12/31/16

2017: Keep Breathing

I love lists and goals, but I've never been much of a new year's resolution person. Perhaps this is because I'm already fairly driven and determined. I'm never okay with being complacent, and once I decide I want to do something, I am sure to get it done.

However, while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Sorta Awesome Show, I discovered that some people establish words or phrases to guide their year instead of more traditional new year's resolutions (seriously, I'm so behind on the times). I'm a word person, so something like this really appeals to me. I thought I'd try it out for 2017 since 2016 just makes my stomach turn a bit.

I know it may be a cliche, but 2016 was fraught with hard times. We helped friends and family through some tough stuff this year including marital turmoil, career disappointments, miscarriage, death, illness, dreams deferred (shout out to my man, Langston Hughes for that phrase). It seems like every month we were walking a friend or family member through something tough. Add to this our own dose of difficulties, a toxic election cycle, and contentious current events. My highly empathetic self is just depleted. I feel like I've been holding my breath for an entire year. My shoulders and back ache, and I find myself having to deliberately unclench my body. So, my phrase for 2017 is Keep breathing.

12/20/16

The moment before the photo

Confession: I'm terrible at documenting moments via pictures. I have a sister in-law who is great at it; she always seems to remember her camera, snaps a photo at just the right time, and makes awesome picture books for her kids. She isn't a professional photographer, but her pictures have captured some beautiful moments.

My style is much more...lazy casual. I take photos on my crappy cell phone and then do a mass printing of them two times a year. I give my kids the stack of photos and task them with putting the photos in their plain colored photo albums void of scrapbooking embellishments, fun captions, and stickers. I made two photo books for them once on Shutterfly, and each time it was a huge pain in the ass. I tend to be paralyzed by choice, but I also can't make an uninformed choice, so I spent an hour scrolling through all 1,764 embellishment options...for one page. My kids love these Shutterfly books and look at them often, but they also look at their giant, simple photo albums just as much.

My inability to snap photos at just the right moment paired with my preferences for interior design, means that we only have two actual photos hanging in the public spaces of our house: a picture of Nate and his dad and a black and white photo from K's adoption day in July 2015.

12/15/16

Speaking the truth in love...even in the middle of a dumpster fire

Note: The pronouns 'we' and 'us' are used in reference to a collective body of folks who believe in Jesus. However, I do believe that parts of this post can be relevant to those outside the Christian faith.

A few days ago, a friend sent me a message; in it she wrote, "I don't know how to have faith anymore. I feel so angry at and hurt by religion and followers of it right now. I don't know how to reconcile my feelings and find a way to differentiate the Truth from what I feel drowned by."

I have a hunch that my friend isn't the only one who feels this way. 2016 has been a great big dumpster fire leaving many feeling exhausted, weepy, hoarse from screaming, and paralyzed. In this hell of a year, I've seen church-going, Jesus-loving people lose their cool and spew hateful words all in the name of trying to "spread truth." Speaking truth is one thing, but I tend to believe that truth should always be shared with love. But, what does this all mean?

11/28/16

Restless

Earlier this fall, I interviewed for a programs writing position with the Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC), a nonprofit waging peace in conflict zones. I didn't tell but a handful of folks because I knew from the start that it was a longshot job. I have little writing experience (in the grand scheme) and zero international writing experience, but I took a chance, and went ahead and applied for it anyway because I appreciate the mission and history of the PLC and wanted desperately to be a part of this.

You see, since I left teaching, my life often feels a bit void of meaning. I really don't mean to be melodramatic, but teaching was everything for me (which was actually part of the problem). For me, teaching was an act of social justice. Much of my teaching was an act of defiance--a pushing back and maneuvering around confining standards. It was picking the books and the articles and creating the assignments that went above and beyond the standards and fanned critical discourse. For me, teaching was an outstretched hand to the kid whose hand had been slapped too many times. But, there are dark days to teaching...many dark days, and many days I left whatever school I called home feeling like I had the shit kicked outta me by administrators, parents, colleagues, and kids. Even on these days, though, I knew my work had meaning. But I don't feel pulled back into teaching. (I know that sounds so woo-woo, but I feel like I have a new, undiscovered purpose.)

11/17/16

On going home

Today I drove back to my hometown, Columbus. My parents no longer live there, and my grandma has passed on, so it's been awhile since I've been back. Today my visit was a somber one. One of my first friends from when I moved there in the seventh grade, my college roommate--lost her mom too soon. Today we celebrated her full, fun life.

Driving home

Just like death has a way of digging up the bones of old memories, so does place. Things I hadn't thought about in years suddenly became vivid recollections as I turned off the highway:

11/9/16

The morning after

The election is over, and many of us are approaching today differently based on our own set of personal beliefs. I've said quite a bit about the election over the past year, so it's no surprise that I have something to say today. 

To my kids--J, who cried this morning and whispered that he was scared; K, who meekly asked me if we'd ever have a woman for a president:  
Some of your classmates will be scared today. Comfort them and be kind to them today. Look for ways to be kind--that's how you can fight hatred. Try not to worry or be scared; it's okay to feel this way, but remember--we serve a God who is bigger than our government. There will probably be lots of talk on the playground or at lunch today about our new president. I don't want you to talk politics with your friends. I want you to be a kid and do kid things today. And don't forget to always be kind even when others aren't.

To my former students: 
Remember all the social justice work and talk we did in class? This moment is what you've been training for. Don't forget Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s four steps for non-violent direct action (par. 6). Don't forget about the Anti-Defamation League's Pyramid of Hate and Pyramid of Alliance.

11/7/16

Yesterday I ran away

This last week was ROUGH.

My work schedule was slammed with students. As a writing coach, I meet with students one on one to help them improve their writing skills while empowering them to understand the rhetorical situation and make their own smart choices. It becomes mentally and physically draining when I'm logging almost 6.5 hours of back to back contact time with students four days a week. I usually have Fridays off, but instead, I went in to work for a few hours to meet the needs of my students.

Thursday my husband came down with the cold/sinus/blah junk that I had a few weeks ago.

On Friday night while attending a play that a friend of mine was directing, I got word that my great-grandma passed away. I have beautiful memories of her from when I was a child. She lived a long, full life, but death has a way of dredging up unexpected emotions.

Saturday my husband and I spent much of our day trying to diffuse tantrums.The bedroom walls endured their usual beating from our kids' unspoken emotions--likely frustration with our boundaries, sadness at all the loss they've endured, confusion about who to be mad at. A sense of helplessness reverberated throughout our house. The last tantrum stretched on until 10:30 PM, and my husband and I collapsed soon after, our conversation about solutions always cut short by sleep.

On Sunday morning I picked my son up from Sunday school and the volunteer teacher reported, "We had some problems with him today. He wasn't listening and the other kids were saying that he said bad words. You might want to fix it." I know she has no context of our situation, but her words were just another reason to call myself a failure as a parent.

Yesterday I ran away.

10/31/16

In Defense of Jen Hatmaker

If you're a Jen Hatmaker fan, you've likely read (or read about) the interview she did with Religion News Service. Maybe you've even stumbled upon a response to it from super-conservative writers like Matt Walsh. You might know that my girl, Jen, has been ripped to shreds by many Christians. I certainly have some questions for Hatmaker, but I'm not saddened by her response like so many others are. Actually, I'm more saddened by the way Christians have reacted to her interview.

10/28/16

2016: The year of shouting our feelings from the proverbial rooftops

We all have a lot of feelings lately, don't we? It's the year of feelings and shouting them on every social media outlet. And admittedly, I've got a lot of feelings, too. I always have--I am, after all, an INFJ. In addition to being a person who feels all the feels, I also think...a lot. I tend to get "lost in my mind," (any fans of The Head and The Heart?!?). Since I've inserted myself into the world of freelance writing, though, I've thought a lot about slowing down and its necessity in our culture today. Not only is it important to slow down the frantic pace of life Americans have adopted, but it's important to slow down our mouths and typing fingers, too. 

Aaron Burr's character in Hamilton, encourages the young Alexander Hamilton to "talk less, smile more." I'm taking his words a bit out of context here because Burr was all about keeping his ideas inside his mind while Hamilton was quite the opposite. I don't think we should silence our opinions, but I do think we should talk less and listen more. I'm learning this value is preventing me from really making it in the freelance world. 

This guy is clearly shouting.

10/20/16

6 Things To Know About Foster-Adoption

I've got a new piece up today on The Huffington Post. Here's a snippet of the article:
...There seems to be an overall lack of knowledge in the general public regarding foster care and foster-adopt. This can cause misunderstandings that may seem insignificant to those outside the world of foster-adopt, but to those living in this world, these misunderstandings can be isolating.
I’ve heard many foster-adopt parents begin sentences with, “If people only knew…” 
In an attempt to educate, I asked foster-adoptive parents from one of my state’s local support groups what they wish others knew about foster-adopt. Here are six themes that emerged: 
1. Adopted children were first loved and wanted by another family; their biological family were simply not in a position to raise and parent their kids. Our adopted children were not “given up” the way one discards a sweater that has become stretched and faded. Our children were placed with us to become their forever family, and we said yes even though we were scared and unsure and may have had little information.
Click here to read the full-text of the article!

10/15/16

The Appeal of D. Trump

Perhaps this statement applies to you: Before this election, I never really followed politics. It certainly rings true for me. I reached legal voting age in 2004, a few months before my first year of college; it was also an election season. Incidentally, I was assigned to read a lot about the election in a few of my classes, but I didn't rush to join a Young Democrats/Republicans club or anything. I participated from a distance and casted my vote (albeit, an uneducated one) on election day. I became a bit more civically minded after that when I took a required Political Science class. As a weekly assignment, we had to pick a news media outlet to follow, choose an article a week, and write a brief reflection on that piece and the coverage provided. I chose NPR, which sparked a long love affair with its programming. It was the first time I had ever followed current events so closely. NPR became a part of my daily routine. It's no surprise, then, that the 2008 and 2012 elections were different for me (as they were for many folks). I just knew more about the candidates' platforms thanks to NPR.

Now it's 2016, and we're on the brink of another election...a weird, mind-numbing election. An election that strikes fear in many. An election that has torn the country apart more than any in my lifetime. An election that has forced us all to be a little more involved.
I'm interrupting this post with cute animals because cute animals help lower our blood pressure
For the first time ever, I'm consuming news from multiple media outlets: NPR, The New York Times, The BBC, The Atlantic...and Fox News. Yes...Fox News---but only when I'm at my parents' house ;) I've learned a lot about the world from this election, and I've learned even more that there are some things that I just don't understand...like caucuses and the electoral college. 

The appeal of the Republican nominee used to be on the list of things I don't understand, but after nearly four months of hard thinking and seriously sleepless nights, I think I finally get why people are voting for him: 

He appeals to the disenfranchised. 

I knew this, but I didn't get it until I read the article, 3 Reasons People Joined ISIS (And Why You And I Would Have, Too). The irony here is not lost on me....In the article, Matt Willingham (of the Preemptive Love Coalition) writes: 
"Few things are more important to us earthlings than the need to not feel alien—the need to belong. When a person feels disadvantaged, drowned out, or desperate, one of the most common options (among the few available to them) is to get loud, angry, and, in some cases, violent."
This article helps me understand why we have so many people supporting a candidate who is xenophobic, predatory, inflammatory, etc.

We have swaths of people in our country who feel "disadvantaged, drowned out, or desperate." A person could come up with 100 reasons why so many feel this way. While I have a tendency to think these feelings sometimes stem from our own selfishness, I know the origins of these feelings is something bigger and more complicated than narcissism. There is likely a series of factors (partisan politics, poverty, racial tension, etc.) that is causing a significant population to feel like outsiders. I will never support our Republican nominee, not even if he is elected into office, but I am starting to understand his appeal.

I know I'm supposed to wrap up this piece with some sort of nice, call-to-action statement (that's the trend in blogging now), but I've written and rewritten this paragraph at least seven times because honestly, I don't know how to end this. I don't know what to do with this revelation. It is, however, causing me to look at Trump supporters now with a bit more compassion and empathy, and maybe that's enough.

10/3/16

Favorite Things #4

It's been a while since my last favorite things post, but today is perfect for one because I'm hitting a serious case of writers block. My schedule at work has been nuts and our kids are having a tough time this semester, so when I get time to write, I'm usually zapped. But I like thinking about my favorite things and sharing them with y'all. So, here's what I got this month:

9/27/16

Woman Makes Life Choices Based on Pillow Platitudes

My newfound favorite genre to write in is satire. I LOVE it. There's something so gratifying about the genre. Mock Mom, McSweeney's, and The Bablyon Bee are my go-to sites when I need to read something funny that also has a layer of social examination to it. 

Today I've got a new satire piece up on Mock Mom. It doesn't examine a social problem, but it does have a little fun with those all-too-common household decorations emblazoned with quotes and cheesy sayings. Here's a teaser of the piece....
On a whim, Amelia and Jack Parker of Des Moines, Iowa packed their family of six into a U-Haul to trade their six bedroom, three bathroom home for a 527 square-foot A-frame beach house in Miami, Florida.  
"My kids are a little nervous about where they will all sleep, but I'm just not concerned anymore. I mean, I'm at the beach! There are no concerns at the beach!" Amelia gushed as she settled into a chaise lounge chair and slowly sipped a mimosa.  
When asked what prompted her to trade the burbs for the beach and abandon her cushy job at a tech startup, Amelia chuckled and answered, "The pillow made me do it! During one of my guilty pleasure trips to Hobby Lobby, I came across this seafoam green pillow decorated with the phrase, 'Life is better at the beach!' And I thought to myself: Amelia, life IS better at the beach. It's time to live, laugh, love--to shoot for the moon. What better place to do that than the beach?" 
Click here to read the full piece!  

9/26/16

Parenting Should-Haves: Mamas, Give Yourself Some Grace

I've got a new post up on Her View From Home this week encouraging mamas to give themselves grace. Here's a teaser:

"Mom, J was saying mean things about you and dad yesterday on the bus. He told people you say the F-word and that you don't feed him for five days. He's lying. He lied."  
I can always count on my daughter to be honest. But, for the love, we were six blocks form the kids' school, running late, and my coffee was cold. At that moment, I didn't have the emotional capacity to process something so significant.  
Immediately, from the back seat, J piped up, "Someone ELSE said that about their parents. Not me."  
I tried to remain calm while also, politely, call BS on my son who frequently takes creative liberties with the truth. A few seconds later, when he realized I wasn't going to believe his lie, he caved.  
"Well...I said it, but it was about my BIRTH  parents." 
Click here to read more! 

9/21/16

I quit my full-time job, but I'm not a failure

I've made some terrible choices in the last 30 years. The 90s were a decade of poor choices for me--I mean, JNCO jeans, body glitter, and white tube socks with Doc Marten wanna-be sandals?!? My poor choices expand beyond fashion and reach into more significant realms like alcohol consumption and $0.25 tacos at dive bars. Fortunately, I've managed to wise up with age and have made a myriad of good choices, but the one resonating with me the most lately is my decision to step away from teaching.

Now hold up: If you're expecting one of those rant-y, passionate here's-why-I-left-teaching letters, this won't be it. Helping young people engage with the world around them, uncover gems of wisdom from quality literature, and walking with them during tough moments was AMAZING. I loved lesson planning and learning how to more effectively manage my classroom. I loved how political and challenging teaching could be. It was my calling...until I became a mother to two high-needs children.

9/14/16

Be informed, inform others, and do something

Note: While this post is focused on Syria and its humanitarian crisis, it can be applied to any humanitarian crisis/human rights' violations. The action steps outlined in the post can also be applied to helping out the most vulnerable in our own communities. 

For the past year, the refugee crisis--particularly folks fleeing Syria--has gripped me. It's formed a perpetual lump in my throat that gets bigger with every story I hear. I don't pretend to understand the complexities of the civil war in Syria or the difficulties of the refugee crisis, and still--I'm drawn to it. I can't look away from it. While there is a lot that troubles me about this humanitarian crisis, what's bothered me the most lately is how few people seem to know or care about it.

9/6/16

Seven Sacred Pauses

The older I get, the better I understand myself. I'm learning that I thrive when I can be disciplined, or when I am pursuing a clear goal. Running marathons is absolute torture, but I love the training aspect. I thrive on having a clearly set training schedule telling me when to run, how to run, and what I should eat throughout the week. During the training seasons, I've never missed a long training run because if the calendar says I have to do it, then by damn, I'm going to do it. This sense of discipline doesn't carry over to all aspects of my life, unfortunately (like eating...I love me some candy and donuts). As an INFJ, however, I'm a natural doer. I like to be working towards a cause or self-betterment. If I'm not, I tend to be unfulfilled and a serious drag to be around.

9/1/16

Things I've savored without the presence of social media

Yesterday was the last day of my month-long social media fast. I downloaded the apps again on my phone and spent some time looking through the list of notifications. Honestly, it made me feel like I was having the beginning of an anxiety attack. I got sweaty, my breath shortened, and I felt a sense of panic. Facebook now notifies me when a "close friend" posts something?!? WTF is that?! I mean, I like to know what my friends are up to, but I want to do that on my own terms and in my own time. I don't need a little notification nagging at me to do it. I spent sometime updating my notification settings and removing myself from groups in hopes that I could limit the anxiety I feel at social media. If I didn't have to rely on it so much as a freelancer, I'd totally ditch it. The month away was, for the most part, refreshing. I wasn't as productive in my writing as I thought I would be, but I had more time to read and think and to just notice things like:

8/31/16

Fighting for chemistry in my marriage

This is not us. These people are much swankier. 
My husband and I married young. I was newly 20 and he was on the brink of 24--a fresh college graduate. We dated for six months before he proposed to me with a fortune cookie at a cute little park in our college town. There seemed to be an instant chemistry between the two of us. He made me laugh in an honest way, and he seemed to love me despite how different we were. It was an easy thing to fall in love with him (hopefully he can say the same thing). Now we are ten years into this marriage gig and are having to work hard each day to maintain the chemistry that once came so easy to us.

8/22/16

Social media fast: Update #2

Five years ago, a colleague explained that a week earlier she and her family were hiking in the Rocky Mountains;when they reached the top of the mountain, the first thing she did wasn't to take in the beauty of God's creation. Instead, she admitted to pulling out her phone and writing a Facebook status about the hike while her husband and daughters gazed at the scenery from the top of the trail without her. This was a defining moment for my colleague, and since then, she hasn't had a social media presence. It's a conversation that has stuck with me for five years.

With Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, I've documented many moments through pictures and brief bits of narrative, but I can't help but wonder how much I've actually missed in an attempt to document each moment. How many sunsets have I viewed through the lens of a crappy camera phone? How much time have I lost with my kids because I've been busy posting about them on Facebook? Social media has encouraged us to document lots but miss out on even more.

8/11/16

Social media fast: Update #1

It has been 11 days....11 treacherous days without social media. Here's what I'm learning:

FOMO is more than a stupid acronym. It's REAL. SO REAL!!!! I texted a friend on day two and told her that I felt so out of touch with reality. She replied, "See the interesting thing is that you are more in the real world now..." I wanted to tell my friend to go to hell for being so wise. I wanted to tell her that the real world sucks...it's boring. I want the virtual world full of funny memes and entertaining stories. Honestly, I'm struggling to get my brain accustomed to more "silence." When I kicked myself off Facebook and Twitter, I shoved aside a constantly updated news feed of what my friends were up to, headlines from NPR and The Atlantic, articles from the many parenting blogs I follow, and lots of other worthless crap. On day five my husband asked me if I heard about Trump's latest crazy comment, and I realized that I hadn't read a single piece of news in five days. Because I'm also on my summer vacation, I'm not getting my two hour a day NPR fix during my commute to work. I had no idea what was going on in politics, world news, or state news. Apparently the Olympics has started.....I was a few days late to that party.

8/6/16

Adoption is Not Second Best

I'm a little late in posting this, but last week I had a new piece go live on Her View From Home where I dispel the myth that adoption is second best. Like many posts, I've thought about writing this for at least six months now, but after a conversation during a long run with my best friend (also an adoptive momma!), I finally reached enough clarity to actually write the piece. Here's a teaser of the article; click here to read the full text. 
Those kids is how many people refer to my kids. The phrase rings with an air of pity and a twinge of thankfulness that someone else was willing to step in and adopt those kids. It’s a phrase often used with no harm intended, but the connotations are heavy. My kids aren’t those kids; no kids are those kids…kids in foster care or available for adoption are simply, kids.
To read the full text of this article, click here. If you're feeling generous, feel free to share the article on your favorite social media outlets!

8/4/16

New habits to cut down on excess

Like I mentioned in another post, I'm typically wary of things labeled Christian. I'm even wary sometimes of the church. But Jen Hatmaker's book, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excesswas strangely refreshing; it was the antidote for my cynical heart. Basically, Jen chose 7 areas (clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media, stress) with which to practice simplicity. Each month was devoted to a new focus, and for those 30 or 31 days, she practiced simplicity by either completely cutting out that aspect (for example, social media/TV/radio) or limiting herself to seven things within that aspect (for the clothing month, she chose only 7 items of clothing to wear for the full month). The book takes readers through each month via her journals throughout the process and what she learns on her quest to cut excess. Hint: She learns a lot...and so did I.

7/28/16

My letter to Jen Hatmaker

Right now I'm reading Jen Hatmaker's book, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. I can't recommend the book enough. I rarely read books twice (unless it's a book I'm teaching or it's To Kill a Mockingbird), but I'm pretty sure I'll read this book twice...or three times, or maybe once a year to remind me not to be stupid. It's THAT good. It's so good that I decided to send Jen Hatmaker an email. I know she probably won't read it, but I'm hoping that whoever is in charge of fielding inquiries will pass this one on to her. I'll form a more coherent post about the book later, but until then--here's my letter to Jen (along with a meme I just made...don't worry, I didn't send it to her--I'm not THAT creepy):

7/20/16

Talking to our kids about tough stuff

If you pay attention at all to the news, you've noticed that the world seems ablaze with hatred and violence--it's a big pile of stinking, burning garbage. Bombings, terrorist attacks, the GOP nominee spouting hatred, police officers becoming targets of violence, innocent people stereotyped and killed out of fear...the list marches on and on. It would be easier to just shut off the media, tune out the noise, and retreat to our cozy, safe spaces. There is definitely a time to unplug (I'm thinking and praying about my own media fast..more on that in another post). However, there's also a time to engage. There's lots of ways a person can engage: Participating in protests, through writing, through volunteering for an effort, and through dialogue. Because I'm a writer, I often tend to engage through writing, but lately I've been focusing my efforts more on dialogue and conversations with my kids to help us all wade through the muck and have a greater understanding of it and our place in all of it.

Using books to spark conversations of social justice issues

This piece is a partner piece to another post. I didn't want to overwhelm readers with a super long post. Essentially, this is a list of books I've found recently to be good entry points to tough conversations about social justice with our kids. We need these conversations now more than ever. So, check with your local libraries or local bookstores to see if they have these titles! As my kids age, I'll continue to expand my list of books for older kids :) If you have a favorite book to teach kids about the world, leave the title and a brief description in the comments section!

Grades Pre-K-K: 
A is for Activist:  We haven't read this book, but I came across it when searching for books to add to our
library. From what I understand, it's a visually appealing board book that moves through the alphabet but not in a watered down, A is for apple fashion. For example, "A is for Activist. /Advocate./ Abolitionist. Ally./ Actively Answering A call to Action. [...] Y is for Your. And Youth./ Your planet. Your rights/Your future. Your truth./ Y is for Yes. Yes! Yes! Yes!"  The Amazon review says the book is for kids ages 2 and up; I never had a 2 year old, but it seems like these words might be too advanced for them, which is why I categorized it in Pre-K/K. In fact, I've even added it to our Amazon list to order for my almost 2nd graders. There's a similar book called Counting on Community that addresses the concept of community while also teaching numbers.

7/15/16

3 Thoughtful Ways to Support a Friend Struggling With Infertility

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that my husband and I struggle with infertility. We learned of it over six years ago since then have added to awesome school-aged kids to our family via foster-adoption. But I tell 'ya--infertility is freaking terrible. I've got a few friends now who have struggled with it or who are in the middle of their struggle, and I just hate it. I hate infertility, and I hate the insensitivity and lack of awareness in our culture today despite how prevalent it is. So, after talking with a friend who is currently battling these insensitive comments, I wrote this piece. It was posted on Parent.Co this week, so here's a teaser:
"Chances are, someone in your social circle is struggling with [infertility]. Studies show that, “Close to one in six U.S. couples don’t get pregnant despite a year of trying – after which doctors typically recommend evaluation for infertility….”  Most people, especially in the early stages of infertility, won’t wave their infertility banner high. They may not even whisper this fact to their closest family and friends.
My husband and I struggled quietly and carried the load by ourselves for nearly two years. We endured negative pregnancy tests each month and a barrage of medical testing on our own as we struggled to accept our assumed infertility. You may not know for certain if one of your friends or family members is struggling with infertility, but you probably have a hunch. Once we mustered up the courage to share the news about our infertility with those close to us, many commented they suspected we’d been struggling with this.
Whether you know for a fact, or you simply believe that someone close to you may be struggling with infertility, there are things you can do to help folks walking this precarious road..." Click here to read the full post! 

Meme Madness

If you follow my Facebook page, you'll notice that I'm making memes like a madwoman. I love meme making. I don't know why, but I always feel super productive after I make them. Anyway...if you don't follow my Facebook page, THEN WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!!? I here are a few memes I've created this summer. Feel free to share them on your own social media pages :)







7/12/16

Helping Our Kids Develop a Habit of Service

Note: I've become sort of obsessed with Parent.Co---their content is just smart and unique. So, I'm proud to have a piece published there this week. You'll find a snippet of the article below. Click here for the full text! 

...we choose to talk with our kids about the world and current events. Writer and humanitarian Bob Goff explains in his book “Love Does,” that he and his wife talk with their kids about major news items so that their kids hear it from them first. This allows parents some sort of control in how we present tough issues to our kids.
We’ve shown our kids pictures of refugee children in Europe stuffed on rafts using the sea as an escape route. We’ve bought them maps and atlases to study together so our kids begin to have an understanding of the just how big and diverse the world is. We’ve watched videos about families living in war-torn countries. We give them age-appropriate descriptions of the presidential election, the terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, the horrific mass shootings in our own country, racism. 
These conversations haven’t been easy. Our kids have cried at the tragedies in the world and have asked tough questions. Often, I’ve doubted our decision to be honest with them, and I wonder if I’m just destroying their innocence.

7/7/16

Do something

I'm sure your social media threads are blowing up today with news of the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile--two black men shot by police in the last two days. I'm struck by these deaths for a variety of reasons.

6/27/16

Not the fun parent

Confession: I am not a fun parent. I like to plan fun things for my kids to do while I watch from the sidelines. I just don't engage well in imaginary play. In fact, the last time my daughter and I played with her dolls, I dressed my doll in a conservative tunic, leggings, and hipster glasses readying her for a day perusing the aisles of used bookstores. K's doll was decked out in tulle and glitter and big sunglasses and was headed to the ball for an evening of dancing.

"You're dressing your doll in that?" K inquired as I held up my doll.

Playing with my kids just doesn't come naturally for me.

Conversely, you will often find my husband playing with our kids--jumping on the trampoline, playing catch, wrestling in the living room, playing tag in the yard--he has earned the fun parent award.
My husband playing catch with our kids while I watch from our hammock
There is one thing, though, that I love to do with my kids: Music.

6/22/16

Death has no eyes

Is there an idea or thought that hangs over you like a perpetually cloudy day? When I became a mother three years ago, I suddenly realized the weight of my life. I suddenly had REAL responsibilities (not that my responsibilities were fake or insignificant before I became a mother) that would impact my children. Consequently, I became filled with anxiety about so many things--the job I had, the house we lived in, the food we ate, the places we took our kids to, the relationships we built around our family. When I became a mother, life felt REAL. It felt heavy and consequential. But there's one idea/thought/fear that has won out as being the biggest, most scary...

life without my husband.

6/21/16

To The Husband Whose Wife is Struggling With Anxiety

Note: This piece was published on Her View From Home last week. It's a more serious piece that stemmed from my experiences working with my husband to help get my anxiety under control.

My husband and I have had some tough conversations about how he can help during bouts of my anxiety. It hasn't been a comfortable experience, and it's not something we thought we'd face when we got married ten years ago. I think anxiety or other mental health issues can catch couples off guard. I don't think I ever exhibited symptoms of anxiety as a kid; rather, my anxiety has developed in my adult years in response to several life stressors crammed into a short period of time (infertility, a failed adoption, two big moves, new jobs, a career change, foster parenting, and adopting two kiddos with prior trauma...all within 5 years). I struggled quietly for at least two years (though, looking back, I feel like the anxiety developed two years prior to that) before I finally let my husband in on my struggles. I'm hoping this piece will be an encouragement to wives who may be struggling alone with their anxiety and a support for husbands who find themselves in uncharted waters.

Here's a teaser of the letter....
This is not something you signed up for when you married your wife. Likewise, anxiety is not something she signed up for.  Anxiety is not a choice for anyone. The choice you do have, though, is how to deal. You and your wife could allow anxiety to define or destroy your relationship, or you could write a new story for your marriage–one where anxiety is not the main character; one where the bond of two people becomes something worth fighting for even among the tumult of anxiety.
Click here to read the full letter.

6/20/16

Mother Runs Essential Oil Diffuser in Living Room, Everyone is Cured

Note: THIS IS SATIRE, so calm down. I actually own an essential oil diffuser...and did you know that spell check isn't even cool enough to know that the word 'diffuser' is actually a word?!? I am WAY ahead of the curve here. Anyway--I had a piece published on MockMom, a section of Sammiches & Psych Meds. This proves that I really am funny, so you can all quit rolling your eyes at my jokes. I digress. I love the MockMom section; the satire pieces on it have given me some much needed laugther. I'm feeling really freaking excited to be a part of that community. Here's a teaser to my post, "Mother Runs Essential Oil Diffuser in Living Room, Everyone is Cured." 

"I put a few drops of orange oil in my diffuser, and suddently my toddler, who was just recently screaming for the blue sippy cup instead of the green one we gave him, calmed down. It was magic. He sniffed at the air, gave us a toothy grin, and then blithely drank out of the green sippy cup. Pure magic."

To read more of this post, click here!

6/15/16

5 Things I Hate

Note: Most of this post should be read with an air of sarcasm, so snap on your snarky pants before reading on....

I know, you're probably thinking that I am a HUGE pessimist right now for making a list of the things I strongly dislike. And maybe I am, or maybe I'm smart because the simple act of identifying these will help you to be a better friend to me because, it's all about me...I'm a millennial, you know. Plus, I've written a few posts on things I love, so....it's only natural to anchor those with a list of things that disgust me. Thus, a list of five things I currently hate:

6/8/16

Laundry: Honoring the Women Who Came Before Me

My mother reserved laundry for the weekends. My brother and I would have to haul our dirty laundry from our bedrooms on the third floor of our old, old Victorian-Farm style home to the unfinished basement. Our staircase leading from the main floor to the upstairs was curved and enclosed by walls that seemed to be holding their breath, so sometimes we'd just throw the piles down the staircase and collect the stragglers as we walked to avoid carrying the piles down the narrow staircase. The trek from our bedrooms to the basement seemed like a never-ending journey.

6/7/16

Vulnerability, inferiority, and a cute dog

I'm reading Jenny Lawson's newest book, Furiously Happy. I'm only 50 pages in, but you guys--it's so good. It's funny and insightful while simultaneously giving a different perspective to mental illness. (Word of caution: It is wildly inappropriate and has lots of strong language, so if you're sensitive to that kind of thing, I wouldn't recommend this book.)

Last month I finished Dr. Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly. It was a transformative read for me and made me think of vulnerability not as a weakness but as a necessary strength. I've always sort of chided myself for being too vulnerable because sometimes it seems like the people around me simply shrink away at my displays of vulnerability. 

I feel like these books work hand in hand. Lawson is dripping with vulnerability (if that can even be a thing) throughout Furiously Happy, and it's endearing and makes me come face to face with times when I've shied away from vulnerability. (Side note: Brown presents fantastic research on when and why we should be vulnerable; she cautions against blind vulnerability.)

Memes not ME-MES

True statement: For a long time I thought meme was pronounced Me-Me---as in Mimi--the lady with all the eye shadow from The Drew Carey Show. I've learned a lot in four weeks....I'm kidding. I learned this so long ago...like seven months ago....apparently the word is one syllable: Meme. Say it fast. Meme.

Memes are all the rage in the blogging world right now. So are video chats. I like to think that I am fairly witty, and I like dabbling in small graphic design-ish things. So, I'm momentarily making memes (alliteration y'all...BOOM). Here's a few that I made:

Based on a true story...

I drink margaritas outta coffee mugs
Feel free to share my memes (NOT me-mes) if you're feeling crazy. Next project to do: video chats. Just kidding I'm so awkward at talking and camera-ing. PAINFUL.

If you're looking to create your own memes, there's lots of sites to help you with this. I like Canva. It's pretty and mostly easy to use.

6/6/16

5 Things I Won't Freaking Do For My Kids

When I was newly married, childless, and in my early 20s, I had lots of time to come up with glittery ideas about what parenting would be like. I imagined frolicking through farmers markets every Saturday morning with my children munching on turnips happily zipping from vendor to vendor searching for the perfect head of broccoli.

But then I became a parent.

The first time we took our son to a farmers market, he stole some broccoli from a vendor, popped it in his mouth, promptly spat it out right in front of the vendor, and yelled, "NASTY!" My glittery parenting ideas were crushed by reality. And now, instead of dreaming of how things will be, I find myself making a list of things that I will absolutely not freaking do for my kids:

TO SEE THE LIST, CLICK HERE TO TAKE YOU TO THE FULL POST ON SCARY MOMMY!

5/31/16

Trading self-doubt for courage

I hear people say things like, You are the right mother for your kids. While I want to believe them, somewhere deep within--from a dark spot in my soul I call BS on this line (Side bar: my kids think BS stands for babysitter!). When I find myself cradling my thrashing daughter who is screaming that she hates us, the sentiment You are the right mother for your kids feels cliche and sarcastic.

Since I became a parent via foster-adopt I've gone through the ringer of self-doubt. Every opportunity I missed, every tantrum from one of my kids, every time I make a mistake (so, daily...) feeds the belief that I am not the right mother for my kids. 

If only they had someone who was more patient, stronger, less sarcastic, more motherly--then they'd be better off, I think.

5/25/16

On turning 30

I'm 26 days away from my 30th birthday, and I'm feeling nostalgic.

Maybe it's because 30 is almost close enough for me to reach out and touch; maybe the nostalgia comes from listening to bands I listened to in high school that have evolved and taken on mature sounds and themes. Or, maybe my reflection is spurred from my recent lunch with an old friend from my college days, during which we kept saying, Who would've thought this is where we'd be ten years ago?! Perhaps it's a combination of all of these things. For whatever reason, today I'm reflecting on the changes I've experienced in the last twelve years.

In my younger days, I could not study or write in the quiet spaces of libraries or my home. I had to trek out to a bustling coffee shop or a park filled with families if I had any chance of being productive. The lively nature of these places energized me. Now these places are too distracting. I sat at a local coffee joint last week and tried to pound out a post, but the conversations swirling around me were loud and pulled my focus away. It was over-stimulating, and I left feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It was only when I spent time reading in my rocking chair at home that I was able to regain my composure. Today I spent some time writing in the quiet library where I work as a writing coach. The quiet energized me. Now I'm finding pleasure in the spaces right at my fingertips.

Only five years ago I was teaching high school English in Ogallala,on the brink of finishing my MA in English, and making back-up plans for what I'd do if I could never become a mother--things I could do to dull the pain of a dream out of reach. Doctoral programs, a move out of state, trying for a job as a curriculum director, applying for a summer internship at NPR. It was a difficult time in my life, but it was exciting to think about the possibilities. It gave me a break from dwelling on what might never be. And now I'm a mother to two kids we adopted from foster care (something I said I'd never do) working part-time to give me more time to spend with the kids I never thought I'd have.

About twelve years ago, I fell wildly in love with my husband and thought it was impossible to love a person more. Ten years into our marriage I'm realizing that despite the argument we had last night, I love him more today than I did twelve years ago. There is an attraction I feel now to my husband that moves beyond the boundaries of a physical connection. He has seen me at my absolute worst and still chooses to crawl into bed with me at the end of each day. After ten years of marriage, infertility, parenting, and the impact of age on a body--he still chooses me even though society says it would be okay if he chose someone else.

There have been growing pains for sure, but these changes seem necessary and good and worth the pain. And for the first time in the last year, 30 doesn't seem so scary...



5/19/16

Donald Trump, Transgender Issues, and Jesus

Author's note: I may lose some followers over this post. Also: I'm not a theologian. I'm a sinner...and a Jesus-lover. I've included lots of Bible verses throughout the post for reference--please know that the Bible should be read and studied in context, so if you're going to read through the verses I've included, read what surrounds the verses to get a bigger picture. Finally, please try and get through the whole post before you dismiss it as garbage :) 

If you haven't noticed, there are some significant cultural shifts occurring in our country that are difficult to ignore. This election season has been incredibly detrimental to our country for many reasons, and the results of it could be even worse. To me, one of the most frightening effects of this election season has been the rise of Donald Trump and the respect he has somehow garnered for his knack for cutting others down and calling it "abandoning politically correct behavior." A large portion of our culture (including, sadly, Christians) has embraced the Trump-Way and have used it to propel their own hate-filled language professing that "it's about time we have someone who isn't afraid to tell it like it is."

5/12/16

What I've learned throughout (almost) 10 years of marriage

On July 29th, my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage...10 YEARS, PEOPLE!
We were so young....
This is cause for celebration because marriage is so. damn. hard. Can I get an Amen up in 'her?!? I got married as a newly-minted 20 year old--straight outta my teen years--and while I've always been a bit of an old soul, I learned to be an adult during my earliest years of marriage. Here are just a few things I've learned as a married gal:

5/11/16

Adult onset introversion

A few weeks ago, my family traveled out of town to spend time with friends, so on Sunday, we attended their church for the first time. Our kids were slightly apprehensive about attending the children's ministry, but once we got them up to the room and they heard lively worship music and saw kids jumping in a bounce house, they they had a sudden burst in confidence and ran off leaving us in their dust. When we picked them up after church, they chattered about the new friends they made. In the hour that we were separated, they were able to make one friend a piece. Admittedly, I was slightly jealous.  In the 10 months that I've lived in this new town, I've managed to make approximately two friends...TWO. My kids have seriously put me to shame in the friends-making department.
Hipster friends at an abandoned gas station
It wasn't always this way for me. As a child, I was never at a loss for friends. There was a group of kids that played baseball and football together in our neighborhood. I played basketball at recess with Kevin and Andrew formed a secret club with Jenny, Tracy, and Becca. Even after a move to a new town in the 7th grade, I managed to befriend people other than my cousin who was the same age as me. Most of these friendships lasted throughout high school, and I'm still friends with Hannah, Autumn, and Celeste--a friendship that has lasted since we were in the 7th grade. Even in college, when it was time to start over without the people who had been my safety net for six years, I managed to form meaningful relationships with others. But something changed when I hit my late 20s. And now, I'm creeping closer to 30 and am finding it damn near impossible to meet people in this new town I'm living in.

I could list a hundred awkward quirks that are unique to me that might prevent me from engaging well with others (like the fact that I'm terrible at small talk, freeze up in large group situations, and nearly every sentence I utter starts with Today on NPR...). But I'm betting that I'm not the only person who struggles with meeting new people and forming meaningful relationships as an adult. Maybe we can call it: Adult onset introversion. Do we just become more introverted with age? Honestly, it feels like too much work to meet people and form relationships (I KNOW...I'M TERRIBLE). it's easier to just sit in my rocking chair and enjoy the people in my home. I'm conflicted, though, because I know we were put on this earth to connect with others--and a large part of me wants to form meaningful relationships with others especially in my new community that is actually not so new since I've lived here 10 months now. So, sufferers of adult onset introversion: How do you connect with others? What quick and dirty tips can you provide those of us whose kids are putting us to shame in the friends' department?

5/10/16

Why I don't attend women's ministry events

Women's ministry...if you're a church-going woman, you've likely heard this phrase before. Maybe you're even knee-deep in your church's women's ministry. I've never been the women's ministry type. I've tried a few times, but each time I've found them to be uncomfortable--like wearing a scratchy wool sweater in the middle of a sticky Nebraska summer. It's been my experience that women's ministries tend to be geared towards one type of woman, and I am not this woman.

To see a totally rad picture of 7 year-old me and to read more about why I don't attend women's ministry events, pop on over to Her View From Home! 

5/2/16

Mother's Day Gift-Giving Guide: Consider Your Audience

I teach English, so I am always harping on my students to understand the rhetorical situation when writing. In a nutshell, this means that a writer must be aware of his/her audience and the limitations in which he/she is working. For example, if I am writing an essay to persuade a Donald Trump supporter NOT to vote for Donald Trump, I first need to understand why my audience is voting for Donald Trump (Note: I don't need to agree with said reasons, but I have to acknowledge these in an unbiased way in order to reach my audience). Next, I have to consider the limitations here. Do I have unlimited time and pages to write on all the reasons why Trump would make a terrible president? I might...but does my audience have the time to read it all? Probably not, which means that I have to make some deliberate choices about the information I include in my piece.

I think this whole rhetorical situation business can be applied to purchasing a gift for Mother's Day.

4/26/16

"HEY EVERYBODY--COME AND SEE HOW GOOD I LOOK!"

This photo has nothing to do with the following post. 
I'm terrible at self-promotion. It feels dirty and awkward and wrong and a little bit like Ron Burgundy from Anchorman, yelling, "HEY EVERYBODY--COME AND SEE HOW GOOD I LOOK!" It just feels kind of skeezy and self-centered. But....the more I am in this "business" of free-lance writing, the more I realize that promoting my writing is very different than promoting myself AND my work will be buried if I don't promote it in some way. So...this is my awkward invitation to you to "like" my Facebook page boiled down to three reasons: 

1. Your "like" could help save millions of people approximately 124 people. It probably won't...but, one of your Facebook friends could see your "like" and stumble on over to my Facebook page and read one of my articles and then they could suddenly feel not so alone in this world. I'm totally aware that this is border line slippery-slope reasoning. All jesting aside, as my work has reached a wider audience, I've received many emails and Facebook messages from total strangers (and non-strangers....I guess a normal, more articulate person would call these people acquaintances) thanking me for writing about the hard stuff of parenting foster kids, infertility, living with anxiety, and continuing to be faithful when the world around me is crumbling. These messages remind me of how isolated I've felt during different periods of my life, and how badly I just wanted to connect with someone, anyone who was in a similar situation. I write primarily so it will help others to feel some sort of solidarity. Your "like" on my Facebook page could help me reach a wider audience of folks who might need to feel a sense of community. 

2. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Do you remember those "The More You Know" commercials from the 90s?!? My Facebook page is more or less like these commercials without mustaches and shoulder pads. On my writing likeness Facebook page, I post my writing and links to other articles on topics that are worth learning about--things like foster care, simple living, spirituality, mindfulness, etc. And fo' real--who doesn't love to learn?!?

3. Your "like" could help me achieve my dream of having my own reality TV show. I'm just kidding. I don't even have cable. But....I do have a big dream someday of writing a book. The "experts" (I guess publishers are considered experts these days...) say before I can write and publish a book, I need some sort of willing audience who can give me feedback....but if your feedback is negative, you can be damn sure that I'll delete that crap in a snap (RELAX. I'm kidding....I will not delete it. I'll just eat my feelings instead.)

So...go ahead and just do it (and by it...I clearly mean click "like" on my Facebook page). Chances are if you're my friend on normal Facebook or if you recently "liked" one of my posts on my writing likeness Facebook page, then you have an invite. Check your notifications icon on Facebook. Scroll down...past the invitations to play Farmville from your Great Aunt Jane.  Do you have an invite to "like" my page lingering??? Take the plunge today and click "like." You probably won't regret it. Who knows....maybe if I reach 250 likes, I'll sport some shoulder pads and a mustache just to make y'all laugh.


4/25/16

Opportunities, Jesus, and a hundred What-Ifs

A year ago we were living in Omaha; my husband was the choir director at a huge school, and I had just left my full-time career teaching high school English. We were adjusting to being a family of four with two special needs kiddos from foster care that required more of our time and energy then we thought. On top of this, we were facing uncertainty about our careers and whether or not we should stay in Omaha. Fast forward a year later and we are living in my husband's hometown, three houses from a cornfield in an area where, on a clear night, the stars are penetrating and the silence is noteworthy. I am working part-time, and my husband is teaching middle school music where his only outside of school commitments are a two-month show choir season and only two concerts a year..which seems like he's working part-time compared to all of his previous teaching gigs. Our schedules are more free and flexible than they ever have been before. And during one of my quiet reflection moments a few months ago, I reflected on all of this and felt like we were suddenly in a season of opportunity. 

Not my arms. Not my Bible. 
Immediately, I begged God to spare me from opportunities that required me to be social because I am AWKWARD and introverted.

4/20/16

The story our actions tell

I have a serious sugar addiction that I blame on my mother and my grandfather. Before I had children, I could happily indulge in candy and ice cream in my living room at 4:30 in the afternoon. Now that I have children, I have to sneak my sweets (I am too selfish to share them with my kids, #FoReal).
This is what it looks like when I eat a box of chocolates....
I swear--my kids can hear me opening a tiny box of Nerds from across the damn house because EVERY TIME I am about to eat their Halloween/Valentines/Easter candy, in the privacy of a locked bathroom, they come a running from the depths of their basement playroom, yelling, "MOM! WHAT ARE YOU EATING?!" Now that I'm a mom, my behavior (and my sugar addiction) simply is not overlooked.

I Don't Have a Birth Story To Tell You

Note: This piece originally appeared on Scary Mommy. It was a difficult piece to write, but as with all of my writing--it's one that I hope reaches those who need it. Here's a teaser:

I don't have a birth story. There are no sweet post-birth photos or memories of my husband gazing at me in admiration, in awe of the incredible act of childbirth. Perhaps our children's adoption days will be that moment for my husband, but those moments feel so ordinary and less monumental than the physical birth of a child. 

I worry that when the chaos of life bites down on us, during those times when I lose my shit--when I'm folding mountains of laundry, bra-less, in my pajamas at 6 PM--I worry my husband will look at me see just a woman, bra-less, in pajamas, folding laundry, not one who  braved searing pain to give him the greatest gift outside of grace. I fear he won't have a defining moment to look back on to revive his sense of love for me when I'm at my worst... Click here to read more! 

4/18/16

My Little Black Dress: A Story of Adoption and Heartbreak

Note: I've been busy lately submitting work for publication. One of my posts that originally appeared on this blog was published a few weeks ago on Sammiches & Psych Meds. While it's not getting the views that some of my other pieces are getting, this is one post I'm most proud of mostly because it articulates a moment that I didn't let break me. Here's a teaser of the post:

My husband always wanted to be a dad, and I wanted to be the person who would give him that desire. But after years of trying to conceive and then an eventual medical diagnosis of infertility--one that loomed like an ironic scarlet letter--we decided to pursue infant adoption. We waited for a year before we got the call--the one that every potential adoptive parent hopes for each time his/her phone rings. There was a birth mom. She picked us. Baby boy was due in three months. There were three potential fathers. Legal risk. Could she meet us? We were hesitant and thrilled at the same time; of course we didn't say no to meeting her....Click here to read more. 

4/12/16

Strength in Accepting Help

Here is a snippet of my latest post on Her View From Home; feel free to read it and share it on social media if you're feeling generous!

One Sunday afternoon before dinner with friends, I frenetically paced the kitchen finishing the prep work for dinner. Appearing to be strung out on meth, I washed dishes, scrubbed counters, tidied our office nook, and packed the kids' lunches for the next day. When I slip into this state of crazy, there is no pause between shifting tasks. It never occurs to me to ask for help......

To read more from this post, click here! 

4/7/16

Reaching out to our neighbors

So here's the deal: I am an introvert, but I also have a desire to connect on a meaningful level with people. Connecting with folks on a level that goes beyond the surface is essential for me to feel good about life. Conversely, I happen to be terrible at small talk. I'm the person who goes on and on about the weather because I don't know how to do small talk. In large groups, I'm the awkward person who either is super loud (seriously, why do I lose all ability to control my voice in social situations?!) or who takes the conversation to a new level of weird or inappropriate. Now that I've thrown all that out on the table for you: I'll add that in three weeks my family is hosting an old fashioned ice cream party in our driveway for our ALL of our neighbors...who we don't know.

I can only picture how this will go...and this picture IS NOT PRETTY. So...why are we doing this?!?

4/4/16

Learning to accept criticism

A few weeks ago, my first piece went live on the Huffington Post blog. It was a narrative about what it's like to parent children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, and for the most part, I've received a surprising amount of encouraging comments. Many folks commented with appreciation for writing about such a tough topic and for giving them something they could relate to. A few folks went even further and reached out in private messages to engage in conversation about their own struggles parenting children from similar backgrounds.

3/28/16

On Bravery

Here's a bit of a confession for the day: I am a worrier...a brooder...a dweller...a nervous Nelly.

I don't know where this stems from since my parents seem to be fearless and for as long as I can remember, I've been performing. Throughout elementary school I was a competitive gymnast and had no problems flipping and jumping and balancing in front of a crowd. I loved the thrill of performing. I remember watching my older cousin's volleyball games and doing back handsprings and cheers on the sidelines simply because I LOVED being watched by a crowd. In middle school I bravely donned my olive green cargo pants and crop-topped Calvin Klein baby doll shirt to sing "Hit Me Baby One More Time" in front of the entire student body (DON'T JUDGE). In high school, I performed in musicals and ran varsity track--getting a thrill at each round of applause and sound of a starter's gun. I even gave a speech at my high school graduation in front of nearly 300 of my peers and even more of their friends and family. Like most folks, I remember the proverbial butterflies before public performances, but I don't remember freak-outs prior.

Maybe time has just given me a set of rose colored glasses (has it really been twelve years since I graduated?!), but I feel like my sense of nervousness has increased post high school.

3/24/16

Go Ahead: Fill Your Proverbial Cup

About three weeks ago my work schedule changed a bit; I added a second campus and 11 extra hours to my work load. That doesn't read like a lot more work, but I went from working three days a week to five days a week. I'm still juggling my kids' various weekly appointments, and I've been swamped with student appointments as we approach that mid-term mark in the semester. But this week....this week it's SPRING BREAK, and my spring break just happens to fall two weeks after my husband and kids' spring break, so that means an entire week BY MYSELF. 

3/23/16

Favorite things #3

A podcaster I listen to--Tsh Oxenreider--ends each of her shows with a segment called "What's Making Me Happy." I dig hearing about what's making folks happy, and I always seem to learn about something new. Here's a list of the mostly minute things that are making me happy this month. I'd love to read about what's bringing you joy--either the material or abstract--so leave a comment below if you feel inclined.

3/21/16

Speaking back to the stereotypes of foster parents

I came across this video on the interwebs made by What Would You Do?, one of those hidden camera shows that stages scenarios in order to see what kind of reaction they receive from onlookers. This particular staged situation portrays foster parents as greedy people only in foster care for the money who treat their foster kids as second-class children. The video is a little over eight minutes long, but it took me about 20 minutes to watch; I had to walk away a few times because it made me so mad. Here are three reasons why I take issue with the video:

3/16/16

Self (Re)Discovery

"Who were you before becoming a mom? What sort of things did you like to do?" my therapist asked.

I explained that prior to becoming a mom, I willingly devoted most of my time to my job as a high school English teacher. I sponsored many school activities, coached cross country, and focused on establishing myself as a professional by attending graduate school and teaching conferences. I told her that I ran 25-35 miles a week and sang in a bluegrass band. Free time was spent with my husband or with my friends.

"Well...do you think you can still do these things now?" she inquired.

3/12/16

In pursuit of an integrated life


A little over one year ago, I quit my full-time teaching job to pursue part-time work. Teaching English to 180 students in an urban school was just too much for me to juggle with parenting two high needs kids adopted from foster care. Like many teachers who decide to leave the profession, I felt guilty for leaving. I felt like I was abandoning my current and future students while also letting down so many folks (administrators and colleagues) who had such high expectations for what I could or would go on to do as a teacher. It's taken me over a year to realize why leaving my full-time teaching job was best for my family.

3/10/16

Taking a leap

Taking a leap

In November of 2015, a friend and I held each other accountable for writing at least 750 words a day. Engaging in a daily habit of writing made me remember how much I love writing. It reminded me that writing is reflection; it's the only chance I get to slow down enough to think. And the deeper I get into this motherhood gig, the more I'm relying on writing to survive. So, in December I made a commitment to myself to write more.

3/8/16

3 Things my kids' tantrums have taught me

Here's a snippet of my latest post up today on Her View From Home:

"When my husband and I chose foster to adopt to expand our family, we were prepared to love and provide for our kids. We were even prepared to constantly have caseworkers and therapists in our home and for the required hoop jumping for foster care and adoption. What we were completely unprepared for was the tantrums--the raging, the kicking, the hitting, the destruction, the 90 minutes of screaming. We didn't know how to bounce back after one of these fits of rage. But, after two years in the trenches, our kids' tantrums have taught us three valuable lessons...."

To read the full text of this post, click here. Feel free to share it on social media or leave a comment!

3/7/16

My son and toy guns

Yesterday was my seven year-old son's "gotcha day"--a day we we celebrate his adoption, when he officially became ours. I took him to one of our local bookstores to let him pick something out; I had hopes that he would choose a new chapter book, a comic, or maybe even an atlas (he's really into maps right now), but the minute we stepped foot in the toy section of the bookstore, I saw him lock eyes on it. I tried to redirect him, "Hey! Look! An atlas of space!" I shouted and pointed to a shiny cover on the top row--but there was no turning back.

"I want this. Can I get it?" he asked without taking his eyes off the tiny, chintzy, plastic, orange toy gun that would surely break by the end of the week that nearly all kids from the 70s and 80s had.

3/3/16

Tips for church staff when working with traumatized children


Sunday morning is the ONLY morning my family gets to fake normal. It’s the lone day of the week we all look presentable. Since we’re there for a mere hour and fifteen minutes each week, there’s little time for my kids’ trauma to unfold in the form of questionable behaviors. There’s also the fact that we’re still relatively new to town and our church. While it’s clear by looking at our family that our kids could be adopted (one dark brown child, one light brown child, and two very white parents), most in our church aren’t aware of our kids’ stories and prior trauma. So you can imagine the pit of nausea that developed on Sunday morning when I heard my husband explain to our tantruming, pajama-clad son that we were leaving for church as a family of four in 20 minutes whether he was out of his footie-jammies or not.