The month(s) in pictures

Not sure how long it’s been since I last posted pictures so I thought I’d make up for lost time. Seriously make up for it.

Before Thanksgiving Tomas had a 2nd grade reenactment of the “first supper” as I like to call it. I just thought there was something hilarious about an Ethiopian pretending to be a pilgrim.

I got to meet my bestie’s babe. Woody had little Donovan in October but it was my first time back in the hometown. I do love babies. 
My sister and I drove a few hours to meet my mom at my grandparents. We brought some Christmas cheer to my grandma who had just had back surgery. I am so very thankful to have both of my grandparents, particularly these two because they are just the coolest. My mom bought them a real Christmas tree and we decorated the house. I got my geeked upedness over Christmas from my mom, by the way.

Dailah (my little Parisan artiste) has absolutely fallen in love with drawing.
We went and helped my parents pick out their Christmas tree. Zach was supermodel hot, Binyam was freezing.

Mitigu is getting big and stealing the dog’s pillow. (Can you believe my mother-in-law made this pillow. Thread portraits are the coolest.)
The kids behaved like a bunch of 20-yr-olds before church playing some chess and some 500.
My turkey trotters
I became super nostalgic looking at the kids’ school pics. Especially Tomas’s. Tomas at 7 on the left and at about 4 on the right. Too cute.
A man who does the dishes and still has tie to give the kitty a kiss? Fuggetaboutit.
I went on a field trip with Tariku’s class to our Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. He and I needed our time together more than we knew. This boy I must never let slip through the cracks. He deserves so much more.
I’ve been learning to snowboard. More on that later but let’s just say I’ve taken my cheap assedness to new levels.
Just because they’re creative in their pursuits for comfort.
There have been LOTS of snuggles.
At my soccer game (1 minute into it) I hear a scream in the stands and see my mom and Zach running to the aid of Dailah who was cupping her face. Then I see Zach cradling her and waving me frantically towards them. The force of her fall (on concrete steps) busted open her chin.

I got my cuddles. She was a champion.

12 stitches later.

One word. Pinterest. That’s all for now.
We celebrated my beloved nephew Eli’s 5th birthday. Sinta was ridiculously cute (I do love Zach’s relationship with his nieces/nephews, have I mentioned that before?) and Eli. What can I say about him? I just love him so much. 

Tariku. He is more gorgeous than you can imagine. He’s also sweeter than you can imagine. Love him so much.
Zach made some shiro the other night. We haven’t tried injera yet so it went over rice. Tomas and Tariku loved it. The rest of us loved the taste but almost died with the heat. Either way, it was amazing. Thank you Captain for being amazing and showing us the way.

Merry Christmas 2011

I am totally that person. The one who had an entire refrigerator covered with Christmas cards from loved ones and I have never sent one out. Ever. This year I had some seriously great intentions. Our family is feeling pretty settled, I had a great idea for the exact picture and the exact phrasing. And then I remembered that can get pretty expensive. I remembered I’d rather buy water or buy a stove with the money I was going to spend and so that’s what I did.

The good news is that you’re all (kind of) getting a card anyway! And by that I mean, here is what our letter would have said.

But be assured, dear readers, that I think of you often. I pray for you. I send copious amounts of love and well wishes to you each and every day. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for supporting and loving our family in 2011. To another amazing year!

*Note: This is super long. It will stand as a scrapbook type thing for our family so no hard feelings if you  take a graceful exit now.*

Merry Christmas 2011

Another year here in Klipschville. How is that possible? The kids continue to grow and change and develop and I continue to ask myself why. Why do they have to do that? Truth be told their ages just continue to delight me. Every year I say to myself, “This is my favorite year with their ages.” I literally say that every year. But this year I’m serious.

Trysten (8): The quintessential eldest. He is ridiculously smart, ridiculously empathetic. Trysten loves to read as much as I do and can often be found with nose in a book. At the dinner table (or so he tries), in the car, walking, always with a book. Right now he is in the thick of the 5th Harry Potter book (the Order of the Phoenix amiright?!?!) which makes me squeal with delight. We told the kids when they finish a HP book and can tell us what happened then they get a special night with us watching the movies. Trysten has eaten that up. Trysten’s style is skater chic. He likes his hair in his eyes long, jeans tight and dark, skulls on his shirts. He would trade all of that, of course, to have a shirt/sweatshirt that matches his dad’s. Trysten has enjoyed playing baseball, soccer and basketball this year. Though naturally gifted he doesn’t have what one would call “the fighting spirit” in him. He could oft be found twirling his hair instead of engaging in sport but in the end, he still tells us he wants to participate and that’s all we need to hear. My prayer for Trysten has always been that his empathetic nature leads him to defend the “defenseless” and care for people who need it. A few weeks ago he won a “spirit award” for sticking up to his classmates who were bullying a kid. I cried when I got the call from the school because I knew in that moment that we were doing something right.

Tomas (7): The happiest kid you will ever meet in your entire life ever. Ever. He wakes up in the morning with a groggy smile and a hoarse “Morning mama” that melts my heart and makes me pledge my allegiance to his eternal happiness. Tomas never tattles. Never. He literally hates for any of his siblings to be in trouble. Every day after school he talks about his “best friend” though those best friends are new each day and change with the wind. Not because he’s not loyal but because I think he truly sees the best in each person. Tomas has officially caught up with his age in reading and they are working towards that in math. He is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen in my life. He wants it so badly. I can’t wait for the day when things are easier for him but until then I’ve learned to take 10 deep breaths when I’m helping him with his homework. 🙂 Though he played baseball, it has become increasingly clear that soccer and basketball are more up his alley. That big ole heart of his flops around the field/court with as much gusto as one could imagine. Every time the play is away from him he can be found looking towards his family with a grin and a wave. I can be found with an identical grin and an even more excited wave. Tomas’s style would probably be referred to as “preppy”. Loves him some collared shirts. Loves them so much he often tries pairing them with sweatpants if no other options are clean. Though he tried to rock the afro like his little brother, in the end he remembered that he hates combing his hair so he asked for it to be cut. My prayer for Tomas is that he constantly sees the good in people. That he doesn’t let the few bad apples in the world ruin his perspective. Last week he got bullied by a little girl. After telling me all of the details he asked if he could write her a letter. When I asked him why he would want to do that he replied, “I want her to know I forgive her and I still want her to be my friend.”

Tariku (6): The prodigy. I’m not sure how else to describe him, really. He is fiercely smart, fiercely loving and fiercely loyal. He is good at every.single.thing. he does. Though he excels in school he doesn’t love it the way Trysten does. His real bread and butter (or pizza in his case) is sports. He played baseball, soccer and basketball this year as well and loved every minute of it. Tariku has “the fighting spirit” his oldest brother lacks. His face literally takes on a different shape when he’s geared up for competition. He throws everything at it too. In general, that’s a good thing. Unfortunately that means there are some tears shed when his team loses. Though I’ve played sports my entire life I’ve never felt that much pain at losing, fortunately his dad was the same way. Those two yahoos could talk for hours about the disappointment they feel when losing. I actually really like seeing them like that together, I just wish Tariku wasn’t so hard on himself! His style would certainly be “athletic”. He would like to live in basketball shorts and a t-shirt thankyouverymuch! He likes his hair long in an afro or in braids. He refuses to get it cut, which is just fine by us! Tariku is bar none the most helpful person in the house (myself included). Every morning when I get the kids up he has fed the cat and fed one of the dogs. He has put the toothpaste on the brushes and helped Binyam pick out his clothes. He and I bond over our OCD love of organizing. Every year we go through toys before Christmas to get rid of ones we never play with. The two of us simultaneously rolled up our sleeves, grinned at each other and had a merry old time powering through 3 bedrooms in as many hours. Tariku is very cognizant of fairness. He always has been but as he gets older and bigger he also gets louder in his cries for fairness. With 5 kids and a mom who is sometimes so scatterbrained she can’t remember which kid has gotten what, fairness is not always the name of the game. I do believe the issue is deeper with my beloved Tariku but we are trying to teach in him the power of patience. My prayer for Tariku has always been firstly that he knows we love him with every inch of us and secondly that he uses that passion for fairness to right some wrongs in this world. It should come as no surprise to you then that he is the first to ask how much we give to clean water or ask questions about subjects on the radio that alert his inequality radar.

Dailah (5): Our girl. Sometimes I do believe that’s all we would need to say about her for people to understand all that entails but alas I am prone to self indulgence so here I go. Damn that girl is a sweetheart. She still loves to cuddle and hold hands. She grabs both sides of your face when she gives goodnight kisses and lingers until she erupts in giggles. She loves everything pink, sparkly, shiny, girly. She has a style all her own. Loves wearing tights every day and lives in layers upon layers. I envy her fashion sense, I will tell you that. More than that she is so smart and so funny. She, like Tariku, excels in school but tends to love it more for the social aspect. Any time we pick her up early for class at least 10 classmates call her name with arms outstretched waiting for a hug. Her teacher tells us everyone loves her and wants to sit by her. This comes as no surprise to us because we find her brothers naturally gravitate to her sides as well. As girly as she is she still enjoys a good sport. She also played soccer this year. Most of the time she was holding the hand of her coach or walking aimlessly but every once in awhile she’d get some previously undiscovered energy and go for it. More than that she’s also the first to try skateboarding, taking mice off traps, biking down hills, sledding, etc. This would explain why she recently needed stitches in her chin. After falling down 4 large concrete steps we took her to the hospital where she needed a few handful of stitches. Complain she did not, instead she told the doctor of her Christmas wishlist and her brothers. She is passionate, hilarious and kind. For her I pray that she uses that humor and that joy to bring light to places without. So they too can know it.

Binyam (5): The babe. He is sweet, he is kind, he is patient and he is steadfast. He is courageous and brave and quirky and cute. This fall brought his 3rd and (hopefully) final surgery on his club feet. They look rather amazing so we are all praying it really is his last. At night he has to wear some sort of torture device contraption that is simply 2 shoes on a metal rod. This metal rod keeps his feet about hip width apart with toes turned out. During the day he wears corrective shoes as well. He, of course, takes all of this in stride. Never one to complain, Binyam happily calls these shoes his “cool dude shoes” and has a look about him that dares anyone to disagree with him. Binyam, like Tomas, is a friend to all. On Saturday I was looking for him at the basketball courts and lo and behold he had talked one of the coaches into shooting hoops with him. Only Binyam. His smile lights up this entire earth, I tell you. No day goes by without someone calling him a “heartbreaker” and I dare say I agree with them completely. Binyam goes to a full day preschool this year and I can’t even put into words how good it’s been for him. Just tonight he was able to write his name with no help from us. Last year at this time he couldn’t even point to his name after a year of preschool. We are so pleased with his progress and hard work! Binyam does not respond at all to any sort of anger. If one speaks to him with the slightest bit of displeasement he shuts down. His teachers (and parents!) have finally figured out the only way to discipline him is to talk in a happy voice about the issue. As weird as that is to get used to, it works every time. Binaym is a doting little brother. Every morning as we drop the other 4 off at school he yells out, “I love you Dailah!” The two of them couldn’t be any closer if they were born of the same womb. For Binyam I pray constantly that the spirit and determination with which he’s fought in his short life will sustain him throughout. Because man, he’s amazing.

Zach and I are still going strong. This year brought on challenges but also brought on the most amazing newness to our relationship. I can say without hesitation that these last months have been the very best of my life and I owe it all to the man who agreed to marry me those many years ago. I’m so, so thankful for him.

Zach continues to be the director of the camp where we live. He truly excels at his job and has won lots of praise for it. This year, like every other, he has taken on many different hobbies and lost almost as many. The gusto with which he tackles and tries new things inspires me and keeps me on my toes as well. I really do live for that man.

This lady here, well I’m defining a new normal as well. With the kids in school all day I’ve found my days float by at alarming speeds. Some days I’m constantly busy and when I sit down to tell Zach about my day I have nothing to show for it. How does this happen? That said, I’m still teaching my classes at the Y and loving every minute of that. I’ve met so many good friends and interesting people there, it’s a true passion of mine. No telling what the next year will hold for me but I know it will be filled with more laughter and goodness than I can possibly imagine.

Blessings to you in the new year!

Let me tell you a little story

about my Spidey sense.

I have a freakish sense of smell. Zach calls it my basset hound. As in “honey, break out the basset hound I think I smell something”.

When I was pregnant it got downright ridiculous. I could actually smell gas before it left the anal cavity. No. joke.

It both drove Zach crazy and impressed the hell out of him.

When we brought home the Christmas bush I immediately said to Zach, “This doesn’t smell like a Christmas tree.”

“That’s because it’s not, Tesi, it’s a half dead cedar or something.”

I didn’t think too much of it because I was smitten with the darn thing.

Fast forward to the next day. We walked into the house and I immediately smelled kitty litter. Since we have a cat I naturally deduced that the kitty litter had gotten sucked into the vent system and was now spreading the smell throughout all of the house.

So I moved the kitty littler to a place that had no vent system anywhere near it.

The next day I walked in the house and it still smelled like, pardon my french, a bag of buttholes. Basset hound went to work and surmised it was the tree.


I turned to Zach, broke the news that the tree was going to have to go. Basset hound couldn’t possibly live harmoniously with the foul smelling bush for another month.

Zach’s response? “This is my hell.”

But he loves me more than any human deserves and so he properly disposed of the bush.

Unfortunately all that was left was a Christmas tree I bought (or maybe my sister bought, can’t remember if I paid her back for that actually) for Wine to Water. It was $11. It is not pretty.

That said, she (clearly it’s a she) kind of fits in our family. At least until I find another bush that doesn’t smell like death warmed over.

*Please notice the wayward sword. House full of mostly boys, it’s gonna happen.

A Klipsch Christmas

Today was the day. The day we went to pick out our tree. Always a time we enjoy. For more examples please see last year’s tree, my personal favorite would be from 2 years ago though.

Anywho, I really wanted it to be from camp again this year just because last year I missed being able to go out and pick one in the middle of the forrest. There’s something about this

that makes me think it’s not Christmas until we’ve frozen our collective asses off in pursuit of the perfect family Christmas tree.

I think we did it again this year, although this year we might want to call this the Klipsch Christmas bush. Perhaps you can help us with the description of this one.

But first the search.

It did require hiking and since Binyam’s feet are still recovering and Dailah is a diva, the two of them hung out with me most of the time while the other man/manboys checked out the situation.

This one. Oy.

We ended up at one right next to the car. Tomas had first sighted it but I thought he was just trying to get out of the aforementioned ass freezing. Ended up being about the only possible tree.

Zach earned a super man card. First for his super sweet hat and second for chopping down the tree with just his hands and a small axe. That’s hot. But seriously, how great is this picture? Please notice the side panel missing on the Pilot and the overwhelming overwhelmingness of the Christmas tree.

When we got home the kids commenced to shenanigans while Zach took care of the tree.

They are actual really great helpers.

This good picture took 20 takes. He was in a mood.

Binyam took 22 minutes to get 1 ornament on. He is tenacious in all things.

I must admit to judging people with those “perfect” Christmas trees with all the ornaments matching and well placed. Especially if they are located in houses with kids. I only have so many years where the ornaments reach only the bottom half, I’m not speeding through those if I can help it.

Truly I love this Christmas tree because it represents our family way more than any given traditional tree. It’s imperfect, kind of messed up, messy, unique, original. But in the end it’s found its redemption.


Having not played soccer for close to a decade, I had been able to fool myself into believing I didn’t really miss it…until my kids got older and started to get competitive in their soccer leagues. It had been on my mind recently to really try to find a co-ed or women’s league around me. Co-ed would’ve been ideal as then my brother and sister could’ve played with me. But at one of my classes one night some young women mentioned they were on a soccer team. I latched onto them immediately. Within a week I had signed my sister and me up for a women’s soccer league.

We play Wednesday nights. The second game I played I pulled my quad. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, it seemed. If Kansas was the body of an 18-yr-old, that is. Nevertheless, it has been really fun.

I even realized I could still run.

But the best part has got to be that I get to play with my big sister. In high school we were referred to as “The Double D’s”. Much to my dismay it was not due to our rather robust chest size (although perhaps my sister could be a single D these days…I digress). It was actually due to our last name being “Dawson”. Also due to the fact that we were the 2 forwards and would often be the assist/goal combo. It was a great time. This past Wednesday, the double D’s were out and proud (again, not talking about breasts). My sister scored and I felt ridiculously joyful. Made me so excited for our kids to grow up and have this experience with their siblings. Especially when they are on the sidelines and make the same sorts of faces.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here

If you’ve been reading this little blog awhile you know that I’m a total nerd when it comes to my love and devotion to all things Christmas. Fairly certain it’d be annoying if I weren’t so charming. 😉

The kids LOVE this. I’m not just saying that. They seriously love this.

You know who never used to love this? Zach. To be fair, I do tend to grate on nerves this time of year. That said, he’s a terrific husband. And he loves me so much. Truly, our marriage has never been better and most of that has to do with this guy.


Speaking of stockings, how about these that my mom-in-law made? Can’t help but notice there is clearly room for a few more, right honey?

Mitigu tried to help decorate too. He ended up just knocking down all the decor. Regardless, he’s so freakin’ cute.

Obviously our favorite part. My grandmother made this nativity set. Zach and I enjoy this set because it provides many great discussions. One of my favorite things to do is add that little bit of “snow”. Why? Was there really snow in Bethlehem? Probably not. Still fun to watch Zach question many things I do regarding this nativity set. Doozie of course loves her some baby Jesus.

After a few minutes I noticed Zach and I were really the only ones going strong. But who can get angry with a couple of budding chess players? Not this gal.

Feeling very, very blessed these days.