Doozie is sick. Why is she still so cute when she’s sick? What does it say about me that I love when they are sick and snuggly and all cute in their glassy-eyed doped up look? Either way, that’s been my day.

Made vegetable pot pie tonight. 2 pot pies actually. And they were gone. All of it. Zach wasn’t even here. Tomas and Tariku basically split a pie with a little of Binyam’s help. Trysten asked, “Mom do you think this is the most I’ve eaten of your homemade meals that have veggies in it?!?!?!?” It was.

Been through a lot the last few months. But today, perhaps more than ever, I’m looking at the future with such freedom and enthusiasm it should probably be illegal. In the end the only thing I can say that I’m feeling right now is that I’m so thankful for my husband. So, so thankful I get to take on the future with him by my side.

That’s it. That’s the space I’m in now. Off to snuggle with the only other body full of estrogen besides myself in this house.

Hope you’re in a similar space tonight!

my hero, my love

Let me tell you a little something about Zach. He loves a good challenge. In the 10 years I’ve known him he’s had approximately 10,756 hobbies. He’ll pick something up, try it out for a few weeks and then get bored with it and stop. But those few weeks he’s in it, he’s in it. And, because he’s kind of a prodigy at everything-annoying, he is ridiculously successful in those few weeks.

So there’s that side of Zach.

There’s also the guy that says, “I think I’ll run the half marathon in a couple of weeks.” Without training. Just to see if he can.

The personal trainer in me kept asking, “You going to run tonight? You going to train this week?”

He did. Twice. Never going over 7 miles on his practice runs.

Sunday, he took off for 13.1 miles at the QC Marathon. He wasn’t going for any kind of record, just to finish.

And he ended up doing really well. So well that the kids and I were at the finish expecting him to be another 20 minutes or so when he just jogs by us.

I took no pictures of his face running for that reason. I did get a couple of his backside but those are just for me. 😉

His cheering squad.

The kids made him super cute signs. A little rain made them almost see through but they were still super cute. Even if 3 of the kids were laying on the ground waiting for their dad to finish…as he ran past them. Either way, I saw him and started jumping up and down, yelling and yes-crying. So proud of him.

There are so many things about Zach that inspire me, challenge me and make me green with envy but mostly they all just make me so very happy he’s mine.

Also, he told me when the course veered off and separated the half marathoners from the full marathoners, he considered just going for the full. Gulp.


On Thursday after I picked up the kids from school I decided to go to the Humane Society. Trysten has been begging asking for a bird, a gerbil anything that can be just his. So I thought we’d go take a look at the birds and other tiny little gross animals so that I could extinguish his hope love of any furry friends outside of dogs. That’s it, just dogs.

I’m not a cat person. My parents had cats for the sole purpose of killing their many mice that roamed our country home. They’d get declawed, get outside, get run over or in a fight. We had one cat (Kitso, I think it was) who got into a fight and/or run over and messed up his jaw. He lived, for many years after, looking all kinds of messed up. Needless to say, we didn’t love our cats, they just served a very specific function.

I met Zach and went to his house. His mom had 3 cats. One of them was mentally unstable, one of them really didn’t want anything to do with anything but was always around and then there was another one without a tail who loved Zach. Even at the ripe age of almost 20 he would let Zach cradle him like a baby and walk to and fro. It was amazing. But not inspiring.

I wasn’t a cat lady.

And then I took my 5 kids to the Humane Society by myself. First we went to the dogs where Dailah immediately started crying. Begging me to bring them all home because dogs weren’t meant to live like that, in cages. Clearly didn’t see that coming.

“You wanna go see the cats? Let’s go see the cats!”

So we went in a room with about 10 cats/kittens. And they fell in love. And they were sooo cute with the feline friends. Begging me to buy one (actually, 5, one each). Saying sweet things like, “We’ll scoop up their poop! We’ll feed them! We’ll do everything, once you buy them!”

Naturally, I texted Zach (who was golfing at the moment).

“What do you think about getting a cat?” With this picture attached.

He responds, “You hate cats.”

Me: “Well I did…until now. I think I’ll probably just go ahead and buy one then.”

Z: “Are you serious right now?”

Me: “Um yes, is that ok?”

At this point he calls me and we discuss. We end the conversation with him saying, “I love you. You do what you gotta do. I just hit the best shot of my life.”

And so I took that as a “Oh I’m so excited to have this new cat in our house! Please, commence to the purchase of said kitten who is of undetermined age, undetermined health and bring him to our home with 5 children and 2 dogs!”

I asked the fine employees (who seemed remarkably Emo actually) to put a hold on the little black kitten while we ran to the supermarket and grabbed the essentials. Quick text to Zach:

“Yeah, so I went ahead and bought that kitten. Maybe you want to meet us here to meet him?”

During the car trip to the store we had a really awesome conversation about adoption (because we were, after all, adopting the kitty). It might’ve been the very first time in the 3 1/2 years since Tariku has been home when he realized just how much he was wanted in the year it took to bring him home. It ended up being a very sweet Bob Sagget moment that was completely unplanned and completely beautiful.

When we got back to the Humane Society, I mentioned to the kids that probably they should be super nice to their dad when he came in since he gave the final okay to get the kitten. When Zach walked in the door this is what happened.

Did I mention that 2 minutes after I officially bought the cat I had to go teach classes? A quick, “Good luck with all of this! See you in a few hours!” And I peace-ed out.

The good news is Zach is a real sucker for animals. I came home to find this. Mitigu (an Ethiopian name that was part of Tariku’s time there) snuggled up on Zach’s lap. Sucker.

Oh his sweet, sweet, face.

Might I mention he’s kind of my shadow? Mitigu and hotflawedmama as we descend the stairs so I can make nachos for the two of us (what can I say? We share a love of chihuahua cheese.)

There it is. I freakin’ love this kitten. 10 wks old. Cute as all get out. I plan on him snagging the mice that get on my every last nerve and then snuggle up with me during our naptime.

Oh, and of course it’s a boy. I told myself I’d buy the one that seemed best with our kids and the cat that the kids were naturally drawn to. Of course it’s male.

Stupid testosterone.

5 for 5

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you hotflawedmama and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can’t wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we’ll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren’t so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world’s first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond–or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity’s baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don’t do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn’t want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother’s hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya–the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, “I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm.” The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. “We don’t have enough food now…our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues.”

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on–in nine generations of 5x5x5…we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

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 (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!

I’m looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at if you’re interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn’t wait. She doesn’t wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn’t wait for us to decide if she’s important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on…please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped–you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don’t move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you’re life is busy like mine, you probably won’t get back to it later. Let’s not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let’s leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!


On a much lighter note…

I got a tattoo a week or so ago. It’s a tattoo I’d been wanting for awhile now. For various reasons, Zach and I agreed now would be the perfect time to get it. And so I did.

This picture was taken right after it was done. It’s healed now and looks better, but this is the only good picture I have of it. It’s actually straight, though hard to tell depending on how I’m standing (I had debated getting it straight or having it go along the angle of my collarbone, I know, such difficult matters I consider).

Why did I get this? Well firstly because it’s true. For a long time I doubted it. You know? Don’t we all? But we are called God’s beloved many times in the Bible (Google tells me 70 times) and I really love that idea, that God truly and sincerely loves me.

When I look back at various moments in my life I realize that the times when I’ve messed up severely are the times when I’ve forgotten that simple truth. That I’ve doubted or outright disbelieved that God could possibly love me so much as to call me His “beloved”.

But it’s true. And perhaps for the first time in my life recently I get what that fully means. I get that by knowing I am God’s beloved within the deepest parts of me it will change the way I treat myself, it will change the way I treat the people around me. It will allow me to move through humanity without skin. To allow love instead of fear to seep out and cover the people I meet and love every day.

I’m probably not going to succeed every day, I know that. But at least it still remains true every day.

My other debate before the tattoo? Part of me wanted to get it so that I could read it when I looked in the mirror-making it illegible to you all.

Then I decided on getting it so you all could read it. Yeah I wanted you to read it. Because I figured if someone saw me every day (say, taking a class from me) then maybe one of those days they’ll actually accept it. And internalize it. Or maybe one of those days they’ll just need to hear it. Maybe you only ever see it/me once? Well perhaps you still needed to hear it just that one time.

So there you go. I love tattoos. I will never again get one on my collarbone, by the way, mostly because it hurt like a mother…but I love this tattoo. And it’s okay if you don’t. 🙂

You’re still God’s Beloved. And so am I.


Binyam had his 3rd surgery on Wednesday. I like to think this was his last but the way the doctor talked about his right foot being really messed up when he saw it, I’m not entirely convinced. We are still hopeful that it will be.

The week leading up to surgery we were talking about how he’d have surgery. Binyam seemed fairly blaze about the whole thing, but his siblings started freaking out as soon as they realized what it all meant. So much so that on Wednesday morning when I went to get the kids up for school, the big boys were already dressed…with their Ethiopian bands on as a sign of solidarity.

My very generous mom came over on Tuesday night so that she could get the kids to school (and pull weeds in my garden. Ai yi yi) while Zach and I got Bini to the hospital. This meant that I got snuggles and Zach got to play with my Binyam pre-surgery.

Surgery took right around 2 hours and Binyam did so well. In fact, the nurses reported that he smiled during surgery. He is inspiring. The doctor had said as long as he can keep down oral pain medicine and some food, we would be able to go home that day. We were hopeful but we were adamant about not going home until Binyam was ready. It took him awhile until he was out of the fog, throwing up all of the pain meds/ the food for awhile. But then he did it. He kept it all down. And we got to go home.

The only problem was, my mom took our Honda Pilot home and we had just one way back…my mom’s BMW. It’s a convertible. It’s a 2 door. We had Binyam with his casts, his wheelchair, me, Zach and various stuff my mom had in her car. Zach could hardly reach the stick shift. It.was.amazing.

Binyam had a good night the first night. He woke up happy. ‘Nuff said.

2 days later Binyam and I went grocery shopping (which, incidentally, I will never do again. I’m sweating just remembering it.)

This boy. Oh this boy. He is strong. He is brave. He inspires me so much that I’m even more humbled at the honor of being his mom. I have no idea why I got so blessed. But I am. So, so blessed by this boy. Continued prayers and happy thoughts for his recovery are appreciated. Binyam will be in full leg casts for about 6 weeks and then a few more weeks in casts just under his knees. For a boy who never stops, this is tantamount to prison. 🙂

Gone Campin’

This past weekend we went to a truly beautiful campsite. It was over 2 hours away from our house so it was our first “official” camping trip. I don’t even know how to express how amazing the weekend was. The weather was perfect, the company was perfect. There was a playground for the kids to spend some time swinging and making new friends. We hiked, we laughed, we loved. It.was.perfect.

Our bed. A Queen air mattress. Judge if you must.

Our brood’s set up.

The set up. Did I mention we had the best campsite?

Tariku helped whip up some mac and cheese for one of our lunches.

Z helped dish it out.

There was some light reading by the fire.

Saturday Zach and the kiddos decided they wanted to do some major fishing. So first, he had to give some casting lessons.

The fishermen/woman.

I dislike fishing (bor-ing) so I thought I should probably bring my chair and books. I read a little, dozed a little. mmmm. Bliss.

Not sure I could love this picture more. Tariku was further to the left, he didn’t fit in the frame.

The catch of the day. No joke.

Doozie was over it after a handful of minutes. She became my little buddy who would wake me up if someone got a nibble on their line.

Oh, and she sucked on a blue sucker. That matched her eyes.

This guy was the next to quit fishing. Dang he’s cute.

After getting back to the site and a snack we decided it was time for a hike.

We found some cool looking berries and other plants.

We I took a lot of pictures of the kids.

Trysten turned the camera on us (side note: how camper-ish do I look right now? Yup, all about the socks and shoes.)

Whenever we go on walks Tomas is constantly evaluating sticks. He takes forever to pick out the perfect stick. I asked him about it this weekend. Apparently he would do that in Ethiopia. He’d pick the perfect stick to put on his back to help him carry 2 jugs of water. At 4 years old.

On our way back we found this perfect log.

We tried to get them to jump off at the same time with no luck. So I had to show them how to do it.

Their attempt.

Zach’s turn.

The twins.

Binyam loves him some pop. Loves it.

Saturday night was one of the best nights of my life. I can’t even explain why. We spoiled the kids with as many chips, s’mores and pop they could handle. Oh my. So. Fun. Zach was, in a word, manly. So hot.

I developed a love of knives. Zach realized he kind of liked my newfound love of knives. He also liked my new tattoo.

They were loving it.

His favorite way to prepare beans.

My dinner. Veggie burgers, fresh tomatoes, onions. mmmmm.

S’mores. I was in so much bliss I didn’t even notice…

What can I say? Like mother, like son.

If you don’t already, you need to do this with your family. We put away the cell phones, all of the other distractions. We just spent time with each other. The kids literally cried when I told them it was time to go. Can’t wait to do it again.


This is how much I love the man behind the camera.

My boys. I love them so much. So, so much.

I became a leeeeetle obsessed with the gray background.

There are no words for the amount of love I have in my heart for this guy.

The girls

I’m really in love with this picture. Because you can tell we are waiting on something. On our man who completes the picture in every single way.

Me as matriarch

The people I love more than life itself squeezed into one little picture. Blessed.