I play candy crush because it stays done

During the spring of my insanity something happened. I had a not yet one year old and a not yet two year old and an event occurred I still can’t quite believe.

I attempted to clean my house.

It was brave I’ll give you that. And fool-hardy. It was the kind of bravery that makes people appear on American Idol when they can’t sing. I picked the dishes. Dishes seemed safe. They seemed like a project that could be declared done unlike the vague “pick up the mess” when the whole house WAS the mess.

candy crush 1

I got two pieces done. I remember that like it was yesterday. Two. Pieces. And then I heard liquid dripping behind me. I turned around in slow motion and saw two little cute faces hovering over the drawer of plastics. A juice cup in one of their hands. An empty juice cup. The drawer was not empty, it was now full of juice and juice covered dishes.

While I stood there the juice started to drip through the drawer and down to the floor where it flowed under the fridge and stove. How much juice was in that cup anyway? It was like the bloody parable of the widow whose lamp didn’t go out. And the realization hit me: I traded two pieces of clean dishes for a stinking river of juice and an entire drawer of dirty dishes. I attempted to make things better and I made them worse.

candy crush 2

And I knew then that I would be doing this same thing for the rest of my life. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration but at least until toddlerhood was behind us? I don’t know, I haven’t got there yet.) As a stay at home mom my entire world now revolved around things I would have to redo. The dishes would all get dirty. The clothes would all land on the floor. The floor would collect new dust everyday because there was enough dust to fill the world.

candy crush 3

Candy Crush is different. It stays done. It has levels and once you complete one you go on to the next one. You don’t keep doing the same thing over and over like your own personal GroundHogDay where you live in an endless loop of cleaning, dishes, diapers, laundry, cleaning, dishes, diapers, laundry.

No, not Candy Crush. Candy Crush knows you. It knows you need a little victory today. It knows you need to feel like you completed something that won’t be undone tomorrow. Or in an hour. That’s why Candy Crush is perfect. No one can mess it up for me. It stays DONE.

Except when my phone crashes in the middle of the final move where I’m going to beat the level I’ve been on for a week.

I fear that my phone is a toddler.

candy crush 5

"forever family" and other things I want to promise

I dropped Youngest off at a playcare center yesterday for a few hours. Oldest was at school and it was my husband’s birthday so he and I were doing a lunch date. Something we haven’t done since, well something we’ve never done since Oldest came home.

Youngest was excited to play with the trains, the slide, and all the other goodies they have to entice children away from their parents. But he also wasn’t keen to leave me. I talked to him on the way in and sang our little goodbye song that talks about how I’ll come back. (Sidenote: thank you Daniel Tiger for your parenting wisdom.) Then I signed him in and handed him over to the worker. She sensed his nervousness and said, as many care-workers do, “It’s okay. Mommies always come back.”

Except they don’t.

I have that whisper in my head anytime I hear myself promise forever, promise for always, promise there are no more big changes now. Sometimes mommies don’t come back. Death, mental or physical illness, relinquishment, abandonment, there are a myriad of reasons why sometimes, tragically, mommies don’t come back. There are foster mamas who love our children, care for them, ARE their mothers for a time and while we as adults know what happened, on a gut level I think for some children it feels like they are just one more mommy who didn’t come back.

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t think there is one. Children are meant to be with their mothers. Sometimes that doesn’t work out. And sometimes they gain another mother. But don’t get me wrong, I think being that “other mother” is a beautiful treasured privilege. I am their Mama. Their adoptive mother. I am theirs completely. I am not second rate or counterfeit. No mother ever is.

But while we talk so much about these children coming “home” and use phrases like “forever family” I think we need to be brutally honest with ourselves. This kind of parenting requires having some extra empathy. We, as adoptive parents, have to remember that we are asking them to believe in something that our very existence in their lives calls into question. The promise of a forever family. If family was truly forever they wouldn’t have us.

I hear so much about the hard work that adoptive parents do. There are conferences for them. Books. The phrase “parenting kids from hard places” gets used a lot. All those things aren’t bad or even untrue. But the bigger truth is we are asking these tiny souls to believe something that goes against their experience.

Parenting is hard, adoptive parenting is hard. But choosing to love again, choosing to trust that mommy will come back when another didn’t has to be the hardest thing of all. And we, as their parents, have to honor and respect that.

These children are the ones who hold no power in the adoptive process but who have the most to risk. I think the adoption community needs to gain some perspective on what, exactly, hard is. We need to stop asking “how the kids fit in” and more “how is your family adapting to what they need?” Because we are the grownups here. We are the ones who asked to have them in our lives. We are the ones who have the pure honor of parenting their hearts and their minds.

We need to respect them. Respect their histories. Respect their realities. Respect how amazing it is that a heart dealt a horrible blow can learn to love again. No matter how slowly, no matter how painful the process is for us as adoptive parents, their hearts are the ones who matter. Have to matter. Do matter. Because this whole parenting thing is about their hearts in the first place. And their bravery should be applauded.


motherhood is a competition and tomorrow is our olympics

I’m over Mother’s Day.

I love my kids. I love my mom. But I hate the over-complication of every.single.thing. in today’s culture. Especially the social media culture. Motherhood is the ultimate competition sport and tomorrow is our olympics. At the end of the day most people wind up feeling like losers when we should just be celebrating that we’re living at all.

The rest of the world celebrates Women’s Day. I like that idea. I like the idea of celebrating who we are and not just who we are to someone else.

My social media feeds are full of articles on Mother’s Day. There are articles sharing how infertile women feel about the holiday. About how churches could handle things better in their services tomorrow. There are articles about being an adoptive mom. About being a mom after loss. About choosing never to have kids at all.

To me they all have a common theme: I want to matter. I want my existence to be validated. I want to feel good enough during a holiday that can bring out the insecurities in almost everyone. Am I a good mom? Am I a good daughter? Am. I. Good. Enough.

Motherhood as competition seems like a recent development. Something created when Pinterest and Facebook met each other. But I doubt that’s the case. I’m guessing competition has been there since two moms first met each other and one of them realized the other one’s kid could already make fire.

Competition is the cheap way to feel good about yourself. Find someone you think of as doing something “worse” than you and bam, you’re awesome. Your boobs spew liquid gold while those poor formula fed babies are basically eating a happy meal in a bottle. And you suddenly feel good enough because while you’re not sure what IS Good Enough you know you’re ahead of that mom so you must be.

The problem is the line as a woman of “doing it well” is unclear. It’s a race with no finish line. A relay with no baton. We don’t know what’s Good Enough.

So this is what I’d like to propose: If you love someone today then you are indeed Good Enough. If that person is a child, or friend, a parent, or an acquaintance it doesn’t really matter. You’re a woman. You love someone. So Happy Freaking Mother’s Day. I hope you buy yourself an ice cream cake, go for a walk in a garden, or just catch up on the laundry so you’ll have clean underwear and socks come Monday.

Maybe you have kids that will bring your flowers and a breakfast in bed. Or maybe you’ll wake up to poop on the couch. Either way you can be, and feel, Good Enough. You can tell yourself that love is love and it doesn’t really matter what happens to it after you throw it out there because love has never been wasted and cannot be overused.

So embrace Mother’s Day if you want, or ignore it if you’d rather. But what we can’t do is spend the holiday feeling like everyone else in the world feels and thinks THEY are good enough and we’re the only one who sits and wonders why our flowers never came or came with spiders on them and what that says about us.

The truth is it doesn’t say anything. This holiday doesn’t, CANNOT say anything about our worth as human beings and as women. Motherhood shouldn’t be a competition and life isn’t actually a race. It’s a mess of people crowded in a room listening to the kind of music that can touch your soul if you only let it. Life is love and at the end of the day all you can do is listen to the beat of your heart and dance hard enough to keep up with it.


his first art installation, I couldn’t be prouder

My oldest child opened his first major art show last week and it was a proud moment for me.


The event was discrete, with only two guests invited and the venue was intimate (though not small) stretching across the living room, dining room, and hallway of the artist’s childhood home.


Titled “They Should Have Put A Lock On The Linen Closet: a collection of found objects” the subject matter was at once mundane and profound, forcing the viewer to ask themselves questions such as “How much talc can one breathe before the coughing fit starts?” and “How can one bottle of powder go so far?”


Besides the sheer scale of the exhibit, most impressive to me was the time he allotted himself for its creation. From beginning to end the creative process couldn’t have been more than the ten minutes I was rocking his brother in the other room. The determination, creativity, and work-ethic displayed point to a bright future for him.


Due to the nature of the piece it was shown as a limited engagement, lasting just long enough for me to snap some pictures and ask the artist a few questions, which he declined to answer.

The effects of the piece however, will be felt for some time. Indeed, after nearly four hours of dedicated removal I still find myself stumbling across previously unnoticed sections. I feel it is the artist’s way of reminding the viewer that life is fleeting but love, like the powder he chose for his first major project, is everlasting.

Especially when you get it in the air vents.


a very frozen birthday

We interrupt these morose thoughts to bring you some eye candy. Ice candy. Whatever.

“Frozen” is his favorite movie. The songs mostly. Naturally.

So his daddy and I stayed up the night before his big day and created a surprise for him. He loved it. Happiness.







I’m saving the more personal memories for our eyes only. But it was a magical day filled with trampolines, lots of one on one time, and lots of hugs.

(Because I am a hoarder I didn’t have to buy anything but ingredients for the cake, cupcake holders, and of course Olaf. Or Oooluf as he’s known around here.)

how to kill a blog, part one (or guilt about becoming part of the noise that drowns out the voices we should be listening to)

I abandoned this blog to wither for several reasons. The first has to do with guilt.

Last summer I had a post that went a little “viral” in some adoptive parent communities. It was about waiting moms. I should have put “parents” because I got so much grief for leaving the dads out. For the record I wrote it about myself and a few moms I’ve become close too. It wasn’t meant to be the end all be all of explaining things. It was a deeply personal reflection on the life I led for three years.

I still like the post. A lot. The mistake was agreeing to let Huffingt*n Post republish it. And then not objecting when they put it under the tagline of “12 things everyone should know about adoption” (or something like that) and took off the postscripts I had made. Looking back I should have complained to them about the tagline and not allowed the changes. To be fair to myself it happened the day my husband had oral surgery and we ended up waiting for hours in an emergency situation because they thought a piece of metal might have gotten into his lungs. I had a barely 1-year-old and barely turned 2-year-old. I thought we’d be out for two hours, we ended up being out all day. We were exhausted and tired and I was stressed out of my mind. So I didn’t handle it like I should have. And then the noise became overwhelming and I ran away emotionally.

For awhile I couldn’t figure out why this one post gathering so much notice bothered me so much. Of course the attention was a bit overwhelming to someone with a teensy tiny blog, I actually had some mild panic attacks over it. When the post hit 5k views an hour after I published it I texted my husband and said I was going to delete the entire blog. I meant it too. If there was any doubt I was an introvert this is the moment that laid it to rest.  But then when the attention faded away, when I realized most of the people who loved *that post* weren’t interested in anything else I had to say my pride stung a little. That post isn’t my favorite. It doesn’t even make my top five.

It’s also the most narcissistic thing I’ve ever written.

And that’s my regret. Not that I wrote it, or published it, but that I let it go bigger than that. I loved it when other adoptive mothers shared it on their blogs and on facebook because it tells some of our story. And knowing other people feel something we feel is always comforting. It helped me even though my children were with me when I wrote it. Because there’s no way I could have written it while in process. I was too nuts. But writing it after the fact brought some understanding to the process.

But MY STORY is all it tells. It’s not the story of adoption. Not by a long shot. The postscripts I added to it tried to clarify that. I regret using the word “home” in it. I had been so careful before they joined our family, because the word makes me so uncomfortable when it becomes used to indicate possession and not acceptance. There’s a nuanced line between the two. I tried to flesh it out in other posts, but not that one. But that’s the one people liked. And I have guilt over that.

I have guilt because I fear that I became part of the noise that drowns out the voices we should be listening to. The voices of the adult adoptees. THEY are the ones to be telling us “12 things everyone should know about adoption” and too often they are not the voices that we hear. They are not the voices that are considered the experts. We are. Does that make sense? Not at all. I’m not delusional enough to believe that adoption will affect my life more than it affects my child.

I’m going to continue to write here on this blog. I think. Maybe. But I had to get this off my chest because when I started this blog I wanted it to be different from some other presentations of adoption I had read. There are some things that make me cringe in the adoptive parent community: 1) Painting the adoptive parents as heroes/saviors and the child as the rescued. 2) Using adoption as something to brag about and show off religion with. A living sermon illustration with the parents as the messiah-figure. 3) Not believing that first parents are an incredible important part of the child’s life and that adoption should be a last resort. –I could go on but I won’t.

I wanted this blog to be about love and broken hallelujahs, about understanding I’m not their only mother, about finding my place in motherhood in relation to the greater story of their lives. I want so much for my children to feel understood by me. Regardless of if they agree with the choices that were made for them or not I want them and their experiences to feel respected.

So mostly I regret the thought that an adoptee could have read the post and thought I was another adoptive mother who believes her experience to be more harrowing and difficult than her child’s. Who believed that her child’s adoption and story somehow belonged to her and not to them. I worry that I might have caused pain. I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure exactly what all I should have done differently. But hopefully expressing regret is a first step. Even if it’s being done months after the fact. I’m a slow processor sometimes.


when you’re bad at that thing you thought you’d be good at


Yesterday we were at Gymboree when Thane got his leg stuck between two wooden dowels in a rocking toy. It was amazing how my mom instincts kicked in and how quickly I got him out…. I’m kidding. Actually my claustrophobia and panic kicked in, after pulling at the leg with no budging I started frantically looking around for a freaking ax to chop that sucker apart with, and all I could think was “in the movies there is ALWAYS an ax, always. It’s right next to the fire extinguisher. Where is the fire extinguisher? Oh my dear heavens there is no fire extinguisher, if there is a fire right now how will I get all three of us out of here?!! ” Because that’s a normal place for your mind to go.

At this point Tal came over to try to rock the stupid rocking toy. This was not as helpful as he imagined it to be. And as I sat there (for SECONDS!!) trying to figure out what to do and trying to hold Tal off, another mom calmly came over, offered to help, pulled up Thane’s pant leg, twisted things a little and rescued him. And me.

And that’s when I realized two things: we’re hardly ever actually alone. People are almost always willing to come give a hand when we’re sucking at whatever we thought we’d be good at. And second: it had happened. I hadn’t been capable of doing something my kids really needed me to do. I had failed. And the world hadn’t ended. I had really blundered at this whole mothering thing and the sky hadn’t come crashing down around us. In fact, looking around the room everyone was calm and happy. Including my two kids who were now at the top of the slide enjoying themselves.

I thanked the mom and she told me a funny story about leaving her car door open. And that was it. Everything was fine. Except for the fact that the toddlers were thirsty now and I had forgotten the sippy cups. But that’s why God made Starbucks.



{{Pictures from the park last week.}}

home is a promise

To My Darling, Perfect, Little, Thane:

When I say you are home I don’t mean it’s your only one. Your history is a full one, rich with beauty and treasures that are wrapped inside your giftings and personality. And your family tree is a full one,  with roots and branches that cross continents and oceans. But at the center is you. The little boy with dimples who is the sun and the moon and the stars and the sky. And you are a remarkable human being.


And this is your home, here in the hearts of your daddy and I. It was yours before we ever held you, it will be yours until the end of time. Home is my promise to you. A commitment of love that will never quit.

These last two years have been full of getting to know each other haven’t they? There were growing pains and adjusting pains and more laughter than I thought the universe could hold. Those early days with you will always be held sacred in my mind, as we took the beginning steps towards building trust, towards trying to show you all the love we had in our hearts.


Our love is not conditional on yours. You need to know that. But baby boy, your love is a treasure that we feel honored by everyday. Your kisses and hugs and “I love yous” make the sun come up and world go ‘round.

This week marks two years since we started life together. Thank you for every moment.




the story that didn’t start with me (birth & adoption and honoring their story)

It’s so easy, too easy really to slip into thinking I’m telling them their stories when really I’m telling them mine.

Because their stories don’t begin with the moment I heard about them, the moment that first picture made my heart go pitter patter, or the moment I met them. Their story begins with them. With their mother and father and the moment they were created. Their next nine months wrapped inside their mother. As close as two humans can be. Then more months, more changes, more stories that are theirs to have and mind to guard. A foster family, loved and cherished. And then, and only then do my husband and I step into their story. From their perspective.

This is important because it’s too easy to slip into thinking that our story is the one they are living. And it’s not. Adoption isn’t meant to be a rewriting of everything that’s gone before. The family they have now doesn’t erase the family they don’t. And it’s their right to feel whatever they feel for that family. And it’s our duty as their other parents to listen. To be okay. To celebrate what they received from that family. To acknowledge that our children’s feelings are “right” no matter what they are because their feelings are theirs.

I worry sometimes when I see certain catch phrases because yes, these children were born in our hearts, but they were also born in someone’s body. And that someone is incredibly important. And the danger is that if we only tell it from our perspective, if we start each story of their lives  with “Mommy made a wish and then she found you” it sends the message that that is the narration we want to hear in return. We want to hear that they were “found” and then there were happy and everything before that moment ceased to exist. That simply isn’t true nor should it be.

And while we have no way of knowing  for sure what our children will feel about their story someday, by reading the feelings and thoughts of teen and adult adoptees we can know that most of our children will feel some amount of loss. That has to be okay with us as adoptive parents. And we must send the message to our children that that’s okay. And for me, that begins with telling them their story. Theirs, not mine. That means starting from the beginning, it means starting from brokenness and talking about sad things. It means talking about events that I wish I could change but I can’t. It means talking about things that I didn’t cause (and may we never as adoptive families be the cause of a family being broken) but are painful to discuss. Loss is painful. To sit with someone in that pain and know you can’t fix it is hard. Especially when that someone is a child you love more than life.

And some adoptive parents will know details of those first days and months and years of the child’s life and others won’t. But here’s what everyone knows and what everyone can tell them – the universe became a better place that day, that day their mother gave birth to them and they breathed their first breath. The day that the genetic code that’s been spliced and woven and passed on from parent to child for eons came together in a way never seen before. That moment that I believe the angels sang and the rivers and the grass and even the dirt came together to whisper “you are a unique treasure and we need you here on this planet.”

Who they are has never been and never will be again. That’s their story too. It’s the story I’m determined they will know.

you are perfect, beautiful, loved

{{part of a lullaby I sing to my sons}}


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