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This past November, my husband and I adopted our Mackenzie from foster care. She was only six months away from her 18th birthday and had spent more than half her life in the care of the state.

"Mom, we need to do something to show people the magnitude of foster care in Arizona. Most people can't even picture 17,000 kids, much less understand just how many of us there are," Mackenzie said one day, out of the blue.

"Let's create a video. We can get 17,000 pieces of candy or something and give people a visual."

Mackenzie knows too much about foster care. She lived in 26 "placements," which she says is really "just a dressed up way of saying I left everything and everyone behind 26 times in my life."


She has had so many "homes" that it took her several tries to remember them all.

"When I moved in with you," Mackenzie confided to me, "I didn't believe anything you told me. You told me you were buying me a phone so that I could call you in an emergency. I didn't believe that. You told me that you would buy me decent clothes. I didn't believe that. You said all these things, and I didn't believe any of it because that's just not what it's like in foster care. I'd never lived anywhere with people like you."

At this point, our conversation turned to shoes and hoodies. Busted, outgrown shoes and threadbare hoodies. The unofficial uniform of foster care.

When our daughter first came home to us, weeks before her "sweet 16" birthday, she had one pair of shoes. A pair of old, dirty, split-down-the-sides tennis shoes. Her lone pair of shoes were split in all the right places. The growth spots. They were split around the outer edges of the balls of her feet and around the bend of her heel and on the inner edging and on the tops of her big toes. They were a full two and a half sizes too small.

Mackenzie wore this pair of shoes on her first visit to meet her forever family (that's us) for the first time with a very pretty size-too-small dress. She wore this pair of shoes to church. She wore this pair of shoes to school. She wore this pair of shoes everywhere because it was all she had.

Our daughter did not come to us straight from a home charged with neglect. She came to us after nearly a decade in the care of state-supported foster homes who were responsible for meeting her basic needs. Yet, she had only one pair of shoes that did not fit.

The second time Mackenzie was placed with us, she had no shoes.

After being moved from our home, she lived for several months in a group home where conditions were so bad that she risked life and limb to hitchhike back to us.

Mackenzie appeared on our doorstep with her size 10 feet stuffed into size 7 sandals. It looked incredibly painful, but she swore she just borrowed these sandals because she liked them. Later, we learned that she no longer had any shoes, and the group home had done nothing about it.

She was going to school every day with bare feet. A few times, teachers asked why she was not wearing her shoes, and she told them, "I don't have shoes." When they asked why not, she replied, "I live in a group home." That was always where the conversation ended.

"If I lived with my birth parents and came to school with no shoes every day, they would have called the Hotline to report neglect, but no one calls to report neglect or abuse on a CPS group home," our daughter explained matter of factly. "They just expect it and ignore it."

After nearly a decade of this treatment, when Mackenzie arrived in our home the first time, she did not believe our promise to buy her new shoes. Shoes that she did not ask for because she did not expect to receive them. She was appreciative to just be in a home, far from the violence and instability and drama of the modern day orphanages that we call "group homes."

When she arrived the second time, Mackenzie knew she was finally coming home to safety, stability, love, and shoes.

Mackenzie did live in one good home, once upon a time. We want to acknowledge that, and she acknowledges it with gratitude often. L & G, you know who you are. You had a profound, positive effect on our daughter's life.

Almost every foster child who has come into our home from another foster home has had only one pair of busted, ill-fitting shoes. Most of these children could put fingers through the holes in their shoes. One child, after our first shopping trip, showed us how two fingers would fit through the bottom of the single pair of shoes that this child had arrived with.

In this moment of recollection, it dawned on us. Shoes. Mackenzie could create her video with shoes. Then, the shoes could be donated to foster children.

Foster children need shoes. Good shoes. Shoes that fit. Shoes that they are proud to wear with a pretty dress or a Sunday suit or with a favorite pair of jeans. Shoes that are good enough to join a sports team. Shoes that give a kid confidence to make friends at a new school when moving from home to home.

What better visual to show people just what 16,990 kids in foster care truly looks like than 16,990 pairs of empty shoes laid out in rows?

So, my daughter asked for 16,990 pairs of shoes. One to represent every child in Arizona foster care.

What better gift to a child who has no stable home, no family, and no shoes.

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


Being married is like being half of a two-headed monster. It's impossible to avoid regular disagreements when you're bound to another person for the rest of your life. Even the perfect marriage (if there was such a thing) would have its daily frustrations. Funnily enough, most fights aren't caused by big decisions but the simple, day-to-day questions, such as "What do you want for dinner?"; "Are we free Friday night?"; and "What movie do you want to see?"

Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

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Photo by DJ Paine on Unsplash

Mississippi teen saves three girls and a police officer.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Sixteen-year-old Corion Evans was passing by the river when he saw a car drive off the road and into the river with three girls inside, and without hesitation, the teen stripped down to his shorts and jumped in to save them. Amber Spradley at WLOX in Mississippi originally reported on the story.

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Paul Rudd in 2016.

Passing around your yearbook to have it signed by friends, teachers and classmates is a fun rite of passage for kids in junior high and high school. But, according to KDVR, for Brody Ridder, a bullied sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado, it was just another day of putting up with rejection.

Poor Brody was only able to get four signatures in his yearbook, two from what appeared to be teachers and one from himself that said, “Hope you make some more friends."

Brody’s mom, Cassandra Ridder has been devastated by the bullying her son has faced over the past two years. "There [are] kids that have pushed him and called him names," she told The Washington Post. It has to be terrible to have your child be bullied and there is nothing you can do.

She posted about the incident on Facebook.

“My poor son. Doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook,” she posted on Facebook. “Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it. So Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness.”

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