AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, FPM, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

We Made It.

Tomorrow we’ll start week 3 of school.  Last week was our first full week.  They are ALL back at school now.  

We’ll pretend this one says ‘first day’, but I’m not changing it, because this is SO Jax.

All the sass.

It was my first day of school too.  In May I applied for a job I never thought I would be accepted for in our local school district.  I am a School Nurse at two schools that are ‘Behavioral Health Schools.’  We are focusing on Mental Health outcomes for our students.  I am so proud to get to be part of this.  Working with teams who focus on how poverty, past trauma, and race affect student achievement in school.  But, I also get to see kids who have fallen on the playground and scraped their knee, or kids who have lost their first tooth.

It’s crazy hard, but just like most things in life, it is worth it.

And, the health insurance is really great too.

–FullPlateMom, who is stocking her office with some great tools for mindfulness.


DC–The Last Days

Sorry, kids.  I fell behind on blogging our trip.  It was too much fun.  You all make anywhere fun.  I know how hard it is for us to travel as such a large crew, but you are always up for our fast paced adventures.  I am so grateful for that.

You bigs did a great job of helping tote the littles.  You hoisted them onto your backs when they were tired.  You took people to the potty every time you noticed an emergency.  You never complained about the lack of funds for eating out.  You were so patient with our ‘PB&J on the fly’ diet, because these littles never sit still.  I see you middles too, becoming bigs, by watching what they do, and I love it.

Here are a few pics from the last two days of our adventures.  We did so much!  Tess loves to “wander”, and wander we did.

To the Air & Space Museum.

Some members of the family were more interested in having their pics taken then in looking at the exhibits.   We wandered to the American History Museum to stand in front of the Woolworth’s Lunch Counter.  

We wandered back toward the Mall so we could see everything from the opposite viewpoint.  We saw the WWII Memorial for my Grandma.  We sent her a pic where Cate did NOT have her finger up her nose.  But, for our archival purposes, kids, here she is, in all her 5-year-old glory.  Oh, Cate.  We closed out our visit with a trip to the MLK Memorial.  It was a perfect way to end our time in DC.  And, this pic sums up all my hopes for you all.  Be fearless, and always remember the people who came before you.  You are your ancestors wildest dreams.  –FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to see where we wander next.

AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, Dessert, FPD, FPM, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

DC Day 2–Their History and Culture

Today was the day!  The kids finally got to see the African-American Museum of History and Culture!

We rode the Metro to get there.

Those four were quite excited.

Then we walked through one very famous mall to get to the museum.

The museum was amazing.

But the absolute best part is, none of it was for me.  Because, you see, when this was written, it was meant for me.  Well, not me exactly, because I’m not a man, but this was written for people who look like me.  This museum was devoted to the history and culture of people who don’t look like me.  I was their as a guest, to appreciate that history and culture, to learn about it, but not to belong to it.   It is good for me, as the majority, to be in a space that feels that way.

After the museum was over, we headed to China Town, where we ate in a tiny little restaurant with some great friends.  Photo credit on this one goes to Reece.  This might be the only family photo we have since Colombia!

–FullPlateMom, who is taking this babies into space tomorrow, thanks to the Smithsonian.  DC, we love your free museums!


Bowen, Cate, Dessert, Gigi, Tess

DC–Day One

We’re vacationing in DC.  We came to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture, because when Ally came to DC two summers ago, she missed the opening by 8 short weeks.  We promised her we would go back, and here we are.

We’ll head there tomorrow, but today was all about one of Bowen’s great loves, our military.  Through a very generous Facebook friend, whose husband happens to work in the Pentagon, we scored an AMAZING day.

From there we went to Arlington to visit the Caisson.  

And to see the changing of the guard.  

We ate dinner and then went to Fort Meyer for the Twilight Tattoo.  Oh my gosh, Bowen was in absolute heaven.  

–FullPlateMom, who plans to take her military loving son on the Metro tomorrow, because he loves trains almost as much as he loves the Army.

Bowen, FPD

Have Sport, Will Travel. This Time.

FullPlateDad (FPD) and I have spent a parenting lifetime avoiding club sports, sometimes to the chagrin of our children. AJ, our 14-year-old son from Ghana, is very sad to never have participated in the highest level of soccer achievable. We put him on the mid-level, non-traveling team, on scholarship. When he asked why we wouldn’t apply for the scholarship for a higher level, we told him we didn’t personally agree with the culture of that particular club, it didn’t feel very diverse, and we weren’t going to spend our hard earned dollars traveling all over the Midwest for one child.

Ultimately, he understood. When we do participate in a sport, we try to get multiple kids involved in it. Everyone is on the swim team. Even if they choose not to compete, we have them get in the water for practices so they learn good habits when it comes to exercise. We choose sports where individual times are measured, but there is a team atmosphere. We tell the kids we don’t expect anything of them other than improvement in their own performance.

Ally runs cross country, as does Cam. Ally will never win anything. Sometimes, she is close to last one in from the course. Cam wins quite a bit. He narrowly missed making Varsity his Freshmen year. He did letter in both swimming and track. Ally won’t have a letter.

I am so proud of Ally. I am so proud of Cam. They are both working to their fullest potential.

Then Bowen entered our lives. He loves sports. He loves them the way Cam loves them, the way you love them when you have that innate drive to WIN, and I mean WIN with capital letters. He wants to get out there and blow away they competition.

His predicted adult height is 4 feet tall.

Bowen has Achondroplasia, the most common form of Dwarfism. His head and torso are average-sized, but his arms and legs are short, approximately half the size of other kids his age. As you might imagine, this makes truly competing in any sports very difficult. It makes winning anything nearly impossible.

Swimming is an excellent sport for Bo. It puts very little wear and tear on his joints. He gets to be part of a team, and he has individual times to help him measure his own performance. When he’s participating with average height kids, we make sure he understands that the only win or loss comes with a time drop on his own personal best. He understands and embraces that.

It took Bowen a very long time to even learn to swim. We put our other kids in the water as soon as they got to us, swam year round and most had mastered it within a year or by the time they were 5-years-old. That wasn’t the case for Bo, and largely, that wasn’t his fault. People are taught to swim by people who have been taught to teach average height children to swim. Bowen has to balance his short arms and legs against the weight of his head and torso. He had to learn how to accommodate for that. Accommodations like that can’t really be taught, it just takes time and getting comfortable in the water.

Two summers ago, it began to click. We put him on our summer team, and he made his big swim.

Last year he swam year round, on a summer swim team and over the winter with a club on a scholarship. Our winter club held a Paralympic swim clinic for athletes with disabilities and Bo got to meet a Paralympian.   He got to touch Paralympic gold and it was decided in his mind, that was his goal. So, this summer we took him to a local qualifying event. We had looked at the time standards and thought he stood a good chance of qualifying.

He did.

At the beginning of this week, Bo and FPD traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana for Paralympic Junior Nationals. We traveled 5 hours to get him there. We wouldn’t do that for any other kid in our family. There wasn’t one word about why Bo got this and the others didn’t. There wasn’t one bit of whining.

Instead, we painted the windows on the car to make him feel so special, to let him know that this is what matters, doing your best on that level playing field. In our pajamas, in the wee hours of the morning, the driveway was filled with FullPlateKids waving to the retreating silhouette of a sedan containing one very excited 8-year-old.He brought home some major hardware. Two golds, two silvers, and a broken record. Yes, our Bo broke a record at U.S. Paralympic Junior Nationals in short course swimming.

We couldn’t be more proud of him as an athlete.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to see where his next competition takes us.


FPM, Meat and Potatoes, Veggies

Summer Overcomer

It has been a rough one, there really is no other way to put it.  Isa is doing great.  Her health is better than we could have asked for.  Eyes, perfect.  Heart, holding steady.  Lungs, chronic, but manageable.  Ears, super deaf, which is just what we expected, and what we love.

Work has been hard.  I am currently partially unemployed.  We’re working on that, but upon coming home, I took a large salary cut that impacted us in ways it will take us awhile to come back from.  It was like the perfect financial storm after coming home from an adoption.

The political climate has us worried about our health insurance.  We’re self-employed and there promises to be a large increase in our premium very soon.  We struggled with our ACA premium under Obama.  We’re suffocating with it under Trump.  Ally will become an adult soon and we will have to buy her own policy.  She can no longer be covered under our policy purchased on the market.  She has asthma, which is a pre-existing condition.  We feel like we’re working harder than ever just to survive.

Last weekend I was diagnosed with kidney dysfunction and I am currently being worked up for Type 1 Diabetes.  I have long battled auto-immune issues.  This seems to be the latest one.   We have conquered way bigger things.  It’s just that, right now, it feels like a pile on.  I’m tired.

I had big plans for this summer.  They have gotten a lot more low key.  We’re hitting up locations around town, exploring our city, and getting ready for a big trip to DC in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully that will make up for some of the bummer parts of this summer.  

Because we are overcomes, summer overcomes.

–FullPlateMom, who is so grateful for what she does have.

Brady, Gigi, Juliana

2018’s Graduates

May I present to you the 2018 graduates of The Full Plate household…

Gigi has now completed Kindergarten at her local center-based program Deaf program.


5th grade graduate from our neighborhood elementary school, Juliana…

Rounding out the crew, and SO very glad to be kissing middle school goodbye, Brady…

That is the only pic he would allow.

–FullPlateMom, who is so happy that they are so happy, but so sad that time moves so fast.