Category Archives: Epiphiany

Tweaking Us

Holden successfully completed his first year of college and arrived home sicker than a dog. His temp spiking as his body sought to recover from the enormous lack of sleep, poor food choices and long hours of studying for finals. He looked haggard, and it was difficult to understand him because his voice was almost gone. As soon as Holden was in his own bed, the sleep that eluded him came fast. He slept like a baby and became healthy again.

He arrived home sans his vast collection of nasty looking high tops. Also missing were the all-too-low-riding jeans, shorts and pants (“saggers”). During his first year of college he morphed into a prepster and now wears items like whales on his ties, sailboat adorned red shorts, slim above-the-butt properly fitting brightly colored pants, polos, and Sperrys. My, my, my…

When we left him at college last August Holden was madly in love with rap and hip-hop. His musical tastes broadened; he became a raving country fan. He attended the Brad Paisley concert the other night.

It’s cool. We’ve been preppy. We enjoy country.

Holden has been fortunate to secure fulltime summer employment (achieved when home during spring break). The hours are long, but the pay is fair. With driving, he’s gone for twelve hours long, so I don’t see him much. The “missing” I felt while he was away at college hasn’t fully abated.

Warned, I was ready for his newly expanded independence. Well, I thought I was.


How wrong I was.

Having a child home after they’ve been away for an extended time is an adjustment, for everyone. We have to become used to being physically together again and work through and come to an agreement about the expectations, rules and checking-in that are part of being a cohesive, connected and thoughtful family unit.

We’re tweaking us as the family dynamics change. When to step up, when to step back. The “dance” has changed. I still get to do Holden’s laundry and make his lunch. So far, so good…


Filed under Epiphiany, Family, Growing Tweens & Teens, Rite of Passage, The International Mom

Listen to Me!

Occasionally I do other activities besides mommying, writing and teaching. Sometimes I write and micro-publish an internationally selling book. Sometimes I get to speak and conduct workshops—about parenting, adoption and writing. Sometimes I’m invited to do radio or live streaming shows—about parenting or adoption. Sometimes my expertise is requested for national parenting publications or well-respected newspapers.

Sometimes I get to do something completely new and so special. Such is the case in a week and a half, when I’ll be reading one of my favorite personal essays in Listen To Your Mother—a show dedicated to mothers and motherhood. My whole crew will be in the looks-to-be-a-sold-out-audience to hear me and thirteen other remarkable women read.

I will be honored to share G’s story, not his story of course, because that is his to share, but the one of how we knew of him. He’s heard it, but not in this way. I hope this will be further affirmation for him… That he is where he is supposed to be. That he is indeed loved beyond what this fallible human mother can express. And that the fact that he was adopted, and the circumstances of his story, enriches this love. I hope he’ll really hear me and begin to understand the significance of what I will share.

Listen To Your Mother, a national series of live readings by local writers in ten cities across the U.S., kicked last night (Sunday, April 29th) with shows in Austin and Northwest Arkansas. Born of the creative work of mothers who publish online (and elsewhere, in my case…) each production is directed, produced and performed by local communities for local communities. I’m thrilled to be part of the Northwest Indiana cast.

From the Listen To Your Mother Northwest Indiana site:

Listen To Your Mother is…

“Vulnerable and beautiful stories about mothers and motherhood shared from unique and powerful perspectives.”– Judy Miller

It was the night of our first cast reading. We gathered together in an art room in the back of rTrail Collective Edge in downtown Valparaiso. Brenda had planned an awesome spread from Meditrina Market Cafe, and wine, which really helped any jitters and nerves we all had; most of the cast was meeting for the first time.

We put our chairs in a circle and read, and there were laughs… oh, were there laughs. And there was quiet and awe. There were tears and understanding, and it was magnificent.

“What an incredible and diverse group of women, each with a unique story to share!” – Carrie Steinweg

“With every reading, I was captivated from start to finish.” – Julia Huisman

 “Listening to each person…we were all mothers or daughters…different times and different lives…laughing and crying.  Different, yet all the same. ” – Alice Harrington

If you are in the region I hope you will consider joining us at the historical Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso, IN on Thursday May 10th at 7PM and be a part of one very spectacular and unforgettable evening. At this posting there are still some tickets available for our show.

Part of LTYM’s mission is for each show to contribute financially to non-profit organizations supporting families in need.  This year LTYM: Northwest Indiana is proud to give 10% of our ticket proceeds to The Caring Place, a service and shelter for families and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Through education and awareness, The Caring Place hopes to empower all members of the Northwest Indiana community to live in peace.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Claiming, Epiphiany, Events, Guatemala, Multicultural Families, Parenting, The International Mom, Writing

Reflecting on Non-Necessities: Toys

I had another post ready, but a graphic on another site, as well as the ensuing chat on Twitter today (#pschat), grabbed my attention. If only because it’s a general testament to what American parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends feel we should “gift” to children. Among some of the interesting information researched and shared:

  • Despite the fact that the U.S. has less than the 4% of the world’s population, we purchased more than 40% of the manufactured toys
  • During the 2009-10 recession supermarket spending dropped .5% while toy sales grew 2%.

Although I miss when my kids were younger, I don’t miss the crap and clutter—all of the parts and pieces of their toys, the extra accessories we felt compelled to purchase because they made the play experience that much more meaningful—that surrounded them and filled up every nook and cranny of our home. Every time we purged our basement and the kids’ rooms of toys, more entered our humble abode, lovingly given to our kids by others and us. With four kids, it was kinda crazy.

At this point the toys are gone, long forgotten for the most part. The kids focus on sports, nature, their pets, social-interaction with peers, board games and cards with us and each other, and an occasional game of hoops in the driveway. I however have a few keen memoires of their toys, one type in particular.

J loved them—Polly Pockets™—a marvel for young ones’ finger dexterity. We quickly accumulated hordes of the cute, malleable pea-and-less-sized parts. I remember my daughter’s frustration of not being able to stretch the darned dresses over the dolls’ torsos and shoes over their little feet. Sometimes their wiglets fell off. My patience was tested too—between assisting her as she dressed the three-inch dolls in rubber and cleaning out what I had sucked up with the vacuum.

The highlight and end of Polly Pockets™ in our home was an emergency run when A was two-years-old. Unknown to me, it seems someone visiting left the box of teeny-tiny stuff open. My child, still fascinated with putting things in her orifices, stuck a pair of Polly Pockets™ pink, mirrored-wraparound sunglasses up her sweet little nose. A couldn’t get the offending accessory out. Blowing her nose only produced an impressive amount of boogers.

The pediatric ER docs sprayed a good dose of phenylephrine up her nose to shrink the swelling. My daughter sneezed them out just before the docs were going to have a go with the alligator forceps. The docs reported that the sunglasses were in fact the largest obstruction they had seen in a wee one’s nose (a proud “mom moment” for me, let me tell you). The Polly Pockets™ became “history” shortly after we arrived home.

Go check out the infographic that Jason, Frugal Dad, created. I continue to reflect, with amazement, on the many toys that once graced our home. Countless dollars spent by us and others, and I’m glad that we gradually became adept at reducing “need to have” and “I want.” Still, I wish we had done it far earlier. Many were recycled—to other children, to orphanages and school children in other countries, to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. But still, I think as a parent I could have, should have done better…


Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Epiphiany, The International Mom