World’s Okayest Mom – Trick or Treating at Aldi

Tonight, I faced a dilemma.

Our little town has the most charming downtown. Businesses invite littles to come trick or treat and a local church has a great trunk or treating event. The plan was to go there.

After nap time, Lydia was persistent that “Today is NOT Halloween. Today Friday. Tomorrow Halloween.” But I explained our town treats today like Halloween.

I dressed Lydia in her Dorothy costume and put her hair in pigtails. She looked in the mirror and confidently exclaimed, “Beautiful!” And let out a little “Awww.”

As we were running to the van, it started to pour.

Uh oh.

So I told Lydia we were going to Trick or Treat at the great land of Aldi – like this is all totally the American thing to do.

As any good mommy should, I documented the event.

She was so excited walking in with her Jack-O-lantern (she made sure I knew it was a pretend one) and her basket. Normally, she stays right by my side but was in a rush to get inside.


When we Moores “trick-or-treat” at Aldi, little Moores get to pick two of whatever candy they want. Mom has no say. Lydia decided the fun size weren’t that fun, and opted for the big stuff. She got Kit Kats and chocolate covered pretzels.

Lydia at Aldi's

Posing for her trick-or-treating picture. What a cutie.


And after, we went to Braum’s to “trick-or-treat” some more.

Friends, this is the best kind of trick-or-treating EVER.


The World’s Okayest Mom

What’s In My Suitcase? Playdoh Party Bag

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We will likely travel to China the first or second week of December to adopt our two year old son.

We are also taking our 3.5 year old daughter with us to China.

Yes, pray for all of us now. 30 hours of travel with two toddlers. Bless. It is the adoption version of child birth without an epidural. But you share in this lovely moment with 400 other passengers.

Real special.

So now that I am in freak out mode (aka nesting), I am starting to buy items that will go in my suitcase. I’ll blog about some of the items I think are particularly helpful.

One of the items that is always in my diaper bag for Lydia is 1 ounce containers of Playdoh. These are sold as a Playdoh Party Bag and come with 15, 1-ounce containers of Playdoh.

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I like the 1-ounce Playdoh containers over the larger size because —
1. They don’t take up much space in my suitcase or diaper bag
2. They don’t weigh much
3. It is the perfect amount to squeeze in little and big hands
4. I can easily toss them in the trash if they get gross – which is a must when traveling
5. Squeezing Playdoh is relaxing and reduces stress (don’t be surprised if you see me in a corner squeezing Playdoh)
6. Squeezing Playdoh helps regulate my daughter in stressful or sensory-overload environments
7. Even though I am not confident TSA is supposed to allow it in a carry-on, we have every time we fly
8. There are attachment games that are easily played with Playdoh
9. Playdoh is fun for big kids and little kids
10. Sometimes I can find the Party Bags on clearance after Halloween because some stores sell them as a trick or treating item

So, you can guarantee I won’t be leaving without my Playdoh Party Bag.


Holiday Video Cards

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Send a personalized Christmas/Holiday video instead of cards this year AND help us raise funds to bring our son Barrett home. Win-win? We think so.

Let’s get Barrett home by Christmas!

We will create personalized Holiday/Christmas Card Videos for only 20 families. Do not wait!

All of the wording is customizable, so if you want it to say “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” we would be happy to do that.

How It Works

1. Choose a theme. Watch a preview of each theme below.
2. Tell us which theme you want and send your photos, videos, and text by uploading them to
3. Donate a minimum of $250 at (and your donation is tax-deductible)

***There has been a ton of interest already. If you would like to reserve your spot for a holiday video card, donate the $250 to our AdoptTogether account and send me an email with your contact info at This will help ensure that you are one of the 20 to get a video card.***

Theme 1: Christmas Lights Slideshow

Send some holiday cheer and updates about your family with this fun theme.

What to send us: 17 photos or videos and text for each placeholder.

How to send: Upload your photos/videos and a text document using this link: Also let us know in the message area which theme you want.

How to pay: Donate a minimum of $250 at (and your donation is tax-deductible)

Theme 2: Family Christmas Card

Share your family’s Top 5 Moments, your travel adventures, and more!

What to send us: 12 photos or videos and text for each placeholder.

How to send: Upload your photos/videos and a text document using this link: Also let us know in the message area which theme you want.

Text 1: The _______ Family 2015
Text 2: Parent’s first names
Text 3: Married __ years
Text 4: Spouse 1 update
Text 4: Spouse 2 update
Text 5: Children/Family update 1
Text 6: Children/Family update 2
Text 7: Children/Family update 3
Text 8: Trip #1
Text 9: Trip #2
Text 10: Trip #3
Text 11: Top 5 Moment #1
Text 12: Top 5 Moment #2
Text 13: Top 5 Moment #3
Text 14: Top 5 Moment #4
Text 15: Top 5 Moment #5
Text 16: Closing line (i.e. With Love, _________)

How to pay: Donate a minimum of $250 at (and your donation is tax-deductible)

Theme 3: Christmas Tree in the Snow

This is a beautiful theme featuring real footage of a spruce tree in the snowy woods decorated with your family’s photos and videos.   

What to send us: 16 photos or videos and text for each placeholder (or leave the text the same as the example).

How to send: Upload your photos/videos and a text document using this link: Also let us know in the message area which theme you want.

How to pay: Donate a minimum of $250 at (and your donation is tax-deductible)

Theme 4: Bobblehead Christmas Card

Give your family, friends, or clients a good chuckle this Christmas by turning yourselves into bobblehead characters. 

What to send us: Up to 11 photos of people to include, text (and a logo if you want) for the front of the envelope, text for the front of the card, and text for the back of the card.

How to send: Upload your photos/videos and a text document using this link: Also let us know in the message area which theme you want.

How to pay: Donate a minimum of $250 at (and your donation is tax-deductible)

If you have questions, contact me at mandykaymoore at gmail dot com

To Send a Family Album or Not?

I frequently see China adoptive families ask if they should send a family album to the child they are adopting in China?


We opted to only send photos of our immediate family – mama, baba, two doggies, and big sister Lydia. When we sent an album to Lydia, it included baba, mama, and the two doggies. Lots of families ask if they should send photos of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. Lydia was overwhelmed with just a mama and baba.Once she started to adjust at home, we started a photo book of our extended family. This gradual transition helped her.

Lydia has been in the United States 1 year and 7 months today. She has still spent more time in her orphanage than with our family.

But this morning, as I was swinging her in her sensory swing, we were talking about her being a big sister to Barrett. We hope to travel in December to adopt him.

“Lydia, what do you think about being a big sister?”

“Awesome!” she says.

“Sometimes, you will feel awesome! Sometimes, you might feel jealous. It is okay to feel both emotions.”

“Just wike Daniel Tiger!” she replied. “He gets upset when he needs to share.”

“Yes, just like Daniel Tiger. So when Barrett gets here, you’ll need to take turns in your sensory swing.”

“Dat is hard. Daniel Tiger tinks it hard too.”

“It is hard. We are all going to need to practice lots of patience when Barrett joins our family. He might be scared, angry, or sad because he is saying goodbye to the people at his orphanage and he doesn’t know us.”

“Mommy, I know. I was scared and sad cacause I did not know mama or baba when you dopted me. But, I weft the orphanage with my famiwy (family) book you sent me at de orphanage. WE NEED TO SEND BARRETT A FAMIWY BOOK.Dat book help-ed me. WE NEED TO SEND HIM ONE WIGHT NOW.”

I explained to her that I made sure to send him a family book too and that it had her photo in it, and mama, and baba, and the doggies.

Lydia was only 23 months old, and she vividly remembers getting that book. The family book is one of the only things that connects her life before us and her life with us. Other than what she was wearing on the day we met her, it is the only thing the orphanage sent with her from her life before. She treasures it.

And so, if you are debating sending an album, do it! It is such a helpful tool and a treasured item.

Recommended Resources – Books

One of the most frequent questions I hear is, “What books should I read to prepare me to parent a child through adoption or foster care?” As a researcher (education/business) by training and parent of a child who truly needs a different approach, I have spent most of the past three years reading everything I could get my hands on. Below are my favorite books. I must say, to be on this list, they must be books that have really helped us get through very, very, very difficult moments (moments that won’t be written about). So they pass the street test, if you know what I mean.

I do want to warn people that it is one thing to read about parenting a child with trauma and it is another thing to do it. I was as well prepared with knowledge as I could’ve been. But, we give these books a thumbs up


My list of recommended books –
1. Parenting from the Inside Out by Dan Siegel and Hartzell – this book is written for ALL parents, not just adoptive parents. In fact, I’m not sure adoption is ever mentioned. Have you ever found yourself frustrated with your child with a greater intensity than was warranted? Parenting often reveals triggers we did not realize we have. And all parents have triggers. The root of these triggers is often revealed in our childhood, but we may not know why. Hands down, this book is the single best book I have read about parent attachment styles. It is easy to understand, but the research behind it is also rigorous. The book includes excellent exercises to help parents process. After a period of extreme stress, I found myself raising my voice more than I should have. The exercises in this book absolutely gave me tools that I have used to calm myself and parent from a healthier place. (I am intentionally starting with a book that focuses on the parent. So often, we might want to “fix” our child, but we all need some “fixing” and need to look inwardly too.)

2. The Connected Child by Drs. Purvis and Cross – Though written by researchers who are Christians, this book is not a Christian book, so it is definitely good resource for secular and religious audiences. Many friends with young kids, after witnessing our interactions, ask where we learned these techniques. We use all of the scripts from The Connected Child, and find that it helps Lydia and it helps us in our parenting. Though this book is written to parents of kids from “hard places” (early hospitalization, trauma in pregnancy, orphanage, adoption, etc.), all of the techniques would benefit kids without trauma. It is an attachment based parenting approach. A must read.

3. No Drama Discipline by Siegel and Bryson. This book is written for all parents, and is not technically an adoption text. The book shares a lot of research about a child’s brain and gives excellent attachment based techniques to help parent. I have found the book very complementary to TBRI (Purvis and Cross). I would recommended this book to all parents as a must read. I like this book better than The Whole Brain Child.

4. Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years by Cogen. This is an excellent resource for international adoptive families. It is a book that I’ve gone back to reference as Lydia has reached different developmental milestones. The book includes information not contained in other books, and it has been very helpful and true for us. It is not a book you sit down and read in one sitting. Get this, read it. It has a five star rating on Amazon for a reason.

5. Beyond Consequence, Logic, and Control by Forbes and Post. Forbes is an adoptive mother (helpful) and therapist who shares an attachment based approach to raising kids who have experienced trauma. It is very popular in the Parenting with Connection Facebook Group (this is a group I highly recommend to adoptive families). I found that both volumes 1 and 2 helped me understand how my child’s brain is different than others. It was complementary to Purvis’ work. I have noticed that some who struggle more with TBRI and how to implement it, find this more accessible. For me, though I know it is different than others, I find TBRI more helpful in the day to day. However, this book gave me great insight that has complemented TBRI. For example, I noticed that there were times I pushed Lydia for eye contact, and that further disregulated her. This book helped me understand why, and how to change my approach.

6. Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray. This book scared me when I first read it before I became a parent, and then I found myself in situations described in the book once I became a parent. Gray is a social worker who specializes in attachment, adoption, and trauma. Her book was the book that made me realize we needed to run to attachment therapy. It wasn’t a scare tactic – but actual stories, that echo those who find ourselves in moments of crisis. She may not be a researcher, but she is a practitioner who knows her stuff, and I really appreciate her wisdom. Here are her top 10 tips,

7. Attaching Through Love, Hugs, and Play by Deborah Gray. I am currently reading this EXCELLENT book, another by Gray. It is very practical and helpful with simple techniques to connect. The pictures throughout the book are great for parents too. I get lots of emails from adoptive parents who want very practical techniques. If they’ve read The Connected Child, this is the second book I recommend. It is very good, and very practical.

8. Theraplay: Helping Parents and Children Build Better Relationships Through Attachment-Based Play by Booth and Jernberg. This book is written for therapists and social workers, though another adoptive mom and I have said it is a model that just makes so much sense and is very helpful. I wanted to learn more about a technique that has helped my family so much. TBRI (Cross and Purvis) say that Theraplay is the type a therapy modality they recommend for kids from hard places. I have written about my experience with Theraplay here. Also, TBRI utilizes several Theraplay techniques. For friends who are social workers or therapists, this is a must read. I have attended Theraplay Parenting classes in addition to going to therapy using Theraplay. I highly recommend this approach. We drive to Family Hope House in Tulsa, Oklahoma for play therapy with a licensed Theraplay therapist. Just a note – often, people equate PLAY therapy with Theraplay. They are not the same.

What are the books you consider must reads? What books are on your reading list?