Friday Finds: Matte Black

1. 3 Tier Triangular Matte Black Metal Display Shelf

2. Bloomingville  Short Matte Black Ceramic Fluted Vase

3.Globe Electric 65155 Pendant Lighting

4. SOCOSY Creative Irregular Matte Ceramic Dinner Plate

5. Fellow Stagg EKG, Electric Pour-over Kettle

6. Modern Metal Cube Frame Planter Bowl

7. Black Matte Silverware Set – 20 Pieces Stainless Steel

8. Rivet Mid-Century Modern Task Lamp

9.  Modern Style Metal Dining Room Chair

A Little Haiti on Balboa | On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from September 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from September 2008.

Last night we had the pleasure of getting together with several other families adopting from Haiti for a beach bonfire. It’s always so fun to hang out with other adoptive parents. For one, it’s nice to just get together and chat with people who know all the dirty details about the Haitian adoption process. We mulled over the changes in IBESER, the Gassant firing, the 1974 law, the mess in Parquet, the timing of MOI, how passports are printed, when to file the I600 . . . Confused?? Exactly why it’s nice to have some folks to share in the insanity of it all.

But I also love these gatherings because it is so neat to meet other families who are passionate about adoption, with children who resemble mine, and see them all play together. When we first arrived, we met Debbie and her husband, who are in the process to adopt a 16-year-old girl. We saw Angela with her three new Haitian children, who just came home this summer! Seeing her newly enlarged family gives me hope that our own adoption will happen. As soon as we arrived, Angela’s 16-year-old started holding India, and her son Jude started playing with Jafta. Her 4-year-old daughter crawled right up into my lap. Despite the fact that these kids are just learning English, they immediately took to my family, and it was a lovely picture. Then our friends Alida and her family came, who are hoping to start the process of foster adoption. Her oldest boys hit it off with Jafta, too. They were running around the beach pretending to spar with light sabers in no time! Finally Donica and Paul came, who we have so much in common with. They have two kids similiar ages to ours, and are also adopting a little boy from Haiti who will be the same age as their bio daughter. So we are both creating “virtual twins”. It was fun to talk about how life will change once we can bring our kids home.

I really appreciate the relationships I have with these families, and they are a support to me, even when we just sit around a bonfire singing worship songs. Their presence gives me strength.

And who said meeting people online was a bad thing??? 🙂

********the photo above was taken on our last trip to Haiti *************

Wednesday’s Child: Evan

Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday’s Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids

Life Lately

Lest you think India’s donut wall creation was completely benevolent, she had grand plans to repurpose it for her own party. Thanks @duckdonuts for the perfect donuts for our wall!

#TBT to that time I got the girls to play a sport.

And that’s a wrap on Kembe’s 12th birthday bash!

Alright which @warbyparker’s? Went to the eye doc yesterday and I am officially in need of glasses. Astigmatism as well as just a general inability to read small print. Which frames should I choose?
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Karis, pretending to be a therapist. 😂😂

A post shared by Kristen Howerton (@kristenhowerton) on

How to help teens deal with problem skin

This post is sponsored by CHOC Children’s

The teen years can be difficult. From social issues to heartbreaks to school stress, it’s a lot to handle. And then you add the roller-coaster of shifting hormones . . . it’s no wonder teens can struggle with self-esteem. Acne can be another frustrating hallmark of this phase of life and can affect self-confidence for many kids. I talked with Dr. Priya Mody, a pediatrician from CHOC Children’s, to hear an expert opinion on how to help our kids deal with problematic skin issues.

Simply put, teens are more prone to acne than their younger siblings or their parents. Acne occurs when the hair follicles are plugged with an oil called sebum.

“Hormones, that teenagers can have in excess during puberty, increase that oil production, which means more acne,” Dr. Mody explains. “That’s why girls tend to get it around their period, and boys tend to get it when they start going through growth spurts when they’re around 14, 15, and 16 years old.”

I asked Dr. Mody about the best products for kids to use. She explained that many times, kids come in to her office after they have already tried over-the-counter medications. “There’s a lot of different options out there, so sometimes it is confusing for the parents and kids,” she says. “Washes that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid tend to be the best because they kill bacteria and remove the dead skin that clogged the pores. There are also on-the-spot treatments that contain these same ingredients, that you can apply to decrease inflammation and prevent pimples from coming back.”

In terms of which active ingredient to choose (benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid), Dr. Mody suggests that it’s a matter of trial and error. “Unfortunately for kids, an over-the-counter product that works for one teen, doesn’t necessarily work for another. I typically tell them to start with one and if it doesn’t work, go to the other. I don’t usually give specific brand names, but instead,  looking for a nice light wash that the kids can use to wash their faces in the morning and at night or after sports. I like that salicylic acid doesn’t dry out the skin, but it takes longer to take effect. Kids often want something that’s quicker, and benzoyl peroxide tends to work better, but it can be drying.”

Dr. Mody warns that many acne treatments can dry out the skin, so it’s important to find a good oil-free moisturizer. “After you put on any acne treatment, apply an oil-free moisturizer on top of it to prevent dry skin. If your body thinks your skin is too dry, it produces more oil, and then the acne can get worse.” The point is not to dry the skin out completely, she explains. It’s to get that bacteria off and then keep it moisturized.

I also asked about toners or pre-moistened pads with medication on it that seem to be heavily marketed to teens. Dr. Mody recommends caution with these because sometimes kids can think that the more they scrub their face, the better their acne will be. “Sometimes it’ll make it worse because it dries out the skin more and actually irritates the skin,” she says. “I recommended they do one or the other. If it is a light toner, then that’s fine, but they have to just lightly dab their face with it. Sometimes with cleansing pads, kids just start scrubbing and scrubbing, their face gets more inflamed, their skin dries out, and then that will make the acne worse.” She also warns that toners and pads are not a quick substitute for washing the face, although they can be great in a pinch in situations like after gym class or sports. “Sometimes maybe that’s all they can do. They can have them in their backpack and just kind of clean off the oil on their face. But when they get home, they should wash their face again.”

I was interested to hear her advice on that tricky combo of eczema and acne that plagues some teens. She acknowledged this can be more difficult to treat because they already have dry skin. “Teens with eczema already have dry skin, and acne medication can worsen the eczema. There is an over-the-counter option called Differin that has adapalene, and it tends to not dry out the skin as much as a lot of other topical retinoids or benzoyl peroxide.” She also emphasized that kids with eczema need to make sure they are wearing sun protection to prevent further drying of their skin.

In terms of how to know it’s time for a prescription acne medication, Dr. Mody says that usually happens after they have tried several different  over-the-counter options and nothing has worked.

“Kids will tell you, ‘Oh, I’ve done Proactiv. I’ve done Clearasil. I’ve done Neutrogena,” and then by that time they’re frustrated. That’s when we do prescriptions. There are combinations out there with benzoyl peroxide and then a topical antibiotic cream, like clindamycin or erythromycin. Sometimes those combo creams work well because it’ll kill bacteria pretty quickly.” In harder cases, Dr. Mody will look at retinoids like Retin-A, or oral antibiotic for really problematic issues like cystic acne.

She stresses that the important thing is to let the kids know that it’s going to take time. It can be discouraging for kids who have already tried a lot of options to be patient. As teens are prone to do, they want instant results.

“When they come back in and say, ‘This didn’t work,’ I ask them, ‘Why didn’t it work?’ and they say, “I tried it for a week.” I have to remind them to allow the medication time to take effect. You have to keep it up for six weeks. You have to be persistent. Sometimes, acne may get worse before it gets better.” It can be discouraging for kids who have already tried a lot of options to be patient. As teens are prone to do, they want instant results.

In terms of more holistic approaches to acne, Dr. Mody suggests taking 30 to 40 milligrams of zinc per day. She also recommends tea tree oil just for spot treatment, and even apple cider vinegar diluted at a one to three ratio with water as an anti-inflammatory wash. She also suggests paying attention to diet. “There have been studies suggesting that carbohydrates, refined sugars, and some milk products have been shown to increase inflammation, which could worsen acne,” she says.

Acne doesn’t always warrants a trip to a dermatologist. Dr. Mody encourages parents to first discuss treatment options with their child’s pediatrician or primary care physician. “Sometimes I bring it up before my patients do,” says Dr. Mody. “A teenager’s  self-esteem can be really affected by acne. Kids or teens with moderate to severe acne can be depressed or have low self-esteem or anxiety. Fixing the acne can improve their self-esteem and sometimes their depression.

Friday Finds: Terra Cotta, Indigo, Blush

1. Woven Farmhouse Throw

2. Stone & Beam Modern Ceramic Flower Vase

3. Novogratz Brittany Sofa Futon – Navy Linen

4.Solid Velvet Throw Pillow Covers Blush

5. Unique Loom Solo Solid Shag Collection Modern Plush Terra Cotta Rug

6. Modern Rustic Ceramic Planter

7. 3 inch Small Square Terracotta Clay Garden Planter Pots 

8. Novogratz Vintage Tufted Upholstery Design, Square Ottoman

9. Global Throw With Tassels Stone & Beam

Just get pregnant, then you’ll adopt || On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.


Most women who have any sort of fertility issues have heard this statement before:

“Just adopt, and then you’ll get pregnant.”

I get this one a lot. Especially since it pretty much happened that way. And now here we are, adopting and expecting again, too. So I get why people say it. It’s one of those things people just kind of say. A conversation piece, I guess.

Now, if you are reading this and you’ve said this to me, don’t worry. You are not alone or a bad person. Someone says this to me a couple times a week. Seriously. I’m not wanting to single anyone out to run a guilt trip. I know it’s not said with ill intent. But to be candid. . .

This statement always makes me bristle a little bit. In part because I know that most people stuggling with infertility will not get pregnant after adopting. Statistically, it happens to a very small few of us.

Maybe it bugs me because I always wanted to adopt first. Mark was more keen on trying the old fashioned way first. I was ready for the homestudy well before I was ready to say goodbye to the pill. But I deferred to Mark. Because I am such a submissive wife.

Okay, stop laughing at me. I did submit. This one time.

But seriously, the reason this little cliche bothers me the most is that it could imply that pregnancy is a prize or consolation for having adopted. Like adoption is a means to an end. That maybe if you do it you could then get to have your own child.

(Okay. Another pet peeve. An adopted child is your own child.)

India was not the “prize” for having adopted Jafta. Jafta is the prize for having adopted Jafta.

So I suggest that we do away with this little statement altogether. That we let it fly away on the wind with other statements you should never say to adoptive parents. Like “are those your real kids?” or “how much did he cost?”. Or my favorite, when I was asked if I run a daycare from my home.

So for people considering adoption:

If you adopt, then you will be a real parent.

If you adopt, then you will be abundantly blessed with a child.


Wednesday’s Child: Kristina

Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday’s Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.



Turning the garage into a tween homework/gaming space

This post is sponsored by Tarkett NA.
In the ongoing saga of updating my house . . . this week I tackled the garage. Unfortunately, home prices in Southern California are at a premium, which means that we have to use every square inch of space that we’ve got. As a family of four kids, finding the space for instruments and desks can be a challenge, not to mention the suitcases, sleeping bags, and random crap one needs to store. So I don’t park my car in the garage, and have wanted to turn it into a music/homework/gaming room with ample storage.
During the second story addition process, the garage basically became a construction zone. It was full of tools and drywall and cans of paint. It was filthy and things were in piles – you couldn’t even walk around. Now that we are nearing the end of construction, I decided it was time to reclaim this space.
In order to do that, I had to address the floors. They were an old, cheap peel-and-stick tile. They were starting to pop up and the sheen was looking gummy and old.  I wanted to cover it with luxury vinyl plank like I have in the rest of the house. I’m obsessed with this surface. It looks like real wood, it’s easy to float over an existing floor, and it’s insanely durable. It also gives the look of real wood.
I decided to go with Tarkett’s ProGen line of Luxury Vinyl Plank. They are waterproof – perfect for a room that will get a lot of outdoor exposure. I also love the look. The planks are long at  7″ x 60″ so they really do look like wood. And I loved the colorways that they had available. I went with Alder Cashmere in Arbor White for a beachy, white-washed look.
It is a click-and-lock system that can be floated over existing tile, which save me a lot of time and mess because I did not have to pull up the old stick-down tile. We just went right over it.
The click and lock system was so simple to install. I hired two guys to install it for me and they were done with the entire garage in 3 hours. Such a fast makeover!
This little corner is the homework corner, where the kids can work on their computers. I also have a big storage locked that I need to paint. These will be the next projects for our garage space.
This corner is where I keep tools. It’s divided from the homework corner by some bookshelves that just out into the center of the room so that we can have a little seperation.
I am loving how the floor looks. I would not mind this throughout the rest of the house. It’s such a modern, bright color.
This space will be where the kids can have their own tv and xbox, and a hang room for when they have friends over. But there is still plenty of storage with wall-to-wall wardrobes, and space for suitcases just above them.

I feel like we gained a whole new room! And the kids have been out here with friends every day since.