Bini in surgery

He just went back. I was so thankful they gave him a little Versed (sp) so he was loopy/chill when they took him back. It was actually quite hilarious too. It was better on me him to have him not remember what was happening. He only reached for us once with a little wince before he was out of sight. Oh, and I only cried a little bit, no ugly cry yet. Score!

We’ve been thinking about this day for so long but it’s here and now I’m just anxious to see his little face post-surgery. They have a computer that tells us the progress on “the patient”. Right now it says he’s in his room. My momma brain is delusional and thinks this means he’s yelling for me and they haven’t started yet. 🙂 More likely he’s completely passed out and they’ve started on the first foot.

But I’m not the only one who’s been thinking about it. Last week I came downstairs to find Trysten had made this notation to the lunch menu. It reads, “Pray for Bini” with a down face.

That was completely unprompted and made me cry just a little bit to think how much this little boy affects us all.

I will update when he’s in recovery. Until then, here’s a little video of our otherwise sane little boy all looped up on the miracle drug Versed.

Brag Post

We had conferences on Monday for the big 3. If you aren’t interested in my bragging and/or perfect explanations of the personalities of my 3 biggies, move right along. Cathy has some good posts about crazy run-ins with animals (did someone say coyotes and bears?)

Tomas was first. Obviously his was going to be a bit different. For those considering and/or going through an older child adoption I’ll let you in on what our school is doing with Tomas. He’s in 1st grade. He stays in his class for a good portion of the day but then goes down to Tariku’s kindergarten class for math and reading. Also, every day for about 20 minutes or so he meets with the ESL (English as a second language) teacher for more intense-and more basic-instruction.

So his teacher, who is amazeballs by the way, said his smile lights up the room and completely makes her day. His absolute love of learning and desire to know exactly what’s going on inspires her and the rest of his classmates. She said he’s already come a long way and she can’t wait to see what he’s going to do by the end of the year.

His ESL teacher said he is the kid serious about learning. While others are talking amongst themselves he’s studying her and waiting on her to teach him something. 🙂 She did mention lately that she has had to ask him to be quiet from time to time, which she saw as a good sign because he was getting more comfortable. But she saw what we all see, he is one freaking smart kid.

And he LOVES school. Everyday after I pick him up from the bus, “Mama tomorrow school?’ If it’s a yes, he celebrates, if it’s a no, “Oh no mama, why no school tomorrow? Oh mama this is bad.” I hope he never, ever quits that love of learning.

Tariku was next. His teacher, as mentioned before, is one of Zach’s besties’ mom. But she’s serious about education so we knew she wasn’t going to sugarcoat anything. She said a few things:
-Tariku uses inititiative to help others. He shows caring and friendship to his friends.
-He shows perseverance to be the BEST reader. Wonder where he gets being the best. 🙂 Sometimes he’s too hard on himself!

Boy does she have him pegged! She also mentioned that kids in his class try to act like him all the time. His teacher said, “I NEVER tell parents this, but it’s so true of my class this year. Tariku is the best student.” And I don’t doubt that for a second. He’s smart (she said he’s way ahead in reading and counting, etc), funny and so attentive. His teacher did mention that he never sits still (preaching to the choir a bit there) but she wishes she had a class full of him.

Darnnit that kid is amazing. I actually cried twice during his conference. The first time was when she had him start to “read” (he was more memorizing). I couldn’t believe this was happening. I couldn’t believe this little boy who spoke no English 2 years ago was reading. I kept thinking about his special people in Ethiopia and how much I wished they could see him. How proud they would be of him and how proud we are.

Then I cried when she told the story about a book she was reading that talked about a girl giving her mom flowers. Tariku raised his hand and said, “I have the best mommy in the world.” That’s kind of a big deal, he’s not one of those kids who cuddles (he’s way too busy for that crap) or randomly professes his undying love for us.

But sweet Jesus I love him and am so proud of him.

And then Trysten. His I was kind of most looking forward to because I haven’t gotten the opportunity to talk to his teacher much. She was wonderful, it made us feel great about his year. She said a few things about him:
-He’s very good at reading and math, he’ll be starting time with the TAG teacher next quarter.
-She was hard on his behavior at the beginning of the year (“and it broke my heart to do so”) to kind of set an example to everyone.
-She said he needs more “meat” in his writing. More details, more setting the scene, etc. This made us laugh a bit because it sounded more like his aunt Kara than his mom or dad who love telling stories. 🙂
-He’s also picked good friends-phew!

We were obviously very proud of the fact that he doesn’t hold anything back and that he has started to show more of his personality, I was pretty concerned about that.

So this was a little scrapbooking. All this to say, it sounds like the teachers have gotten to know our sons and it sounds like they are starting to love them a bit too. Not nearly as much as we love our boys, obviously. So proud to call them my babes, so, so proud.

Tea with Grandma

Dailah had tea time with grandma yesterday. She lives for this kind of thing, she really does. And the people around her are good about humoring her on these “dates”.

Dailah wanted to wear her “wedding dress”, I happily obliged.

She also wanted “pretty hair”. With just a few minutes before we had to be on the road I threw in “little snakes” and she LOVED it. In the car she was telling Tomas, “See I can’t lean back against the car or it’ll mess everything up.”

On the way to grandma and grandpa’s Tomas kept repeating, “Oh Dailah, you are so beautiful, oh mama Dailah is most pretty, right?” Her boys are so good at telling her exactly what she wants to hear. (The only two awake at time of tea, the other two came later).

The camera (and hotflawedmama) just love her.

Dailah with her grandma. Clearly they share some genetics.

While they took off for the party, we took off for the dog park. I love this community.

This is what happens to pants when you’re at a dog park.

Our dogs are so used to grass they weren’t always fond of the concrete. A couple of loners this two.


Zach and I were looking through old videos and came across this one today. I cried 3 times watching/listening to it. How in the world was this almost 4 years ago? Trysten is so, so precious. That’s him on lead vocals/guitar by the way.

Oh my heart.


I saw this linked on my friend Cassie‘s blog. I had to copy it in full here because I know some of you don’t click my links.

I mentioned how we haven’t been to church in awhile. For the record, I don’t expect “the church” to be perfect. I don’t expect them to do no wrong, to not sin. I don’t expect that at all. That said, before we left our previous church, they repeatedly justified their actions by saying in the Bible we are told to hold churches and their pastoral staffs to a higher standard. So that’s why we’re not back, we’re doing just that. We expect more from our church. We believe the issues/sin involved with our last church are systemic and haven’t been addressed, that’s why we haven’t been back. It’d be a whole new ballgame if they owned up to their failures and worked to improve. A whole new ballgame. I don’t know who’s right or wrong in this, I don’t really care. We’re just following our hearts here.

But truthfully, it goes deeper than that. This blog post sums up what Zach and I have been feeling for awhile now. We’re not perfect, in fact, we’re far from it. We don’t do enough, we don’t even come close. But wouldn’t it be amazing if the church stood for something again? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we stood for something again? I’m just ready to get down to Jesus’ business and stop letting all of my excuses get in the way.


a while back i had heard about the eighth letter gathering up in canada, where 25 people will be sharing their letter to the north american church.  yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers, rachel held evans, announced an open synchroblog this week where anyone was welcome to share their own letter.  after a particularly wild-week-in-the-trenches around here i had this post on the tip of my tongue so i thought i’d just turn it into a quick-off-the-top-of-my-head letter instead.  here goes:

dear north american church,
you have developed a bad reputation.  you didn’t mean to.  i believe your heart is good & you have been so sincere in your dedication to Christ, of that i have no doubt.  the problem is that somehow you’ve become more committed to teaching the truth than actually living the truth.  to building successful businesses that are self-sustaining rather than living by faith & giving your resources away. by creating walls instead of bridges.

and the world’s started to smell out your contradictions.  you see, they are in need of hope and peace, not anger and control.  they are hungry for love and cups of cold water, not hate and picket signs.  they are desperate, dying, divorcing, and deconstructing, and you are spending energy on trying to prove your “this is what the Bible says” point.

and you’ve forgotten one of the most important things that Jesus did, that he modeled for us so beautifully–he restored dignity to people who had lost it. the sick, the lame, the broken, the desperate, the outcasts, the marginalized, the least, the last.  over and over, he healed them, lifted their head, and touched them with hope.  hope that the kingdom of God was available now and it wasn’t only for the learned, the put-together, the well, the powerful.  it was available for all those who were humble enough to admit their spiritual poverty & need for God.

the world does not need any more dignity-strippers.  they’ve got enough of that going on without the church’s help.

what the world needs are dignity-restorers.

  • people who are willing to call out God’s image in those that don’t know it’s there.
  • people who are willing to sacrifice their own jobs, time, heart, and money to change systems that keep others oppressed.
  • people who use their own power & privilege to make space for those without it.
  • people who are willing to give a rip about that one person who everyone else has given up on.
  • people who see beyond gender, politics, religion, socioeconomics, and all of the other things that divide and segregate us and engage in deep & meaningful relationships anyway.
  • people willing to go the long haul and offer compassion & love to the hurting instead of trite advice & easy spiritual answers.
  • people who will stand between the stone throwers & the one about to be stoned and advocate on their behalf.
  • people who touch the untouchable.
  • people who see the best in others instead of the worst.

it’s not going to be easy to make this change for you.

a cool website won’t do it.
all the right answers won’t do it.
going to the next great conference won’t do it.
putting the word “missional” on the tip of everyone’s tongues won’t do it.

to really become known as dignity restorers, you’re going to have to give up all kinds of things you rely on to keep you safe, strong, and protected:

being right.
systems that perpetuate money & power & control
hanging with people who are just like you
making sure you’re the “us” and they’re the “them.”

but first, your own dignity must be restored. you must get in touch with who you really are.  who you were meant to be.  not what you think you had to become to feel better about yourself.  yeah, Jesus can heal you, too.  humble yourself and touch his garment, seek his ways, and surrender to love.

and here’s the wildest part–if you won’t do it, can’t do it, refuse to do it, you need to know that others will.  right now, others are.  they are actually being “the church” instead of wasting time hashing over who can teach & who can’t, who’s right & who’s wrong, who’s giving money & who’s not.   they are just getting down to Jesus’ business without the trappings of “the church” and doing just fine.

oh but i have no doubt if all your resource, all your hands & hearts & eyes & ears & buildings & power & influence & hope could really be channeled to restoring dignity in person after person after person after person, the image of God uncovered in his people, shining brighter and brighter, would dim the darkness of this world like never before.
please, step into who you were meant to be.  it’s beautiful.  it’s better.  and the world really, really needs it.

so i got out what i wanted to say this week.  i really believe the world doesn’t need another sandwich board church sign on the corner announcing really good coffee & fun for families.  the world needs people willing to restore dignity where it’s been lost.
what would you like to say to the north american church? let it rip.

Last Saturday

we began the morning at an early 6:15 to get to Muscatine in time for the Walk 4 Water. It was a bit rainy, a bit lightening-y but still a good time where money was raised to build freshwater wells.

After that, it was off to the UNI Panther football game. They were supposed to have lots of blow up jumpy things for the kids but, due to the threat of death lightening, all of that was cancelled. We still managed to have fun tailgating a bit and then proceeding into the dome (praise Jesus it wasn’t outside) at my incessant urging – I really do hate being cold.

Zach, ever the responsible parent, took the kidlet train to their seats.

We were all furnished with our UNI tees.

My sister promptly took a snooze sitting straight up, just 3 minutes after sitting down.

Trysten can’t get enough of drawing lately, so here he drew the football field.

The princess in pink.

And two of my handsome habeshas.

Tomas was so excited by the whole thing he stood up almost the entire time. Maybe there’s hope for him yet?

Bini, on the other hand, appeared to be a bit over stimulated so he was on laps drooling and staring into space most of the time. But for whatever reason, didn’t want to leave. Weird.

Great Saturday, long day. This meant everyone in the house slept for about 11 hours that night. Good times.

Get jealous…

this is where we live.



Binyam (Dailah was sidelined due to poor decision making). 🙂 This would be when he was literally scared to death and more excited than he’s ever been.

I walked with him to make him feel better about it but perhaps my hysterical laughing was not helping?

She did manage to look precious even when she was in the doghouse.

These two are always like this. Seriously.

There’s even archery!

Happy Birthday Zachary Edward

(Last Thursday, gulp).

I surprised Zachy (that’s what I call him, you probably shouldn’t, it’d just be weird) with a babysitter in the afternoon. The man loves golf, so despite it having been 2 years since my last swing of the links (is that the phrase?) I took him to a golf course and bonded with him.

After golf we went to another of his favorites, surprise, pizza! Old Chicago is a fav of ours both for the delicious pies and the many choices of brewskis. Zach, always excited about my many photos.

I’m not quite sure how to tell you how much fun I have with this guy. Most of what he says can’t be printed on this family friendly blog but believe me when I tell you I’m in danger of peeing my pants every time I’m with him. We were stuffed after dinner, but somehow he still managed to eat this HUGE bowl of ice cream.

The kids were so excited to celebrate daddy’s birthday as well but had to wait until the ice cream, they didn’t seem to mind.

This is the 9th birthday I celebrated with Zach, which is ludicrous to think of. I can say with absolute certainty that they keep getting better. He keeps getting better.

It’s taken me so long to write this blog because there are only so many ways I can thank God for this man. So here’s Nikki Giovanni to do it for me.


I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows north
because the Pope is Catholic
and most Rabbis Jewish
because winters flow into springs
and the air clears after a storm
because only my love for you
despite the charms of gravity
keeps me from falling off this Earth
into another dimension
I love you
because it is the natural order of things

I love you
like the habit I picked up in college
of sleeping through lectures
or saying I’m sorry
when I get stopped for speeding
because I drink a glass of water
in the morning
and chain-smoke cigarettes
all through the day
because I take my coffee Black
and my milk with chocolate
because you keep my feet warm
though my life a mess
I love you
because I don’t want it
any other way

I am helpless
in my love for you
It makes me so happy
to hear you call my name
I am amazed you can resist
locking me in an echo chamber
where your voice reverberates
through the four walls
sending me into spasmatic ecstasy
I love you
because it’s been so good
for so long
that if I didn’t love you
I’d have to be born again
and that is not a theological statement
I am pitiful in my love for you

The Dells tell me Love
is so simple
the thought though of you
sends indescribably delicious multitudinous
thrills throughout and through-in my body
I love you
because no two snowflakes are alike
and it is possible
if you stand tippy-toe
to walk between the raindrops
I love you
because I am afraid of the dark
and can’t sleep in the light
because I rub my eyes
when I wake up in the morning
and find you there
because you with all your magic powers were
determined that
I should love you
because there was nothing for you but that
I would love you
I love you
because you made me
want to love you
more than I love my privacy
my freedom my committments
and responsibilities
I love you ’cause I changed my life
to love you
because you saw me one friday
afternoon and decided that I would
love you
I love you I love you I love you

It Finally Happened

2 years of officially waiting, 4 years of preparations and finally, finally…they got their referral. I’m going to be an aunt again. My brother and sister-in-law are going to be parents again. My nephews get a sister, my kids get a cousin, Dailah gets another girl in the family. This is all very exciting.

I can tell you this, she is beautiful. Stunning, really. Long eyelashes, big eyes, a little side grin that warms the heart instantly. She is, in a word, perfect! And I honestly can’t wait to meet her.

When I told Dailah that she would have another girl to play with, to put make up on and to wear high heels with she replied, “That is so good mom because I’m really good at all of those things.” Truth be told, she might be the most excited about this addition.

Leslie’s birthday was September 3. I had gotten her a little gift praying that she would get her referral before I gave it to her. It was this (excuse my man hands, jeesh):

A necklace made by a local artist. My sister finally had a little pink in her heart and it needed represented in jewlery (obviously). So happy was I to give this to her, and how beautiful it looks on her!

I also dropped by this:

Stuff for the trip to Ethiopia. The basics, you know. Toilet paper, ear plugs, this-is-not-a-good-time-to-poop-my-pants medicine, the basics.

So there you have it, lots and lots of joy in our family these days. And certainly when my niece comes home, more joy to come.

I love you already baby girl!