biotin hair growth


4th of July 2015

Posted by | BAMBINOS | No Comments

parade 24th of July Highlight:  This was our third 4th of July on Harbor Island. The first two we decorated our golf cart and were in the annual golf cart parade. This year we all decided we’d try being viewers of the parade. The parade begins at 10am. So we decided to make a brunch of it. We set up our little viewing spot and settled in for the festivities with the rest of the Harbor Island parade-viewing revelers. In the end we all agreed that viewing/brunching it was much more fun than being in it!parade viewing parade 1 parade spread parade

4th of July Bookends: Start-of-Day ~ Meera started her day with a dream come true for her! She’d been wanting to get up early and be the first at the pool. She’s a lucky girl to have a Papi who will indulge such dreams. They were at the pool at 7am and had it all to themselves for two whole hours! 4th swim

End-of-Day ~ Strangely enough (I think it is strange), the bambinos really have zero interest in going to see the fireworks. They do, however, have a strong interest in setting off their own “fireworks” (snaps, sparklers, little confetti poppers, etc.). Our 4th ended with our own little “fireworks” display in the driveway. And lots and lots of trifle4th O 4th K 4th M 4th M 2

Day Trip: Sullivan’s Island, Fort Moultrie, The Bench, Charleston

Posted by | BAMBINOS | One Comment

Moultrie DThursday we took a day trip to Sullivan’s Island/Charleston.

Braydon and I lived for a year in Mt. Pleasant (we worked in downtown Charleston), and spent a lot of time exploring Sullivan’s and Isle of Palms. This area holds so much history — especially African-American history. Little did we know then that we’d be back doing many of the same explorations — all these 20 years later — with our African/Haitian-American kids. It is pretty profound, to say the least.Moultrie CSullivan’s Island was the point-of-entry for a huge number of the original slaves taken to the U.S.A. This makes it, in a way, the “Ellis Island” of Black America. K&O did a big section on immigration/Ellis Island this year in 4th Grade History. They even had a field trip to Ellis Island. It was stunning and eye-opening for them to make the realization that Sullivan’s Island is not in any of those history books or school curriculum.Moultrie BThere is nothing like learning African-American history in the epicenter of African-American history.Moultrie AThe primary reason for our trip, however, was to visit Fort Moultrie. Last year — for Kyle (our History Enthusiast) — we went to Fort Sumter, so this year it was Fort Moultrie. This is Kyle’s idea of a great way to spend a day.
Moultrie x Moultrie B O K Moultrie FBut after a [pretty short] span of time of happy family togetherness and everything going smoothly (i.e., Owen and Meera being diligently cooperative for the sake of their brother’s history fanaticism), things fall apart quickly on these sorts of expeditions. We’ve got one kid who has an infinite attention span for these sorts of things, and two who have the attention span of a two-year-old for these sorts of things. Braydon and I always revert to our Divide-and-Conquer strategies in these scenarios; Braydon takes Kyle to do the deep dive, and I take the terrible-twosome to do whatever we can to skim along the surface without a major meltdown.Moultrie E Moultrie MO Moultrie G Moultrie 2Moultrie K BIf you ask Kyle, he’ll say Fort Moultrie was, “awesome!” If you ask Owen and Meera, they’ll say Fort Moultrie was, “something they did for their brother.”

Next up was The Bench By the Road at Sullivan’s Island. If you don’t know about the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench By the Road Project, you really need to learn about it (click here for main webpage).

“There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves . . . There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road. There is not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit or you can visit in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi.” ~Toni Morrison

Bench 1Bench 2Next, we headed into Charleston, for, of course, Sticky Fingers — our favorite bbq. It was good. Ribs, chicken, collards, corn, what could be bad??? And just to note: Owen eats a full slab of ribs on his own now.Sticky FingersSpeaking of Owen… his favorite treat in the entire world is that decadent Southern delicacy, the pecan praline. And there’s only one perfect place to get them: Market Street Sweets in Charleston. He’d been waiting a year for this. We got him 1.5 pounds. They were gone within 24 hours.Pralines 2charleston pralinesDowntown Charleston is always just so drippingly gorgeous. I love to just walk the streets and luxuriate in it. It is so overwhelmingly gorgeous that it is almost too much to take in. Braydon and I are at such a loss as to how to capture it, that we don’t even try.

We made our way down to the fountains. These have always been beloved by our kids. This year Owen and Meera played in them…Charleston fountains…while Kyle chose a different spot. This guy has a lot on his mind these days, and we can see him changing from a fountain-playing little boy to a deeply-thinking young man. It is a scary, beautiful, true joy to witness.Charleston KWe ended our day at Emanuel AME Church (I posted about that here), before heading back “home” to Harbor Island.IMG_1212 End Quote

Emanuel AME

Posted by | BAMBINOS | No Comments

Emanuel AME 2We took a day trip to our favorite city yesterday — Charleston. We adore Charleston. For some backstory to our Charleston love affair, here is one (click), of many, posts I’ve done on Charleston in the past. It felt wrong to go to Charleston and not pay our respects to Emanual AME Church. So, at the end of our day, we went there.Emanuel AME Emanuel AME 7

The Charleston Shootings have been looming large for us in the past couple of weeks. I’ve posted about it a couple times here on the blog (here & here). We’ve been talking about it a lot in our family, and it has been weighing on our minds, especially being in South Carolina right now. Many flags are still at half mast here, and there is still — at least it seems to me — a thickness in the air around it. It is still raw here (here, in SC & here, in our family).

It was a really good experience for us to go there, and be there, see it, and feel it.
Emanuel AME 5 Emanuel AME 6 Emmanuel AME 1 Emanuel AME 8 Emanuel AME 4 Emanuel AME 3

I’m so glad we went.Emanuel AME 9

Food from the Beach House: “Kyle’s Classic” Smoothie

Posted by | BAMBINOS | 9 Comments

smoothieA couple of weeks ago I overheard K & O talking with a bunch of their friends about their favorite foods. They were each telling each other their “Top 3 Favorite Foods.” I was totally cracking up. Because like most 10-11 year old kids, most of the boys were listing pizza, chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers. Owen and Kyle’s lists were quite different. I wasn’t surprised to hear Kyle say, “Joe’s Shanghai Soup Dumplings,” as his #1, and “Haitian Steak Frites” as his #2, but I was sort of shocked when he listed “Smoothies” as his #3. I knew he loved them, but I didn’t know he loved them that much!

I make smoothies for the boys almost every day during the summer. (And then, in the dead of winter, I make Mango Lassi for them, but that’s a whole other post for a whole other time.) Kyle’s absolute favorite smoothie is the classic Strawberry-Orange-Banana. Here’s the How To:


  • Bananas*
  • Frozen Strawberries (you can freeze fresh berries, which I often do; or you can just buy them frozen… which is often cheaper… check your store’s prices)
  • Orange Juice (we drink the good stuff when we’re drinking OJ straight up, but I buy jugs of cheap OJ just for smoothie making)
  • Plain Yogurt (I use Greek yogurt because I like to boost the protein content of the smoothies)

*About the bananas: You can use fresh or frozen bananas. It is Kyle’s opinion that the riper the banana, the better the smoothie. So, this is a great way to use up starting-to-turn bananas! When I have a banana (or a whole bunch) that is starting to get too ripe, I slice them all up and freeze them in freezer bags (I do 1-2 bananas per bag). This way, they’re ready to pop out of the freezer and into the blender at smoothie-making-time.



Throw it all in the blender and blend it! That’s all folks. The amounts of each ingredient are dependent on what you like and how much you’re making. When I make smoothies for K&O (just the two of them), I use 2 bananas, a couple handfuls of strawberries, about 1+ cup of yogurt, and about 2 cups of OJ. If you like it more strawberry-y, use more berries; if you like it more yogurt-y, use more yogurt, etc.! Slurp up and enjoy!


P.S. Why, yes, of course I bring my Vitamix to the Beach House! Who doesn’t?!?!  ;0

P.P.S. In all seriousness, the Vitamix is uber expensive, but uber worth it if you can swing it. It is, truly, my most valued kitchen possession.

P.P.P.S. K & O have been loving smoothies for a long time. Check out this post (click!) I wrote in 2007 (when they were just 3!). That was then (ahhh! look at my babies! and look at how small their smoothie cups were!)~smoothiesThis is now (yesterday)!IMG_9068


The Long Drive South

Posted by | BAMBINOS | 4 Comments

IMG_9008It is a long drive from Bethlehem, PA to Harbor Island, SC. Literally and figuratively. We made it in record time this year –(relatively quick!) — we did 8 hours the first day and 6 hours the second day (each year the kids are older these drives are easier and easier). But it is still far, far away and it feels good to go the distance.

Still. We are a TRAVELING CIRCUS! This year was even crazier, since we had not only Dash with us, but Pearl as well. This cat is seriously the best cat ever; she rode in that car like a pro the entire time as though it was no biggie whatsoever for little ‘ole her. Meera loved it.IMG_9015Kyle loves this drive — he gives us a running commentary on the historic sites and Civil War battlefields all along the route.IMG_9040Of course, the biggest mile marker of all along that east-coast-route is the South of the Border tower. Amazingly (and awesomely for us) not once has any of our three bambinos requested we stop there. Thank heavens.IMG_9041IMG_9046 IMG_9047Also awesomely for us, and thank heavens, they are all lovers of that unique southern delicacy — the hot glazed Krispy Kreme. Lucky for us, the hot light was on in Florence, SC and we got a hot glazed dozen (which were gone in less time than it took to pull on and off the highway. because. Owen.).11694298_10153525948926501_546032071_nAnd then, before we know it, we’re light years away, and we’re seeing palm trees, and bridges, and we’ve got the windows open and the marsh air is thick and the Spanish moss is almost as thick, and we know we’ve made it — to our home away from home in the Southland.

Driving through Beaufort, Owen announces proudly: “I recognize it! Visually and smellithly!” Love him!

Meera says: “This is so familiar! Spanish moss!” She’s probably the biggest lover of South Carolina of all of us. She tells us each year that we’re visiting that she wishes she lived here year-round. The mildness of it, the depth of it, all the sweet and salty and good of the Southern coast — it’s exactly Meera Grace.

All the bad of it — the hard bitter explosiveness of the South rippling just beneath the surface here, the cutting grit and edge of it — we hold it in our hands with the good and we understand it in its fullness and entirety and learn through it and from it. It is important to be on the edge of our comfort zone, on the horizon of easy, to re-center ourselves in our core and keep learning who we are vis-a-vis the rest of the big, complex world.IMG_9049 IMG_9050The beach house is awaiting, and the view off the back deck is unwavering. There is something so anchoring about this annual time-away-from-the-rest-of-the-year…IMG_9092…and there is nothing like a Lowcountry sunset to remind us of the importance of wide open spaces and expanded horizons.IMG_1151I’ll be posting from Harbor Island, South Carolina for the next five weeks. Thanks for reading y’all!

“Summer in the deep South is not only a season, a climate, it’s a dimension. Floating in it, one must be submerged.” ~Eugene WalterIMG_1155

Kyle, On the Road South, Obama’s Pinckney Eulogy, and “Up the Hill”

Posted by | BAMBINOS | 4 Comments

 We are on the road to our Southern home away from home today.  Driving toward South Carolina, Braydon and I put on the car stereo Barack Obama’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney. Two of our three bambinos don’t have the attention span, but one, of course, does, in large part because the speech strikes at the center of his deepest passions. Kyle listened intently to the entire thing with us from the backseat.
I have a feeling this might be — for him — one of those formative memories he’ll  always hold: that time, when he was 11, driving to South Carolina for our southern summer, listening to Obama give this speech.

There is so much that I could say, because I have a million thoughts on the speech myself, but I’m posting this for Kyle, instead, in case I’m right that he will remember this, and in case it is as formative as I think it might be for him.

Kyle’s reactions:

“I know one thing, he [Obama] did that from his core.”

“I believe we, the United States, are going uphill not downhill. For gay rights and for race — for Civil Rights — we are going up the hill. It’s a big mountain, but we’re going up it.”

“He wasn’t letting this thing go. Now we need to make something happen. We can’t just be sitting here watching this this happen. Now we need to change this thing. This thing is racism.”

From this mama: Thank you Mr. President. My boy — and all of us — needed to see you do that today. Thank you.  


Posted by | BAMBINOS | 6 Comments

Photo taken last July, Charleston, SC

This morning I told my beautiful bambinos about the Charleston shootings. Sadly, for me, but mostly for them, we’re getting quite accustomed to these conversations. I’ve become — again, sadly — strangely adept at discussing these things in age-appropriate ways with my children. And let’s be real: when I say “these things” what I’m talking about is the tragic loss of black lives and the horrific racism all too often at the root of current events.

We can’t shield them from reality. And I want them to hear the truth from me first — before they overhear someone talking about it, catch a glimpse of a tv somewhere, or see the front page of a newspaper or website.

I knew I had to tell them today; I had tried to sort out my own emotions enough yesterday to prepare myself for talking with my kids about it today. So I got up early to make them their favorite muffins. And then, one by one, over muffins and milk, I had three separate conversations in our kitchen.

“I have to tell you something,” I began, and then I told them. 9 black lives lost, an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, 21-year-old white male killer, gun, police search, caught and in jail, families and communities and me mourning, racism, the battle is not over, so much progress has been made, still a long way to go, and we — each of us in our family — you and me — need to be part of the push for change-for-the-better, we need to use our lives for good. And you are so deeply and enormously loved and cherished and valued.

Kyle couldn’t contain himself as his angst spilled over. I just looked up the word “angst” to be sure it was precise. It is the perfect word for Kyle’s reaction: “Angst: a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.” This kid, more than anyone I know (for real), gets it. In a rooted, comprehensive, overwhelming way, with — as C. Wright Mills would say, a complex intersection of history and biography — he gets is.

I had barely finished my first sentence, “Kyle, sweetie, I need to tell you something horrible, on Wednesday night nine people were killed—” when he first said it, “Again?” I nodded as I continued, and he repeated it over and over in the short three minutes it took for me to tell him. “—in an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina—“—-“Again?” I’d nod and keep going, and he’d say, “Again?” and I’d nod and keep going. My throat felt constricted, like a thick choking feeling, looking him in the eyes — noticing for the millionth time how deep dark brown my boy’s eyes are, how gorgeously creamy his dark brown cheeks are — and having to tell him this sickly thing. He seems way too beautiful for this ugly truth. But I know with every part of me that I have to tell him, and I have to do it right. I finished, waiting for his response, and he said again, simply, “Again?” And I just stood there with him in a long silence. He finally said, “And in Charleston again? Why does it have to happen in Charleston? I love Charleston.”

We’ve been traveling to Charleston every summer for the past four summers. And we’ll be there again in just a few days. It is our family’s happy place. No place is unscathed.

In Charleston, 2012

Owen is much more cut and dried. There isn’t a lot of complexity to it for him. There is no gray area, things are right and things are wrong, and he calls it like it is. His reaction: “That. Is the definition of racist.”

Meera, at age seven, is and has always been the consummate family girl. There is nothing she values more than her family, and no one on earth she adores more, or craves the love and affection of more, or — as a healthy set of siblings — is more annoyed by, than her brothers. She knows no life without them, she knows no different, and the concept of racism is about as foreign and detached for her as could possibly be. If there is a white child on this planet who is less intrinsically racist than Meera, I’d be curious to meet them; there is not any tiny fraction of her that can understand how something like the Charleston shootings could possibly happen. But she understands family and she understands love and loss, and I think that she feels those things — at times like this — more powerfully than many others, at least in part because of her unique family and thus her unique perspective on life.

I felt sick to my stomach as I watched her sweet pink-cheeked face go slack and pale as I told her. The color literally drained from her. She said nothing. I asked her what she was thinking. She said, “I know this probably sounds weird, and maybe bad, but I am happy for the ones that died that they at least get to be in heaven.” I said, “That doesn’t sound weird or bad. I’m happy for that too.” I asked her if she wanted to ask anything, or say anything more. She said, “Not really.” I said, “I saw your face get really pale. Do you want to tell me about your feelings?” She said, “I was just thinking mostly about their families. I just feel so bad for the families.”

We hugged. Her pink cheeks came back. She ate a muffin and drank her milk. The boys got ready to run off to basketball camp for the day. All was ok. Sort of. Again.

In Charleston, 2011

Rachel Dolezal, “Transracial,” and Adoption

Posted by | BAMBINOS | 2 Comments


So. Rachel Dolezal.

I’ve been getting email from all over the world asking me if/when I’m going to blog about this. It’s weighing on my mind. But honestly, I don’t think I’m going to be blogging in any extensive way about it. Mainly because I have too many deadlines (real work-related deadlines) looming in the next ten days. And also because this one is just a little too sensitive for me. I’m not sure I could write something on this right now without getting all mama-bear-with-the-hair-on-my-back-all-bristly.

I know, I know, it doesn’t make any sense– how could I write about things like Trayvon Martin and Ferguson, but not be able to write about Rachel Dolezal? I’d like to think I could rise above, but at the heart of it all — the ongoing commentary, insinuations, and outright arguments that white mothers can’t raise black children — well… truthfully… it puts me a little bit… maybe a lot… over the edge.

“Several years ago, she became the guardian of one of her adopted, black younger siblings, Izaiah, now 21. He sees her as his ‘real mom,’ she said, ‘and for that to be something that is plausible, I certainly can’t be seen as white and be Izaiah’s mom.'” (Quote taken from this source.)

To say that this makes me a little bit squeamish is certainly to underrepresent my squeamishness about this. For the past few days, as the word “transracial” has been increasingly thrown around surrounding the Rachel Dolezal story, those of us in the Transracial Adoption Community (all caps there folks, because, this is a real thing), have been getting more and more uncomfortable (to put it mildly) with this whole entire media-blitz-Twitter-Facebook-Rachel-Dolezal-frenzy. We aren’t used to our word (transracial), our phrase (transracial adoption), being acknowledged much — let alone getting any media attention. And now we’re not only seeing and hearing “transracial” peppered all over the mainstream media, the news outlets, the internet, everywhere — we are seeing and hearing “transracial” being used in what is — for us — a very peculiar, and very — how shall I say this? — ummm…. OFFENSIVE — way.

There is a long history of white women raising black children. It would be wrong to pretend that history isn’t totally, totally, totally messed up. But today — in this historic era — when we have so much history to learn from, and adult adoptees to teach us, and research on adoptive families to absorb, well, to be honest: there is just no excuse for not doing our absolute 100% best to live out transracial adoption as right as we can. And, TRUTH: there are lots of us out here — lots of us — who are trying hard, every day, trying very, very hard, as white mamas of precious black children, to do it right.

I am my sons’ real mom. That is plausible. And I am most certainly seen as white. And they are most certainly seen as black. I am white and they are black, and we are a good strong family who knows who we are. I am the white mom of Kyle and Owen — I am seen that way, and I am that.

Here’s a link to the best thing I’ve seen on the topic so far — please watch:

click here: Angela Tucker on Anderson Cooper
Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 10.07.28 AM

Haiti Reunion 2015

Posted by | BAMBINOS | 3 Comments


This past weekend was our annual Haiti Reunion. This was our 9th year getting together with this extended family of ours. I’ve written a lot about this in the past 8 years (see here).

A couple of days ago I heard something that really has had me thinking. Tylenol has a new ad campaign called #HowWeFamily (see here). It asks, “When were you first considered a family?… When did you first fight to be considered a family?” It has had me reeling, just thinking about it. Because I think this — how we became families, how we had to fight to become families, how our families are considered/perceived by others, and how we have to keep fighting to be considered a “real family” — this, at the core, is the bond that we share with our Haiti Reunion kinship network. This is what separates us out, and sets us apart.

I’m going to be honest: 11 years in, I can say with total confidence that, quite frankly, most people outside this little tiny world of Haitian adoption just don’t get it. You know I don’t go out on a limb and say such provocative things very often, and I know I’m going to ruffle some feathers by saying it, so that should just signal just how strongly I feel about this. Truthfully: we’re a small tight fierce little crowd for a reason. We have had to fight hard simply to become the families that we are. And we are still fighting, on a daily basis, to be considered — perceived and understood — by the world as the families that we are.

Haitian adoption is not for the weak of heart, mind, or soul. Not at the start, and not a decade in.

Even within the adoption world, even within the international adoption world, Haitian adoption is sort of on the extreme end of the spectrum. There are very few U.S. agencies that will process Haitian adoptions, the infrastructure (or lack thereof) in Haiti makes it an uphill (often losing) battle, and no piece of it — large or small — on either end — U.S. or Haiti — is smooth or easy. To say that we had to fight to become families is a huge understatement. We had to fight the fight of our lives, with every cell and prayer in us, in a grueling (non-)process virtually impossible to navigate. I am not exaggerating. When we get together as Haitian Adoptive Families, we can share our war stories and commiserate over the battles as we still try to process our experiences and memories, even after many years in. But I think, more than anything, what we’re doing is bonding over all that goes unsaid — all that doesn’t need to be stated when we’re together — we all get it, we’ve all been there and done that, we have unquestionable respect for, and solidarity with, our fellow comrades in the struggle to become families. We fought. Hard.

As for how our families are considered…  That’s a whole other part of this journey that we’re on. It isn’t a chapter in the story, it is a theme threaded throughout all the volumes. We get everything from (this one was popular a bunch of years ago) “Oh! You’re so cool! Just like Brangelina!” (oh, how I hated that one), to the blank stares and/or piercing glaring stares, to the frequent questioning (we’re currently thick in a stage of life where the J-M bambinos get a lot of this) “How is she your real sister? That isn’t really your mom, is it? Where are your real parents? Can you prove those are really your brothers?” Don’t even get me started on the documents we need carry with us when we travel (particularly internationally), or the really unbelievably stunning comments/reactions/experiences we run into frequently in our own hometowns. The fight to be considered a real family is a daily battle, ever-looming, and ebbing and flowing as we — especially our kids — go through various phases and stages of life. When we are at our Haiti Reunion we have one day a year where there is no fight. We are foundationally unquestioned, and unconditionally accepted. When you’re fighting all the time, a day’s break feels indescribably amazingly good. To look around and see families that resemble your own? That’s the icing on the cake. It is a powerful bond.

Our other bond is the joy, grace, and beauty that we uniquely know in Haitian adoption. We have the fighting (and we are all warriors), but we have the sweet soft center in common too. There is a deep delicious vivacious gorgeous love at the heart of it. We share that together too — we know the profound utter beautifulness that is in being the families that we are. We have something special, and we know it. Together, we can be witness to that in community. There is beauty in struggle. There is grace in pain. There is dignity in the fight. We are the lucky ones on the front lines.

My dear Haiti Family, Thank you. I meant it when I said I want you dancing at my kids’ weddings someday. I want us to all stick around, and hold on tight, for the long ride. We need each other. What will become of all these kids? What lies ahead for us? Let’s find out together. I wouldn’t want to be doing all this without you. Love, Heather (for the J-Ms)

kids hanging out 2 beauties view 2 food 2 food DSC_0323 hanging out view sandbox pond