Friday, November 20, 2015

Pantless. For Dressember.

I've got about a week left of pants and skirts and jeans before I start my second go-around with Dressember.  I even got my pins in the mail today!  (If you're already on my team--I've got one for you!)

If you're not aware of Dressember you can check out their site here……
And even better, you can watch the founder of Dressember detail this growing movement below. She is fabulously well spoken and convincing.

I was amazed with Dressember last year.  I'd thought about backing out at the last minute on account of having a three week old and being on a maternity leave and not having the motivation of getting dressed for work propel me towards the dresses in my closet.  But I did some serious self-talk and acknowledged the fact that Dressember wasn't about getting dressed up in fun dresses for the month (the two sweatshirt dresses from last year that were worn at least every other day can attest to that) but about raising money and awareness for the hundreds of thousands of women and children and men too who are trapped in situations around the world where they're enslaved to someone against their will.  

I've typed line after line here about how the known and unknown atrocities that these individuals face on a daily basis--so many of them being children--make me feel and I've deleted them all.  They're all trivial and pale in comparison and can't touch how devastating these crimes really are.  What I can do though is participate in this movement during December.  The money Dressember raises through their worldwide efforts is split between two grant partners; International Justice Mission and A21.  Both of these organizations use their funds to train local law enforcement agencies around the world to bring to justice the criminals that perpetrate these horrendous acts and to rehabilitate rescued victims.  

If you're interested in joining our team: 

-Click here…..
-Follow the directions listed and when you get to the page that asks if you'd like to join a team you can search for my team…."For all the girls." 
-Let me know the you've joined my team!
-Share our team page (or your individual fund-raising page) with friends and family to see if they might be interested in donating to the team.  

If you can't commit to a team this year but want to help Dressember raise money (their goal is 1 million this year!!) I'd love it if you'd consider donating through my team page.  I've set my team goal at $1000.  

I'm really excited to see the amazing things Dressember accomplishes next month.  Their efforts are gaining momentum every year and the power of collaboration is palpable!  

So here's to a few more days of jeans…..and then bring on the tights.  
Brrrr.  Michigan.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

One Year. One WHOLE year.

Crosby is one today.
I have to let that sit in.  ONE.  ONE.  ONE.

It's breathtaking how fast this year has come and gone and how fast our lives changed last November 10th with no warning and no time to think about saying yes or no -- just….we'll be there at noon tomorrow-- to this amazing little man who was already born when we found out about him.

Wait--we had twenty minutes--let me be transparent.

It's so strange to think back to that sheer panic inducing moment standing at my kitchen island talking to my social worker on the phone as she was ordering food from the KFC drive-thru because her day had been as crazy as mine was about to become.

We'd always heard about these "alleged" adoptions that happen at the last minute with no warning and never for one minute thought that would happen with us.  That's always a dumb assumption--because thinking something will never happen to you pretty much seals the deal that it will.  And I could keep going with this train of thought--but if you've been around here a while you know the story.  If not, you can read about it here.


I've written here less this year than I ever intended to.  For no poignant reason really.  Unless you consider being tired, and somewhat lazy, and having a newborn, and needing to binge watch Blacklist last winter, and laundry, and playing on the floor with a baby and a first grader, and really enjoying my part-time job at school, and reading some good books, and hanging out with my husband, and playing outside poignant.  I'm sure I could write a post about how all of that is poignant and moving but it really wasn't an intentional decision…..and that's left me feeling all those panicky feelings of scarcity and un-intended apathy that I can't stand.  I worry that I've chronicled less of Crosby's first year here than I wanted to, and those thoughts that I'm so sure I can hold on tightly to in my head will slowly start to dissipate.

But when you're a mom and you know the paralyzing love a baby brings on you know there are just some things about your baby you'll never forget……….

Like how Crosby points at everything and yells for you to hand it to him--even though we've never been convinced yet to hand him a pair of scissors, a tube of red lipstick, or a hot straightening iron.

Like how he puts his hands in the air and sways all soulful to music.  Even better--how pumped he gets when he can see that we're about to turn on the music and he's getting his moves ready.

Like when he cranes his neck down to look you straight in the eye if you're not looking directly at him…..and he's starting to say "hi" when he does it which is truly awesome.

Or how about when he hugs the stuffed animal dog whose nose turns red when it "sneezes," and only when the nose turns red--and not a second earlier.

And how he holds his hand to his ear whenever he hears the phone ring like he's talking on the phone.

And how when he hears us laughing about something he interjects his own laugh just to be part of the group.

And the smooshy.  Smoosh has become the best verb in our house.  You're happy about something……smoosh.  Something is delicious? Smoosh.  It's stupid--sure.  But when Crosby started smiling the smooshy smile--it changed our lives.  We got a little nervous back in September because he stopped doing it for about three weeks…..and then….miraculously….it came back.

And you know how it is--this list is endless.

Crosby came so fast…..we didn't have time to really process this major life decision…..we just said yes.  And what we've learned by just saying yes is that sometimes when you do--without analyzing the situation to do death like we're so inclined to do as a culture is that you get to experience a truly authentic surprise and there are so few in life, and you get to experience the sacrificial love of your friends and family who rally around you and set up pack and plays at your house while you're gone, buy you diapers and wipes and clothes and formula, and help your mom with your other kid who's sick and show you how to accept help and love it, you get to come face to face with the realization that there is so little in our lives that we get to control and even when it doesn't feel okay it's making you a better person, and that when you think there's no way in the world you were cut out to be a boy mom you find out that being a boy mom is just as awesome as being a girl mom…..because……


oh, and this too….

Happy first birthday you incredible little boy.  You have been one of the best surprises and the best yes's ever to come our way.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Parenting is a Process.

Started this last weekend….finished it today.  Working on getting over some writer's block--the fall weather and a scented candle today are helping. 

This is for the moms of one who just became moms of two.  Who feel like they are missing something--because it's a lot harder than they thought it would be.  Not in terms of laundry or missed sleep or more chaos--but in that your heart hurts a little bit and you just can't come to terms with why….or say it out loud….because you feel like that smacks against everything everyone always told you about a second baby.  And it makes you feel guilty and sad…..and like something is just not clicking with you like it did for everyone else.  And by everyone else--I mean those liars or those people with short memories who are a year or two into more than an only child………..

As I type this, Chris and Georgia are sleeping in a tent in the basement.  Our unfinished basement.  Chris blew up an air mattress for G to sleep on and he's sleeping on some foam sheets and an old kitty cat body pillow that my mom made for me when I was about six.  It's absolutely 'glamping.'

You see….we normally go camping on Labor Day weekend, but this year we didn't because Crosby is crawling all over the place and crawling + dirt + fire pits + people and cars everywhere = one of the more un-relaxing ways to spend a weekend Chris and I could think of.  So we talked my parents into staying home this weekend and we headed to their house for a few days and Chris promised Georgia that they could camp in the basement tonight---our last official stay up late, it's still summer, night of the summer.

And she was pumped.  She didn't want me down there.  Just her and daddy.  Their bond has gotten tighter since Crosby was born and he's been able to meet her needs as she's adjusted to being a big sister and having someone else in the house to contend with in some ways that I haven't been able to over the last nine months; at least not as much as I've been used to.  On some days this bothers me and on other days I'm just so thankful that she has this incredible man to look up to and love like crazy and feel so protected by.

One of the hardest things about adding Crosby to the family has been juggling two kids emotionally.  I spent weeks laying in Georgia's bed with her last winter just wanting to be near her because I missed her.  I wanted to take care of Crosby and kiss him and breath in his new baby smell and not miss a minute of it but it left me feeling incredibly guilty.  Every time Georgia would hug me I'd cry, and mourn a little bit the fact that it wasn't just her and I anymore---this power team had been infiltrated.  And while I wanted  the infiltration and I couldn't imagine life any other way and I was so in love with this new little baby, I felt mad.  Mad at all the people who told me, "adding a second is easy--you won't even remember what it was like to only have one--your heart and your love just grow and it'll feel like it's always been that way."

You people?  You're all liars.  Or you have an incredibly different DNA make-up than I do.  Which I suppose now that I'm typing this is entirely more plausible.

But really--I want to be honest with you…you being people who haven't added a second yet and are riding that fence wondering how in the world you could make room in your heart for another one without feeling guilty about the first.  My answer is that you can--you absolutely can.  And it will be incredible.  Like mind-blowing incredible. And probably around month four for five you're not going to believe how lucky you are and how much you love these two little lives more than anything in the world.  And when you run to stop your older child from picking up the baby but then you see how the baby looks at her and you can tell he doesn't want anyone else man-handling him the way big sister does you pause your lecture because the bond they share is just so divine….you'll know….your heart has officially gotten bigger.  The addition is finally finished.

But that's what it is.  It's like building an addition.  It's like you have this great house; amazing in fact, but you know it's missing something.  You know that your house could function better with more space, so more people could fill it, and more laughter could be heard, and more love could flow--but you have to do the work to make that space bigger.  And you do--and you love that new space.  You could spend hours and hours in it; making it lovely and making it yours and making it just what you want…..but it takes some work and some elbow grease and some long hours and……some better budgeting---but when it's done?  It's better than you could have ever imagined.  And you'll breathe this sigh of relief that you made it, you did it, and everyone is better off for it.

And sure--this is a trite metaphor--that's not lost on me, but the point here is that parenting is a process.  It doesn't just change over night for the better.  Things don't just magically get fabulous because of a split second decision or even a well thought out one.  It takes some time.  And I don't know if you've come to this honest punch in the gut yet but we really suck at things that take time.  We are looking for quick fixes and fast improvements.  I mean--I was irritated that it took over a minute (literally--one minute) the other day for all my apps to update once I decided to finally hit "update."  That is embarrassing.

But I find myself in that same place so often in my parenting.  Why isn't her behavior changing right now?  I implemented this great point sheet…….20 minutes ago.  Why isn't he sleeping through the night?  He is NINE months old.  (And FYI--this was totally our fault.  Hello?  Babying the baby.) Why doesn't she love piano?  She's had two fantastic lessons.

Why isn't this two kids thing the bliss and heart bursting experience everyone told me it would be?  How can I love both of these babies with everything in my being but feel like a guilty, crappy mom who misses them both so much because I want there to be more of me? 

Because it's a process.  That demands some patience and ability to just sit in the mess for a while--not too long--just a while.  But that quick fix thing I mentioned above?  Those first few months when things feel messy in your heart and in your head--it's hard to believe you'll be able to feel like yourself again and that all those promises of 'more love' will actually come true.  But they do.  They so do.

And soon--you'll have a ten month old that knows the minute he sees the bus pull up to the curb at 4 o'clock that it means the most amazing person in his world is about to run down those bus stairs and hug him and he gets his little hand raised proactively so as not to miss a second of being able to wave at her……and you just know…..this process……this stretching…'s one of the greatest highs you'll ever experience.

And just to keep it real---I'll keep coming back to this post and all these feelings the next time he's screaming and she's yelling about how he always pulls her hair and wrecks her Barbie houses and gets to throw food and he NEVER never…..NEVER gets in trouble.  Because it's not good to always stay trapped in your head……sometimes you have to clean up the crackers off the floor and put a six year old on the stairs to cool down once again.

Because this whole parenting thing…..this whole life thing……this being a human thing…'s a process.  Anyone who says otherwise is selling some clothes to an emperor.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer Rituals…..

that happily bleed into fall.
Because with the onset of September we're good to call it fall in my book.  And last week, here in Michigan it was in the low sixties and it was lovely.  Once school starts I see no need for ninety degree weather.  It's September--my tan is fading--let's get the boots out.

But….the farmers market is amazing in August--and in September--and let's be honest, October too.  It's like the triple threat of outdoor activities.  My parents joined in on our Saturday morning ritual last week, and even in the rain it was great!

A few pictures………..

Basil bouquets smell amazing!

We always head to Van's for donuts after the market--and I'll be honest--and I'm sure I'm committing some sort of Grand Rapids heresy here--Van's has some of the worst donuts ever.  Ever.  But we still go almost every time we go to the market; because it's there, it's the after-market thing to do, and it's next to all the antique shops that we hit up next. 

We gave him a bit of donut….but it wasn't on a spoon so it doesn't rate in his book.  If it's not fed to him on a (silver) spoon he doesn't like it.

And nothing looks better on your counter than market "stuff." 

And on an unrelated note--this guy is ten months old next week.  Which is ridiculous.  He's amazing, adorable, so much fun, a little rambunctious, has an adorable mischievous streak, and is lucky he still owns two cheeks and all ten fingers……because I could eat him up every day of the week.  

Happy "it's basically fall!"  The MOST wonderful time of the year! Lots more market days to come!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chicago is always a good idea.

We took a little mini vacation to Chicago this past weekend--actually Sunday-Tuesday…which if you can swing weekdays is way better with little kids in Chicago.  Shorter lines, fewer crowds, and way easier to get into restaurants.  It's one of our favorite cities with so much to do.  Every time we're there we think, "oh--we should have planned to do…………," and there's just never enough time.  So every time you go you feel like you're just scratching the surface and visiting for the first time.  We hit up Lincoln Park zoo this time (a free zoo in the city), American Girl Store, Shedd Aquarium, a few city parks, and some early morning walks down Michigan Avenue (a luxury afforded to us parents with kids who are early risers--and it really is a cool time to walk down an otherwise crazy busy street).

Not pictured below…..night swims at the hotel with mermaid tails, breakfast overlooking Michigan Ave., the 112 year old firehouse right off Michigan Ave. that let us come in and climb in a firetruck when they saw us checking out the plaque on the front of their building, and our trashed hotel room!  Seriously--we are clean, neat-freak people….but when we get in a hotel room….yikes!

But anyway--Chicago; in a few pictures……….

Our hotel had a pretty cool ledge above our bed that was a magnet for kids to play on.  It made some great pictures as well.

I really can't say enough good about Shedd Aquarium.  It's so beautiful, interactive and entertaining for kids of all ages, it just pulls you in from the minute you walk through the doors--and hopefully you have a stroller so you can get through the stroller doors faster and quicker than everyone else without a stroller. 

He thinks taking selfies is maybe one of the best activities ever. And side note…..blogger autocorrects selfies to selfless--oh they irony.

Chris and I have decided that the key ingredient to parenting is stamina.  Traveling to big cities with little kids (especially one that's a baby) demands it--but it's so, so, so worth it!   

We love you Chicago!  And we can't wait to come back!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fostering #Natural Potential for Our Daughters

This post has been created in partnership with GreenWorks but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Georgia tells me daily that she's decided what she's going to be.

A vet.
An entomologist.
A ballet teacher.
An artist---that draws insects.
A doctor.
A stuffed animal maker.  (We don't know the technical term for that)

And on and on.

It's interesting to me how fixated kids at this age are in honing in on a career choice.  And I suppose it's a 'thing' so many of us spend our lives doing--we're kind of hardwired to pontificate on what we want to be when we grow up.  At thirty seven I still do it.

Sometimes I ask her why she wants to be a vet, a doctor, a ballet teacher…..and for the love….why a stuffed animal maker.  Moms all over the world don't want any more stuffed animal makers--promise.  She always has a rational (ish) reason for why she wants to be what she wants to be.  I told her a few weeks ago after a lengthy conversation about what it means to be an entomologist that I thought it was so cool that she was interested in something like that, "because you know--girls make great scientists--we need girl scientists."

She looked at me a little baffled and responded, "I know girls can be scientists."  An interesting response.  I think a lot of little girls know this.  But what about big girls?  Do they know this, do they remember this from their younger years?  Do they forget these childhood dreams somewhere along the way?

Statistics indicate that they do.

I showed Georgia the above video and asked her what she thought--if she were going to draw a scientist what would she draw?  She thought for a minute and said she wasn't sure--maybe a man even though she wanted to be a scientist herself.  She wasn't sure why she only thought of a man when she thought of a scientist.

So how do we change that mental picture for our girls?  Greenworks cleaning products, a company founded by a woman scientist in 2008 is working to do just that. They want to help girls unleash their natural potential and change the fact that even though women fulfill 50% of the jobs in America, only 25% of scientists are women. Greenworks collaborates with the American Association of University Women to help provide girls with opportunities to explore their scientific curiosity and connect with female role models.  They emphasize how important it is for girls to have female mentors in the sciences if they show an interest in a STEM field early on, they highlight the kinds of classes girls should take in high school to prepare them and even provide ideas for extracurricular activities parents can enroll their girls in to foster and grow a love for the sciences.  Georgia took a chemistry of cooking class this summer and told me everyday how cool it was that something she loves so much--baking--really had so much science behind it.  Changing that mental picture has to start early! 

We've been doing science experiments with Georgia since she could stand up.  They're messy--sure….but they're also a lot of fun and provide some great one-on-one time with your kiddos, things to talk about, things to predict and guess, things to laugh at, and most definitely opportunities to foster her natural potential for the sciences!  

Greenworks provides a lot of ideas of simple science experiments you can do with your girls!  Do one today! They're a lot of fun…..and when you have to clean up the mess, do it with a Greenworks cleaning product and know that every time you do you're helping to support STEM opportunities for girls all over this country and feeding their natural potential…..including your own! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Black & White….it's all right.

I started decorating Crosby's room and buying baby supplies for him before there was a Crosby.  And so…..I stuck to neutrals.  But really--I stuck to my favorite colors with a few colors thrown in.  And thankfully, they're super popular right now so there was/is no end to amazing black and white decor items for baby rooms.  I have a lot of these pieces and love, love, love them or I wouldn't feature them here.  The mobile is one of my favorite things in Crosby's room as well as the zebra head.  

Happy shopping to you!!

Hugs & Kisses Garland // Cloud Light // Wire Basket // Gallery Art Cards // Zebra Trophy Head (super great deal and lots of other animals to pick from too!!) // Rain Cloud Prints // Swiss Cross Blanket // Pantone Board Books (for stacking in cute places around the rom) // Wildlife Chart // Felt Ball Mobile (I have this one for Crosby and it's currently sold out but similar ones are available) // Stacked Stripes Print (I painted similar pictures for Crosby's room--but pictures like these were my inspiration) // Zebra Throw Pillow // Black & White Floor Bin // Beco Baby Carrier (lots of other great patterns available too) // Kisses Art Print

Some black and white action from our little man's room…………..

And P.S. that cloud picture and the one next to it?  It's Crosby's life goal to rip those off the wall.  He gets changed up on that dresser about once a week when he's real groggy.  Otherwise, we stick to wrestling with him on the floor.  

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