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!