This weekend

Had a lot of fun with some very good friends. We planned this trip to my parents’ lakehouse months ago. It was perfect timing because Zach could come (camp season starts soon) as could everyone else. Bad timing because it was freezing and we couldn’t get in the water. C’est la vie! Nothing stops this crowd from having fun though.

We walked in Friday night and got to cooking. These people can cook! I’m fairly certain I’m the one who loves cooking the least but eating the most. Because of that, they let me be the “guacamole tester”. I love gauc. Actually I’m obsessed with it. Bruce makes amazing guac, so does Chrissy. Chrissy suggested a guac-off and I agreed-so long as I could be the judge. In the end I couldn’t judge, mostly because I was in a guacacoma.

The kids were arguably more excited about the weekend than the adults.

The boys room.

The girls room (Dailah was soooooo excited to have more girls! She calls the Berger sisters her sisters and they let her. They are so unbelieveably precious together.)

In the morning we ate some eggs and other goodies. We had weird seating arrangements. Like the tallest man (6’7″) next to the shortest young man (3’3″).

It was a little chilly so Bruce grabbed his daughter’s shawl and threw it on him. Loved it.

That night we made some homemade pizzas and various grilled veggies. Holy smokes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. One of my favorite concoctions ever would be the squash/potato/onion combo. This time we added zuccini (per my sister’s recommendation) and it was well received.

The Bergers and I own Ninjas. If you don’t have this blender/food processor/drink maker/best thing ever you need to get one. This is the newest version, the Bergers got it to surprise us for the weekend. We made many things in it, pizza dough was the first. Notice the sense of wonder in the men’s eyes.

After the dough was Ninja-ed we had to roll out it out. Ann (married to Bruce) took on the task. She’s small. So she needed a stool.

Margaritas were also made. And consumed. And daaaaang they were delicious.

There was also some leg wrestling going on. I lost. But after further review of the pictures it turns out Chrissy cheated. There will be a rematch.

Our men are amazing. They cooked, they cleaned and they did dishes. This is what it looks like when a 6’7″ man does dishes. He has to squat the entire time so as not to throw out his back. Who knew?

And we took really cold boat rides.

These people. Oh my. They are some of the greatest friends I have ever known. I can hardly believe how blessed I am to have them in my life. God is good, so, so good.

Day in the life

Every year the blogs go crazy with insight into the daily lives of their writers/families. Can I tell you it’s one of my favorite times? I love being a voyeur into some of my favorite blogger’s lives. So here’s mine. I was actually only supposed to take a picture every hour but I like pictures so some hours I took lots, some I didn’t take any. I’m a rule breaker, what can I say?

No idea why this is now centering but onward we go. Alarm goes off at 6:20am. I’m actually up at 6:10 thinking about all I have to do today. Go downstairs to get the big 3 ready for school. Pack lunches, halfass-ly look for the camera and don’t find it so you’ll have to take my word for it. 3 lunches packed, 3 beautiful boys loaded into the car. Drop them off at bus come back to the house. Notice the camera was left in the car. Pull some weeds in our garden.
Back into the house we go where I prepare myself. 
Wake up littles, lay out their clothes and go downstairs to get breakfast started. They are taking awhile so I throw in some laundry.
Littles are still taking forever so I start packing some bags for this weekend at the lakehouse.
While preparing some homemade quiche Cheerios and OJ I read a few pages of this book that I can’t put down. Highly recommended.
Full bellies, cancer fighting Vitamin C consumed, littles go off to play and I do too. Though, my “play” is different. It consists of reading blogs/facebook and catching up on some DVR (Biggest Loser).
Feed these beautiful dogs.
Notice these two are looking particularly beautiful.
Zach rises and shines and we have coffee together (one of my favorite parts of every day). Ignore his facial expression, this is one of his favorite parts too.
Load up the car with the littles and various bags. Punch in my favorite new CD.
20 minutes later and we’re at preschool. Drop off kids and I’m free my day actually begins.
Meet my mom at a grocery store to buy goodies for this weekend at the lakehouse.
Stop by a clothing store to see if I can find some clothes that fit me for summer. Managed to find a few things that will a) not show my booty and/or girl parts, b) cover any and all remaining signs of past pregnancies. All important.
Arrive at the North YMCA to teach my Bodyflow class. 
Meet my mom, brother, sister-in-law and niece at a Mexican restaurant. Convince myself a mango-rita is necessary. As is a cheese enchilada. 
Papa Frank drops off the littles. He had picked them up from preschool and taken them to McDonalds. They are thrilled and hyped up. We decide that’d be the perfect scenario to take them to the mall.
Leave the mall (and my kids with my mom) to pick up the bigs from school. They greet me with enthusiasm that I didn’t know I needed until it came.
After picking up Trysten’s hat (pictured above) from a restaurant he left it at on Tuesday, we meet my family back at the mall and hang for a bit.
Go to my sister Kara’s for a little rest time.
Head to drop Tomas and Tariku off at their baseball game (where Papa Frank will be taking good care of them). After drop off the littles, Trysten and myself take off for school where Trysten will be amazing the community with his talents. 
Get to the school. They are selling pizza and pop. We buy lots of that. These two think it’s the best.
Take our seats. To combat my nerves on behalf of Trysten I take pictures of some of the people I love.
And then it started. Not soon after it was time for Trysten. Being his mom I saw all of his little nervous ticks. Being his mom I beamed the second he started speaking into his mic.
And giggled nervously, chewed my nails and wiped the tears as he wowed us with his robot skills.
Concert done. Time to thank our tribe. We have the very best tribe.
But then I got selfish and wanted a picture of my very favorite robot dancing 8-year-old with his ridiculously proud mama.
Dailah wanted a picture with proud mama too and Bini does as Dailah does so in they both came.
I claimed the concert such a success it was worthy of an ice cream outing. Papa Frank brings Tomas and Tariku to meet us (after an astounding baseball victory).
With all of my kiddos under my wing again we arrive home. Daddy wants to watch the tape of Trysten’s performance, so do Tomas and Tariku. Round of applause ensues. Quick clothes changes, bathroom trips and teeth brushed. Bedtime. Rushed bedtimes, my least favorite.
Watch a little Survivor with my favorite man.
Lay down in bed


Tariku (front/2nd base), Tomas (somewhere back/around center and right…tough to say with my Tomas). They are soooo cute. And could Tariku look anymore like Ozzie Smith with his little afro under the hat?

Trysten preparing for a grounder.

Meanwhile, these two were the epitome of cute.

The aunties (and baby cousin) came to cheer the boys on.

Binyam found some ladies. Ladies love them some Binyam.

Oh, there was batting too. Trysten.

Tomas. Look at his concentration (and squat!). Too cute.

My “Choochie boochie” Tariku.

Tonight the boys have a baseball game and Trysten has his role in the school’s music program. We are having someone video the game and someone video the music program. I have a gut feeling this is only going to get worse.

More mothering goodness

Mothers day card from Trysten. “Happy mothers day mom! I hope you have the best mothers day ever. Love, Trysten”. He also went on to spell my name “Tesi”. T stands for “trust”, E stands for “effort”, S stands for “silly” and I stands for “integrity”. Last week Trysten kept asking me if he could use his money to buy books at the school’s book fair. I, obviously, kept putting it off and forgetting. Finally, Friday morning at 5am he taps me as I lay slumbering, “Mom I really need that money for school today.” “Trysten, go back to sleep, I’ll get it.”

When he got home from school he presented me with his handwritten card and the Harry Potter book pictured behind it. That’s why he wanted his money. He wanted to buy me the Harry Potter book from the book fair, with his own money. I love him.

From Tomas. “My Mother. My mother is pretty. My mother is beautiful. My mother is a dancer. I love my mother. Tomas”. Oh I love him too.

Tariku’s creation was a flower pot. On each stem was one thing he would do for me. Garbage, dust, etc. Love him.

Dailah and Binyam also made me cards at school. Turns out Dailah’s favorite thing I do for her is carry her. The favorite thing we play together is “to let her be the boss”. Ahem. And the best thing I’ve taught her is how to drive (?). Binyam’s favorite thing I do to him is take him to the doctor. Favorite thing we play together is cars. Apparently I’ve never taught him anything because he left that one blank. 🙂

After breakfast in bed the kids got busy playing. This is all the bigs do anymore. Play baseball.

Dailah and Bini, they are always playing in their cars of course.

After church we went over to my in-laws. Had to give our love to the matriarch of the Klipsch family. But also had to see my nephew Cash. Could you just swim in his eyes?

And then Sinta. She is so sweet y’all. Zach got his first shot at bonding with Sinta. To say they were equally smitten with each other…well, judge for yourself.

And then the girls. It’s plural now! Dailah couldn’t restrain herself any more and spent most of her day chasing Sinta and Cash around. Then Sinta made Dailah’s month by snuggling with her for quite awhile.

Mother’s Day

To my mom who loved me first and most. Who gave me her laugh, her birthday, her smile and her passion for her kids.

To my mom (in-law) who gave me her baby son. Who gave me her love of fitness, love of life and love of God.

To my sisters-in-mommyhood. The first moms of my boys. The ones who gave my boys their smiles, their love of life, their beauty and immense amounts of love before I could. Every day, I live every day with our hands wiping our son’s tears, our lips kissing our son’s cheeks. We do this together, I feel it all of the time.

To my sisters. My sisters who gave me nephews and nieces. Lights in my world.

To my aunts and cousins (biological and in-law) who inspire me, delight in my kids and love beyond words.

To my friends. Oh my friends. The ones I lean on when I don’t have the strength to stand on my own. The ones I look to for inspiration, hope and joy. The ones I feel across states, across countries. We stand with our hands intwined and that smile on our lips.

To my friends who are waiting. Waiting for word of their first kids. Waiting for word of their second or third or fourth kids. Friends who are waiting and have been waiting for too long. The mothers who have not mothered. Your heart and strength are beyond words.

To my husband who loved me enough to choose me to mother his children. Who writes sweet things and kisses sweet kisses. That husband who is my better half. My equal partner. The man who makes me think I’m truly capable of anything, including mother this brood of ours.

And to our kids. The ones who woke me up with “Happy mothers day to you”, omelets, pancakes, homemade syrup, coffee and Orange Juice. The ones who wrote me the sweetest things and told me throughout the day how much they loved me. These kids who set in motion this life that I am immensely grateful for. I’m quite convinced that when I die they’ll find my heart is 5 times the size it’s supposed to be. Not because of ill health but because I’ve loved more than anyone has loved before. Because of them.

Because they are everything to me. They really, really are.

Also seen on mother’s day around here:

Breakfast in bed.

Holding the hand of my daughter (with my sister) while she got her ears pierced.

Beating the candy out of a pinata.

The very best mothers day of my life. No question.

On Unity

My blog reader has been a flutter with blogs on Unity from some of my favorite writers. It all started with Rachel Held Evans who began the “Rally to Restore Unity”. I’ve been reading many of the blogs she’s linked and have loved most, if not all, of them. There seems to be a theme with them and with me, her rally to restore unity came at a time when I had been thinking much on that topic. 

First, some of my favorite links so far:

Kathy Escobar-The Golden Rule. One of my favorite quotes: “my hope for unity is that we’d all become people with a deep sense of love in our core, a strong sense of knowing who we really are as people–accepted and free. and that out of that quiet strength, we’d be able to roll with others’ differences, not need to defend what doesn’t really need defending, and retain our own identity.  that we’d be secure people who have nothing to prove.”

Jennifer-Of Softballs and Swallows. One of my favorite quotes: “Oh, but we adults, with our fancy words and our sophisticated brain things, we can use our logic and our reason to whack others on the head with our political leanings and our earnestly held theology until we can’t see people anymore; just what we think and what we know. And we can chew a bone until we’re gnawing our own flesh.”

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary is also one of my favorite bloggers. She wrote this piece. Love this: “So, in the spirit of Unity and with the Hope of being a small part of a healthy body of believers, I’ve started to ask myself: Does what I’m about to say make me sound like a douche? And I’ve found myself quieted on more than one occasion.”

I think the reason I’ve been thinking about this so much is because I see dis-unity all the time. I’m not just talking within the Christian church, I’m talking within the world. Unfortunately, that has become the narrative within our time.

Democrat, Republican, Jew, Christian, Muslim, white, black, native american, english speaker, spanish speaker, vegetarian, carnivore. 

We let these things divide us instead of allowing them to color our lives and make them more interesting and worth living. I feel like we could use these differences to unite instead of divide. After all, aren’t all just people trying to do the best we can with what we’ve been given? I feel like most of us are living our lives looking for honest communication, honest love wherever we can. If this blog world and the people I’ve met through it are any indication, I’m not looking for people who are identical to me-I’m looking for people who are real. People who struggle, people who speak honestly, people who sometimes write stuff I disagree with but people who are living out their truth and their realities in remarkable ways. 

When I was younger (I love saying that because I’m still young) I had to be right. I didn’t have to be right for me, I had to be right. In every conversation, in every interaction I had to be right. Then I didn’t just have to be right, I had to get you to think exactly as I did. 

And life was boring. 

Because the people who agreed with me were my friends and we walked around in our like-minded fog. 

People who disagreed with me either hated me or just disliked me strongly (and the feeling was definitely mutual).

As I’ve gotten older (and passed that quarter-life crisis people are always talking about ;)) and learned a bit more about the world and the people in it, I realize I’ve learned the most when I shut the hell up. When I listen and when I open my heart, open my mind, I can be quite the good student.

And if I’m a good student and a good listener, people are more willing to do the same when I start to talk. And our dialogue, regardless of the different positions we might take, is a dialogue that comes out of respect, out of humility, out of love.

And my life is rich, and it’s amazing, and it’s filled to the brim with love.

I realized the last few weeks that my time spent debating and demeaning people was completely out of fear. I was so afraid of them being right and me being wrong that I wagged my finger at them, I got in their face, I talked over them, I talked and never listened. 

Now I know, though, I know my truth. I know what’s real and what’s true for me. I know who I am, I love who I am. I realize that God made me exactly how He wanted me to be made and that is a beautiful and wonderful place to be. 

Because I know that. Because I love myself, I’m no longer threatened by different opinions. I no longer try to get people to think like I do, or act like I do or live like I do. It’s a lot more fun appreciating differences than trying to change them.

All of that said, I’m crap at it sometimes. Some days I think to myself “Oofta, sucks to be that woman’s kid!” Or something equally not-nice. I’m still young, I have a lot of learning to do, and I’m genuinely thrilled about that. 

I’m human, I sometimes seriously suck and sometimes seriously embarrass all of the people I lay claim to (Christians, Klipschs, Dawsons, moms, Ethiopian adoptive mamas, wives, sisters, brothers, aunts, etc). 

But the grace I receive is the grace I try to give every day. 

Which is why I am loving the conversation and the idea to “Rally to Restore Unity”. Would love to hear some of your thoughts on the matter too. 

Until then, one tribe ya’ll. 

To Recap

We have internet again. This is a big deal. Last night I couldn’t get to sleep thinking about everything I wanted to do with my internet! What a wonder. I will also admit that it was kind of nice not having the distraction for a few weeks. Double edged sword this internet. To catch you up, with bullet points.

-We went to a Cubs game a few weekends ago. My generous parents take all of us kids/our significant others to a weekend in Chicago for our birthdays. My equally generous in-laws babysat the kids. It was such a fun time, even though I had a sinus infection and double ear infection. Hard to beat lots of adult time in Chicago.

-My sickness lasted over 3 weeks. It was one of the worst I’ve had. Not breathing, waking up with nastiness. Blech. Still lingers but I can actually smell things these days which is essentially a 100 percent improvement from just a week ago.

-The boys started their baseball season. I am increasingly proud of them. Trysten is actually coming into the game a bit more. He is like me in that we have to really want something to give it our all. For the last year Trysten was kind of “meh” about baseball. Lately he’s all in and it shows. He’s developing into a good little player. Tariku, well Tariku is some sort of prodigy. His swing belongs in the pros and he loves every single second. When he gets a little bigger there is no telling what he could be capable of. He is 6 years old on a team with mostly 8 year olds and you’d have no idea (except for his size) because he is that good. And Tomas, he’s getting better every time. Earlier in the season Tomas turned to me and said “Baseball makes no sense mommy”. Yeah, when you think about it, it really doesn’t…BUT he’s coming around and has been hitting the ball. Tomas has a smile plastered to his face the entire time, which makes me get choked up nonstop. I seriously love them. Love, love love them.

-I was thinking this week it was probably good that I didn’t have my blog when all of this political stuff was happening (Birth certificate questioning, Osama Bin Laden, etc). I try to stay away from too much political stuff on this here blog because the last many years politics has worked to pull people apart and I’m just not interested in any of that. But I will say the birth certificate was a joke (and a subtly or not so subtly racist joke at that-meaning I don’t remember anyone ever asking our white presidents for theirs…or any of the past Presidents. Whether it’s because they had names like “George” and “Bill” instead of “Obama”…well.) and Osama Bin Laden might have brought out the worst in some Americans (really? This is cause for draping ourselves in Mardi Gras beads and drinking beer at Ground Zero? Jeeesch). Moving on…

-Taxes. We were among the adoptive parents who have been asked for more information on our taxes in order to receive our adoption refund. That will be done today. But finding receipts from 3 years ago (Tariku’s adoption) was an interesting thing. It is a good thing I’m an organized person, let me tell you that.

-Kindergarten round up. Oy. Had it, cried. Dailah walked off to her potential class like she knew what she was doing. I watched my only girl become a young lady in a matter of minutes. It destroyed my heart. Almost 5 years ago I thought I’d lose her forever and now here she is, prancing her bedazzled butt into Kindergarten round up. Please, God, grant me strength.

-Sinta is home. My niece arrived on Friday and it was a true celebration. When I hugged Leslie I could feel her shoulders were looser. For the last 2 years there has been an immense amount of stress between those shoulder blades of hers. Feeling them as I hugged her made me bring out the ugly cry. And then seeing Sinta’s face. Oh my she is more beautiful than you can imagine. I took a lot of pictures on Friday. I don’t have time to post them on my blog but Leslie posted them on hers. Go check them out. I have no doubt Sinta’s face will be a regular on my blog now!

This blogger (one of my faves) is blogging about her time in Ethiopia a year ago. Last night she mentioned a “Thomas Brown”. That’s my Tomas (when he said his name in Ethiopia Tomas Birhanu sounded remarkably like Thomas Brown). Go read what she wrote about him. Does it not make you love him even more? If that’s possible.

-Trysten has a music program next Thursday. Apparently the music teacher asked his class if there was anyone who they nominate to dance. They nominated Trysten…and his robot skills. To say he’s happy would be grossly understating his current state of mind. He also gets a speaking part, which we are encouraging him to memorize. A star is born, people. 😉

I think that’s probably it for now. But now that I have internet don’t be surprised if you see a large number of blogs being pumped out of hotflawedmama.