Marching for the Dream.

I wish I could say that I saw the significance of Dr. King’s life in years past, but the truth is, I didn’t think much about before we started down our journey towards adoption. I didn’t have a lot of diversity in my life in my younger years, so I didn’t spend much time thinking about all the people who have struggled, fought oppression, spoke up, protested, and sacrificed for equal rights in our country. The reality is that before the Civil Rights Movement, families like ours could not exist. Interracial marriages were illegal until 1967-that is less than 50 years ago. We have come so far, but we have not fully fulfilled Dr. King’s dream. I don’t want to be a silent bystander, hoping that changes will come. I want to be an active participant. Complacency, silence, moderation, thinking that it is someone else’s responsibility is not good enough when it comes to justice. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Letter form Birmingham Jail

Yesterday, our family marched side by side, with people of all different races, genders, religions, backgrounds and experiences. The march in our city is one of the biggest in the country. Being a part of it, is an honor and a privilege for us. Maya has a book that called, “We’re different, we’re the same, we’re wonderful.” I love it. So simple. We should celebrate how God made us all different, yet the same. All with the desire for love, the need for some hope and all equal in His sight.
-Jenn

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Yes, my son has style for miles. I love him so.
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Purification Oil Blend {Essential Oils}

Now that the holidays are over, I want to get back in the swing of thing with the blog. I got lots of great essential oil related presents from my sweet husband (more on those soon!). Great storage solutions and ways to make my oils more convenient for our family. Needless to say, I’ve got oils on the brain :) If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, please message me or check out this post.
Purification is an essential oil blend that contains citronella, lemongrass , rosemary, melaleuca, lavandin and myrtle. In our house it has been used mostly for skin issues, such as bug bites and pimples. I personally used it around my ear for an earache and it worked wonderfully. I swear that I could feel my ear draining. Amazing. I’m ordering a new bottle in my monthly shipment for February to use for diffusing and cleaning the air in our house. Purifiaction is one of the 11 oils included in the Premium starter kit.
-Jenn

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The information in this blog is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat or cure any disease, illness or condition and should not be used as a substitute for seeking professional medical advice. I am not a doctor. Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA. The testimonials provided here are for informational purposes only. You should not stop taking any prescribed medication without consulting your physician. I am simply stating are family’s experiences.

Redecorating my mind.

I’ve never been a new year’s resolution kind of girl. After Christmas, I am pretty quickly back to business as usual. This year, however, I am ready for a change. My life has been feeling a bit stale for a while. I want to be a do-er, a go-er, but my passion has been buried under all the things I think I should be doing. The new year gives me the perfect time to rediscover my joy, my faith, and my passion. I’m starting small, but I can already feel my heart filling with hope.
The first step for me is to set my alarm clock. My husband gets up long before the sun, while I sleep in until little Miss screams”Mommy-O!!!!” through the monitor. I’ve decided to get up before Maya, slowly drink a cup of coffee while doing a Bible study (I’m following along with She Reads Truth). This is making such a difference. Taking the time for myself and spending even a little time with Jesus before I start being Mommy gives me the focus I need for a great day.
The next step for me is a little redecorating our home. I’m a thinker, an over-thinker, and can so easily get overwhelmed with nothing and everything. We’ve had a few big things happen in our family lately that I usually would let take over my mind and my heart. I’ve been searching for just the right prints to display in our house to help focus my mind on the positive. There will be a new print in our bathroom to remind me right after I’ve gotten out of the shower that God’s got this. And a collection of four quotes in the hallway, to remind us all that the choices we make matter. The plan is for the redecoration in our home to encourage the redecoration of my mind. This year, may we keep our focus on the beauty in our life and push towards doing bigger and better things every day.
And because today is the day we celebrate the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., here is a free download of a few of my favorite quotes from him. I haven’t decided yet which one is going to be displayed in our home…maybe all of them.
-Jenn

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Black lives matter.

I have so many, many thoughts running around in my head. With Christmas fast approaching my to do list is overflowing. This morning, my sweet little girl is at her Mother’s Day Out program and I have a few hours to get stuff DONE…but I can’t. I have to stop. I have to say something. I have a short window of time right now to tell you how we feel. A couple of weeks ago, I posted this photo of my amazing family. It got over 130 likes on facebook. I am constantly hearing from friends and family how beautiful my family is, how wonderful our children are. These three people are my heart. I get emotional just looking at this photo and trying to comprehend how beyond blessed I am that this is my life.

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My children have changed my life in so many ways, both anticipated and unexpected. Before we adopted trans-racially, my deepest thoughts as to how race would affect our lives was that we may find out a few of our friends/family would be opposed to our decision and we wouldn’t be friends anymore. I thought, “Good riddance. I don’t want to be friends with those people anyway.” What I didn’t think about was just how different life is experienced in this country for Black people than it is for me. I didn’t think about how much catch up we needed to do in order to prepare our Black children for this world. I knew that we would get stares, but I didn’t know that that a child would be allowed to put my 2 year old daughter in a headlock and the administration would write it off because the White child is “Just fascinated with her hair.” We have had to figure out how to explain to my son why he is more quickly given a yellow card while playing soccer for being fast and strong while the White player is allowed to pull him by the jersey. My beautiful Black son is almost ready to drive. I didn’t think about the conversations that we would have to have about NEVER reaching for something in his pocket or his car without first getting permission from the police officer when he is stopped (because he will be stopped). That it doesn’t matter how cold it is, he cannot wear his hood up anywhere. That the answer to why in all of these questions, is because you are Black.
And more than this, I didn’t know that there would be so many around us that just do not get that. That there are so many people who will completely deny the simple fact that life is not the same for White people as it is for Black people.  I had no idea that something so blatantly obvious to me would be denied so vehemently. And that so many others would just look the other way, thinking that it doesn’t concern them. Mothers of Black children are having trouble sleeping at night. In no way am I saying that I have any idea what it is like to be Black in this country, but I do know that it is not the same experience that I have had. It is different and it should not be. So if you “like” my family photo. Don’t think that we prove love is colorblind. If you love my babies, speak up. Be color-brave. I know that it is difficult to know what to say, but say something. Don’t deny that we do not live in a post-racial society. Don’t pretend that no one notices that Alain is Black as they decide to cross to the other side of the street when he is walking in his own neighborhood. It is not “pulling the race card” or giving my children a “chip on their shoulder” to talk about this reality. If you “like” my family photo, “like” this post too because there is more to living Black in America than adding some beautiful color to our family photo.
There is a lot happening in our country right now. I will not claim to know the facts of every case in every detail. I do know that there needs to be a big, ongoing conversation about racism, stereotypes, white privilege, etc. and that the ONLY way for things to change is for people who are not directly, negatively affected by these things to speak up anyway. The first step is admitting there is a problem. Let me assure you, if you are not witnessing it yourself by having a day-to-day relationship with a Black person in America, there IS a problem. If you don’t believe the thousands and thousands of people of color who are telling you that there is a problem, maybe adding my little white Momma voice will encourage you to take a step back and reconsider what you thought you knew about race in America. To find a protest in your area, checkout Ferguson National Response Network.
-Jenn
SIDE NOTE: It is ok to say Black. My children are Black. We love that they are Black. We celebrate their gorgeous brown skin and their amazing curls. Chris and I have to opportunity to be a small part of a bigger cultural experience because of being a transracial family and we love it. We celebrate Rwandan culture, Ethiopian culture and African American culture and we do it proudly and with much love.

Sharon Taysi - Thank you for sharing. As a school teacher I get to see the sweet, kind loving students that I know will be stopped in their cars simy because of how they look. It breaks my heart… Please let’s continue to fight the good fight.

Mark Denman - Silence is not always golden. Being black in American is a very different experience. Thanks for sharing your feelings on this issue. Hopefully, we can learn to celebrate our differences and not be afraid or threaten by them…black and white. Your children are indeed beautiful and fortunate to have found two people to make the choice to love them unconditionally. We need more people like you both who exemplify what love should look like. Thanks again!

rita - I feel such a connection to you through this article. I struggle with knowing that my almost 16 year old son will be venturing off into a world that sometimes devalues him because he is black. Fortunately, I am also black. I say fortunately, because I can only imagine the tact and motherly love that goes into the conversations when these issues come up. I applaud you and your husband and you have absolutely beautiful children! Many blessings :)

Sarah Brown - I really loved this! We have adopted 4 black children! They are 7, 3, 2 & 1! We have not experienced these injustices YET! We experience the looks, the stupid questions (did you WANT black? No, we wanted purple but they were all taken!) and the whispers! I have been super worried though for my kids and the black people of America with all this going on! This is great perspective!!! Thanks for sharing your heart and being real!

Shar - LOVE this! And your family is beautiful. Thank you for willing partaking in the suffering black families in this country.

Tiffeny - Thank you for this. My heart was beating so fast when I read this because I truly know you understand. Thank you. Thank you.God bless you and your beautiful family. ❤

pikkuthti - Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Even if Finland, Europe might be safer place to grow up as a child with a colored skin, the attitude is similar here. White people say that there can’t be any problems. We don’t experience it, so it do not excist. Fortunately we as parents can educate our children differently, to love our fellow human beings, no matter what their skin color is. To see everybody as spiritual beings. And to show their respect to others. I think it’s also important to talk about this dubble reality; to rise the awarness about how our fellow human beings are experiencing the life right next to us / with us.

Jenn - Hi Bethany,
Thank you for reading and for listening to my point of view. What you are teaching your children is vital to the future of our country. I think I wasn’t clear on what I meant by if you don’t have a day to day relationship with a Black person. I am not saying that it is possible for every White person in America to have a daily relationship with a Black person. I am simply saying that is the best way for White people to understand what it is like to be Black in America.
For more about capitalization, check out this post: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/opinion/the-case-for-black-with-a-capital-b.html I don’t have a real reason for not capitalizing White, so I changed that in the post. Most White people can trace their family history, so they know that they are Italian, German, British, etc. but Black people in America do not have the ability to do that because they were brought to this country as slaves. Black is as much heritage as they were allowed to have.

Erin Brant - Thank you…for sharing your story and inspiring me to finally break my silence. Things need to change.

Kathy Kidd - Jenn, I have followed your blog since before your children joined your family and have kind of lived vicariously while reading. This post is both beautiful and so true. Thank you for letting strangers share your world!
I’ve shared this on fb.

Melissa - This. ALL DAY LONG, THIS! Preach it, sister.

Did you know there is a HUGE Rwandan community here in Oklahoma City? Around 60 Rwandan college students at Oklahoma Christian University.

Just a little food for thought!

Abi - i love you more then you know. This is it.

Bethany - I do like your post, and I am glad you expressed your point of view. I am a white mom, too. I am trying to teach empathy and respect to my young kids, too. Thanks for speaking your point of view to further my own point of view.

I will challenge you though… I don’t have a day to day relationship with a black person, and its not because I don’t want to. It just isn’t happening in this phase of life. There isn’t something wrong with this. Its just how it is in my phase of life, without a job outside my home or large social circle.

I also wonder why you used capitalization for Black in a sentence and not a capital letter for white. I genuinely want to understand. Can you email me about that?

Cali Vacation {Things to do with your family in San Francisco}

This summer, we took a family trip to San Francisco. Chris and I had been in the past, but we wanted to take the kids. When I asked Alain what part of the USA he wanted to see first, he said California. It was a great break from the Texas heat. I’m always game to wear boots in August. I LOVE travel. Love, love, love. Chris’ love for travel is growing. Having a plan ahead of time definitely cuts down on the stress of deciding what to do every morning.  We bought the San Francisco Go Card that includes lots of different tourist attractions. Overall, it was a good deal. On one hand, we did things that we usually wouldn’t do, but on the other hand there were things we might of done that we didn’t do because they weren’t included. I don’t know that we will do a big card like this again, but it worked well for this trip.
-Jenn

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So excited to be on the airplane. “Zoom!!!”
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I can’t even believe how long his legs are.
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“Let’s go Daddy!” Hanging out on the piers.
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Hop-on Hop off bus tour all around the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Touching the stingrays and coral at the Aquarium of the Bay. I LOVE that she is now smiling at the camera!!!!
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We had so much fun at Golden Gate park. Maya loved the playground.
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Big brother had to get in on the action.
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Checking out the dinosaurs at the California Academy of Sciences.
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My boys love a good diner breakfast.
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Another day at Golden Gate Park.
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Even Alain was worn out.  :)
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The Conservatory of Flowers.
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My little artist was so excited that the deYoung art museum had a Africa exhibit.
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Checking out the local artist outside of the museums.
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Photo by Maya :)
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On the Bridge to Bridge tour.
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On board the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien.
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Maya was obsessed with the sea lions. We visited them almost every day.

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Biking the Golden Gate bridge was probably our favorite thing. It was an easy ride and such a fun was to see the bridge.
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It was cold, but she wanted to play on the beach, so play she did.
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We were in San Francisco for Alain’s birthday, so the boys rented Segways as his special birthday fun. They had so much fun!!

Kathryn - Hi, Jenn– I just discovered your beautiful blog and I had to reach out. There is a certain instant friendship I’ve found between transracial adoptive families. In off-line life it seems like we would have a lot of like ideology to talk about over a cup of tea while our respective teenagers and preschoolers played. I’m glad to meet you…virtually.
Sending warm wishes to you and yours! Kathryn

Nessa K - You were blessed with such a beautiful family. :) It looks like everyone is just so crazy about each other and so happy in every photo! It looks like a great trip!

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