A Letter to My Children

 

Recently our country has erupted with news stories, staggering across the bottom of our tv screens, and finding their way into our news feeds, police brutality, another shooting of an unarmed black man or woman, Black Lives Matter rallies, violence against police. And my children have begun asking questions.

My eight year-old son Demetrius keeps asking me “ Mama, are they going to start segregation again?”

I have avoided his question for a long time. And I think the reason I’ve avoided it is because if I want to be honest, I have to answer him, “It never actually ended bud.”

 

And how do I begin to explain that dark history? How do I begin to explain that what they’ve taught him in school is not the whole story, or even an accurate portrayal of part of the story?

 

I feel super inadequate as a white woman, trying to communicate to my Black and American Indian son that the history of our country is full of darkness and oppression for his people.

 

Yet my avoiding his question, my unwillingness to feel uncomfortable and inadequate is problematic in this goal I’ve set to be a stone catcher. It speaks volumes of my privilege. So I am starting today, while sitting on the airport floor in Chicago, after binge listening to my hero Bryan Stevenson, I am feeling like I have to begin somewhere. So here is my letter to you Demetrius, and to all of my children:

 

D-D,
You know how we’ve been talking about what is going on in America, about why police have been shooting black people who didn’t have guns? You know how I’ve talked to you about how you need to act around police? You know how sometimes I yell at you when you loose your cool, and I start crying and I usually say something like, “Demetrius! If you act like that out there, you will get shot! You have got to learn NOW how to be respectful, because you don’t have the luxuries that Tre has.” And you always scream back at me, “That’s not fair!”

 

And you’re right!

It’s not fair.

 

And yet it is still true.

 

D-D, you keep asking me if they are going to start segregation again. But I want to tell you something. Something that th
ey haven’t told you in school, something that makes people uncomfortable. D-D, segregation hasn’t really gone away. We can call it different things now, it looks different than water fountains and schools. And yet it doesn’t at all. Because black people still don’t get the same water (Flint, Michigan) or the same access to education (http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/01/28/us-education-still-separate-and-unequal ). And although we don’t have signs that hang outside of restaurants any more, we still have restaurants where you wouldn’t be served, just based on the color of your skin.

It’s awful. Really really awful.

 

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Here’s what I haven’t told you:

 

  1. There is a politics of fear and anger in America. Our leaders have fought to keep us afraid and angry for a long time. And when people are afraid and angry they will tolerate injustice, abuse, and cruelty. I don’t want you to be afraid and angry. I as your mom want to make sure you are a man full of hope. Because where there is hope, there is no longer a place for fear and anger. And then truth can reign. It is important that you, even as a little boy, begin to understand that identifying the ‘bad guy’ isn’t as clear as the news, our president, or your teacher makes it out to be. If we become afraid of a group of people, we will begin to make decisions that don’t represent our God.
  2. All people are equal. They aren’t treated equally though. And that is not what God wants. In my opinion, the worst part of slavery was that white people acted as if they were different than, better than, and superior to, black people. And we aren’t. And unfortunately that hasn’t much changed. The slaves were freed, but white people in America have continued to treat Black people as if they are inferior. It looks different than indentured servitude these days, usually, but it isn’t.
  3. Terrorism isn’t new. Terrorism has been occurring in the United States since the very beginning, it began with white people committing acts of terror on your American Indian ancestors. Terrorism didn’t strike in America for the first time on 9-11. Terrorism has been woven into the history that blankets our land. And without us being honest about what we, as white people have done, our country can never heal. The lynchings of black men, women, and children were acts of terror that infiltrated our country since the end of the Reconstruction in 1877 up until the 1950s. Muslim’s aren’t the first terrorists on this dirt. We are.

 

Buddy, I know that when we talk about these things you cry. I don’t ever want you to loose that. I want you to forever feel how awful this is. I want you to forever feel the weight of injustice. I pray that your dad and I can encourage you to not run away from what feels hard. I pray that we will teach you through our own broken paths, that you, D-D Luke, were made to do hard and holy things. Please be brave brave brave.

 

I love you to the moon Bub.

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(This letter was spurred after listening to a talk given by Bryan Stevenson at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California.)

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Kon Mari: Party Edition

Have you guys heard about this Kon Mari thing? Just kidding. I know you’ve already read my four-part series on the Life Changing Magic of Tidying up and if not, I’ll just sum it up: it really is magic to declutter your house in such a ruthless fashion as Marie Kondo suggests. I have done the hard work to change my life to reflect the Kon Mari principles of having only belongings that bring me joy. Also, as I’ve said before, I have always been a neat, tidy and organized person, so some of my natural abilities play into my capacity to rock Kon Mari, but nevertheless, here is my song of praise for what Kon Mari does for your capacity to host a fabulous party in a space that isn’t ideal for hosting.

First, a little description and a couple photos of The Baldwin Ranch if you’ve never visited.

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We live in a small, uncluttered ranch. Our home is about 1200 square feet of ground floor finished space and 1200 square feet of partially finished space in the basement (partially finished for us means we use the space for everyday living, though it isn’t aesthetically pleasing and it hosts The Shabby Alpaca’s home office and boutique.)

Anyway, though, clean and uncramped, the layout of our house is such that there are several smaller spaces in the main living area. When you come to the front door you enter an enclosed porch that is about 6×5.

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This is the entry way. I’m taking this photo from the main doorway.

As you enter the house, you come into an even  smaller space inside our house that is directly in front of another wall which divides the kitchen and the dining room- making it an awkward space for entertaining. (P.S when I mentioned home renovations, this is top of the list for changes: knock out all the walls and get a new front door).

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My living room has changed since this photo, but you get the idea- it isn’t a huge amount of space.

Today, though, I hosted a baby shower for my friend, Julie for 24-25 people and it was perfect.

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Here’s that gun-slinging neighbor wife of mine telling her husband she was pregnant. The cake says, “if I have to get fat so do you”.

First of all: here’s how hosting a party would have looked for me before Kon Mari (even though I’ve always been a neat and organized person as stated above).

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Here’s how that looked for me post-Kon Mari. First of all, I wasn’t stressed. On Friday, I cleaned my house from top to bottom. This took me approximately 1 hour because 95% of our belongings were already where they were supposed to be- all I had to do was lightly dust and mop floors. I rearranged my furniture and set up all of the decorative touches for the party.* I wasn’t stressed.

This morning, I finished preparing all the food, brought up extra chairs and sat back and waited for my guests to arrive. And I still wasn’t stressed. My guests politely dined on my many delicious offerings and hung out at the ranch from about 10-1. And I wasn’t stressed. By 1:45 I was completely cleaned up from the party (granted I was taking people’s plates and forks out of their hands while they were chewing, but never mind, my house was back in order in under an hour.)

 

Now, it’s Saturday night and I’m not stressed at all. I hosted a lovely shower for my beloved neighbor wife (you’ve heard of sister wives, right? This is like that except we don’t share husbands), my house is clean and in order, my laundry is done and I am doing one of the things that I love best in this life, which is writing this blog. 

To sum it up: Kon Mari saved me days of stress, freed me to do things I love like share community, bring people together, cook great food and write.

I’d call that a win for Kon Mari.

XO,

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P.S. If you love the party details, here are mine from today:

I bought these Wooden blocks and sharpies so people could decorate a block for Jaxxson to play with, thank you cards for the mother-to-be with envelopes and pens so guests could address their own thank you cards. For decor-a little clothesline with 3 cute onesies, and 3 glass jars of candy to eat, because I love that touch at parties.

For food and drink- easy crock pot vanilla lattes, fruity water (or as Avett calls it ‘pecial water’), an N/A brunch punch, a hash brown egg bake, a french toast casserole, cupcakes, a yogurt bar with granola and lots of berries & nuts. Because I was terrified I would run out of food I also made some cinnamon sugar waffles. You can check out my menus on my pinterest board. Oh, and no shower games, but while opening gifts, we had the gift-giver of the gift being opened, tell everyone how they know Julie allowing us a comfortable and easy chance to get to know one another since we were such a mish-mash of people.

How to Save Money-Andy Baldwin Style

We are preparing to embark on a somewhat major renovation of our 1950’s ranch. I plan to show you before and after pictures and if I am not too miserable, I’ll even snap some “during” pictures for you, but before we get to that, I’d like to share a little Andy Baldwin style savings mechanism for a project of this undertaking. If you know Andy at all, you know he loves to save money. One of his favorite websites is Mr. Money Mustache. A website dedicated to one guys reckless pursuit of the money- saving lifestyle. Something that brings Andy great joy is to do something that 10 other people do and do it cheaper. So here is how he does it:

  1. Always, always do the work yourself- so long as you are competent and able. We’ve had our share of fights about this because when you do the work yourself it’s a lot slower and the only one responsible for the mess and the mess ups is you.  However, let me say, we’ve been able to do many things that our wallet alone wouldn’t have afforded if it wasn’t for Andy’s do it all abilities. So if you can–> do it yourself. And if you can’t, maybe find a few things you can do to lower your cost. For instance, if you are renovating, see if you can do the demo yourself. Not everyone is like Andy and can do it all, but almost everyone has a friend like Andy, so call your friend!

 

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This is a picture of Andy at a junkyard pulling out parts from a totaled car that he could use to fix his own vehicle. I feel like this says it all…

2. Shop the sale! The first thing we were doing in this renovation is new windows. So the first thing we needed to purchase was the windows. Having bought windows from Lowes already, we knew they had the quality we wanted, so we went there. We went a few times just to explore, look around, talk to the sales people and decide which windows we wanted. We asked when the window sale would come up and no one knew. But lo and behold, the last time we went it was 15% off all windows and doors. So, we ordered all our windows and doors and saved 15%.

3. 4x Fuel Points. A few of our local grocery stores offer 4x fuel points on gift cards several times a year. What that means is when you go to King Soopers and buy gift cards, you get 4x as many fuel points as usual. So, if you are undertaking a project and you know you will be shopping at Lowes (or wherever) in the near future, you go to the local grocery store and buy $500 worth of gift cards to Lowes. Then you have up to $1.00 a gallon off your gas for that month and your cash for Lowes. This month our 4x fuel points added up to at least $130 in gas savings. P.S. The 4X fuel points is actually going on right now! Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.16.19 PM

4. Coupons. This is obvious for most people who like to save money. We don’t clip too many coupons around here, but when we are making a major purchase, we look for specific coupons. My parents had just moved and we know that USPS always has moving kit full of coupons, so we asked them for theirs. Another 10% coupon ready for us. It’s good to know, too, who takes competitors coupons. Home Depot and Lowes both do, so if you find a coupon for one, you’ve found one for the other. Also, when buying online- I always google for a discount code and 9/10 times I find one that works.

5. Raise.com Gifts Cards. This is a site that Andy has just discovered and just in time because it saved us $120 on this project. Basically the way Raise works is they buy gift cards people don’t want, verify them and then sell them at a discount on the face value. So you can use this site to buy and sell gift cards. Pretty neat, right? How many times have you gotten a gift card you can’t or won’t use? Just like the fuel points scenario, we will probably only use this when we know we are going to be buying something somewhere because buying gift cards you’ll never use is the opposite of what this post is about.

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Anyway, Andy estimates that on Phase 1 of this project, we’ve been able to save over $1000 using these 5 money saving tools! This doesn’t even count what we will save not paying a contractor to put in our windows and doors!

So, if you want to save  some money and don’t want to go all Breaking Bad, try one of these tips or all of them and come back and let me know how it worked! In the meantime, I’m off to buy some door knobs. What do you think of these?

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XO,

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Three things I’ve learned in three years as an adoptive mom

This weekend, our family celebrates our 3rd “Home-Avirsary”. What that means is that three years ago this weekend, we became a family. I traveled to Africa with my sister-in-law to pick up our kids and when we landed in Dulles, we were officially all together and finally “Home”. 32185_10200408424883191_915257598_n To me, home is where your Love is. On Andy’s first wedding ring (he’s only on his second- which is actually amazing), I inscribed the message, “Welcome Home”, because to us- being married was “home”, being together was “home”. And now the same is true for our made up celebration. Being together is like we are all finally, “Home”.

But if you’ve ever celebrated anything as wonderful as adoption, a new job,  marriage or childbirth, you know that Day 1 is nothing like what the rest of the days will be like. Day 1 is a celebration full of excitement and anticipation- the rest of the days are filled with a measure of love, anger, pain, joy, madness, excitement, frustration, celebration, elation, and any other emotion you can think of. The same is true for us.

Today, as we celebrate three years together with our adopted children, I’m sharing three lessons on being an adoptive mom that I’ve learned in those three years. Don’t get me wrong, these are not the same lessons for everyone, but they ring true to me as I look back on this time. Also, I’d like to say, I’ve learned 333333 lessons about life  and 33333333 lessons about myself in these three years, but since lots of you are come for the adoption stories, I thought I’d focus on that aspect.

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At our Three Year Home-Avirsary

Lesson 1: Parenting adopted children can not be done without support. I might even go as far as to say that “parenting any children can not be done without support”, but I said this would be about being an adoptive mom, so I’ll leave that out. Or not, I already said it, so just take my word.

One day, for whatever reason, I went to the local nail salon in my new-ish town. Next to me was seated a chatty, young and pretty girl. Having no friends in town myself, I bravely started to chat with that girl next to me. All I can say is this- thank GOD for my bravery and her

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kindness. If it wasn’t for that- this journey for us would have looked much different. God brought Amanda to me at just exactly the right time. Our friendship has led to more friendships and more support than I could have ever asked for.

I have a tendency to isolate especially when life is challenging or hard. It’s just easier for me to duke it out by myself than it is to let people in (though, that is changing with my emotional growth- thank you Brene Brown, I love you!). So when we brought our kids home and our world crumbled (see Andy and I crying hysterically on day 2 questioning whether we made a major mistake and if it wasn’t too late to return the goods), I would have been at it alone. And alone is no place to be when your world is crumbling. As much as our kids were a dream come true for us, becoming parents to children born to another rocked our world. We were in no way prepared for what that kind of life change was going to look like. But my friend Amanda knew. She not only knew the science of what our brains were going through, she knew how much our lives would change and she walked beside us every step of the way. My parents moved here just months after our kids arrived and as challenging as that was in many aspects, we couldn’t have done it without them here. 101313_0008From babysitting on date nights to doing our dishes, my parents saved our sanity. We didn’t know we’d need grandparents, friends and support groups for this journey, but God did and he sent them all just when we needed them. Whether you are going through a divorce, adopting a child or starting a diet- let me say this: you need supportive and loving friends. And your mom, you probably need your mom.

Lesson 2: Love is not the same as attachment and love is not enough. I am no expert on attachment and bonding, but my friend Amanda is. From reading books to picking her brain, I’ve learned a thing or two. The main thing I’ve learned is this: I can have enough love to save the whole world, but if my children don’t attach to me in a healthy way, love won’t help. I can say that I absolutely love my children- all of them- but I am working on bonding with one of them in particular and it is hard work. Once I am bonded, I am safe and that child can attach to me. Not like love isn’t hard, but comparatively, love is actually easy-breezy. Love= I would die for you. Attachment= you trust me to die for you. Being able to die for someone is easy. If there is a fire, I will save you even if means I die. Helping someone to trust you is not so easy. If the fire alarm goes off, all the traumatized wires in their brain go off, too, and they have no idea whether I will save them or not. Love alone does not save children from hard places. Children from hard places need love, but whatever measure of love I have to give is never going to be enough. It’s filling a bucket with a hole in it if attachment doesn’t get addressed. Love is wonderful and I thank God for His love for me which gives me a blueprint for loving others, but the brain has it’s own response to trauma and attachment and bonding are the answer that traumatized children need.

Lesson 3: It takes a year to have your first day. David Purvis said  this to me a while back and I just sat there and processed the truth of it all. Whether you are starting a job or starting a life with someone, it will be a good year before you really get the hang of what’s going on (and even then…). When we’d been home with our children a mere 8 months, I had a baby. So our ‘year’ basically started all over. Andy and I had just about made it a year with our new family when we pushed the reset on the “Your Life Completely Changed” button by having a baby and we went back without passing go or collecting our $200. Honestly (and I’ve said this before) as joyful and amazing as everything about this is- it was hell. Having a newborn, having 2 kids I barely knew and couldn’t understand half the time, and suddenly having 7 people in my house- it rocked me.

IMG_4824 2When Avett was about 1, my “first day” had been had and that’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan. For that 19 months of being a new mom, I hadn’t lived at all; I had merely survived. And survival is hard and traumatic work (just ask your adopted kids..). I realize now that I was traumatized by these changes and upheaval and I realize even more so now that my response to trauma is try really damn hard to survive and if that doesn’t work- smoke. After indulging my addictions for a while, I woke up one day and realized that this response wasn’t helping either, so I stopped. I stopped everything and I just processed it all. I joined a group of people who were processing their own hard places and I duked it out in the company of sinners and saints. I processed the year, the first day, the year I spent smoking and the whole thing. I rediscovered reality and I started to live in the life I had been given. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been so, so good.

In the past three years, I’ve learned so, so much from my children, my ever-patient and loving husband, my friends, my supporters and the people who’ve stayed beside me. I wouldn’t trade this time, these lessons or this family for anything in the world. Being a mom- adoptive or otherwise is tough work.  I’ve got a lot more to learn, but I’m getting there. I’m studying attachment together with my husband and we’re continuing to build our support network. The ‘first day’ is finally done and we’re moving on…

XO,

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#blessed

I recently read somewhere that the hashtag #blessed should only be used ironically. Like a mustache. They should only be worn for irony. So the irony here is this: you know how my last post was about how getting everything I ever wanted didn’t save me? Well, I wanted to be sure that I was clear that parenting these three children does in fact, bring me joy. So I am actually #blessed. Is that ironic? It doesn’t matter because I couldn’t come up with a better title and I know my friends and family want to see pictures and videos of the kids….If you read this blog for actual content you can skip this one and call yourself #blessed for saving the five minutes it will take to read this.

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One of the greatest surprises in parenthood for me is how much our kids mirror us. They reflect back to us our attitudes, our expressions and our values. Avett recently surprised me by repeating a little expression.

In case you don’t understand baby talk, he is saying, “what the hell”. “What the hell”. I have NO idea where he heard that expression enough to be have it on repeat in his own head. But whatever. I’ll talk to Andy.

And just while were on Avett, here is a video of Avett saying “marshmallow”. I know everyone has cute videos of their kids doing cute things and we’re all biased that our kids are the funniest, cutest and best, but we’re all right.

As you know, Avett was a total surprise to us. Side note: his name is Avett, like the way you say the “a” when you are saying your ABC’s. We wanted to make his first introductions to people really hard (SUCCESS!). But it doesn’t matter because this kid wins everybody over in a matter of seconds. He says “hi” to all of our neighbors- by name, thanks everyone who gives him something by saying “thank you”, says “God bless you” to someone who sneezes and on and on the things that little kids do to win adults over and make strangers say “how cute is he!”. Anyway, the point is, after Avett was born and we gave him a name we basically made up (it’s a band name but we didn’t name him because we are huge fans of the band, though we do love them) God showed me what his name means. It means bringer of joy and with it God gave me this scripture:

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

When Avett was a tiny infant and God dropped that into my spirit, I was so amazed at the accuracy. Now that he is a child, I see even more how accurate it is. I love that this boy brings such delight to so many people. Please, please don’t get me wrong. He is a toddler and sometimes the only joy he brings me is at nap time; parenting toddlers is hard work.

Speaking of delight and hard work, Vaughn is a total delight to me. He is the kid that is hardest and easiest to parent. He knows what he wants, but sometimes its a little tough to meet his needs. However, he is the kindest and most considerate kid on the planet. He always offers a sincere apology when he has done wrong. I love his humility and I learn from him everyday. He is sensitive and inquisitive. He is an amazing soccer player and my bet is that his natural skill will take him far in life.

This is a picture of us on a bike ride. I asked him on a date anIMG_0624d we rode 7 miles together. If you can imagine, he talked the whole time. Or rather he asked questions the whole time 🙂 The main problem with Vaughn is that if he were my only child, I would have no problems at all with him. He just has a lot of energy and for a lazy person, that is a lot of work in parenting. I love one on one time with Vaughn. He gets a little lost in the crowd of three because I get overwhelmed with all I have to going on. Anyway, Vaughn really is the best. I know when Vaughn is a young man- we will be friends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those loosey-goosey “I just want my kids to like me and be best friends with my kids” kind of moms. I am the mom. But I’ve learned to share power with my kids and let them be kids without penalizing every wrong-doing. But Vaughn and I both work on our relationship very intentionally in a way that is sowing seeds for years to come. Recently, I shared something personal with a group of my closest friends (which I will tell you about soon) but after I did it, Vaughn said, “Mom, that was really brave of you. I’m proud of you.” I am crying just typing his words. I will never forget them. He is an amazing boy and he will do amazing things in this life. I’m so glad God chose him to mirror things in me that need reflecting.

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Eloise Jolie…. this little rambler. She got these roller skates for her birthday and she has hardly taken them off. This little girl decides she wants to do something and suddenly it’s done. “Mom, I tied my shoes.” WHAT? I didn’t even know you wanted to learn that! “Mom, look, I pulled out my own tooth.” WHAT! You did WHAT?! Maybe this is a middle child thing? If you want it done, you just do it? I feel bad because I would have liked to have taught her something in this life. But I guess celebrating what you teach yourself to do will have to be enough…?

This girl and I are similar in ways that make it impossible to believe she is adopted sometimes. Her humor is unbelievable. Not that I’m boasting about my own sense of humor, though it is excellent, it’s just shocking how similar we are in this area. She gets adult humor. I’ve never told a joke she didn’t get. She is an excellent big sister. I LOVE how she plays with Avett. I love seeing her personality, likes, and dislikes blossom. She loves to be outside (sans shoes) and she loves to play with animals and dirt. I told her one day that she was my little nature girl and the next day she said, “you know how you said I was a natural girl?” I cracked up and so did she. She can laugh at herself, which is a quality I really appreciate in a person.

Eloise is beautiful and I tell her that often, but I want to celebrate who she is inside. She is amazing and I want her to know that more than I want her to know how beautiful she is.

So, there you have it- the joy of my life. These three miracles. I’m celebrating today the gift that they are and recognizing that although they didn’t save me, they do bring me joy. #blessed

Things We’re Into Today…

Here are some of the things we are loving, that if you don’t know about already, you might want to look into! What can we say, we’re trendsetters. Or not. You probably already have all these things. No problem. Show your friends this post so you can prove you were into it first.

From Amanda:

  1. Indoor Swings.

Do you have one? Indoor swings are like heaven. In my perfect house, my breakfast bar would look like this:

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But until I can convince my husband that this is a brilliant idea with five children and tile floors, we’ve settled on this swing in our play room. It really is essential in your life. Swings are known to help calm and reorganize the brain. They are magic, for rambunctious kids, or anxious adults. And we have both. This swing is at ikea for $40. There are cooler ones out there, but if you don’t have an indoor swing, you need one. Trust me. Winter is coming. This will help.

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2. This one is more than $40…

But we just put in a steam room in our master bathroom. The first time I indulged, I looked at David and said, “It doesn’t matter if this thing cost us 1 million dollars, it was worth every single penny.”

I know that’s not realistic, but honestly, we LOVE it! All of us. The benefits of steam saunas are numerous, but include helping to extract impurities and toxins, help with breathing and alleviating asthma symptoms, and most importantly, RELAXATION. I know it isn’t practical to go put one in if you aren’t already planning a renovation, BUT if you are a part of a gym or YMCA that has a steam room, GO RELAX!

I have even started buying books at Goodwill for $0.50 and then I can go in a read, it is the perfect way to relax before bed.

The boys after football, trying to relieve their

The boys after football, trying to relieve their “aching muscles”!

3. These pants. They’re the bomb dot com.

Yup, I said it.

My friend Amber at Beautiful and Beloved, a boutique that empowers global job creation for survivors of slavery, gifted them to me for my birthday. They are perfection, they’re like Aladdin pants meet skirt, meet pajamas. I wear them to church, and to do yard work, and in new york city, because you can wear them ANytime! They’re heaven, with a waist band. Trust me.

This is a really terrible picture, but the pants STILL look awesome!

This is a really terrible picture, but the pants STILL look awesome!

WATERCOLOR LEAVES - 2From Celina:

  1. These pants. She’s not kidding. They are so awesome. Honestly, I don’t really think they are that flattering, but they are the kind of pants you can really say, “who cares how they look? they feel awesome”. They are PERFECT for a travel day. Either in the car or on a plane. Perfect for spring, summer or fall. Based on comments I’ve gotten I’m pretty sure they look terrible. From a hairstylist: “I could never wear those!” (AKA Those look like crap. I wouldn’t do that to myself). From D: “Are you wearing your pajamas?” Me: “No. And your mom has the same pants. But I could easily sleep in these.”

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    Cameo by Eleanor

  2. Dermaplaning. Have you heard of this? Dermaplaning is a nice way of saying: shave your face. It’s truly the latest (as far as I know ‘latest’ to be which means it could be quite outdated) in beauty treatments. My sister in law, Katie, introduced me to it with these little razors. dermsShe told me it’s what she uses to control her upper lip hair (mustache). I was skeptical- as I am sure you are- but since Katie is flawless I decided to give it a try. I read all about this process before I took one of these razors to my face.  Believe me the last thing my Italian- self needed was to have any hair (facial or otherwise) growing back thicker and darker. So I did what any intelligent person seeking information does and I googled it. Then I shaved away. Uncle Google taught me the hair on your face is not like the hair on your legs. The hair on your face is called vellous hair. When vellous hair is removed it grows back the same texture and color as it was before you removed it. Therefore, removing it has no unwanted side effects. I started with my ‘stache and these little razors with great results. And then I got addicted. Having no mustache was like….amazing. When I started reading about removing my mustache hair with a razor, it led me to the whole dermaplane thing. Dermaplaning is performed using a sterile surgical blade. Basically you lay down and a esthetician takes her trained and careful hands and surgical blade to your face and neck and removes all traces of hair. dermaplane.89122230_stdIt is amazing. It feels amazing. Afterward, your make up goes on smoothly and your face looks younger and brighter. I know it sounds scary. I’ve had it done twice by a professional and this is my total recommendation: pay a professional to shave your face. I do NOT recommend going the cheap way and using your husband’s #1 razor to shave your own face. However, full disclosure here: I do not see a professional for this anymore. I make sure everyone in my house is asleep and I get one of Andy’s super sharp razors and I shave my face. These are like German engineered single blades. We don’t use a Bic for this kind of thing, nor do you use moisture or shaving cream. It’s a dry process.  And sometimes I look like this if it’s too dark. So if you want to try this, it’s about $30-$80 here in Denver and you won’t regret it! Trust me: you look younger and brighter. Dermaplaning helps with dry skin, superficial skin problems, and acne scars. And dermaplaning at home helps with pride and feelings of grandeur. shaving-cuts
  3. Blanket Scarves! You’ve probably seen the trend. Giant, blanket-like scarves. Plaid. I’ve always loved scarves and I’ve always loved plaid. I’m like a trendy farmer. See my previous post on my overall obsession. Screen-Shot-2014-09-26-at-7.47.47-AMI love these scarves because in Colorado it gets super cold but warms up because of the bright sunshine even on the coldest day. So wear it like an actual blanket if needed or like a scarf. Anyway, looks like you can get this scarf for around $25. Shabby Alpaca will be selling them September 12 &13 at the Denver Flea, but ours are geometric patterned and solid and being alpaca they are not in the $25 range, but if you like having something no one else has that is super high quality and SOFT, then you need to come check out our stock of scarves! And hats. And gloves. And arm warmers.)  Plaid-Blanket-Scarf-Zara-Style-Asos-36

What are you into that we need to know about?

XO,

AMANDA + CELINA - signatures

Notes: To My Future Daughter-in-Law

Dear [Future] Daughter-in-law,

I have thought of you often, since the day my boy entered my world when he was 15 years old. You already know Zac’s story- adopted out of foster care at an “unadoptable” age. He’s been my boy since the day I laid eyes on him and your husband is my son, but he’s no longer my boy. I don’t know your story yet, but I pray often for you that whatever life is throwing at you that you know Jesus is holding you near.

You don’t have to prove your worth with me. You have my respect. I hope that I always make you feel precious and smart. Because you are. And I get to see your brilliance unfold as it will in this new season. You are one of my children now. You are one of my daughters. We’ll share secrets. We’ll share recipes. And we’ll share love. You’ll be the mother of my grandchildren and that is a love that neither of us will be able to measure! I want you to know that I told Zac to keep close watch over you after you have your baby, I’ve told him what an honor it will be that he gets to change your baby’s diapers and hold your baby in the middle of the night.

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God gave me a significant time in my son’s life to nurture him as mothers do. I wiped away tears, I kissed his face, I held him close to model gentleness. I taught him how to listen by letting him be heard. I showed him warmth so that his heart would stay soft. I gave him thoughtful notes and gifts. I asked him endless questions, with hope that he would know this important side of the female mind. I did all these things because it’s the great joy of being a mom to a son. I did these things with you in mind because no matter what your story is, I know you deserve a wonderful husband. I want you to know that Zac has learned the value of housework from us. I often tell him that “the most romantic thing that you can do for your wife around the house is help cook and clean, and clean some more.” That may not seem romantic to you in the early stages of your relationship, but as your life changes with babies and work, I know you’ll thank me for instilling this value for seemingly mundane work in him.

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Mother and son

From my own life, I want you to know this: marriage is sacred. Your marriage is sacred and I respect that with all my heart. For me to let my own chapter close is hard. I’ll forget sometimes that he’s no longer my boy. Please forgive me.

This story is now yours. You will know my son in a way that I do not. I am grateful. My son will be your knight in shining armor, your protector, your provider. What you share with him is everything that my son deserves. Everything that you deserve. Everything that you’ve both worked for.

I can’t wait to walk this road with you. Know that you always have my love!

Love,

Your [Future] Mother-in-love


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