Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dear Me {part 2}

Dear me,

You made it to junior high! Right now you are thinking how close you are to being a teen and saying goodbye to childhood.  You have a new freedom that comes with being 12, courtesy of course to - an awesome huffy bike! There will be tons of adventures to be had with this bike. 

I want you to know that red hair is not a curse. In fact a few years from now, you are going to love it- I promise.

This year you will discover a secret beach on the lake. This will be your place to go when you’re sad and when you just want to escape. It’s okay to take time for yourself and create a beautiful place full of hopes and dreams.  One day you will see the importance of taking a personal time out in your own spot.

This next part may be hard to hear but you need to know it. Every night you stare in front of the mirror praying to become that pretty popular girl. I see your tears and you’re hurt. Your trying so very hard to become “pretty”. But honey, it’s just not happening for you.  I'm sorry to say, you won’t ever be the popular girl or the pretty girl in class who gets picked for dances and sports. It will not happen.  But….

It’s okay because your YOU! God created you special and unique and has a breathtaking plan for you, just keep holding on. Soon you will find some girls that are awkward too. The three of you will create your own group and have way more fun than anyone else! These types of girls are real friends. Treasure them, even if you only have a short time together.

These real friends of yours are going to blast out some SWV and TLC {but remember- your still a white girl!} Your very first concert will be this year. That’s some pretty cool stuff, have a blast and while you’re at it- go take some singing lessons too!

 Don’t get caught up in boyfriends too fast.  Enjoy your time just pretending to be a rock star or a famous actress and playing doctor with all of your moms x-rays. Oh-and I see you in the bonus room. Stop dancing like that, those moves are NOT okay Missy!

ALWAYS keep a key to the house so you don’t have to spend two hours in the garage waiting to pee while your parents are still at work!

In case you didn’t get it earlier. The imagination you have is priceless.  You can still pretend and play- you don’t have to rush into makeup and boys. Enjoy being 12.

Save Mom and Dad money. Your glasses go on the nightstand, not on your pillow! 

Whatever you do- don’t fall for setting friends up to see if they have your back….don’t do it! It will end in tears and losing those real friends.

YOU ARE NOT FAT! Find an adult you can talk to about this. Don’t try to control your diet and your food. This is going to lead somewhere you will wish you didn’t go.

Let’s talk fashion a minute. A rose and thorn temporary tattoo is really cool for now but FYI- stop wearing them soon and by soon I mean before you turn 13. And the pantyhose under socks- you don’t tan-stop trying to fake a tan.

You will have your first “boyfriend” this year. It will last all of two weeks and you will be devastated (see earlier advice on setting people up). Learn from this and don’t invest too much time into boys. Instead keep dreaming and learning.

Prepare, the next few years are going to be really hard for you. There will be days of sadness and loneliness. Days where you will question why you exist. But I promise you one day it WILL get better. You are going to make an awesome adult! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014


"Big Days are a reminder of what should have been but wasn’t, 
all that was lost, all that will never be..."
   - Jen Hatmaker 

This sums up what events are like in our house these days. We have come so far but the past will never fade away. Grief and pain and loss go so much deeper into the heart and influence days like Christmas.

I love the newest blog post by Jen Hatmaker: parenting-kiddos-who-sabotage-big-days where she explains the struggle with kids from hard places. Shexplains what wounded hearts look like and why they act the way they do. It is a must read not just for adoptive families but kiddos who have also dealt with divorce or loss. Seriously-read it- you may find out you as an adult are also a sabotager!

I am a self proclaimed traditionalist {seriously-just call me Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof}. I LOVE family traditions. Poor Gene when we were married- I told him straight up- we are going to celebrate holidays my way. You can throw a few things in {like football or stuffing} but all of my traditions are staying. Maybe its because we moved so much as a kid and it was just my parents? Maybe I am really a descendant of the real Santa Clause? Maybe I'm just a control freak who hates change- point is I'm a Traditionalist when it comes to holidays.

So last year I too tried to make Christmas the best possible thing imaginable last year.
                                                     It started terribly. 

Christmas eve night he refused to write to Santa (because he hates to write/read around his older siblings who aren't ESL learners). He couldn't understand why he could not eat Santa's cookies and then when we opened our Christmas eve present- you would have thought we killed our dog and wrapped it up for him under the tree. He was mortified! This led to a 30 minute wailing and gnashing of teeth. He hated Christmas and Santa and Jesus. As a self proclaimed traditionalist {seriously-just call me Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof} I could not grasp why. We had talked and role played and went all K Perv! But we didn't really... I expected way to much from my sweet little boy.

 After cuddling and connecting {aka wrestling and tickles} we scooted under the tree and named every single present. We told him what was inside each one. For him, it was all about the unknown. He can't do surprises- its just to scary to hope, to scary to trust.

 We added the explanation of gifts again in the am, a change in tradition and I lowered my own  expectations of the day. Santa didn't get his letter and that was okay. We ate some of his cookies and had popcorn as an alternate. It was okay if we let him eat only rolls and mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner, he was not going to be forever damaged from one day of no veggies. We let him change out of his pj's when he wanted and even did a non-Christmas movie. {I know- that was a hard one!}

We ended well. 


This year- we have already had the No ipod/No tablet/no phone discussion every day as a reminder. And by every day I mean EVERY STINKING MORNING. And you can bet ya, this year we will make cookies and EAT them first. We broke down and had "The Santa Talk".  And yes- this year on Christmas eve we will be lying down under the tree- whispering what each present is to our little guy. He has to know and that's okay.

Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. 

I remember the big push in the late 80's to get tested and the scary adds of people with HIV/AIDS but that was really all I knew. Until 1996 when I fell in love with the musical RENT. This musical was fictitious but it represented many people who really were fighting for their lives. I had every note memorized and can still sing many of the lyrics to this beautiful piece. 
                                         (rent: Wikipedia) 

Flash forward to 2011 when I read the book "there is no me without you". This book walked through the HIV/AIDS epidemic and then focused in on the devastation this virus left in Ethiopia and other developing countries. 

This is one of the reasons Gene and I partner with AHOPE. In the beginning HIV was a death sentence, families were ripped apart and children were left with out families. But then modern medicine caught up and now it is considered a "manageable disease" similar to diabetes. Many children that were once orphaned from HIV/AIDS are living healthy lives and their families are learning how to care for them. These children that were once thought to only live a short time have the same life expectancy as any one else! 

All because there are these amazing things called ARV's that help the body keep the virus in a hibernation like state. Their immune systems stay strong and keep the virus locked up. As long as medication is managed and regular medical care is checked the positive person is considered "undetectable". 

So with all these amazing changes, you know the one thing that hasn't changed? 


Discrimination is still rampant. Lack of knowledge is still there. You can not get HIV from kissing, or sharing cups or toilet seats. The virus is fragile and it can only live outside the body for a very short time. 

There are three ways you can contract the virus. 

1. Birth/Breast feeding (positive mother to child) 
2. Sex 
3. IV drug use/blood transfusion

News flash- your not going to contract it unless you are: 

1.THE baby just born or THE breast feeding baby (I'm gonna guess your not)
2. You are having unprotected sex without you and your partner getting tested 
   (now that is just stupid and you will most likely end up with nasty som'in down  
    there and the added walk of shame in the am) 
 3. You are sharing random IV drug needles with random people injecting 
     yourself with illegal drugs (in which case you also need rehab) or have had a 
     botched blood transfusion (which is why there is all that blood testing when you 
     give blood). 


Note- I still would recommend using universal precautions whenever handling body fluids. This is just plain good practice and smart to protect yourself from a whole host of blood born yuckies! 

So what's the deal....why does it still exist? Because people are scared of getting tested. In other countries, because medical treatment is not readily available and the stigma is so great. Like the women we partner with at Noonday, once their status is known they are kicked out of their homes and ostracized. All because of stigma and access. Some individuals can access medication but most people in developing countries people don't know that HIV is treatable, they don't know how to access it, and they don't know how it helps. 

It is not okay with me that a person dies of a treatable disease simply because of lack of knowledge and a stigma. 

                                   Let's break down this barrier together! 

Want to learn more: 


Worlds Aids Day:



Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor-simply sharing what I have learned from educated resources :)