We Pause

this regularly scheduled program where I talk about my failures as a wife and mom to brag.

Trysten is a smart kid. There, I said it, he’s smart and I’m so proud of him. The last few months have been a true pleasure for me as I’ve watched him fall madly in love with reading. Since I’m quite a book lover myself, I beam at the notion that he’ll follow me in this area alone.

For Christmas each year the kids get a book from Zach and me. We take our time figuring out what they are in to and make it just for them. We write a little note in the front about why we picked it and what year it is. This past year he’s gotten really into chapter books and devours them with some amazing speed. We, on a whim, got him Book 1 of the Captain Underpants series knowing a) he loves series and b) he loves discussing every single aspect of underpants. He finished the book in about 20 minutes.

A few days ago his Grandpa Frank picked him up from school (a special surprise he does for Trysten every once in awhile) and proceeded to buy him the next 4 books in the series as well as a few others. He also invested in a little bookmark timer. When we met for dinner to swap Trysten (a mere 3 hours after school got out) Trysten had read for over an hour already. We had to beg him to put his book down at the dinner table. By the next day he had 2 of them finished. The day after that and they’re all complete. He’s now reading them for the second time.

It’s no wonder he goes to a different class for reading, right? Can you feel me beaming over here or what?

And then today he came home to tell me that he earned a piece of gum from his teacher because he was the only kid in class who went and sat down quietly as his desk when his teacher asked him to (Trysten did also divulge that he did this so he could read a few more pages in his book).

Then the real kicker. He showed me this bracelet. It has a little red hand (high five) on it. It’s a program they have at his school where if one of the kids is exemplifying a core value (things like caring, honesty, respect and responsibility) then they will receive a little hand bracelet. The key is that it’s anonymous, they have no idea who gave it to them or what exactly they did. This teaches them to just do it all the time and once in awhile they might get “caught”. Well he was “caught” being responsible today.

As his reward for all of the above he got to stay up a little later than usual. I could listen to him talk forever. 2 examples of his precious personality.
1) We were in church Sunday and he leans over to me during worship and says “Amasenganalaw (Ethiopian way of saying “thank you”) for being the best mom in the world)
2) Tonight after he was done eating he says, “Mom, can I please be excused, not because I want to get up but because I want to sit on your lap because I love you so much.”

Seriously, please God don’t let this one grow up.

Are You Sitting Down?

$275,000

That’s the total for Water For Christmas.

14 months, that’s how long it’s been up and running.

And you all have donated $275,000.

$175,000 of that was in this past November and December.

I’m short of words on that today. Because seriously, it’s baffling. When we started we wanted to build just one well. That was it. That was our goal. We had no idea how that first well would ripple into our hearts and result in 55 wells.

In other words:

-$640 a day
-13,750 people

Aren’t you amazed by that? You should be. But hold on kids because we’re not done yet. That solves just 1% of Liberia’s water crisis, so there’s more work to do.

But because we’re just people who aren’t getting paid, whose only strong suit is our ability to throw passion at something and watch it stick, we celebrate every.single.dollar.

And $275,000 is a lot of celebrating.

I hope that if you’ve donated, if you’ve prayed, if you’ve thought about water sometime in the last 14 months then you celebrate that too because that is the power of Water For Christmas, it’s about the movement.

Thank you so much for joining.

12 People

Most of you will remember last year about this time. After the Christmas trees were taken down and presents were opened those of us whose hearts had been invaded by water were left feeling a little…empty. We wanted more, so did many of you.

So we did the “300 voices” campaign. In the end it was just a fancy name for monthly giving towards water.

We’re doing it again this year, but we’re calling it “12 People” instead because your monthly gift ($20, $40 or $100) will change at least 12 people’s lives.

Tomorrow we’ll all come together and sign up here. You can do it any day you want, actually. I’m doing mine Friday because that’s when we get paid so if you have a similar excuse that’s fine! It will automatically deduct from your account every month once you sign up.

You don’t like that option? Then make a one time donation of at least $240 ($20×12)here and become one of the voices.

If you don’t like the internet or know people who would want to be involved who don’t have access to the internet, etc, then you can send in a check monthly to:

charity: water
200 Varick St., Ste 201
New York, NY 10014

If you do the check payment, leave a comment or email me and let me know you’re in.

This is kind of a big deal, you know. Just wait, in the coming weeks we’ll reveal the official total and it.will.blow.your.mind.

Become part of the movement, because I can tell you with absolute certainty, you’ll never be the same.

And neither will they.

Yesterday

we celebrated our last Christmas, this time with my mom’s side of the family. We were missing an aunt and uncle and some cousins/second cousins but we still managed to have lots of fun and lots of laughs. It was around -20 in these parts so the sleigh ride at my uncle’s farm was postponed until next year but it was warm inside!

Where Dailah gets lots of hugs-and special treats-my mom.

When that high fructose corn syrup hits their lips, they get all kinds of geeked up.

Dailah and my second cousin, Carter. Ahhhhhh.

Some of my cousins/second cousins.

Close up on Carter.

Aunts, uncles and grandparents.

A Cake

My friend, Ann, makes great cakes. Amazing cakes, really. For Christmas she made me this one. I think 3 gifts I received from friends had the word “Peace” on it. This makes me happy, I really do want to leave this world-or any interaction- a bit more peaceful.

But back to the cake. Soooo good. This cake is one of those that you can taste the love and the time that the baker put into it. That’s the extra something special that is missing in your average bakery cake if you ask me.

The cute box it came in.

The approval.

Happy New Year

I was commenting last night to Zach how this might have been my favorite New Year’s Eve. We went to a hockey game with most of my in-laws as well as my sister and her friend. We all had a fantastic time. When we got home we let the kids have a sleepover in Dailah’s room. For the next hour and a half Zach and I played board games and listened to the kids on the monitor. It made for an entertaining time. At about 10:45 Zach and I snuggled in to watch the ball drop in New York knowing I would doubtfully make it to the Iowa New Year. I was mentally taking stock of the last year and noticed a smile creep across my face. A lot happened this past year but it began and ended the same way-with Zach and my legs laced together, beer in hand, my head in the crook of his shoulder. I’m fairly certain as long as my years begin and end like that, anything else in between can happen and I’ll make it through.

But since this is the closest I’ll get to a scrapbook, I thought I’d record a bit about each of the Klipschs.

Trysten (6) is the oldest and makes note of that often. He started attending a different school this year and has come home with a more colorful vocabulary as well as a more thorough outlook on life. He continues to be the one to remark that his favorite part of the day is snuggling with me or something sweet like that. There is something about the oldest that brings out the mother bear in us, I think. They were the first ones to bring out this power we didn’t know we had. This year brought on him an awareness of how he looks to other people and a new emotion-embarrassment. Whether it be tripping when he didn’t mean to or running into a glass door, his tears are more likely attributed to being embarrassed than being hurt, though he would never tell you that. This boy wears his heart on his sleeve, which makes me painfully aware of the fact that I’m fiercely overprotective of that in particular.

Tariku (4) is our “middle” but you would never know it. He spends a lot of his day taking care of one thing or the other. More than likely it’s his younger sister but he can also be found cleaning or organizing (thus taking care of mommy), trying to feed the dogs or let them out to go to the bathroom. He clearly holds onto the notion that he has to be useful in order to stay, which we’re trying to combat on an hourly basis. 2009 has been the year that he clearly is starting to feel he belongs with us. Because of this, we are seeing a few more things that he had been trying to cover up (things I’ve mentioned in this blog before). This makes us both happy and sad. Happy that he knows he’s with us forever and sad that the events leading up to him becoming ours will forever be a part of his story. Though I know I shouldn’t say this, he has my favorite laugh of anyone I’ve ever heard. I think it’s because he’s the only one of our kids who has experienced such great loss and trauma. It’s like his laugh is so sweet because he knows the opposite of happiness and so appreciates happiness so much more. For him, I find myself protecting things he cannot protect himself yet-his self-esteem, his truly beautiful nature. 2009 was a witness to my falling in love with this boy over and over again.

Dailah (3) is the mommy of the group. As I type she is giving her baby a bottle, kissing her good morning and burping her. Not a lot has changed in the last year for this one other than she now speaks in full paragraphs, can tell sweet stories and has developed into a full fledged entertainer. Dailah seems to have wholeheartedly embraced her role as the lone female and uses it in every capacity she can, most notably getting whatever she wants from whoever is around her. Though we tease a lot about her being a little diva, she has quite the sweet heart. Should one of her boys fall ill or get even the slightest injury she is the first on the scene, stroking their hands and telling them “it’s ok”. She holds Tariku’s hand every morning as I comb out his hair (there are tears nearly every time, you see). Dailah remains the uncontested best snuggler, she throws herself into our arms with abandon. I think for my life I will be protecting her natural innocence and our pride (I have a feeling when she’s doing standup I will have given her quite a bit of ammunition against me).

Aristotle (5) our chocolate lab runs amok on the campgrounds. Stealing food from people’s campfires and stealing hearts from the workcrew (who recently bought dog treats to give him…and we wonder why he had gained 10 lbs in a few months).

Abe (1) our great dane is the dog version of Dailah. A comedian in his own right. Watching him prance through snow is one of the funniest things we’ve seen. Though close to 150 lbs he still considers himself a lap dog and truth be told when Zach is away, he can be found on the bed next to me.

Zach has come fully into his own as the Director of Camp. Watching him find the place where his passion and God’s provisions meet has been exceptionally wonderful this year. Zach has a natural ability towards leadership which has become increasingly evident as he’s been able to get a typically nomadic group (counselors) to sign on year after year. They believe in what he’s doing and can’t wait to be a part. Zach comes home to a house who eagerly awaits his arrival every day. To a wife who asks incessant questions about his day and to kids waiting to be thrown, wrestled and challenged in the Wii. No matter how hard his day, he always saves even the tiniest bit of patience for his family.

As for me, well I spend most of my days humbled by this life. Raising kids has become the most satisfying work I’ve ever done which is a complete shock to me. I also truly enjoy my work as a fitness instructor and have become good friends with a lot of my participants as we sweat and sometimes cry together. Being a part of their health journey is a really fantastic place to be as I see them become better versions of themselves. Water For Christmas continues to be at the top of my priority list as well. Though I don’t blog about it or talk about it as much as last year at this time, I think about it all the time. As cool as it is to be able to tell people where you were when certain events in history happened, I am ever so humble to say I was a small part of this group of people who fulfilled God’s promise to the world.

We have many hopes and dreams for 2010. 2009 was the first year in our lives together when we weren’t preparing to have a baby, moving or taking on a new job. We will doubtfully be able to say the same for 2010 but we’re ready for whatever might happen. With hands intertwined, we’ll face whatever comes our way with love in our hearts and the will to thrive-not just survive.

May you face the new year with the same gleeful tenacity. Happy New Year!