Trump’s first action as President confirms my fears as a mother of a Black son

Unlike many people I know, who understandably turned their backs on it, I watched Trump’s Inauguration this morning. I sat there with Miles and we watched it together. (Well, he sorta-kinda watched it while playing with his trains.) I felt the need to sit through it, though, to experience the excruciating reality of this new era we are embarking on because Miles cannot–my family and so many others cannot–escape the consequences of it.

At one point, Miles asked me who Donald Trump was. “Who that, Mommy?”

I cringed as I replied, “That’s our new President.”

“I want a present, too,” he said. He’s been obsessed with presents ever since Christmas.

“No, I said President. Not present. This man is definitely not a present.”

That was the sum total of our conversation because he’s only two and totally oblivious, but it saddened me that I was not watching the inauguration of a President I could be proud of and whom I knew had the best interests of my child, and all of our children, in mind.

Because I have absolutely no faith that President Trump will do anything positive for Miles at all. Within minutes of being sworn in, removed all mention of civil rights, LGBTQ rights, Climate Change, and any mention of Black people, minorities, or people of color. Totally wiped, and replaced with minimal content that expressed support for higher numbers of police, untrue statistics about crime rates in inner cities, and incredibly frustrating statements about how the Climate Act is bad for America. And, unbelievably, now features promotional statements about Melania’s jewelry line. Her freakin’ QVC jewelry line.

If nothing about this campaign and ensuing presidency has worried you, this should. Sure, it’s just a website but also a sign of what’s to come: Trump seems to want to erase all of the positive progress that we have made for racial justice, environmental science and conservation, and equality. And why not? None of those issues have ever been issues for him as a white, unscrupulous, over-privileged, greedy conman who’s cheated small business owners, blue collar workers, and hundreds of others out of money that he owed them.

I worry today for my son. I worry today for all children, for our planet, for our future. I do not for one moment think that Trump is going to deliver on any of the promises he made to people who believed him when he said he cared. I do, however, think that he will do his best to deliver on promises to further destroy our planet, further divide people along racial lines, and to create a police state where individual freedoms and diversity are not valued unless they somehow happen to be in line with his personal, political, or business interests.

I truly hope that I am wrong. Because it’s terrifying, really. Absolutely terrifying.


Life Lately

It’s been an exciting start to 2017. We recently moved into a new place and have been having a lot of fun exploring the neighborhood. We’re in the Pacific Northwest and of course it’s been raining… so we’ve been puddle jumping!img_7061

And finding all the good places to rest while we’re out on walks. The fluffy moss on this treed makes it especially nice for sitting.


We found a fantastic new barber just a couple of blocks away from our new place, so we went and got Miles a fresh line-up. He’s still not sure about the clippers being that close to his head, so we had to bribe him with Red Vines. That did the trick!


Miles was excited to travel to Tucson to visit family for Christmas. He’s such a good traveler. He loves watching the planes at the airport. He had a lot of fun when we got a surprise upgrade to First Class (!). Free movies, warm nuts, and a big, comfy chair! Traveling in style…


Though we were a little tired on the return flight when we got delayed for several hours at Sky Harbor International…


Before we left for Arizona, we went to see Santa here in Portland. Miles was too scared to sit on his lap, but was happy enough to sit next to him as long as I stayed close. I was thrilled to find an event with a Black Santa. There was only one in town, which I think is a shame, but at least there was one.


We’ve had several snow days lately – the most recent one being yesterday. It turned out to be mainly an ice storm, so we were pretty cooped up. But we found lots of fun ways to enjoy ourselves. We worked on puzzles…


And we did arts and crafts… and, no, we didn’t get out of our PJs much…


And then because it was so gray and cold, we went to the store and bought some pretty yellow flowers to brighten up the room.


Hope everyone has a great week!

A new year, and my 2017 parenting goals

The end of a year is always the perfect time to reflect on the successes, failures, and misgivings of the prior year and to make goals for the shiny, sparkling promise of a brand new spin around the sun. Now that I’m the mother of a precocious nearly-three-year-old, my parenting choices, strengths, and weaknesses have moved to the top of my year-end self-eval.


In summary? Strikes and gutters. I’d say that I did pretty well as a mother this year, overall, and maybe even had a few stellar super-mom moments. But there are decidedly a few areas in which I need to improve.

To make myself feel better, let’s start with love. That I’ve got covered. I love this little kid with all I’ve got and shower him with affection on a continual basis (while I still can and before he starts to get embarrassed). I tell him that I love him a thousand times a day and am always sneaking kisses and cuddles in. He says ‘I love you,’ back to me now, which is just about the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Okay, it’s absolutely the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard in my life. And when he gives me an impromptu kiss on the forehead, my heart melts into a gooey little puddle inside my chest. (Awww, he loves me, too!)

It’s no secret that I adore him… look at this huge eclair I let him eat.


Moving on to learning and education. I think I’m doing pretty well in this arena, too. His dad and I have always read Miles as many books as he can handle, so he is an avid bookworm. It’s really showing because he knows all of his letters and would rather sit down and look at a book than watch television. He can also count to thirteen (new today!) and his teachers at the Reggio daycare/preschool he attends say that he knows more than many of the four-year-olds. Yes, I’m one of those dorky parents now that thinks their child is a genius. But, clearly, he is.


Okay, so I have love and learning on lock-down. Now let’s talk about something I’m not so great at: discipline and addressing problem behaviors. I readily admit that I have been entirely too lenient with him and that he kind of owns me. Wrapped around his little finger, I am. He knows exactly what to do to get what he wants: cry. I know, I know. It’s the cardinal sin of parenthood to give your kid what he wants when he cries. Or to pick him up every time he demands it. I’m trying to get better about these two things… but that little face and those big brown eyes filled with tears, though! Make it stop! Even when I know that they’re crocodile tears, they get me every time. I can’t handle it. But this is definitely something that I will be working on in the new year: toughening up and not giving in to his whimpers and whines.

Another thing that I need to work on this year: food. Miles is super picky and I’m so terribly uninspired in the kitchen. I’m not the best cook in the world–I’m not even a mediocre one–and I severely lack culinary intuition. I can’t just throw ingredients together and produce something delicious. If you can, I’m eternally envious of you. I need help here, people. And I need it badly. So, one of my resolutions is to invest time into learning to make delicious healthy food every day that even my picky little eater can’t resist. Still working on how to make this happen, but it’s on my list. Open to recipes and advice.

Another thing I want to work on is being more present and mindful. I think I do a pretty good job of this, but I know I can do better. I could put my phone completely away when I’m playing with him, for example. I always do that at first but then we’ll get into the second hour of playing trains and… well, I don’t love trains as much as he does so my thoughts wander to the news or Instagram or work or basically anything to distract me from the second hour of playing trains. I don’t like that I do this, and I want to stop. I am admitting to the problem, though, and so for that I will congratulate myself.

All in all, my parenting this year was a mixed bag like everything else in my life. He may be an ever-so-slightly malnourished cry baby, but he’s a smart, beloved one who knows his letters!

Happy 2017 to you all – may this be the year that all of your dreams come true.


New Beginnings

IMG_1739It feels like I’ve lived an entire lifetime since I published my last post. That’s pretty much true, actually–in the past few months, my little family moved all the way across the country from Charlottesville, VA to Portland, OR.

Where to begin? Phew, it all happened so fast. I won’t get into details, but we were thrilled when Jamie got a job offer in a city we were excited to live in, where we have best friends, and that puts us closer to immediate family: back out west where we’ve both been since high school.

Jamie and I have moved across the country before,  but it’s an entirely different story now that we have Miles. We had only been in Virginia for three years, but we were pretty dialed-in there, with an amazing healthcare provider who knew us personally and took incredible care of Miles and the rest of us, a part-time daycare situation that was top notch and where he was really comfortable, our home which we loved on a few acres in the country, and friends that we’d made. Life was simple, and easy, quaint, and quiet. I knew that we would love life in Portland and that there were going to be so many benefits, but it was still hard to say goodbye.

I also worried a lot about Miles–how he would feel, if Portland would be a good place for him, how he’d handle a big move, and whether or not he would miss the only home he’d ever known.

But it turns out I worried for naught; he’s the most adaptable of us!


Miles is loving our new city neighborhood. I was worried that he’d miss the country lifestyle but he is obsessed with the light-rail train, the buses, the people, our neighbors, and saying hi to everyone he meets. We found a cute little house to rent in a quiet, walkable neighborhood with little kids living on three sides of us. Being the social butterfly that he is, Miles  is loving all of it. He is energized by all the action and already has far more friends his own age than he had in Charlottesville–and we’ve only been here for a month.


Now that we’re settled in, it feels like we’ve been here forever. My best friend lives in town and she and her husband (another best friend of mine) have a little boy the same age as Miles and a little girl a couple of years older. The kids instantly hit it off and it’s as if they’ve known each other forever. They call him “Baby” Miles and he absolutely adores both of them. I love that they will grow up together, like brothers or cousins. It makes me smile every time I think about it. Such a gift.


Hoping for good things ahead! I promise I won’t be such a stranger.






Christmas Magic

It was still dark outside when we crawled out of bed on Christmas morning, but the tree glowed brightly, illuminating the brightly colored boxes beneath. At only 21 months old, I don’t think Miles can possibly grasp the concept of Santa Claus and I’m not sure why he thinks there’s been a tree in the house for the past month, but he took one look at the living room that morning and fell in love with Christmas forever.


I used to think there was nothing better than being a kid on Christmas morning, but being the parent of a kid on Christmas morning just might be better.


Miles ran from one thing to another with a look of pure joy on his face. He was so excited. I just sat back and watched as he took it all in, trying with all my might to freeze the moment forever. It was the first, but not the last, time I teared up that day. Sometimes I still can’t believe how lucky I am. I always feel blessed and thankful to have him in my life, but I felt it doubly so on Christmas day. He is the greatest gift that I have ever received.



It was so fun watching his little body fill with adrenaline. He could hardly contain himself, but he stopped fast in his tracks when he noticed the toy kitchen. The kid is obsessed with watching me cook and has been playing with my pots and pans for months. We had all been sick (talking full-on, laid-out ill) in the two weeks leading up to Christmas but I convinced my husband to drive us two hours to Ikea one day to get their kid kitchen because I knew Miles would LOVE it.  It was totally worth it. He hasn’t stopped playing with it. (And I can now find the frying pan when I need it.)


We also found a stuffed boy doll at Ikea who looks just like Miles, right down to his skin tone. He was a huge hit.

IMG_0969Miles got several books, including The Snowy Day by Ezra John Keats and a couple by Todd Parr – The Family Book and We Belong Together which are both about the many different types of families out there and how they come together. He especially loved Curious George Goes Camping and the new Dr. Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get? We’ve been doing a lot of reading.


Because Miles and I had been super sick for two weeks and Jamie was still sick (though he did a great job of pretending he felt fine–thank you babe!), we basically quarantined ourselves, which turned out to actually be quite nice. It was a quiet Christmas with just the three of us–and though we missed being with family and friends, it was one of the most special of my life.


With plenty of musical entertainment…

I hope everyone is enjoying the season, whatever holidays you celebrate. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016 for all!









Cutting Down a Christmas Tree and Other Stuff White People Like

Last weekend we made our annual trip to a Christmas tree farm in the country to chop down our own tree. Last year, Miles was so small and still in a baby carrier, but this year he was running around like a little monster. I know that everyone who’s ever had a kid says this, but it really is amazing how fast they grow up.

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I love this age so much. Miles is talking but you can’t always understand him and everything he says is just so freaking cute. I could watch him run around all day with those short little legs and that goofy toddler wobble. He had a lot of fun following Dad around looking for the best tree.

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When we finally found it and cut it down, he was a little confused as to why we would do such a thing. He was stoic as he pondered the meaning of it all (or maybe he just thought the stump was cool).

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However, he quickly warmed to the idea that we were taking the tree with us.

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We had a lot of fun, but I noticed that Miles was the only black person on the entire farm. I had never thought of cutting down your own Christmas tree as a “stuff white people like” thing but maybe it is? (It also may have just been the day or time that we were there; I really don’t know. Also, that website is hilarious.)

Either way, it made me a little sad to think that he might feel like the odd man out in places like this when he’s older. The staff fawned over him, made sure he got a candy cane, and everyone was extra-special nice to us. But, in addition to having a really fun time, the experience also reinforced how important it is for us to build a diverse community and regularly expose Miles to Black culture, too–because the reality is that Miles is being raised by a white family that tends to do stuff that other white people do.

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My hope is that we can strike a balance and instill confidence in him so that he will feel comfortable with people of all races and in any situation–and that he will be empowered to do whatever stuff it is that he likes, no matter the social or racial construct.












Thankful That I Couldn’t Have a Biological Child

photo-117Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and not just because I get to stuff my face with turkey and gravy and potatoes and pie (although that is definitely awesome). I love how the day always makes me think about what I’m most thankful for. I didn’t say this out loud at dinner–it’s not your typical toast–but I am truly and deeply grateful for my inability to have a biological child.

Had I had an easy time getting pregnant, I would never have met my son. I would be missing out on so much right now. I am sure I would have loved a biological child, but I would not have MY child. This child, this beautiful boy right here. This little boy who I am more in love with than anything else on the entire planet and in the whole history of the world.


If I had gotten a positive pregnancy test, I would have a normal family that blended in with the crowd and a child who looked like me. I would not have this beautiful, colorful, diverse family that may not look alike but who loves each other just the same. I would not have the compassion, understanding, wisdom, community, and love that I have gained through adopting a child of another race.

I would have love, but I would not have his love. My heart would be bigger, but it would not be this big. I would be happy, but I would not be this happy.

I would be thankful, but I would not be this thankful.


My life was forever changed when my son entered it. I’m grateful that I understand so much more than I ever did about race and what it feels like to be ‘othered’ by society. I am thankful that my eyes have been opened and my thoughts and feelings have expanded and grown and multiplied in ways that I never dreamed of. When Miles was born, I did not just get a child, I got a whole new perspective on life and what it means to be a human being. I am truly a better person because of him.

I am thankful every day for the presence of my beautiful black boy with his dark chocolate skin, deep brown eyes, and contagious spirit. I love learning about his rich heritage and figuring out ways to include it in our daily lives. I love how intentional I have to be every day. I love the smell of his soft hair after I rub coconut oil in it and how the odd curl refuses to be tamed. He makes me laugh a million times a day and I cannot imagine a life without him in it.


I wish I had been able to tell myself this when I was trying to get pregnant: that my biggest heartbreak would soon turn into my greatest joy. And that I would be eternally grateful for the gift of infertility, no matter how much it hurt at the time.


Best Friends of the Furry Kind


He’s not even two years old yet, but Miles already has two best friends: our old English lab and our middle-aged mutt, his constant companions.  They have both adored him from the start. Now that he’s running around, he plays ball with the lab, (which is hilarious) chases the mutt, and snuggles up with (or sits on) them all the time. He makes sure they eat pretty good these days, too, dutifully sharing both his favorite snacks and his least favorite vegetables.


Our dogs have been a part of Miles’ life ever since the day he was born. When we drove from Virginia to Texas after getting the call that Miles’ birthmother was in labor, we packed up the car and brought the dogs because we had no idea when we’d be back (and we only had one day notice that we were about to have a baby!). So they knew him right from the start and immediately went into protector mode.


We ended up being in Texas for an entire month, and were very happy to have the dogs with us on the most important trip of our lives (after all, they were our babies first). When we were feeling stressed over ICPC or the frustrating Texan adoption agency we had to work with, we would look at sweet, sleeping Miles, and then pet the dogs. When we had no idea if we were ever going to be able to go home, I would put Miles in a baby carrier and walk the dogs. We both remarked several times on that trip how glad we were that they were there (even if they added an extra layer of complexity to the situation).

I love that I have photos like the one below when Miles was four days old and we were living in a hotel room (was that ever an adventure) and then from the porch of the sweet little house we rented on AirBnB for three weeks.



Having a pet has been proven to be great for your health by lowering anxiety and stress levels. Dogs are there for you always, whenever you need them, absolutely unconditionally. Even though they are not humans, their company makes us feel less alone. If you’ve ever wrestled with a stressful, sad, scary, depressing situation, you know how isolating it can sometimes be. Dogs are soft and furry, which in addition to getting hair all over your couch and black pants, also provides comfort that’s hard to beat. To simply pet a dog or cat is to lower your blood pressure as much as lowering your sodium intake.

Look, see — Miles doesn’t appear stressed at all, does he?


In the same way that I want to equip him with a love of nature and the outdoors to help him when he struggles, I also want him to equip him with a love for animals.

Having a dog has helped me through so many hard times in my life. My dogs have been on the receiving end of my tears too many times to count and have never once backed away from offering a furry shoulder to cry on.

When Miles is going through his teenage years, and in young adolescence when he tries to make sense of his adoption and racial identity, I want his dog to be sitting next to him. I want him to be able to pet that dog and calm himself and know that that dog is his–his best, most loyal friend, his companion, his protector. When he feels that there is no one in this world who understands him, I want his dog to lick his face and beg him to play ball or go for a walk. I want the responsibility of caring for a dog to bring him back to reality if he ever starts to spiral into darkness.


This is something that Miles’ birthmother also wanted for him. Our dogs were one of the reasons that she chose us to be his family. She never had the chance to have a dog, but she said that she thought every little kid should–and she loved the thought that he would have two.

I’m pretty sure that he would agree with that wholeheartedly.




Fall fun at the corn maze + pumpkin patch

I’m just a giant kid masquerading as an adult, so, naturally, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love everything about it: pumpkin patches, corn mazes, scary movies, (pretty sure I’ve seen every single one ever made), caramel apples, jack-o-lanterns, dressing up, trick-or-treating, and, of course, candy (bring on the Snickers and the Nerds!). One of the best things about having a little kid now is that I can do all of that fun little-kid stuff without people thinking I’m a total weirdo. 
IMG_8262I could never drag my husband to a pumpkin patch when it was just him and I, but now he has no excuse. I wanted to go big this year, seeing as it was Miles’ first real Halloween. (He was so little last year that it didn’t really count.) So, I was excited to discover a farm called Liberty Mills, home to the biggest corn maze in Virginia. It’s on 25 acres (25!) and this year it had an Alice in Wonderland theme.

There are actually four mazes of escalating difficulty, but we only made it through two–that backpack is heavier than it looks. And Miles wasn’t quite ready to enjoy it as I had imagined he would… you know, running through the corn stalks with a huge smile on his face having the best time ever. Really, he just looked confused the entire time: Where the heck are we and what are we doing? But I still had fun!

IMG_8243Jamie was much better at navigating the maze than I was. Miles would probably have been better at it than I was. I got us totally lost. And it started getting pretty hot in there without any shade. Good thing we had a map!

The mini corn maze for kids was more Miles’ speed. It was more of a corn tunnel, but he l-o-v-e-d it. I think he may have loved playing in the huge pile of straw even more, though.

Driving the tractor was a huge hit, too. What a little farmer–ear of corn in one hand, steering wheel in the other. IMG_8340

When it was time to pick our pumpkins, we had to stop and check out each and every one. Hmmm, which one shall I choose? Big decision!IMG_8344

It took awhile, but we finally found three perfect ones. I know Miles will probably never remember this day, but I always will! IMG_8352