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.

Perfect

I saw this post on waiting and I had to copy it. It’s put so perfectly. That said, sometimes it’s still so selfishly difficult.

Our wait is beautiful. We are waiting to say hello to our future. We are waiting with hope. Waiting with dreams of what will come and visions of family.

The families of our children are waiting to say goodbye. Waiting to kiss their cheek for a final time. To smell their sweet skin and whisper in their ears. They are waiting for loss. Loss that most of us will never have to bear.

And our children will wait too. They will wait for all that is known to return to them and yet it never will. They will wait to hear the whispers of those who love them again. Whispers that will not come.

If children are not lingering in care. If the agencies we use are acting with haste and due care, then we should be at peace. A decision has not had to be made to say goodbye. There will be one more day. One more kiss. One more moment.

I wish I could go back in time and sit next to the important people in my daughters’ lives and whisper in their ears. Just one more day. Give them one more day. Take your time. I will wait here as long as you ask me to.

My (other) Babies

When we were in Minnesota our dogs got to split their time between my generous in-laws and my sister, brother and brother’s girlfriend (the last 3 live in the same house). By the time we got back late Sunday night all dogs were in my sister’s house, which is pretty big. The only hiccup is that my dogs are used to having 260 acres as their playground. When they start getting restless we just let them go wonder. Suffice it to say when the dogs and humans saw me come in the door, everyone was ready for a little more…room.

But seriously how cute are they? (My sister’s dog, Leo, the white boxer. My brother’s dog, Bentley, the golden retriever).

This Weekend

So this weekend we packed up the family and went to Minnesota. Originally we had set this date so we could make it to Julie and Tony’s “Swim for water”. It turns out we know a lot of people in Minnesota and, since we were driving 6 hours anyway, thought maybe we should try to see them all.

Our very good friends, Greg and Emily, moved just outside of the twin cities a year or so ago. They were very generous and offered us a place to stay (though truth be told I think they sincerely regretted it when they saw how much stuff we bring). I must say, the ride is a lot more fun with Zach taking half the drive time and talking to me the whole time.

Saturday we spent the morning shopping in the cutest town of Hudson, WI. Seriously, they have the most ideal downtown in the world. We loved every shop we stepped in, our only regret being we didn’t have enough disposable income to do as much damage as we would’ve liked.

The downtown-scape.

Arguably my favorite store, a local bookstore. The kids’ area was AMAZING!

The kids watching the glass blower.

When we tell them to “say cheese” this is what they look like 9 times out of 10.

For lunch we, of course, had to visit one of the many Ethiopian restaurants. Greg and Emily had never had the pleasure of trying the East African cuisine. We all loved it and the wait staff loved Tariku (how could you not, really?)

Tariku with our hosts.

Doozie with hotflawedmama.

After the extended lunch we traveled a short pace to Sara and Andy’s chiropractic clinic where we met up with several ET adoptive families (most of whom we traveled with). The clinic was the perfect place to host the get together as it had an apartment attached.

Zach throwing around Tariku and Eshetu (remember they were “the twins” at the care center).

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but Zach is an amazing dad. The thing is, he transcends fatherhood and just takes on this role to every kid who meets him. Shown here demonstrating terrific magic skills. Look at the kids swarm around him.

I made sure Eshetu’s parents were looking the other way when Zach introduced Eshetu to the Klipsch way of life.

This little guy, Titus, has the great parents I’ve mentioned before. Titus came home the same time Tariku did and my has he grown!

We had the opportunity to meet this little princess for the first time! I became friends with her mommy in June when last we traveled to the cities of twins. Tirfe (pronounced tear, as in tear-the-paper, fey; tear-fey) is a beauty to behold.

As I’m sure you’ve all guessed, Dailah was a smitten kitten. Talking to her in her “mommy voice”. Basically doting on her and smothering her with kisses whenever she could.

Then Dailah met Silas and they promptly began calling each other “best friend”. Sharing the vacuum cleaner and other thoughts on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

She also loved Samry, who we met for the first time. Since becoming friends with her mommy when we traveled to Ethiopia together, I’ve been holding my breath waiting for Samry to get home and then to meet her. She is striking (obviously) and was just precious.

I snapped this pic just before I was leaving. Tiffany and Dave changing their two youngest. Though most of our lives are spent wishing for stages like these to go far, far away, I’m guessing the two of them will mourn the loss when the boys refuse to hold hands anymore.

Do you know how difficult it is to take a picture of seemingly 50 kids? This is most of them. The only reason it turned out this well is because Zach was in the corner entertaining them. Have you ever seen so much beauty in one picture?

In short, Tariku thrives when other Ethiopians are around (he does all the time, but even more so). Talking to other adoptive parents is a special time for me too! Some random ones of the weekend.

What is he doing?

Ugh, makes me insanely happy and insanely jealous in one moment.

We stopped at a good little buffet (did I mention it was in a casino?) on the way home. They had unlimited ice cream. We were in love.

And mine was gone before Zach could take a picture.

Maybe my favorite of the weekend. What is it about footie pj’s and a Christmas tree that makes me want to turn them all into baby models?

Lists

I wanted to record their lists in case I somehow manage to misplace them.

Trysten:
-DS (not going to happen)
-Nerf Gun Wii game
-Adventure Journal
-Berenstein Bears (about 10 different book titles)
-Silver Surfer sleeping bag
-Wakeboard (what?!?!?!)
-Advent calenders for next year
-Super Hero toy kitchen
-1 brother and 1 sister
-Zoo Zoo pets/house
-Ben 10

Tariku:
-DS (also not going to happen)
-Green sleeping bags
-10 brothers and sisters (not likely)
-green journal
-little green sled
-green toy kitchen
-Santa Berenstein Bears book
-Super Why toys
-green bunk bed
-Indiana Jones legos
-green Power Ranger toy
-Santa toy and lights

Dailah:
-princess
-coffee maker (?)
-my own hot chocolate
-candy
-pink chair
-5 pink pens
-pink sleeping bag
-new princess underwear
-pink journal
-pink book
-bring my little sister home
-Dora toy
-pink dolly

If you notice one common denominator (other than randomness) you’ll notice siblings. Through no encouragement from me, every single one requested this. I think they feel like Zach and I feel, that we’re just not done yet. That they deserve a few more kids to play with and push down in the sled.

These many months since we started actively looking at the next adoption (coming up on a year January 5) have been some of the craziest. The ups and downs of adoption, as we say. But this adoption is so different than Tariku’s. Tariku’s came relatively easily (can you even believe I’m saying that?) with sadly, little prayer or room for patience on our part. This last year has been a year full of prayer, full of leaning on each other, full of hope. Zach and I have never been closer and I think so much of that is due to, of course prayer, but also fighting for the same thing. Building our family in this most amazing way.

Though the kids won’t be getting that checked off their list this year, we are hoping, with a little patience and a lot of God’s blessing, we can get it for them for next year.