to a healthy family. But there are just times like tonight when His grace and mercy feel brand new.

Christmas Night

I’m exhausted just reliving our last few days!

After Christmas morning with just us we packed up and traveled the 15 miles to Zach’s parents’ house where more joy, laughter, love, kith and kin was had. (Movie reference, which one is it?)

Zach trying out his new veggie steamer with potatoes, onions and squash. Mmmmmmm/

The wonder non-twins. Don’t they look like an old married couple? Note the tiny dog, Julio, snuggled up by the fire. Hilarious.

Tariku says, “Mom, take a picture of me!” And so I did.

My father-in-law is one amazing man. Firstly, my mom-in-law is an amazing woman. She had outbid one of my good friends at the Wine to water party for this Africa. My friend, Lynn, really wanted it but couldn’t outbid my in-laws. Well, my mom-in-law surprised her one day and just gave it to her, no money exchanged. Yes, amazing. But, see, my mom-in-law loved it so my father-in-law asked me to get in touch with the artist (Naomi) and see if she would do another. Naomi agreed, asking only for shipping costs and another donation to Water For Christmas. As you can see, I have no shortage of amazing people surrounding me. Any coolness I have is a reflection of those I love, I promise!

Terre (mom-in-law) made the kids pillows and Trysten this blanket he’s wanting for years.

Just a couple guys at the office working on their new computers.

Jake teaching the kids how to center themselves.

Our goofy family pic. Look at Tariku’s face, love it.

Frank (father-in-law) with his color coded spreadsheet. Those highlighted deals tell him which presents to give out when so as to capitalize on excitement and anticipation.

Frank and his mini me.

Eli and his Star Wars.

Dailah was a smitten kitten with her purse and tutu from Uncle Frank and Aunt Emily.

The older boys and their Bakugan (sp?).

Christmas Morn

Trysten’s school lets him bring money from home to “go shopping” at a makeshift store for his family. He brought home this baseball for Zach and a little screwdriver. Precious.

Trysten in the morning.

Tariku in the morning.

Aristotle getting his pancakes Christmas morning.

My presents from Trysten were the beautiful ring (he chose blue because it was closest to purple-my favorite color-that they had) and two rocks that say “Peace” and “fortune”. Loved them, love him.

Dailah in the morning (for new readers, her name is pronounced Day-la).

The dogs were tuckered out from their long winters naps.

Most of you know our tradition on birthdays is to make the initial of the birthday person. Well, since it was Jesus’ birthday and all…

Christmas Eve Eve(ning)

On our way home from my parents’ house we stopped at the early church service. It was terrific and prepared our hearts and minds for the next day.

One of my favorite things about having a family of my own is building our own traditions. For you, a glimpse into said traditions:

Zach commences to baking his world famous chocolate chip cookies for Santa (but mostly me…not the cookies, the outfit, saucy!) 🙂

And we are, in general, at the beck and call of the kiddos who need presents opened, batteries inserted, etc. In this case, Dailah needed a watchful eye as she baked her own cookies in the Easy Bake.

Trysten wrote the letter to Santa.

Tariku and Dailah finished off their Advent calendar chocolate.

Dailah practiced her cheesy grins.

And the finished letter. “Dear Santa, thanks for coming. Thanks for the presents. Love Trysten, Tariku, Dailah.” Short, sweet, optimistic, to the point. I like that about him.

The First

of many Christmases we could be found at my parents’ house. The weatherpeople were predicting the Apocalypse but we found only lots of rain on our way back home. While there, however, there was nothing but lots of love, laughter and joy.

The first present of the season was opened on the 23rd. Clearly they had been waiting FOREVER.

Woke up on Christmas Eve with presents galore!

Zach (and I) got new TOMS. Yippee!

Trysten got this precious tee from a great organization, not sure if you heard of it yet “Water For Christmas”. A fantastic group indeed!

With her new towel. Say it with me…aaaahhhh

Also received an Easy Bake oven which she promptly sat on.

The annual cookie decorating extravaganza!

The family photo at my ‘rents.

Together with my sibs. Love those people.

Christmas Card

Almost 7 years of having kids and I still have yet to send a Christmas card. The last few years I’ve had really good intentions and still nothing. So next year there will be one, but this year this will have to do.

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.

Merry Christmas!
Tesi, Trysten, Dailah, Tariku and Zach

An Unseen Scar

Tonight the kids were jumping on a bed we had switched out for Dailah. It was a full Queen size but we had laid it on it’s side so it was rather high. The kids were throwing pillows on top and just running full speed and bouncing off. At one point they were climbing to the top and sliding down so Zach and I, foreseeing a medical issue, told them to stop. I went down to start dinner and a second later I heard “the scream”. We moms know that scream because we feel it in the deepest recesses of our bodies. It was Dailah and she had fallen off the top of it. Thankfully it wasn’t bad, she bit her lip pretty badly but that was about it.

Clearly she had gotten up there with a little help from her brothers (who were on top of the bed at the time of the accident). So we sent them all to their rooms so we could talk to them separately about the act of listening. We talked to Trysten. He was frustrated with himself about not listening and felt bad about not being a good example to his little brother and sister. Dailah was rather oblivious, though she could recite why she was in trouble.

Then there was Tariku. To the unknowing eye Tariku could be labeled “hard on himself”, but because we know how deeply he feels his abandonment (orphans feel abandonment whether they were in fact abandoned or brought into orphanages by a family member). Every time we ask Tariku why he’s in trouble (whether it be a small mistake or a big one) he says, “Because I’m a bad boy.” Without fail, that is his answer.

And they aren’t words, he feels that. (Because why else would he be abandoned, right?) After we’ve explained his small indiscretion I always look him in the eye, making him look me in the eye, and say, “I love you more than anything. You could never do anything that would change that. You cannot do anything bad enough for me to stop loving you. Do you know that?” And with those beautiful eyes, he shakes his head, “no”.

We ask him if Trysten is a bad boy? “No”. Is Dailah a bad girl? “No”. Even though they were in time out more than he was today. 10 minutes or so later he is coming out of his reverie and smiling a bit. It’s getting quicker, the time it takes him to realize just because we’re upset doesn’t mean we hate him. It doesn’t mean we don’t love him. It’s getting quicker but it’s still there.

This is the hardest part of parenting for me right now. Taking the time to sit down and walk him through that. Ignoring everything else, holding his hand and looking him in the eye and talking him off the ledge.

Almost 2 years later and the scar is still on the surface. Any time we get upset it’s like we scratch it open leaving this gaping, bleeding wound.

Because I’m human and flawed and weak, I’m sometimes so frustrated with him (about whatever he’s done) that it takes everything in me not to put him in time out and not explain any of that. Because it’s different, you know, with Trysten and Dailah I can do that. Put them in time out, after an allotted amount of time I ask them to get out, what they did wrong and then they go about their business. Knowing that they are inherently good and loved and that one bad decision doesn’t make them bad.

But Tariku doesn’t and because I love him so much he deserves my A game every day. Even when I’m tired, grumpy or sick, he needs to hear all of that more than anyone else.

So that the scar fades every day, every month and every year. So that he can one day know without thinking, that he’s good. That he’s amazing and that he deserves the love that so many people try to give him. There’s a chance (some say a very good chance) that the scar will always be there. That he’ll feel this the rest of his life.

But I don’t ever want that to come true because of something I did. Because I didn’t tell him enough or do something the best way I know how. I know this scar is so deep he might need more help than I can give one day and that’ll be fine. But he’ll never go to sleep thinking he’s unloved. His cheeks will never hit the pillow unkissed and for as many times as he’ll see me upset with him through his life, I vow to make sure he sees me smiling, the picture of a mother’s pride, a helluva lot more.

Because he is loved. He’s always been loved, I know that and one day he will too.