Planning for Successful Summer Adventures

It's summertime again. The time when we all try to slow down, but it seems like the days speed by faster than we'd like. This is the time of year the our family looks for adventures to enjoy together. Living in a climate where it seems like we have six months of cold, we really treasure these long hot (or at least warm) days.

The other day, the kids and I went fossil hunting and...wait for it...we think WE FOUND A FOSSIL!

 Awesome? Yes.

Coincidence? Sort-of.

Adventures (as my kids like to call them) have a risk for not turning out as fabulous as planned. That's why I try to think of all the 'what ifs' before heading out with the kiddos, having a Plan A,B,C,D....Z ready ahead of time.

Little Man loves fossils. Baby B couldn't wait to find a 'dog bone' as she likes to call them (and to play in the dirt.) I was a little nervous since actually finding a fossil can be a bit like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.

However, this wasn't the first time that we have gone fossil hunting at this particular location.

The last time we went fossil hunting was before Baby B had joined the family. Little Man, some of his cousins, and myself went out one HOT summer afternoon and sorted through lots of rocks and dirt. It was a risky proposition with a major chance of the entire outing being a bust. Initially I remember feeling frustrated that the kids weren't getting as serious about the whole fossil hunting mission as I was.

Then I realized that I had become that parent who helps their kid with their science fair project by doing the project themselves. Thankfully, this dawned on me before I had ruined the day for the kids. After talking myself down from my sad, type A, goal oriented, "LET"S HAVE FUN LIKE THIS" ledge, I realized something.

Finding a fossil wasn't the point.

 We were there for the adventure.

The challenge, the mystery, the imagining of what if, and 'what was it like here years ago' discussions. The heat, and the sweat, and the scraped knees, and the dirt. The 'remember that time we went looking for fossils?' stories that we shared later. The 'man, I'm sooooo thirsty...I wonder if this is how thirsty you feel in the desert?' questions.

Thankfully, we did find a fossil on that first trip. But, even if we hadn't, I had several things working in my favor to make it a successful adventure.

1. All of the kids loved playing in dirt/sand.

2. I had researched online about where and what we should be looking for.

3. We didn't have a long trek to get to the 'dig' site.

4. I could find some nice rocks for bordering my flower beds while we were there.

5. I had taken a year of geology in college because I thought 'why not, it would be fun' (and only slept      through some of the classes) so I kind of knew what to look for.

And my ace in the hole:

6. I planned to take them swimming afterwards whether or not any fossils were found.

On this most recent trip, we had success. The kids were able to wallow in the dirt AND we found what looks to be a fossil. Plus, I found some more rocks for my flower beds. Little Man and Baby B are hoping for many more adventures this summer. I have some ideas up and MANY backup plans. More importantly, I'm trying to keep in mind that for an adventure to truly be and adventure, there needs to be the element of the unknown. Maybe even a little danger.


  1. 1.
    an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
    "her recent adventures in Italy"
    "her recent adventures in Italy"

  1. 1.
    engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.
    "they had adventured into the forest"

My job is to accentuate the unusual and exciting and eliminate (or at least minimize) the hazardous part of the adventure. This time, it turned out great. We'll see how our next adventure works out.

Here's to adventures guys. 'Tis the season.

Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Click the banner above to vote for Just B. @Top Mommy Blogs! You can vote once a day.


Another Father's Day Without Dad

Yesterday I attended the graduation party for my cousin's eldest. My 92 yr old uncle (the oldest living member of his family) was there and I was able to visit with him along with several other aunts, uncles, and cousins. Baby B sang "A Bicycle Build for Two" with him (currently her favorite song) and he sang her a song from his childhood. Moments like these have become precious to me as I know they may soon be gone.

After Baby B had twirled off to get sugared up, while my uncle and I shared laughter and tears remembering my dad (one of his youngest brothers).

"He was one of the best men I've ever known. He had such a good heart. He would help out anyone." he said. 

Yes he was Uncle D. He really was.

I wrote the post below last year in memory of my dad, and all the men out there who take the time to be 'fatherly.'

Fatherly Behavior

It is quite common to hear the term 'motherly' being used. Ironically, we don't use the term 'fatherly' used as often. Think about it, people will often refer to a little girl as acting 'motherly' but when a little boy is acting in a nurturing manner, we don't automatically say that he is acting 'fatherly.'

I think that's too bad.

Boys need to learn about what it means to be a father just as much as girls need to learn what it means to be a mother. Nurturing and supporting others is one of the most important things we can teach a child.

On this Father's Day, I celebrate the father that was part of my for nearly 39 years. If anyone modeled fatherly traits, it was him. The man who worked hard to not only support his family financially, but also took the time to really love his children and his wife. The man who rarely, if ever, raised his voice. Whose life demonstrated what integrity, honesty, and kindness should look like. The man who was a father/mentor/grandfather to many young boys and men through the years. The man who taught Little Man so many of the things a father would have wanted to teach him. Some of those things I thought Dad was showing Little Man at too young of an age. Now I'm thankful for those lessons he gave him.

I celebrate the dads out there who aren't afraid to show their children their silly side. Who aren't afraid to let their kids see them cry. The fathers who are a firm, kind, stabilizing force in their families. Those dads who stay with their families even when things get tough, and scary, and uncomfortable. Who are 'fatherly.'

I celebrate those men who are mentors to the children who have no father around in their life. The men who help the children without dads learn how to treat a woman, and how a woman should be treated. Who are nurturing and supporting without conditions-just out of the goodness of their heart. The men who help balance out the life of these children, whose days are so often filled with only the influence of women. They really need both.

I celebrate my Father in heaven, who promises to be there for the widowed and the orphaned. Who will help me to navigate this thing called parenting. To be there for me when I am aching so to hear my dad's voice (just one more time) as he cracked a lame joke with my son, then winked at me as he waited to see if Little Man had caught it.

For those of you who still have a father here on earth, I pray that he is one that brings you that kind of love and happiness. For those of you who don't have that kind of relationship with your father, my heart aches for you. I pray that there is someone in your life who has filled that void. And, if there isn't, I know there is a God who has been waiting for years to fill the position.

Happy Father's Day.

Happy Father's Day in heaven Dad.

Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Click the banner above to vote for Just B. @Top Mommy Blogs! You can vote once a day.


Adoption Link Up 3: Adoption Ethics

The topic for this Adoption Talk Link Up is adoption ethics, a topic that I, as an adoptive parent, take very seriously. When I was considering adoption before bringing home Little Man and Baby B one of the most important parts of the process was making sure my agency was ethical.

So what exactly is an 'ethical' adoption agency? 

For me, that meant that there was evidence the agency was doing everything in the power to keep children with their birth families, if at all possible. This could involve anything from help with finding employment, to providing supplemental food while the families are getting back on their feet, to providing access to schooling, community gardens, and wells for clean water.

Helping the families and community rather than just taking their future (the children) away from the them.

It also meant that safeguards were in place to ensure that the children being placed were truly in need of a home, that they were not being stolen and/or that the parents were not being forced or coerced into letting their children go to another family, with false promises of being reunified one day.

On one occasion, during my adoption from Haiti, I was able to see the director of the agency have a conversation with a young birth mother. The mother was wanting to place her baby in the creche but the director was adamant that what she needed was to first find a job, so that she could provide for her child (support was provided from the agency for her to make steps towards this goal.) Sadly, relinquishment happens when a loving birth families who lack the resources to provide for their children's most basic needs-food, clean water, medical care, or shelter.

During my adoption journey, I worked with three different agencies. Two were very ethical, and have in place programs like the ones I mentioned. One agency I left (several thousands of dollars into an adoption) because red flags started popping up. I didn't feel comfortable that they weren't using coercion to find children to place with their adoptive families, so I walked away.

So how does a person find an ethical agency?

1. Talk to anyone you know who has adopted. Ask them what their experience was like and if they would recommend their agency to others.

2. Search the internet. RESEARCH A TON. Make a list of agencies that have in place safe guards to maintain high ethical standards, and providing support for the birth families.

2. Interview agencies. Make a list of your questions. Call and ask to speak with the director of the program you are interested in. Do a gut check. Any red flags yet?

3. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints with the agencies you are looking at.

4. Take your narrowed down list, call back those agencies, and ask for references...families that have adopted through them. Most adoptive families are very open to talking about their experiences.

By going through these steps, you will, hopefully, have narrowed it down to one or two agencies. Take your time and don't rush this part of the process. You want to find an agency that not only is a good fit for you but, perhaps even more importantly, respects, honors, and supports the birth families as the struggle to make the best choice for their child.

Don't forget to check out the other blogs in the link up (here's one to check out) and leave a comment.


Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Click the banner above to vote for Just B. @Top Mommy Blogs! You can vote once a day.


Adoption Link Up 2: Strong Willed Children

For the second Adoption Talk Link Up the topic is "Anything Goes," so I decided to do a re-post of one of my most read posts, Parenting a Strong Willed Child. 

I was what people call a 'strong willed' child. I knew what was expected of me and would behave appropriately in public (most of the time). At home however, it was a different story.

My poor parents. I know that many of their gray hairs have my name on them. They told me when I was out of college that they seriously wondered if I would survive to adulthood (yep, that bad).

The ironic part of all of this is that I am now raising not one, but two strong-willed children. Each one has their own strong-willed tendencies. This doesn't mean that they are bad children. They have definite leadership potential. They are loving, sensitive, creative kids. Thankfully, the battles they each pick aren't the same ones. Usually, they aren't at the same time either.

The funny thing is, at the end of a day full of battles, my kids aren't the problem...I am.

Being a former strong willed child, part of me wants to pull on the gloves when I sense conflict. I think the word that my mom used to use for it was being 'ornery' or 'contrary'.  You say yes? Well then, my answer must be 'no'. Try to back me into a corner decision wise...I'll come out fighting.

I know, it makes no rational sense and is completely juvenile. In most adult situations, I can mentally talk myself down from this mindset. With my kids however, I have the added piece of 'Hey, I'm the grown-up here. Just obey me now, okay?' My kids know exactly which buttons to push to get me going. The last thing they need is a mom who is playing a headbutting game of wills over ridiculous things, just for the sake of having my own way.

So, what's a parent to do?

I've narrowed it down to eight things for myself.

1. Admit that I have a oppositional streak. Ask myself "Is it really the kids picking the battle, or am I just in a 'mood.'"

2. Take a break. Don't discipline until I can do so calmly and rationally.

3. Look back to look forward. I was a strong-willed child and I turned out okay. I just need to work the rest of my strong willed 'kinks' out. What did my parents do to help me turn into a successful adult.

4. Make a research project out of it. I've been trying to figure out what things are triggers for me, and what my children's triggers are.  If it helps to avoid conflict in the long run, it's worth it.

5. Laugh a little. Talking to other formerly strong willed children (and parents) helps a ton. Not only does it help me to be able to laugh a little at my struggles, but suddenly I no longer feel so alone in this journey. Plus, most of us have at least one strong willed child so we have a lot a stories to share.

6. Take care of myself. The better I eat, the more I sleep, and the more I move the better I parent. Remember how crabby you would be the day after Halloween as a kid when you were coming down from your sugar rush and had gotten to bed too late? Enough said.

7. Admit defeat. Sometimes I will be wrong. I will make the wrong decision. I will jump to the wrong conclusion and I need to tell my kids those two words, "I'm sorry." It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength and it's something that my children need to see me model.

8. Pray for wisdom and discernment. God will point out to my flaws and weaknesses if I ask him. I might not always like what I discover but it's worth it.

Becoming a parent didn't mean that I automatically had all of the answers. Boy, was that disappointing to discover! But, being a parent does mean I need to be the best that I can be so that I can help my children become their best. To do that I need to take care of my strong willed tendencies, so that they don't raise their ugly head during the sometimes stressful journey of raising two amazing human beings.

I think I am up for the challenge. Remember...I'm kind of strong willed. ☺

Now, don't forget to check out the other blogs in the link up (here's one to check out) and leave a comment.


Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Click the banner above to vote for Just B. @Top Mommy Blogs! You can vote once a day.


Our Adoption Story (A Second Look)

Today I'm excited to be participating in the first topic of the Adoption Talk Link Up. The first topic we are covering is “Our Stories.”


I've written about our adoption stories before (you can read it here) but today I decided to go out on a limb and tackle how it felt when I adopted my oldest, Little Man (kind of a big deal for me so please be kind.)

Several years ago, I was part of a discussion with some other parents about our children's adoption stories. It was expressed by one of the parents that they wished their children had the fairy tale coming home story that many children being raised by their birth families had.

That really resonated with me. Adoption, to me, is the redemption of a deep tragedy. A testament that beauty can rise from the ashes.

At the time, I was being treated for Hodgkin's Lymphoma and was having trouble sleeping due to some of my medications. One night, after a day of chemo, this story poured out, a gift from God. I slept like a baby once I had finished it.  I hope to write down Baby B's story one day to share with her as well.

I've never shared our story in this way on the blog before. It's meant too much, and seemed too precious and sacred to share. It was never the right time.

Until now.

There you go! If you have an adoption story to share please feel free join the link up and check out some of the other blogs here, to get started.

~ Aleah Bea

Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
Click the banner above to vote for Just B. @Top Mommy Blogs! You can vote once a day.


Staying Motivated with Your Resolutions

Soooo, how are those resolutions working for you? If you remember my post from the beginning of the year, I am trying out new year's resolutions for the first time in 2015. I was apprehensive at first, but I decided that it was worth a shot.

You know, YOLO and all of that good stuff.

One of my mini goals was exercising twice a week. As I have been working towards that goal, I have recruited a surprising workout buddy-my three year old.  She loves to work out. The one (yes, one) day that I worked out in 2014, I did Pilates with my sister and our kids. Baby B spent the entire workout climbing over, on top of, and under me while I attempted planks, child poses, and downward dogs. Her favorites were when I kissed her nose every time I went down for a push-up. Little Man has even joined in a time or two (although he much prefers when we do Tae Bo).

Initially, I found this adorable, but a little frustrating. Then I decided that the added challenge of a three year old using me as a jungle gym was just upping my work out difficulty level. Full contact Pilates if you will, or high impact (and I have the cut lip and back pain to prove it.)

Needless to say, I think that I'll start doing my workouts while the kids are in bed. However, I may still do some workouts while they are awake (bonuses, if you will). It's good for my kids to see me exercising, and it's fun to have them working out with me. I just need to lay my 'goal minded' expectations aside when we are working out together.

Now for the real question I know you're asking yourself, "That's all well and good, but have you worked out twice a week this month?" Nope. But I did this week. Surprisingly, working out is starting to feel fun for me and that my friends, is HUGE.  When I have fun doing something, I want to keep doing it (don't we all). Plus, by recruiting my kids as my personal trainers, I have a built in reminders that I couldn't escape if I wanted to.

It's all about changing our mindset. Baby steps, my friends. This is the year. We can do it!

I'll update you on my progress with my other resolutions in the days to come.

-Mama Bea


Perspective Changes Everything

The beginning of new year is a great time to reset your frame of mind. Call it resolutions, goal setting, or choosing a word for the year, many people are looking for ways to make a fresh start.

While I am attempting to work on some resolutions this year, I also have had a phrase running through my head for the past week or so. I woke up this morning, at 3:40, with a story to explain the phrase.

 I thought that I'd pass it on to you.

The Walk

A woman decided to take her visiting friend for a walk one fresh spring day. 

Returning home, the woman declared, "That walk was wonderf..." 

"Horrible!" interjected her friend. 

Confused, the woman asked her friend what had been so horrible about the walk. 

"Didn't you see all of the trash that people had dumped along the highway?" her friend said.  "Now that the snow is thawing, it's EVERYWHERE! People have no respect these days. Plus, that road is all rutted up. I don't know how any cars make it through that muddy mess."

Nodding, the woman smiled at her friend.

"But, did you happen to notice," she began, "the birds making nests to get ready for their new babies?" Or the way that the sun was shining through the branches overhead? Did you see the new buds coming out on all of the trees? There's nothing like the first green of spring."

Her friend look at her quizzically. She hadn't noticed any of those things during their outing.

"You see," the woman continued, "when spring comes, there is trash to clean up, there is mud and there are messes. But there is also growth, new life, and new beginnings. You just have to look up."

You. Just. Have. To. Look. Up.

During the struggles of the past year, I have felt myself looking down a lot. Pushing myself along, just trying to survive. Making eye contact for too long might allow people to see the depth of the pain that I was trying to work through. Best to just keep things light and on the surface. Holding myself back and denying that personal connection with the people around me hurts, not only them, but myself.

The pain is not over. The struggles continue. But a life spent looking down is no way to live. Life is not just garbage and muddy messes (and pain). Life is also sunshine, laughter, and new beginnings.

Perspective changes everything.

This year I've made resolutions, but I also have a phrase I will be carrying with me.

You just have to look up.

Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory