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Mama Blogger of the Month–Laurie of Good Happenings!

[photopress:laurie_1.jpg,full,pp_image]I always thought I led an exciting life. Until I met our Mama Blogger of the Month, Laurie of Good Happenings. This world-traveling, marathon-running mama aspires to one day homeschool her children while teaching at a medical school in Vietnam, Thailand, or Peru.

1) Your life redefines busy! You have three young children, two of whom you adopted while juggling medical school. Are both you and your husband currently students? How do you juggle it all?

My husband and I are both technically medical students, although I am done with medical school with the exception of one last board exam I’ll take in February (Step 2CS, which was implemented to extort another $1K out of us, make sure we speak English well enough to converse with patients, wash our hands after doing a PAP, and can walk and chew gum at the same time). I finished my clinical requirements with the class of 2007, but have deferred beginning residency to stay home with our three little guys. Travis is currently in his third year of medical school, and I am in the application process with plans to start my intern year this June.

As for how we juggle it, well, the answer is with frequent ball drops. Sometimes it’s forgotten bills, sometimes we might not be able to give 100% to our future careers in medicine, sometimes we don’t make enough time for our marriage, sometimes we get homeowner’s fines for leaving old junk in the driveway, and sometimes we’re impatient with our kids. We’re pretty normal like that. There seems to be an ebb and flow to our lives: when it rains, it pours, when it’s chill, it’s awesome.

2) Tell us about your adoption journey and your children. Do you plan to have more?

Our journey to adoption actually started LONG ago. When I was in college, my parents adopted my five youngest siblings from Russia, to make us nine kids altogether. At that point, Travis and I knew adoption was somewhere in our future. After we graduated from college, we spent two months backpacking through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Along the way, we volunteered in an orphanage in Hoi An, Vietnam, fell in love with the country and people, and decided we would adopt a child from Southeast Asia when the time was right.

We intended to take my parents’ advice, which was to have bio kids first, then adopt. The rationale was that parenting an adopted child presents unique challenges that might be better met after gaining experience parenting “homegrown” kids. Specifically, we felt understanding “normal” attachment and bonding with a bio baby would enable us to recognize and overcome potential barriers with a baby who had spent the first 6ish months of life institutionalized.

After morphing into bunnies and obsessively peeing on sticks *trying* for a few months, we discovered it might be difficult for us to conceive the old fashioned way. We brushed ourselves off and moved on with our plans to start our family. Fertility treatment was not the least bit appealing, and we have never viewed adoption as 2nd best. It just all happened in an unexpected order! And we are now SO very thankful for that.

We were thrilled to find out Vietnam’s adoption program had just re-opened to US citizens, and the timing of everything was perfect. Jackson came home December, 2006. A few months later, we decided to start the process again. We knew we didn’t want him to be an only child; we wanted him to have a sibling who shared his birth country and to whom he would be close in age. About 1 month prior to receiving Shane’s referral, we learned we were pregnant. We were shocked, terrified, and thrilled all at once! We chose to proceed with the adoption in addition to the pregnancy, and are so thankful we did. After receiving Shane’s referral, we decided to travel to Vietnam to wait for the rest of the process to finalize. We spent seven weeks in Vietnam, traveling and visiting with Shane at his orphanage and returned home two months before my due date.

After an epic labor and a complicated C-section, our youngest baby was born. We were ecstatic to find out we had a little girl, Finley Marie.

Our kids are incredible, and despite their closeness in age, each is so different from the others. Jackson is our 2.5-year-old wildman; he’s a bundle of energy, brilliant, adventurous, and outgoing. Shane-bug is our 16-month-old sweetheart; he’s affectionate, gentle, a homebody, a mama’s boy, shy, and very observant. Finley is our 7-month-old pumpkin. She’s tiny but feisty, perpetually happy, adores her big brothers, is a fan of the breastaurant, and is extremely active (and mobile).

As for if we plan on having more kids…Bwahaha! That would require us to be having…ahem, I mean, no. Seriously though, I have made the decision to return to medicine. It has been a really difficult decision, but rumor has it, $400K of medical school debt doesn’t just evaporate. Or so says the collection agency. There are a few windows in medicine during which growing your family is less difficult and mildly acceptable. That window for me is a few years off again, and we really want all our kids close in age because travel and practicing medicine overseas are priorities for us. That becomes difficult when you start over with a young baby in diapers! I would love to be pregnant again, but 1) that’s not something we can plan easily due to fertility, and 2) timing is challenging in a two doc (or worse, a two resident) family. I don’t know, is the no-bs answer.

3) Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging the week before we left to meet Jackson in Vietnam. I intended to use the blog to document our journey and to allow our families to follow along. It has evolved from there and, through the Blogosphere, I’ve found an awesome community of moms- adoptive, biological, and both. I now blog about parenting topics, my career decisions, stay-at-home motherhood, adoption, politics, religion, travel (international and around Colorado), medical topics (circumcision, common adoption-related health issues, etc.), and I do product reviews and giveaways on my site. I even blogged through my epic labor (shockingly, it didn’t seem to distract me from the pain; I’m just that obsessed committed)!

4) You and your husband are high school sweethearts. Is this anything close to the life you had envisioned for yourselves?

I’d have to say “yes.” I always pictured us with a bundle of kids, all close in age, traveling the world, doing volunteer work, and embarking on adventure after adventure. I think that’s what we’re still all about, although we’re in the phase of life during which our careers and young children are slightly limiting with regards to adventure travel. We did travel to Peru for six weeks to work on a birth center project with Jackson, and around Vietnam with Jackson and Shane while I was in my 2-3rd trimester of pregnancy. We are planning another trip to Vietnam (us + our kids) to work on a collaborative public health project in Central Vietnam. The only aspect of our lives I feel has been put on the back-burner temporarily is our love for exercise. We hope to get back into running marathon distances as soon as someone out there takes pity and buys/gives us a triple stroller!

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.


  1. Wow, fascinating read and you most certainly have your hands full!

  2. P.S. Beautiful family. 🙂

  3. Congratulations on becoming the Mama blogger of the month, Laurie!!!! You have a beautiful family and are a wonderful writer! So nice to meet you!! :o)

  4. What a great story!! I’ll definitely check out your blog, and thanks for sharing!


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