Friday, January 27, 2012

Black Hair for the White Mom: Update

I have jumped right into the "hair world" lately.
Each of my children, whether Caucasian or African American, boy or girl, have very different
hair textures and lengths.

Because of this, the number and variety of products, combs, and brushes at our house is crazy.
This is most of them...not including my own stash for this unruly hair of mine.
See my big tote with 7 is always filled to the top with bows, 
rubber bands, headbands, barrettes, etc.
We also have bow organizer filled with the more special/handmade "pretties."
(Tricia makes and sells the bows, headbands, and organizers HERE.)

Since my first post almost a year ago, about doing JJ and CM's hair,
I dare say that I have made some progress.

I have a lovely friend who graciously gives advice and taught me a few things when
she did CM's hair for me once.

I also came across a great website called Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care.  
You have to check it out.
(Given my love for word plays and puns, I think the name is great.)

This mom has skills, not just with hair but also with skin care.
She also gives detailed instructions and video demonstrations.

On her Facebook page, moms post pictures and questions and women of
every race seem to rally to help and give suggestions.
Cool resource.

My biggest hurdle now is TIME.
I need more of it.
Getting four girls detangled and styled, plus gluing down poor PT's cowlicks could be a part-time job.
I am getting better and it is getting quicker.
But if you see that my hair is a mess, you know why...
who wants to spend time on their own hair after all of that?

Friday, January 20, 2012

3 Sets of Pretty PJ's

Aren't these cute!

Wish I could show you their faces because they are loving their ballerina pj's from Walmart.
Notice that the ballerinas are of various shades of skin color which is hard to find.

These girls have made so much progress adjusting to each other lately.
Believe me, they still are a handful but now they spend more time as
best friend then enemies...

Best Frenemies of a sort.

Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

3 Strange Conversations

Stranger says, "What are the ages of your kids?"
My reply:  "9, 7, 4-3-2"
She says, "Wow.  You have like a zip code of children!"

Watch out comes 97432.


I was walking (in the freezing cold) with our oldest as she went door to door selling Girl Scout Cookies.
A woman and her two teenage daughters were walking 5 dogs.
I said hello and I told her that if she needs some cookies she could let us know.
Her instant response was to tell me that while she was interested in buying some,
her family is actually involved in American Heritage Girls.
Then she launched (very sweetly, I might add) into, 
"Have you heard of the AHGs?  Do you know the difference?"
I redirected to cookie talk.
Then she went on to say that the main difference will be noticed in the older grades where there is more emphasis on feminism...also on what they teach about how you behave with the
opposite sex.
She didn't know that I was one of the troop's leaders.
She also didn't know that I have no intention of overstepping my bounds in teaching other girls what I feel is the main responsibility of their parents.
Heck, I don't even know if we will still be involved in a couple of years.
I heard my inside voice say something like this, "I see your daughters have their own dog walking business...isn't that a little of feminism at it's best."
 "Thanks lady, but I am just out here in the freezing cold so that my daughter can sell some cookies.  We simply want to go camping with some of the profits and we plan to donate 10% to charity."

First off, let me be very clear, I didn't debate because I was so darn cold I don't have a 
personal problem with AHG.
I don't really know enough of the higher level politics of either organization 
and I plan to keep it that way for now.
I have heard some comments/allegations that people have made about Girl Scouts that I don't agree with, but I am sure that it is possible that it goes both ways.
For now, Girl Scouts is a great way for L to connect with school friends in a positive way.

Meanwhile, we'll be going fun places, doing some service work, and making good friends.
Oh, and selling some overpriced yet very yummy cookies.


I posted this on Facebook yesterday so sorry for the duplicate but it cracked me up.

During breakfast, CM said, "Mommy, do you want to have some cereal too?"
J chimed in (very matter-of-factly), "No.  Mommy eats in the car."

Anyone else need to give themselves more time in the morning?

More at a later time in a future post called, "Walmart Wisdom."
Have a great day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Am Living It

"I have a dream that... one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream.

I am living it.

May the progress continue for all people.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When The Fight Ain't Fair...Mom vs. Mom

 Stay at home mom (SAHM) vs. work outside the home mom (MOHM) vs. work inside the home mom (WIHM) vs. part-time working mom (PTWM) vs. SAHM while kids are at school
breastfeeding mom vs. formula feeding mom
organic mom vs. non organic mom
homeschooling mom vs. private school mom vs.public school mom
mom with resources vs. mom without resources
single mom vs. mom with a partner

You get the point.
Anyone out there found themselves being drawn into a mom comparison?
Maybe subconsciously or consciously making a judgement?
Keeping score, just a little bit?
I am ashamed to admit, but my answer to these questions is "Yes, sometimes."
Obviously we all have had to do some debating of the issues so that we can make decisions for our own families, but it doesn't mean that we have to get all "judgey-judgey ."

You see, all of those titles end in "mom."  
We all are trying our best not to screw up the ones we love the most.
We all are making some mistakes.
We basically are wasting our time and energy "fighting" about it because the way I see it,
the fight ain't fair.
There are some of us are at home but we have a ton of kids and the family demands are intense. 
There are some who work outside the home, but their job is very stressful and they'd like to be at home more.
Some love their job and have found a good balance. 
There are some who have a rock-star partner to share the burden.
Some have children with special needs, live in poverty, have career talents and dreams that can't or shouldn't be ignored, some have or hire help, some volunteer, some eat bon-bons (just kidding).

The fight ain't fair because all of our circumstances and children are different. 
We each also have...
 a certain tolerance for stress/chaos, 
certain financial needs and wants,
personal beliefs and convictions,
different size families and children with varied educational and social needs, 
varied goals in general.

Some moms have it very difficult all of the time
struggling to feed their family and pay bills,
trying to make a sick child well,
trying to meet a child's special needs physically, educationally, and/or emotionally,
trying to be present and find balance at home and at work.
Again, you get the point.
I just think that this battle is mostly  between women. 
I doubt the mom debates are published in Maxim or GQ.  
We, women, are buying the garbage.  
We, women, are perpetuating it.

As I chastise myself for my part in this, I realize the times I become the most "judgey-judgey" is when someone is not respectful of my time.  I generally don't think about these issues at all unless someone
 for example, comes to me while I am leading their child in an activity and acts like I am putting them out because they are "so busy." or when someone asks for my help but uses my time in a wasteful way.  I can feel myself wanting to list my burdens as well, but I stop myself. 
I bet I have done the same thing.  Shame on me.  

After all, I am living in chaos of my own making. 
I am blessed enough to have had choices regarding my work situation and the financial truth that follows. 
Grandma watches the kids while I work part-time.  Can you say blessing!
I have a wonderful partner in crime who really shares responsibilities with me.
I have chosen close and supportive friends, who have stuck with me (thanks).
I chose to have a lot of kids.
By being home, mostly, I can chose to do laundry during the day or go to the gym.
I chose to be a mom by biology and through foster care/adoption and all that comes with that.
I chose to volunteer for certain things and opt out of others.
I have a faith in God's help and guidance.
I have chosen to write this post instead of cleaning up my house or prepping dinner.

The key here is choice.  
Sometimes I don't have a choice.  
I have little choice regarding the medical conditions, educational strengths and weaknesses, therapy needs, and multiple appointments our family has.
I do have a choice on how I perceive it.  
I feel like the best way is to not add comparison to the internal fight that already isn't fair.  
I never feel better when I have found myself guilty of it.
I am blessed to actually have choices at all.

So here's to hoping your choices are working for you and that your struggles will be manageable.
Also here's to me airing my transgressions and hoping if I've done it to you, please forgive me :)
Uh oh, two of my little "choices" are about to wake up so I have to run.

Keep an eye out for a post about this debate on Take 10 With Tricia, later this week after she watches tomorrow's episode of Anderson, on DVR.  It is supposed to be about Mommy Wars of some kind.



Monday, January 9, 2012

How do I answer that?

Children in foster care sometimes have complicated pasts and beginnings.
We are discovering some of the questions asked in our home and out in public are a
little hard to answer, already.

I wanted to document some questions we have heard from our children and those around us.
You might have some of the same questions.

Are they all yours?
"Yep, we are very blessed."  (Plain a simple.)

Did you adopt them?  Are those your biological children?"
If you are a stranger I want to say, "How did you conceive your children?"
"None-ya...none-ya business."

The nosy stare, with no question.
If the stare becomes uncomfortable I smile and say, "They look just like me don't they?"

Do they have the same dad?
Again, a bit personal so I wish to say, "Yes and they all have the same mom too.  You are looking at her."
But I usually simply say, "Yes."

Did the mom use drugs?
"We really don't discuss their birth family."
What I want to add, "No, and not every birth parent is a drug user and even if she was, do you think asking that around my kids is appropriate."

Where is their birth parents?
"We really don't discuss their birth family.  We feel it is their story to tell some day."
More on birth parents in a later post.

What if they take them away/you don't get to adopt them?  I could never handle that.
"You'll find me on a bar stool somewhere (I say with a grin.) but we are very hopeful it will work out." 
But honestly, we feel like God wouldn't put this in our hearts if he weren't prepared to help us see it through.
Also, one of the lawyers once told me that a good day is never wasted especially for a child in foster care, so I do worry and pray for a finalization but I try to keep that in mind.

Who does their hair?
I am now happy to say, "I do."
I am getting pretty good at two strand twists and puffs.
I have come along way from my first post about Black Hair for the White Mom.
I hope to learn a few more styles soon from my dear friend, G.

Are you crazy?
"A little bit, but I was before children."
It's Almost Naptime, blogged about it HERE in regards to her plans for an international adoption.
She found herself replying, "Because I just can't stand the thought of kids in orphanages."
We both felt a call to adopt a long time ago and here we are.  It is not
for everyone but it is for us.
Mr. Anderson of the Anderson Crew wrote about obeying a call even when we don't fully understand the how's and why's.  Check it out HERE.

How do you do it with five?
Lots of people have more kids than me and do a much better job.  Five is just becoming my new normal just like two used to be my "normal."  I jokingly told one woman, "I drink."  Not true but it made us both laugh.  I told another that,  "I yell a lot and sometimes I cry." (This may or may not be true on any given day.)  I get stressed and overwhelmed.  However, I am trying to perceive it as being "overcome by blessings" vs. "stressed" but I haven't consistently gotten there quite yet. 

Where are they from?
I usually get a weird look.  Maybe people assume that we adopted internationally.  No harm done.
Is adoption expensive?
It can be, however, adoption through foster care costs little to nothing.

Now for questions our kids have asked...
(These are usually the hardest!)

What does foster care mean?
"It means that we will love and care for children who need a family for as long as they need us."

Why can't kids live with their birth families?
"Sometimes parents have trouble keeping themselves and their children safe 
and healthy so they need others to help."
(This answer is over simplified, I know.  We will need to expand our answer when it is age appropriate.)

Did I come out of your belly too?
"Nope.  Some of the kids in this family came out of my belly and some did not but God has brought us all together to be a family."

General questions about coming to us from another home for CM are by far the hardest.  We completely value the biological connection that our youngest girls share but we do not want to send a message that being biological siblings is the most important thing. We do not want a conscious or subconscious divide of 3 vs. 2.  
We have talked about birth parents and (foster) families that love and care for us until we are together with our forever families.  I often say to her, "It is a little hard to understand and you can ask me about it any time."
When she looks sad I tell her that it is okay to be sad and it is okay to miss the people she loves 
and that they love and miss her too.  

The question that hit the hardest...
As we were driving along and having a great time, CM asked, "When is ____ going to pick me up?"
How quickly we forget that 3 year olds don't grasp time yet.

While adoption, or more accurately, our dream of adopting soon is something we are very passionate about, we are careful not to forget that there can be many losses that occur when a family is built this way.
We are just thrilled to have all of us together and are hopeful for 2012 to be the year of finalizations.

I know that I will and have made mistakes so we pray for help answering the
hard questions as they come up along the way.

Feel free to ask questions and I will answer them as honestly as I can. 
I have no problem talking to good intentioned people about foster care or adoption.  
I am passionate about it and I'd love to see more people consider it or understand it.
I am, however, very careful when my children are listening.
So fire away.

Also, I just came across my 2009 post about Mixed Responses to Foster Care and Adoption.
It was before we got a our beautiful JJ.  Wow, that feels like so long ago.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why is your head mad?

 I was putting CM to bed the other night and I was having trouble finding the story
that she had asked me to read. 

As I looked through the book she said, "Momma, why are you mad?".
I was little surprised and replied, "I am not mad, honey."
As I went back to flipping through the pages she pointed to my forehead and sweetly said,
"Then why is your head mad?"

She was pointing at my wrinkles!!
Momma needs some Botox, my friends.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sound Machine

During our overnight to Great Wolf Lodge, H shared a bed with PT 
and this was their conversation the next morning.

 Dad: "Did I snore last night?"
PT:  "Yes."
Dad: "I am sorry buddy."
PT: "Don't worry Dad.  You were like my sound machine."

My kids love their sound machines and that kid loves his dad.
PT made sure Dad didn't feel too bad for snoring.
(Now, he would have probably just made fun of me, but I'm not bitter.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Great Wolf Lodge

Did you enjoy your holidays with a few too many cookies?
Extra helping of pie?
Pants feeling a little tight?
Wanting to join the millions of others with a weight loss resolution?

Well let me tell you how to get your weight loss started...
Put on a bathing suit and spend two days at Great Wolf Lodge with your family.
Oh how I dislike my body in a bathing suit, but we had a great time!
Let me back up a bit.  Our family tradition for Christmas is that Santa brings an unwrapped gift and fills stockings.  The hubby and I get each child three gifts in three-Wise men-style.
This year as their third gift, I filled up a package with inexpensive games and crafts...and a note.
The note talked about what a gift it is to have us ALL together this year and how much fun family time is.
Then the note revealed the family's third (shared) gift (thank you sooo much Groupon)...
An overnight to Great Wolf Lodge!!
(They screamed with excitement and I loved it.)
Let me tell you friends, it was worth it.   
The room rocked and there was enough room for all seven of us to be comfortable.  Check it out HERE
It is called the Loft Fireplace Suite.
It had two levels, 3 queen beds, 1 and a half baths, fridge, microwave, balcony, wet bar area,
living area, and 3 TV's.
(I actually had to double check that it was covered under the Groupon because it seemed
too nice to be part of the deal.)
Here are some of my favorite and least favorite things about our visit.

1) No one had a near drowning. I didn't lose misplace any of the littles. There was enough fun stuff for everyone to do despite their age or height. My 9 and 7 year olds did pretty much everything together and checked in with us frequently, while H and I played with the three little ones.
I must confess at one point, I pushed helped JJ down a small slide which resulted in terror and a bit of crying when Daddy caught her at the bottom. The rest of the time she and CM entertained themselves mostly splashing in shallow water while J loved the slides and wave pool.

2) Free pack-n-play, microwave, and refrigerator in the large two-level suite.  We packed fruit, snacks, juice boxes, and cereal bars which cut down on food purchases.

3)  Check-in at 4 pm and check out is the next day at 11am, yet you can start swimming at 1pm on the day of check-in and until close on the day of check-out.

4) Wristband also doubles as the room key so you don't have to carry around a key...just don't lose that stinkin' bracelet.

5) Groupon deal also included lunch (pizza, breadsticks, 2-liter of pop, and large salad), which fed us all with leftovers.  Probably a $30 or more value.

6) Towel and life jackets are provided.

7) Storytime each night and planned daily activities in the hotel lobby.

8) Hubs and 9 year old LOVED the water coaster where they say you "actually go faster when you are going up."  This apparently was crazy-fast!

9) Our trip was Monday to Tuesday, and Tuesdays are a slow day for the park so not very crowded plus most kids were back in school.  Luck us, our kids didn't go back until Wednesday.

10) CLEAN!


1) Can you say $8 kids meal NOT INCLUDING a drink?  Rip off.  We went off site to eat dinner for this reason.

2) $10 for a locker for one day or $20 for both days.

3) I wish they had some clocks in the waterpark area so that you know what time it is, since my phone was in the very expensive locker...see above.

So as you see, we consider the trip a success.  I would go back, definitely but I wouldn't pay full price because it can get quite expensive. 
Again, thank you Groupon for this great family mini-vacation.

Check out Great Wolf Lodge locations on their website HERE.