Archive - March 2016

» REVIEW: Kidbox (clothing)
» Daddy + Daughter Trip in the Mazda6 (Houston, TX)
» Don’t be a Joy Robber
» Finding Peace in the Trenches: Motherhood
» Let’s hear it for the Boys!

» REVIEW: Kidbox (clothing)

Kidbox is a new service that just launched this week! Kidbox curates cool clothing for children (think 7 For All Mankind, Lucky Brand, Kensie + more), significant savings, and a mission to clothe children in need. Kidbox offers an affordable, personalized service designed to help kids explore their unique tastes, while providing families an opportunity to give back to others.

How it Works

Kidbox makes it really easy to select your child’s style profile and have a box on the way in no time. Within a few days you’ll receive a sweet box in the mail (that your child can color!) full of trendy clothing in their size, and a few surprises as well. My girls were thrilled with the surprise ball, which consisted of layers of thin crepe paper that they unraveled to unveil some fun little trinkets. Once you’ve checked out the clothes you can choose to return or exchange sizes on any of the items or keep all eight items (technically we got 10 pieces because one item was a 3-pack of capris!), it’s up to you. If you choose to keep the entire box you’ll be charged $98, which is a great deal. AND, if you keep the entire box, Kidbox will donate an outfit to a child in need. They do this through a partnership with K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, the largest nonprofit dedicated to collecting and distribution new clothing to children of need in the United States. Lastly, Kidbox is not a subscription service. Kidbox doesn’t charge customers upfront and consumers can easily add or skip deliveries as well as cancel their service at any time.


My girls were so excited to see such a fun and interactive box land on our doorstep. The clothing was definitely suited to the style profile we chose during the process. For $98, I would spend more at Target for the same number of items in a box. The entire experience, from unwrapping the crepe paper ball and coloring the box to trying on the clothes and modeling them around the house, was just so fun and interactive. The arrival of the Kidbox was simply the highlight of the week. Even if you can’t see yourself getting a box every month, maybe getting one for a birthday/Christmas gift or even four times a year with every new season might make more sense.

Kidbox website





Disclaimer: The folks at Kidbox kindly allowed us a preview box for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» Daddy + Daughter Trip in the Mazda6 (Houston, TX)

Special thanks to Mazda USA for allowing us to test drive the 2016 Mazda6 i Grand Touring. As always, these opinions are my own.

(this post is from Calvin who visited Houston last week)

This was my first trip back to Houston in 2016, and it was Charlotte’s turn to come with me. One-on-one moments with my children are always memorable but cruising around in the Mazda6 made our trip even more special. With a short four days in Houston, we were determined to eat (of course!) and check out some of the city’s free offerings. Here are three places we visited followed by some of our favorite things about the car.

1. Children’s Museum of Houston

If you’re visiting Houston and happen to be there on a Thursday night, the Children’s Museum is a great place to be. The best part, it’s free! It’s a big-city museum, so you’ll easily last two-three hours in this place.


2. Sam Houston Boat Tour

I’m not sure how long the Port of Houston Authority’s free tour has been going on, but this is the first I’ve heard of it. Experience an unforgettable waterborne voyage through one of the busiest ports in the world. For locals, it’s not something you’d want to do often but I think everyone should at least go once. You end up sailing for about an hour and half with lots of room to roam around and see some really fun parts of the city.

3. Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts/Petite Sweets
601 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007

A must for any visit to Houston. You can read my updated post from my last trip to Houston but in summary, these two places have only gotten better. Some notable additions since my last visit include the Double Donut Fried Chicken Sandwich (two fried chicken tenders between two glazed donuts) and the Pulled Chicken Chopped Kale Salad. Yum!

After Lee’s, everyone should take a quick trip to Petite Sweets to grab some dessert to enjoy in the shop, or take it to go. The newest addition is Suzie’s pies and cookies by the slice, without losing any of the other tasty treats (macaroons!) from the restaurant’s offerings.

2016 Mazda6 i Grand Touring

This was my first time getting behind the wheel of a Mazda and I had a blast driving the Mazda6. The sport mode was useful in the crazy Houston streets and Charlotte was loving the ability to request the Kidzbop station on XM radio.

Things we loved:

Style – The photos say it all. The exterior and design is great and will definitely turn heads. The white leather seats in the interior and bright LED lights give a nice, clean look. Charlotte was especially enamored with the Soul Red paint.

GT Technology Package – This optional package is worth it in the long run. The features include: adaptive cruise control, forward-collision and lane-departure warning, automatic high-beam control, active grille shutters, and i-Eloop, which stores energy during braking to improve fuel economy.

Safety – I saw a sticker on the car we drove that said “2016 Top Safety Pick+” so I decided to look it up and found this article. In addition, I love the blind spot monitoring with simple light-up icons on the mirrors and a beeping sound that’s noticeable but not annoying.


I’ve never owned a Mazda and have always felt their cars were mediocre. After driving the Mazda6 for a week, my perceptions have changed greatly. The interior was comfortable and the entertainment dash controls were at an easy, reachable distance. I’m still hoping to try a car with Apple’s CarPlay so I’m hopeful that more cars, including this one will add this function. The next time I’m market for a vehicle, I’d definitely consider a Mazda.

» Don’t be a Joy Robber

I led a team to Uganda earlier this year and had the opportunity to bring my son Elliott. I’ve written a few posts about our trip (see Uganda pt. 1, pt. 2 and pt. 3) and his reaction but I couldn’t resist writing about it at least one more time. Elliott had a hard time leaving Uganda. And he has a hard time being away from Uganda. That country, and his friends wove themselves deeply into his little heart. His experience there changed him forever. And while he is still a little stinker 75% of the time he speaks of his friends there daily. There is no pity, there is only compassion. Compassion for kids who are growing up without families… and a desire to support them.

Once we were home, Elliott asked if we could sponsor Derrick.

Derrick was the first one to grab Elliott’s hand as he got off the bus. Derrick showed Elliott how to eat a grasshopper. Derrick gave Elliott a nickname and called his name in secret code through the ventilation holes in the top of the dormitory. Derrick and Elliott had so much in common, despite situations that were worlds apart. Derrick just turned 10, Elliott is almost 9. Just boys. Just pals.

When Elliott asked to sponsor Derrick I said yes, of course. Thinking I would link my debit card and pay the monthly sponsorship gift. But Elliott said no. He brought money from his bank. He asked to do yard work. He started organizing for a garage sale. Then, Charlotte brought money from her bank after Elliott shared his dream with her.

And here’s where I almost made the wrong choice. As Charlotte handed me $10 from her Chinese New Year money I almost handed it back to her. I caught myself, just in time, as the words “don’t worry about this, I’ll take care of it” were coming out of my mouth. Why wouldn’t I want them to worry about it? They saw and felt the need and wanted to help their friends.

In seconds I could have squelched their natural JOY in giving. Something I pray they carry into their adult lives.

A few weeks ago I faced the same scenario. As the offering basket was being passed through church I began to pass the basket up and over Charlotte’s head until I felt resistance. I looked down to see Charlotte’s hands firmly grasping the bottom of the basket. She pulled it down, dug through her little bag and pulled out the money she had saved to buy a lip gloss. She had talked and talked about this lip gloss for some time. And she put it, clunk, into the basket with authority and purpose. As the basket went on it’s way I whispered “I thought you were saving that” and she answered “Mom, you always say we are blessed. And we have so much, the church can use it to help people who don’t have what they need.” I grabbed her close to my side as the worship music began and resisted the tears that accumulated at the corners of my eyes. She gets it. She gets it more than I do on most days. True sacrifice is choosing what others need over what we want for ourselves and taking the responsibility to stand in that gap.

So the kids are dreaming big now. Dreaming about seeing every child at Canaan Children’s home sponsored. Of taking trips and being with their friends and celebrating that God ordains us all to care for each other. A responsibility that is JOY rather than just obligation.

I came so close to robbing them of these things. So close to taking on the responsibility myself and removing their contribution from the picture. Our kids have the unscathed ability to love big and wide. Let’s let them loose.



» Finding Peace in the Trenches: Motherhood

It’s Friday night. And if I were to really think in detail about the week I would probably just go to bed. I’ve fallen asleep on the couch at least three times this week. Not because I’m cool, staying up late reading biographies or watching documentaries. I simply can’t stay awake after a lengthy day and tucking four kids into bed. Our kids are still pretty small so we have lots of books, lots of back-rubs, lots of water sips, lots of I’m “hungries” and lots of prayers about bad dreams. Mamas with quivers fuller than mine… I salute you.

I ran into another adoptive mama friend as we picked our youngest boys up from preschool today. We exchanged a look across the parking lot and I’m certain our eyes alone had an entire conversation. Trauma and the trenches of parenthood allow you to develop deep and meaningful bonds with those in your boat. It can be lonely, and when you meet others who understand, you quickly pull your dinged up little john boat to the shore and invite them in.

And then there’s the non-trauma related ins and outs of daily life. And all of us hustling until 8pm… or midnight if you are a pinterest mama. ( I am sometimes, I’ll admit it.) And the PTA, and the school projects and the stomach virus and seasonal allergies.

Kinda leaves you gasping for air. Drowning in a thick pool of comparison, self-doubt and exhaustion.

I was in the midst of one of these difficult and busy days this week when my doorbell rang. I love essential oils and share them with friends regularly. A friend was dropping by to pick some up while I was in the throngs of bedtime chaos, an after hours pediatric doctor visit and you know… hunger. (because someone is always starving) I ran to get her oils from my van but the van was locked. I ran back to the house for keys. And, you guessed it, my family had locked me out of the house. I apologized a lot and rang the doorbell until someone came. Then we couldn’t find the keys. Then the keys were found. And all the while my friend waited patiently. I finally placed her oils in her hands, thinking she was ready to jet after the crazy display. And it was late. Everyone has better things to do when it’s late.

Instead of getting the heck out of there she reached for my hand and asked if I would like to pray. And yes, I totally did. I was frazzled and worn out with the thought of getting everyone to sleep. So we joined hands and prayed in the driveway with the yellow street lights shining down. I think I also heard an animal getting into the trash, but I tried not to be distracted. As we raised our heads I was at peace. I was joyful in my motherhood assignment and I was ready to meet the needs of the many waiting for me inside.

I posted a little blurb about my thankfulness on Facebook later that night and immediately got several texts asking if everything was okay, what happened etc. Well. Nothing really. Just life. Life happened. Beautiful, messy, crap-hit-the-fan life. It’s what happens every day because we aren’t perfect. So yes. Everything was okay. And even more than okay because someone listened when they were prompted to pray.

I’m typing all this tired, I feel crazy, prayer is awesome stuff because ultimately I want to encourage you. When your spirit is stirred, pray. When someone looks exhausted, and says they are fine, grab their hand anyway. They are fine, but they will be even better with a word from you. Ladies, lift up your fellow ladies. Bow your heads together, drop off a coffee, send a text. Tell them you see them. And they will see you back. Admit how tired, worn out and weary you are. Find rest in Him, he listens. He knows you.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31

» Let’s hear it for the Boys!

I’m sitting in my office this morning. <Coffee. Mom bun. Yoga Pants. More Coffee.> And I’m going through photos of hundreds of neat little boys who are waiting for forever families. Precious, special, sweet and full of potential little guys. Waiting. As I looked at the sheer number of boy profiles I began to create my own statistics. With a need to explore what the numbers on this subject really were I checked the Homeland Security Data to find out that 64 percent of International Adoptees are girls. While comparing 36% to 64% doesn’t seem huge on a small scale, when that number represents thousands it becomes quite apparent that there seems to be a preference to adopt females.

However, we must take into account that for years upon years overseas adoptions were largely from China. China has historically offered adoption files for female children, this would of course drastically affect the male to female ratio in international adoptions. In recent years there has been quite a shift. There are now many, many young boys waiting and ready to enter families. My friends are often shocked when I explain that China is no longer a “girls only” adoption program. In addition, there does seem to be an underlying feeling among some potential adoptive parents that a female child might be safer, calmer, easier to handle. This is unfortunately a stigma that may cause some parents to choose to pursue a female child rather than being open to both. The simple fact is… male or female, toddler or teenager, international or domestic… adoption is hard. Adoption is beautiful, but adoption is difficult. Bringing your child into an unfamiliar world, teaching them about family and loving through trauma is a worth-it process that takes time. Gender doesn’t change that.

So. These boys. These amazing, worth-it children of God. They deserve big things. They deserve families that will fight for them. In fact, I want to share about a few really cool guys I’ve been getting to know through Storyteller teams.


Shaefer is a sweet little boy in an America World Adoption orphanage partnership. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. His file notes high muscular tension of both upper limbs. He received surgery for partial stripping of the left carotid artery on Oct 24 2012 and recovered well. He is receiving rehabilitation. His caretakers describe him as active, ready to smile, and outgoing!

Shaefer is from an orphanage partnership and his file is designated by the CCCWA as a special focus file, so a family at any stage of the process is eligible to review this file. Email to learn more.


Meet Jacob. He is 1 year and 9 months old.

Jacob is a sweet baby boy who has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. He is energetic, likes watching cartoons, and likes looking at picture books! He lives with foster parents and has been receiving good care since coming to the orphanage.

Jacob is from an orphanage partnership and lives in a foster family. His file is designated by the CCCWA as Special Focus and a family just considering adoption or at any stage of the process is eligible to review his file.  Email to learn more.


And now. Meet 3 year old Joshua. For reasons you can understand, our daughter has a similar condition, this guy is pretty special to me.

Joshua is a sweet and quiet boy. His caretaker reports that he loves to cuddle and play. Joshua was born with binocular corneal leucoma (whitening of corneas), which has caused him to lose sight in both of his eyes; however, because the reason for his leucoma is unknown, it is also unknown until he is further evaluated by doctors if his condition can be treated to some level. At one and a half, he could crawl, respond when others asked for him to share his toys, and look for sources of sound. He is very sensitive to sounds and knows how to locate where sounds are coming from.

He is designated by the CCCWA as a special focus file and is from one of our agency’s orphanage partnerships. His file is now a shared file. A family at any stage of the process is eligible to review this file. A grant is available to the family pursuing Joshua’s adoption.  Email to learn more.


Please help me as I continue to advocate for these cuties and many more amazing kids. Share this blog post, write your own blog post, Be part of their stories.




All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal