when gigi came to visit

My mom was here for a week and she spoiled me and the babies silly. I loved it. And her. My mom is an awesome person. She’s one of those people that make you feel good about who you are but make you want to be a better version of who you are too. Talron is clearly fan as well.


He’s pretty funny when it comes to laughing, because he doesn’t really. He chuckles in amusement but he doesn’t really laugh. Time will tell if that’s just who he is or if he’s still just getting relaxed enough around here to let his hair hang down. Speaking of hair. Both the little men got hair cuts. Talron’s was just a simple two-snip process where I cut off those two little curls on either side of his head. Sad to see his funny little curls go but it was time and now things can grow back more evenly. Thane’s hair on the other hand was quite exciting to cut. Gigi did the actual cutting and I yelped and worried and in general did not act like the calm mother that such an occasion should probably call for. Despite my misgivings I love how even it is now and he loves how much easier it is to comb with the dead ends banished and no longer causing tangles.


{{After haircut pic right there.}}

Another amazing thing about my mom is you can say something casual like “he doesn’t have a green hat” and then that afternoon he has one.  And a brown one and a gray one but who’s counting? This one is probably my favorite. It’s earned him the nickname “turtlebear.” (For my fellow MOCCs {{Mothers Of Congolese Cuties}} she also came up with a set pattern and sizes for making those DRC flag hats that people have asked about buying, they will be for sale in about a month and the money is going for a great cause – a program in the DRC that’s building chicken coops.)


{{Before haircut pic. I love Talron’s expression in this one. I think he’s questioning if his brother is indeed cool enough to pull off sunglasses indoors. For the record I think he is.}}

Mom and I also got a chance to delve into some deeper discussions on parenting and loving and everything that comes with that. I hope to share some of it here soon. After Mama left, I think all three of us were suffering from Gigi withdrawal because when  asked the kids to pose for a pic for her this is all the enthusiasm they could muster. Thane’s face pretty much says it all.


But at least their outfits were cute.


Later that day I found Thane curled up on the floor with his toy airplane. Which on one hand breaks my heart but on the other hand I feel proud of him for going to get it out of his closet and putting his sadness at saying goodbye into a tangible form.



So as not to end this post on a downer here’s another cute pic of my turtlebear and one of his brother who woke up this morning mumbling “happy birthday happy birthday” because apparently he dreams about his Gigi, yesterday being her birthday. He was so proud of himself for actually saying it to her on the phone. I was too.



phoenix rising, Uncategorized

memories of tal

“Mama loves you” I whispered. And he lifted his head off my shoulder whipped it around, and planted a big one on me. Baby kisses are terribly sweet. And very slobbery. And his have totally stolen my heart.

Feisty & Affectionate. Those two words describe so much of who this kid is. This amazing, perfect kid.


He was pretty reserved with his smiles in the early days of being with us. I would have been too. Leaving everything you know is scary for an adult much less a kid who doesn’t know, and has no say about, what is happening. But from the beginning he has had opinions that are all his own and isn’t afraid to share them. I love that. I love that he has big, loud, opinions and he feels comfortable sharing those with the world.


I wrote this to him a bit ago: “One of your most strongly held convictions is that you should never.be.put.down. Okay, I’m exaggerating. You actually love playing with toys and will play quite a bit by yourself. But when you want, no DESERVE to be held, well then heaven help us if we don’t. You have the cutest little outraged cry I have ever heard. You get held a lot just so you know. But not enough apparently as you let US know.”


He loves doing uggamugga (rubbing noses), but isn’t so much into the actual nose touching because apparently the shaking head part is just way more fun. About two days after we got to Seattle he started copying us and then a day or so after that we could just say uggamugga and he would get this big goofy grin on his face and shake his head. Much to my shock he immediately starting reaching for us and crawling to us as well. That was pretty special and unexpected.


When I look back to this last month and a few weeks I think that’s what I’ll remember the most: the way he just loves. The way he is open to love. The way he now tries to get out of going to sleep by giving me a million kisses. The way he stops halfway through a bottle to have a five minute chat with us, just because. How he says “mom mama” and knows that means me. How he says “dada” when he hears Nate’s voice on the phone. How quiet he will sit listening to Nate read a book to the two boys sitting on his knees. How he sees me across the room and will crawl his fastest crawl grinning the whole time to get to me. The day he and Thane were on the couch looking out the window and then he started to wave his arms and make his happy squeals and I realized he was seeing his daddy coming home from work. Baby love is awfully sweet.


{{pictures taken 3/16/2013}}

adoption, family age, gushing, phoenix rising

one month together

He’s really here.

I have remind myself of that a few times a day. I’ll have him on my lap, cuddling his little body in my arms and it will hit me: this is real, we’re together. It happened. During the process of waiting I held a duel reality in my head and in my heart: he’s mine, he might never be mine. Loving without knowing is a different kind of love. It’s a deep, pounding, fight-to-the-end kind of love that doesn’t let go. It’s almost desperate in a way, this feeling of wanting and yet knowing you might never have. Please let him have a family. That was my constant wish. And now he has one. Ours. We’re family. A family rising out of the ashes. It’s another duel reality I hold: he’s my son, he’s another’s son.  I struggle not with guilt but with an awareness of the unfairness of this world of ours. Broken hallelujahs.


And now it’s been a month of getting to know him. A grand, glorious month of more baby kisses than I imagined possible to cram into that time. Of simple moments of splendor as his personality unfolds, as he lets us get to know him more and more. You watch your baby grow up in pictures and you cling to each slight expression change captured in them, trying to read some personality trait, some meaning into them. And then suddenly the child is real, three-dimensional and complete. It’s like stepping into a painting, it’s an overload of input. I feel quite panicked at times that time is slipping away so fast. We missed so much of his life and now I want time to just stand still for a while and let us catch up on everything we missed.


It’s good in a way though, to have that ache of missing those moments. They’re a reminder to see him as an individual, as someone with his own feelings and history and strengths. To look at this adoption story from his side of it, not just from ours. Because his is very different from ours. The day our family was complete was also the day he left everything he’d known for so long. The day my heart felt complete again was the day his lost his beloved foster family. He both came home and left home. Another duel reality to hold. I feel so grateful to his foster family. There are no words to say how much.

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To watch him open himself up to our love amazes me. To watch his shyness give way to oh-I-know-you feels like magic. It reminds me of watching mom make the whipping cream at Thanksgiving, watching the blender spin round and round and round and it seems that nothing is changing, then suddenly instead of liquid sloshing there’s peaks and valleys of sugary goodness. Magic. I pick him out of his crib after each nap and bedtime and suddenly his look is one of relief and recognition instead of confusion and surprise. Like his heart is whispering “oh it’s you, I know you.” And I whisper back “yes it’s me, it will always be me, and someday you’ll know that.”

This isn’t the post I meant to write today. I meant to write about his personality, his feisty and affectionate little self. How good he is at crawling now and how he gives kisses and then flashes this little look at that says “aren’t I clever to make you go all googoogaga  over me?” But I guess I just can’t get past the reality and amazement that he’s here. He’s really here.



a very unpinterest easter

I’m going to go ahead and say it: I didn’t grow grass for a tablescape,  didn’t put marshmallows inside pastry, didn’t handsew anything, and I certainly didn’t gold leaf any eggs. Tal’s disappointment was quite severe.

easter blog delete4

But we had a blast. An absolute blast. I think my favorite moment of the day came when Nate and I were in the garage, he was looking for  our pop-up shelter to give us a little shade and I was putting together the boys’ Easter basket, leaving two little boys at the top of the stairs trying to peek through the gate and yelling excitedly at us. It was one of those, how in the world did we go from zero to two kids in thirteen months moments. We waited so long to have kids that having one still catches me by surprise, having two is just absurdly funny.

Thane got right into the dying of eggs. Rejecting such pedestrian ideas such as leaving the egg in the water for any length of time he proceeded to drop them in, take them out, drop them in another, take them out, drop them in again. He even experimented with adding some moss and grass to some of the cups. (Expect to see this trend blowing up pinterest next year.) We pretty much laughed ourselves silly watching him.eggs

When he finally decided to run around the yard for a while the poor eggs managed to stay in the bottom of the glasses long enough to get some color.

eggs 2

His brother experimented with tasting stuff and just generally being adorable. He was pretty found of the eggs and managed to throw them around a bit. Not as big of a hit was tasting grass for the first time.


The Easter Basket had some hilarious moments packed in it. Thane was so incredibly excited about the “eter baket” but was a bit bummed to realized what it actually was and wasn’t even that interested in the toys I had put in it. Not sure what he thought an Easter Basket was but clearly this wasn’t it. Also, unlike the pictures would suggest we weren’t in some weird time travel to the 70’s in these pictures, the white balance on my camera was just off.Collages29

{{Pictured: Thane’s illusions of Easter basket grandeur being crushed and also very cute outfits from Gigi – thanks Gigi!}}

Eventually though, he realized that the Easter basket had a chocolate bunny in it and his disappointment was semi-abated. Now he just had to enjoy it while dodging Tal’s little hands.


Not attending a religious service was hard for me. But Nate taught Thane to say “Happy Resurrection” so that was the greeting that met me when I woke up. And he managed to say it to Papa (my dad) on the phone so that made me happy. I love how both my sons have Ron as part of their names. He’s an amazing grandfather and the best example of a Christ-follower I know.

The truth is I wanted a Pinterest Worthy Easter. I wanted pastel decorations and drawing with white crayons on the eggs before dying them. I wanted little boys in vests and bow ties and page-boy hats. I wanted that and it didn’t happen. Because it wasn’t what our family needed this year. Someday maybe it will be, and I’m going to love the crap out of doing every Resurrection inspired craft I can find. But this year we had a new baby home, a baby that still is stressed by crowds and people. A baby that needed a low-key outdoor celebration of life.

And on this day when we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of the Christ Child I have to stop and reflect about how I’m honoring the One I’ve promised to follow. There are parts of my life I feel satisfied with my efforts in and there are parts of my life that still need to change. But as I go about my life and raise my children one question always haunts me: how did I show love today? I think that’s the message of Easter/Resurrection. Just love. Pure love. And this year love didn’t come with all the trimmings that maybe it will someday. It was a lot like our family pic up there: not anything resembling picture perfect. But it was real and fun and beautiful. And that’s about as truly perfect as a day can come.

hair care and products

my curly-haired boy

Thane’s first picture showed us a sleeping baby with a halo of curls. It melted my heart. And since he joined our family I’ve gotten to know a lot more about his type of hair and how to keep it healthy, it’s so much fun having a curly-haired boy. A few other moms have asked me to write about his hair care routine, so here it is. I admit I struggled with writing it. I’m not an expert, I only know what works for us. And I’m also not a routine person, at all. So I tried to pay attention to what I did, most of the time at least, and write it down in something resembling cohesion.

To learn about curly hair care, specifically AA hair, I enjoyed reading on http://www.naturallycurly.com/I think they do a great job of explaining different types of curls and how to care for them.* I had no idea that curls came in so many different beautiful types. (So jealous.) From that website I fell down the rabbit hole and read blog after blog of ladies who have “gone natural”, ie not straightening their hair. I think as a white mom of a black child it’s important to learn a bit more about the social history behind things and reading blogs of AA woman who love their hair and speak about it is a great way to learn. *Learning about the different type of curls was eye-opening to me. I had a certain look I thought I wanted for Thane, but then I realized that wasn’t what his hair wanted. His hair type is darling ringlets so tightly curled that even at six inches up top his hair springs down to about an 1.5’’ long “look”. A look I have to say looks pretty amazing on him.

hair cute

{{On the left: long bath day, on the right: no bath day. Both pictures from a few months ago.}}


Now for the routine. First, the pinterest/simple/pretty version:

hair care routine

As for as how often we do each routine I would guess in any week we do the long bath routine 2 times, the quick bath routine 2 -3 times, and the no bath routine 1-3 times . It just depends on the time of year and how active the little one is that day. For combing out hair I use the Tangle Teezer which is awesome, and I only ever comb wet hair.

hair products copy

And now the overly wordy/unnecessarily complicated version.

Long Bath Days:

  • I only use actual shampoo when I start to notice product buildup. Otherwise I just co-wash his hair (washing with conditioner.) If the hair is full of dirt, leaves, sand, etc I’ll rinse it out really thoroughly after combing the conditioner through and then apply some more to sit and soak in during the bath. Otherwise I don’t worry about thoroughly rinsing out the conditioner, just do a quick rinse and then squeeze the excess water out with my fingers. Then I apply a moisturizing/defining curl product and finger comb it through the hair, the more you coat each curl from root to tip the more defined they will be. I also make sure to massage some of the product into the scalp to make sure it doesn’t become dry and itchy. Then it’s out of the tub and time to pat/squeeze hair with towel. Don’t rub. Rubbing creates tangles. Then we lotion his skin and get dressed then apply the sealing product, sealing all that good moisture in. I spray it all over his hair and then finger comb/fluff it through, coating the strands. This entire routine probably takes 10 minutes, not counting the play time in the bath when the conditioner is just soaking in.

Quick Bath Days:

  • Pretty much the same as Long Bath Days, we just skip the conditioner and deep combing and go right to the moisturizing/defining and then the sealing. By finger comb I mean just grabbing a small about of hair at the root and then pulling it straight up letting my fingers coat the strands with product and get the larger tangles out. I usually use the Tangle Teezer on the spots that get tangled the worst.

No Bath Days:

  • This is the 1 min, oh my goodness we need to leave now routine. Just finger fluffing and apply the “Hold & Shine Moisture Mist”. The stuff is magic. We use it after naps too if hair needs a little refresh.


{{My favorite picture showing off his baby hair. Back then I only used the Hair Milk. Taken about a year ago.}}

Things I still want to find:

  • A great detangler. Right now we use conditioner and lots of water, it’s working great but something might work better.
  • A deep conditioner. I’ve tried a few but haven’t liked any of them.

Things I probably do wrong:

  • I’m fairly certain I detangle hair more often than most people would suggest. The concern is that the pulling on the hair weakens it or makes it break. For us, if we do it more often I’ve found there is less breakage because the tangles aren’t as severe. But if I had a girl or was concerned about getting length I might be more concerned. As it is his hair grows plenty fast for me.
  • I don’t use a sleep cap or satin pillowcase or satin sheets.
  • I don’t always keep the satin headrest in his car seat but when I do it helps cut down on tangles tremendously.
  • I don’t use any “protective styles” meaning braids or twists or anything else. His hair is free 100% of the time. While I love the look of styled hair I have a health condition that makes doing that kind of work with my hands challenging, if the time ever comes he wants to do that (and I would love it) we’ll be finding a great barber.


If you’ve actually made it to the end of the page just remember, hats are the universe’s answer to bad hair days and if you’re a mom of your own curly haired boy and you’ve blogged about your routine or your favorite products would you please leave a link in the comments? I’m always up for a reason to buy and try out new hair products. Thank you!