Sunday, November 25, 2012

Student Work

Here are a few samples of what we've been working on...

We watched a video about Native Americans, and Turo had to explain what he learned. This was how he described the Pueblo cliff dwellings below.

We made a garland of things for which we are grateful
He did some painting and we turned his art into
placemats for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Accidental Homeschooling

Due to a quick series of events when I started working related to Jose's job, our commutes, the need for Turo to be somewhere while we worked, Turo started school with me.  He wasn't slated to go to kindergarten, but we decided to try it out.  He did pretty well for those first two months.  Putting your child into one of the lowest performing schools in the state is an interesting experience.  But I believed so strongly in what this school was trying to do that I knew Turo would be just fine.  And he was.  He made friends.  Learned songs.  Gained confidence.  There probably should be another blog post just about the assumptions people make about "bad" schools.  

He did great at school, but was melting down at home.  For many reasons, he struggled after school and on weekends.  These struggles were one of the reasons we decided that super long days were not working for this sweet boy.  

So, for now, we are at home together.  Rather than put him back in preschool, we've decided to experiment with a bit of homeschooling (which is something I never, ever imagined I'd be doing).  Our school day is pretty informal.  We do some reading & writing.  Practice numbers.  Read books (this month I've tried to incorporate Thanksgiving and Native American stories into our curriculum).  Do some art.  Play outside (Turo was very concerned about getting recess at this "new" school.)  It's nice to have one pupil.  Well, actually two since Turo insists that his dragon Pinecone Turo comes to school as well.  I love sitting next to him at the dining room table and watch him discover a new sound or write a word.  It's amazing being able to witness these tiny moments of knowledge building.  

Friday, November 23, 2012


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back home

Well, that going back to work thing didn't turn out how we planned.  Two months and few weeks in, I gave my notice.  Nothing bad happened on the job front.  I adored the school, the kids and my co-workers.  The struggle was balancing that with home & family life.  So after tough conversations, many sleepless nights and several lost pounds, I left.  It was the hardest professional decision I have made.  But I think it was the best choice for our family at this particular moment in time.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


School started September 4th.  Jose started a new job September 6th.  We are all commuting 45 minutes (if there is no construction or traffic) to Detroit.  All sense of normalcy has been tossed out the window, and we are trying to reconstruct what the new normal looks like. 
I have to make a stronger committment to not letting my work life taking over my entire life.  As a teacher this is a hard balance to strike.  There always is something to do, plan, think about.  This is compounded by the fact that our school is part of a brand new system and that system hasn't totally got their stuff together yet.  And our kids come from tough places and are way behind academically. 
I've never taught and parented, and it's hard.  Turo has been on the iPad way more than he should.  We've had dinner at places like Cotsco and Target.  I made dinner one night last week and was proud of myself.  I haven't worked out since the start of August (although I'm on my feet all day, so that counts for something right?). 
 It's hard, yet there is something that draws me to these kiddos.  To the possibility of changing their educational outcomes.  
Sunrise over Detroit 
iPad time
Dinner at Costco

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Things that turn my heart to mush...

Post dinner snuggle...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Two weeks in

After two weeks:

- I think I am really going to dig my new job. It's going to be hard, but has amazing potential for doing great work with kids.
- It has been surprisingly awesome to spend the day thinking and planning.  After three years in which my planning revolved around child rearing and housekeeping, it is nice to be engaged in some adult level thinking again.
- I remembered to put on deodorant  8 out of 10 days.  Seriously, how do you forget this crucial step in the morning routine?  Somehow I did. Twice.
- Trying to balance the needs of Turo at night is hard.  He's used to having my attention most of the day.  We played a lot.  Now we have to cram fun, dinner, clean-up & the bedtime routine into about 2.5 hours.  Evening has been hard for everyone.  Hopefully, we'll get into a flow and it won't seem so tough.
- Jose is has been a rock star.  He has really embraced this dual working parent thing and is jumping in to get stuff done.
- Even so, I have no idea when everything will happen.  Full laundry baskets wait to be emptied.  The floor needs to be mopped.  I've worked out once in the last two weeks.
- I think I'll be asleep by 10 tonight.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Going back to work

I headed back to the working world this week. I'm now a middle school social studies teacher in Detroit.  Today was my 3rd day.  It's a bit overwhelming but in an exciting way. Luckily we have a month of professional development before we actually have to do any teaching.  I feel like that is helping me ease back into things.  I'll want to share more but will have to do so when I'm less sleepy.  This (former) night owl needs to go to bed. I'd forgotten what it's like to wake up in the dark.  

Where the magic will happen...  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


We spent almost two weeks in Colorado with Grandpa Jim, Alison and Uncle Nick. The whirlwind that is Turo swept in and thought everyone wanted to play with him.  All. The. Time.  

I love watching Turo and my dad together.  Turo adores his Grandpa.  One day Turo even told me I should stay at home because it was "Grandpa and Turo time."  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Things that turn my heart to mush

When the plane begins to accelerate at take-off, Turo reaches for my hand.  Carefully lacing his fingers with mine, he watches out the window and doesn’t let go until we reach the clouds.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

The 30 second artist

Jose bought Turo an easel for Christmas.  I made a whole art corner - paints, crayons, markers, stickers. Turo has shown mild interest in this part of the playroom.  He'd rather be moving, running, jumping.  But upon occassion he'll wander over and ask to get the paints out. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Three is the magic number (for now)

Once the paperwork is filled out in adoption, you wait.  And in that space, there is much time to think.  Time passes.  Things change.  New information is added to the mix.  Deep conversations about life and finances and family and ethics are had.  While we waited for Turo, we had many long chats about such things.  But once we talked ourselves in circles, we reemerged wanting to continue on the path. Still excited even in the face of the unknowns. 

This time around has been different.  Somewhere in the early days of spring, we realized that we felt some relief that the call hadn’t come yet.  We were not in the same place as when we first began discussions about starting in on adoption #2.  Realizing that we needed some space to contemplate the make-up of our family, we called our social worker and asked that our file be put on hold. 

Maybe we’ll be on hold a few more months or for a year or maybe our family is complete.   For now we will embrace being a family of three and will continue to listen to our hearts as we look to the future. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Getting bigger

This week we converted Turo's toddler bed into a full-size one.   
Often the day to day blends together. One week feeling very similar to the last. Then there are these occasional markers of change. An alteration in the normal.

And it is in these little milestones that I am struck by how my little boy is changing. Growing.  Becoming.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Snuggle dress code

During bedtime snuggle...

Turo (with his feet on top of my legs): Are you wearing your cozy pants?

Me: No.

Turo: Go put them on.

Me: Why? 

Turo:  Because these pants (my jeans) are rough on my feet. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Some thoughts on what is working

Claudia has challenged her readers to write a blog post about what is working in their lives. So I am going to share a few things that help me navigate motherhood.

The “Play” Sandwich – Turo has always preferred playing with someone rather than entertaining himself. I still can remember trying to read a magazine while sitting on the floor in his playroom in the first month of becoming a family. He quickly toddled over, took it from my hand and put it out of my reach. It can be tough to be his playmate while also trying to get things done around the house. I feel like I’m constantly striving to find a happy balance between cleaning/cooking/laundry/ other household tasks and engaging with my son. When I insert play between chores, we tend to both be happier.

YMCA Childwatch – I love, love, love the childcare at the gym. Having a safe, fun place for Turo to go while I do a little self-care has been awesome.

Cleaning Day(s) – I need to have a clean house at least once a week (I’m not of the “they’re only young once, let the house be messy” school of thought.) I tried to do the whole one big chore a day like mopping or vacuuming throughout the week, but then things never had that just cleaned feeling. I like to clean the bathrooms on Thursday and the rest of the house on Friday. Then we go into the weekend with a happy, sparkly house. Now, this doesn’t always happen, but I notice I feel better when Friday night rolls around and everything is in its place.

Sara Saturdays – Back in our early parenting days, I realized that I needed to know I was going to get a “break” during the week to do whatever I wanted. Sometimes this is shopping, blogging, going for coffee or meeting a friend for brunch. And sometimes this time is spent getting chores done that are much easier to do solo. But either way, I love knowing that I have a few hours to myself each week. Now that Turo is in preschool these Saturdays are not as vital to my sanity, but are still nice since I usually spend the preschool hours doing household stuff. Plus it gives Jose and Turo a chance to spend time together and at the beginning I think this really helped their relationship deepen. And in the spirit of alone time, we also try to give Jose some solo time on Sundays and we even try to get to my mom’s once and awhile to give Jose a free weekend. Back in our pre-kid days, Jose and I really enjoyed our independent time and I think it’s been good for both of us to still get time to ourselves.

Fellow adoptive families – I can’t imagine doing this whole adoptive parenting thing without the connections I have made through the blogging world.

Menu planning – I have found that if I make a list of four or five meals that I’m going to make during the week that I am less harried at dinner time. I don’t plan the meals for specific days rather I just know I have the ingredients for these things in my kitchen. Then depending on what’s going on, I can decide that afternoon what to make. And I always have a pasta/sauce back-up for those days when even what is on my list seems too complicated to make.

(our pizza isn't always heart shaped, but this photo from Valentine's Day was just cute)

Coffee – It makes me happy, so I often build a coffee stop into our days.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Date night

A few weekends ago Turo and I had a date. We went to the local vegetarian restaurant (or as Turo knows it "the one with the box of blocks").

Then we headed to see an awesome UM student run percussion group's show.

It was a fun night and Turo fell asleep in the car. Since it was raining, I pulled up his hoodie to carry him into the house. My thoughts went right to Trayvon and how his mother probably tucked him into bed at night. I thought of how scary his last moments must have been. After leaving Turo's room, I got on-line and discovered Geraldo's comments about the role of the hoodie in Trayvon's death.

Yup, hoodies make Black boys look pretty dangerous don't they?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spring cleaning

Jose went to a conference last week, so I invited my mom to come help me spring clean. We scrubbed, washed and organized for four days (and only did the first floor of our house). Turo had lots of screen time. But by Sunday, the house sparkled.

The kitchen mid-clean

A happy, clean kitchen

I'm in love with my super organized pantry.

Grandma and Turo clean the windows

And I finally used the frames Jose bought me for Christmas

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

My steep learning curve of parenting a Black son

With each new piece of information that comes out regarding the murder of Trayvon Martin, my heart aches a little more. It hurts for Trayvon and his family. It hurts for my son and Black boys across our nation who are frequently viewed through a racist lens. It hurts for George Zimmerman. And this tragedy has been a huge reminder of the added layer of responsibility that comes with parenting a Black son.

I studied race in college courses. I taught in Detroit. I interned during grad school with an African American anti-gang violence group in Boston. I have Black friends. For a white gal from a small white Midwestern town, these experiences have helped me look at the world from new perspectives. In the past reading a news story about racial profiling or discrimination would make me angry on a macro, social justice kind of level. But now, when I look at a photo of Trayvon, I can see Turo in Trayvon’s smile.

Turo is going to grow up in a country in which many stereotypes and fears about Black boys and men abound. He doesn’t get a “pass” because he has white parents. When he’s out in the world, the first thing people will see is that he is Black. And some people (even in our liberal college town) will judge and assume and feel threatened. I can’t claim ignorance or be “colorblind” or think “love is enough.” Because it’s not. By not helping him understand the reaction some people will have to his skin color, I am putting him in danger. I have to help him get ready for this and as a White Mama this means my learning curve needs to be steep.

So I read. I listen. I work on my own biases and assumptions. I work at being an ally to people of color and speaking up for equality and social justice. I seek opportunities that will allow me to help Turo build connections to the African American and Ethiopian communities.

Then I have to hold my breath and send him out into a world that isn’t always just and fair. Into a world where no amount of preparation will protect him from a bullet. Into a world that can be made better by talking and listening and seeing each other with open hearts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Light at 5:20

I love the moment in winter when you suddenly realize that spring is near.

That sunshine is returning to our days.

The promise of running barefoot in green grass.

The wonder of flower buds and baby leaves and singing birds.


Friday, March 2, 2012

How blogging can feel like middle school

Growing up I was a bit of a nerd (okay I was totally a nerd), but that was okay with me. Other than buying a pair of Skidz in 7th grade, I didn’t feel a deep need to be part of the “in” crowd. But now, in the blog world, the cool crowd is awesome. They build schools, write deeply, share from their hearts, adopt again, develop projects for Ethiopia, run, paint, and parent with thoughtfulness and love. I am in awe of these women.

With less than a dozen readers, I’m still not part of the hip, happening crowd in the blog world. So when the chance comes up to meet a blogger in person, it feels a little like asking to sit at the cool table in the cafeteria. The incredible thing about the internet is that I follow moms from all over the U.S. So now when we head out on a vacation, I have a little side motive to our trip – meet blogging friends.

We’ve trekked to Oklahoma from Dallas to reunite with Cazadora and Oakley. I made Jose drive the 2 ½ hours to L.A., in SoCal traffic, during our San Dan Diego vacation so we could meet Julie and family. Last week, we got to meet Ms. SillyPants and Blueberry on our Midwestern roadtrip. It’s an interesting feeling to be in a house you’ve seen pictures of, be with people you’ve read about and have a whole backstory to your conversations already in place. No awkward chitchat of meeting someone the first time. You can just jump right in to the good stuff. Turo told me the worst thing about playing with his new friend was having to leave. And this Mama couldn't agree more.

This summer we’ll be in Denver. Anyone want to schedule some playdates?

Fun with friends

Friday, February 24, 2012


Wednesday, February 22, 2012