2015, A Recap

2015, A Recap

What a year it’s been! WordPress sends out a yearly review of this blog and it was brought to my attention that I only blogged 25 times this year. Could that be true? That means I missed a lot of what we did this year so I wanted a place to recap 2015. It’s my blog, I can photo dump if I want to.

January 5 Ian Matthew was born and the world will never be the same. I wrote about this little bit of squishy preciousness here.

IMG_1345

Zach and I tried teaching Dailah to snowboard and Binyam to ski. It took multiple hours, numerous utterances of the F bomb and this one selfie of Zach flipping off the camera with a gloved finger for us to cry out uncle and literally never return.

IMG_1358

Dailah received a 1st place trophy for cheerleading. Even though our alarm clocks rang out at 3:45am we still managed to hoot and holler louder than anyone else.

IMG_1410

We had our first experience with toboggans. The hill is on the left, only 2 people the employees of the hill had ever seen crash halfway down are on the right. We assume it’s because not many things were meant to carry 2 Klipschs due to sheer head size and overall beefiness. We lived and I peed a little laughing so hard so not all was lost.

IMG_1459

My kids continued to eat me out of house and home. I now double a recipe if it says “serves 8” and usually the kids still eat more fruit after all of that is gone. If you hear of giveaways that feature blessing someone with groceries for a year I’d be much obliged if you would enter us. I’ll have to start working if these people continue at this pace. 😉

IMG_1520

Tariku and Trysten filmed a commercial for summer camp. I’m not entirely sure why anyone would use anyone other than my kids in their commercials after seeing how adorable they were. 🙂

IMG_1550

I helped a fitness studio start up. Though I’ve done marketing for over a decade it was fun to be able to shape the tone and “voice” of the business from the beginning. Plus I got to work with my good friend Kyle Taylor in creating the logo (thanks, Kyle!)

IMG_1564_2

We said good-bye to our first family car-the Honda Pilot. Zach got in a car accident and it was totaled. The airbag shredded the gloves he was wearing with the force of the accident-I can’t believe how fortunate we were that he was ok. Despite the fact that she had seen better days, that every part of her was dented and bruised. Despite the fact that she was perpetually dirty from living at a camp and that her bumper stickers signified a moment in time now gone, she also brought home 4 out of my 5 kids. She was the place the 7 of us were first a family and on the back of one of her seats was where Tariku decided to practice writing his name in ink. In her trunk was where we said our final good byes to Abe and Aristotle and, above all, she protected Zach on her final trek. She was a good car.

IMG_1650

We bought a Subaru (great car!) and soon after Zach took Trysten on a road trip with my dad, uncle and cousin to Colorado for a week of snowboarding. Zach took this picture, one of my all time favorites.

IMG_1980

We said good-bye to my sister’s white boxer, Leo. Leo lived with us a few times throughout his long life and I sure did love the way he took care of my sister when she lived on the east coast away from us. Once Ian was born it was as if Leo knew my sister was going to be okay so he let go. I can’t stress enough how much I love dogs and Leo was one of the good ones. Miss ya, buddy.

IMG_1959

We took a family trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes for spring break.

IMG_0063

The kids played baseball/softball which I do believe is the longest season of any sport. The older 3 tried out for All Stars and were selected. Tariku’s team made it really far and was a fun team to watch. Tomas and Trysten’s not so much. 😉

IMG_2357

The big 3 were all on the same team as it has been for many years mostly because Zach and I don’t want to make too much work for ourselves. So it was that they were often in the field together. In the below picture Tariku is playing short stop, Trysten was pitching and Tomas was playing catcher. It was more fun than you can possibly imagine.

IMG_2737

They also played a lot of soccer! (My favorite!) My parents came over for quite a few games considering they live 7 hours away. This surprises no one who knows them.

IMG_2361

While playing 3rd base, Tomas took a ball to the face from the hardest throwing pitcher on his team. This was soon after I posted a picture making fun of little girls wearing face masks in softball. I feel largely to blame for this injury but true to his nature Tomas was smiling the whole way through getting stitches.

IMG_2477

We went vegan/plant-based. More on that later.

IMG_2777

We had a visit from my friend Chandra and her 5 kiddos. I loved watching them play and have so much fun together. It’s weird that a few of my great friends have never met my kids except through my blog and the stories I tell when we get together so it felt ridiculously good to have Zach and my babes meet this friend of mine I always talk about.

IMG_2605

My good friend, Alex, brought her boy toy and dog up to camp for a weekend. She used to live at our previous camp as well so to say I miss seeing her randomly most days would be an understatement. She’s a fellow Harry Potter junkie and just overall top-notch human.

IMG_2691

Tariku offered to hold my hand for the first time. On Facebook I wrote this to mark the occasion:

Last Thursday after his baseball game, one in which he got a minor injury, I asked him if he ever just wished I was there. To comfort him, give him a hug, make it better. No, he says, sometimes I wish the animals were there though.
I told him how when we first adopted him that used to kill me-that he would never let me hug him or snuggle him, not even hold his hand. I told him now I realize it’s not that he doesn’t see me as his mom but that he really just doesn’t like physical touch so I didn’t take it personally anymore (and that I never really should have).
Then on Saturday while walking around camp, with tween girls in swimsuits everywhere, he told me I could hold his hand.
My relationship with Tariku continues to be a reminder that the most beautiful things in life are often the result of a lot of hard work and sweat/tear equity. It’s also a reminder that the culmination of that hard work can sometimes be in something as relatively unremarkable as an outstretched hand and an offer.

IMG_2704

Leslie and Jake finally got a dog! Though I think Leslie is still on the fence about Daffy she hasn’t gotten to the good stuff yet where Daffy is no longer chewing everything and is instead comforting my nephews or niece when they are sick or sad. Hang on, Leslie, you’re almost there!

IMG_2840

My nephew Caden John was born!! On my birthday! Which happens to be my mom’s birthday too! He’s a smiley little man and I love him so. I wrote more about him here.

IMG_2907

We played more rounds of basketball in the front yard/court than ever before. We even talked grandparents and dogs into playing along too sometimes.

IMG_2926

The kids finished their last day of 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd grades respectively.

IMG_2962

Doozie competed in Regionals for cheerleading where they took home 1st again.

IMG_2998

I continue to do the marketing for my brother’s Chiropractic business, Dawson Chiropractic near Des Moines, Iowa. I do it mostly for the free adjustments but also because he is genuinely the best chiropractor to which I’ve ever been. Oh and because it forces my little brother to talk to me on a regular basis, a perhaps not naturally occurring thing for a quiet dude like him 😉

IMG_9927

While at an orthopedic appointment for Binyam our car was broken into and stuff was stolen (also, weirdly, the thieves tried on every pair of my sunglasses but didn’t take any. It took me a good while to put them back on my face after imagining some weirdo trying them on. Also made me seriously question my style that they didn’t deem any of them worth stealing. But that’s neither here nor there.) I called the police and then about 5 minutes later called Jimmy John’s since we hadn’t eaten lunch and it was well past 2pm. Jimmy John’s arrived first which was hilarious to us all.

IMG_3037

Zach started seriously training for triathlons and I continued to take hundreds of pictures of my pets. Zach is on the left swimming in the lake while Hagrid and I kayaked next to him-keeping him safe and looking adorable in the process.

IMG_3077

All of the Klipschs came to visit-even Kait straight from the NYC. I continue to be beside myself with gratitude that I count Zach’s siblings and significant others as some of my greatest friends. And time spent with my remarkable niece and nephews is always exactly what I need.

IMG_3182

My 5 all went to Camp Eberhart for a week and had a ridiculously good time. Trysten got to go in the bigger kids cabin where they stay up a little later and hang with the older girls cabin over campfires. I pretended to be all cool as a cucumber but there were def a few nights when I drove past “on my way home” just to see what was what.

IMG_3365

A few weeks later Dailah was off to cheer camp. It was her first time at an overnight camp that her dad wasn’t in charge of and at which we didn’t live. Despite her smile here she actually hated it-coming home with bruises and bumps covering her legs from being dropped and thrown around (as fliers are, obviously). Soon after spending $250 on this camp she decided cheerleading wasn’t for her and asked if she could not try out for the coming year. This perfectly sums up the personality she was born into by nature of being her father’s daughter.

IMG_3612

Tomas’s face was used for marketing purposes. This makes sense because of all of my kids his face best translates constant joy-which is what you get when you send your kids to camp, obvs.

IMG_3678

We let the kids sign up for tackle football for the first time. I held off for as long as I could on account of me loving their healthy knee joints and beautiful, developing brains. I’m still hoping they choose cross country or soccer over football but now at least I know it’s possible for all of us to survive football season.

11695951_10154133996664972_4597725284840763421_n

My sister and I got another matching tattoo (we both have the purple cross on my sister’s foot, along with our mom, from when I turned 18). This time we got the two “d”s. Before marriage our maiden name was “Dawson” and in high school sports we were called “the double Ds” not due to mammary size, clearly. She and I are polar opposites in so many ways but I love her like no one else. That veiny arm would be mine. Gorg.

IMG_3686

I got a selfie stick. I don’t always use it but when I do everyone loves it. 😉

IMG_3690

My parents took us all to Adventureland-an outdoor roller coaster and water park. It never disappoints, especially now that the kids are old enough to go on all the rides by themselves if they want to.

IMG_3735

Then my parents took my kids for a long weekend while I flew off to Colorado and Zach stayed in Michigan to work. I spent Thursday-Sunday with my blogamiga friends for the 5th year in a row. There is just no way to tell you how much these women mean to me. Mothering can be really quite lonely despite having little ones in your business all day e’ry day. Adoption parenting adds another layer that can add to the loneliness, particularly if it’s an adoption of a child from a different race. Sometimes there are just too many things that are specific to that where other friends just can’t possibly understand because they haven’t been there. These women though? They’ve been there. And they are better women, better mothers, nicer people, bigger hippies and funnier than I am. So I basically spent 4 straight days stealing all of their knowledge and then claiming it as my own when I got back. I love them more than they can possibly know.

IMG_3799

Upon my return my parents took us all to the Iowa State Fair. If you love fried food, the smell of animal shit and people watching, then the Iowa State Fair is a must see. It’s ranked as the #1 state fair in the country and with good reason-I really do love it.

IMG_3840

We took a family trip to National Bridge State Park. Despite Tomas’s look of confusion we had a tremendous time together.

IMG_3927

Zach and his good friend, Isaac, participated in two olympic sized triathlons: the Three Rivers, Mi and the Chicago Tri. It’s always good fun watching the two of these old friends together and I tend to get all the feels when I’m watching people I love compete in feats of strength.

IMG_4065

I left Binyam home alone, on accident, for 20 minutes-marking this as the first time I’ve ever left a kid anywhere on accident. I knew he was going to be ok when I got home (he’s 9-years-old for goodness sake and Zach was literally working a few hundred feet away) but I still felt like total crap. Until we pulled into the drive and saw him sitting on the front steps looking ridiculous presh with his soccer stuff ready. He had no doubts I was coming back to get him-I love that about him.

IMG_4147

I celebrated 13 years of marriage to this guy. Even in my darkest moments he’s been my harvester of light, what a lucky thing it is to be his wife.

IMG_4254

The kids started another year of school. It’s already been a trying year in many ways so I’m just constantly praying we get through it with our grace and sense of humor still intact.

IMG_4215

We talked our good friends the Korandas into coming on one of the busiest athletic weekends of the year. Declan Zachary handled it like a champ and I was a smitten kitten getting so much time with him, his mommy and daddy.

IMG_4287

I had the distinct honor and pleasure at being asked to be Ian’s Godmother. Until he has questions about God I am assuming my role is to just spoil him with chocolate, candy and more kisses than he could ever want. I take this very seriously.

IMG_0225

Zach and I tried acri-yoga after watching a few videos that looked easy enough. This is as far as we got before Zach told me I was about to expose my breast. This wouldn’t normally be cause for concern but since Trysten was capturing this glorious moment, Zach thought he would save poor Tman a year’s worth of therapy and just stop. The idea crossed my mind to put on a bra but I kind of have a strict policy about not doing that while at home so we scrapped the idea altogether. Maybe 2016.

IMG_4308

Zach taught the oldest 3 to shave. Since both Zach and I are legit at growing facial hair-it’s no wonder Trysten already had a decent amount at 12. (Truth is he was born with it. Zach’s first words to me when Trysten entered the world from the womb were, “He has your sideburns!” Bless) Now if someone could actually get them to wear deodorant every day I would feel a lot better about their future prospects.

IMG_4336

Trysten and Tomas went out for the middle school cross country team. They worked hard all season and both did really well. I could genuinely care less how they rank as long as they give it their all when they are out there and they did that-it was a fun season!

IMG_4381

The Jake and Leslie Klipschs, Isaac and Papa Frank came up for a weekend where the men went off to the Notre Dame game and I got 7 uninterrupted hours talking with Leslie. The next day we took everyone to the Notre Dame campus. Watching these cousins together is just too much of all the good things.

IMG_4490

We went trick-or-treating with the Dawson and Klipsch cousins as well as the Smitty besties. It was the first year my kids, Oliver and Eli and the Smittys went off by themselves to tour the neighborhood when the adults got too cold. I got to go with my niece Landry and listen as every. single. house told her she was the cutest they had seen all day. It’s true-she’s 100% ridiculously cute.

IMG_4671

We celebrated my brother-in-law Frank’s birthday with his adults only party again this year. Zach and I went as Doc Brown and Marty McFly and the birthday boy went as his own spirit animal. See if you can tell what the other Klipschs were…

IMG_4700

I also talked all of the Dawson side into coming this year too! My brother was a legit Wolverine and my sister-in-law as Steve Bartman went over super well in a house full of Cub fans.

IMG_4710

My father-in-law was elected as Davenport, Iowa’s new Mayor! I was so happy we could be there and the kids could watch the whole process unfold that night. He will undoubtedly be the best Mayor that city has ever seen. Grateful as always that I married into that crazy group of justice seekers and public servers.

IMG_4811

I got to work with Leslie on our 7th Water Party together. I’m so proud of how she’s taken over since my move to Michigan and made it bigger and better than ever before. This year the event raised over $35,000. That is beyond my comprehension as I so vividly remember the first year sitting up at midnight counting the $10,000 in cash with Zach. I am grateful for every penny then and every penny now. We have the most generous friends and family of anyone I’ve ever known. I always go through Leslie withdrawals after the event because I’m so used to spending an insane amount of time talking and texting with her leading up to the Water Party. I’m just really lucky to count her as a best friend.

IMG_5032

Not sure if you heard this or not but we all went to Ethiopia. 🙂 I’m ready to go back.

IMG_0437

Barbara Streisand and Hagrid just continued to be off the charts adorable on the daily.

IMG_5088

We had such a fun time cheering on our Iowa Hawkeyes this season! Though they lost to our current state, we are excited to see them dominate the Rose Bowl tomorrow!

IMG_5117

The bigs had their band performance (Trysten on drums, Tomas on trumpet) and the littles had their Holiday music concert. Binyam had a speaking part for the first and probable last time of his life. He went as Harry Potter and was nervous as hell. I was beaming and crying and waving like the fanatic I am. Proud mama heart burst moment for sure.

IMG_5138

Just before leaving for Ethiopia Trysten tried out for the 7th grade boys basketball team and made it. They went on to become conference champions. Man were they a fun team to watch.

IMG_5150

Trysten and Tomas had their first semi-formal middle school dance. Tomas was true to his nature and asked his girlfriend what color of dress she was wearing so that he could match her. He could be found trailing a few feet behind her wherever she went. Trysten was true to his nature and translated loosely “semi-formal” by wearing basketball pants and a t-shirt until I begged him to at least wear jeans and something that didn’t stink of puberty and hard work. He and a few of his buds went stag with plans to tear up the dance floor seeings they had no ladies to tether them down.

IMG_5203

While the older 2 were at the dance, the younger 3 were painting snowmen for the elementary PTA. Dailah took her job seriously, as she always does when it comes to creative outlets, and the other two were mostly there for the cookies.

IMG_5206

Dailah chopped off her hair. She told me she was ready for an adventure and had read about donating hair to kids with cancer who lose theirs. I asked her on the way to the appointment if she was nervous, “Nope just excited! You’ve got to think about the worst that can happen and if it’s not death or lots and lots of pain then there’s no reason to be nervous!” I love that about her.

IMG_5250

On Christmas Eve the kids made a fort that took up the entire “fun room” for the second year in a row. This one had separate rooms and everything. Christmas continues to feel so magical with these kiddos. As they get older I appreciate even more how close they all are and how often they want to be around just each other. My most common prayer is probably that they continue to be best friends throughout their lives.

IMG_5265

We had a truly great Christmas both here and in Iowa celebrating with grandparents, aunts/uncles and cousins. So much so that I didn’t take very many pictures. 🙂

While Trysten fights off the pneumonia that has been plaguing me for the last few months (I legit broke a few ribs coughing so hard. My cough is mostly gone but the pain in my ribs is redic. Avoid that at all costs.) the other 4 are at Winter Camp at Camp Eberhart.

IMG_5333

I think after writing the post about being lonely some might think I don’t like living here but it’s even more obvious after looking through the pictures of the year that my life here is full of goodness. I think if nothing else, the moments when I’m lonely only make it super obvious that overall our time here has been overwhelmingly happy and great. This year has been one full of growth for all 7 of us and with that will surely come some growing pains in every sense of the phrase. But at the end of the day I get to kiss the 5 sweetest, kindest, funniest most beautiful children in all of the world and cuddle in next to the funniest, most loyal husband out there. What more could I possibly ask for?

IMG_5043

Happy NYE everyone. May you find peace, happiness and insurmountable joy in the coming year. Thanks for reading. Love to you.

Tesi

Advertisements
Colorado

Colorado

A few weeks ago I took off for Colorado to hang with some of my very best friends. I remember the first time we got together I was so nervous. I had loved these women and their online personas for so long I just wanted so badly for them to be exactly how they seemed. They weren’t. They were even better.

So this year I was just excited-counting down the weeks, then days-excited. Mostly for these women but also because I love Colorado. You guys, I want to live there. There, I said it. It’s gotten so bad Zach isn’t sure he wants me to visit anymore. I just love it! The mountains, the lakes, the culture. Everyone seems to be out and about all day, eating well and moving their bodies. I love it. Also, come on. It’s beautiful.

IMG_9861 IMG_9862 IMG_9866 IMG_9890 IMG_9891

Chandra picked me up ass early from the airport (that’s just what I do-make 34 week pregnant ladies wake up at 5:30am to come get me at the airport) and brought me to her house. I was so excited to meet all of her boys, including her awesome hubs. This is her backyard, by the way. I see you Colorado.

IMG_9859

 

We headed up to Deirdre’s new place in the mountains (near Winter Park-Frasier). Carrie and Sarah’s plane from Seattle made a pit stop in Nebraska (!) and ended up being many hours late so Chandra, Cathy and I made ourselves comfortable in Deirdre’s house without her. 🙂

The rest of the week was spent mostly with either coffee or wine in hand chatting on Deirdre’s couches. Also eating. Lots of delicious, delicious food. Cathy, Chandra and Deirdre spoiled us with their fine cuisine.

Friday the 8th happened to be Sarah’s birthday so we celebrated it by taking a pontoon out on a lake in the mountains. Right after I posted about gaining my Michigan boater safety license Deirdre texted me, “Glad you got that. How about you drive a pontoon boat for us on Friday?”

I take my duty very seriously, as shown by me asking the dock hand what I should know about the waters and vegetation and such.

IMG_7713

 

IMG_9872

The weather was absolutely picture perfect but the conversations were my very favorite part. It turns out nature was pretty great at celebrating Sarah’s birth as well. That Sarah, she is amazing. Grateful for her, as always.

IMG_7717 IMG_9866 IMG_9867

We had lunch on the boat and then tried many times to get the perfect picture of all of us.

IMG_7730

The weather was perfect…until it wasn’t. A storm rolled in so I opened the throttle, Deirdre (with the metal rod in her back) hid and Cathy and Carrie just went on acting like nothing out of the ordinary was going on.

IMG_9873

Rocky Mountain National Park was equally kind to us.

IMG_9882 IMG_3273 IMG_7734

IMG_9878

We even got to see a moose! This was a first for me, no idea why we were all so taken by it but we watched it move for a really long time. Nature is incredibly mesmerizing.

IMG_7744

We went on a few hikes, welcomed another adoptive mama for dinner, slept in bunk beds and allowed each mama as much sleep as they could possibly want or need.

I remember in 1st grade Trysten came home and told me about how his teacher told him we each have a bucket. If you’re nice to a person you fill their bucket, if you’re mean-you poke a whole in the bucket. The lesson being, obviously, be the kind of person who fills buckets.

We’re in the home stretch of summer over here in Michigan, this means a whole host of things-namely abject chaos. When my kids are nervous/anxious about something it presents itself in a myriad of ways, all of which are on this side of annoying.

So thankful I had the 4 days in the mountains to fill up my bucket, memories from my week with these women work to offset some of my frustration at the last week of summer. Though I have so many good friends who live closer, these women get my specific kind of mothering in a way not many can. They are the ones I text or call when news of Michael Brown comes out (more on him later), the ones I text random things to with the question, “You think adoption related or boy related?” They’re my people. Make sure you make time for women like them in your life, so that on days when you’re pretty sure you will be driven insane by life you can text them and they’ll say “Yeah, it’s Lord of the Flies over here too.”

*Also of note, I got to check out an awesome run shop in Denver started by a guy with whom I went to college. Pat is and has always been a top notch dude. He’ll take care of you right Denverites, go get your gear from him.

IMG_9898

*I got to see Common in the airpot on my way home. He smells of sex and baked goods. Trust that I don’t like being objectified and believe in my heart we women shouldn’t do it to men but come on…it was Common. I took a terrible sneaky pic and then “casually” made my way next to him so that I sat by him on the train. We parted but I’m pretty sure he’s just as torn up about it as I am.

IMG_9901

*My parents are the very best. Every year I text my mom, “Girls weekend x date, can you watch the kids?” So when Zach is pulling 18 hour days and I’m off drinking wine and eating carbs my parents are taking my kids on more adventures than they get in a year with me. So thankful for them.

10440981_10153067502324972_1361810141658611008_n

Let Us Be Women Who Love

I have so many posts to write about the move and so many feelings but this post has been on my mind since Zach walked down to the house from his office at Abe Lincoln and said, “So you ready to move to Michigan?”

Before moving to the Quad Cities I was a self described friend of boys. I didn’t have a whole lot of really close girlfriends because I felt like I just didn’t get along with women at the time. In hindsight I know it’s because I had been too scared to let women in. Nothing gets by women, you see, they ask questions and tend to genuinely care about where you’re at in life-at least the ones I’ve since come to know and love. And it can be really scary letting people in. Really, really scary. It’s also beautiful too but at the time I was young and let the fear win.

It’s hard not to reflect on my decade in the Quad Cities without devoting so much thought to the women who have forever changed who I am because of who they are. The women who have inspired and encouraged, loved and challenged me. The ones I called in the dark days and the ones I called to celebrate a large (or small) victory.

In my reflections it’s become quite clear to me that I have both large and small players. Obviously I have my soul sisters, the ones with whom I tell everything but I also have the smaller players. The women I see in my classes every week or the ones who text me the most perfect texts at just the right times.

I regret waiting so long to open my heart to the sisterhoods I now appreciate so very much. I do not exaggerate when I say that in so many ways these women (and many more who are not pictured) have saved me on more than one occasion. These women understand that when we help each other up, we help ourselves too. What a tremendous blessing.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth now with extravagant Love.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who make room.

Let us be women who open our arms and invite others into an honest, spacious, glorious embrace.

IMG_6345 IMG_6357IMG_6778IMG_7660

Let us be women who carry each other. 

Let us be women who give from what we have.

Let us be women who leap to do the difficult things, the unexpected things and the necessary things.

Let us be women who live for Peace.

Let us be women who breathe Hope.

Let us be women who create beauty.

Let us be women who Love.

IMG_7784IMG_8115IMG_8471IMG_8668

Let us be a sanctuary where God may dwell.

Let us be a garden for tender souls.

Let us be a table where others may feast on the goodness of God.

Let us be a womb for Life to grow.

Let us be women who Love.

IMG_8669IMG_8676IMG_8678IMG_8685

Let us rise to the questions of our time.

Let us speak to the injustices in our world.

Let us move the mountains of fear and intimidation.

Let us shout down the walls that separate and divide.

Let us fill the earth with the fragrance of Love.

Let us be women who Love.

IMG_8687IMG_8707IMG_8715IMG_8717

Let us listen for those who have been silenced.

Let us honor those who have been devalued.

Let us say, Enough! with abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding.

Let us not rest until every person is free and equal.

Let us be women who Love.

IMG_8732IMG_8787IMG_9015IMG_8705

Let us be women who are savvy, smart, and wise. 

Let us be women who shine with the light of God in us.

Let us be women who take courage and sing the song in our hearts.

Let us be women who say, Yes to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.

Let us be women who call out the song in another’s heart.

Let us be women who teach our children to do the same.

Let us be women who Love.

photoIMG_67261609832_10203699293626530_2131790226731881581_n1517499_10203699293546528_6556669655633037321_n

Let us be women who Love, in spite of fear.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of our stories.

Let us be women who Love loudly, beautifully, Divinely.

Let us be women who Love.

-Idelette McVicker

I get by with a little help from my friends

We interrupt this regularly scheduled (Disney) programming to talk about mom friends. If you’re a mom then you know just how important having friends who are also traveling this mom road really are.

I remember when we first moved to Davenport after college how lonely I felt. I would call my sister-in-law, Leslie often to ask her how I was supposed to make friends. I’d never had problems before but it was always so easy because I was in school and saw these people day in and day out. Now I was in a new town knowing no one, trying to figure out how to raise a 2-year-old and be a wife as well (truth be told I was pretty miserable at both).

Leslie mentioned checking out my local MOPS chapter. I had honestly never heard of MOPS before that but was immediately intrigued when I went on their website and realized they were exactly who I was looking for. It was at the first few gatherings of my local MOPS that one of the women mentioned a great church in Muscatine that I might like. After a few months going to the church in Muscatine I met a few women who ended up walking me through Tariku’s adoption. After Tariku’s adoption we got together to start Water for Christmas.

And it all started with moms.

Since that first meeting of my MOPS chapter, I’ve met friends online who have become some of my biggest lifelines when day-to-day motherhood gets me down.

IMG_6788

I’ve also managed to find “real life” (as Zach calls them) mommy friends who I text constantly and who respond when I send out an SOS in the moments when I’m beyond overwhelmed.

IMG_6559

 

So here’s why I’m writing: I have so many friends who have recently moved, some who have moved into a community in which they already have friends, others knowing no one. It is because I love them and I love moms everywhere that I’M GIVING AWAY 3 ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIPS WITH MOPS!

You heard that properly, ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP TO MOPS! FOR 3 PEOPLE!

All you have to do is email me at tesileagh@gmail.com and let me know you want it, the first 3 people to do so are in.

We were never meant to live this life alone, you know. I really believe there’s more that unites us than divides us in this world and MOPS is such a great place to find that idea realized.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Tesi

Blogamigas in Seattle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard to put into words just how needed my trip to Seattle was. I’ll get to that, let me start with the activities of the week.

Jody picked me up from the airport after a harrowing journey for her and a vomit induced journey for me. We went right to a hotel and talked into the wee hours of the morning, catching up on too much time gone by.

Next morning we woke up early so she could be my Seattle tour guide. Our first stop was the ferry that was to take us from West Seattle into the heart of the city. We had to do some jogging to make it in time, but make it we did.

IMG_6715

 

(A lot of selfies were taken on this trip) 🙂

We successfully walked around eating our way through the beautiful city. Great vegetarian restaurants are there, as well as cupcake bakeries, so really what could go wrong? We also took a tour of the Underground city. Though perhaps a little anticlimactic, we did enjoy watching the other people also on the tour. Here we are trying to draw out the ghost that lives there with our flash. It did not work.

IMG_6726

 

On the way back to West Seattle I snapped a few pics of the beautiful city. Really do love how it’s surrounded by mountains, water and then there’s a big city!

IMG_6736

 

That night Jody dropped me off at Sarah’s where Cathy, Deirdre and Jayme had been deposited after their flights. After a night of wine, story telling and bonding we set off to hike a mountain the next morning.

IMG_6754

 

I LOVED seeing this side of Seattle. Though cities are fun, I must admit nature is where my heart really belongs. Hiking? Talking with great friends? Watching kids fall in love with nature? These are a few of my favorite things!

IMG_6744

 

IMG_6746

 

IMG_6751

 

After a delicious meal in Seattle we met at Sarah’s again where Chandra, Christina and Carrie were waiting for us. Alas, we headed to the house Sarah had rented for us. Near the beach, big enough for all of us (except Deirdre who decided she’d sleep in a closet a la Harry Potter).

IMG_6785

It was perfect!

IMG_6758

 

The next day was Cathy’s birthday. We spent a good deal of that day on the beach where Carrie brought homemade paninis. You guys, she made paninis and then carried them to the beach on a baking sheet. It was then that I asked her to marry me.

Chandra needed to put sweet Juniper down for a nap so Cathy and I walked back with her. Cathy’s family called her on FaceTime to wish her a happy birthday. Her face was pure mama joy, I had to capture it.

IMG_6767

 

Deirdre and I had left to get some goodies for that night’s meal and to grab a few things for Cathy. She loves tea, so we had a little too much fun picking out her gifts.

IMG_6794

 

We got home to news of George Zimmerman being found not guilty. I’ve spoken on that but let me just say, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else but there-with these women. Celebrating Cathy’s life and talking about every. single. aspect of our lives.

IMG_6775

 

Super thankful for each one of them, really.

IMG_6777

 

Carrie said it so well, “But what I did not know as I took those first sure steps towards family is that along the way you would be woven into our lives.  To support.  And to listen.  To encourage.  And to share.  To lean and be leaned on.  Without judgement.  But with a heck of a lot of laughing (and wine) along the way.”

It’s so true. Before adopting Tariku I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I would find a few of my greatest friends online ( 🙂 ), through adoption chat groups. That adoption would perhaps end up being the least of the things that we had in common. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I would find my soul sisters in this group. Other women who are navigating the really wonderful parts of life: motherhood, marriage, friendship, etc and all the not-so-wonderful: other aspects of motherhood, disease, death, race, attachment, trauma, etc.

And yet, there we were, in that beautiful house discussing all of those things as well as the stuff in between. Laughing until we were crying, crying until we were laughing. Holding hands when needed, rubbing backs at times. Spoiling Juniper, spoiling each other.

Here’s the reality: female relationships can be interesting. Sometimes I’ve tried to create a friendship and realized, often too late, that it’s too competitive or not nurturing enough. I’ve walked into a room of women and sensed if I spilled all of my secrets I wouldn’t be understood or would be judged in some way.

But not here. Not with this group of women. These women are the best of the best. Offering advice but not pretending to be experts, recognizing when it’s just time to listen. Offering wine when needed, food always. Makes me incredibly sad that we’re all spread so far apart in this great nation.

Above all, I’m just so thankful for them. And thankful for my parents, sister/brother-in-law, brother/sister-in-law for watching my kiddos. Thankful for Zach who allows me to stretch our limited income every year far enough to take these trips. I’m thankful my mom once told me to pour energy into friendships that will sustain me through all the ups and downs life throws at me. Thankful I listened to that advice. Thankful to God for creating these women who would end up becoming such a blessed part of my life.

Love you, ladies. Thank you, thank you for being you and for accepting me.

IMG_6778

IMG_6783

 

Off to Seattle!

Today, after a brief stop at Adventureland, I am heading to Seattle. My parents, sister/brother-in-law and brother/sister-in-law are taking the kiddos for the rest of the week so that I can jet off to visit friends. (It’s summer camp season, Zach will be holding down the home front with his 12 hour days-God bless him).

I’m going to visit Jody and most of these women. I am really, really excited.

And though I think at this point I might be the only one of those women still blogging regularly (ahem) I am so thankful for the blogging world that brought us all together originally.

In other news, as I was choosing my outfit today I thought probably I should wear a nice pair of underwear, you know, in case the plane crashes and I’m rushed to the hospital or something. Then I realized if the worst happened, Zach wouldn’t be able to identify my body if it were suited up in nice underwear. 😉

To Seattle!