adoption, beautiful, chronic illness, confession, creative, depression, entertainment, family, fibro, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, Lately, list, marriage, music, paper, parenting, self care, travel

Think Casey Kasum, in tens…

2017 was a year, I will give it that! A full year in every sense of all the ways… Growing up in the 80’s I grew up with January 1st being the big Casey Kasum rehashing of the year we were still freshly saying goodbye to. There are some things I still, after all of this time, really miss. That would be one of them… So, in trying to reconnect with a few old traditions, these are a few of my favorite things in 2017:

Lost myself listening to…

  • Paramore (All, but specifically their newest album- After Laughter)
  • Dreamcar
  • Portugal, the Man
  • 21 Pilots- Blurry Face album
  • Matt Maeson
  • Phoenix- (newest album- Ti Amo)
  • Weezer- Pacific Daydream album. BRILLIANT!
  • Silversun Pickups acoustic sessions
  • K-pop (Exo, Monsta X, Crush, Dynamic Duo, T-Max, Kae Sun, BlackPink, etc.)
  • Dear Evan Hansen Broadway recording

I was moved by…

  • All of the devastation this year, through storms, fires and ill-intended human beings, and yet the quiet resiliency which would rise up among the bravest, in love.
  • My husband’s rescue of a stranger, and the way he and the other Hero worked side by side, seamless and instinctually.
  • Dylan Farrow’s article, and the reality it subtly insinuates.
  • The continuing search and hope for Danielle Stislicki
  • my husband reaching a goal and completing a half marathon
  • seeing my son as a father, with his daughter
  • This Lifetime commercial.
  • The Glorious video, by Macklemore
  • The adoption journey and completion of my beautiful friend Tia and her son
  • My friend’s motherhood journey, and her beautiful little, perfect family.

I Saw…

  • Goblin (Korean Drama)
  • The Book of Henry (film)
  • Fun Mom Dinner (film)
  • Wonder Woman (film)
  • Hero (video) by Monsta X
  • The Big Sick (film)
  • Lego Batman (awesome)
  • Twin Peaks: The Return (tv)
  • Only The Brave (film)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

The hardest/darkest parts…

  • Knightley. Loving him, knowing him, losing him…
  • When my kids struggle/hurt.
  • watching my mom go through dementia and deteriorate more and more, each day.
  • potty training puppies, on little to no sleep
  • when my husband was in Australia
  • Saying goodbye to my son and his family, multiple times.
  • When my grandmother’s vintage bowl broke
  • Having friends walk through really dark chapters, in their journeys, while I was helpless and too far away to really help.
  • My own chronic illness issues increasing so rapidly.

Adventures & Moments…

  • Meeting, and getting to know, my grand-daughter Victoria.
  • Celebrating my daughter Gennica’s high school graduation.
  • meeting my (first) great-nephew.
  • My sweet grand baby Ethan’s first birthday!
  • Celebrating my mom’s 70th birthday.
  • Traveling to Washington state and Idaho to absorb love and moments with beautiful people.
  • forty-four Mask Mondays
  • celebrating my sister Jennie, and two beautiful friends, in creative ways throughout the year.
  • Switching over from a paper calendar/planner to a digital one
  • The Dear Stranger letter challenge.


  • Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped Dates) at the Silver Pig
  • Bourgeois fries at Boise Fry Company
  • homemade pop-tarts, with my mixed berry jam. (best tasting summer berry hodgepodge of luck, ever.)
  • Chipotle getting queso. (!!!!)
  • raspberry chocolate torte from Cantoro
  • sweet mini-pepper tacos
  • Burger Fi herb & Aoli fries
  • Korean Tacos at the Yard House
  • Harney & Sons PARIS tea
  • Chocorite, sugar free (and AMAZING) “candy”.


  • Chalkboard doodling
  • Making an interactive trivia game, as a gift
  • essential oil sugar scrubs, sprays and creams.
  • Total Gallery wall
  • Made a photo/journey book, for my family
  • My Twin Peaks 41st birthday
  • the Twelve Days of Christmas for my husband
  • Traveler’s Notebook
  • Bible Illustration & creative journaling
  • Painting a palette sign with other, beautifully creative women

I learned…

  • how to love so deeply, and lose (Knightley), and then make myself ready to love again. (Elenor)
  • how to accept my limits, with grace and self love.
  • as silly as it sounds, I learned a ton about gum/oral health, and WHY certain practices are necessary.
  • that unknowingly, I matured beyond the Oscars and a passion about/for them.
  • How terrible/hard/ugly/difficult that distance between loved ones really is.
  • Tai Chi practice is life changing.
  • that I definitely need regular chiropractic care.
  • that I am an advocate of the legalization of medical marijuana, and why it’s important.

I discovered, and then I obsessed…

  • the ATTN: videos with Nev & Laura. I love them!
  • Blue Babies Pink podcast
  • S*Town podcast
  • Harvest Moon IOS
  • Flow magazine and periodicals
  • Brothers and Sisters reruns, on Hulu
  • Disney Emoji Blitz (because, apparently I am 12…)
  • Puppy collar bow-ties and flowers.
  • the love story between Paul Betany & Jennifer Connolly

The best money I spent…

  • airline tickets
  • FabFitFun
  • Elenor
  • Blowouts
  • Vinyl Record Albums
  • LuLaRoe Madison Skirts
  • yellow box flip flops
  • New suitcase
  • Storyville coffee
  • essential oils and a few EO products
adoption, beautiful, birthday, confession, family, gifts, gratitude, holiday, infertility, journey, marriage, parenting

17/14 vision…

Seventeen years ago, three very fragile and amazingly resilient children asked me to be their mother. Being a lover of birthdays, I remember this clearly, in that mildew scented cafeteria, because it was my grandmother’s birthday. I am also, I’ll admit, a sucker for symbolism. After seven miscarriages and a failed adoption, wasn’t the very fact that it was ON my grandmother’s birthday exact proof that this was a good sign?

I know, I know. At 24, I should have been much wiser than that. The thing was, however, I loved those kids incredibly. I had not taken the job in that group home in an effort to shop for children. (A phrase my older daughter, at least, will find bitter twinged amusement in.) I had accepted the position because I needed to stand on my own and because I loved kids and was really great at my job.

I had developed various sorts of close relationships with various kids who were growing up there. Some souls simply click, but with these three it was different. The first confirmation, of the miraculous element, for me had been when I developed special relationships and felt drawn to each of them before I was really aware that they were actual siblings. The three were not particularly close to each other, and in settings like that you often have kids refer to other kids as siblings, when they aren’t. When I learned, a couple of weeks in to my tenure, that they were biological siblings I realized that pull had made divine sense.

I had not been expecting the request, when they came together to ask it of me. I was, at 24, far too immature to understand the gravity of how difficult that must have been for them, considering their journey thus far, in life. My co-worker was sitting with me and she squealed a little and remarked “this is perfect! You and those three are a beautiful combination and seeing you all together makes life make sense!”

That journey towards them was not an easy one. There was much standing in the way and honestly, at 24, if I had known exactly what the heart fight would look like, I might have run away screaming. Thank God, I didn’t. I was witness to very abusive manipulations, over the years, and a control battle over those precious spirits, that still (in recollection) makes my skin crawl. Though our journey as a family has not been at all how I would have designed it, the outcome is a familial connection that I would not trade for the world. The journey was long, and eventually one of the three found parents who were closer and a better fit. I always understood, and grieved, and in the end came to peace with the fact that I love her just the same, no matter what…


Fourteen years ago, I was approached to be the mother of a broken little four-year old girl. It was a decision that we made within a few hours, even though I found myself weather worn from my other mother-journal-struggle. (which at this point, was still going strong) My fear was that we would grow to love this tender little child and then lose her, down the road. The once-again-symbolism of my grandmother’s birthday being near, and what the journey with those three beautiful kids had been like, were not lost on me.

You see, the feared possibility was not completely unfounded. We had been the soon-to-be adoptive parents of twin girls, once upon a time. Our ten months with them were that sort of chapter where every day felt a little like this is what my soul has been waiting for, finally I am complete. Then, due to a technicality regarding a gun, an arrest method and a court loophole, they were returned to the stranger that was their mother, leaving my arms empty and my heart officially shattered…

Two days after being asked, we drove out to pick up our daughter. It was a sunny September Sunday afternoon, and I had made sure to call my grandmother, on the way over, to wish her a happy birthday. The sunshine easily acted like a promise that this time, this time motherhood might not hurt as bad, and may not end with empty arms. This little girl was a gift, but she was also a daily reminder that there were no guarantees. For a very long time I walked the tightrope of guarding my heart and that same heart diving headfirst into the sea of her child-spirit. Tens upon tens of thousands of dollars later, (and sadly a nine-year court battle which always seemed to play out more uphill than down, until we one day found it over) she was legally ours. Throughout this time, there were sadly moments when this growing girl would be used, as a pawn, to hurt our older kids. It was a sick and a meant-for-tragedy thing, and miraculously it never worked. Seeds meant to sow resentment, simply sowed love.


My beautiful, (now in heaven) grandmother’s birthday has born to me, motherhood. She was such a strong woman who held a family together in ways which I could never replicate, all the while her birthday knit together another branch of her own. My motherhood journey has been anything but traditional. Just the same, I am the mom to some of the most extraordinary humans I have ever known.

For the first time since that timid little seventeen year old request for my motherhood was asked, I am spending this day alone. In the past I have either been with my husband, visiting my kids, becoming a mom again, just with one kid, two kids, or the best of times- all three. One year we were recovering from the wedding, the day before, of my older daughter. One year we went to the Lion King on Broadway, on other we sat around eating chocolate fondue and making silly home movies for my husband because he couldn’t be with us. Somehow the day has always been special, playing out as its own sort of character within our family and lives. (fun bonus fact, my son married a beautiful girl, whom I adore, whose birthday is the day AFTER this little anniversary of ours. Attraction truly is a spiritual thing.)

This year my husband is 8,000 miles and 16 hours away. My son is in the far corners of the country doing his part to keep our nation safe. My older daughter on her own motherhood journey, waking from ringing in her own anniversary- marriage. My younger daughter, the sweet little four-year old of fourteen years ago, is on a dark and prodigal journey that this mmama heart of mine hopes will not last forever, but worries about the consequential scarring that may happen along the way. My family is a lesson to me that fighting for those whom your soul loves, is primal at best and always vital. The journey will never be scripted the way that your heart hopes, but the outcome of love will always be worth it- even when things don’t go your way.

Happy birthday, Grandma…

adoption, confession, family, journey, parenting

a PSA…

Our youngest came to live with us when she was four and a half years old. Many of you know that story, about how our little family unit came to be. She’d had a rough go of it, for those first four years. Within the first few days that she lived with us, we took her over to a friend’s house. We were very close with these friends and wanted to share Gen with them, and vice-versa. We weren’t there but half an hour, or so. As we were pulling out, my friend called my cell to tell me she’d seen Gen with an orange golf ball in her pocket. “I’m pretty sure she stole it from my husband’s set, but honestly I don’t know how or when. Just a heads up, you might have a little stealer on your hands.”

She had not come to my friend’s in possession of a golf ball. We waited til we were home to gently broach the topic. Gen was adamant that it was her golf ball, she’d gotten it as a present when she was two from so & so. The story came so honestly, so naturally that had we not be the ones to sort through the very few belongings she’d come with, we might have believed her.

When she was little, she stole a lot. She stole everything from gum, to candy, to food, to stickers, to socks, to receipts. If she wanted it, she believed she deserved to have it. If she was confronted, a lie so believable flowed from her lips and when consequences came, she was so broken that we didn’t believe her and she wasn’t a thief.

The longer this went on, the more defeating it became. All of the well-meaning people who were reassuring us this was kid’s stuff and she’d grow out of it, stopped saying much of anything. We taught and taught and taught her through various degrees, that stealing was WRONG, that lying was WRONG. We were doing everything right, in that regard. She honestly just never cared if it was right or wrong, or if anyone got hurt.

My point here is sometimes things happen. Kids become adults who make their own choices. Sometimes, like with that little girl, they will blame whoever they please, anything to not own the responsibility. But please, when this happens to someone you know, don’t blame the parents for the child/adult child’s choices. Their journey may have been wrought with hell, and defeat and hopelessness may be the hats they wear more than any other. A little love can go a long way…

adoption, beautiful, chronic illness, confession, entertainment, family, fibro, food, friendship, gratitude, home, infertility, journey, Lately, marriage, parties

Consider it an invitation…

I love Jesus.

I am pretty ok with that, and I hope that you are too. If you aren’t, just know I am ok with that too. My loving Jesus isn’t about you at all, it is about me. It’s about my heart, my life, my choices, my journey, and a lot of other large and small things which add up to equal my faith.

I cautiously consider myself a Christian. I say cautiously because, honestly, at least in America (and some perceptions of American Christianity) the name has gained a bit of a rough reputation.

My pastor spent Sunday morning talking about Detroit. This looked a little like a history lesson. It involved political bits, heart bits, hard truths and a bunch of other uncomfortable and completely relevant things which together equalled a pretty amazing talk. He challenged us to be honest with ourselves about the walls we build. Initially the topic came up because Detroit was once known to have a dividing wall. I guess pieces of this wall still exist. This wall was raised to literally divide the African-Americans and the Whites. Though the wall isn’t technically much of a thing anymore, Detroit is still ranked as the most segregated city in America. I live in the metro part of this amazing city and I have to say this announcement shocked me. Our church alone, (granted, it’s a pretty huge church) likely has multiple people from most nations, in attendance. Our neighborhood actually has a dozen flag poles sporting flags from 12 different nations because we are such a diverse little community. Then again, this is the metro area, and not Detroit itself.

He illustrated his point by having several people from different countries approach the front of the church. They looked at each other, chatted some, laughed a little and then affirmed “there are no more walls between us.” I’ll admit it- it was emotional and I totally teared up. After this, he had fans of rivaling college teams do the same thing. It was funny and laughs were had, but when he sobered and asked us what walls we put up, I was challenged. I am pretty accepting. I don’t shy away from anyone really. I love meeting people and things that are different don’t scare me. Since that service, I’ve thought a lot about this. There are off-putting things, about me, which likely cause others to put up a wall between us. Despite losing 130 lbs, I am still overweight. I have a lazy eye. I was separated from my husband for 6 months (an issue that many fellow Christians we know can’t seem to get past.) in fact, here is a list of things which have caused people I’ve known to distance themselves from me…

I voted for Hillary.

I have a diverse taste of music.

I don’t support people who discriminate against ANYONE and using their religion as an excuse.

I worked as a film critic for years.

I drink.

As a photographer I have done many boudoir sessions.

I am an adoptive parent.

I struggled with infertility.

I am pro-choice and hate abortion.

I was sexually abused.

I hate porn and believe it decomposes a person’s ability to have healthy self image/relationships/etc.

I am a feminist.

I believe in marriage.

I support equality.

I do not believe men and women are equal. I am different from my husband and my brother. I am not better, but different. I don’t want to be like them.

I do believe men and women should have equal rights, DO HAVE equal worth and value.

I love Jesus.

I will never “shove Jesus down your throat” or preach at you.

I am a person and so each of these things make up a piece of my story… Each of these things has a story and reason for it’s position in my life.

I will not bother/hurt/offend me if your stories are different and your beliefs do not match mine.


If you know me, you know that I am a party planner. Best of all are dinner parties. LOVE THEM. Upon moving back to Michigan in 2013, my party opportunities are limited, and this makes me a little sad. After that sermon though, I got to imagining a dinner party. What if we had a lovely homosexual couple over for dinner. What if, in addition to them, we had an African-American couple, a middle eastern couple and a few other diverse additions? Other than the likely fact that we would have some really interesting and unpredictable conversation, what would we have?

A dinner party.

That is literally it. It would not be an experiment. It would not be a meeting. It would not be anything other than a group of people getting together to share a meal and converse. Obviously we would all have SOMETHING in common, or the dinner party wouldn’t exist in the first place. (hence the interesting and unpredictable conversation)

I really wish this dinner party were happening. Do you know why? Because I am seriously lonely and want to host a lovely little dinner party. (That’s the only reason actually. Maybe you should come for dinner…)

When it comes to a different race, or a different class, or a different religion, I am unruffled. None of these things will hinder me from approaching someone, or befriending them, or responding to them if they approach me. The one thing that may honestly hinder me is the fact that I am a total introvert and often have much better intentions than follow through, and I get a little insecure. While I want to approach someone, those things I first mentioned (overweight, lazy eye, etc.) become the wall I throw up to save my ass from someone else’s rejection.

Recently I had the opportunity to get to know a small group of women. One of the women I shallowly pegged immediately as a little stuck up and clearly she had it all together. She was thin and honestly, gorgeous. As time progressed though, it became surprisingly obvious that this beautiful woman and I had far more in common that anyone else in the group. Ironically the fat girl with the lazy eye and the drop dead gorgeous and in shape woman became friends. Is that how she saw me? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I threw up a wall with my initial assessment, and what I assumed would be hers… Thankfully that wall became a gate and now it is gone completely. My point is, when pastor Bob challenged us to find our walls and why we build them, this friend instantly popped in my head. I could have missed out on so much because I jumped to conclusions. I don’t do that as a habit, but I don’t want to do it ever. I want to be better, with others and with myself.

I want to have dinner party after dinner party where my table is filled with people who contribute to great conversation, people who enjoy food and maybe an occasional game or glass of wine. Beyond that, while I don’t want to be blind to their differences, I do want to understand and appreciate them for the unique people they are. (whoever they will be)



adoption, beautiful, entertainment, family, friendship, gratitude, journey, marriage, parenting

what makes a hero?

Recently I entered into a facebook dialogue about fathers. Specifically the sort of father who isn’t much of an active father at all, rejecting and abandoning their children. What made me truly sad, within the context of this discussion, was the number of people who share that very story. I know that this idea is not exclusive to fathers, but it does seem pretty common all the same.

Some time ago I read a letter my daughter meant for another. Within it she talked a lot of negative untruth about me, but the part that really pushed my emotion over the edge was her writing about her dad, my husband. She spoke about her dad abandoning her and how she had all of these daddy issues because her dad had neglected and rejected her throughout her life. The reasons she was going into such fictitious detail, in page after page was actually to deflect her own responsibilities from decisions she’d made, but that isn’t the point. The point is that this child has grown up being tucked in and prayed with, by her dad, every night that he was not away on business. She has lived through hundreds, if not thousands of movie nights snuggled into her dad’s embrace. She has maintained the second part of inside jokes and daddy/daughter dates, coloring, puzzles, projects, games, shopping, road trips, piggy back rides, video games, bedtime stories, amusement parks, etc. He has never not been present for a birthday, and Thanksgiving or a Christmas. Her dad is 100% all in…

When we think of heroes, we imagine brave individuals, swooping in to save lives, villages or entire planets. These are the things which books and movies are made of. This has, perhaps distorted our view of heroism. Men who stay home and own their responsibility- is this not courageous? My hero is my dad. My dad met me when I was twelve and placed in the house which he and his wife were foster parents. He was not my father (whom I had never met) nor the first person I called dad. I did not like or trust men (thanks, first person I called dad) and so it was an awkward and tough process. Dad can be a title, but it is intended to be so much more. Over the following decades of my life, this man would teach me so much about myself, accepting others, empathy,  and unconditional love. He would meet and embrace my boyfriend/eventual husband in the very way a father should. He would give me a pet name, be at my wedding, repair things in my life that needed fixed, lead Thanksgiving dinner grace in my marriage home, be the only person by my side during an emergency hysterectomy and be such a rock for me as I navigated adulthood through various difficult stages. This man is not my hero because he became my dad, but because I was not alone here. This man has a large number of children who knew him as dad, whose lives he helped shape. Whose lives (in my case, and a few others I know, anyway) he saved in various ways of meaning. When I think of a brave man, I think of him. Some of the kids he sheltered had dads, but many didn’t, and this man bravely stepped in to do what others either could not, or did not. I look at him and I know, without a doubt, this world is a far better place because of him and how he’s chosen to live his life.

The question I was challenged to write about was someone heroic that I admire, who embodied sacrifice and courage. I know a hundred soldiers, all of whom I admire immensely (my son tops the list) and I did not want to deflect from their sacrifice and heroism. On my heart though, were the dads. The men, like my husband and my dad, who love beyond themselves and open up their hearts to parent the unparented and abandoned as if they were their own, signing on for the whole of their lives… I was asked to choose someone I would stand up for. Regarding these two men- (and, my son. :) ) in a heartbeat, time and time again…

Partnering with the release of the up and coming film The Promise, starring Christian Bale, (you can watch the trailer here) I would like to offer a small giveaway. The promise is a story of sacrifice and love. It is about two heroes, one who stands up for truth and injustice and the other who is willing to pay the ultimate cost for what is right.  I would like to give a $25 Fandango gift card to one winner. To enter for a chance to win, please leave a comment on here, or our facebook page, talking about your own hero- and why. (if you share this on twitter, please leave a link in the comments for an extra chance to win.)