Why I Hate Report Cards

I really hate report card day.  I mean I haaaaate it.

Like . . . wore one earring all day and no one told me, hate it.

Like . . . lukewarm coffee, hate it.

Like . . . undercooked chicken, hate it.

And truth be told, I'm embarrassed about why I hate it so much.

So Why Do I Hate It?

I hate it because I know my social media newsfeeds will be inundated with the photographs and lengthy descriptions of just how perfect other people's kids' report cards are. And my mental translation of that becomes:

>> perfect report cards 

>> perfect kids 

>> perfect mom 

>> perfect life

Of course, I know no one is perfect, even people whose kids have perfect report cards.  :)

But we don't celebrate report card day.  In fact, report card days are depressing because they serve as a reminder of the many hurdles that my children will have to face and overcome in their life, all because they didn't get the love and care and nurture and nutrition they needed in the early days of their life.

And THAT fact really just pisses me off (to be blunt).

Maybe We Need a New Way to Measure Success

My kids rock at living life to the fullest, at embracing what is in front of them, at accepting the things they cannot change and at fighting for one another.  And even though they don't pass out awards at school for that, they freaking should!

In the society we live in today, report cards are a measuring stick that gets way more of the limelight than it deserves. A measuring stick I loved when my kids "measured up." Not one I love so much now.

As a second time around mom, I'm learning a lot about what really matters in life these days.  I'm not minimizing that a good education is important; nor am I saying that kids shouldn't try their best.  I'm just saying that report cards don't always tell the whole story. 

Sometimes the things we can't celebrate at an awards assembly are important too. 

I had a good friend and psychologist tell me not that long ago, 

"Sometimes putting your kids to bed at night
and knowing they felt more loved and more secure 
than they felt the day before is what you celebrate."

(He also said, "f grades!" but I loved the wisdom and passion in his heart. And I loved his measuring system . . . thanks Rory.)

So create your own report card.  And no matter what your kids are succeeding at, celebrate that, like a boss.  

I Can't Explain Something That is Beyond Logic

Photo Credits: www.TimBarosh.com

I watched the Blindside a few nights ago. I've seen it before, but it was very different watching it this time. The first time I saw it, we had not adopted our daughters. Watching the way the Touhy's had to defend their actions to people felt hauntingly familiar.

We shouldn't have to field commentary about race, and lifestyle, and socio-economic status, but we do. We shouldn't have to try to explain what we're doing, or why we're doing it. People say incredibly well-meaning, and yet very hurtful things to us all the time. Sometimes those well-meaning, yet hurtful things must register in my eyes because those are the times that people tend to launch into the "Well, of course I think what you guys are doing is incredible, it's just that _____ (fill in the blank.)"

I find I get really tired of explaining myself, my husband, our family, our thoughts, our hopes, our fears. It's draining if I'm honest. I don't mind telling our story, I just mind trying to help people "understand." Seriously, I don't understand it myself some days. So explaining to someone else is virtually impossible. Sometimes God just calls us to do things, things that are illogical.

Here's the real deal. I'm nothing special. We're nothing special. Yes, we're empty nesters, on the road to retirement, and now we're parenting twin kindergartners. Yes, some days are trying. Some days are hard, (like when one of them cuts her hair at school and then her sister follows suit by cutting up her favorite skirt . . . and then crying about it because it was her favorite skirt! Not even kidding.) But that's the nature of parenting.  All parenting.

Photo Credit: ChipGillespie.com

We aren't a typical family. I get it. We're older, we're a different race, we don't blend. But we aren't an anomaly.  We're a family.

I heard a message in church recently about the love of God and how it defies logic. I believe adoption is such a great picture of love beyond logic.

Love beyond logic. That might catch on.


What's the most illogical love you have shown someone recently?  How did it affect you and how do you think it affected them?

Your Child's Play Can Unlock the Mystery of Their Adoption

I was sewing last night, something I haven't done in over a year, but something I love to do.  The girls were in a particularly good mood, especially considering it was late in the day on a Sunday.  I could hear them in the playroom just outside the door to my sewing room, laughing and playing so sweetly.

A few minutes later, Shannay came into the room with me and asked if she could play "babies" in the room with me, and I said she could.

She walked into the room, pillow in one hand, blanket in the other, with a tiny black baby doll stuffed under her shirt.  Funny thing about this particular dolly is that she almost never plays with it, preferring Rapunzel or Cinderella or some other Disney princess in its place.

I continued to sort my fabric pieces into light and dark shades, watching out of the corner of my eye, not wanting to disrupt her imaginative play, and REALLY curious about what was going to happen with that baby in her shirt (especially considering our recent discussion about babies.)

She said to me, "I'm gonna have a baby out of the special place in my tummy and then I'm gonna gib it to you. I gonna be sad, but it's okay cause you're good wit babies. And you'll lub it."

She proceeded to lay the baby gently on the pillow, covered it with the blanket, then softly spoke to me, turned off the lights and turned to leave the room.

I stood there frozen in that moment, staring at her, tears welling up in my eyes, afraid to speak for fear my voice would give way to the emotion in my heart.

She's five.  Five little years old.  And yet, somewhere deep inside her little heart and mind, she gets it, or she's trying to.  I'm not wise to the way her little mind is trying to sort this all out, but I'm smart enough to know, if you pay attention to children, they will tell you what they are thinking.

Truthfully, I wasn't sure how to engage her, and maybe I've missed an incredible moment to answer her questions.

But I love that she gave me a glimpse into her sweet little heart.

As I stood there, captivated by her monologue, her twin sister walked into the room with a baby doll tucked up in her shirt as well.  She reached up under her shirt, yanked the doll out by the heels, plopped it down, unceremoniously, next to the other one and said, "It's twins." And walked out of the room with a mischievous giggle.

All the emotion of the moment was released in laughter, deep, joy-filled laughter.  

Some days this whole adoption world is crazy hard.  But on other days, I can't picture my life any other way.

Are You Brave Enough to Live Life Unscripted?

My dad is here visiting.  Several months ago we decided that if our daughters had a SHOT at knowing ANY of their grandparents, it would be him, for a few reasons.

He lives only a couple of hours away.
He still drives.
He has a pretty free schedule.
He's in good health.

This is him with the girls the first time he met them.
It was love at first sight on all accounts.

So once a month, he comes here and spends a few days, sometimes longer, and spreads his "Pawpaw Magic" as he calls it.

Even in the early days, when she wasn't
a "cuddler," she loved snuggling
with her Papa.

Photo Op at the Pumpkin Patch
Helping them decorate their craft project
at the Easter Egg Hunt

I love his visits for many, many reasons, but I have to confess, some things are a little difficult for me when he is here.  He has a tendency to throw restraint to the wind.  He tells me it's allowed.  He tells me grandparents are allowed to throw restraint to the wind.  He tells me to relax.

HA!  Clearly he does not know me and my controlling ways.

Everyone Needs a Pawpaw

As I watch them interact with him though, I realize, everyone needs a Pawpaw in their life.  

  • Someone who adores you just because you are breathing.  
  • Someone who showers you with the most precious gift of all; time.  
  • Someone who throws caution to the wind and says, "Who wants an animal cracker for breakfast?"

Right now, as I type this, I am watching my children play outside, hair undone, still in their jammies, no shoes, riding their bikes and watching the concrete trucks pour concrete as their "Papa" (as they call him) teaches them the precious gift of life outside a schedule.

Life Unscripted
 But he did eventually make them
put their shoes on!

I can't remember the last time I saw them this relaxed, and in truth, that saddens me just a bit.  Our lives are so busy, so demanding, and we tend to drag them along with us feeding them a very unhealthy diet of stress and worry and busyness.

Today, I think I need a little Pawpaw Magic myself.  A little life unscripted, unscheduled.  

Heck, I'm still in my jammies, my hair's undone, and my feet are bare.  Maybe I'll join them outside. Maybe I'll grab me an animal cracker and join them.

Here's to life unscripted.

Will You Do Me a Big Favor? 

Would you do me a favor today? . . . It's a big favor . . . 

Will you post a picture here (or on Facebook) of you throwing restraint to the wind and embracing life unscripted?   Are you brave enough to live life unscripted?

Here's mine!

In This Home

Three years ago, Mike and I moved into a small, three bedroom home; a home just perfect for the two of us as we started our lives as empty nesters.

And less than two weeks later, we went from being two empty nesters to parents of twin toddlers.  There are so many steps in our adoption journey that have taken place here in this home.

It was in this home, that we got a call in the middle of the night to go rescue the girls from their birth mom's home.

It was sitting upstairs in our playroom that our girls' birth mom asked us to adopt her daughters.

And in this home that she called us and said she'd changed her mind (it's odd how devastated you can be over losing something you never really knew you even wanted.)

It was in this home that we endured the season of extreme emotional distress where every single day was a meltdown from one or both girls; meltdowns that would last anywhere from 20 minutes to hours. (And just as quickly, life would be back to normal for them, but we were worn out!)

(I used to pray every single day before I picked them up at the day care that God would give me the strength to endure what I was about to face.  Those were dark days for sure.)

It was in this home that we received one terrible diagnosis after another regarding their developmental abilities; and in this home that we have seen such healing.

It was in this home that we knew God was calling us to adopt them, and in this home that their adoption became final.

So many memories here.  So many firsts.  So many heartaches and so many joys.  So grateful for this season and so grateful it is over.  

We have moved.  And a whole new adventure awaits us.

Loving Your Child's Birth Mom (Even When It's Hard)

Sometimes I look at my daughters, and I can see their birth mom.  One of them has her eyes, and the other has her mouth and nose.  Sometimes the way they turn their heads, just so, or a facial expression they make will catch me off guard, and I see her.  And sometimes, in those moments, the range of emotions I have about her completely knocks me off center.


Our decision not to have a relationship with our children's birth mom is an extremely personal one.  Not personal in the "I can't share the reasons why" sort of way, but personal in that it is OUR decision to make, one that we believe is right for our daughters; just as your decision about whether or not to have a relationship with your child's birth parent is personal to you, and completely YOUR decision to make.


In the early days of our story, the girls saw their birth mother about once a month.  We always prompted these visits because we believed it would be in their best interest if they should ever go back to live with her (in those days it was very uncertain).  But as time went by, and her interest in them waned (and as more and more of their story was uncovered) we knew it was not healthy for them to continue to see her. Quite simply, they needed time for their fragile little hearts and minds to heal, and every time they saw her, their little worlds were rocked for days or weeks on end. So as their parents, we made the very difficult decision to sever their visitation with her.


I confess to you, some days when I see her face in them, I wonder if we are making the right decision.  Should we let her see them?  Should we let them have a relationship with her at this stage of their life?

And then other times I see her face in theirs, and I am furiously angry.  Angry for all the things they endured at her hand and the hands of those she exposed them to, and angry that they still struggle as a result of those things.

But I have come to this conclusion.  I must love her.  I am called to love her. And when I want to hate her for all their pain, I look at the two beautiful daughters she has given me, and I find myself thankful that she ultimately chose to give them up so that they had a fighting chance at surviving their childhood and thriving as adults.


So, how do you love your child's birth mom when their story, at her hands, is not a good story?

1. Forgive her. You may not realize it, but you likely have deep internal feelings of unforgiveness for what she may or may not have provided or may or may not have allowed to happen to your children. Address these feelings and work through forgiving her.

2. Remember that she likely did not have a model childhood, and there is a very statistically high probability that she was abused as well (if they were).  

3. Love her, in your mind, as if she was your child. (Weird concept, I know, but it helps.)  It gives you feelings of nurture for her. 

4. Be thankful for her.  I mean really thankful. She gave life to your children.

5. If you know her well, then look for her good traits in your children.  Those good traits that you love in your children will endear her to you.  (Our girls' birth mom has a funny, quirky sense of humor, and I see that in them.)

6. Don't blame their birth mom for the negative things you see in your children.  Even though those negative things may be a result of their abuse or neglect, blaming her doesn't help anyone.

7. Understand that by having good, positive feelings toward her you are giving your children permission to someday have those same feelings.  They'll be taking their cues from you.

8. As time, life, and your particular circumstances allow, have a positive relationship with her.  (For us, this is very much a work in progress. We've had a really good relationship at times, and really struggled at times.)

9. Pray for her regularly.  Not much to say here other than do it.

10. See her through the eyes of Jesus. Jesus is able to look past our flaws, our hurts, our sin, and love us unconditionally.  It's a good example for us to follow. 


I don't know what the future will look like with her.  It's something I pray about often.  And I know in His time, God will reveal the right course for our daughters' relationship with their birth mom.  Until then, I will work on loving her.

What Would be on your list? 
So, what would you add to the list?  We all learn from each other.  What have you found to be the best approach for your family?

We Can Do Better

It's 2013, in case you didn't know, and I'm here to report that racism is alive and well.

And sadly, I'm shocked by that.  I'm sure I shouldn't be shocked, but I am.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of performing a wedding in the beautiful hill country of Texas, Fredericksburg to be exact. And my story should not be taken to be the pervasive behavior of the entire town.  It was most certainly an isolated experience.

On Saturday morning, Mike and the girls and I slept in and then headed out for a late breakfast.  Considering Fredericksburg is a tourist town, famous for wineries and quaint little bed and breakfasts, we thought we'd find us a cute little local restaurant to enjoy.  Apparently though every OTHER tourist in town had the exact same plan because all the little local restaurants were packed.

Had it been just the two of us, we probably would have just waited, but the girls were hungry and getting grouchy, so we decided to go to a Denny's that I had remembered passing the night before.

When we got there, we were seated right away in the back of the restaurant.  Another couple, without children, were seated at the same time.

Their order was taken right away, and before our order was ever even taken they received their food.  Finally we were waited on, but then we continued to wait for what seemed like an eternity with two hungry and active preschoolers!

Eventually I had to flag down another employee and ask about our meal.  She asked who our waiter was, then rolled her eyes and headed off to check on our food.  Within moments our food arrived, all except for mine, which was completely wrong, and had to be returned.  

Our waiter never returned to our table.  Not once.  A manager, seeing me staring around the dining room, stopped by our table to see what was wrong.  When I explained that I still had not gotten my food and that Mike was still missing part of his food, he asked who our waiter was.  When I pointed out who he was, the manager shook his head, then quickly returned with my food.

It was not until the very end of our breakfast did our waiter return.  No apology.  No "Sorry I never refilled your coffee or checked on your order."  Nope.  Just a bill.

As we left the restaurant, I asked Mike to take the girls to the car so I could discuss our bill and our service with the manager.  There were two women at the cash register, an Assistant Manager and the Cashier.  The Assistant Manager asked who our server was, exchanged a glance with the Cashier, then took my breakfast off our bill and apologized for the inconvenience.

I told the Cashier, "I know this will sound weird, but I seriously got the impression that he didn't want to wait on us because our daughters are black.  I'm sure that's not the case, and I'm not really one to jump to the "race card" but it really, actually felt that way."

She said, "It's not weird, and I'm sure that's exactly what happened. He just got back from suspension for the exact thing.  He has race issues."

I. Was. Shocked.

I held back my tears, really not wanting to believe that crap like that still exists. When I got to the car and told Mike what happened, we both just sat there in stunned silence. I looked in the back seat at my two daughters and couldn't decide whether to cry, go back in and ninja chop the guy in the face, or just drive away.

When I shared my experience with a friend, here's what she said, (I told her I was going to quote her because her words summed up my feelings.) 

"Racism is a waste of time and energy. It also shows a person's heart. "I'm not going to serve someone because they are black." Yeah, way to love your fellow man, and to do that to little girls is just stupid."

In the past few days, I've gone from hurt, to mad, to just plain shocked.  Seriously, people.  We can do better. We can do better.