Episode 22 | A Winding Path of Culture and Vocation


Nadia Elrashidi Ahlsten  is a stay-at-home mom with four kids under the age of five. Yep, she is hardcore.

Thankfully she comes to the job with excellent credentials: the Peace Corps in El Salvador, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the World Bank, the West Bank, and Kenya.

She used her experience with complex systems to navigate the adoption and immigration procedures of three countries. When she and her family were living in Kenya, they navigated the adoptions of twin boys from an orphanage in the Congo.

Nadia has made some tough life choices that may seem like big sacrifices. She’s done so with eyes wide open. She recently wrote this on her facebook page: “No one said love was easy or even something that comes natural to you. Love is love. It costs you everything but you (generally) will gladly give up everything (and more) to have it, save it, and keep it”.

We had a wonderful conversation about choices, culture, adoption, and the adventures of motherhood.

Thanks, Nadia!


Episode 21 | Loving Liam: Welcoming a Son with Down Syndrome



A few days ago I posted a link to Andrew Solomon’s TED talk about parents with children who are “far from the tree”; children who are very different from their parents on key aspects of identity (intelligence, criminality, deafness, disability). Understanding, accepting and coming to love a child’s “otherness” is a central part of parenting for all of us. However, the margins of this process are stretched for families who find themselves welcoming a child who is vastly different than they expected and whose difference may alter the course of the family in painful and difficult ways. I find these stories so compelling because the presence of these kids can stretch parents to their limits and force transformation, hopefully for the good. Parents must reimagine what their lives and their families will be.

I met Eddy and Rhoda Ekmeji before they were married, when we were all in college together. Eddy is the Area Director of Black Campus Ministries for InterVarsity in Greater Los Angeles. Rhoda is an elementary school teacher. They have a daughter who is eight, a son who is five and they recently welcomed a new baby boy, Liam, who was born with Down’s Syndrome.

In his interview, Eddy talks about how Liam (and Down’s Syndrome) have altered his family, his faith, and his experience of being a father.

Eddy blogs at servingbread.com. Be sure to check out the post he wrote about Liam’s birth.  You can also find Eddy on facebook or on twitter @EddyEkmekji.

Episode 20 | College by 12


Harding Family 2013

Mona Lisa Harding is the homeschooling mother of ten children. Six of her children, began college by the age 12. She is the mother of the country’s youngest female physician and the youngest architect in the American Institute of Architecture.  When I interviewed her, she was helping her 10-year-old prepare to take the ACT.

Despite their achievements, this is not a family of hard-driving academics. Their basic philosophy is to support the interests of their children. This means lots of independent reading, learning play and exploration- whatever develops curiosity, interest and vocational goals.

The Harding family has been featured on the Today Show and on CNN.

Mona Lisa and her husband, Kip, recently published an electronic journal about their family’s experience. It can be downloaded at www.collegeby12.com.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was that Mona Lisa has prepared all of these children for college, without having complete college herself. Way to go, mama!

Episode 19 | Audry Adams: Redeeming Hard Things


Adams Family photo (1)

Audry Adams is the mother of the kid throwing the tantrum in front of all the other guests at the birthday party.

Yes, many of us have been there. But, Audry has those difficult parenting moments more often than most. Her oldest son has Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that can make it difficult for kids to communicate well, engage in social interactions, be emotionally flexible, and calm down when they are upset.

Because Audry has had so many challenges as a mother, she has learned to seek out ways to redeem these difficult moments. She shared her story on our podcast so that other parents of “difficult” kids would know that they are not alone in the unique struggles that they face.

Audry is the mother of three children, the wife of Jim and a supportive and encouraging presence to a large community of friends.

Episode 18 | Katrina Kenison’s Extraordinary Ordinary Days


Katrina Kenison is the mother of two young adult sons and the author of three books:  Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a HurryThe Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir , and Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment. She writes about motherhood and the moments that she has savored during the ups and downs of nurturing, raising and launching children.

She and her husband live in New Hampshire where she is a yoga teacher. Katrina blogs at www.katrinakenison.com

The Gift of an Ordinary Day is one of my favorite books about motherhood. It was a tremendous pleasure to spend an hour talking with Katrina and I am excited to share our conversation with the Parenting Reimagined community!

Thanks for listening.

Episode 17 | Foster Parenting: Wholehearted Love One Moment at a Time


Abbey and Dane Daniels

Abbey and Dane Daniels are the parents of a 9-month-old son. He came into their family when he was 4-months old, via the state of Texas. They are foster parents. They don’t know how long this little one will be in their home. They do know that they love him wholeheartedly.

Abbey’s interview is stunning. She speaks eloquently and honestly about the path that she and her husband have chosen for their family. She is open about the difficulties, but mostly she celebrates the privilege of watching a precious young life heal and flourish under her care.  Abbey blogs about their family journey at http://thefamilydaniels.wordpress.com/.

This conversation is guaranteed to make you re-think whatever you thought about foster parenting.