Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Story of Her Name

Tuesday morning, October 14th, I sat through my weekly ultrasound to check my fluid and check the baby's movements. I watched the technician try over and over to find some pockets of fluid to measure.  When she couldn't, I knew it wasn't good.  

A few minutes later, my doctor brought me into a room, and didn't want to check my blood pressure or dilation, she just wanted to talk.  My fluid had dropped quite a bit since the last week and she felt that it was time for us to meet our baby girl.  There was too much risk for a stillborn birth for us to wait any longer, so she wanted me to head to the hospital.  Now.  

Even though I was full-term at thirty-eight and a half weeks, the news still threw me for a loop.  Most likely, it was the urgency in the doctors voice and the words, "we don't want her to be stillborn," ringing in my ears.  

I convinced the doctor to let me go home, gather my things (aka "actually pack my hospital bag"), and be able to kiss the boys before we headed to the hospital.  In tears, I called Brian, to let him know it was go-time.  

We were on the way to the hospital an hour later.  In relatively quick fashion, our daughter entered the world eight hours later after making her mama push for four hours.  

We'd love to introduce you to Carson Elizabeth Word.  

As with all of our children, her middle name is what holds the most meaning.  Carson was a name that I have just loved and felt would fit well with our last name.  Her middle name holds a sweet reminder of God's hand on her story. 

If you have followed our story for any length of time, you know that adoption was always going to be a part of the way we formed our family.  So much so, that after our first anniversary, we decided to start growing our family through adoption and biologically at the same time.  Probably not the best plan, in hindsight, but it ended up that God intended for two little boys to join our family through international adoption and foster care first.  

Over those three years of the adoption journey, we continued to try adding to our family biologically, but it just didn't happen.  Initial tests didn't indicate any large concerns as to why pregnancy wasn't occurring and we had made the very personal decision early on in our marriage that we would not pursue in-depth fertility measures to help us get pregnant. 

Yet, there were still moments when the tears and the questions came.  As we watched our friends add one child and then another to their families, we were struggling in the wait.  Brian and I were sitting in the deep unknown of the foster process, in a holding pattern with our international adoption, and reminded month after month that we could not conceive. 

And then, in the spring of 2013, just after bringing Tyson home from the DRC, something happened that has not occurred in my life before.  It was so crazy and abnormal that I didn't share it with anyone at that point, even Brian.  

For one of the few times in my life, I heard very clearly from God.  Not in a booming, fireworks in the sky kind of way, but in a whisper.

And it was that we would have another child when I was thirty-seven.  This time it would be through pregnancy.

Like I said, weird beyond weird.  

As I've shared before, I'm a natural cynic and a skeptic, but this was so clear and spoken so intimately to me that I didn't question it.  I just held it close and clung to it tightly.  

In the summer of 2013, a few months after all this happened, Brian and I sat on our couch and he asked when and if we should start the adoption process again.  (Clearly, we were sleep deprived to be discussing this topic, with two under two boys at that point.) At that moment, through my tears, I shared with him the promise that the Lord had given to me.  He listened and thankfully didn't question it, but I don't necessarily know that he quite believed it either. 

Fast forward to this past February, when I walked out into our living room, wide-eyed and holding a positive pregnancy test.  

We had just moved to a new state, into our new house that weekend, and were in the midst of one of the craziest times in our lives.  And we were pregnant. 

On October 14th, 2014, Carson Elizabeth Word was born.  Her mama turned thirty-seven this past June. 

Elizabeth means "God's promise," and we felt there was no better fitting middle name for our precious gift. 

I'm continually in awe of the way God has woven the story of our family.  Most days are hard and loud and chaotic, but they are so obviously orchestrated by the One who knows what we need.  

Humbled and grateful for these three gifts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things: Baby and Toddler Edition

I'm at 34 weeks today with Little Miss.  (Keeping cooking in there, Baby Girl, please don't feel rushed.)

Birth plan is completed, Brian knows what to do when I'm losing my mind during labor, and Little Miss finally has a name, (but it's a secret til she arrives.)

And her nursery is. . . currently in use by big brother. Until Tyson and Jayden can sleep in the same room again without having Wrestlemania every night, we've got Tyson sleeping in the nursery.

So her poor room currently looks a little disheveled. . .

Since I purchased new curtains right before we found out we were pregnant, I refuse to buy new ones. But they aren't light-blocking, so obviously, the next option is to drape older light-blocking curtains over them.  Super cute.
That's not even her crib. But that is a new mattress for her, and one day it will be out of the box, when we actually assemble the crib that is sitting in our garage.
One painting has been hanging since we moved in. So there's that.   The rest of the wall decor has been sitting on top of the dresser.  For a while.  One day, it will hang itself.  (And the lighting in these pictures is atrocious, I know. Third trimester mama doesn't care. :)

If you've never seen the boys' room, I have to share- it was already full of football awesomeness when we moved in.  Just hung Daddy's football jersey on the wall and it was done! 

Since I've started thinking about all things baby again, I wanted to share a few of my favorite things for babies and some items I'm using with the boys currently.  

1. Fisher Price Rock n' Play
This is where Jayden slept for the first few months of his life and he loved it.  He was snug as a bug and it was easily mobile and could travel anywhere. (Disclaimer: At one point there was a recall on the item, so do your research and see if it's for you.)  We are planning on using the Rock n' Play for Little Miss for the first few weeks, IF I can figure out where it is currently is hiding in our house. 

2. 12 Hours of Sleep by 12 Weeks of Age by Suzy Giordano  
The only book I completely read and then followed for sleep training my boys.  It's a short book and it was easy to understand and implement.  If you are a mom who likes routines and schedules, it's for you. We have had Jayden in our home since he was three weeks old and Tyson came home at 5 months.  I used this method on both the boys and they are great sleepers.  I believe a solid routine of sleep is one of the most important things for kids, as it is imperative in brain development and overall health.  The boys go to bed around 7pm each night and get up around 8am to 8:30am.  They nap for around two hours each afternoon.  It keeps Mama SANE.  Amen and Hallelujah.  

**I'm writing this with full knowledge that the feisty little girl I am carrying is made up of her mom and dad's iron will DNA and will most likely rebel against this said method.  I'll keep you updated. :) 

3.  Motorola MBP33 Baby Monitor and Camera
I realize that not everyone needs to watch their baby or toddler during naps or at night. But I have thoroughly appreciated having the ability to see when one of my two year-olds has lifted off the air conditioning grate once again and is about to put body parts or other inanimate objects down the hole. It also gives you the option of adding another camera, so you can watch two different rooms. It's expensive, but in our house, TOTALLY worth it.  

4.  OK to Wake Clock
For toddlers who have a hard time staying in bed once they open their eyes, this is a great option.  I set the clock each night and before nap time and when the clock turns a bright green light, Jayden is allowed to get up out of bed.  It is a simple concept and he doesn't have to understand time in order to follow directions. 

5.  Shea Moisture Mango and Carrot Extra-Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner
Basically, the best smelling stuff. Ever. You will annoy your children by burying your nose in their hair for long periods of time. I use this to wash the boys hair, which is typically just once or twice a week.  You can find Shea Moisture products at Target. 

6.  Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
On a daily basis, I put this curling creme in Tyson's hair, as his a softer texture and often grows a little longer than Jayden's. Again, it smells DIVINE.  If you put it in your child's hair, know that people will want to come and snuggle with them because they smell so good. 

7.  Rodan + Fields Soothe Regimen for Sensitive Skin
This is my new favorite for Jayden's eczema.  We have battled with this since he was really little and have tried SO many different over-the-counter lotions, creams, gels and also prescription steroid medication.  His little legs and elbows are always dealing with rough, itchy patches that leave discoloration and scarring.  I started him on this Regimen five days ago and it has already made a crazy difference in his skin.  It's not healed completely yet, but we are headed quickly in that direction and he isn't itching anymore.  Plus, it's really gentle, smells great, and is not a prescription medicine that can have other side effects.  

Five days into using the Soothe Regimen.  

Those are just a few of my favorite things! Now it's time to get two of my other favorite things up from their nap.  :) 

Have any favorite items you want to share? Especially when it comes to all things little girl? Leave a comment, I'm all ears! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

It Started With An Email

It's September! That means college football, boots, and pumpkin spiced everything. 

It's also the first month that I get to advocate and support a family currently in the adoption process.  Exciting! 

Let me introduce you to the Sykes Family. . .

Here's what makes them awesome.  Seriously awesome. 

In November of 2012, we were finalizing the last parts of Tyson's adoption.  It was just a matter of weeks before we'd be getting a call to travel to the DRC to bring our son home.  After two years of starts and stops, praying and hoping, it was almost time.  Even with two years of saving and fundraising, we were still going to be a few thousand dollars short of the last-minute plane flights and lodging costs while in country. 

Enter Jessica and Greg Sykes. 

I received an email from Jessica, a fellow adoptive mom and reader of the blog that November.  We had never met or communicated before, but she and her husband felt led to offer to do a fundraiser to help us with travel costs. 

In that following month, the Sykes hand-made hundreds of beautiful Christmas ornaments for our friends and family who ordered and shipped them all over the country.  Over $2,000 was raised through that fundraiser. Please, please, please read more about the story here.  It was one of the most humbling and amazing gifts we had been given while in the emotionally- tolling adoption process. 

A month later, I was able to hug their necks in person at the Atlanta airport as we re-entered the country with our new son. After twenty-five hours of plane flights, I'm sure our first conversation was filled with me mumbling incoherent sentences of appreciation for them. 

At the end of this month, Jessica and Greg will be traveling to another state to be at the birth of their second baby.  They are hopeful and nervous, and just like we were two years ago, getting ready to make last-minute travel plans as soon as they get the phone call.  The Sykes are currently raising the final funds to travel and stay in the state with their new baby for a few weeks while paperwork is completed. 

I am super honored and excited to highlight Jessica and Greg as the adoptive family that we will be donating toward this month!  They were the first family who came to my mind when I launched this business and the timing of their second adoption has worked perfectly. 

So, here's the deal. . .A percentage of the profits from all Rodan + Fields purchases (ordered through my website) in the month of September will go toward their adoption expenses.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, head here first.  

If you are looking for a new skin care routine or tired of dealing with consistent acne, sun damage, facial redness (eczema and rosacea) or fine lines and wrinkles, this is a GREAT month to try something new.  

It has been fun to see friends using the products and raving about the difference in their skin in just a few months. I'd love to answer any questions about the regimens, price point, or ingredients you may have.  Contact me at leslieharris77 (at) gmail (dot) com. 

This is not about to become a blog about a business, I can promise you this. But each month, I will be sharing about an opportunity to partner with a family through your purchase. 

Jessica and Greg came around our family at one of the most stressful times in the journey and blessed us immensely.  I am humbled to be able to play a small role as they welcome another sweet baby to their family.  

Would love to have you join me in blessing this amazing family! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Considering Adoption or Foster Care? (And the winner of the giveaway!)

Since moving to Asheville, we have had the privilege of again working with our church to help grow an adoption and foster care ministry. 

Over the past six months, we have seen door after door open with local foster care agencies who are willing and excited about partnering with our church to train families throughout the year. 

In the spring, three foster care agencies, one being a county agency and the other two private agencies, agreed to work together to teach the ten-week foster care training that was hosted in our church building. 

To watch three separate agencies put aside egos and agendas in order to meet the need of foster children in our surrounding counties was tremendously exciting. This just doesn't happen on a normal basis between state and private organizations.  Yet, we are seeing it happen and work in Western North Carolina.  

Over thirty families completed the training and are now being licensed by one of the three agencies.  This is encouraging and amazing news, especially because there is a shortage of viable foster families in our local area. 

This week, Brian and I will be starting a six week study for families considering foster care or adopting a child domestically or internationally.  It is so vital to work through scenarios, questions, and doubts when considering this journey.  I wanted to share a great resource that we will be using to facilitate the discussion with those who will be involved in our class. 

Pam Parish is a foster and adoptive mom who has written a thirty day devotional entitled: Ready or Not, 30 Days of Discovery for Foster and Adoptive Parents.   It's a resource that anyone can walk through; either as an individual, couple, or small group.  

I'm sharing this because it's difficult to find resources that ask the hard and direct questions families need to consider before fostering or adopting. 

Honestly, when we started the adoption process four years ago, I believed that adoption was for every family.  I've gotten a little wiser over time... and know now that this is not the case.  While I believe there should be MORE families stepping up to foster and adopt, I don't believe that it is for everyone.   

This book is a tool to help people walk through scripture and process through real-life scenarios and "what-ifs" with one another before beginning the process.  

If you are local to the Western North Carolina area, we would love for you to join us this Wednesday night, from 6:15-7:30pm at Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, North Carolina as we dive into this topic.  All are welcome

And a big thank you to all of you who entered the giveaway from last week's post! The winner of the Rodan + Fields Redefine Multi-Function Eye Cream is . . .

Traci Hudson!  
I'll get that out to you this week in the mail! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Questioning, Dreaming, and Launching

I'm a questioner.  That's probably not a word, but let's go with it. That's also a nice way of saying I'm a skeptic.

Before I agree to take part in an event, join a group, try something new, I question it, flip it over, turn it inside out, and examine the heck out of it.

I want to know where my money goes when I give. I want to understand the WHY behind how an organization works and operates.

I'm sure this is an endearing trait for those that have to deal with me. Or not.

Let me share a little story. 

This is my good friend, Robin.  (back when I was blond, we could have passed as sisters. Am I right???)

About a year ago, she started posting some pics of herself on Facebook.  No, not selfies, but more of some before and afters of her face. The reason I took notice was because we have really similar skin issues, (pale/freckled/prone to breakouts).  She had started using a product and actually was seeing her skin heal quickly.

I've been to plenty of dermatologists over the years and every time they prescribed something, I'd try it and never see any change.  And hello, why the heck was I still breaking out at 30???? I thought that was supposed to end the moment I left high school.  Such a letdown. And I'm not even going to go into the sun damage issues I'm now seeing on my skin...

Back to the pictures. I was intrigued, but let's be honest, with two toddlers running around, the last thing I thought I had time to focus on was me.  At this point in life, it's about quick, easy, and low-cost.  I dye my own hair out of box, shop the sale rack at Target , and buy dollar iced teas at McDonalds.

Because of that, I put off asking Robin about what she was using. But, here's the funny thing. My face kept getting all up in my business.  Every time I looked in the mirror, another brown spot would be waving at me, wrinkles were multiplying like rabbits, and those pesky pimples would keep popping up.  

I called Robin.

We talked and she told me about what she was using, a product called Unblemish from Rodan and Fields. I was skeptical. (Shocker). So I researched the company, the brand, and the product.  The more I read and learned, the more excited I got about the product and also the opportunity to even get behind the company.

Since moving to Asheville six months ago, I've become a full-time stay at home mom.  It's been SO needed for our family, and has given me uninteruppted time to invest in building stronger attachments with my boys.  It's also been the hardest dang thing I've ever done.  (Can I get an amen?)

While I've cherished this time I've had over the past months, I've also felt lost at moments, because there is a strong part of me that misses working outside the home. (There, I said it.)

There is also a HUGE part of me that has wanted to be able to do more in terms of advocating and helping families who are adopting.  Our journey to adopting Tyson was filled with friends, acquaintances, and even strangers stepping up and helping us raise the funds needed to bring him home. It was one of the biggest blessings of our lives.  I have been yearning to find an avenue in which I could minister to families in that same way.  

If you know me in "real life," you know that I'm not naturally a salesperson.  I'm not about gimmicks.  I am about sharing what I believe in, and if you've followed along the blog for even a little while, I'm normally talking about adoption, faith, and family.  

I'm taking a leap and sharing this with y'all because I am that confident in this company.  I truly believe in the way this product works and will be beneficial so many people. 

After months of dreaming and questioning and praying, I'm incredibly excited to announce that I am launching a new business as a Rodan + Fields consultant!  

Each month, 20% of my profits will be donated to a different family in the adoption process.  

I can't wait to get this ball rolling, so lets get this 
started off with a little giveaway!!!

Do you have a face? Skin? Perfect! You can play!

No strings. Five minutes. Learn more about which Rodan and Fields products can work for you.

Head over here and take a quick skin care analysis. Important: Finish the survey all the way to the end and enter your name/email.  You're entered to win the Multi-Function Eye Cream from the Redefine Regime! 

Have a friend that you think would be interested? Share this link on your facebook page or twitter and you'll receive another entry.  (Let me know by commenting below if you shared on social media.)

I'll pick a winner on Sunday Night at 8pm! 

Whether it's pesky wrinkles, sun damage, acne and blemishes, or sensitive skin like Rosacea and Eczema, these are products that can bring relief and healing to men and women.

We've all got one face to walk through life with - the question is what are you going to use to care for it? 

If you're a natural skeptic like me and have questions about the products or the company, shoot me an email at leslieharris77 (at) gmail (dot) com. Would love to chat more. 

If you are considering adopting or already an adoptive parent, I'd love to talk with you about some things I'm dreaming for this business.  Please email me.

Let's launch this thing! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Musings of a Hormonally-Imbalanced Pregnant Mom of Toddlers.

Oh, how I've missed writing.  

There are thoughts, (lots of them), swirling around in my head, but I just can't seem to formulate anything of substance these days. 

Perhaps, I'll blame it on the 2 pound, 14-ouncer who is currently holding my brain cells and ability to sleep for ransom.  She's a feisty one, this baby Word, and she's doing a number on her mama's rib cage and her ability to form complete thoughts. 

If it's two syllables and above an eighth grade vocabulary level, chances are, the word has exited my brain.  I've resorted to a type of charades when trying to get a point across to Brian because the words just won't come... and obviously, that kind of nonsense doesn't translate well to a blog post. 

Or maybe I'll blame it on my two, two-year olds who make up 90% of my interactions on a daily basis. The extent of my conversations throughout the day go something like this: 

Me: Jayden, do you need to pee-pee in the potty? 

Jayden: Me no want to. 

Me: I didn't ask if you wanted to, son, do you NEED to. You may not pee-pee in your underwear. 

Jayden: Me no pee-pee in my undawear.  Me no touch my poopy. Me no put poopy on my head.  

Me: Thank you for not touching your poop.  Let's try and go potty.  

And then there is the endless round of "Wheels on the Bus" that I am asked to sing ALL. THE. LIVELONG. DAY.  It's the extra lengthy, unedited version, which includes a separate verse about every single person in our extended family, various construction vehicles, and random farm animals.  

With a reduced vocabulary that revolves around snack time, going the potty, and phrases like, "don't sit on your brother's head," I'm limited in what I can write these days. 

But, let's not forget the hormones.  Ohhhhhhh, the hormones.  SO. MANY. FEELINGS.  Most are not good and rather ugly.  And I hesitate to write some days, because I'm afraid I'll look back five months from now and cringe at the hormonal rantings of a deranged woman in her third trimester. 

For now, the title of my blog rings scarily true, once again, as I'm waiting on a word, (or a bunch of words that when strung together make complete thoughts and full sentences.) 

Until then, I'll leave you with some pictures of our summer. Because who can resist super cute two-year olds? 


Jayden is our baby-whisperer... he LOVES all little ones and is so gentle.  
Let's hope the trend continues when baby sister arrives! 

Tyson turned two and seemingly got even cuter overnight. 

Miracle. Everyone was looking at the camera.  

Need to give Little Miss Thing her photo-op too. 
Making her appearance hopefully no earlier than October. :) 

And someone please confirm, the fully-functioning brain cells will come back after she's born.  Right? Right? 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Two Years Later: Reflections on Parenting an Older Teen (and Whether We'd Do It Again)

If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, then you are probably aware that we are  passionate about foster care, especially advocating for older children.

Two years ago, we became parents of an eighteen year-old young man who, while not in foster care at the time, could have easily classified for state services.  Since becoming a part of our family,  most of what I have shared on the blog have been celebrations of his achievements.  This past weekend, we watched TD walk across the stage and accept his high school diploma, a dream he had hoped to attain since walking into our house the very first day.  

I've chosen to highlight his achievements and accomplishments publicly because we have never wanted him to doubt how proud we are of how hard he has worked and persevered throughout his life.  

There have been few posts disclosing the difficulties and trials of raising him because it just wasn't appropriate in a public forum. Writing a blog that includes my family means that I walk a fine line on disclosure.  Yet, I never want to give the appearance that things are perfect and that we have it all together.  I want to be as honest and authentic with our reality as I can be while protecting my sons' individual stories. 

TD's story will never be mine to share, (unless he asks me to write it one day), but I can speak to our role in the relationship. The experiences of big smiles and celebrations shared in our pictures did occur, but there were many more days in our house where everyone was frustrated and annoyed.  We were constantly navigating this new territory with one another where boundaries were being laid, torn up, and reworked.

Anyone who tells you that parenting a teen who has been through trauma or loss is easy are big, fat liars.  This stuff is hard and downright messy and ridiculously humbling.

It should be. 

Parenting a teen from hard places WILL NOT look like parenting a child from birth.  That was the biggest lesson we learned along the way.

To expect a child who has not experienced stability for most of their life to respond to expectations and boundaries with obedience and joy is just unrealistic.

To expect a teen who has parented themselves (and potentially younger siblings) for most of their childhood to understand and accept how to be parented is setting everyone up for failure.

To expect a child to make choices and decisions based on your morals and values immediately is unfair to them.  Integrity and character are built over years.  They are formed in experience and fostered through trusting and loving relationships.  They don't happen over night.

Parenting a teen from trauma and loss takes time and commitment and a boatload of patience. It is understanding that the concept of "family" may be hard for them to grasp and to accept. It is about extending grace and redefining your preconceived storybook expectations. 

Many, many days we failed miserably.

To say that I often felt ill-equipped to speak into the life of a young man who had lived almost two decades in a context and culture foreign to me would be a colossal understatement. 

As parents, we were unqualified for the job. 

I write all of this because I want you to know the honest truth about parenting older teens.  And I also want you to hear this.

We would do it ALL. OVER. AGAIN.

Here's why . . .

Because 23,439 teens were emancipated from foster care last year with no family, no home, and no resources.

These are teens, who albeit, come from hard places, yet still long for a family and a support network.

I've written previously about the statistics for teens who "age out" of foster care.  They are grim.

This graphic illustrates the numbers from just this past year:

Every child deserves a family, a network, and a hope for their future.  It doesn't matter if they are eighteen or twenty-one, everyone needs to know there is someone in their corner.  

We have seen firsthand what stability, commitment, and love can do for teens from hard places.  It won't be a fairy-tale ending or a perfect story, but it will be an anchor for a child who has never had anyone fighting for them.  

Our son is now on his own, living two states away, looking for a job.  He knows that he has to choose to work hard in order to achieve his dreams.  BUT, he also knows we are a phone call away if he needs to talk, or vent, or glean advice.  

Teens aging out of foster care need what so many of us take for granted; someone to answer the phone when they call, a friend in their corner, a support system to help find housing and a job. 

The month of May is Foster Care Awareness month. As we close out the month, I beg you to research more about how you can play a role in the life of teen aging out of foster care.   

For those in Western North Carolina, please contact: 

Your local Department of Social Services


Please take a few minutes and watch this video to hear the stories, the pain, and the dreams of these young men and women who were emancipated from foster care. Poignant, beautiful, and full of hope.  

23,439 teens left the foster care system in the last year.  Their stories matter.  THEY matter. 

Choosing to invest in one of those lives WILL make a difference. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Whatever Your Path

I was hastily ushered into motherhood on a late November night in 2011.  I hadn't meant to become a mother so suddenly, but when my "yes" to whatever God had planned collided with a seven pound, three-week old baby boy in need of a foster home, my arms were open.

I was terrified, wishing desperately I had learned more about babies in my first three decades of life, and immediately enamored with the little one who had just entered my home.  

His future was unknown, as was length of stay in our family, but the minute I held him, I became a mother.  It didn't matter what anyone else thought, this little one, already transitioned too many times in his little life was my first son, and it wasn't because of DNA or matching last names. My entrance into motherhood was not found in any how-to books or manuals. It was messy and broken and filled with mistakes and missteps. It was learning to how to share this little life with the woman who brought him into the world, but wasn't able to care fully for him.  It was humbling and beautiful and it brought me to my knees in prayer and tears day after day.  

Our Jayden made me a mother.  Though he now carries my last name, I never needed that to feel as though he was a part of me.  That happened the moment I met him.

Our second son walked through the door on a July afternoon with a small bag, Xbox, and megawatt smile. He was supposed to stay a week, but he never left.  Seemingly overnight, I became the mother of a teenager who had almost lived two decades without me.  There were a lifetime of a memories, history, and family that I had not been a part of nor would ever experience.  Being his mom has humbled me in ways I never thought possible and has reminded me over and over and over that motherhood is not about my glory or fame.

Our TD made me a mother of a teenager. My inadequacy and insecurity as a parent became glaringly obvious as we navigated our new roles with each other. Yet, grace has prevailed and we continue to forgive, learn, and move on. He calls me by my first name and when out in public, strangers are always confused by our relationship.  But, my commitment to him isn't based on public approval and I have never needed to be called "Mom" in order to love him.   

Our third son was supposed to have been my first.  At least, according to the timeline we received in December of 2010 when  we began our international adoption journey. I never imagined I would gain two sons in the meantime and labored in heartache and fear over the unknowns of our process for two years.  

I met my five month-old baby boy in the humid, heavy air of Kinshasa, Congo.  He had already been loved by two mothers, including his foster mama who had nurtured and sacrificially loved him from almost birth. The culmination of two years of waiting, coupled with the knowledge that I would be removing him from everything he had ever known, simultaneously sent my heart soaring and broke it. 

Our Tyson made me a mother in the wait.  Long before I held him, I was his mother.  In the wee hours of the night I would lay awake, fervently praying for his health, his paperwork to come through, and for someone to love him until I could get there. I would have moved heaven and earth to get to him faster. When the timelines ever shifted and the days and months dragged on while a child waited across the ocean for their family, I was a mother.  Fierce and fighting and faithful. 

In five months, I'll be ushered into motherhood through biology. Surreal and terrifying, I have begun to imagine what our strong-willed, hard-headed DNA has created in this little one.  For the first time, I'll be a mother to a girl, and that alone is enough to bring me to my knees in prayer. 

Our baby girl will make me a first mother, a role I have never experienced.  With my boys, I hold dear the fact that they are loved and treasured by other women in their lives, both biological and foster.  I alone hold the enormous responsibility for this one growing inside me.  What an honor and a gift that carries an immense weight.  

My path to motherhood has not been traditional or followed a dictionary definition.  

Your path may not either.  

That's where I find joy and hope and freedom.  

Motherhood isn't meant to fill a cookie-cutter, June Cleaver identity.  It's more than diapers, play dates, carpool, and suburbia.  

Motherhood comes in the form of . . .


Kinship Care






Motherhood is investment, tears, hugs, failure, encouragement, discipline, waiting, hoping, and much, much prayer. 

There is no prescription or formula. 

It is a calling. And if you're called to role of motherhood, rest in the fact that it will be YOUR calling, no one else's.  

Some of the wisest mothers I know have never raised a child in their home. Yet, they have walked countless girls through some of the toughest seasons of their life through mentoring and time and prayer. 

Some of the fiercest and bravest mothers I know are still waiting for their children. They have yet to "parent" them in the normal sense of the word, but they are fighting with every ounce of energy and using every legal channel available to bring their children home. 

Some of the most involved and loyal mothers I know have never birthed a child, yet they are raising their nieces, nephews, and siblings with a devotion rarely seen.

So, if you've found that your path veers off from the rest, and when you wonder if what you're doing really matters. . .

Know that it does.  

Cling to your calling and celebrate your path.  

Happy Mother's Day. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A New Definition of Expectant

Unbeknownst to us, we carried a little extra cargo on our move to Asheville.

That cargo is due somewhere around mid-October 2014.

Friends have asked how our transition has been in our new city and home, and what I've shared is that we are loving our new little neighborhood, enjoying getting to know the members of our church better, and excited for spring and summer to hit in this beautiful city.

What I hadn't shared, up until this point, is that most of my days here have been spent trying to lay on the couch and not puke.  (Super easy with two extremely busy toddlers, obviously.) I haven't blogged or done much of anything, because good gracious, I'm also absurdly SLEEPY.

Elmo videos have been my unashamed co-parent this first trimester.  One day, I actually FELL ASLEEP while the boys were awake and playing.  I'll spare the details, but y'all, it was mayhem.

At thirteen weeks, I'm thankfully heading out of the rough patch, (hopefully), and onto the weird eating stage.  Currently, I'm all about eggs.  I made deviled eggs for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE the other days. Two dozen.  Slightly excessive due to the fact that only one other human eats them in our house.  But, when you eat four in one sitting, you can get through them kind of quickly.  

Yesterday, I made egg salad.  Eggs are awesome.

You know what else is awesome? We're having a baby! Adoption was always going to be a way that we formed our family, and we prayed that we'd be able to add biological children as well.  As years went on, we weren't sure that would happen.

This sweet little surprise is worth every middle of the night pee and every morning puke.

We are grateful and humbled at the opportunity to become parents again. 

At the beginning of January, I shared this post on the blog about my "Word of the Year."


Now, I wasn't prego at that point and it wasn't what I had in mind when I wrote it, BUT, due the way the past few months have unfolded, I HAVE already been thinking through my "Word" for next year.

"Wealthy" and "Powerball Winner" are two of my frontrunners. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Getting Settled

After spending two weeks in our temporary house, affectionately termed the "Jungle Boogie," we moved into our home last weekend. 

We love our little neighborhood, complete with wooded lots, quiet streets and teenage neighbors who actually still "play" outside.  More to come about it, but for now, here's a picture.  Is it not the cutest? 

A front porch! Swoon. 

Before we moved, my very talented friend, Suzanne Williams, yet again captured our family so beautifully in photos.  Jayden and Tyson were not thrilled at being forced to stand still and smile (TD really wasn't either), but she managed to get some great shots between the tears (Jayden and Tyson's - TD managed to hold it together.)  

I don't think there is much that makes me happier than family photos of my handsome men! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My First-Impression Disclaimer

I have a few wishes in life. 

One, that I would have a never-ending supply of Chick-fil-a unsweet tea on hand. (Extra lemon, of course.)

Two, that my husband would decide beach vacations were awesome and plan one every three months for me. (A girl can dream.)

Three, when meeting someone for the first time, I could hand them a, "First Impression Disclaimer." Nothing sketchy, like what someone gives you on the way to your car in the Target parking lot, (I'm talking to you, Jehovah Witness lady, who clearly thought I needed a dose of Jesus while wrangling a screaming toddler into a car seat.)

I'm thinking more along the lines of, "Hey, New Person that I just met, I'm not going to be able to work this into our initial conversation, but here's some helpful info to help you navigate our first communication experience." 

Since I don't currently have anything printed and I'm in the process of meeting a bazillion new people, it's time for a blog post about it. 

Here we go.  

1. My Unfortunate Resting Face - A Resting Face is just that, your face at rest. When not in conversation or consciously thinking about your expression, it's what your face naturally does.  Mine, unfortunately, looks like a cross between being extremely bored and slightly ticked off.  

So, if you see me across the room and I'm looking angry/bored/filled with angst, I promise I'm not.  Just working with the Resting Face the Good Lord gave me. 

2.  Awkward Hugger -  I grew up in NJ and we just didn't hug a lot of people other than family.  I moved to Atlanta after college and everyone hugged often and with reckless abandon. People I had just met, good friends, acquaintances; no one was off limits.  My roommates expected a hug when they came back in the apartment after taking out the trash. It was socially exhausting.

There are side-hugs, full-frontal tight hugs, full-frontal no body contact below the shoulder, hugs that require you to put your arms around shoulders, and hugs that require you to put your arms around waists.  

It's too much for my brain to handle most days.  I've determined that I often can't read a hug situation, so I end up side-hugging when someone goes in for a full-frontal and things get all kinds of weird.  Like I said, this is all helpful information.  

3. I'm Scraggly and Sweaty for a Reason.  Two reasons, actually.  Their names are Jayden and Tyson and they are eight months apart and absurdly cute and lovable. Which is to their benefit because caring for them is a bit like herding cats.  

There is a 105% chance that I will meet you directly after getting them changed, dressed, into carseats, out of carseats, and into a stroller.  And they really love being in a stroller. Except they don't.  So, they may be a little angry and wee bit squirmy, and I may be sweating and look a little lot frazzled. I used to have hours to get ready and my shoes matched and I didn't have cheerios stuck to my rear end.  But those days are over.  

So, there you go. 

At this point, if we haven't met yet, you may choose to leave me sitting alone with my angry, sweaty resting face.  But, I promise I'm kind of normal, and would love to get to know you.  It may help to come in for the hug slowly while talking me through the type of embrace you're hoping to achieve.  Everyone will be better off for it.  I promise.