Thursday, August 25, 2016


Avaya had her first birthday this month. It was perfect and warrants its own post, coming later. Hubs and I were reflecting the other day about who was on our guest list, and how far we've come. 
We applied for adoption in January 2014, and at that time the concept of open adoption was both hard and foreign to me. Being adopted myself, I have a unique perspective that can both help and hinder me. My own adoption is closed. I've never had any emotional baggage or backlash from not knowing my birth family. Sure, I'm curious about them. I know a few facts about them, mainly their hobbies. My mom worked hard to expose me to many of those same hobbies from a young age in hopes that I'd feel close to them through those same activities. I've also always been taught that they loved me SO MUCH.and that knowledge has been enough. But maybe it wouldn't be enough for my baby. 
Fine. If that's what my baby needed then that's what I would give them. But, I was NOT going to share MY baby! There would be boundaries! She was NOT the mom...I am! Holidays and milestones are mine! This was an adoption not a divorce and my baby would be MINE! I waited too long to not have a NORMAL motherhood. MINE, MINE, MINE!
The first birthday was something I thought about a lot. The birth parents would NO WAY be invited. 
And if their parents thought they were coming they had another thing coming.

 I wanted to feed her cake and open presents and didn't want them intruding on my moment.

How silly I was. I realize that I've lucked out. Not all birth parent/parent relationships are as healthy as ours. But how silly, how very silly, I was. I didn't want to share my baby. But I share everything. And willingly. The first person I text when I catch Avaya doing something on camera is Jade. As My husband and I stood there watching my baby eating her birthday cake, Jade was right beside me, in my arms. "Our girl is one," she said, "We did it. One year down." She isn't just mine. She's ours. And I couldn't be more okay with it. 

So how did I get there? How did I get to a point where Jade, Nate, and their families were included in the family section of my spreadsheet?
Love. I always say that we dated potential birth parents. It didn't take long to fall in love with Nate and Jade. We built a strong relationship with them before they picked us. But since Avaya has been born, my relationship with Jade has been solidified ten-fold. 
I like to say that we share a heart. Mine was broken and Jade broke her own and gave half to me. We share joy and pain and hope and love. She aches for our baby girl now, while I ached for her before. We flop places a lot. There's pain and worry and loss that we've each taken from each other. Truly two halves.
When someone makes that kind of sacrifice for you, you can't help but love them. 
Second, trust, and respect. With each moment we spend together we build a relationship of trust. We have clear boundaries that both Nate and Jade are very respectful of. Since they've shown that respect, I worry less and less (or not at all) about those boundaries being crossed. We respect them by doing all we can to facilitate visits and send pictures and videos. We respect their presence in her life AND ours. As time goes on, trust is built, and they worry less about being cut out. 
Adoption isn't "normal," but I'm a very normal mom. The only thing that isn't normal is that my baby has all of these extra people who have an immense amount of love for her! For that, we are truly, truly blessed. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

six-minute diy sippy cup leash

Today I thought I'd share my idea that arose in a moment of sheer desperation. Do you have a toddler with a wicked curveball? I do. And if that sippy cup hit the floor one more time...
My inner dialogue proceeded as follows:
I NEED a GD sippy cup leash! 
I saw some on Amazon Prime but that's still like 2.5 days to wait. And are they worth $7? If only I had elastic I could make one. 💡 HEADBANDS!!! I have HEADBANDS!! When's nap time?! 

Here's what you need:
Leftover ribbon-- long enough to reach from wherever you hook it to your child's mouth.*
A spare elastic headband 
Glue gun 
Measuring tape from the Beach Body program that you totally used.

1. Measure around your sippy. Cut a piece of the headband the length you measured minus one inch. My sippy was 7 inches so my headband was cut at about 6.

2. Make sure it fits snugly and stretches around it with no slack. Recut if necessary. 

3. Heat-seal the ends of your ribbon and elastic using a lighter. Hold the ends close to the flame till they melt. If it catches fire just hurry and blow it out. No one will know. Just don't burn your house down. 
You can also just coat the ends of the ribbon with clear nail polish...but then it has to dry and ain't nobody got time for that.
4. Glue the end of your ribbon to itself to make a loop. It needs to be wide enough for the elastic to fit through. 

5. Repeat with the elastic and glue it to the opposite end of your ribbon.
6. Loop the ribbon somewhere around your highchair and pull the elastic loop through the ribbon loop. 

6. Attach sippy cup through the elastic.

7. Reclaim sanity.

If you're a real woman you could sew this and make seams and stuff. You could even hide the ends of the elastic by putting ANOTHER ribbon on the back side. Do that for your Etsy shop. This is a six-minute-use-what-you've-got-laying-around-make-it-during-nap-time-before-I-clean-the-tub-and-make-dinner project.
Good luck and carry on, moms. 

*Don't leave your littles unattended when using these. If you make one for a car seat, make sure it's short enough that it can't go around your baby's neck! 

Monday, June 20, 2016

to nate on birthfather's day

You could've left. You could have said she wasn't yours.  You could've said you couldn't deal.  You could've made empty promises. You could've made Jade decide everything on her own.  You could've bugged out.  Our lawyer warned us SO many times that you probably would.  I yelled at him once.  He didn't know you.  What an amazing kid you are.  How brave and loyal and loving and kind.  You have a heart of gold, Nathan. You are hilarious and fun and goofy, just like her.  She is always happy. She gets that from you.  

You are so young and have been through more than any 19-year-old should have to...but you fight.  And you love.  You have a selfless love that allowed us to be parents to this perfect, beautiful little girl that you made.  You loved her more than you love everything else.  Your love for those around you is so evident. It kept me going whenever there was doubt. You love like I want Avaya to love.  With all of herself. 

Keep fighting. Because we love you. Because I need you to laugh with and get excited about dorky things with and share ice cream with and refuse to climb high places with. You are my spirit animal. Don't leave me, don't leave us, but mostly, don't leave her. She couldn't have a better baby daddy. 

And Nate, thank you. Thank you not only for our perfect little peanut, but thank you for saving us. Thank you for our family, not just The Johnstons, but OUR family: me, Spencer, Avaya, Jade, Jonah, you. We love you so much Nate. Keep fighting. You've got a lot to fight for. Happy birthfather's day buddy.  


Having the talk with you was different. We'd been friends first, so you knew my baggage. But I still felt the need for a reminder, just in case you wanted to change your mind or at least slow down.  I followed my standard format for my "tell your serious boyfriend that you can't have kids" discussion. I pulled out my Patriarchal Blessing.  "This says...." I tried to be reassuring, but honest.  I don't think you let me finish.  "We'll adopt," you said, "I don't care. I've never cared about having my own children.  My blood." So we did it.  You married me anyway.  You had surgery anyway.  We held hands through it all, anyway.  It was a road that was longer and steeper than we ever could have imagined when we said those words, "We'll just adopt," but the last part was true... "It will be ok."  We are ok.  We did it.  You did it.  You didn't have to, but you did.  That's why I always had the talk when things got serious between me and a beau.  I did it three times.  You were the one who took. My kind young man with an understanding heart.  The other two were nowhere near your match.

And now she's here! She's like your little trophy that you love to carry with you. Doe-eyed and shiny and all smiles for her Daddy.  She loves you so much she giggles at the mere sight of you because she knows something fun will happen when I place her in your arms.  (It will most likely involve going upside down.)  If you can't FaceTime us in the morning, she spends the rest of it grabbing my phone and saying, "Dadadadada!" like, "try again, Mom!"  You get the best giggles, you got the best burps, and you change the fastest diaper in the west.  You can feed her in complete darkness without waking her up, and you know what outfits go together.  

I know you'll help me to actually let her do hard things and to let her be cool.  You'll give her good advice about boys then curse yourself for it and I will sit back and smile and coo over how cute you guy are, wrapped around each other's fingers.  You'll teach her to drive and I'll be mad because one day she'll drive away...but she'll always come back for something fun to happen in your arms.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.  You're the best.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

to those of you II

to those of you who are curled up in bed with a wet pillow instead of going to church. To those of you who cried so hard last night that their throat hurts this morning. To those of you who just cannot even handle Facebook today.  Whose IVF failed, whose test came back negative, who had a miscarriage, a failed placement, a child loss. I love you. I pray for you daily, and especially today.

To those of you who've cared for me on this day. Who've left me gifts at my mom's, who've boughten me Mother's Day baskets from the Young Women, who've sent me flowers and a card that said, "For all of the mothering you do for our kids." To those of you who've sent me cards and texts and Facebook messages. Who've made me feel loved, special, valued, and like a mom. Thank you. I love you, and your kindness will never be forgotten. You