Over Thanksgiving my mom arranged for my side of the family to go to a family friend’s (who also took my wedding pics) photo studio. Good times. I’m not even sure how many she took, somewhere around 1 billion I would imagine, but we did manage to find a few keepers.

My sweet, sweet babes.

This is more like it (ignore the small issue of Binyam’s impending beheading).

My babes and my niece Adley.

My parents with all of their grandkids.

The whole crew.

And then us. Zangers I love these people.


Christmas with kids? Just too much. Too much fun, too much warm and fuzzy feeling, too much joy, too much splendor, too much wonder. Just too much. We Santa don’t go all out, we get the kids just a few presents. This doesn’t seem to faze the kids much, they are still just overjoyed at the thought that a creepy guy with a beard came into the house while they were sleeping and left them some packages.

This is them in the morning.

After opening presents Zach always makes Jesus birthday pancakes. We get to enjoy them, too, but they really are to celebrate the birth of Jesus. And I have no idea why my man with the beautiful smile insists on making this face when he sees my camera.

Once we get ready and the kids get some time to play with their new stuff we head over to Zach’s parent’s house. I’ve said it before here, but let me tell you how much I love the Klipschs. So much, that’s how much. They are just an extension of my family, every single one. Every time I watch TV and/or movies that depict this often tumultuous in-law relationship I thank God I got the ones I got. They are tops.

Mimi Terre read (seemingly billions) of books to Binyam.

Papa Frank watched as Trysten showed him his new moves on the DS.

We ate much deliciousness, including my gorilla bread (thank you, Paula Dean). Mmmmm.

Bini got a plethora of snuggles from his aunt Kait.

Cash was there.

As was Eli.

We opened presents, including this homemade hat by Zach’s mom. It’s perfect for him.

She also made hats for the kids and tie dye clothes for us all!

Frank showed off the moustaches we gave him.

I showed off my most favorite magazine subscription that Frank and Emily gave me.

Frank gets the kids a big present every year. This year he had them hide his eyes before the big unveiling. This was Tariku’s reaction when he saw snowboards (for him and Trysten) and a bike (for Tomas).

Tomas literally cried with happiness at his bike.

Trysten was pretty psyched about his snowboard too.

The more than generous grandparents with their grandchildren.

We left more excited than when we came in, if possible. It was an awesome day, simply awesome.

‘Twas the nights before Christmas

We spent the 22-24th at my parents house celebrating Christmas. It was a wonderful, relaxing, beautiful time. Time spent holding, feeding and admiring baby Adley.

I reminisced about those first few times my bio babes smiled and my heart was immediately full. I admired (and recognized the truth) in Adley’s shirt.
I watched as this man, my man who pretends to dislike babies, held, fed, rocked and played with this baby. I remembered one of the reasons I fell in love with him. 
I watched as my sons tried snowboarding for the first time. Trysten with trepidation and then elation. Watching him conquer something like this all while making it look effortless was a confidence boost he didn’t necessarily need. I still admired his courage and penache as he dominated the slopes.
I watched as Tariku, who did need the confidence boost, also dominated the slopes. Slower to excel than his older brother but certainly more determined. I smiled with abandon watching his little afro cut down the slope. I recalled how easily physical things come to him, I clapped and cheered and yelled his name as he raced towards me.
I watched and chewed my nails watching Tomas give everything he had to keep up with his brothers. I watched as he fell, over and over, and stood up with a smile each time. I laughed as he befriended a slope employee and somehow convinced him to help him for the next few hours. I agreed when Tariku pointed out, “Tomas may not be the best at snowboarding but he is the best at making friends.” I was thankful watching my brother and husband catch his falls and then prop him back up ad nauseam all day. I was just so, so thankful to see Tomas on the hills of Iowa.

I admired, warm and dry, my husband and brother as they patiently encouraged, helped, lifted and pulled the boys. I recognized the boys’ big success had much to do with the love of these two men.
I hung with the two littles, one of which refused to wear gloves, ahem Binyam, ahem. I fawned over their intelligence, their wit and their ability to not complain while their fingers turned deep purple, ahem, Binyam, ahem.
I watched as Dailah, ever the brave one, coaxed my dad into letting her “ski” with him. And then watched as she coaxed Tomas into lending her his snowboard so she could give it a whirl. I jumped up and down as I watched her ride the little bunny slope the whole way, upright, effortless and then turn to me and give me the thumbs up.
I withstood my husband’s endless fascination with my ability to wear the same gray sweatpants multiple days in a row and then go take them out in public. 
I hung out with my oldest friends. We talked of old times and celebrated them while still managing to toast to the new.
We laughed. A lot. I remembered why I love them so. I remembered how each one of them is so different, but together we make a pretty amazing “Fab 4”. 
I watched as my mom doted on all of her grandkids. How she bartered with me to give them more ice cream, more chocolate, more donuts. I admired her grace, her unselfishness and her generosity. 
We opened a lot of presents. A lot. I touched my hand to my face to try to loosen up the tight smile muscles. Too much joy. I clapped as Tomas and Binyam-eyes wide-enjoyed their first Christmas. 

I heard Tariku yell my name to tell me Santa Claus was in the house. That he came all the way here. To wish us a special Merry Christmas. I heard Tomas tell Santa, “Thank you for everything you do for kids.” I reassured Tariku that this was the real Santa, who came here because he was excited that Tomas and Binyam had come here recently from Ethiopia. I told him that Santa whispered to me that he came because I had the best kids in the world. And I thanked baby Jesus that was true.

I sat on Santa’s lap, recognizing an old basketball coach in his eyes. I smiled remembering how encouraging he was to me, how fun he made the sport that was not always so. I patted his shoulder hoping he would know what I meant by that, “Thank you for this (Santa), thank you for that (basketball), thank you.”
I salivated when our neighbor (and owner of one of my favorite restaurants in Iowa) brought my favorite cut of beef-Prime Rib-to our house. My stomach throbbed, my mouth watered and I waited with the anticipation of my kids on Christmas Eve.
And then we ate. So much good food prepared with love, by my mom. I laughed as Tomas emptied his plate and “almost cried” at all of the good food. I giggled watching Binyam attempt to gum his way through the prime rib. We toasted Jesus, each other and the year ahead. I looked around the table and said a secret prayer that God continue to bless this family with laughter, with love and with many more happy memories.
And on this day, like every other day, I was so thankful for these kids. Who made me smile, laugh and cry (a bit).

Honey, I think I just found our new kids

A year ago Zach and I knew we were going to be able to finally progress with our adoption that we’d been hoping for and praying about for more than a year and a half. Zach headed in to take a shower after we talked/dreamed about our future child(ren). Most of our discussions were about a girl. Or a girl and a boy. But certainly, a girl. A sister for Doozie and another daughter for me us.

So Zach was in the shower and I was researching the few agencies I trusted who were working in Ethiopia. Trying to figure out which ones my gut was telling me could make good on my confidence. Then I ventured over to Holt’s website knowing one of my dear friends, Beth, was using them. I just meandered on to their “Waiting Child Program” tab. I looked at some of the write ups of the waiting kids (Ethiopia won’t allow photos on the website, so we were just looking at words). Something describing Tomas caught my eye, I actually don’t remember what it was but it was a phrase that was used throughout Tariku’s Ethiopian updates as well.

For whatever reason (what’s up, God?) my heart was pounding reading about Tomas (cheerful, social, loving) and Binyam (bright smile, club feet). I thought, I’m just going to go run this by Zach, real subtle like.

“Honey, I think I just found our new kids.” Subtlety has never been a speciality of mine.

“Um…are you speaking in plural or is that just my imagination?”

“Two boys. A 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. They are waiting because of oldest’s age and youngest has club feet. They are boys.”

“Boys? Tesi, you wanted a girl, remember? You sure you are ready to give up that dream?”

“Let’s just inquire about them with Holt and we’ll go from there.”

So I ran meandered to the computer again and sent Holt an email that basically said, “I think I just found our new kids, could you send me more info on these boys?”

Holt has a great policy about waiting children where they make sure before they even give a file over that you’d be a good fit for the kids. So after answering a few questions they sent us the picture that fit with the profile on the internet.

I mean was there any doubt after that? Tomas looked(s) eerily like Tariku and Bini was already making our hearts smile.

So we had to wait until after Christmas to get more details on them but it was pretty much done as far as we were concerned.

I had no idea a year ago how happy they would make us all. Had no idea just how perfect they were for us.

And I don’t even think about that girl that wasn’t meant to be (much).

What We’ve Been Up To

Just to pre-warn you, as soon as 2011 hits, I might stop capitalizing the blog. I’ve gotten juuuuust lazy enough to edit these posts less and less. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, my grammar check has altogether ceased to exist. Why not just stop with the caps, right?

Anyway…our last few days in pictures.

First, the hair cuts. Dailah got a few inches off (and was absolutely pampered by everyone who worked at the salon in the process).

I got my hair colored by my girl Chrissy and then trimmed at the salon (where, for whatever reason, they chose not to pamper me).  I had spent way too much time as a blonde lately.

Zach and I went to our church’s ugly sweater party. It was ugly. Zach won a Target gift card for his combination of ugly sweater and super sweet dance moves.

I didn’t have nearly enough any alcohol so was not feeling up to strutting the catwalk. But I will pose you under the table if you try to take me on.

We had family Wii night on Saturday. If it weren’t for Zach’s unending patience the game would have lasted but 2 minutes if it were up to me. Let’s just say Tomas went from not listening at all not knowing what he was doing to laying down spares left and right. The end of the night got much better for me. Especially after I saw this picture and remembered how blessed I am (ignore Dailah’s hand).

Then last night we had a little get together with our buds. Kara (my sister) and I made our very first turkey which turned out to be extremely moist (I hate that word) and delicious. I also made Oreo balls which should be considered the 8th deadly sin…or the only sin God created. But these women make my life richer, more beautiful in every.single.way. They also make my abs considerably stronger with all of the laughing.

And our men. Who let us be as crazy and ridiculous as we really are. Jason (front and center in black) is a police officer, which explains the constant sneer. Bruce (orange) is a City Planner of sorts (though truth be told his job is kind of like Chandler Bing’s, no one really knows what he does for a living) and thus is full of joy and good cheer. Zach, well he’s just a smartass, so that’s just his face. 🙂

J and L

I know a lot of you reading this also read Leslie’s blog but in case you were wondering a bit more (or just wanted to hear my sister-in-law’s magical writing) I blogged for her over at her blog. I’ll paste it below. But I miss them, I miss my nephews and I ache for my niece and for Ethiopia. So excited to have some Habesha coffee with Leslie and listen to every word she has to say about the whole thing.

It’s Saturday morning in Addis. I woke up to the call of prayer this morning at 5:30am. I got up because sleep is not easy here yet, even for me who can sleep anywhere. I sat on the porch of our complex and was surrounded by the sounds of prayer chants, church bells and barking dogs. It was a really beautiful experience.

I got a small window of computer time here, but it is limited. However, I wanted to blog about yesterday, one of the most wonderful days of my life. We met Baby Girl and spent over three hours staring at her, whispering to her and cuddling with her.

Friday morning we were told that we would actually get to see our baby twice, rather than the one time we were expecting. A driver picked us up from the guest house and drove us to the care center, which is a sprawling gorgeous building. We were led inside and right away found baby girl sitting in a group of three children. She was sitting up chewing on a purple link toy. Right away her huge brown eyes looked up at Jake and I as we cooed and cooed over her. She is absolutely beautiful. She has dark, wispy curls, huge brown eyes and Klipsch-length eye lashes. She was wearing a pink sweater and a denim jumper. A jumper! A jumper, dear readers! I have a child who wears a jumper!

She warmed up to us right away and played with the toys we brought. We tickled her and played peek-a-boo and she giggled softly. I held her and sang to her and she kicked and kicked. (A dancer!)

She is very even tempered. A really relaxed little girl. We came back in the afternoon and she really just wanted to be held. We happily obliged and quite literally spent about two hours taking turns holding her and listening to her sweet little noises as she rested on our chests. Several nannies lit up when they saw her and commented on
how lucky we were. I would have to agree!! 🙂

She has a beautiful name that I’ll reveal after we pass court. Hopefully I can post pics then too. Any doubt or insecurity that I’ve ever had about this adoption or about mothering three children washed away during those wonderful moments yesterday. What an experience!!

We’re off to a museum and to do some shopping today. Of course, nothing can compare to yesterday. (I cannot wait to see her again.) We are really enjoying our time here and falling in love all over the place!!


The roses are red today. For many reasons, I’m sure, but it’s been a good day.

— We went to get our window fixed and it ended up costing half of what we thought it would cost (hallelu).

— While it was being fixed and all of the kids were at school, Zach and I went to my sister’s house and did our household budget. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am to have him. An intelligent, patient, good-at-math man who happens to look amazeballs even after I asked him what half of 65 was.

–I just realized this is the last day of school for everyone before Christmas break. That means a lot of things that make me happy, especially I get to sleep in for 2 weeks that I get to see more of the kids!

–We got an email from Jake and Leslie! Here’s a little snippet:

“So…our flights were uneventful.  Jake didn’t sleep a wink.  I slept fine.  🙂

The first thing we did when we woke up this morning was go meet Baby Girl!!  This was a bonus.  We thought we’d only meet her once and we ended up going to her care center twice and spending three and a half hours of pure bliss with her!!  SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!  And amazing.  And so so so sweet.  I can’t even tell you.  We are in love.  She loves to snuggle and we indulged her every second.  Seriously, she is more amazing and beautiful than we ever imagined.

This may be our only email.  We are in the guest house and the computer is at another complex.  We just wanted you to know that we are safe and sound and soaking in all of these new experiences.

We love you all!!!

Leslie and Jake”

Yipppeeee! That was fun to see.

–Sarah Butler (a friend on Facebook) sent me this link with the comment, “From the things you have shared about your hubby, This makes me think he could totally do this and maybe even better. Sorry about your car, hope this makes you smile a little.” I love getting random things (that did help, thank you Sarah!) from people. 

Yesterday the group of people who do my Bodyflow class regularly gave me a “little” Christmas gift. A 1 hour full body massage, a Starbucks gift card, a bottle of wine and some chocolates. With a card that made me cry all the way home.

I am a seriously blessed lady.

feeling a bit like I’m drowning here.

Thankfully not in adoption related stuff, or even mommy related stuff.

But in adult stuff. Like money.

November is the Wine to Water party-which stretches us pretty thin.

And, it’s Christmas, so even though we get our kids a total of 3 presents (totaling around $40/child) our budgets are tight.

And then this week my car’s “check engine” light came on. After taking it in to get looked at, they are recommending around $2000 worth of fixes.

Tonight, well tonight while I was teaching classes the back window of that same car got busted out.

Truly, most of the time I can see how rich we are in life. With all the love and the joy.

But tonight? Tonight I’m hoping we win the lottery (though we haven’t actually bought a ticket, is that a problem?).

Yes, the lottery. Or maybe we hid a few thousand in a sock somewhere?

Tomorrow will be a new day. The sun will rise and set and we’ll be covered by Grace. I’ll be happy about the love and the joy.

But tonight. It’s wine, chocolate and lottery dreams.

My Husband

is kind of amazing. He just made this video for camp’s website.

It’s so true. We asked (on behalf of the kids) for Camp as a gift for them. It’s so, so important in their development. You wouldn’t believe the confidence it gives, the lasting friendships formed and the fun had. If you have a Y camp around you, consider it as a gift or, even better, send them to our Y camp. I’ll watch out for them and send you detailed reports.

One thing is for sure, you will never regret it!