Surprised by Kindness


Today is Avett’s 3rd birthday. I remember the day he was born clearer than I remember any day I’ve lived. I don’t tell my kids this, but the day Avett was born was the best day of my life. Avett was the biggest surprise. The kindest gift God could have given me after years of heartache.


September 2, 2013

But aren’t surprises the best. Like real surprises?

Earlier in the week, I told Eloise that we would get donuts for Avett’s birthday from our favorite local donut place. I forgot about it, but being a donut lover- she did not and promptly reminded me when she woke up. We weren’t running late today, but we weren’t early either. Amanda told me that 2 of her 4 kids were sick, so I offered to take the two who were well to The Donut House with us. I wouldn’t have offered if they were all going to school because taking 7 kids into a 400 square foot donut store that usually has a line of people 6-12 deep is a recipe for a really bad start to the day. Anyway, I picked up two Purvis’s and we made our way to get some donuts.

Once inside, I told the kids we would have to get our donuts to go because we wouldn’t have time to sit there. We waited about 7 minutes in line and while the kids certainly didn’t misbehave, the combined force of 5 kids under 10 waiting to get donuts is not a force to reckon with. They were sitting (read: laying/bouncing lightly) on the available comfy chairs, reading books (out loud) and semi-loudly discussing whatever it is that kids age 3-10 discuss. My only correction to them was to Avett to speak a little quieter (since he was essentially yelling to Noah about fish). Overall, I was happy with how they were acting and I only felt a little self-conscious because I know some people (and maybe one of the 9 people in line behind us in the 400 square foot waiting area) think kids should not make any noise or move around at all. But I decided in the few minutes we were there that if someone didn’t like it, it was going to have to be too bad for them.


Anyway, when it was finally our turn, I called all the kids to the donut viewing window and said, “Avett picks first since it’s his birthday!” The donut man said, “His is on the house since it’s his birthday!” (Side note- always announce your birthday because it gets you free stuff!). We each ordered our favorite and went to pay. But the guy behind me quietly stepped up and said, “I’ve got this. I’ll get your donuts.” I almost started crying and thanked him profusely. “Wow! Thanks!!” I said and started to gather up the kids to head out. As we walked through the door, I thought of the 10 lepers healed and how only one went back to say, “thanks!” and I asked Vaughn if he would run back in and thank the guy again.

The whole way to school I talked to the kids about that man’s kindness. My arms felt all goose-bumpy and an hour later I still have a lump in my throat. I didn’t need that man to buy our donuts, but I love that he did. His extension of kindness is leading me today. It’s been a long time since a stranger blessed me and if I think about it, it’s been a while since I blessed a stranger. Today is the day, though. A day full of surprises and kindness. I’m glad for the reminder to spread my share of kindness around because however long it takes to make it’s way around the world, it always comes back and there is always enough to give away.




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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:


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 ( ). 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.



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.)


The Accidental Patriot

Toddler toilet training

I haven’t given him nearly enough blog time, but our son Avett (pronounced A like when you say the alphabet)* is a total and complete hoot. An amazing person. A jolly good fellow.  I really need to get him a twitter account or a producer so the world can enjoy this kid as much as we all do. For now, this blog post should suffice.

Avett is 2 3/4 years old. So almost 3. From the day he was known by us, he was our joy and delight. A surprise we never expected. He continues to surprise us everyday with his wit and personality.


He is funny, friendly, adorable and an incredible communicator. I know that as his mother my opinion doesn’t count for much, but you can really ask anyone he knows and they will verify these statements as facts. Avett knows every one of our neighbors names and he calls to them from across the yard when he sees them. Avett: “HI! HI! Mr. John!! I’m just, I’m just playing with this stick.” The other day out of the blue he asked Mr. John how old he was? I don’t know why he wanted to know.

One time I asked him who he liked better- mommy or daddy. When he said without even a second pause – “Daddy!” I laughed too hard to which he replied with vehemence, “NO! I do. I do love Daddy better!”.

He doesn’t know much about birthdays, but he KNOWS that he wants a balloon and a car “so I can drive my buddies around”. Every kid he meets is his buddy. Even if said buddy chokes him like this (Avett demonstrates rather hilariously how his buddy choked him).

Avett also talks about what he wants for MisMas (Christmas). Spoiler alert: it’s a balloon.

image_5When one of his siblings does something wrong, he comes to me with the tale and then says, “Can you talk to Ewowise about it?” To which I’ll reply, “What do you want me to say to her?” He says, “Tell her to never do that again!”

As much as he is like Andy in all the best ways: easy-going, not ruffled easily, happy to work, he is in many ways also just like his mama (see bedhead photo).image

I really love guests and company and time with people, but when I’m done, I’m done. Avett is the same. He’ll say to my mom out of the blue, “OK Bye! Time for you to go to your home.” Last week one of my good friends came by for lunch. Her name is Aunty Q. Avett called her BAR-B-Q. The only association he could make with the letter Q. While BBQ was here, she gave him gifts, she shared her lunch (literally right off her fork and plate), she talked to him and laughed with him- all in all a good visit. After she left I said, “Did you like Aunty Q?” “Yes!” he said. “What was your favorite thing about her?” Avett: “When she said BYE-Bye”.

Avett’s best friend is our 70-something year old neighbor- Mr. Gary. Avett and Gary practically both run to the fence for a chat every time they see each other. Mr Gary will say, “Where’s my little buddy?” Avett tells him what he’s doing that day and they chat for a few minutes. I don’t usually stay and listen because I want Mr. Gary to get all the joy he can out of these encounters. They have their own little friendship that I really love. Avett’s other favorite person is his Bampa (grandpa). Again the delight these two get out of each other is totally mutual. I’ll say, “Grandmas coming over!” He’ll say (with much excitement!), “Is Bampa coming too!!!??” image_6

image_1The other day (and many days before that) Avett decided that he needed to strip down to nothing in the backyard. I caught him just as he was completely naked. While I did try to get him to put his clothes back on, I didn’t try nearly enough because I was laughing so hard. I asked him why he had to take his clothes off and he said, “So I can go down the slide!” He then did this on the swing set.

Avett is a politician in training. He meets everyone, asks, “what’s your dogs name?”, shakes hands with strangers, charms everyone and then remembers their name image copythe next time he sees them. The other day we decided to take a walk. We all got dressed and hustled out of the house. Once we were outside I realized that we had a brought our own little patriot. Aunty BBQ had given Avett these flags which he didn’t put down for the whole day. He’s had these red Toms for a month or so now (he calls these his Uncle Toms because he has an Uncle Tom). He had been wearing his National Guard hat all day as his own personal choice and then without even thinking I put on this blue and white striped sweater shirt. I realized as we started walking that he was perfectly dressed for the 4th of July. I told him so and he started saying, “Happy Juwy!” and waving his flags.

So to you we say, “Happy Juwy!”

*Update and clarification! Avett is a hard name to get. Whenever adults ask him his name and he says it, they smile blankly and say, “Well, hi there…buddy.” A friend pointed out that my explanation of pronunciation does not in fact, help. The way you say Avett is when you say the alphabet, not the word alphabet, but when you say, “A,B,C,D…” It’s that kind of “A” sound. Hope that helps…..but I’m sure it doesn’t.



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Morning Moms

I have been parenting toddlers for what seems like a decade… oh wait, it has been. And now we’ve also added teenagers to our repertoire. So after parenting toddlers to teens for a few months now I have had a major revelation. Mornings with kids SUCK. I remember rolling over to my husband at 5:30 am after hearing multiple babies and toddlers awakening under our roof, and I would groggily say “Why does God hate us more than anyone else? What have we done?”

We would try to remember to “enjoy it” because “it will go by fast”. But it didn’t go by fast. There were some mornings that were more blissful than not, but mostly it was just a comedy of errors in which I was braless and trying not to cuss, while attempting to keep multiple small children quiet, so that they wouldn’t awaken the other multitudes. I would cook, what felt like 15 rounds of oatmeal and eggs and smoothies and Kix, some how waffles and omelets, and even Cinnamon Toast Crunch made appearances as well. And eventually I would conclude that everyone had awoken and everyone was sufficiently nourished-  we could now shift into something that should have felt like a productive day…

But this “twilight zone” of waking up with small children and trying to feed everyone and not accidentally kill anyone or say any words that you didn’t want them using in preschool- it seemed to last hours each morning.

We would consistently remind ourselves that this stage would not last. At some point our children will sleep in, though the morning and we won’t even have to make breakfast! Ever! We would smile and become giddy at the mere thought of it.

That was then.

This is now.

When I wake up, on the rare occasion that an alarm is jolting me awake, and meander out to the living room/kitchen/dining room area of my home this is what I see.

ImageThese children who sucked a decades worth of mornings from me have “made themselves breakfast”. The thing I’d always hoped for. And all I see is empty things. Empty syrup. empty boxes, empty juice carafes and empty milk cartons. Doors are missing and there are ALWAYS a lot of blankets. Everywhere.

The mess might consist of entire loaf of bread, with each piece having one bite taken out of it. Or Kix being found in every drawer and crevice of my home. If I am lucky it was “just eggs” and there are only a few that didn’t make the pan.

Image-1In case you’re wondering. This isn’t better than being woken up. It isn’t really worse either. It just is.

Now, the teenagers do not wake up for breakfast. When given the opportunity to sleep in, they do. This is wonderful. But this is also a predicament. I have never once seen them eat breakfast. Before a big test, before a day at the gym, before a dance competition, never. They just quietly get ready and stumble out the door. And I wonder, “Did they get any nourishment? Will they survive?”

The moral of the story is this: The morning time routine with kids doesn’t ever get easier. It just changes. So those moms out there spending HOURS with small children before the sun has even made an appearance. The moms who have served three meals, to the same child,  before 8 am. This to shall pass. But what’s coming is just a new crazy town. You might not be in your pajamas for a few hours before day break. But it is still just as crazy. Being  a mom in the morning is just plain hard.



Birth Story

Today our baby turns 4! I can’t believe she is four. But I also feel like maybe she is 14. Because she is quite a character, already. She runs around on her toes, claiming she’s a famous ballerina, and won’t enter a room without an announcement and a grande jete. She is a lover, a snuggler, she is strong and powerful, and likes make-up and princesses and only wears dresses. (Except when on the mat- in her jiu jitsu ghi.) She really is our “warrior princess” as I call her. And we all are pretty smitten with her. 0206

I wanted to re-share Charli’s birth story today on the day of her birth. SO here is my post from a few days after her birth:

Note: This is a post about giving birth and does include pictures (no naked pics), if that’s not your thing, don’t read on!
I want to document the story of Charli’s birth, while it’s fresh in my mind and heart, for several reasons… The first being that I want to have it for her to read. Hearing my mom and grandma’s birth stories have been incredibly special to me and is something I see as a part of our family’s story.

Secondly, when you are pregnant reading birth stories is therapeutic. It gives you hope, that this baby will come out! And it gives you strength. Knowing that women you know and love, and women across the globe you’ve never met, have done this, their stories bring strength.

This story is a story of natural birth, at a licensed midwifery center. Charli was born in the water, making it a water birth. Tre’s birth was very different. A more “typical” United States birthing experience. I was enduced, pitocin, epiduril, etc. And I was so happy. We had a beautiful baby boy. So this story is not to pass judgement on anyone who decides or needs to give birth in the hospital setting, as I am that woman as well. But when we found out that we were going to have another baby I knew I wanted to give birth differently than I had the first time. I wanted to feel empowered and in charge of my birthing experience. I wanted to be treated as normal. I wanted to feel as if pregnancy wasn’t a disease, but something my body is made to do well. All of this lead us to Mountain Midwiferey Center in Denver. Which is where Charli Kate was born.

Saturday March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. David was out of town until early evening. I had had a bad back ache since the night before and was debating whether or not to get ready for a wedding I’d been hoping to attend for about ten years! Around 2 pm David texted me and said he’d be home early, around 4, and to pick him up. I had a babysitter coming then and was excited he’d be home. We met at the airport and decided to call it an early night because I knew I was close. We went to the mall to buy a phone cover and walk the mall, by the time we made it to the Mac store my contractions were pretty regular, but still doable.

(You see, it’s never too late to take a quick peek in Anthropologie!)
We then decided to walk to PF Changs across the parking lot for some appetizers, still just seeing what would happen. We sat at the bar. By this time we had begun timing contractions and they were about six minutes apart. I eventually had to stand at the bar because I couldn’t sit through them anymore. At this point David got excited and started telling complete strangers that I was in labor:) which totally freaked the man sitting next to me who had earlier taken my chair because I insisted since I was standing! I eventually went and waited outside because I needed to walk. David got his food to go and we headed home to get our bags and Tre! We helped put the other three kids to bed and met my parents at the birthing center. Our babysitter stayed till Laurie could come and relieve her for night duty.

At the birthing center there are three rooms, I had picked my top two that I wanted to labor in. My top choice was the log room, but the tub was not warm in there. So we went to my second choice, the blue room. There was another woman laboring in the room next door and she was close to having her baby. I was feeling bad because Tre and all of us were there making noise. I ended up walking the stairs from about 9 pm to 2 am. (At some point we sent Tre and my parents home to sleep.) If I laid down, I could still rest. During this time I went from being three centimeters dilated to five centimeters dilated. I wasn’t making very quick progress. So we decided, along with the midwives, to go home and sleep as much as possible because we would be having a baby within the next 24 hours, but it was slow. We decided to go to my parents house, since it was closer and we had someone at home with the other kids. I spent from about 3 am – 6 am sleeping/breathing through contractions in my old bedroom. David and Tre slept upstairs. During this time I was dreaming that my mom was coaching me through these contractions and ensuring me that these were just the little ones, and that I had to birth these four smaller things before it would be time to have my baby. And she would just encourage me through the contraction, “keep sleeping Manda bear, keep sleeping, don’t wake up!” I truly believe that because of these few hours of sleep I was able to tackle the hours that lie ahead! At around 6 am things had changed and I knew it was time to wake David. He called the midwife and they told us to come in. I think we got there around 7am. This time we were the only people there, and we went to the log room, my favorite room.

I think one of the reasons my labor stalled out a bit the night before is that I wasn’t feeling completely comfortable, I wanted a certain room, and I didn’t want anyone else there. So it worked out that I got to rest a bit, David got to rest a bit, and then we had my idyllic setting for giving birth when we returned. Over the next 6-9 hours I labored in the birthing center. I used big bouncy balls, mostly walking, and a birthing tub. At around 2 pm they decided to give me some herbs to help move me along (I had been at an eight for quite some time). The reason it was taking so long, and was extra painful was because Charli was “sunny side up” meaning her head was facing up, rather than back which causes things to move very slowly and results in back labor. We tried many positions at this point to get her to turn, she eventually turned her head a little bit, enough for her to completely move down and I could finish dilating.
Then came the hardest part. I had an anterior cervical lip as a result of her position, which just means that the cervix hadn’t completely made it over her head, because it wasn’t in the easiest position for it to do so. Usually this just requires the midwife to push it over the head as you push during a contraction. Unfortunately for me this part lasted for at least an hour and over several contractions because it kept slipping back over her head. (I was in the tub at this point.) This is the part where I “lost it”. They talk about how at some point in labor you might “loose it” and this usually means that you are in transition and very close to having your baby. I always wanted to be that lady that silently breathes her way through labor, looking calm and almost meditative… Nope! The other night at dinner I asked Tre to tell Demetrius and Laila what I was like, he thought about it for a minute and then said, “kind of like a dying pig.” Yup, that pretty much sums it up.
Thank God I’m not a Scientologist, I’d have been kicked out!
They decided to move me to the bed and break my water to see if that would help her change positions. As soon as they broke my water two things happened. Number one, they saw that there was meconium in the water. Most likely a result of the long labor. Number two, they told me they’d need to transfer me to the hospital in the next few minutes if the baby wasn’t coming…This is the part that David told me he could tell was unusual. As soon as the midwife told me that, I just got up and said, “I need to move.” I pretty much just ran to the tub. Afterwards the midwife told me she doesn’t think she’s seen anyone move so quickly at this stage of labor. I just had a bolt of adrenaline and knew what needed to be done. Seven minutes later she was born in the tub!

I pulled her up out of the water and David and I went and laid in the bed with our new baby.

Tre and my parents were all there, and Tre joined us on the bed! It was amazing. We had learned about “the newborn crawl” and how if left alone on their moms belly, a baby will make their way to breast and begin to feed. Without bathing them they are still covered in the amniotic fluid and vernix, which quickly soaks into their skin and helps keep them moisturized. This smell also is the same smell as mom’s colostrum. They will continue to find their hands, to smell/taste what they are looking for, until they find the breast. It was amazing to experience! And we just laid there and got to know our new baby, it was surreal, and the best part of the birthing center experience. Just getting to relax and experience our new baby without interruption or unnecessary things happening for a bit.

Tre got to “experiment” with the placenta. The midwives laid it out for him and explained all the parts to him, he measured it with legos, and touched it, and was so fascinated! He also brought it home to put under his microscope! (Side Note Treism: He told David on the way home as he was holding the baggie with the placenta in it that he couldn’t wait to collect all the placentas from all the babies we will have and fill our house with placentas! David broke it to him that this was the first, and last placenta coming home to the PPP.)

At some point we decided to have Charli transferred to the hospital one block away for observation because her heart rate had remained a bit high. She and David were transferred there and my mom and I met them a few hours later. She was observed in the NICU for about 20 hours and then we came home!As I begin to process this experience several things come to mind… First of all I felt so much closer to David. He was a rock to me throughout the experience and I know that I could not have done it without him. He was truly amazing. I really do feel so much closer to him as a result of the experience.

I also feel really proud of myself. I knew this would be the hardest thing I have physically done. And it was harder than even that. But I did it, and it was amazing!I see God at work in so many of the details of the experience, when it happened, how it happened, everything. It reminds me that he cares so much for me, even in the little things! For instance, right after I gave birth the power went out, it was a HUGE wind storm and we were without power for a few hours. But this did not effect us at all. We were in a sunny room and it was late afternoon. And by the time it got dark, the power was back on. If I’d been in labor It would have been a different story because they couldn’t have kept the tub warm, etc. (all emergency equipment is run by batteries so it wouldn’t have been dangerous, just unnerving maybe.) Another thing that I see was God, is that I was able to labor all day long just me, in the birthing center. From the time I had Charli to the time the nurse was leaving the hospital after dropping me off to see her three mamas had come to give birth!

And lastly, I am so grateful to have a place like the birthing center where I was surrounded by women believing in me and my body and the power of birth. I felt so supported and empowered and safe in their care.

Ladies, I thinx you should know about this

This is a post about underwear. And periods. Please go ahead and stop reading if this is not for you….But I promise, nothing gross or graphic.



If you are still with me, I have to tell you about the most amazing underwear on the planet. Have you heard of Thinx?

Thinx is a new kind of (reusable) underwear that you wear when you have your period instead of wearing panty liners or pads. They can even take the place of tampons or other feminine products depending on your flow.

What they do is wick away moisture, kill bacteria and resist leaks.


Here’s my review:

A little background. I am so not into my period (are any of us?). But, I really hate the whole thing and I especially hate pads and pantyliners, but I always wear them as back up because the only thing I hate more than pads is bleeding through my clothes (see my most horrifying moment ever in 7th grade when after a science test I got up to leave and discovered that my pants were covered- COVERED in blood. Khakis. They were khakis and it was horrible.). Anyway, pads-they are so gross and so bad for the environment. But Thinx are reusable underwear that basically take the job of pads or pantyliners. They hold a lot of blood and they don’t leak. If you know your flow, then you can successfully never wear a pad again. How great is that?

I tried out my new Thinx on my last period and can I just say, they work! Like they actually do everything they claim to do. They don’t smell, they absorb odors and they don’t ever feel wet.

Thinx are also super, super comfortable underwear. Like, my new favorite pairs. They are cute, too. Though the idea of wearing underwear holding a days worth of blood might sound disgusting, it’s nothing like that. You can’t feel anything because of the absorbant layers and there is no odor! There are special care instructions- like hand rinse first (optional), no softener and no dryer use, but honestly, that is not a big deal to me. I don’t do softener and I always have a few clothes I hang no matter what, so no big deal.

Thinx is one of those companies that is also doing it right in terms of humanity. Their mission is to break the world-wide taboo surrounding menstruation (I feel like I’m doing my part by posting this blog. Uncomfortable anyone?). So, not only are these underwear made in a family-run factory in Sri-Lanka (read: fair labor), but every time you buy a pair, funds are sent to Uganda to help empower women there who are sewing and learning to sew Afri-pads (reusable pads) which allows girls to stay in school, creates jobs at the factories where these pads are being made and is helping to break the taboo of menstruation.

Thinx are expensive- up to $30 a pair, but you will never have to buy another pad and you can probably cut down on your tampon use. Thinx has no idea who I am, but they gave me this code that YOU can use to buy your next pair. You save $10 and so do I (and believe me I will be buying more)! Also, if you sign up for their email, you get free shipping!

Thinx also guarantees that you will love their undies. 60 days- no questions asked return policy, so you can spend your $30 confidently. I love companies that stand by their products.

Use this link to save $10

I’d love to hear from you if you try these! Hope you love them as much as I do!


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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.


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


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…


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