We did it!

Well, it happened. Summer is almost over. School emails keep dinging in my inbox. School fees have been paid, boxed lunches, uniforms, all of the #2 sharpened pencils and Crayola 24-count crayons, they’ve been bought.
And now it’s time to make that decision that we as parents of kid’s from hard places struggle with making every single year at this time. What do we say to the new teacher? Anything? Everything? Some where in between? As a parent, I am looking for the right combination of words to fill this teacher with deep levels of understanding on developmental trauma and it’s effects on the brain, compassion that will carry them through some tough days, and huge levels of thanksgiving, because teachers are heroes.


So here is a note to all the teachers who will help us parent our children from trauma, from all of us parents, foster parents, kin parents, adoptive parents, and all of the other beautiful ways we find ourselves parenting these amazing kids. Here’s to you teachers!


Dear Teacher,


I am so sorry that you don’t get paid your worth in gold. If I could change that today, I would! You are a hero in our home!


I wanted to give you a little insight into my kiddo. I am not sure if you have heard things from previous teachers or not, but I wanted to give you some info that I hope will help you in creating a fun and safe learning environment for him, and everyone else in your classroom, this year.


My kiddo experienced lots of trauma before he came to us. We are one of many many homes he has lived in, and that’s not counting the many shelters that he called home as well. The traumas that he experienced as a young child have made him different that the average kid in our upper-middle class school. His brain literally looks different in a brain scan than that of the average child of his same age. And yet he looks just like the other eight year olds in your class this year.


With that in mind, if I could encourage you with just one thing it would be this: connect. It is hard for him to trust people, and his self-talk is really horrible. He thinks he is undesirable, that he is the worst in this class. He thinks no one likes him, and that he is stupid. But when you, and I, connect with him- we have a chance to change this inner-voice of his. If you lead each day with a point of connection for him, he is much more likely to stay connected, and feel safe, so that he can learn and grow like the other kids in your class this year. When you are not sure what to do with him, when he is acting angry or aggressive, my guess is that he is probably afraid and feeling shameful. It might feel really foreign to you, but would you please try to just connect with him? Just help him calm down, and speak over him the words that we want every child to think about themselves. Remember, he didn’t have anyone to teach his little baby brain and body how to calm down, no one spoke over him that he was precious and smart. No one helped him learn how to calm down when he was upset. So we, as his parents, have some catch up work that we are working on, and if you would help us this year, we would be eternally grateful.


If you are interested in other tips and tricks, or ways of getting to know him before school starts, please, let us know. We’d love to send you some more info.


Again, we are so appreciative of what you do, thank you for devoting yourself to teaching our kiddos!

With all of our hearts,


The Purvis Family.




An invitation to create your own big magic

So, I recently read the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and it is for sure going to top the list of favorites this year. 51YIrJrPxXLThis book reminded me that just living is a creative endeavor and failure is only what you let it be. The creative process is about creating because it’s something you love or enjoy or just want to try; it’s not about becoming a star or an author or a famous painter. Creativity, writing and art are all about: creativity, writing and art. I loved it. I loved seeing that all that I am doing in my life is great just because I am doing it. It relieves the pressure of my business and my writing. I’m doing Shabby Alpaca and this blog because I like it! The book has some new-agey concepts that may disturb more sensitive readers, but like everything- take what you can and move on.

Here’s a summary of the book in someone else’s words:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Along with reading the inspirational Big Magic, I’ve recently become friends with an artist. (Thank you Amanda Purvis for sharing another amazing friend with me). Jeanne Oliver is….awesome. She is so awesome that I want to live in her backyard just to get glimpses of her walking by. Ok, not really, but she really is a great person to spend time with. She is honest, kind, funny, smart, generous and super easy to talk to. TFDec2014-0391e3WEB-500x750

Jeanne is an amazing artist; she paints and designs and lives a creative life to the fullest. The best part about Jeanne’s art is that she shares it. I don’t mean you can look at her paintings, I mean she shares all of it. She shares her skills by teaching others and her home by hosting workshops and her favorite supplies by telling you what they are. She knows that sharing her skills doesn’t decrease what she has- there is no pettiness or jealousy in Jeanne- and I love that about her. She knows that if anything, sharing increases what she has.  She hosts online courses for all kinds of art, she hosts trips to beautiful places so people can create art and be taught all while hanging out in Paris or some other exotic location, and she hosts workshops at her amazing newly created studio. She’s pretty awesome and I’m so glad I know her.

I’m writing all of this not to brag on my mad reading skills or boast about my new friend (well I am writing for those reasons), but also to tell you about her courses and invite you to take one. There is a new course called Letting Go: An exploration of Abstract Painting that she is hosting along with Wendy Brightbill and bonus with that course, there’s a chance to win $250 worth of free art supplies. If you are interested in trying to win some art supplies, just click this link for a chance and use the above link to sign up for this class or any of Jeanne’s classes. I highly recommend it.

I’ll leave you with this: we’re all creative. Don’t be afraid if you’ve never picked up a paint brush (I haven’t!) just do something you love for the sake of doing it because you are curious or interested- even if it’s out of your comfort zone and even if what you produce doesn’t change the world. It may just change yours!



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You need a therapist. A good one.

One of our favorite things to do with this blog is to write a post together. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we get to sit down and write at the same time, we just work together on a post- both bringing our best ideas to the table. It’s been a while since we did this, but we’re excited to introduce: What Makes a Great Therapist.

From Celina:

Throughout my 38 years, I have had a good handful of therapists, counselors and other helpers. Honestly, most of them did me only a little bit of good.  I sought out a therapists because whatever I was dealing with I knew I needed help and being a self-aware, relatively intelligent person, I found that they could not offer me much more than I already knew. I want to point out that I went into these therapy sessions as a willing party-wanting help. I wasn’t dragged or forced into anything (well when I was 15, but that’s another post coming soon). I went ASKING for help, and usually leaving empty-handed.

So, I’ve had lots of not-so-great helpers until about two months ago. Two months ago, I was at the lowest point of struggling with addiction that I knew I was not overcoming even with the weekly help I was already getting. Through a series of referrals, I found Chris (who I’ve mentioned before). Chris is the best therapist I have ever seen. Ever. And seeing him has helped me to realize what makes a helper great.

Here are the top 5 things that I think make a great therapist.

  1. A great therapist does not interrupt you when you are speaking. Even if they know that what they have to say is important and you need to hear it, or they are so excited about your breakthrough, they wait until you are totally done talking so that you can listen well because you’ve said all you need to say.
  2. A great therapist rarely talks about his or her own life. If they do, it’s a totally relate-able experience. I once had a counselor who when I would tell her what I was struggling with would say, “Well you think that’s bad, blah, blah, blah, here’s my story that’s worse than that…..”. That is not helpful or professional. I know maybe 5 things about Chris and 4 of them are because I asked.
  3. A great therapist doesn’t give you all the answers to your problems, they make you work for it. They make you sort things out until you can come up with some answers on your own. Then they help you with answers and solutions.
  4. A great therapist waits. They let you sit in the silence after you’ve spoken and they wait. Because maybe you are not done and until you’ve exhausted all you have to say, you won’t be ready to listen. They wait because silence is sometimes the thing we need most to heal. They wait because maybe they are measuring their own words before they speak them.
  5. A great therapist is qualified for your specific need. Chris is a specialist. He has studied and worked in the area that I am struggling with. If you are struggling with trauma, a general family counselor probably does not posses the tools you need to heal. General counselors for sure have their place- I am not wanting to downplay their role, but in order to get the best help, seek out a qualified specialist.

If you think you need some therapy (and I kind of think we all do), please don’t hesitate to seek it out. You might have to wade through some shitty counsel before you find what you need, but don’t give up! I’ve been going through the process of healing from addiction for almost two years now and it was only two months ago that I found Chris. Healing doesn’t happen overnight and you have to work damn hard to get it.

From Amanda:

Like Celina, I think everyone needs a therapist. Especially if you are in a relationship. With anyone. So that means everyone.

I go to therapy most often with my husband. We have a great marriage. And we need help. All the time. Without getting into our business, which I am sure you are not interested in, I will just say that most people marry their opposites, and so they struggle with understanding each other and each others motives.

That’s not David and I.

We test the exact same in most personality tests there are (except the Enneagram). It’s scary. And apparently fairly rare.

We go to therapy to be safe. Sometimes we go alone, but most often we go together. And our therapist is amazing. One time on the way to therapy I asked David, “We are doing so good, what are we even going to talk about?!” We found some stuff and I actually think that was one of our most powerful sessions.

So here are my top three things to look for in therapy.

  1. You leave with a lot less money than you came in with. I know this sounds silly, but I really believe it- good therapy is expensive and probably should be. Therapy is an art. It is something that takes a special gifting, and a lot of training. You can find cheap therapists, or even free ones but I suggest you invest in therapy. I really mean it. Investing in your mental health, spiritual health, and in your most precious relationships is wise. We may be broke, but we are rich in relationships, thanks to our crazy expensive therapist.
  2. You leave feeling redeemable. There have been times when David and I have stepped into our therapists office, and I wasn’t sure if we’d come out together or alive. I thought going in for sure one of us would be left bloodied on the floor. Never once have we stepped out of the therapists’ office feeling further apart. We have dealt with BIG stuff and every single time, on the elevator ride down to the parking lot, we hug and cry and kiss, and fall more in love. Our therapist has a way of reminding us what is the most important.
  3. You leave having learned something. Our therapist has taught us a few extremely valuable lessons. He does this quickly and usually in some sort of weird analogy. But the lessons he has taught us seem to come up daily in my relationships. Lessons about shame, lessons about arguing, lessons about listening, and lessons about story telling- all of which have been remarkably powerful. When I leave, I feel like I learned a lot, yet I have never felt like he was teaching me. It is a remarkable thing.

So you know we are a mess. And we know you probably are too. If you don’t have a good therapist yet, find one.

If you have a therapist, and you’re not sure if they’re good, they’re not good. Break up. Tomorrow. Because when you have a good therapist, its kind of like getting engaged, you can’t stop talking about it, you tell everyone, and your life changes forever!



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Truth, Love and Facebook Posts

I have a friend who I love with all of my heart. I wrote this message to her, never intending to send it, but wanting to sort out my feelings. After writing it and deciding to publish it as a blog, I felt like it would be cowardly and possibly damaging to our friendship to post this without talking to her first- so I called her. I told her all this in less eloquent words, but I told her. It started as a note- a way to sort out my feelings. It became a conversation with a friend- now it’s a note again that I’m sharing with you.

Dear Friend,

I love you so much. Of so many people I have met in my life, you have truly been a cheerleader and a fan. I can never thank you enough for all you have done for me: professionally, spiritually, and as a friend. You have been faithful through many seasons of my life. You are amazingly generous. Many times when I did not feel I was rich in friendship, I always had you. I love you and so I hope that my message to you comes across as such: filled with love.

The truth is, I don’t always know how to speak the truth in love. I don’t know how to tell the truth and have it be filled with love, because I haven’t had much practice, or much modeling, but I want to learn how to do it and the best way to learn something like this is to practice. Before I attempt to tell the truth in love, let me I assure you: I’m telling the truth and I love you.

I love Jesus. We can agree on that because I know that you do too. Just like me you are doing the best you know how to with your relationship with Jesus. You are trying to live for him and trying to show others what His love means. So am I.

When you talk about how you think God feels about some things, I tend to remain silent or say things that keep you talking like, “yeah” or “that makes sense”. But the reality is, I disagree with many of your Christian perspectives. My silence is not an act of agreement. My silence is my way to listen to your perspective and keep mine to myself. Whether that is the right thing to do or not, it is what I chose. I really don’t think I can influence the way you see things- because like I used to- you see things in black and white. Because I now see shades of gray, I find that I cannot stay silent anymore. I must tell you the truth.

Recently, a mutual female friend of ours got engaged to another female and they plan to be married. They announced their engagement on Facebook, which I clicked “Like” for- because I am happy that she has found love. You, on the same announcement of her engagement said this, “This breaks my heart. I do not believe this is God’s plan for you however this will never change his love for you nor mine”. Many quickly stepped up to disagree with you. I stayed silent, in this case because I felt that your shaming of our friend was inappropriate and I did not want to further detract from the point of the post which was our friend’s happiness. I just need to be clear though, I feel that love never shames another. If you really love our friend, you would call her on the phone or ask her to meet you for coffee. If you love our friend you would try to understand how she feels this aligns with her faith- so that you could understand better. If you love our friend, you can even express confusion- but not the certainty you offered on God’s position. I feel if you love her you would not go onto her public post where she is celebrating the life she has chosen and condemn and shame her using what you think are God’s feelings.

In terms of our friend’s engagement- I honestly do not believe that God is upset about this, because I am not even sure if homosexuality is a sin. And if it is, it really isn’t my business because I am not participating in it. See, I believe what my friend Andy Landers said, which was, “Jesus didn’t say ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, Jesus said, “Love the sinner, hate your own damn sin”. I don’t believe that Jesus needs us to defend His position on any matters. I believe that our job as people who love Jesus is to follow the great commandment which is so simple: love Jesus and love people. We all have our own messes to worry about and a great way to detract attention from our own selfishness, greed, anger and covetousness is to point our fingers at the “big sins”. The things we think for absolute certain God hates.

The only thing I know about what God thinks for absolute certain is that I don’t know a damn thing for absolute certain about what God thinks.

I have wrestled with my faith in the last few years and maybe 3 years ago I would have congratulated you on your bravery to “tell the truth to our friend caught in deception!”, but now I see it for what it is: Pharisaical crap. I have tossed my conservative Christian views that I once held dear.  This happened for me when I had to start wrestling with my own demons- hidden for so long in my religious garments- big demons like addiction. I had to stop and figure out what God thought of me when I wasn’t measuring up to the meter I set for all people who love God. Wrestling with my own big sins gave me a chance to give the rest of the world grace because I know that we are all broken as long as we live on this earth- Christians and everyone else included. The most perfect churches are full of broken people. None of us is perfect and this conservative Christian viewpoint on the world just isn’t cutting it in a world full of broken people (including me and you- we are ALL broken!).

I’ll end the way I began: I love you and I am so grateful for our friendship, but I can no longer stay silent. I want to come clean as a broken person who loves God, believes in shades of gray, and makes so many mistakes and sins in so many ways that I don’t have time or energy to worry about anyone else. I don’t want to add to the voice of some in the Church who are saying to the world, “YOU. You over there! Come to us. We’ll take you as soon as you look like us.” I want to say to the world, “You! You over there! Look at how broken I am and how much God loves me still! I know He feels this way about you, too. Come as you are, friend and find love! There’s no shame here!”



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Macklemore: Theme Songs For Dieters, Riders and Bargain Hunters

I’d like to introduce you to three Macklemore songs that play like theme songs for dieters, riders and bargain hunters. If you haven’t heard of Macklemore- I’d be shocked since I am generally 2-3 years behind any trend-musical or otherwise. If this is your first introduction, let me warn you, the lyrics are incredibly explicit. .

Lets start with his song, “Let’s Eat“. As you know, I have lived the Paleo lifestyle, but being a person who loves to eat and grew up on Ramen and Chips A Hoy cookies, I do not naturally have a penchant for eating in a way that will truly benefit my body-thus I slip back easily into my pre-paleo eating habits. I love fat (not the good kind). I love sugar. I love ice cream. I LOVE donuts. And I love chocolate. My favorite vice though, is a McDonald’s Coke (there is an actual science as to why McDonald’s Coke’s are so delicious). When we started this blog a year or so ago, I was at my personal best weight thanks to Paleo. Now I am pretty much back to where I started. I won’t add to my current shame by posting “before: when I was on paleo” and “after: when I started eating whatever I wanted” pics, but I should just so you know that I am not perfect and the Paleo life I thought I would live forever has (for now) gone by the wayside in exchange for chocolate cereal for breakfast and cheese and crackers for lunch. So now we have Macklemore’s song called “Let’s Eat”. I.e my ‘diet’ theme song.

Let’s Eat


Moving along. I recently got a scooter.  Yamaha scooter 125

Scooters say ‘fun’ like few other forms of transportation do. I absolutely LOVE having a scooter. It is great for running quick errands around our small town, delivering packages and library books, great for giving the kids a quick ride and perfect for escaping in a healthy way. In short, the scooter is just what I needed. Someone asked me, “how are you going to carry three kids on that thing?”.  To which I replied, “that is exactly the point.” Incidentally, I have carried two kids on it at a time, which is also a total blast. My kids love the scooter because it means uninterrupted time with me- and I love that for them because they don’t always get enough. Eloise is my favorite scooter buddy. She asks me at least once a day if we can go for a scooter ride. I dropped her off at a birthday party on the scooter the other day and I kept telling her the whole way there that all her friends would be jealous that she showed up on a scooter. When we pulled up and her friend’s mom started oohing and aahing over the scooter, Eloise put her face in my side and said, “You were right mom, they are all jealous!”.

The scooter is awesome because I seriously smile the entire time I am riding it. I love the scooter because it also makes other people smile. I beep at kids and do the motorcycle wave to people with actual Harleys. What I really love is that I might be going 28 miles an hour, but it feels like 100. The wind is blowing my hair, the world standing still, but I am moving right along (at 28). I love speed and more than that I love the illusion of speed (because actual speed is a little unsafe in a minivan). So, a scooter is perfect. Which brings us to this theme song by Macklemore that sums up Scooter Life. Incidentally, I did not know about this song when I bought the scooter, but had I known about it, it would have been motivation for me to go to the moped store and get myself a hell of a deal.



Finally, I have always loved the hunt for a treasure. I used to LOVE playing in the attic at my dad’s house which was full of dusty boxes and old junk. I love garage sales and second hand stores. I love not paying full price for something (Craigslist for the WIN!) and I love not having the same exact thing as everyone else. In short, I love thrift shopping. Which brings us to the song you’ve probably heard of Mackelmore’s called, “Thrift Shop“. If you love shopping at ARC, Goodwill or Savers, then this will want to make you pop some tags.

Thrift Shop


I think the thing I love best about Mackemore is that he really must not take himself too seriously. I don’t claim to know much about music and when it comes to favorites I am more of a Beatles kind of girl, but this guy is a comic genius- combining something everyone loves: music with something everyone needs more of: laughter.

I’m always good for a laugh and I think that Mackelmore’s songs are the same. They make me laugh (sometimes because of the stark truth) and they make me want to dance. What more could you ask for from a couple of theme songs?


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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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Make it count.

“I trust that you understand how this is a story that we are living- not a story that we are telling.”

I read that quote by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, in an article about her recent split from her partner whom she fell in love with and subsequently wrote about their relationship in her books Eat Pray Love and Committed.

The quote stuck because we are currently living a story that we cannot tell. And in the past it has been a story that we have talked (somewhat) openly about.

Our teenagers have moved from our family. We are utterly devastated.

My hope and prayer is this: Make it count Lord. Because all of this unnecessary pain, and this suffering that we are all experiencing is really awful, so I am choosing to believe that the story you are writing is bigger than what I can currently picture.

Please, make this count.

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