Thursday, September 29, 2011

An answer to a frequently asked question(s).

Her hair.  Is it hard?  How long does it take?  What do you different?  Lots of people are curious.  And I very much understand the curiosity.  It seems like a secret club to lots of people.  It's really not though.  But, I thought I would give you a quick run through of what a typical hair week looks like for us, and some products we use.  Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer.

Our hair week typically starts on Saturday.  At some point on Saturday, Abigail takes a bath, and we wash her hair.  This means we: wash her scalp really well with a moisturizing shampoo (herbal essence hello hydration is what we use).  Rinse completely.  I then put a deep conditioner in by sectioning off a small piece of hair, putting conditioner in  and combing that section with a wide tooth comb.  I do this until all of her hair has conditioner on it, and then usually add a little more conditioner by massaging it close the the scalp.  I put a shower cap on her head and leave it on for anywhere from 5-15 minutes (this depends on her tolerance level).  (I am in the process of switching deep conditioners so I don't have a recommendation for this yet.)  I then take the cap off and rinse all of the conditioner out.  Some people are done with their hair at this point.  However Abigail's hair type is a 4c-and is extremely dry.  So after I have rinsed the deep conditioner out I then take some regular daily conditioner (I use Bee Lovely's moisturizing daily conditioner) and section her hair once again.  I add a small amount to each section and comb it through and then braid the section after it's been combed through.  I do not rinse the conditioner out.  I know this probably sounds crazy to some of you.  As a white woman my hair would look a frightful mess if I didn't rinse my conditioner out.  But Abigail's hair NEEDS this for me to be able to comb it out, and so that it stays well moisturized.
After bath we hang out on the couch surrounded in product, brushes, and with something kiddy for Abigail to watch.  I, one section at a time, unbraid her hair and brush through it.  I use a tangle teezer and starting at the ends brush lightly to make certain their are no tangles or snags.  I slowly move up her hair (still brushing from top to bottom) until it's all untangled.  I then add a generous amount of moisturizer to the ends of her hair (I use Deja's Hair Milk-also Bee Mine brand).  I use another moisturizer (luscious balanced cream moisturizer-Bee Mine) by putting some in my hands, rubbing them together and rubbing it on the section of hair from top to bottom.  After it's all been applied, I do another quick brush through to make sure all of her hair got product on it.  IF I am going to do a style I leave the section down.  If she's going to bed right away I just rebraid each section (I try not to let her sleep on her hair when it's down, and she always wears a silk cap over her hair at bedtime).
So, after all sections are combed and moisturized, there are two things that can happen.  If I send her to bed with the braids, I can style it the next day or let her wear it free (in an Afro).  Either way, I will have to rebrush and remoisturize her hair starting at the taking each section out and brushing it. If she wears it in an Afro I usually add some Bee Mine curly butter, after the original mouisturizer, because hair left down dries out more (and is more prone to damage).
If I am styling it (whether it be the same night or the next morning) the products depend on the style.  If I am doing a style I'm planning on leaving in for the whole week (or more) I just use the same protocol as above, do parts with the end of a rat tail comb, and get to work braiding twisting and so on.  If I put rubber bands in her hair (which I rarely do anymore) I always put them in olive oil first to keep them from breaking her hair.  If I am doing a style that will become another style-mainly twist that I will take out and let her wear as a twist out-I use either the Bee Mine curly butter before twisting or Queen Helene's Royal Curl.
So once the styling is done the daily upkeep is adding the Hair milk to her ends every day, and spritzing it with a moisturizer (I use Bee Mine Juicy Moisturizing daily spritz).  If I am doing a twist out, when I take the twist down, I still just spray it daily with the spray.  If I take a whole style down and redo it mid-week, I generally spray it with my own spray mixture I make containing aloe vera, glycerin, extra virgin olive oil, conditioner (the Bee Mine daily one I use) and water.  I then do the same moisture routine as above and style.
My daughter does bathe more than once a week.  And because she is three, and she gets dirty, I do generally have to wash mid-week.  If I do though, I will often wash with the style still in, and I do what's called a co-wash.  This just means I wash her hair with conditioner.  (I just use the Bee Mine daily one for this as well.)  If her hair is down we wash with the conditioner, rinse, and then do the leave in again.  If it's styled we wash with the conditioner and do a gentle rinse so some of the conditioner is left behind.
 The other hair related things we try to do are keep a silk scarf over the back of her car seat. The constant friction on her hair dries it out and causes it to break. We also try to put one over the stroller if she is in it for very long. However, she still rolls on the couch, floor, grass, and all sorts of other stuff and there's nothing I can do about it (unless I made her live in a silk cap or we covered everything we owned in silk).

This is it for styling. So to answer the bigger questions, is it hard? -I don't think so. It is way more work than my 'wash with generic products and go' style, but it's not hard by any means. How long does it take. There's not straight answer to this. Washing on weekends, around forty five minutes probably. Brushing it out and moisturizing it, around forty five minutes. Styling it (this definitely depends on the style) can be fifteen minutes to my longest one ever being five hours (broken up over a couple of days).
Abigail very much loves having her hair done. She asks me to brush it and braid it sometimes. It's a precious time to me to sit with a little girl on my lap and enjoy every minute of bonding her hair brings. She does generally watch television while I do her hair. We don't own a television, and so she watches very little over all. So Netflix and our computer have been a wonderful blessing in all of this. Sometimes Papa reads her books while I do her hair, and sometimes I just sit and talk to her while I do it.
The key to having styles that look good is knowing how to part well. I can do lines and zigzags, circles and hearts, and everything in between. I did know how to braid, french-braid (cornrow) and twist before I became a mama so that helped. I have also learned a lot of things from asking questions and the oh so wonderful You Tube. Any style I want to learn to do is available with a video tutorial. I was determined to know how to do my daughter's hair myself, and to be able to do really fun and cute stuff, so I have become quite knowledgeable over the past three years. I enjoy getting to share what I know, and learning more as I go.

 Some hair through the years pictures.
She was born with a full head of loose curls.
 It has transformed into beautiful tight curls that we love!

Her first bow at two days old.

Looking super cute in a headband.

Length at a couple of months old.

Some deep conditioning in the beginning.

First pigtails at about three weeks old.

My first time beading.

I got much better.
Abigail with some two strand twist.

Beads in the style.

 Not clear but about mid-back length.

Free Hair.

Twist out.

Lacing with ribbon.

In love with my daughter's hair,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


All right.  As an adult, I always hope that my interactions with other adults will be with a touch of thinking things through before they are said out loud.  But as I have probably mentioned on here before, this does not seem to be my luck.  For whatever reason I invite the questions, comments, and such that most of society knows are best left unsaid, even while thinking them.  Jason, he and Abigail can spend a whole night out together, and all he has to report are stories about being told how cute she is.  Not so much when it's a day with her Mama.
This comment though gets double ridiculous because now I have get to see this woman every week at Abigail's ballet class.  So here's the scenario,
We are parked next to each other, both putting children in our cars.  The girls she brings happen to be her great nieces that she nannies for.  As I'm putting Abigail in the car she kindly inquires, 'Are you her nanny.'  Not a big deal.  Abigail looks nothing like me.  I could be her nanny.  I nannied up until after she was born actually.  Not an offensive question.  I kindly and calmly tell her that I am her mother.  To which she responds with, 'Really?  You don't look old enough to have any kids' (please fully picture the hands on her hips tsk tsk voice and body language that was used).  Have I ever mentioned that I have a mean streak in situations like this?  I do.  So I responded by letting her know that I was old enough to be married, and to know that my husband and I can't get pregnant.  She sort of back peddled a bit and told me how great it was that we adopted.  I smiled cordially and said that Abigail is quite the blessing.
Maybe some of you don't see the issue with this so I'll try to explain from the point of view of having the 'you don't look old enough to have a kid' comment stated numerous times.  First of all, I am aware that I look ten to fifteen years younger than what I am.  Some call it an advantage.  I generally just think it's a pain.  I get talked down to, and of course don't know how to parent adequately.  My husband and I have had people make rude comments about the inappropriate age gap (of 2-1/2 years in reality).  Apparently being young means that everyone has a right to say what they want to you.
But lets pretend for one second that I was ten years younger.  That would put me at sixteen when Abigail was born, and nineteen now.  I would be interested in hearing how telling a person who had a child as a teenager (which is something that I wish didn't happen, but it does) that they are too young to have a child going to help?  It's not.  That's the answer.  It might make them feel like crap, remind them that you think they are some sort of whore, and lots of other things, but it doesn't help them.  So my first issue with this scenario is, so what if I happened to be nineteen with a three year old.  Don't comment on it unless you have something nice to say (the saying is still true about not saying anything at all).  
Secondly, before making a statement cue in to context clues; things like the fact that Abigail calls me 'Mama' and that I wear a wedding ring, that is very obviously a wedding ring, are good indicators that I must be old enough to be a parent (because I am one) and to be married (because I am). 
My third and final thought on it, if for some crazy medical reason when a thought pops in your head is must come out of your mouth, think of a more appropriate time.  Perhaps when the girls are all dancing and Abigail won't overhear the conversation about me being too young to be her Mama?  Maybe you could wait until she's buckled in, and the car doors are shut so she can't hear?  Be a stalker and follow me home so you can get my address and mail me a letter letting me know.  Whatever you need to do is fine, but for the love of my daughter, PLEASE stop saying these things in front of her.  PLEASE!!!!  We already have enough 'abnormal' things to try to explain to her about adoption and medical disorders.
So I guess this ranting really just leaves me again with the idea that maybe, just maybe, we could try to say kind and respectful things to those around us.  We could attempt to be encouraging, even if we see a sixteen year old with a baby.  Find things she's doing well and point them out to her.  My daughter is being taught to use her kind words, but it's going to be hard to continue to teach her this if everyone around her believes they have the right to say whatever they want whenever they want. 

Bracing myself for the adoption questions sure to be asked next Monday at ballet,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

If you are reading this, Ruby Bridges,

...perhaps you could give us a call, or stop by our house.  My daughter is quite fascinated with you and your story.  She has started telling me everyday 'Wuby Bwidges wubs me.'  She has also started asking, 'Mama, please can we call Wuby Bwidges.' 
This all started a few weeks ago.  Labor Day to be exact.  We took a nice little trip to the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  It is one of the best Children's Museums in the world.  Literally.  I'm not just trying to talk it up.  People take vacations to Indianapolis to go to it.  Fortunately, we live within driving distance, and get an awesome discounted entry fee of a dollar a person.  So we spent the three dollars for a day of fun and education.
One of their exhibits right now is 'The Power of Children.'  This particular exhibit is meant to encourage children that they can make a difference, even while they are young.  It highlights Anne Frank, Ryan White, and Ruby Bridges.  We have actually walked through it with Abigail before.  But she has grown a little since then, and her curiosity has become unquenchable during that time period.  We walked in to see the Anne Frank exhibit first.  'Mama talk about her.'  At each request I would tell her about the picture of the person, the item that was displayed and so on.  I tried to be honest without going over her head.  So with Anne Frank I said there were some people who didn't like her because of the church she went to, so she had to hide because they wanted to kill her.  She repeated it a few times as we looked at things.  At this point in the exhibit I was already starting to fight tears.  It's a sad thing to have to tell your child about the amount of hatred that exist in the world.
Although we did look at the Ryan White exhibit she wasn't nearly as interested.  She spotted the life sized cut-out of a first grade Ruby and that was what she wanted to talk about.  'Mama tell me 'bout her.'
So I choked back some more tears as I explained to her that peach people didn't want to go to school with her because she was brown. 
-'Mama she habs bwown skin wike me?' 
-'Yes baby.  She has brown skin like you.'
-'Peach people not yike her because she habs bwown skin?'
I went on to explain that her teacher was nice to her, and she was peach, but that some people yelled things at her and didn't use their kind words.  I also made certain to tell her that Ruby responded by praying for these people and being kind.  She walked around the area with all the different pictures and asked question after question.  We talked about the basketball team that couldn't get peach schools to play against them.  We talked about the nice men who walked with Ruby to school to make sure she was safe.  On and on that conversation went with me wondering what exactly my three year old understood, and doing my best to wipe the tears away before she saw them.
We came home and found the book we had about Ruby.  We have read it over and over again; telling and retelling the same story.  Answering and re-answering the same questions.  Abigail seems to get a lot of it on her three year old level.  I constantly wonder how I ended up with the three year old more fascinated by Ruby Bridges than the Barbie exhibit.  It's a trait about my daughter I really love.  Race is also a topic we agreed to face head on when we were entrusted with our daughter.  I won't shy away from it with her.  I just didn't realize how painful it would be to share this part of history with her.
So, thank you Ruby Bridges for walking to school everyday through a crowd of people who hated you.  Thank you for choosing kindness and love in the midst of the hate.  Your six year old self has inspired me to be kinder, and is teaching my daughter more about love and forgiveness than I could ever teach her on my own.  You were an amazing little girl, and I am thankful for the impact you have had on our country [and it's very scarred past over the treatment of people with brown skin].

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sometimes, it's sneaky.

In general I would not use the word infertility in a sentence talking about myself.  While Jason and I have certainly not been able to get pregnant, I have never wrestled through doctor's appointments, endless poking with phone calls about number and levels, treatments of any sort, or the other long list of heartbreaking things I have watched some friends walk through.  We didn't get pregnant.  We adopted.  Most days, that is the entire story.
But every now and then some aspect of being unable to get pregnant sneaks up and smacks me pretty hard.  I don't know if it's because I'm surrounded by the announcement of pregnancies and new arrivals lately, if it's because it's the season that marks another year of not getting pregnant, if it's because I am remembering this time of year a few years ago with a little snuggle bug, or if it's all coincidence. 
Lately though, the last thing I want to hear about is birth.  I don't want to sit in a group of women recalling their stories about how long they were in labor.  I don't want to hear about how amazing it all was, or what it was like when the baby was handed to them.  I most definitely don't want to hear about what it is like to feel the baby moving and kicking inside of them.
I just don't quite mourn this the way most of the people I know do.  I seem to go through stages of mourning some small part of it.  Then I'm fine for a while.  And then there's something else.  I remember being bummed about, not knowing what a child with Jason and I's combination of genetics, would look like.  There was a time period where I was pretty sad that I couldn't give a child all of his or her nourishment through breast feeding.  For whatever reason this time period is the one where I am grieving what it would be like to carry a child and give birth.
I also know that while we were waiting on a baby, I had so many people hint at the fact that I seemed to be dealing with it 'wrong.'  I still wanted to be around children (not that it wasn't ever hard).  For whatever reason when I was having a really rough day I wanted to go walk through the baby section in a store, or go garage saling for baby stuff.  Sometimes I would sit on the floor in the nursery we had set up and finger all the tiny clothes, diapers, and shoes we had ready.
So right now, if you tell me about your pregnancy please don't think anything of it if my eyes get teary.  It's not that I'm not happy for people.  It's not even that I'm jealous; I wouldn't change the way God has made, or is making our family.  It's just that, I'm a little sad that I don't get to experience a life growing inside of me.

Still learning to accept my infertility,

Sunday, September 11, 2011


...'Why you love me?'
-'Because you're my daughter.'
-'Why I your daughter?'
-"Because God gave you to Papa and I.'
-'Why God give my to you?' (fyi she often replaces me with my)
-'I don't know baby.  He must have wanted to give us a really wonderful daughter.  You will have to ask Him.'
This is just one of the many, many, many questions Abigail asks over and over (and over and over and over).  Everything is questioned these days.  But they aren't all just why questions.  Some are deep theological things that I didn't know would come up with a three year old.  Others are just questions I'm unsure how to answer.  And some days I just tell her that she can't ask my any more questions and redirect them all to her Papa when he gets home.
Some examples of our daily questions: 'Why Jesus love me most?' (Nightly Jason tells Abigail, Papa loves you, Mama loves you, and Jesus loves you the most). 'Why you get married?' 'Why you love each other?' 'Why she not 'dopted?' 'Where does God live?' 'Who made our car?' 'Who give this to me?' (about everything. literally.  underwear, shoes, socks, toys, bed, carseat...everything) 'Who give us this house?' 'Why is her skin brown?' 'Why her have earings?' 'Why he not talking nice?' 'Why nobody can touch my gina?' (this stemmed from the good touch bad touch conversation we have been having) 'Why you like tea?' 'Why Papa have to work?' 'What's Papa working about today?' (this really means is Papa at the office or out somewhere working today).  These are examples, but nowhere near the entirety of questions we answer daily.

To give you a better idea, this is a small glimpse into a day with my inquisitive daughter.
-'Mama!  I awake!!'
-'Good morning bug.  Did you sleep well?'
-'Mama, please go to Jo Jo's and get some ice cream?'
-'No baby, we are not going to get ice cream this morning.  You can have some yogurt.'
-'Mama, please go see the dinasours another 'gain?' (another again is a favorite or ours, it means another time, or just again)
-'Yes, we can go see the dinasours another 'gain.  That was a lot of fun wasn't it.  What did you like about those dinasours.'
-'Mama, can we call grandma (insert whichever one she wants to talk to that morning)?'
-'Sure.  We can call her while we are eating breakfast.'
-'Mama, please can we go see grandma?'
-'Not today sweetheart.  But we will see her again sometime soon.'
-'Mama, please go see the firehouse another 'gain, and ride on the fire truck?'
-'Yes we can go to the firestation again.'
-'Mama, please have a sucker?'
-'No sucker, we need to eat breakfast.'
-'Mama, please have a marshmallow?'
-'No marshmallows.  Marshmallows and ice cream and suckers all have lots of sugar.  They are really fun treats, but they are sometimes foods.  We don't eat them every day.  Okay.'
-'Kay Mama.  Mama, please get a sticker on for not hitting my friends?'
-'Yes, if you do a good job being kind today you can have a sticker.' (at this point I sigh)
-'Mama, why you say aghhhhhh?'
-'I don't know Abigail.'
-'Mama you tired?  You need to take a little nap?'
-'Yes Mama feels a little tired.  I'm not going to take a nap right now.'
-'Mama who you tired?'
-'I don't know bug.  I'm just tired.'
-'Mama what you think we should do today?'
This conversation just keeps going, and going and going.  While she plays she asks to watch television, read a book, do something on the porch, paint, play with play-doh, go outside, do bubbles, ride her bike, go for a walk, and request sugary treats about 36 more times before our morning snack.  Abigail is awake for 10-11 hours a day.  While you might think I'm exaggerating, around 8 of those hours are spent with me, answering questions.
I had no idea that I could feel this emotionally drained from answering questions.  I couldn't quite figure out why I felt this way for a while; until I started to replay my days in my head.  Even while Abigail is upstairs in her bedroom, playing by herself, I still get called for multiple times so that I can answer questions.  When Jason gets home around 4 everyday I launch Abigail at him full force and sprint from the room.  As I do so I hear Jason say, 'Honey what do you want for dinner?'  With all the question answering energy I have left in me for the day I say something like, 'There's a list of choices in the kitchen.  I'm pretty sure you can read and choose for yourself!'  He turns his head sideways and gets a puzzled look on his face as I retreat to a quiet spot to rock back and forth and cry listen to some peaceful music and regroup.  As I sit down I hear the door open and a little round face peaks in and says, 'Mama, what you donuh?'  *Sigh*

Just a little end note.  I really do love the time with my daughter.  I'm EXTREMELY grateful that she is speaking, and doing so very well.  I'm also thankful for how intelligent she is, and that she wants to know and understand everything. :)

This is a stage right?

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Well it happened.  My 'toddler' made the birthday transition to 'preschooler.'  As of September second, I am now the Mama of a three year old.  So far not much has changed.  The biggest change is that at some point every day she asks, 'Mama I stiw fwee?'  Yes baby, you are still three.  Oh, and the insistence that 'I a big giwl!'  Here she is in her birthday shirt and hair bow I made.  It was impossible to get a good picture because, well, three year olds are incapable of standing still!
Next on my list of things to update you about:...we are gearing up for...wait for it...more appointments.  I know that's not really news, but it sort of is.  I was a little bummed at first, but then quickly remembered how awesome of a summer we had making multiple trips to the splash park, visiting friends, going to the park and on picnics, riding our bikes, feeding the ducks and geese at the river, playing outside, and getting really excited about picking tomatoes and eating them before Mama or Papa even realizes what happened (a girl after her Mama's heart I tell you).
The short of it is that Abigail has been having some pretty major GERD (acid reflux) issues over the last few weeks, which included some projectile vomiting.  Our awesome and wonderful family doctor (seriously, we have seen lots of doctors and she is still a favorite amongst them all) did some research after I e-mailed her symptoms and we are starting a second medicine.  We have also agreed that it would be good to see an actual specialist for Abigail's mastocytosis (what is the most likely cause of her GERD issues).  We haven't pushed much because there are no specialist in the state.  So it will be a drive, but with the little things that are coming up related to it we all agree it would be a good idea to do this.
In other news, I know I shared that Abigail no longer qualifies for services (still true) but we were still really excited to sit in a meeting and here all about how smart she is.  The school system does all these different assessments for cognitive, large, and fine motor skills.  Her motor skills (large and fine) were both on the low end of the scare of normal, but we weren't too surprised about that.  The numbers for cognitive though sort of confirmed our suspicions.  I mean, every parent thinks their kid is smart, so we try really hard not to go too overboard with it, but all the averages were 85-100 and her lowest score was a 118 all the way up to 144 (I don't have the paperwork so can't give you the officials). 
They did tell me it would be good to put her in preschool, because she didn't interact with any of the kids in the classroom that day; so she might benefit from learning to play with others.   Ummmm...we were in the classroom for about thirty minutes and Abigail tends to take a little while to warm up to new situations.  I'm not really up for paying to send her somewhere to learn to play?!  Maybe that's just me, but that sounds absurd.  We will stick with Sunday school, playgroup, parks, playing with friends, ballet, and story time.  I feel like since she gets peer interaction three or more days a week that we are doing just fine.  And quite frankly I like her, and I like spending time with her. 

Anyway, we are mostly just enjoying life with a three year old now.  The weather is starting to turn here so we are trying to squeeze in some end of the season camping trips and time outside.  Abigail got this camera from us for her birthday.  So I may let my next blog post be filled with the pictures she has taken of the couch from 1/4" away, her feet, the ceiling, just something white, our trip to the Indianapolis Children's Museum on Labor Day.  I will leave you with the anticipation of that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

the end....

See this little girl playing the violin?

Or making the basket like she learned in ballet?

Do you notice her climbing that ladder all by herself?

And celebrating her third birthday with some friends?

Do you see her beautiful smile?

Yeah, this beautiful little girl right here.  She is no longer eligible for special needs services.  You can reread that if you want.  She officially aged out of early intervention today (the day before her third birthday).  Today was her last therapy session.  She was assessed by the school system and found to be on target for where she needs to be at her age!  Sounds to me like we will just continue to play instruments, make baskets and do ballet, climb at the park, and play in the bubbles.  Because we don't have to do anything else we need to be doing!!

Celebrating the end,