Where it all started for me

You guys ever watch those, “Who do you think you are?” shows where celebrities go on a quest to find out what their ancestors were up to? I’ve always secretly geeked out on those, not because it’s celebrities but because I’ve always had this really weird fascination with the past.  

In my case, I’m pretty lucky to have grandparents on my mom’s side still alive and still willing and able to tell me stories about growing up. Though I could honestly say I would sit and listen to them all day, their generation is often more keen on letting the past go and sitting in silence while watching their ever-expanding family play. 

A few weeks ago most of my maternal family got together to celebrate my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary, my grandma’s 83rd birthday and my grandpa’s 90th birthday. This is them. They are the freakin’ cutest.

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Elmer and Delores successfully raised 5 kids (I say “successfully” because all children made it out still talking to each other and to their parents…this is what my dreams for mine have amounted to. 😉 ) That’s my ma there in the red, my auntie Glenda in navy and my uncles Neil (gray), Dale (maroon) and Vic (green). 

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Those 5 went on to marry (and have stayed married for a looooong time each one of them) (missing Uncle Gary in navy)

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and procreate at ever-increasing speeds. 😉 So I have a lot of cousins, and I happen to love and appreciate each and every one (I’m missing a few cousins in navy, one residing in Kentucky and the other in Chile). 

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Then we went on to marry and fornicate procreate/adopt at even more increasing speeds, creating roughly 16 great-grandchildren for Elmer and Delores. (3 not pictured, they live in Australia, we will forgive them for not showing up) 

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That Saturday I kept looking at us all wondering if my grandparents were looking at all of us thinking, “We did all of this.”

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Elmer and Delores live in a tiny town in Iowa called Frederika. I love “Fred”, as we call it, because it’s one of those towns I could let my kids walk around all day and not worry about a thing. I also love it because we had an open house for the anniversary and the entire town showed up. Not just that town, but seemingly every town within a 15 mile radius. From 3-7pm people were coming in, talking about how much it meant to them that Delores showed up to sit with them while they lost their mom to cancer or Elmer helped them build their barn. 

I must admit here that having three black sons in a town like Fred can make me a little nervous. The only ones with a hint of color for miles, they certainly stood out. But I also can’t tell you how thankful I was to watch my grandma throw her arm around Tomas and proudly introduce him as her great-grandson to her friends. I also can’t tell you how proud I was to watch my sons ask to throw away plates and cups for some of the older patrons and beam when the patrons would touch their arm and say sweetly, “Thank you sweet boy!”

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Of course I write all of this knowing I’m in a unique position of having biological children who will grow up knowing their biological great grandparents and also having children who will grow up not knowing their biological great grandparents. When I look at Elmer and Delores or my mom and dad, sometimes a bit of sadness creeps in that my boys don’t get to hang with people who share their eyes or facial expressions. When my grandma starts to laugh she looks just like my mom and I look just like the both of them. It’s remarkable to watch bits of myself play out in my grandmother. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to wonder about it all, like my boys have to do. 

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I suppose that’s why I’ve made a committment to do the digging myself on their families. Why I keep in touch with their families. I see their faces when they’ve received a letter from their loved one and I get it. 

I can’t imagine shaping a future when the past is marked with holes. I know I so often look back at old pictures of my family and gain a new understanding of why I am who I am. I’ll do the best I can with my boys but as for me, I’m so very thankful for my family. 

So very thankful for the uncles who gave me weird nicknames and “boop” my bun, for the auntie who prays for me and donates to all of my passion projects. For my cousins who took my fish off my line for me, played tea with me and even told me grandpa’s finger was stuffed in a jar in a closet (Dani!). 

And for Elmer and Delores who started it all. Happy anniversary grandma and grandpa, love you!

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11 years

11 years

Saturday my handsome hubby and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. It’s still hard for me to believe these two twenty-year-olds

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became these two not twenty-year-olds (just ask my orthaped doc)

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I wrote about our “love story” here but what I reflect on the most every year on our anniversary is just how far we’ve come. I distinctly remember being thrilled and unafraid to walk down that aisle 11 years ago because I knew who I was walking towards. So much of our boldness in deciding to get married at a young age was rooted in equal parts faith in each other and naiveté about what marriage even meant.

Now I believe our boldness in continuing to choose each other is rooted in our faith in God and our understanding that almost all a couple can weather together-we have weathered. When you’re on the other side of some of life’s greatest storms and you still look at that person and say, “Yup, it’s still you, it’s always been you.” Well then it’s a little easier to get through the next day and the day thereafter.

Z is not perfect, but the best part about that is he married someone who is about as far from perfect as they come. I think sometimes we want to find someone who balances us out, right? Someone who is good at the things we are not. I agree with that, but sometimes I think it’s more about finding someone who looks at you when all the shit you hide from other people is out and proud and says, “Yeah I can live with that every day.”

I can’t begin to describe what it feels like to walk in my front door every day, shed off my skin, and know that all of my organs are fiercely protected by the man I married when we didn’t even have the ability to legally drink. 

Happy 11 years, my love. Thank you for looking at me in all of my imperfect glory and simply stating, “Yeah I can live with that every day.”

 

School!

This summer went incredibly fast over here at casa de Klipsch. I’m sure you all feel that way as well.

I know it’s not what I’m “supposed” to say as a mama, but the truth is I really do hate when school starts. In some ways, of course, I’m excited for it. I love how excited they get, I love the routine and schedule school provides and I love coffee in the morning with Zach. But I miss lingering breakfasts with the kids, listening to their adventures on their hikes, movie nights and afternoon swims. They are all at such fun ages (10, 9, 8, 7, 6) I just truly enjoy hanging out with them.

That said, yesterday was their first day of school!

(1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade)

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This year was the first year in 4 years that I didn’t have a Kindergartner trotting his/her little body with oversized backpack up the school steps for the first time. It’s also the last year of Trysten’s elementary school days, next year he starts middle school. I tell you this to explain my lack of posts/ status updates and general weepiness yesterday specifically.

Time, stop moving so quickly you fickle, fickle little thing.

Happy learning!

If I had a million dollars…

My kids often say things like, “If I had a million dollars I would…” and the things they say range from really sweet to totally ridiculous. But Tomas? Tomas always says, “If I had a million dollars I would give clean water to the whole world.”

I don’t have a million dollars and I’m guessing most of you don’t either, but that has never stopped me from believing that we as people can rise up and provide clean water to the whole world.

The further I’ve gone on my research into the clean water crisis the closer I’ve come to the realization that the solution is in the people. The people who are affected by dirty water are the ones who will have the most invested in keeping that water clean. I can ask you to donate $20 every day for the rest of my life and I still know you will never care as much as the person watching her child get sick from the water.

Which is why I believe The Adventure Project has the solution figured out. 1/3 of the wells built in the world are broken, what if instead of building more wells we create jobs that will fix them as they break down. Thus creating less need for wells (read: direct resources from outside the country) but continuing the source of income for that entrepreneur. You don’t believe this is a great solution? Watch what Diana from Uganda has to say about it.

The first $2500 raised will be matched by One Days Wages. I love knowing every dollar I donate is immediately doubled. Doubled dollars means doubled impact.

Go here and donate whatever you can. And go now, if you’re like me you’ll forget as soon as you go grab another cup of coffee.

I think sometimes we believe we could do so much more if we had more money, more time, more resources, a foot that’s not broken, etc and what we fail to notice is that we can already do so much with the (sometimes little) money we have and with the time we are given.

Whenever Tomas says he’d give the world clean water with a million dollars I tell him, “Don’t worry about waiting until you’re a millionaire, just set your sights on giving 1 person clean water and then work your way up.”

So that’s what I’m going to do. Join me.