The disappearance of a family member is making me a better aunt

I have a feeling of protectiveness for Julie, and my other niece, Mandy, that's really hard to completely express. I want to hug them tight and play with them and always be there for them. I probably would have always felt this way for them — it's primal instinct, you know, for adults to always want to care for the children to whom they are related — but it's especially important to me given my family history.

What watching a five-year-old break a board taught me about life

The other evening, I went to see the five-year-old I take care of test for her yellow belt, the second level of karate. All the athletes were very talented, and you could tell they had been working hard. But then came the part I'm not sure Sophia was expecting: breaking the board. I'll admit, I wasn't sure if she could handle it.

I had to ground my step-son for the first time and it made me feel like a "real" parent

I love my little man. He's seven, and while not mine by birth, he sure as hell is mine by love. The four of us parents, (mom, step dad, dad, and me — step mom) get along pretty well, and while we disagree on some things, we try to compromise and present a united front. Usually, this isn't too hard — he's a good kid, hardly ever misbehaves, and for the most part a good talk will prevent any major infractions of the rules. That is, it was easy until yesterday.

Everything you need to know about life can be learned in Little League

It was the 6th inning and our team was down by one. Carter, a third grade boy who had yet to make contact with the ball the entire season, stepped up to plate and gave that ball the greatest wallop seen the entire game, landing his first RBI and tying it up, 1-1. And then everything stood still, including the tall maples that edged the stretching field.

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My husband and I expanded our family by placing our twins for adoption

My twins are eleven days old, and they're so beautiful I can barely look at them. I'm wildly, deeply in love with them, feeling all the feelings I felt when my older two daughters were born. In spite of these feelings (and, paradoxically, because of them), my husband and I chose not to raise these girls ourselves, instead placing them with an adoptive family.