"" Life A Bit Sweeter: 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lifeabitsweeter.com is MOVING!

Hey All!

We've had such a great run with this domain but it's time to pack-up the china and get to moving as we move into this next chapter of our life....life with Selah! I'll still share about adoption but the site will not just be about adoption. It will be sharing all of my B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S with the world. Yep, I'll continue to be as raw and transparent about topics like marriage, parenting, fashion, my dreams, and anything else that pops up in my head.

Soon www.lifeabitsweeter.com will shut down and all of my posts will move to:

Bookmark us, share us, read us but just make sure you stop over and tell us that you were there! If there's anything you'd ever like me to talk about, just let me know. Hit me at michelle365@me.com.


Monday, July 15, 2013

"YES"...the word that is changing my life

What a rollercoaster of emotions I’ve been on since I’ve been in Africa. Just five weeks ago, I had never left the United States. Beyond living in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area, my lifetime travel experience spanned visiting West Virginia, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina with some college residence in Pennsylvania and New York. The crazy thing was I hated traveling. I used to tell friends that I wish whenever I had to go somewhere that would take more than 1 hour to travel to, I wanted to be the woman from “I Dream of Genie”. You know…nod my head and instantly, I’d appear in my destination. Yet here I was at 37 years old, passport in hand, headed on a 16-hour flight to Ethiopia to live alone with my infant daughter for anywhere between 1 ½ - 2 months as I waited the completion of her adoption. It’s amazing how a simple prayer “God, break my heart for what breaks yours” has so many complexities that when earnestly prayed, I believe God is in heaven saying, “Are you sure, you’re ready for this?” I’ve heard it said before but now I believe it with all of my heart – God simply wants our “Yes” and a surrendered, teachable, servant’s heart as He sends us out into the world to be His hands and feet. I think back to elementary school and you know the kid in the classroom who is sitting there with hand raised at his teacher, saying “Ewww…pick me. Pick me.”
I believe God desires that in His children. How amazing would it be for Him to look into His classroom of life and see a sea of us with raised hands saying, “Ewww…ewww….ewww…Here I am, Lord. Send me. Send me.” Instead, many of us, including myself, had become the kid in the back of the room, enjoying the benefits of a relationship with Him but slouching in our seats thinking, “I hope He doesn’t call on me for that.” God is looking through the earth for people who He can send to the hard places that no one really wants to go. It’s so much easier, I think, for us to stay in our comfortable lives where our names become recognized in our collegiate circles, among Twitter followers, blogs, Bible studies of discipleship,  and speaking platforms. But once you become a disciple and you have embraced the Good News, the question becomes are we ready to go to the hard places that will make us uncomfortable? The places where we’ll have to hug and love those that the world just wants to sweep under the rug and pretend that ‘those people over there’ do not exist. For me, when I prayed that prayer (break my heart for what breaks yours), He ended up sending me to Ethiopia. For you, it may be right in your own back yard, your community or the one a few streets down that when you pass by, you quickly lock the doors. Wherever your ‘there’ is, God wants to know are you willing to go to love even them? What are you afraid of? He’s waiting for you to surrender and I promise you, you haven’t much time left to wait for the right opportunity. Just Go. I’m not going to lie, the road will be hard but what He produces in you in the end and how He uses you will blow your mind away. Don’t leave that kind of blessing and reward on the table of your life unused. ‘They” are waiting and God is waiting to transform your heart to become more like His in the process.  Start where you are with what you have and tell Him, Yes. Here I am Lord. Send me.
My Brother's Keeper

Monday, May 20, 2013

Natural Hair Meetup & Adoption Fundraiser

I am sooooo excited about our final fundraiser to benefit the travel expenses to complete the adoption of our daughter from Ethiopia. This 'finale' so to speak will be a gathering of the 'sisters' of all ethnic backgrounds...those who are currently natural...those who are curious about going natural...and those ladies who just need a social break.

Save the date and be sure to check it out. I expect that you'll begin to be able to purchase tickets for a really modest donation. The best of all of this is that not only will ladies have a great time hanging out and loading up their bags with products from the product swap , but  you'll be helping another 'sister' cover the travel expenses to plant her daughter from an orphanage in Ethiopia to her home here in Maryland. This has been a 4 year journey and we're so excited to possibly share it with you. Come back to the blog this week to find out how you can support this awesome event if you're not local.

So...please share it with your friends. The goal is to sell 60 tickets...that means lots of products for you to swap and lots of great convo! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fun Family Video to Kick Off Week 4 Adoption Challenge!

Check out Tony, the boys, and I as we share our Week 4 adoption challenge BUT be sure to watch to the very end. We are a bunch of silly people and wanted to show this outtake with you. SMH still.

If you're just becoming familiar with our family, here's the deal. We've been in this adoption journey since 2009 and we are now so close to traveling to Ethiopia to meet our daughter and go to court. So exciting! The one obstacle we had is that we were short about $6,000 to take care of our travel costs. (For Ethiopia adoptions, we are required to travel twice, each trip lasting 7 days...not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination but she's worth it!)

So we decided to dream big. We decided that each week for 6 weeks, our goal was to save and raise $1,000 to cover our travel costs. We have been so blessed in that we have been able to radically cut back at home, save money, and also raise funds. Every week, without fail, we believe that God has blessed us to meet that goal every single week and now we're on Week 4!!! Please consider supporting us.

You can donate directly to www.gofundme.com/selah OR you can purchase a necklace at www.etsy.com/shop/lifeabitsweeter

Thanks for dropping by!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Winners....Curly Nikki Book Giveway

Congratulations to Lenneil T., Ashley G., and Lori T. who each one a copy of the book 'Better Than Good Hair' by Nikki Walton. What a great book. Can't wait for you all to devour it like I am.


Friday, May 3, 2013

The 'Taboo' of Fundraising & Adoption

If a family decides to host and participate in fundraising for their adoption, doesn't that communicate that they really can't afford to raise another child?

Well...take a peek as I discuss this very issue in the below quick clip:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

African-American Hair Care & Curly Nikki Book Giveaway!!!

When it comes to taking care of African-American hair naturally and promoting healthy, gorgeous hair, hands down, many of us would agree that psychotherapist Nikki Walton is the go-to expert that many of us follow. Not only does she carry a mean sense of style herself, but Curly Nikki, as most of her fans would call her, is "the most credible online source in regards to natural hair care, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair."

As a huge fan myself, I'm excited to share her wisdom in the form of a giveaway. Beginning today, you can enter to win 1 of 3 copies of Nikki's new book, "Better Than Good Hair". The book title in itself makes quite the statement if you're familiar with the old stereotypes of what defines 'Good Hair vs. Bad Hair'. Whether you're a natural hair enthusiast, considering a big chop, want to maintain and grow your relaxed hair, or are a vanilla mommy raising a chocolate little one, you don't want to miss this giveaway. Trust me, you'll thank me. This book is chock full of product recommendation, home care recipes, advice for parents on how to manage their child's hair, and the psychology of hair as it pertains to black women.

Don't miss this great opportunity! The giveaway closes on Saturday, May 4th at 11:59pm Eastern. All three winners will be announced on Monday, May 6th.

To enter, it's REALLY SIMPLE!  
For the first two entry types (Twitter & Instagram), you'll need to copy (right click and save) this Giveaway Badge to your computer. 

The ways to enter are in the image and also in the video below. Take a peek at both and let's roll! I can't wait to send these three copies out. I'm loving mine!

Here are a few rules (beyond what's shared in the video above):
  • Don't forget to come back to the blog to let us know in the Comments Section if you posted via Instagram, Twitter, or made a donation.
  • If you win a copy of the book, shipping is at our expense except if you are outside of the United States.
  • For any comments left on the blog, please be kind. While I love discussions to challenge our thinking, it's important to be supportive and non-judgmental of others. I reserve the right to delete any harsh comments which may disqualify individuals from the contest.
That's it lovelies!

(Adoptive mommies: Please also check out the post, "Ask Anything! A Safe Place for Vanilla Moms & Dads Raising Chocolate Children)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fear & Pride Pushed Aside....I'm Working to Get My Baby H-O-M-E!

It took a LOT and believe me when I say A LOT of being challenged by a couple friends to put in action the plans to fundraise again. Fear followed by a dose of pride is a mean, toxic cocktail when swallowed. It grips our heart and nearly kills our soul. It  can prevent us from allowing God to move on our behalf.
Because we finished our saving and  fundraising for the adoption over a year and a half ago, I didn't want to have to come back and say, hey we're short some funds. No, we didn't do anything crazy with the funds like adding an addition on to our house -- our donated funds are managed by a third party, Lifesong for Orphans. Part of the deficit that we have is in a very small part because I was a little more modest on projected travel expenses for the two 7-day trips to Ethiopia (travel and in-country expenses). The other really BIG HITS we took in our adoption fund is that the process took much longer than anyone would have ever expected. What should have been a 12-18 month journey, turned into a 3 1/2 year journey to complete and she's still not quite home yet. The longer things take to complete, the more money we've had to spend for document renewals which is by no stretch of the imagination cheap. In fact, we're scheduled to go back to Baltimore in two weeks to do another set of Biometric fingerprinting through the Department of Homeland Security (I mean did my fingerprints change in the last year....go figure!) BTW: I'm very thankful for the extended wait now because when we received our referral, she's a perfect fit for our family. I couldn't imagine any other child, in large part, my own childhood and adult journey has prepared me for some of what she may go through

I've been so afraid of what I THINK other 'people' would think, it's paralyzed me. Just when I thought I had enough money set aside to take care of our deficit, the engine in our truck died. There was no repairing. We were told we'd have to completely replace. Given that we're soooo close to paying it off, I didn't want to buy a new vehicle, especially since we're cutting costs at home to manage the day-to-day expenses associated with a new child. So finally, I realized, okay God, this is still not about me (you'd thought I would have that particular memo memorized by now!) The awesome thing that happens with fundraising is that it brings more people into the journey and also exposes more people to the problem at hand.

So my friends....I need YOUR help! Whether you're a first-time donor or returning donor, please know that EVERY SINGLE BIT helps us to reach the finish line until little Miss Selah is finally upstairs in her crib being loved on by her family. The years have been excruciatingly long but God has done some incredible things in that time lapse. Please consider donating and/or spreading the word. I believe we can do this but I'll be honest...I need your help! Thanks for being a part of the journey!

Much love!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Family Is About Everything That Comes AFTER....birth

Some things just leave you speechless. This video is one of them. With just tears welling in the corners of my eyes, I get it. I just pray that those who don't yet understand adoption and the why's will understand the pain but more importantly understand the LOVE more to get beyond their own hangups.

Help us Rachel...

Rachel Rostad from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


You'd think that after 4 years of jumping hurdles, facing criticism, and seeing God do the miraculous through this adoption and in my life, I wouldn't have a problem with fear but I absolutely do. I'm sitting here virtually in tears because just like a 8 year old who fears the needle before the nurse even sticks her, the tears roll because of the anticipation of pain. In my case, it's not pain of a needle but it's the pain of what people will think. Even if they don't say anything, in my head, I've conjured up thoughts about what they're probably thinking. The theme of the thoughts are all about the same and they just swirl in my head before I even start. They paralyze my actions.

Day I overcame fear and did the
 One Day Without Shoes Challenge for TOMS
Lord, I know that this is so much bigger than me. Please help me to push away pride, fear, and the whispers of the enemy to finish this leg of the race strong. I am your child and I am loved in spite of my mess ups and failures. She is your child and she is loved. Help me to walk in boldness and even beyond my critics so that even in this Lord, You receive the glory.

My friend, whatever you are facing today or in this season in your life, know that God has the power to move mountains. But first, you've got to move your feet. Now, let's go!

Monday, April 1, 2013

We Have A MOWCYA Court Date!

This morning I received great news from our adoption agency! The Ethiopian Court has issued a MOWCYA/Birth Parent court date for our case. The date is May 21st! Not to be confused with the court date where Tony and I will travel to Ethiopia, this assigned court appearance is a bit different. I'll share what I know in the way it was shared with me. On this date, MOWCYA (Ministry of Women Children Youth Affairs) is subpoenaed for our recommendation letter, and her birth parent (if applicable) is requested to appear to give their consent for the adoption.

Our adoption agency will be in touch with our family after this date to let us know whether MOWCYA has written a recommendation letter, whether it is positive, and whether the birth parent gave consent for the adoption (if applicable). There is no guarantee that MOWCYA will have written a positive recommendation letter for our case on that day. If a letter has not been written, the court may give MOWCYA a new date, or may just leave the case open and issue our family a court date once the letter arrives. If the letter is not positive, our adoption agency will work with MOWCYA to see if any additional information is needed or missing. There is always the possibility that they can decide to just not write one so we'll just pray that all is in order in Selah's case.

Currently, our agency anticipates that families will receive court dates to appear in Ethiopia approximately 2-4 weeks after a favorable letter is written. Once that date is provided, Tony and I will travel to Ethiopia for a 7-day trip to meet our daughter for the first time (scream!!!!). We'll also stand before the judge to share our intent for adoption. If all goes well here, we still aren't in the clear. We'll have to leave Selah in Ethiopia, as we travel back to the states to wait for the Embassy to issue her VISA date. 

So how can you help? PLEASE PRAY THAT ALL IS IN ORDER AS WE GEAR UP TOWARDS MAY 21ST. Please pray that paperwork is not lost, the necessary individuals show up and produce any needed documentations/verifications, and that all decision makers do whatever God knows to be in the best interest of the child. Team, we're getting so close!!! 

Thanks again for being the village! Love y'all much!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ask Anything! Hair

I'm so thankful to the moms who have sent questions. I sincerely apologize that I'm just getting the first post up for our Ask Anything! series. Since we just got our referral, I've been uber busy with updating documents to send to Ethiopia, working full-time, being wife and mommy to my two at home, and you know the other long line of hats that many of us wear.

So while our first question is about boy hair care, if you have a girl, don't tune out. There's relevant info for you too. This particular mom is curious about how to care for her son's hair. The incredible thing about African/African-American hair is that our textures are as diverse as the hues of our skin color. You can have a child with a very tight coil that is a bit more difficult to detangle or a child with a very loose, almost soft curl. There are even little ones whose hair can be naturally bone-straight. Diversity at its best, right? Smile. Well, mommies, that just means that you can't be afraid of experimenting and trying. Also, don't let people intimidate you. You can do it! Here's the big thing though -- as you work with your child, please remember that the language and attitude you display, even when you get frustrated, can easily show up in how your child, especially girls, view themselves. Use hair time as bonding time, especially given the close proximity that you will have with one another. So be patient with yourself and extend yourself grace....scour YouTube, and use this forum as a resource. Don't let the fear of what us other African-Americans will think about you make you stop trying. People are going to talk REGARDLESS...so let them talk. Your job...continue to love on your little one and nurture your family in spite of the world's opinions and stares. Just like this blog series, I expect that there will be some negative opinions but that's okay. I'm doing this for the applause of One. For me, I'm  just being obedient to what I believe God is asking of me. He's not asking for perfection from me...just to take the steps and try. My sister, it's the same for you. So give yourself a break. Breathe in, breathe out...now let's love. (smile)

Oh...btw...here's one more tidbit regarding barbering for African/African-American boys. Everybody is not equipped to cut their hair. The barber who cuts your Caucasian son's hair may not be trained to cut your African son's hair. There is a skill that is involved and trust me when I tell you mama...many of us African-American mamas have had the experience of even poorly-skilled African-American barbers butchering our son's hair. For example, my youngest son's curl pattern is gorgeous and right in the front, his hair grows in a swirl. If a barber cuts it wrong, he looks bald in the front...not a good look at all! Wanna see a mama run from a barbershop or get really feisty? Let a barber cut uneven patches in her son's hair. LOL. So...all that to say 'Barber Beware'. If you haven't been able to find a good barber in your area, let me know and I'll put out some feelers to some other moms.

So here we go....

Close-up of my oldest son's curls. They are
somewhat loose but not a silky loose curl.
The longer his hair gets the more it tangles.

Awesome resources I mentioned in the video:

Beads, Braids & Beyond

Curly Nikki

Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ask Anything! A Safe Place for Vanilla Moms & Dads Raising Chocolate Children

Verme Family Blog
I remember before we started the adoption process, I would sometimes see Caucasian moms and dads with African or African-American children and yes, I would stare....not real hard. I'd try to do it on the sly. I didn't want to be a gawker but I was so curious. Were they their children? Had they adopted? Were they children of some friends they knew? Were they in a big brother/big sister type of program? If they were their kids, how were they teaching them about the African/African-American culture?

Darling Family Blog
Yes.....the questions, the questions, the questions I had. What I had not considered is the awkwardness that the parents and the children themselves must have felt every time they went out in public and perhaps even in private with their extended family members. I've always believed that love has no color and ALL DAY LONG, I'd rather a child be in a loving family than stay in an institution or system just for the sake of them waiting for a family of the same ethnicity to take them in. I believe this for all children -- African, African-American, Asian, Caucasian, and the list goes on.

Wanderer Family Blog
During this adoption process, I've learned that while I've had questions in the past about Vanilla Moms & Dads raising Chocolate children, they have just as many sometimes too. Here's the problem, there's no safe place that I've identified where they can ask them. On two separate occasions, neither of them ever knowing, two of my friends who have adopted internationally, both named Jenn (and Jen), have inadvertently talked with me about creating such a place and I'd like to begin providing it sometimes via this blog. It's a place where moms and dads can ask REAL questions but have never had a safe place to do so without sounding racist, insensitive, or getting a potential tongue-lashing that says, 'Well, why did you adopt them anyway if you wouldn't know what to do?!'

You know questions like....

  • Why can't I wash my child's hair everyday like I do mine?
  • What's this whole hair thing about anyway?
  • My daughter's hair is hard to manage? What do I do? Should I put a relaxer in it?
  • The lotion we use still makes my child look dry and ashy? What should I be using?
  • How do I safely find African/African-American men or women who can pour into my child about their culture in a way that perhaps I can't?
  • How do I deal with issues when my child wants to identify more so with the rest of our family who has straight hair and blue/green eyes? 
Tennant Family Blog
So here's the deal. I'm no expert. Just a mama with a heart for adoption regardless of ethnicity mix. I have a bit of knowledge and when I don't, I have friends who are pretty wise. Send your questions to me at michelle365@me.com. Trust me when I say, I won't tolerate blatant ignorance from anyone. That's not the intent here. At the same time, if you're an adopting parent, don't feel like your questions will offend me. If they come off the wrong way, I promise to lovingly share perhaps a better way to word it so that if you ask the question of someone else in the future, it's taken for the heart of what it's worth. Ready....let's roll!

(BTW: I'm now turning on my comment moderation option so that this blog remains a safe and loving place. Smile. Love y'all!)

More pics of my sweet friends....love them so!
Matthews Family

Reynolds Family
Hammons Family Blog

Friday, March 1, 2013

Referral Day!!!

I can't believe that we finally get to share that we received our referral for a beautiful little girl this past Wednesday evening. It's taken me a while to post this because I've been so busy just trying to process everything.

What's next? We have more paperwork to complete and are waiting for an international pediatrician to review her medical records. Once this is done, we have to let our adoption agency know if we are accepting the referral.

There's so much more that must happen between now and bringing her home and I'll share those details soon. For now, the 'mother' in me wants to protect and nurture her. If I could be on a plane to Ethiopia today, I would...just to love on her. Since I can't, I am thankful that the God that I serve is a Father to the Fatherless and that He has kept and protected her more than I ever could.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Nothing Yet?

If you've ever been pregnant before or know someone who has, there comes a time during around that last month when all you really want is to deliver. You've gone through the excitement of the first few weeks of finding out you're expecting and announcing the news to everyone who has ears. Those first few flutters of the baby moving catch you off guard and bring a big smile to your face. You've gone through the months of feeling your baby kick for the first few times. You've even started working on decorating the nursery and start nesting like nobody's business....all in anticipation of the arrival of your baby. So theoretically, your child should be all ready to arrive during that 40th week at least but man, every birth story doesn't read that methodically. There are some deliveries that are delayed and as a mom, no matter how much you really want to 'deliver already', you must wait.

That's where I find myself. I know all the Christian-ese of our daughter arriving in God's time and I hold strong to that. If I can be totally honest about where I am today, I am just T-I-R-E-D. Like many adopting parents, I have been in spiritual warfare through this adoption like nobody's business...seriously, like nothing I've experienced before. The warfare has been so intense lately that there are fleeting moments when I'm not even sure that it's still going to happen. I am emotionally and physically spent. We've been on this journey since Fall 2009 and it has not been an easy one. If it is true, I feel like satan has unleashed all of his 'big guns' and I kid you not, I know that it is only God's grace and mercy that is sustaining me. For that I'm thankful. So pray for me, us, and all that is to come that His will be done.

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