18 thoughts on your 18th birthday!


Today is the day my youngest boy turns eighteen. I did not know him as a baby, he did not come from my womb.  I missed his first smile, word, and step.  I did not get up with him in the middle of the night to calm him or to change his diaper.  I do not have a baby album to ooh and ahh over with him as I do two of my other children.   I cannot tell him what it felt like to have him inside me, or where I was for the moment of his birth.

Our story begins in a bombed out, pepto-bismo pink house where behind a broken half wall, Christian peeked over and looked directly at me trying to hide his smile as he ducked down again out of sight. His white teeth and rich, dark ebony skin in such contrast that he seemed almost larger than life.  I was done for, smitten, completely in love, head over heels and a bit dumbfounded at my immediate unconditional love for this stranger whom I would now call son.

ry=400-5This sweet miracle of a four-year old in front of me was now my son, and I his mother.  God did that. No less miraculous than when I gave birth, and just as awe-inspiring. Christian turns eighteen today.  Today I share with you my letter to him as he reaches for adulthood peeking over the tumbling  wall of adolescence and hiding his smile as he takes on this new adventure.

My dear and precious Christian,

Happy Birthday! Eighteen, I am not sure either of us thought you would make it to this day! I love you so very much and am so proud of the person you are, and still becoming.  Here on your 18th birthday  are my 18 bits of advice and reflections, ( you know it was hard to pick just 18)

  1. You are my son, being your mom is more than a bloodline, more than the same skin color and certainly more than the word adopted.
  2. Your birth mom loved you so much, she chose to give you life twice, once by birth and the second time by entrusting you to our care.  How lucky you are to have two moms that love you and always want the best for you.
  3. You are black, you are African, you are Liberian, you are beautiful, never be ashamed of where you came from or the rich heritage of your ancestors
  4. Keep asking questions, your curiosity is one of your greatest gifts.  Even if it annoys me keep asking until you understand.
  5. Remember to keep your hands off your penis and fingers out of your nose
  6. Life is not fair, keep going
  7. Your sister is not the base of all evil (some, but not all)
  8. Bacon is the answer to almost anything
  9. A man who cooks is more desired than a man who orders out
  10. You will encounter prejudice, racial profiling, and discrimination, acknowledge it and move on.
  11. Try to remember to look people in the eye, and speak clearly
  12. Look before you leap, think before you speak, don’t do it just because your brother is doing it.
  13. You have amazing tenderness and a heart of Gold
  14. ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘ I’m Sorry’ are three of the most important phrases you will ever learn, use them often
  15. Your smile is infectious and will open many doors, share it freely
  16. Find your passion and make a living doing it
  17. Take care of me when I am old-which is now.
  18. You are a child of God, dearly loved, alive and on the earth for a purpose, never doubt your worth

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Managing Monday’s: Making Birthday’s Special

Managing Monday’s: Making Birthday’s Special

I love birthdays.  I of course love mine, but I just love celebrating people in general so I love all birthdays.  April is a big month for our family.  My husband’s is April 3, my sister in-law April 5, my sister April 6, my father in law April 11, my daughter April 15.  That’s a whole bunch of celebrating!

As a parent it was and is  important to me to make birthdays special.  I like to have parties but never wanted that to be the focus of the day.  I have been to many extravagant parties as a clown and then as a parent of four I have seen just about everything.  My three boys birthdays are all in October and I knew early on I could not handle  three big parties, plus Halloween all in one month.  We settled on a plan that gave the kids actual parties with invitation’s and activities and gift bags etc., on their 5th, 10th, 13th, 16th, and 18th.

On the years they do not have an actual party they are allowed to have one friend over to join us for the birthday dinner.  The Birthdays begin at midnight with me waking them up, wishing them a Happy Birthday and asking them if they want to go get a treat.  If you can believe it, I have not had a yes answer yet.  “Go away mom”  “Really are you still doing this?” and groans are what I have been mostly met with.  Then their dad will wake them up to take them out to a birthday breakfast with him.  I get out the photo album and we talk about their birth and who was there and all that good stuff.  For our two adopted boys we get out the album of the first day we saw them, we make up stories, guess about their birth and generally embarrass them.

The main event for the birthday person is Dinner.  From the time they were about three we have let them choose the menu.  They have to choose a main course a vegetable and the dessert they would like.  They also get to choose where everyone at the dinner will sit.  The power of this is not to be underestimated, my kids thought about this weeks in advance.  Christian in fact starts picking his menu in April because everyone else is celebrating so he wants to too.  We have a special birthday plate and a birthday candle which even now, as teenagers, they make sure are out.

When they started grade school, we began a new tradition of a birthday journal.  At the dinner table we would each take turn saying what it was we liked about the birthday person.  It is so much fun to look back on these now.  John, who never talked much almost always said “because they are nice” Isaac even back in his early years tried to find something funny to say, and Jessie’s always took up the most space.  Christian’s usually had something to do with food, or that they played basketball with him. Mine of course, was gooey, and Scott would try for a grandiose statement that would live with them forever.

We are blessed to have such great kids and celebrating them is an easy thing to do.  We tried to keep the focus off of the material gifts and more just about celebrating the person.  The birthday journal was by far the best record I have of these days.  Birthday’s are important, and no matter how you choose to celebrate my encouragement is to celebrate.  They will not remember the gift you get them from year to year but they will remember how loved and special it is that they were born.  Find a tradition, be  as consistent as possible and celebrate with love!

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Whimsical Wednesday’s: The Journey To Becoming Hugz The Clown And Beyond; Part 8: A Birthday Party Clown and the Art of Versatility.

Whimsical Wednesday’s: The Journey To Becoming Hugz The Clown And Beyond;
Part 8: A Birthday Party Clown and the art of versatility.

To be honest, my training at clown college, though wonderful and perfect for the circus, was not that practical for “everyday” clowning. Much of the instruction was geared toward performing for a large audience or roaming in crowds. When I was asked to do a birthday party soon after I graduated this became painfully clear. I had no idea how to entertain ten, five-year olds, they pulled on my nose, and stepped on my shoes, and I was horrible. I truly believe it was not until I was a parent that I became a good children’s clown.

When we moved to the Seattle area so my husband Scott could finish seminary I needed to work. We also had a year old active, crazy busy, into everything boy. With the years since clown college I had gained a maturity and a much better understanding of children. They did not scare me or overwhelm me anymore. I had gained other valuable skills to help me with the bread and butter world of birthday party clowning. I could face paint, and had acquired the knowledge of balloon animal art. With these two additional tricks up my sleeve I was ready for anything.
Hugz the clown was now a bit more marketable. I found an agency to work with and my learning curve increased 100% more. “Merry Makers” gave me the opportunity to be a princess, a clown, an elf at Christmas, and a leprechaun in March. They taught me a couple of magic tricks, and the value of a few great props. I did singing telegrams as a gorilla, a duck, cupid, and my favorite character, a bag lady. I got to black out a tooth and pretend to be an old girlfriend, it was awesome. By trial and error I learned how to control a crowd of twenty, five-year olds, and keep the attention without scaring most four-year olds.

Being a mom had changed the way I saw children and how I approached them. I liked kids and wanted them to have a good experience. I was a girl clown and I was not as intimidating as some boy clowns. I figured out what would work and what would bomb without any children or parents being hurt in the process. I now had a birthday party routine including an interactive story, some silly magic, lots of goofing up and ending with face painting or balloon animals. I still did larger events but what got Scotty through school was birthday parties.
One of the funniest things that I remember happening during this time was my son Isaac. He had not seen me as Hugz before. Now he was just over a year, and I was still nursing. I had accepted a full day of parties and came home to nurse between gigs. I did not give a second thought to how Isaac would react, I mean a boob is a boob right? NO! Isaac would not nurse while I was in clown makeup. Even if I put a blanket over his face and talked to him he would just wail. Later when he began to have more words, we were driving in the car and he saw a billboard of Ronald McDonald. He pointed and said “Mama” with a huge grin. I was glad there was not anybody else in the car with us.

Hugz was a viable business and I loved what I was doing. The variety of learning a princess routine, a Barney routine, a singing telegram gig, and Hugz the clown, was interesting and profitable. I really liked kids and found a niche where my creativity and skills could be used to pay bills. Who would have thought?

Next week part 9: Kids say the funniest things and clowning catastrophe’s.