Turkey Trot

Or in this house “Tofurkey Trot”. Our My favorite Thanksgiving tradition. This year it was unseasonably warm (and by that I mean it was 37 degrees) at start time.

The kids and I (sans Binyam seeings he was one day out of casts) decided to run the 1 mile. I thought it’d be this fun family run but as soon as the gun went off the boys took off. Weaving and running through the crowds. Dailah was a smitten kitten holding my hand and walk/jogging.

We saw the boys at about half way mark. This was also the moment Dailah decided she was done with the race. More on that later.

Tomas, on the other hand, was first one done. A quick 9 minute mile for this guy. He smiled the entire way. Who does that?

Tariku was next. He also smiled the entire time…except for when he was turning on the engine. When he had someone to beat in his eyeline his face grew fierce.

Trysten chose to run some with his uncle Frank and cousin Cash, some with his buddy from camp. Not sure he smiled the entire time, frankly. Might have gotten that from me.

As previously mentioned, Dailah decided about halfway through that she was done running/ walking. I wanted to finish. The only way to accomplish that was to throw her on my back for the last half mile.

Oh, that was until the last 50 meters. For that she decided to sprint her cute little butt off.

Daddy wanted to run the 5 miles with our dogs so that meant the kids and I got to get some refreshments in between races.

Hot cocoa was the favorite amongst this group.

Of course we had to meet daddy and dogs at the finish. My he-man ended up pulling 260lbs worth of dogs across the finish. Legend tells me the dogs quit at about mile 3. But how cute are they? They are always a big hit wherever we go.

Family picture on Tofurkey day. They are bar none the very best people on this earth.

Binyam-Freedom Mel Gibson style

Last Wednesday Bean had a pretty big day. After many months of being in various sizes of casts Binyam is now free. And his feet look amazing!!!!

Right after they were off he wanted to itch the months of dead skin off. They told us specifically not to let him itch (that was after last time when I let him go to town on them. Whoops) Big sister Dailah is all about babying helping her little brother. So she rubbed his feet for him.

This was just because…come on. Her style is so much cooler than mine.

Went to get him new shoes. He still has to wear braces at night and corrective shoes during the day but those wouldn’t be in for a few weeks so we thought he deserved some new kicks.


When we got home I soaked his feet for about 20 minutes just rubbing the crap off. The tub was not pretty when I was done. You know what was pretty? His little piggies.

Are they not the most perfect feet you’ve seen in your life?!?!?!?

Go here to see pictures of his feet pre 3 surgeries. Happy thanksgiving indeed!

Tell me a story

Mommy tell me a story about me. Tariku said tonight at dinner. 

Tariku isn’t a kid who likes the attention on him. Good or bad he’d rather raise someone else up than have the focus be on him. At 6-years-old he’s the only kid on his basketball team who passes more than he shoots. Only kid on his team who celebrates just as much (if not more so) when his teammates score as he does when he scores. As his mom, when he asks for a story, I do it. Because it does not happen often.
So I tell him the story of the first time Zach and I saw his face in person. That moment when our eyes connected and he jumped up from his chair and ran, diving into Zach’s arms. I explained how he grabbed the stickers from my hands and placed a sticker on each of his friend’s foreheads before he placed one on his. We talked and talked about stories from Ethiopia. Tariku, who has heard these stories at least 20 times, laughs at the right moments. But he laughs a laugh of a kid who is hearing it about someone else.
Do you remember any of this? I ask
Eyes down, biting his lip. No

How does that make you feel to not remember? Does it make you sad?

Eyes on me, tears fill then run over. Yes

Daddy to the rescue. Tariku I found a video of you! A video from when you first came home. 

The family of 7 gathers around the small screen. We laugh at the right moments, I squeeze his shoulder. I suck up the tears. He was so small, his smile so bright. At the close of the video Tariku looks to me with the renewed sense of identity and I smile back hoping he knows how much I wish things were different for him.
Tomas has a bump on his chin. It’s large. It feels like he broke his chin and it was never fixed so his jaw bone just grew another jaw. He has a large scar over his eyebrow. 
Binyam has tiny marks all over his torso. Black little lines, some look like small circles. 
These boys came to us with stories. Tariku was 3 when we met him, Tomas was 6 and Binyam was 3. These are, of course, estimated ages. Regardless, there were years of stories that are left untold by anyone in this family. 
And it breaks my freakin’ heart. 
Tell me a story about me. 
I both love and hate when they ask this of me. Because I know, of course, that their stories don’t start at 3 and 6. But dammit if that’s all I know. 
I ache to tell them of their birth, the way their moms kissed their foreheads or the way their dads first held them and gave them their names. I long to tell them of the time they were running too fast and split open their face. I wish I knew where every scar came from. 
But I don’t. I have no idea if any of that happened. And though all of the boys have many memories from Ethiopia they don’t remember the things they most want to.
Did my mom look at me the way you do? Did my brothers love me the way my brothers/sister here do? Was I funny in Ethiopia? Was I smart? Did I struggle with this? Did I excel at that? 
So much of my identity sprung from the first few years of my life. And it does for my boys too. Tonight I wish the amount of love I have for them would be enough. Enough to conjure up their stories. Their complete stories. 
But it isn’t. 
And so I’ll repeat the same stories. The stories of when our story first started together. And hope that it’s enough, until of course it’s not. Then I’ll rely on grace and mercy to help them heal.
Tariku wrote a note tonight after storytelling. “for mom and dad from Tariku. Thank you mommy for adopting me from Ethopea. Amarica is a grate plase to live and this is for you to dad. I love you two.” Below that is the Ethiopian flag and the American flag.
I love him so much. That’s why it hurts so bad to see his tears and hear the meaning behind his words. That’s why international adoption cannot be entered into lightly. It’s not about you, it’s about them. And they have so much healing to do. I guess we all do, don’t we?
Grace and mercy. Thankful for those too. 

iPhone Friday

Pics lately. I have every intention of getting back to the blog but it turns out I’ve neglected many things in the wake of the water party. Laundry? Been doing it for days. Cooking? What cooking? Excited to get back on the wagon but finding it’s easier taking baby steps. And by baby steps I mean catching up on DVR.

No joke Mitigu walks around like this on Zach’s shoulder. He’s not only the baby whisperer, turns out he’s the cat whisperer too.

Speaking of cats…Miti was great help during Water event planning.

How much do you love the new hat?

The cheering squad for the big boys’s basketball games.

We celebrated my beautiful niece’s 1st birthday. Love her so much.

Meet “Ron Weasley” Trysten’s new fish. His teacher wrote a note home “We have a few aggressive goldfish that keep eating my other small fish. Please let me know if you would be willing to take one or more off my hands.” I wrote back, “Sure I guess we’ll take 1.” Tman is totally responsible for him so I’m just praying the little guy lives for a long time in goldfish years lest his blood be on my eldest’s hands.

This coat is so cute. I mean, really, she looks like a dessert.

Did I mention it’s almost Christmas music season? If you’re cheap someone like me you rent CDs at the library and listen to them before buying them. What if they suck? I can’t waste money like that. Yippeee! Just a few weeks and I can unleash the power of the Christmas tune.

Wine to Water 2011

A few days can give you perspective on something that is so wildly magical and blessed. I’m happy I chose to give it a few days before I blogged about the event.

That’s what it was, Saturday night. Magical and blessed. I posted more about the details last year and most of them were the same.

Set up this time took considerably less time because the people helping were the same people from last year (and some even helped 2 years ago). We were like a well oiled machine, we were. So Saturday morning just brought my parents, Leslie and Zach with me to the space where we did a few finishing touches.

Saturday afternoon brought basketball games for the boys and my now official good friend to camp. Captain Murdock came whilst my bestie Chrissy had curlers in my hair and was probably straddling me applying make up. When you unleash these stay-at-home mamas on a night like this one there’s no telling what will happen with hair and make up. Also, there may or may not have been some very dirty music playing at the time too, we do enjoy a pre-party pump up around here.

The Captain and her amazing friends came with us to help with last minute details at the space before opening time. Captain is even better than her blog persona. She’s beautiful, tiny, smart, loving, a great friend and really funny. As my “fine art liaison” she was terrific with Excel and invaluable as someone who handled the many questions when the auction was closed. One of my favorite parts of the night was having her there, and I’m not just saying that because she drove 6 hours and had to sleep on a bunk bed with my large dogs scaring her friends. Captain had more to say about the event here. Also, she was the photographer. Can you believe I didn’t bring my camera? Completely forgot.

The event isn’t all glamour, however, just a half hour before showtime the elevator was still only working with my top secret key fob. This picture was taken just before my 10 minute lecture conversation to the elevator man in which I basically said, “You promised me a working elevator, make it happen within the next 30 minutes or I swear to you I will unleash a plague of locusts (or just my cop friend who packs heat wherever he goes).” Here with my sister, Kara and Chrissy.

One of my favorite parts of the space, right when you walk in. Choose your favorite wine glass.

Lots of Christmas trees. Reminds people about the spirit of Christmas. We have always been and will always be about trading consumerism for compassion at Christmas.

And lit up wine glasses? Perfect fit for the event.

Leslie had such a great idea here. The “Just add water table”. We sold hot chocolate “sip”, bath salts “soak” and soup, um…”soup”. We also sold local wine (with money going to water). Are you in love with the custom labels on the wine? Thanks to my friend, Angie, they turned out beautifully.

Speaking of Leslie…that sister of mine is magic. She worked so hard on all of this. At one point in the night she divulged the small detail that she had been living on coffee the last few days. That’s her way of telling me she had been thinking and dreaming and stressing about the event as much as I had been. I love her. I’m so, so thankful for her.

One of the other things Leslie took care of was organizing dessert makers. They were so delicious every. last. one of them.

One of the coolest parts of the night was how many people were asking when the presentation was going to be. This was the biggest indicator there were people there who hadn’t heard about the water crisis before. (side note: this dress was beautiful in person but it didn’t photograph well. But did I mention it had pockets! Loved the pockets!)

The music. First one up was a woman I met through my other sister-in-law, Kate. Katie was amazing. She was absolutely perfect for the venue. The second group up happened to be one man I’m so deeply in love with and the other is one of my good friends. They call themselves Moistly Cloudy. Don’t ask. But Moistly was not just mostly amazing, they were simply spectacular.

Look at this space! Still the most beautiful spot in town.

Good friends came and supported. Can’t express how good it feels to be lifted up on friends’ shoulders when you’re at your wits end. These two were some of the angels who did that for me.

After the night is mostly over, most people have left, it’s a well kept secret that we have an “after party”. Captain Murdock captured it well on her blog post. Captain Murdock and myself at the after party.

Again I’m at a loss. So many people help with this event. It would be physically impossible without my parents. They bring a lot of the stuff we use, they physically move most of the stuff in and out of the space. They donate so much time and money to make it work. They love me, it’s so obvious on nights like that one.

And Zachary, of course Zachary. Everyone knows behind every great woman is a greater man and that is no doubt true of my relationship with that half of Moistly Cloudy. He is a perfect partner, so grateful for him.

Saturday night was our most successful Wine to Water yet in terms of number of people who came (around 250), amount of feedback I’ve gotten afterwards (sheer volume of emails asking how to “give” water for Christmas has been crazy big) and potentially dollars raised once it’s all said and done. That’s the best part of this whole thing. Everything everyone did to make it successful means at least 2 wells being dug. Means more than 500 people given clean water who were once without.

Captain texted me earlier, “You should hurry up and blog about hte party. I’ve been wanting to but don’t want to steal your blog thunder.”

I responded, “Plan to do that today. Please feel free. Only thunder to steal is God’s and I don’t think he’ll mind.”

It’s so true. Something like this can only be described as a “God thing”. So many little things that made it what it was wouldn’t have been possible without some major miracles.

Been riding on a cloud of thanksgiving for the last week. Can’t see that lessening anytime soon. Thanks for all of your prayers, all of you who came and all of you helped. Thank you, thank you.


Because I don’t have words yet (I’m pretty sure they don’t come clearly when you’re as tired as I am. Plus, I’m in a glass case of emotion so trust that I’m sparing you) for last night. So instead I’ll discuss set up from Friday.

Remember how I’ve discussed with you that the space has no outlets inside? That we have to run extension chords out to the hallway? Really, this place is em-pty. It takes so much work to set up. Thankfully I have the world’s best family and friends.

First thing is first. On Friday I loaded up the Honda Pilot, quite literally, with all things Wine to Water.

As soon as I arrived there were 15 of my friends and family ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Cake pops were brought up by one of our generous dessert makers, titilating us all with their delicious looking frosting and sugary sweet smells. Truly, have you seen anything more beautiful?

This rather handsome duo practiced their music for us. Perfection.

Auntie Lindsey snuggled my Doba Days who was getting over some nasties and actually fell asleep on my mom’s lap. Crazy.

I may or may not have sampled one of the art pieces. Also may or may not have won said art piece through my generous mom. May or may not be super happy about that.

Some of the sneaky (helpful) people upping the bidding before the night commenced. Classic them.

Did I mention the friends and family? This might be a theme of the series…but you probably knew that already.

2 more

Okay everybody. Here are the last two. We were going to put more on the world wide web but we do want to reward the people who actually come to the party as well. Plus, some of them are so big and/or heavy that shipping would require a little more effort.

So here you go.

12) Hand sculpture.

13) 16×20 canvas

For more information and details as to how to bid, go here. You have just over a day to get those bids in. Thank you so, so much. Remember that 100% of your donation goes to water. Happy bidding!

Art Auction

Yippeee! It’s here. I’ve seen so much of the art* that will be on display for the event this weekend and it just makes me so excited. As I mentioned here, I am giving you all a chance to win some of it as well. This is just a snap shot of the art, and I will probably be adding a piece or two throughout the week.**

Here are the rules:

Email me: (tesileagh@gmail.com) with the following: 1) The number of the piece you love, 2) Your highest bid, 3) your address (for shipping purposes).

The bidding begins now and will end Saturday, November 12th at noon. At the event this lovely lady will bid on your behalf. Feel free to make multiple bids on pieces because there is a chance you will be outbid on something. If you have any questions about the pieces, etc please email and ask! I am an open book with all things! Sunday afternoon you will get an email letting you know if you are the winning bidder. Oooh, exciting! Like Christmas!

And bid, baby bid! Remember that 100% of your donation goes to water.

Ready, set, go!

1) Framed 16×20 Mixed media acrylic painting on canvas.

2) Hand painted apron (by a woman who happens to be South African).

3) 20×20 fabric art with cotton fabrics, metallic threads, foiling and grandson’s hand.

4) 8×10 photogloss paper.

5) 5’x4′ quilt.

6) Purse with fabric paint

7) 8×10 custom framed photograph of Davenport, IA

8) 8×12 custom framed photograph of Wrigley Field

9) 16×20 acrylic on canvas

10) 8×10 framed watercolor

11) 8×10 custom framed photograph


*Leslie and I are not professional photographers so please don’t judge the rather exceptional art with the rather ordinary camera work.

**If we have new pieces I will post a new blog that will alert you via Google Reader or what have you that there is something new. Or just do it the old fashioned way and check back in every day!

This week

In less than a week the water party will be upon us. Which means lots of work until then.

I wanted to let you all in on it, though, because so many of you have written asking how you can be involved from across the country. So here’s what I came up with.

Every year we do an art auction. This year we’re letting you in on the auction action (much like the first year for those of you who have been there from the beginning). On Tuesday I will post pictures of a few of the pieces of art that will be up for bid the night of the party. You will be able to email me with your highest bid and someone (hopefully this beautiful friend) will bid on your behalf.

So check back here Tuesday, it will be worth it. You want a little teaser? The amazing, talented, beautiful Fiddlehead did this for water. I only kind of want you to bid on it because actually I really, really want it.

There’s more where that came from. The artists have stepped it up this year and you stand to benefit when you join us for the online auction this Tuesday. Check back here then. It’s going to be exciting!