On Being Veg

As a quick sidebar: Zach hates when I call us “veg’s” because he thinks it sounds like “vag’s” and apparently that’s bad?

Anywho, it’s hard to believe we’ve been rockin’ the vegetarianism for over a year. I remember when I first started that it seemed nearly impossible. If you’ll remember correctly, this little lady went gaga for a good steak. And prime rib? You better shut up, I loved that stuff so much. But I read the book “Eating Animals” and I knew I had to try it.

A year later I must say that I feel great. I don’t miss meat at all, which is mind boggling to think about. But honestly, I have never felt better. Which is saying something. Have I mentioned I ran track in college? And worked out about 6 hours a day and could squat an obscene amount of weight? Yeah I feel better now than I did then. Does that shock you? Because it does me.

Then about 3 weeks ago Zach and I watched the documentary, “Forks Over Knives” and decided we’d try out the vegan thing for a bit. Why not, right? I actually feel even better. Maybe the most impressive thing about it is that I used to have HORRIBLE allergies. I’d be on allergy medicine from about mid-April through September/October. In case you haven’t heard Iowa has had the warmest spring EVER this year so my Facebook has been a flutter with people reporting their current allergy situation. Finally yesterday I realized I had no symptoms whatsoever. As I was trying to figure out what it could be it hit me that it might have something to do with the lack of dairy in my current diet. After a quick Google search (we all know that’s where you find truth ;)) I realized many others have reported this as a positive side affect of cutting out dairy. Amazing!

I constantly get well meaning friends and family saying things like, “Oh I feel bad for you that you can’t have meat/cheese/milk” or something like that. It’s hard to tell them that it’s not that I CAN’T have it (truth be told if I really wanted it, I’d just have it) it’s that I just don’t want it. Particularly not the kind that’s on virtually every shelf in our grocery stores. Once you start this new way of life you realize your taste buds change, you actually crave things that are good for you.

I’ve also noticed it’s hard to stuff myself so full that I feel miserable these days. Probably most of you have better self control than I do but I was seriously prone to eating so much I felt horrible for the next hour or so. It just doesn’t happen when you eat primarily whole foods. Who knew?

A lot of people when they hear I’ve had this change of diet ask if I’ve lost much weight. I’m not ever sure how to answer that since that’s not the reason I got into this in the first place. Also, I haven’t weighed myself since approximately 1995 so I’m not entirely sure. Anyone who has ever trained with me can tell you I put little weight into weight (haha, I got jokes) and put more into how you feel, how your pants fit, inches lost, etc. Those are much better/healthier gauges. That said, I feel great, my pants fit and so by all accounts, it’s working in that department as well.

So there you go. I had someone who was just catching up on my blog ask me about it last week so I thought I’d give an update. Now you can sleep well tonight knowing my thoughts on being veg for a year. ;)You’re welcome.

:)Tell me, what do you eat?

A few thoughts on Trayvon Martin

I think I’m with a lot of mamas out there when I say this child Trayvon has been on my mind constantly for weeks. Truly any time I look at my boys I think of him.

I really believe I’m a pretty laid back person (in most regards). I’m not a fearful person by any stretch of the imagination. I really take a “free range kids” parenting approach. So this feeling I’ve been feeling for a few weeks that is so foreign to me? Now I know. That’s fear.

Total fear that my boys will have the same fate as Trayvon just because they share the same color of skin.

This had everything to do with race. I don’t care what Newt says or Santorum says it’s not political, it’s racial.

But white people won’t understand unless we want to start to learn to understand.

I would’ve had no idea until I decided to raise black boys and started reading massive amounts of literature on the very real uneven racial climate this country still finds itself in. (And please understand, I still have much to learn).

Because here’s the deal, this country cannot be what it promises to be (land of the free, the only place in the world where you can go from nothing to something, etc) if kids like Trayvon still get gunned down because they’re black.

This country cannot be the promised land if only white people are promised the land.

And it’s disgusting to me that the killer is free. It’s devastating to watch Trayvon’s family fight for justice.

This is one of those times, right? One of those times where you want to crawl under the covers with your family and never come out. Or is that just me?

Instead I’m asking our friends. Our friends who have the same skin color as our boys and as Trayvon. What do I do? Will you help us raise them? To understand. Because I don’t understand. I don’t know what it’s like.

“My father always said keep your hands at 10 and 2, always. If a police officer pulls you over keep your hands at 10 and 2.”

“When I get out of my car and there are white people around I watch them look at me and then click the door lock button on their car. It still happens.”

I don’t know what that’s like. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real just because it’s not been my experience.

My babies, my baby boys. They are so cute and so precious right now. One day Tariku will be a teenager with facial hair and an afro. He’ll undoubtedly be wearing a hoodie because that’s all he wears now. And one day he might look suspicious to the wrong kind of person. The thought of that runs shivers down my spine.

So today I’m doing a few things. I’m linking to a few really good articles out there (though there are many). I’m urging you to sign this petition. I’m changing our blog header until justice prevails for Trayvon and his family. And I’m begging you, regardless of your race, to start educating you on the realities of this country for minorities.

If you have ideas as to what else I can do, I’m constantly open to suggestions. Blessings to you.

http://blackandmarriedwithkids.com/2012/03/21/watch-and-pray-for-our-children

http://www.urbancusp.com/newspost/the-bullet-next-time-an-open-letter-to-my-unborn-black-son/

http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/21/how-to-talk-to-young-black-boys-about-trayvon-martin/

http://blogs.bible.org/tapestry/sharifa_stevens/why_i_fear_good_people_trayvon_martin_and_kony_2012

http://www.urbanfaith.com/2012/03/walking-while-black.html/

World Water Day

I think I’ve been actively involved in 3 World Water Days. That is kind of incredible. That’s how long this crisis has been on my heart and in my fervent late night prayers.

This crisis is one we can solve in our lifetimes. Isn’t that amazing? I really think that is worth getting behind.

So here’s the deal. The Adventure Project is one of my absolute favorite organizations. If you haven’t heard of them you need to research them. They are where all of charity is heading and I love that about them. 2 really incredible minds are at the helm of this thing and it is completely inspiring (did I mention they are women too? Yeah, amazing women).

Today they are asking for donations on World Water Day. If they make it to $33,000 today they will get a $25,000 match. That is a huge impact on the water crisis. What better way to recognize this day then to put a dent in the problem?

Go here and donate. Seriously, if everyone who reads my blog donated $20 this thing would be done. So let’s do it!

Read some great stuff by co-founder Jody here.

And donate. Definitely donate.

Tariku-my "little" 7-year-old

Oh my my my. Tarku turned 7 last Friday. I know, you are as shocked as I am about that fact. Many of you have been here since the beginning with him. When we received his referral my sweet pea was 2 1/2. That is why I say “my my my” to him being 7.

I realize I keep saying this, but seriously why are my kids so cute so early in the morning?!?!?

Tariku wanted donuts as well. Most days I wish I was half as cool as Tariku is. (Also, it was about 82 degrees on March 16th here in Iowa. That is virtually unheard of.)

We did what Tariku always wants to do on his day. Be outside. Basketball, skateboarding and overall rambunctiousness.

Then we got to go to dinner with Papa Frank. Always, always after dinner comes ice cream.

Tariku really doesn’t like attention on him. So he loved when we sang him happy birthday in the middle of Culvers (no he did not).

On Saturday he had another party. Homemade cupcakes from Mimi Connie. Super delicious.

Oh and the skateboard. Do you recognize a theme? Yeah, he got to pick out a new one thanks to his Mimi. I love watching the boys design their own. Tariku’s was perfect.

The gang.

I don’t even know where to start with Tariku. There are so many things to say about this 7-year-old. Since his birthday landed on spring break none of his friends/cousins could make a sleepover so we’re rescheduling. Tariku took it all in stride (which, honestly, is not normal for him). He really was excited to be hanging with us all day.

I love him so much. He is so smart, so caring, so helpful, so loving. Tariku has endless amounts of energy, which suits him nicely because he loves playing sports. He’s about the only kid I know who can play really hard in an hour long basketball game and then come home and shoot hoops for 2 more hours.

Tariku’s teachers talk constantly about him being arguably their most perfect student. The few times he’s gotten into trouble it’s been because he understands directions before everyone else and he gets so excited about it that he decides he needs to be the one to explain it to them. Otherwise? He’s perfect.

And he is. Another teacher says, “Every time I see Tariku walking down the hall he’s bobbing his head. He’s obviously always hearing music, always dancing.” Word. up. lady. If you’ve met Tariku you’d agree. Which is one of the things I love about him.

My boy still hesitates before coming into a hug with me. He rarely initiates hugs or kisses. That said, his chest puffs up whenever I snuggle with him or go on a date with him. I know how much we both need those moments.

And it’s easy to give him. Because I’m so thankful I’ve been able to celebrate his life (in some way or another) for 5 years. He deserves better than me on my worst days. But every day? Every day I give him everything I have. Because being a mom to this boy is one of the biggest blessings of my life.

Love you Choochie booch. Happy birthday, my love.

Tomas is 8

Hooooly cow. Still remember this time. It had been about a month since we learned they were going to let us proceed in Tomas and Binyam’s adoptions, 3 months since we first saw their faces and wanted them to be part of our family. If I must say, I had quite a bit of clarity in that post. I must have been drunk. πŸ˜‰

Only (kind of) kidding.

But Tomas. Look at this picture of him when we walked into his room singing Happy Birthday.

For anyone that knows Tomas, they know that’s just him. Always smiling. Always. 6:30 in the morning? Yup, smiling.

Zach was doing a presentation for career day at the school so we were all very excited that the whole family was going to be at school for Tomas’s birthday (I was going to volunteer as well).

If you’ve been here awhile you know how much I love their school. Love, love. It is bar none the best school in the district and perhaps in the state. Love. And their teachers? uhmazing. Tomas’s does this puffy paint shirt for birthdays in her class. As you can imagine, the birthday kids feel pretty special. Tomas was no exception.

Tomas used money from Mimi Connie to build his skateboard (just like his older brother). Quick side note: the gentleman helping put the skateboard together was quite surprised at all of the colors Tomas wanted on his board, “Really? You want that color? Well this might be the brightest skateboard I’ve ever made!” Also, poor sap got sucked into the Tomas vortex that features approximately 100 questions and numerous scatterbrained anecdotes.

Alas he picked a sublime representation of himself all wrapped up into one skateboard.

Tomas picked Buffalo Wild Wings for his birthday dinner. Some aunts, uncles and grandparents met us out.

The night ended with a Skype call from Aunt Kait in Japan.

Last night Tomas had a sleepover with 2 of his best friends and 2 of his cousins. When the mom of one of his friends dropped the boy off she said, “Tomas is the one kid in school I look forward to running into every day. His energy is so good, so positive. He is always smiling, always the first to laugh and give hugs. He is just good.” (She is a para at his school).

And seriously? She’s right on. He is all of that. He is the sweetest boy I’ve ever met in my entire life. In fact, the sleepover was clearly a little stressful for him because he wanted to make sure every boy was taken care of, that everyone was having equal amounts of fun.

Tomas is the biggest kid in our family and also the biggest softie. He is the most attentive to people’s needs and he is also the most spacey. He is sweet and sensitive, loving and playful. He is a friend to many and a foe to none.

I told the para that day that kids like Tomas will never be top in their class, but they will be the kids who change the world. Because no matter what, Tomas sees the good in people, in experiences, in life. And if there’s one thing I have noticed in my short time on earth, it’s that the people who still believe in hope and in love who are making this world a better place to live. And he does, and he will.

Today at church Zach was helping lead worship. Tomas snuck his way in front of me and I wrapped my arms around him. We spent the next 30 minutes wrapped together like this worshipping our God. At one point I was simply overcome. I put my hand on his heart and I poured my thankfulness into his heart and at God. What a truly amazing gift it is to be a mother to this child. What a simply beautiful and powerful thing it is to watch this boy who has witnessed and remembered some horrific things be here. With me. Singing loudly to a God who has seemingly never shown up for him.

But he knows. He knows God loves him. And somehow, he knows he deserves it. He is a powerful witness to me. He is my beloved son. Tonight I am so, so thankful that’s true.

Happy birthday Tomas-ay. I love you so much.