Thursday, December 29, 2011

Electronic Toys

I hate them.

My three-year-old loves pushing buttons (literally and figuratively---tee hee).   The same ones...over and over.   The few electronic toys we have are reserved for the car, because it's already a bit noisy in there with the radio, babbling or crying kids, and traffic noise.

Why do I hate electronic toys so much?

For one, they are expensive to purchase and to up-keep.  Batteries are horrible for the environment, and they cost a lot of money.

For another, they annoy me.   I can't stand hearing the same noise over and over and over.  

Some argue that electronic toys teach kids letters, numbers, shapes, etc.   Well, there are other ways (ways we had to learn when we were kids) to learn that require more parent-to-child interaction (which is a good thing!).

I get that the world is full of electronics; however, I own very few of them.  I don't use my phone for Internet access (and in fact, I have a very non-fancy phone), I don't own a laptop, a Nook or Kindle, an IPAD or ITOUCH (I do have an old IPOD for working out).  We have a minimal-cable package, one that is required to have a DVR.   We only have two televisions in our home (one in the living room and one in the basement by my exercise space), and only one phone (a land line for emergencies).    I own a PC and have no plans to convert to anything smaller.  We don't own any gaming systems.  (I'm also that mom who doesn't let my kids watch more than 30 min of TV a day, and only movies or channels, like PBS, with limited commercials to avoid conditioning them to want the things I know are bad for them).     The few electronic toys we have do not have batteries in them, except for the car toys which already came with batteries.   

I want my girls to understand and be familiar with the pleasure of a library book in their hands.   I want them to enjoy playing together instead of separately on personal electronic devices.  I want them to self-occupy with art supplies, not a baby laptop.   I want them to utilize a pad of paper and a pen at the doctor's office instead of my cell phone.   

It's just me, really.  I know I'm not the norm.   Shrug.

I'm a college writing teacher, and it seems that so many students are increasingly lacking in the creativity department.    Generating ideas is like pulling teeth.    It's sad, really.

Here goes my old lady voice...back when I was a child, we played outside for fun.  My brother, sister, and I spent hours in the swimming pool, riding bikes, and making mud pies under the tree house.   If we were indoors, we played with Barbies and Legos and Playmobile.   We had tons of art supplies.  I had an eraser collection (Lisa Frank, baby!).   We colored.  We wrote and performed plays.    The possibilities were endless.

I want to fight to give my girls the same opportunities to think for themselves.    I want them to occupy themselves and each other with creative play.     I adore the stage my three-year-old is in.  Just today she took a cardboard insert from the lunchbox she got for Christmas and put it around her waist.  She hopped in my bed and said, "I'm on an airplane, and here is my seat belt."   She's so creative.   The other day she was in her sister's Cozy Coupe car and put a magazine on top of it.  She then exclaimed, "Look mom!  It's a pizza car!"  

Kids really can think and occupy themselves.  We adults just have to get out of the way and give them the chance.    Oh, and stop buying them toys that tell them WHAT or HOW to think about the world. 

There is beauty in simple things.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


How do you feel about the word "adopted" being used for other purposes besides adopting children?  Like when someone adopts a pet or adopts a method or cause....

It makes me cringe a bit, but a word can have many meanings.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fa La La!

Dear Readers,

Merry Christmas!  

Adoption has rocked my world in the most amazing ways.   I heard someone say the other day that it's amazing how the most wonderful things come to us out of the most difficult choices.   What a beautiful truth.

My most popular blog post was written about this time last year.    The subject was the birth of our second daughter which was quite a whirlwind experience for us.    As I said then and believe to this day, nothing demonstrates God's power to me more than adoption.   

During one church service we attended this month, I was thinking about Mary and how she must have felt when Jesus was born.  She must have felt incredible joy, indescribable fear, and overwhelming gratitude---like all mothers.    And Joseph---what responsibility to be the earthly father of God's son.   Can you imagine?     

Christmas is a special time of year for our family.   Our daughters were both only about a month old when they experienced their first Christmas.   Christmas is layered with beautiful memories, old traditions, and new traditions.   There's joy, peace, warmth, anticipation, and cookies, of course, lots of cookies.  

I am thankful for my family, my health, my jobs, my abilities, and, most of all, my salvation in Jesus Christ.   Without God, I have nothing and am nothing.   And in Him, I have complete freedom (John 8:32). 

I pray that you have a lovely Christmas---full of laughter, remembrance, food, and family.   I hope you relish in some fabulous gift giving and gift receiving.   Snap tons of photos, wear your pjs all day, and take a nap.  Celebrate Jesus in old and new ways.

What an awesome year it's been.  2012 will no doubt bring more blessings...more than I can ever imagine or create on my own.  Cheers!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Set your DVR for Tonight's Adoption Show

A Home for the Holidays, an annual show on CBS promoting foster care adoption, will be on this evening.  Set your DVR, and you'll be very glad you watched.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Is Almost Here!

 Making snowpeople with cotton balls, ribbon, bows, and paper.   Oh what fun!

 Christmas Little People
 A Nice and Naughty list.  Miss E had much more fun listing naughty things. 
 Cookie dough, anyone?
 I can't help it.  I must touch the tree. 
 Homemade body scrub
 Ready to give!
 We can't help it!  We! 
Cookie balls with chocolate drizzle.   Yum!  All you do is take a package of your favorite sandwich cookies (we use Newman's Own Organic) and crush.  Mix with one cream cheese.  Refrigerate for one hour.   After the hour, form into balls.  Drizzle with melted chocolate of your choice and top with something fabulous like sprinkles or a chocolate chip.   Keep in the fridge until ready to serve....though they won't last long! 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Favorite Christmas Titles and Toys

Explaining the Christmas story to little ones can be difficult---so many characters, so much meaning!   But with these books and toys, you'll create experiences that teach and inspire. (I highly suggest buying these items after Christmas, when you'll likely find them cheaper):

Little People Nativity Set

Christmas Story stacking blocks

What is Christmas?

Christmas in the Manger

Room for a Little One

Other Christmas books we adore around here:

Under the Christmas Tree (features AA characters)

Christmas Cookies:  Bite-Size Holiday Lessons

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies

Fancy Nancy:  Splendiferous Christmas

You Are My Miracle

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


As if you didn't already know...

I'm a type A lady.  I like projects and accomplishing projects.   Give me a task and consider it done.   I'm organized, punctual, and reliable. 

But, this doesn't always serve me well in life, particularly when it comes to the enjoyment of parenting.  

Recently, I helped co-host a baby shower for one of my friends.  At the shower, each guest wrote a bit of advice and some well-wishes on a card for the expectant mother; we took turns reading the advice aloud.   As each woman, almost all of them mothers and some also grandmothers, shared their advice, there was clearly a common thread being formed.   

Enjoy your baby.  Stare at your baby.  Kiss your baby.  Rock your baby.    Sleep with your baby.

It is so easy for the mother of a growing family to forget what really matters.   To get caught up in an ever-present and ever-growing to-do list that seems to get exponentially longer during the month of December.  There's baking and gift-buying and gift-wrapping and traveling (which means laundry and packing) and, and, and.    It's all to easy to ignore the kids or try to occupy them with a movie than to just sit and talk to them.

A few days after the baby shower, I was rushing to get some dishes done while my girls had breakfast at the table when I heard Miss E say, "Mommy?  Come sit by me."   At first, I said, "Mommy is busy doing dishes."  Then I thought, Are these dishes really that important that I can't take five minutes to sit, look at my daughters, allow them to be comforted by my presence and attention, and talk about what matters to them in this moment?   

I am looking forward to this month because as I write this, I'm preparing for a four week break from work.    I'm hoping that without papers to grade and e-mails to answer, I will give myself permission to use my free time in a way that honors my little blessings.

I know I will always battle my personality.   On one hand, God made me who I am for a reason---and being type A hasn't always been a bad thing (particularly when it comes to managing my diabetes and teaching), but it's also the devil on my shoulder.

I'm not going to let type A win this holiday season.  I hope you don't either.

Gift Wrapping Fun

I had the honor of writing for my favorite blog, Passionate Homemaking!  Enjoy reading about gift wrapping fun! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Great Gifts, Low Prices

With twelve days until Christmas, you may find yourself struggling to find gifts for family members, friends, your kid's teacher, and that gift exchange at work.  

Here are some simple, affordable, and fabulous gift ideas:

---A magazine subscription.   It's the gift that gives all year long.   Check out the Krazy Coupon Lady's postings for popular magazines at rock-bottom prices.    (Seriously, like some are $4 or $5 a year!!!) 

---A photo on canvas.   Instead of framing a favorite photo, try this easy and affordable craft. (I'm actually allowing mine to dry as I type this).    I love that you can customize this gift for anyone.   Use a photo of their dog, or your kids, or a favorite beach.  Whatever works!

---Body scrub.    There are so many recipes online for making inexpensive and green body scrubs using ingredients you already have in your home:   sugars, oils, and spices.    My daughter and I whipped up two batches tonight---one with orange peel in it and one called Vanilla Cookie scrub.   Put them in small glass jars, tie a ribbon around, and make your own label.  Voila.

---A coffee table book.   Hit the bargain section of your local bookstore and purchase either one book (and add something inexpensive to the gift that goes along with the book such as a book on Hollywood and add a tube of red lipstick) or two to three books which you stack and tie with ribbon.  

---A themed gift.  Two years ago at a Christmas party, each attendee had to bring a $10 gift to exchange.   I went with a chocolate theme.   I purchased chocolate chips, brownie mix, and hot chocolate.    The ladies went wild over my gift, and I felt good giving something edible (rather than another bottle of cheap-o body lotion that smells like a funeral home).   Other ideas:  a bottle of wine and some wine charms, a polo shirt and golf balls, boxes of herbal tea and a mug.

---Re-gift.   I'm a huge fan of re-gifting.  However, there are a few rules.  Only re-gift something that you would consider buying for the person.  Make sure you aren't re-gifting an item that will be opened in front of the person who gave you the gift originally.   Be sure the gift is in new condition (not wrinkled, stained, expired, monogrammed, or smelly). 

---Gift card.   When in doubt, I think everyone appreciates a little pass to shop for free.  Just add a little something to it for instant gratification---like a $10 Starbucks gift card plus a reusable tumbler, for example.  

---Service.  Maybe you don't have $50 to invest in a gift for someone at the moment, but you can write the person a gift certificate for a free night of babysitting.   

---A movie night...of sorts.   Target has some fabulous deals on movies this week (some just $5 or $7!).  Add some gourmet popcorn (or Archer Farms, Target's brand, has popcorn flavoring shakers), and you have a gift! 

Happy shopping! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just Don't

Recently:   "So," X asks, referring to my youngest, "What's her mom's story?"

Now, let me stop to say that I get the "her mom" a lot---when people refer to my girls' biological mothers.   This does not offend me.  I understand what they mean, and I'm not embarrassed by the fact that my girls are adopted, that they have two moms (one by birth, one by adoption), and that people do not know all the PC adoption language.   Whatever.

What's most bothersome to me is the assumption that it's ok to ask something so personal and assume that you have a right to know that information.

You don't.

I realize that a lot of my family's personal information is "out there"---after all, I blog about adoption!  However, there are many details I keep private, details that only our immediate family members know, and the only reason I have shared these details with them is because they spend time with my kids and might be asked a question one day to which they should have some sort of clue how to answer.

There are so many misconceptions and stereotypes about birth parents that are detrimental to all of us in the adoption community.  I always try to educate those who ask questions, attempting to reshape their view of birth parents.    For example, I am often asked, "Is her birth mother young?"    I state, "Statistics show that many birth mothers are in their twenties."    I don't directly answer the question because, well, why does it matter how old the girls' birth moms are?, and because two, it's none of the person's business.

We can't escape adoption, nor do we wish to.   However, there is a fine line, a necessary balance, between educating others and living life as a REAL, NORMAL, BEAUTIFUL family.   

I'm always amazed at the audacity some people have.   My parents raised me not to stare and not to ask assuming or potentially nosy questions.     Obviously not everyone grows up with those same values.    I do think honesty is fabulous, as I always strive to be honest about adoption with my readers, strangers, family members, friends, my kids, my spouse, and myself.     However, honesty and tact seem to rarely go hand-in-hand when it comes to adoption.

I don't know how I could have better answered the asker.   My daughter (age 3) was sitting right across from me.  If I snap, she's watching and learning.  (Should I say, "That info is on a need-to-know basis.  I'm pretty sure you aren't in that category.") If I evade, she might grow up to think that I'm embarrassed or ashamed about adoption.  If I answer completely honestly and openly, my daughter's privacy is invaded without her permission.   If I answer in an attempt to educate, is it fair to always use my daughter's existence as a teaching tool for clueless askers? 

Some adoptive parents suggest responding with a question, "Why do you ask?" But I think that gives the asker an opportunity to explain why he or she is asking, rather than serve its intended purpose:  to shut them up.    If someone is bold enough to ask a nosy question, he or she will likely be bold enough to ask another. 

The truth is, I don't care who is asking me---a stranger, a friend, a family member:  if I want you to know, I will tell you.

I think my message to anyone reading this who wants to ask an adoption question that is specific to a child's story, just don't.   

You don't need to know.   If you do find something out, you will do what is normal behavior for humans:  you will use it to judge.   

Adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents---we already face enough assumptions and judgements.    So please, just don't.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Princess Bag Winner + Amazing Giveaway to Share

The winner of the Princess bag is Angel!  Congrats!  Please contact Sarah to claim your prize.

My newest online friend, Lauren, is raising money toward her Ethiopian adoption fund.   She's giving away $400 worth of goodies (GOOD goodies!).   Please check out her beautiful blog and enter to win!  

Monday, December 5, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Princess Bag

Just in time for Christmas....a giveaway!   Meet my new favorite Etsy seller and enter to win a Princess bag for someone special.   :)    Notice the multi-racial princesses?  

"My name is SarahFae. I am a stay-at-home mom to two little girls. I have an almost 4 year old with super curly brown hair and brown eyes and an almost 2 year old with straight blond hair and blue eyes. They have definitely helped me to be more spontaneous (and flexible) and to appreciate the variety of life.

I've been married for almost 8 years. I am lucky enough to be married to a man who can, quite literally, fix just about anything. He has a remodeling company and that is partly what has encouraged me to start Owl Street. Seeing his ability to think outside the box and to teach himself has given me the confidence to take a risk, to work hard, and to make good quality products.

My youngest is getting older, which means that I keep hoping that diapers will soon be a thing of the past. I finally realized that I don't need a full diaper bag anymore and I wanted something smaller, but I couldn't find the right size bag. And that started it all. A small tote bag that she could carry, a new diaper changing pad that would hold diapers and wipes to fit in my purse, a new purse for me, a cool tote bag for our library trips, a small zippered bag to better organize that chaos that was the bottom of my purse, reusable snack bags, and the list goes on. So, whatever you need or whoever you're shopping for I've got something for you!

I am happy to be able to introduce the 'Every Little Princess' tote bag made especially for White Sugar, Brown Sugar readers! It makes me so happy to feature the fabric that Rachel picked out on this tote bag sized just right for your little princess. Every little girl should be able to have dolls and pictures and bags that look like her. I will be taking orders for the 'Every Little Princess' tote bag through Etsy. If you place your order by December 5 I will ship your bag on Dec 19, just in time for Christmas! I also have the Every Little Princess bag available in a small purse or a crayon purse. Check out OwlStreet on Etsy and send me a message for custom orders."

Giveaway item:    1 Every Little Princess bag
Time frame:   Today - Friday, Dec. 9 at noon (CST)

5 ways to enter:

1:   Visit Sarah's Etsy page and tell me which item is your favorite via a comment on this post. 
2:  Become a follower of my blog; leave me a comment on this post letting me know.
3:  Become a FB fan of my blog; leave a comment on this post letting me know. 
4:  Post this giveaway on your FB page, on Twitter, and/or on your blog; leave a comment letting me know.
5:  Leave a comment sharing your favorite holiday cookie. 

Good luck!  

The winner will be posted after noon on Friday; the winner is responsible for creating an Etsy account and contacting the seller in order to claim the prize.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

New Book on Being Biracial

I haven't read this book, but a friend posted it on Facebook.   Happy reading!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Celebrate Christmas All Month Long: Custom Advent Calendar

I found some of these fabulous ideas on my favorite blog:   Passionate Homemaking.   I wanted to share with you my list, some of which was borrowed from PH.  I encourage you to make your own and have fun celebrating the days before Christmas. 

At some point during each day from Dec 1-Dec 24, we read our Christmas celebration idea and then do it:

  • Use musical instruments and dance to Christmas music (this will also be done a few times)
  • Read 2 Christmas books  (this will be done a few times)
  • Read the Christmas story and "act it out" with Little People sets
  • Bake cookies for cookie trays (this will be done a few times)
  • Cut out snowflakes
  • Take silly Christmas photos
  • Decorate (collage-style) a plate for Santa's cookies
  • Drive around local neighborhoods and see the Christmas lights
  • Make a "nice" and "naughty" list (things that are nice to do, things that are naughty)
  • Make Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn to enjoy and share with neighbors
  • Deliver our Christmas project items
  • Wrap gifts while doing one of the following:  praying for the receiver, sharing a memory about the receiver, allowing your kids to customize the package using art supplies, etc. 
For parents who like a little more control over what happens each day, depending on how the day is going, you can hang an envelope somewhere in your home (off the tree, on the fridge, whatever) and before the kids get up, select the celebration that best fits into your day and stick that piece of paper in your envelope.    You can also decide when to open your envelope---morning, afternoon, evening, depending on your family's schedule.      
I found this resource to be particularly helpful.  It explains the history and meaning of an Advent calendar.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Author Interview: Foster Care, A Book, and Community

Whew---just in time, before the end of the month....I want to share with you an interview with the author of my November Book of the Month. 

Meet Vanessa Diffenbaugh, the author of The Language of Flowers

R:  Tell me about yourself and your family.

V:  I was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California.  I met my husband at Mount Madonna Center when I was twenty years old.  Mount Madonna is a community in the redwoods near Santa Cruz, California, built on the principals of yoga and selfless service.  My husband was raised there, and I was attending a yoga retreat with my family. I think Mount Madonna has had a profound impact not only on my husband, but on the family we have created together. We have two biological children and have been foster parents for nearly six years.  Tre’von is now a sophomore at NYU on a Gates Millenium Scholarship—we are, of course, very proud of him!

R: I have read hundreds of adoption books, some of which were fiction.   Many of these books are filled with negative stereotypes regarding social workers, birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents.  Your book's characters, however, seem realistic.  You do not sugar coat the hardships the characters face, nor do you smack your characters with stereotypical labels and personalities. Did it ever cross your mind that your book, though fiction, might become a resource for adoptive parents?  Did you have a goal in mind when writing your book?

V:  I set out to write the best novel I could write, and never thought of my book as trying to send a particular message. In fact, I imagine that if I had been trying to make a statement, the novel would have felt much more preachy and a lot less genuine! However, I am thrilled that my book has encouraged interesting conversations and thinking on these very important subjects.  It was certainly always a goal of mine to bring these issues to light!

R: Your book has received praise-filled reviews from prominent authors.  How do you react to the publication of your book and the positive attention it has received?   

V:  It has taken me some time just to get over the shock!  When you are writing your first book, people tell you over and over again how hard it is to sell a novel.  They recite statistics of how many authors ever find agents (I’ve heard 2%!  No idea if this is true) and tell you that even if you do sell your book you’ll never be able to “make it” financially as a writer.  But I did sell my book, and now people all over the world are reading and responding to it.  It is very humbling to have created a story that has touched so many people from such vastly different worlds and experiences.

R:  What are you working on next? 

V:  My next novel isn’t about flowers or foster care, but I hope that it is another topic that will be interesting and relevant to my readers.   I am writing every morning and it is coming along—very slowly, but coming along nevertheless.

R: Tell me about the Camellia Network.  What can my readers do to support your organization?    Why are you so passionate about foster care adoption?

V:  The mission of Camellia Network is to activate networks of citizens in every community to provide the critical support young people need to transition from foster care to adulthood. Youth that age out face astonishing challenges: by the age of 24, 31% will have been incarcerated, 25% will have experienced homelessness, less than half are employed, and only 3% will have a college degree.  The reason I am a passionate advocate of permanency is simple: if all children in foster care were connected to lifelong families, no one would ever have to “age out” of the system.

n terms of how your readers can help, thank you for asking!  We are building a national network of people who have raised their hands and said yes! I want to help young people aging out in my community.  We already have thousands in our network and are growing daily.  Go on our website to join the movement.  If your readers sign up, they will be kept informed as we grow and begin to offer more and more opportunities to help.

Last thing: if you are in a book club sign up on our book clubs pageIf your book club will support Camellia (it doesn’t matter how much or little your group can raise, we need everyone!) I will call in to a future book club meeting to answer questions.

R:  At the very end of you book, in the last paragraph, you thank several people, some of whom are not your children.  Can you tell me about the individuals you listed?   

V:  My novel is so much about mother-child relationships, that I wanted to thank all the children that have taught about the depth and complexities of these relationships over the years.  Graciela and Miles are my biological children, and others are those I’ve fostered, and still others are children I’ve mentored or who I’ve known only briefly, but who taught me things I’ll never forget.

R:  What advice can you give a person or couple considering adopting a child from foster care?

V:  I think it is important for people or couples to know what they can handle in terms of age, numbers of kids, and behaviors—and then stick to it.  There is such a shortage of people willing to adopt kids out of foster care, specifically older kids and sibling sets, that I often hear stories of social workers putting pressure on potential adoptive couples that are outside the bounds of what they are looking for—for example, a couple wanting to adopt one toddler may end up being asked to consider a large sibling set.  All to often people say yes—because their heart is in the right place, and they want to help as much as possible—but if they don’t have the support or resources (internal and external!) these adoptions are more likely to fail.  Better to take on what you know you can handle and do it well, even with the overwhelming need in the world!

Special thanks to Vanessa for her time and talent!  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas at Our House Has Begun

 Christmas Little People sets!  So much fun!   We got some at a yard sale this summer and the others were gifts.  These are the perfect toys for both my girls. 
 Baby E wanted to help decorate the tree.  Because she is challenged in the listening department, we bought a baby gate to put around our big tree this year.  
 Miss E placed a tractor ornament right over Mary's face.   Hmmm....
 A gifted ornament we received last year that makes its debut this year.  Fabulous!
 My latest AA Santa.  I got him for $15 (on sale and with a coupon) at JCPenney.   They have a great variety to choose from.
 I found these jars (in various sizes) at a Goodwill last month.   I'm filling them with cinnamon sticks and candy canes.   The smallest jar is still waiting to be filled.   In my kitchen I'm doing a food themed tree and we have cookie cutters hanging from ribbons from our dining area light fixture (so inexpensive and cute!).
 Another new ornament this year.  This AA ballerina was purchased at Macy's.
Love the multi-racial Santa tins from IKEA.  Only $5.99 for three tins.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

What to Buy? + AA Christmas Decor

Many adoptive parents struggle with open adoption, particularly around the holidays.  What is an appropriate Christmas gift for birth family members?   Adoptive parents don't want to give too much or too little, making the situation uncomfortable.

Here are some ideas:

---Start with a card.   Have your child sign it if he or she is old enough.  If not, trace your child's hand print.  :)  

---Choose something meaningful to your child.   My friend Miss S, who happens to be an adoptive mother herself, gave me a fantastic idea.  Each year, we buy the girls' biological parents an ornament, and we buy a matching one for ourselves.   It's neat to think that when we are looking at our Christmas trees, we are sharing a view.  :)     Miss S buys an ornament that represents something her daughter is into that year.

---Make something, or have your child make something.    This year, we are giving stitched hand prints in a frame.   Thanks so much to Passionate Homemaking for this fabulous idea! 

---Give a photo.   My favorite place to buy frames is Kohl's because I always have a coupon, and there is always a great selection of clearance items. 


Check out my latest article for the Krazy Coupon Lady on where to find AA Christmas decor this season! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interesting Article on Adoption + Hair Care Resource List

Check this out.  Adoption has a rocky history.   Is it getting better? 


Need hair care resources for your kiddos?  Check out this list recently posted on Adoptive Families magazine. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Interesting Article

What do you think after reading this article

New Blog Post for AF Magazine

My latest blog post for Adoptive Families magazine is up.  Happy Reading! 

Queen Latifah Might Adopt published this piece on Queen Latifah.   :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Selling Babies?

Last month, Old Navy had a sale on baby clothes.   This was the sign on the front display of one of my local stores.

Apparently, you can get a baby "from $5." 

As an adoptive mother, I have participated in discussions surrounding this question:  Do adoption agencies sell babies?

It's easy to put up our defenses and say, "No way!  We are paying for an adoption process.   We don't buy babies."

My response to adoptive families is this:   It's tough, very tough, to find an ethical agency that exists as a ministry and not a business, an agency that doesn't sell babies to the people who can afford to buy them.

Many organizations and businesses exist to bring in money for personal profit.  Those that can be most successful use something deeply emotional, such as starting a family or fighting a disease, to bring in the big bucks. 

The abortion industry, for example, is a money making machine.   They meet a woman at the point of crisis, offer a quick solution, money is exchanged, and poof, problem gone (or so the industry claims).

It's sad that the comparison can be made between an abortion clinic and an adoption agency, but the truth is that both can exisit to provide a service that is sought after during a crucial, desperate time in a woman's life---be it the woman who chooses abortion, the woman who places her baby for adoption, or the woman wanting to adopt a baby after she's waited months, years, or even decades to become a mother.

I think adoptive parents have a responsibility to choose their agency wisely.  You have a right to ask a lot of questions, no matter how "intrusive" they may seem.   You have a right to know how the adoption fees are being used.   You have a right to question any agency practices  You have a right to ask how birth parents are treated, how it's handled if an expectant mom chooses to parent instead of following her "placement plan," etc.  You have a right to receive complete and honest answers.   

I love transparent agencies, honest social workers, and down-to-earth, knowledgeable birth parent counselors.   They are quite hard to find.   But don't stop until you find that stellar agency---because, I do believe we are responsible for our choices and we will be judged one day by God for those decisions.  

And, if you are working with an unethical agency, don't be afraid to go elsewhere.  Yes, you may have given a lot of money to your current agency, but luckily, God allows U-turns. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

ADORABLE AA Christmas Decor On Sale (Only a Few Days to Buy!)

One of my favorite websites, Totsy, is selling AA Christmas decor, which is incredibly hard to find.   Click on the Totsy link and then search "Holiday Elements."   I suggest ordering ASAP as items sell very quickly.   It is free to join Totsy (no hidden fees!).   Happy Christmas!

Home for the Holidays Info

Encourage your family and friends to watch this TV special featuring some fab celebs who promote foster care adoption! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adoption Month Celebrated at My Library!

A very special thank you to Miss Alison for creating a display of adoption books.    Adoption awareness and education is very dear to my heart.  

How are you celebrating National Adoption Month?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Birthday Banner

I am no seamstress.

But, a few years back, I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas, certain I would automatically become an expert pillowcase dress maker.   I bought fabric, ribbon, thread, and some other items.  I hired a sewing teacher.

I made one dress with wayyyy too big arm holes. 

The end.   Or so I thought.

Then I went to a party (hosted by, ironically, the woman who gave me the sewing lesson) and saw beautiful banners hanging throughout her house.    I asked her how she made them, and she said it was very easy.   Easy, I thought.  Right.  Easy for someone who used to own a sewing shop, can quilt, can smock, can craft basically anything out of nothing.

But I decided to give the project a whirl.   I purchased three different fabrics for each banner (one for each daughter), allowing my then two-year-old to choose one of her fabrics (a monkey pattern).  I then bought ribbon to match.

I created a triangle stencil using a file folder (as recommend by my sewing teacher) and spent a few nights cutting triangles with my sewing scissors.  I then ironed my triangles and stacked them in order of how I wanted them to line up on the banner.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I pulled out (and dusted off) my sewing machine.     I didn't touch a single setting (gulp!  who knew what would happen?) nor did I change the thread (change the thread?  are you kidding me?)  and holding my breath, sewed the triangles to the ribbon.

It worked.

I was so happy.   So I pulled out my second ribbon and set of triangles.   About four triangles into the project, I realized something was awry.

Three You Tube videos later, I had wound a new bobbin (whew---listen to me using sewing terms) and was back on track.  

With the leftover triangles and some ribbon I had on hand, I created a third, shorter banner to give as a gift.

What I love about this project is that it's easy, it's inexpensive, and it's homemade.  Plus, you can customize it for any holiday or celebration, and you aren't purchasing a one-time-use banner that will go into the landfill.   And finally, you don't have to do anything perfect.  In fact, the minor "flaws" give the banner character.

(Please excuse the poorly taken photo---the only free and long-enough space I had to lay out my banners was the kitchen floor). 

You can use fabric and ribbon scraps to add to or create a sensory box for your little ones.  

If you give this project a whirl, let me know what you are celebrating! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tidbits You Can Use

I've been coming across some awesome websites lately that I just have to share with you!

First, there's an online comic website called Adopted:  The Comic.     The comics usually center around adoptee experiences.  I found this one to be so true of adoptive parents and how we sometimes just don't know what or when or how to talk about adoption.   Happy browsing!

Second, I got a catalog in the mail the other day from Personal Creations that has many ornaments featuring African Americans and Hispanics.   You can select your ornament and then their skin tone and sometimes hair color.     There are so many to choose from!    Their rag dolls are really cute.

Third, I continue to read My Brown Baby online.   I love the variety of stories and the overall beauty of the website.  

Finally, If you haven't checked my resources list in some time, swing by.  I'm always adding new titles.  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book of the Month: November

I'm starting a new blog series called Book of the Month.   I'll feature a title that I found intriguing, a must-read, on the subject of adoption or diversity.

This month, I suggest you order The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh) from your local library.     This first-time novelist's book had me captivated.     Yes, the book is fiction, but the author did a fabulous job of capturing the complexity of a child's experience being stuck in the foster care system and the ramifications of that life.

If you have a few moments, read the author's bio.   So inspirational! 

Get your reading on!   

Share the Sugar!

Hey, readers!

I'm so thrilled with my new blog design.   My designer made me a button code, which is located below my profile info on the right, which you can copy and share on your blog.       Thanks!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Affordable Ways to Adopt

Check out my latest article on the Krazy Coupon Lady's website.   :)  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy National Adoption Month: How You Can Celebrate

You can celebrate National Adoption Month by...

1:   Asking your library to create an adoption-book display.

2:  Participating in your local foster care agency's birthday buddy program (where you purchase birthday gifts for a child in foster care).    (This would also make a fabulous Christmas project). 

3:  Donate items or money to local crisis nurseries, children's homes, maternity homes, etc.

4:  Spread the word about your adoption support group.

5:  Start the process of becoming a foster or adoptive parent. 

6:  Support foster parents.  Take meals, offer to babysit, buy some items their children might need.  

7:  Offer to speak as an experienced adoptive family at your agency's family training sessions.  Share what you know about adoption.

8:  Purchase adoption or diversity-minded books (see my resource list) for your child's school, the local library, or to your local agency (to give to new adoptive parents).  

9:  Host a drive for an organization that supports women, babies, and children.

10:  Include adoption in your Christmas letter.    

What ideas do you have? 

The list of possibilities is numerous!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Blog Design + Info You Can Use

Welcome to my new blog design!  Thanks to Fran at Small Bird Studios for her time and energy.  Did you know she offers a 20% discount to bloggers who focus on adoption, infertility, and child loss?

Here are some interesting links I've come across this week:

1:   Did you know Adoptive Families magazine is having a Halloween photo contest

2:   Notice how often a black person is the sidekick but rarely the main character in books, television shows, etc? 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Eye-Opening Reminder

A friend recently posted a link to this article on Facebook.    I wasn't to excited to read it, mostly because someone has commented that she needed tissues after reading.   I was just getting my day started and didn't want to feel sad from the get-go.  But I went ahead and read it.  

You should too.

I'm a busy mom of two "babies" (a toddler and an infant).   I work part-time at a university teaching writing (so you can imagine the preparation and the stacks of essays I have to grade).   I also write part-time for various publications, and I'm in the beginning stages of writing an adoption book.    I do most of the household chores, make homemade meals (because nutrition is very important to me), and run Miss E to and from preschool and tap/ballet class.  I prep grocery lists, coupon, and do the Christmas and birthday shopping.    I try to sneak in moments of personal joy and relaxation---reading a book, exercising, blogging.  This occurs while my husband works long, hard hours in the financial industry, providing for our family.    Then he comes home and we take care of the girls, eat dinner, put the girls to bed, try to spend a bit of time together, before starting over again the next day. 

Sound familiar?

We are busy.   Every day is a new adventure.

And in the midst of these activities and jobs and tasks, we so often forget to just stop and cuddle our babies, or start a tickle war, or head outdoors to play on the swing set.   

Some days, I stop in the middle of doing everything and think, "What am I doing?"  And more importantly, "What am I not doing?!?"  

As I get closer to the big 3-0, I look around at those whom I grew up with.  I think about their choices now---and so many of those choices, and the way they respond to hardship, and their mannerisms, and the way they raise their kids---so much of it is based on how their parents treated them.

And the weight, the monumental role of being called "mom,"  hits me, to be cliche, like a ton of bricks.  

Parents, we have a big job.   One that never gets a day off.   One that makes or breaks a child.   One that requires so much patience, self-control, sacrifice, understanding, love, and wisdom.

This article says all that is on my heart today.   I hope you will take time to read it, reflect, and think about what you can change to become the best parent you can be to your current and future blessings.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christmas Letter

Do you write one?  

I never used to be a fan.  Mostly, my family received letters that went on and on about how great the kids were (how many baseball tournaments they were in...and blah blah blah).   However, I do remember this one couple who always sent a letter that was at least three pages long.  The letter was incredibly detailed and though it wasn't meant to be, it was funny.

While we were waiting to adopt, I wrote my first Christmas letter.   This helped us announce our plans to adopt to those who didn't already know (particularly older relatives who don't use the Internet).     After that year, I just kept writing Christmas letters. 

I now love receiving the letters as well.   December is an entire month where it's fun to open up the mailbox and see what treasures are inside.   

If you want to write a letter that gets some (planned) laughs and smiles, follow these tips:

1:  Reflect on the past year.  What made your family smile?  Cry?  Laugh?   Snap a million photos?   Make a list. 

2:  Draft the letter.  Then go back to it a few times, revising, before you print and send.   This gives you time to add details, delete lines that you realize make you sound like an idiot, and correct mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

3:  Details matter!   Give specifics about each family member.   Did he/she go on any special trips?  Did something hysterical happen?   Were any interesting milestones reached?  A new hobby?   Let personalities shine!   (If your kids are old enough, have them write their paragraph in first person, letting them say what they want).  

4:  What's going on in your adoption journey?    This is always a topic of interest to friends and family.   Your letter is an awesome opportunity to educate others on adoption.  Share a blog URL or an article or a story about visiting birth family. 

5:  Print your letter on some fabulous paper (preferably the paper you bought last year on major sale after Christmas) and send, along with a fun family photograph.    (Your Christmas photo doesn't have to be each of you in matching sweaters.   Think outside the box.   The more creative, the better!)

Can you tell I'm ready for Christmas?        

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"That's so retarded!"

I hear this phrase ALL the time.     It disturbs me greatly, because I have a few family members who are developmentally delayed.  I cringe to think that someone would ever say this phrase in their presence.

Here's a fabulous blog post on the topic.  Please take a moment to check it out.

This PSA, selected by my students as one of the three options they may choose from for a analysis assignment, further explore the issue of saying, "That's so ____" ("gay," "retarded," etc.). 

Our children are listening to us.   Whether we utter these phrases or whether or not we stand up to those who do...they are listening, learning, and will repeat.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Celeb Adoption News + New Adoption Blog

Hi, readers!

Mariska Hargitay and Viola Davis both have new additions to their families via adoption!

Parents magazine has a new blogger.  The subject of her blog:  adoption.  

Even though I don't always agree with certain viewpoints, I am happy that adoption is becoming a more and more talked (and written about) topic.   I am also thankful that celebs, who are, whether we like it or not, role models, are sharing adoption photos and talking about their adoption experienes.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Family Christmas Project

Yes, Christmas is still over two months away, but being the planner I am, m formulating a plan to do a Christmas project as a family.  

I used to love to do volunteer work.   In high school and college I went on several week-long mission trips to American Indian reservations and other areas of the US that were poverty-stricken.   Meeting the people, playing with their kids, and breaking a sweat (we repaired homes) was personally rewarding because we were doing something for others.  

A crazy grad school schedule, followed by my diabetes diagnosis, followed by having two babies in three years...well, volunteering took a back burner.

I did, last summer, work at a hospital in the Diabetes Management Center.   It was rewarding, but juggling childcare was a challenge.  

So, I'm figuring out other ways to "give back" or "make a difference" (or whatever cliche phrase fancies you) without sacrificing the well-being of my family.

Readers, what can you do, particularly during the upcoming season of abundance (for some) to give to someone else?  

A friend of mine told me about a private school in East St. Louis, an area well known for crime and poverty, that does wonderful things for the community's children.    They are in need of certain supplies.     I immediately felt as if collecting and purchasing (with my new found couponing skills) items for this school would be an awesome family project.  

How to pick a family project:
1:   What is your family passionate about?  Hungry families?   Orphans?   Education?   People with disabilities?   The list of needs is endless.
2:  What can you reasonably do for your selected organization or person?    Compare this to what is needed.  (E-mail the necessary people to figure this out).  Then ask:  Is this project a good fit for your family AND the organization or person?
3:    Contribute with joy!    Recently, our church asked for school supplies for low-income school districts.    This was a fantastic project for our almost-three-year-old who was giddy over picking out Lightening McQueen folders.     
4:  Deliver.  Take your family with you when you deliver your contribution.    Let them meet some of those who are being blessed.  

Another option, particularly if you really don't have time to shop or volunteer for a cause, is to give a monetary gift in the name of a relative who you would normally buy a gift for.      Then give your relative a small token to remind them of the donation.  For example, last year we gave money to a maternity home, and then gave a baby ornament to the relative to symbolize the donation in her name.   This is particularly beneficial if you have a hard-to-buy-for or has-everything-needs-nothing relative.  

'Tis the season to share, give, bless, and be blessed!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tidbits for You

Check out this article on talking to your child's preschool teacher about adoption----or not?   :)    What do you think?

Good nutrition for adopted kids is an important and often overlooked topic.   There's a website dedicated to supporting parents and adoption professionals.   Check it out!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Change is Good."

My father, a salesperson for most of his life, would often tell my siblings and me:  "Change is good."     During his motivational talks, he would take an air conditioner thermostat, showing his audience the area marked "comfort zone."  He proceeded to talk about how so many of us refuse to step out of our comfort zones; therefore, our lives are mundane and predictable.   

Maybe I'm having something like a mid-mid-life reflection of sorts.  I'm turning 30 in January, and all the sudden I'm rearing at the bit to create some change in my life.   This is really difficult for me, because between raising two babies who are dependent upon me for almost everything and having a forever-and-ever disease (type I diabetes) that requires 24/7 management, change is frightening.   But it's also exhilarating.

So, in the works are several projects and changes.   Some of you are probably thinking, "That's dramatic for you?"    Yes.    I thrive on security, predictability, and control.  Part of it is my type A personality, and the other is my disease which teaches me that in order to feel well, I have to be in total control, all the time.     I'm forever battling myself.   Sigh! 

First, my blog is getting a makeover by Fran at  Small Bird Studios.    Because I'm publishing more and more, my blog is getting more hits.   I want my blog to not only inform and inspire, but I want it to look great and reflect how much I am thankful for my readers.   

Second, I'm saying no to non-paying writing projects.    I have finally built up enough publications on my writing resume to feel worthy of saying no to those who can't pay me for my time and talent.

Third, I'm working on two books.   One of which is open to contributors.    The other is in the hands of an agent.   I'm praying that if God wants me to write a book, He makes it abundantly clear to me.    I tend to put the cart before the horse, so I'm trying to be patient and accept if this is the right time in my life or not to write a book.    I'm battling myself----deciding to accept that I am talented enough, smart enough, and experienced enough to attempt a book.   (This didn't come easily to me, but a dear friend told me that I was good enough and to not pass this opportunity by.  I love awesome friends like this!).

Fourth, I'm not going to let my appearance come nearly-last anymore.  You know, I used to poke fun at my mom who would put on makeup just to run to Wal-Mart, but now I'm starting to get it.   I'm purchasing some newer clothes that compliment my skin and hair, and I'm cleaned out my closet, donating all items that didn't fit, didn't look nice, or urged me to be sloppy.    With two little girls, it's easy to excuse being a thrown-together-mama because inevidtably, I will end up with spit up, snot, or food on my clothes.    But you know, clothes can be washed.      I workout every day, so why not show off that hard work?    I'm going to stop buying anything black (because it makes me look washed out), to wear my high heels more often (because I always feel a little more confident in heels), and to not let something that's not working continue (like my attempt to grow out my hair).          

Five, I'm changing my goals and being open to the possibilities life throws at me.    Steve and I are still considering adopting from foster care, specifically, an African American sibling group.  I have so many doubts including if my girls will handle the change in birth order well, if I can manage my disease and take care of a large family, if we can afford this change, what we are willing to give up in order to have a large family, and so much more.    But I know if it's the right decision, everything will work out.

Finally, Steve and I working toward spending more quality time together.   Shutting the TV off can be hard after we've both had long, stressful days, but I strongly believe that united parents/partners create phenominal families!  We're also using the questions from The Five Love Languages to guide us in some revealing discussions about ourselves.      

The coming months are filled with possibilities, which I'm excited to greet and embrace.     I hope that you are also accepting the possibility of change in your life---big or small---for the better. 


Monday, October 10, 2011

Etsy Gift Certificate Winner...


Congrats!  :)  Contact the Etsy seller to claim your prize.  :) 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Christmas in October: $10 Gift Certificate Giveaway!


I'm so happy to share some information with you about my friend Elizabeth, an Etsy seller whom I ADORE!  Her princess clips, featured above, are lovely; they are well made and support little girls of various races.      You have the opportunity to participate in a $10 gift card giveaway to Elizabeth's Etsy shop.   :)  

First, here's some information about Elizabeth:

My name is Elizabeth Irving. I'm from Hudsonville, Michigan, and I make hair accessories for girls. My Etsy shop is called My Little Pixies, and it is so named for my two daughters, whom we have always joked are our "pixie" children because they are so little and sweet. I wanted my business name to reflect my girls, so that's how we landed on My Little Pixies.

I really believe in offering creative accessories for all kinds of girls. I love to create and offer items that reflect the beauty within every little princess. One of the best things about what I do is connecting with the many "friends." I've made in this wonderful community- suppliers, other creators, and clients. I opened my shop as a creative outlet- a way to justify a hobby I've had for awhile, and God has blessed it and allowed it to be a way to help provide for some of the little "extras" it's so nice to have every now and then. :)

Every little girl can use more hair accessories! At my shop, you'll find something for everyone- from the little Christmas baby to her big sister, or even the mom who wants to look extra cute for the Christmas party. I have lots of cute Christmas items, plus fun stuff for all year round.


Giveaway Item:   $10 gift certificate to Elizabeth's Etsy shop.

Entry dates:   10/5-10/10 (at noon, CST)

Ways to enter (up to five ways per person):
1:   Become a follower of my blog, and leave me a comment telling me you did so.
2:  Go to My Little Pixies on Etsy; leave me a comment telling me what you plan to purchase should you win the $10 gift certificate.
3:   Become a follower of my blog's FB page, and leave me a comment stating you did so.
4:   Post a FB or Twitter message about this giveaway, and leave me a comment stating you did so.
5:   Leave a comment stating what your favorite holiday tradition is.  

Winner:  The winner's comment will be posted after 12:00 p.m. (CST) on Monday, 10/10.  The winner is responsible to contact Elizabeth and claim her prize.   

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


We bought Miss E a lovely bed from IKEA last year, which she is quite fond of.  It's low to the ground and beautiful.  However, IKEA beds require special bedding due to their unique size and set up.

So, I went online to The Company Store and found two full size sheets that I loved---both on sale and in addition, I used a coupon (of course!).  One is of multiracial fairies, the other flowers.    My mother-in-law made this custom, reversible quilt for my daughter's bed, and is making an identical one for Baby E when she's old enough to be in a "big girl" bed.    Benefit:   sheets are far less costly than pre-made comforters!    (Note:  For a standard size twin bed, you will need a larger sheet than a full to make two comforters). 

So, if you are frustrated, like me, with the lack of brown girls being represented, take matters into your own hands, pick your fabric, find a willing friend or family member (or pay someone if necessary), and create a one-of-a-kind creation that will comfort him or her night after night.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Adoption T-Shirts

My oldest daughter has two adoption shirts.  One has a definition of adoption on it that says something like "loved and adored by both my families."  The other says simply, "Worth the Wait." 

It's obvious we're an adoptive family---pink parents, brown babies.    But I wonder if putting shirts like this on my toddler is beneficial or detrimental, and if yes to either, to whom is it beneficial or detrimental?

Is stamping a big fat "ADOPTION" sign on my child going to make her stand out more?  I think yes---but is it good or bad?   I feel like transracial adoptive families, by default, are adoption educators (good or bad, well, that's up to them).    So perhaps a t-shirt like this encourages people to approach us, ask a question, which leads them to a better understanding of adoption.  But is it fair to stamp an essential "ask me about adoption" stamp on my toddler?   Shouldn't she just be able to be normal?   Well as normal as adoption is (which it totally isn't "normal"---and I don't mean that to put down adoptive families, our family included---but adoption is just this complex, bizarre, complicated, intricate thing...).  

Upon receiving these shirts, I was so excited.  Finally, something that fits our family!    Shirts with messages stamped across the front are quite popular (my college students wear them all the time) and powerful.

I remember reading an article during the 2000 election about parents putting political onesies on their infants.   Some argued that it's the parent's right to dress his or her child as he or she chooses.   Others argued that it's ridiculous to put a political message, one that obviously the child couldn't grasp, across the child's chest.   

I want my child to be proud of her adoption.   She has two families---one by birth, one by adoption---both of which love her dearly.   She was worth the wait (14 months of wondering if we'd ever be parents, to whom, under what circumstances, what possibilities, etc.).   But does the world need to know that all the time, via a t-shirt, placed on my child?

I don't know.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Miss E has eczema.  Boo.

I did many things to try to rid her of it:   creams and lotions (all recommended by a dermatologist), bleach in the bathwater (which worked temporarily but smelled horrible), changing laundry detergents, keeping pants on her legs when outdoors, limiting time in the bath tub.    She was too young to endure allergy that was off the table.  I talked to numerous parents who all told me the same old tricks I had already tried.

None of it really worked.

So finally, I had a conversation with Miss E's biological brother's mom (got that?) who said she took her son off milk and his eczema went away.   

So, one day, cold turkey, I stopped giving Miss E milk and started offering her soy instead.  (Which she rejected for about a month, but I was persistent).

The exzema cleared up in a matter of days.

I talk to many moms of brown kids who say their children have eczema, and it's frustrating to pinpoint what the cause is and how to avoid it.     (Note, excema isn't just a brown baby issue).   

If you are struggling with your little one's skin, here are some practical, inexpensive or free, healthy ways to help ease your child's eczema:

---Eliminate the use of body products that contain "dirty" ingredients.   Try alternative ways to moisten your child's skin like coconut oil, olive oil, vitamin E oil, or almond oil.   (The last two contain potential allergens---so be careful!)   I buy organic oils that are USDA certified to insure I'm getting what I want.  I also LOVE Chartreuse products---made in the USA, mostly organic, and no water in the lotion!   My saleslady is also the girls' nanny, so please visit her Chartreuse page and check out the amazing products. 
---Make your own laundry detergent.   Even "free" detergents can be full of things you don't want on your little one's skin, and many green beauty and cleaning books state that the cleaning industry is highly unregulated---meaning, you don't know what you're getting or doing to your body.     The recipe I use for detergent is:   3 cups of Borax, 3 cups of washing soda, and 1 bar of grated (healthy) soap.   Use 1 Tablespoon per load of laundry.   
---Don't use dryer sheets or fabric softeners.   1 cup of vinegar in your rinse cycle helps eliminate odors and soften clothes.  Use dryer balls or a rag with a few drops of your favorite essential oil on it instead.
---Limit bathtime.  Water dries out skin.  (That's why it's silly to buy any lotions containing water!)   10 minutes in a warm bath.   And do not bathe more often than necessary.   Miss E gets a bath 2x a week.
---The most important tip:  Do whatever you can to figure out the cause.    I was simply covering up the problem with creams and lotions and bleach.   Once I discovered the sensitivity to milk, problem solved!   

Miss E still has occasional patches, but I have found that by using natural remedies and making a few changes (which have saved me money in detergent and doctor bills), life for Miss E is much more happy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Support Adoption While Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth

Wendy's is now offering coupon books, which patrons can purchase for just $1, that contain free Frosty coupons!   The proceeds go to support the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (supporting adoptions of children in foster care).    What a fantastic Halloween hand-out, birthday party favor, or Christmas gift!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Baby E is 10 Months Old!

Our youngest daughter, Baby E, is ten months old today.  It's hard to believe!    She's doing so many new and exciting things:  saying "mama" and "dada," pulling from sitting to standing position, drinking from a sippy cup, learning to use a baby fork on her own, enjoying splashing in the swimming pool, teething, doing classic baby "snorty" face (wrinkling her nose and breathing really hard while closing her eyes), playing with her big sis, and listening for a few moments while I read to her.

I'll admit, when we first brought both of our girls home, they hardly felt like mine.  This is common when adoptive families, who haven't had the ten months of gestational bonding and preparation, to feel that they are babysitting, not parenting, their new child.    It's strange, miraculous, and frightening (even when you have plenty of child care experience like we did), to be handed a bundle of joy who will be yours FOREVER, a little someone who was born to someone else, looks like someone else, and has known, for the gestational period, someone else's voice, scent, and heartbeat.  

But after many sleepless nights involving feedings, cuddles, and quiet songs, after fits of tears followed by giggles and smiles, after marathon play sessions, after kisses and cuddles, that baby becomes fully ours, despite that she looks nothing like us, that she exudes her birth parents in personality, preferences, and gestures, and that she was a stranger when she came to us, she is ours.

Here's an excerpt of a letter I wrote to Miss E around her 10 month birthday:

Today you had just finished eating some mixed veggies.   (I know you were finished because you threw your sippy cup, then your fork, then some veggies onto the floor).   I wiped off your hands and took you into the living room.  I gave you a binky (you look so sweet when you suck your binky) and we read Ten Little Babies.  You were attentive, focused, and quiet.  What a beautiful moment.   After we read the book twice, I put you in your bed for your nap.

I realize that I have now had you as my daughter for ten months which is the same amount of time your birth mother, _____, carried you in her.   This is a defining moment in my life.   I’m sad that _____ is missing you, and I’m sad that the circumstances in her life meant she felt she couldn’t parent you.  I try my very best to send detailed letters to her and lots of photographs so she can see how you are doing, what you are interested in, and most of all, that we are living up to our promises to her---raising you in a Christian home, letting you experience new things, traveling, and educating you.

You are such a blessing to our family!  Did you know when you were younger, we would get you out of bed when you were sleeping just to hold you and look at you?  Yeah, you are that awesome.  J

And today, now that Miss E's sister, Baby E, is 10 months, I am feeling this wave of emotion all over again.   

Baby E was carried by her birth mother approximately the same amount of time that Baby E has been ours.   

Please think for a moment what it would be like to have your ten month old baby, one whom you've cared for every day with love and devotion, to be taken from you.   Just like that.  Here today, gone tomorrow.   Imagine the heartache, the terror, the confusion, the fear.  Imagine the trust it would involve to hand your baby over to people you hardly know....forever.    Imagine not knowing if those people will keep their promise to write you letters or visit you, keeping you informed on how your child is doing.    Imagine wondering if you'd be forgotten eventually, or how you would explain your choice to your child one day if he or she were to ask you, "Why did you give me up?"   (I know the PC language is "placed for adoption"---but I can tell you that some of the birth mothers I know use the term "gave up" because that is what it felt like to them.)

I am not a birth parent.   But I know several women who are.  And I will tell you that these women love their babies.  They think of them every.  single.  day.     They stumble upon grief during unexpected times.  Their lives are never the same because a part of them is missing, forever, even when the loss was voluntary, even when the adoption is open, even when they can see and touch and speak with their birth child.

I rejoice in my sweet Baby E.  I am thankful for the presence of her birth parents in our lives.  And I am always mindful of the magnitude of their decision to allow us to raise Baby E.