Madelyn’s Band ~ Chemical Reaction

For the month of January, Madelyn has been in band camp.  It has been at her school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Students that signed up for this band experience were divided into three bands formed by fourth and fifth graders. The counselors in each group were comprised of true musicians, such as Phil from Megafaun.  Phil was Madelyn’s leader these last few weeks.  I respect him so much!  (Sidenote- His wife, Heather, was actually Julian’s fifth grade teacher last year.)

Each band came up with their own lyrics and music for their song.  Madelyn’s group came up with an inspirational pop-like song.  Madelyn chose to play her bells and be a singer in the band.

To end the month long camp, the bands were to perform at FAM (Friday Afternoon Meeting) at their school and the next night at Durham’s famous Motorco Music Hall.  This event at the Motorco, along with a silent auction, would serve as a fundraiser for the arts at Central Park School, The Save Our Arts Benefit.

I couldn’t have been a more proud mama on Friday and Saturday watching Madelyn shine so bright.  She was a picture of confidence and happiness.  Here are a few pictures and clips from the performances.  


I filmed the FAM performance of Shout by Maddie’s band Chemical Reaction.  She is the on the far left in a her daddy’s grey hat.

The following clip was taped by Madelyn’s fifth grade teacher, Aaron, on the night of the benefit.  Maddie is on the right in the back with a purple shirt and bandana on, next to one of her best friends, Chace, on the drums.

Bug Analogy from Anne

As noted in a previous post, I am reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  It is a book about the writing process, but it is also about life.  Here’s a neat paragraph I read this week that made me take a big ol’ deep breath in and let it all out.

“It helps to resign as the controller of your fate.  All that energy we expend to keep things running right is not what’s keeping things running right.  We’re bugs struggling in the river, brightly visible to the trout below.  With that fact in mind, people like me make up all these rules to give us the illusion that we are in charge.  I need to say to myself, they’re not needed, hon.  Just take in the buggy pleasures.  Be kind to the others, grab the fleck of riverweed, notice how beautifully your bug legs scull.”  ~Anne Lamott

*The sketch above is by Kalen.  He sketched it using iPad’s Penultimate.  After telling him about this quote, that is what he drew for me.

Cute Question

Tonight, Brayden approached me and asked, “Mommy, do you think God has a wife?”  “Hmm… well, I don’t think so.  Good question, Brady.  Why do you ask?”  Apparently not satisfied, he continued with, “Well, I was just wondering if he had a girlfriend or a wife.  I guess I will ask Grandpa, he knows a lot about God.”  I smiled a big smile and said, “Okay honey, that sounds good.”

Bird by Bird

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.”  – Anne Lamott

This excerpt from above comes from the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  I picked this book up as my interest in writing has increased.  I have found so much inspiration as I have turned the pages of this practical, honest and humorous look into the dull realities of writing and the writing life.  She offers doable suggestions on how to beat writer’s block, tackle a daunting project that seems too lofty, and find inspiration.  All of these suggestions are wrapped in humor and a rawness that I find really appealing.  Surprisingly, I have found this book to not only encourage me in my writing aspirations, but also to be rich with life lessons.

Back to the quote. I have thought of this “bird by bird” analogy when it comes to the daily ins and outs of parenting and managing this home.  When I am in the thick of parenting, Lord knows I need to chill out and focus just on the now instead of the eighty-seven other things that I need to be tackling also.

How many times a day do you get dazed and overwhelmed with the tasks at hand?  Maybe you will find this helpful to tuck away in your mind as you go about your day.  There are many moments that come and go throughout our week that just get us frazzled and fixed on how hard it all is.  It is helpful to indeed take it one thing at a time, bird by bird, and do our best.

Even though I try to tackle many things at once daily, Lamott’s quote from her dad puts things into perspective.

One meal at a time.

Bird by bird.

One tantrum at a time.

Bird by bird.

One email at a time.

Bird by bird.

One diaper change at a time.

Bird by bird.

One laundry basket at a time.

Bird by bird.

Savor the now.

Just take it one moment, one hour, one day at a time.

Movie Review: Like Dandelion Dust

“Like Dandelion Dust,” released in 2010, is a heart-wrenching story about adoption.  Adapted from the best-selling novel by Karen Kingsbury, this story pulled me in as it took me through a tug of war between a birth family wanting another chance at raising their child and an adoptive family that feels justified in keeping this son they have built a life around.

The movie introduces the key characters very quickly.  There is a Floridian family made of two very wealthy parents, Jack and Molly Campbell, and their adopted son, Joey.  Birth father and obvious alcoholic, Rip Porter, has just been released from serving seven years in prison for abusing his wife, Wendy.  Wendy hesitantly discloses that while Rip was in prison she birthed their son, a son whom he did not know about.  As any good mother would, Wendy wanted what was best for her child, so she put him up for adoption while her husband was incarcerated and she could not provide for him.  She had forged Rip’s signature all those years ago.  Rip, wanting to start over, pushed for he and Wendy to go get their son back.  Although a bit reluctant, Wendy quickly fell into this romantic plot to rebuild her fallen marriage and regain the son she really wanted to love and raise.

Sure enough, a social worker made the difficult call to the Campbells, notifying them of the Porter’s interest in getting their son back.  Because the signature was forged that many years ago, the judge ruled in favor of the Porters, and Joey would have to leave the only family he had ever known.

The Campbells scramble to get this order of reunion denied.  The audience is led to believe that Joey belonged with the parents that had truly been there for him.

Joey has to make two home visits to his birth parents’ Ohio home before staying permanently.  This process tugged and pulled at my heart.  There is no mistaking the tension of the situation.  The first visit shows Joey’s reluctance, fear, heartache and anxiety.  The social worker, although seemingly nice, becomes a traitor in the eyes of the adoptive family.  The birth parents, with excited timidity, show in simple ways that they are indeed not seasoned parents.  The second visit was a tad bit easier for Joey to take.  All the while the Campbells are miserably stewing and scheming about how to get out of this nightmare.

Rip shows little evidence that proves he could be a good father and starts to abuse Wendy again.  Even with all the grace his wife was pouring over him, his choices and addictions were going to lead him in a familiar direction, losing all that he held dear.

The climax approaches as the Campbells decide to leave the country on a missionary trip with Molly’s sister’s church group.  As suspected, the Campbells make arrangements not to return to the comfortable life that they had known, but to stay in Haiti.  They were fleeing, leaving everything but hopeful to keep all that they cared about, their son Joey.  They got caught and were escorted back to the US and faced with the reality of losing their son.

The most riveting scene takes place at the end of the movie as the Campbells face the birth mother, Wendy, at the airport.  The have to surrender.  Shockingly, Wendy signs over her rights and allows her baby boy, Joey, to go home with his adoptive family.  She gives up the fight and appears to be the hero in an odd way.

As a viewer, I felt conflicted.  Although I immediately thought in the beginning of the movie that Joey should remain with the only parents he had ever known, I was drawn to the birth mother’s good heart and genuine kindness and yearning for her son.  As a mother, I wanted her to have her boy.  However, Molly, the adoptive mom, was just as much a mother as Wendy was.  She had been there for every moment of this young boy’s life.  She was the mother that Joey knew.

I found the movie to be a bit over dramatic at times.  The plot was heavy, but it often felt cheated with the way it was acted.  My favorite actor in the movie would have to be Mira Sorvino (the birth mother, Wendy Potter).  I thought her purity was sweet.  I felt the need to cheer her on even though that meant that the outcome I wanted wouldn’t occur if I wanted her to succeed.  She drew me in with her forbearance and quiet devotion.

I find it hard to believe that something like this could happen.  However, I know there are no guarantees in life.  As a foster parent, I loved the opportunity to be given the chance to see in such a tangible way how both sides in an adoptive situation may feel.  I was also prompted to be more compassionate in regard to the obstacles that may be in the way of my foster children’s birth mother.

He is Three and Yella Cupcakes

Our little boy turned three on Sunday!  We celebrated with many fun activities and some vanilla cupcakes.  He was so happy and loved all the special attention given.  I had been practicing with him prior to his special day to put up three fingers when someone says, “How old are you?”  He nailed it down and here he is proudly…

I could have cried at the drop of a hat on the birthdays of our foster kids.  Birthdays have always meant so much to me.  My mom always made a big deal out of them, and I always felt really special when I turned over another year.  There would be streamers sometimes, presents, a cake, cards, balloons and I could always count on extra smiles from mom.  Being the “fill-in mom” for a kid’s birthday is a big deal to me.  Not just because of my own history, but because celebrating an individual’s own unique life is such a treat, an honor.  Our foster kids have lived through so much in their short little lives.  They are little survivors and visions of hope.  We know that they felt extremely loved on their special days.  I have to believe that is the biggest birthday gift we could give them.

I really love making Sarah Kramer’s Yella Cake recipe for cupcakes.  I think any non-vegan would love them, hands down.

Yella Cake

3/4 c sugar

1/4 c vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance sticks)

egg replacer to equal one egg (I use 1 tbsp cornstarch whisked together with 2 tbsp of soymilk or other non-dairy milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 c “milk”

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly oil a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, margarine, egg replacer, and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and “milk” and stir together gently until “just mixed.”  Spread evenly into cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.  Cool completely before frosting.  Makes 1 cake.

*Cut down on baking time if you are trying cupcakes with this recipe.  I check them often because they can get dry quickly.

*This recipe can easily be doubled and baked in two separate cake tins or a 9×13 pan.

I use Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Vanilla Frosting for my vanilla cupcakes.  It turns out thick and perfect every time.  I get this at our Whole Foods, but I have seen it at Kroger and even Target.