A "Little" Birthday party

We had “the littles'” birthday party last weekend. Because their birthdays are within a month of each other, it’s just easier to celebrate once.

This was the outfit Dailah picked out.

I found comfort in the fact that a few of my best friends happen to have amazing kids who are then best friends with my kids. Thus, birthday parties are parties for the adults as well.

Zach dressed, unbeknownst to him, to match our kitchen.

My nephew Cassius was there. It’s ridiculously hard not to smother him with love whenever I see him.

Niece Adley too. Those cheeks.

Jake decided Sinta needed a nap. I firmly believe it was just so he could watch football Cake Boss in my room.

The girls could be found playing Barbies and such in Dailah’s room.

The boys could be found in costume…even ones 4x too small like with Tariku’s.

These two just look so old. It’s kind of freaking me out.

We, of course, got a cookie cake. My parents needed to leave early and my dad loves him some cookie cake. So…

Zach with his ridiculously beautiful judgement face.

Present opening time.

The kids.

(Some of) the adults.

Trysten helped Binyam read his cards.

Zach getting a hand massage from his mama. Proof that you’re never too old to get some TLC from your mom.

Binyam was getting a bike from Papa Frank. Since the Klipschs are all about suspense/drama/surprises they played up the bike giving well. First, kids were told to close eyes.

After that, there were lots of little ways to keep it from him. Suffice it to say, Binyam had gotten pretty overwhelmed/overstimulated with birthday festivities so it was a little anti-climatic. Regardless, it ended like this.

What’s next? Ice cream and cake of course. My friend Ann made one of her very best cakes ever. She did, accidentally, write that Binyam was turning 4 when in fact he’s turning 5 but it still tasted ridiculously good.

Love this picture of the two of them when “Happy Birthday” was being sung. They love each other.

Love them. The end.

On Being Conspicuous

Last week at the mall a little boy lost his mom. We could hear him crying and explaining to the employee that he had lost his mom and he had no idea where she was. Soon enough a few employees were trying to help the distraught boy who happened to be Hispanic. And I watched as the employees were looking through the people in the store, looking through all the white people, the black people and turned with questioning eyes to the Hispanic people. When they didn’t appear to be have lost a son, the employees moved on. Finally an equally hysterical mother found her son and the reunion made my kids and myself look at each other through tears in our eyes.

It occurred to me that my kids would need to be specific about just who they lost in the store. By that I mean specifically, it would help if my Ethiopian boys told the employees/helpful citizens that their mama was white.

Claudia sounded the AM (adoptive mama) alarm to blog about being conspicuous. Since Claudia is rather amazing I do as she says. And since there are many more AMs that are just as amazing, you need to read the other blogs linked to hers. It’s worth it. Claudia’s alone…worth the time. Whether you are an adoptive parent or not, this is information you need to know. So you aren’t one of “those guys” who say inappropriate things. Or stare with mouths agape as we more conspicuous families make our way through this world.

When I think about our 3 years as a family that has a mix of different races/cultures I realize we are pretty blessed to live in a community where I never really feel super conspicuous. I really believe I get more comments about just how many kids I have rather than the fact that some of those kids happen to be black. This could definitely be because it’s easier to comment on size rather than, say, blackness, but either way those are the comments I get most often.

That said one time we were walking in our downtown (when it was just Tariku) and a (black) man pointed at Tariku and asked simply, “Where’d you get that one?” There was no malice or ill intent with his comment, that was just the way he decided he wanted to ask his question. Which is crazy. Just so we’re clear.

During that same walk downtown, interestingly enough, a (black) man looked at Tariku, looked at me, smiled and yelled, “The juice is loose!” Though his comment was sexual in nature I did feel like Tariku being there gave him the necessary ammo to shoot his pick up line off with abandon.

Truly, those are the only memories I have of people just coming right out and questioning the make up of our family. Of course we get the “are all of these yours” comments from time to time that I’m sure those adoptive mamas with adoptive kiddos of the same race do not get, but that’s it.

Here’s the thing: we knew this would happen. It helps that both Zach and myself are fairly extroverted people, it helps that we live in a community that has any number of multi racial/multi cultural families. All of that helps.

But I think what helps the most is that we talk about it as a family. After the boy in the mall was reunited with his family I asked my kids what they would tell the store employee. When none of them mentioned my whiteness I told them it’d be a really good idea to tell them that. Just because we are used to me being white and them being black does not mean the rest of the world is. So I’m trying to teach them that they can’t control the way people react to us but they can control how they react to the people who question it and/or have a problem with it.

I think the nature of our conspicuousness will grow and change as our kids grow and change. Right now they are cute little black boys. When they grow up to be black teenagers, our society develops their own ugly stereotypes of that and I think our conspicuousness will become uglier in nature.

I loathe the day that happens. I just hope all of this practice enables us to react in a way that celebrates families like ours whether we are forced to react now or in the coming years.

Claudia said it best: “I would rather be conspicuous with my kids than anonymous without them.”

That is my reality. I just hope one day my kids can say the same about life with me.

5 for 5

Today I’m featuring a guest blogger here at hotflawedmama. Sarah is one of the blogamigas I met in Colorado. I can attest to her sincerity and the legitimacy of everything she says below.

guest blogger: Sarah Lenssen from Ask5for5
photos courtesy of Cate Turton / Dept. for International Development

First, thanks to Tesi for allowing me to post on her blog today! Today, more than 25 bloggers, including this one, are standing with me to Ask 5 for 5 for Africa. Here’s why….
I began pursuing a BIG dream two weeks ago. After deciding I could no longer avoid the news about the famine in the horn of Africa, I had that gut feeling that I couldn’t sit this one out. I HAD to do something because I could. Something bigger than I could do alone. That’s when #Ask5for5 was born.

A malnourished child in an MSF treatment tent in Dolo Ado

Two of my children, Ashen and Bereket, were adopted and are from the region affected by the drought in Ethiopia. They would be two of the statistics if they still lived there. I see my son’s and daughter’s faces in the photos of those suffering in the refugee camps. It could have been him. It could have been her. The thought haunts me.

And moms just like us are watching their children go hungry day after day. I can’t imagine what it’s like, but I have to –I have to be there to help them, because it could have been my children. These families have lost their livestock, their crops, food prices are inflated at the market if there any food there, and don’t have any more lifelines to tap into. Many are traveling hundreds of miles through parched land in hope of finding help. Many are dying along the way. It is estimated that 29,000 children have died in the last 90 days in the famine in Somalia alone.

Malnourished children, weakened by hunger

But I KNOW we can do something about it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, we can rally ourselves and our friends to respond! I set up a fundraiser through See Your Impact. 100% of your gift will go to the relief and development organization World Vision, where it will be combined with government grants to multiply up to 5 times in impact!

You’ll receive updates on just how your funding is being used to help save lives affected by famine in East Africa. I’m amazed at how much we’ve raised already — over $7,000 in just four days! We blew through our first 3 goals in just 3 days and are well on our way to $10,000 and beyond!

I need you to help me save lives. It’s so so simple; here’s what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter, and join our page to stay updated too!

I’m also looking for 100 bloggers to stand with Ask5for5 to spread the word during Social Media week, September 19th – 23rd. If you’re interested, email me, ask5for5@gmail.com.

Extra food for every child under five

Thanks! Please donate and email your friends right now–don’t wait for a calmer moment, because if you’re like me, other demands inevitably crop up and you won’t get to it. A child’s life hangs in the balance, but you can help save her!

Gone Campin’

This past Saturday we did a little camping. Granted, it was basically in our backyard but camping we did. So I packed my socks and shoes and off we went.

Mac and cheese and lots o chips for lunch.

While the kids went on a hike to find some lost treasures, I got to look at this and think dirty thoughts thank my lucky stars.

Always with the wrestling. Love Dailah’s face as she approaches the top of the pile.

Practicing with my new lens.

Everyone was excited about fishing. So Zach worked his patootie off getting everyone’s poles ready.

Just a girl and the outdoors.

Until baby brother remembered he can’t be without her. If you don’t think this screams “America” then something is seriously wrong with you.

Tomas’s butt devoured his shorts.

Trysten still felt less than great but didn’t want to miss the fishing. This is where dreams and reality meet. (That’d be him laying in the dirt, fishing.)

Tomas and Tariku decided to make their own poles with a stick and some line. Tariku’s was tiny, about the size of Harry Potter’s wand, for instance. Tomas’s was huge, about the size of the tree from which all wands are made.

Love the way they look at their daddy.

This one fished for approximately 2 minutes and then decided to peace out and hang with Abe.

Zach earned his man card 100 times over. Dang that man is the best.

I did not earn any card whatsoever unless they give cards to people who take naps during family camping trips and don’t wear bras when they make their kids s’mores.

Night sleeping went pretty well actually, despite the chorus of coyotes versus dogs and Cicadas screeching their lullabies. Kids got enough sleep, which is way more important than the fact that Zach and I didn’t. We are hoping that changes the more we get used to sleeping outdoors with the obvious risk of murder.

Morning brought scrambled eggs by daddy and more fishing/playing.

Overall, a really great time. I look forward to next month when we’re gone for longer!

Schoolhouse Rock

First day of school today. Bittersweet to be sure. I love having them to myself all summer. But always, without fail, the week before school they start to get antsy. To see their friends, for more structure, etc. And I get antsy to get on a regular schedule, to get a clean house and to get a handle on my ever growing to-do list.

But the first day of school is always pure bliss for all of us. I remember being so excited/anxious/nervous the night before the first day of school when I was younger. I slept poorly imagining the reunions with my friends, my teachers and the like. So fun.

One of the things I love about my kids is they are all so different. It even comes out on the surface with how they dress. Lemme show you what I mean.

Trysten is best described as “skater dude” in dress. He likes plaid/longer shorts and funky shirts. He’s got style.

Tomas is obsessed with looking nice. Polos and khakis are the only things he wants on his body. Today all of the polos were dirty so he had to settle on this shirt.

Tariku is pure athleticism. Somebody find this kid a pair of basketball shorts and a t-shirt that shows his obsession with sports. Stat.

Dailah. Well she’s all girl. Today I asked her if she was sure she wanted to wear another dress and she replied, “Only dresses for school, mommy!”

3rd Grader. Smart, funny, sensitive, loving, slightly selfish, quiet.

2nd grader. Smart, life of the party, friends with everyone, silly, hard-freakin-worker, loud.

1st grader. Smart, perfectionist, helpful, caring, hard on himself, loyal.

Kindergartner. Smart, hilarious, social, loving, bossy, best-laugh-ever.

And then there was one. Preschool is up in the air for Binyam. He’s going, we just don’t know where quite yet. We are waiting to hear from various sources where the best place for this little guy is. Until then, it’s just Bini and mommy time.

The Iowa State fair a.k.a Tomas eats his way through Iowa

I know I mentioned here how generous my parents are, but let’s get serious, they are really generous. On Friday they took my kids and me to the Iowa State Fair and spoiled us rotten.

The littles got to ride dirty the many hours we were there. Not “dirty” in the sense that they were hiding crack somewhere on their persons, just “dirty” in the literal sense. They were a couple a pigs in there.

First stop? Food. Obvi. Being a vegetarian at a State Fair where Beef is basically your state bird, color and song makes things complicated. Oh and pork. We have lots of pork too. My dad got 2.

The kids shared a footlong corndog. By “kids” I mean Tomas and Tariku.

Then they washed it down with these. Because why not?

Then, in what was surely the best decision making ever, we went to the Knapp center. This is a place with lots of agricultural education going on. Great place. The problem is that on every TV screen there was birth happening. As in real, slimy, bloody animal birth. The kids were less than impressed.

Tariku was probably the most horrified. At one point he said, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen but I can’t stop watching!!!”

Dailah was equally mortified at what was to be the future she’s always dreamed of (the girl can’t wait to give birth…until now perhaps).

Even though it was an educational center, they did have some leanings in their “education”.

Clearly that sign was not talking about the overwhelming majority of hens. Mmm, these little guys are the picture of health.

Anywho… where were we? Oh yes. To the big slide. It’s really a must do when you have kids. And by that I mean you literally must do it, it’s way too much fun. Tomas towards the middle, Dailah and hotflawedmama below him, Tariku almost done and Bini’s little body finished first.

This is the part where I almost run over Bini. Notice Dailah’s face. Pure joy.

Trysten has been under the weather for a week or so. The only Tyelenol I had were some pills you swallow. It took him about 5 minutes but he did it.

On to the alligator wrestler. For a day that was supposed to be 72 and rainy off and on, it was HOT. Binyam went topless and Dailah went Britney Spears.

It was worth it though, after 4 hours an hour the kids got to hold a real live alligator.

Tariku went to the bathroom 4,635,599 times.

Kids got some free loot that has since been mostly trashed.

Tomas ate a turkey leg.

I tried some cheese curds but ended up sharing…with Tomas.

Tomas ate a hot beef sundae.

I shuddered imagining Tariku getting his hands on one of those smoothies.

But ended up getting one for myself and my sister to share. My spirits picked up immediately.

We went on the sky lift. Trysten was with his grandpa most of this week, add to that he didn’t feel well, and he just wanted to be around me. And by that I mean mostly on top of me.

We ate ourselves into comas.

Tomas ate some more. This time some of my dad’s gyro.

We saw the butter cow. Tomas and Binyam’s first time. They were rightfully astonished. Trysten just wanted to eat it.

Just for fun.

Then Binyam’s tiny little belly staged a war against all of the fried goodness and we spent some QT in these hell holes.

Alas I found something on a stick I could enjoy. A PBJ.

We ended the night with the kids at the lego tent.

It was a really awesome day. The kids held up well despite being there for over 8 hours. After they got a final corndog and piece of pizza my parents took them home so that my sister and I could hang out with old friends. See? Generous.

Unpack your backpack

Last Thursday night the 4 kiddos heading to Elementary school had their “Unpack your backpack” night. They get to meet their teachers, see some of their friends and….unpack their backpack.

First Dailah. The kindergartner. Someone hold me.

Tariku. 1st grader. Gulp.

A book in Tariku’s class. I love this school. Love, love, love.

Tomas the 2nd grader. More excited than any human ever. About anything. Ever.

Trysten leading the pack in 3rd grade. Nervous, excited. Lawdy.

The younger 3 all got teachers that we’ve had before, which we were so thankful for. They are proven to be amazing, hard working, loving people. Trysten’s we know nothing about but we know he, of any of them, needs the least amount of “great teaching”, though he still deserves it obviously.

Almost time!

to keep my mind

off of the fact that my eldest is in St. Louis with my father-in-law for a grandpa/grandson bonding trip and off the fact that I miss him, I’m going to post pictures of some irresistible cuteness. Consider yourself warned.

Sunday we celebrated My father-in-law’s birthday and his and my mom-in-law’s anniversary. First by some snuggling…of adults.

and then some of adults/kids. Or just me and Doozie.

Tomas fed baby Cash his sucker.

and Dailah was just Dailah.

birthday man dolled out suckers.

Jake vacuumed the carpet for no apparent reason.


Serious again

Zach dressed up Julio. Hilarious.

Cool dude

Terre sewed them matching dresses. Adorable.

OK I almost forgot about Trysten for a few minutes. But now I’m remembering again and am sad. 🙂 Maybe another blog post will help?

but before that

we went to the fairgrounds to eat some deliciousness. It was hot. Balls Super hot.

Zach made the executive decision to take the bigs (along with my nephew Oliver and Papa Frank) golfing. Remember I talked about us having family huddles? Yeah, Zach has them too.

The littles (with my other nephew Elihu) went on a few errands and then arrived back at Elihu’s house. Baby Sinta was sleeping but as soon as she woke up the camera couldn’t help but take lots of pictures of her.

Still so good to have her home, and see her do normal kid things like use the blanket storage as a pretend bed. Love her.