They wanted to be perfect parents. Their sons helped them realize there's no such thing.
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When Tremaine Maebry and Roland Locher decided to adopt, they tried to be as prepared as possible.

They read all the articles they could find on what to expect when adopting kids, took parenting classes, and Tremaine even reached out to writers of blogs like "Gays with Kids" to ask more questions.

So when they finally got their two sons, Jason and Jaelon, aged 7 and 9 respectively, the new dads felt truly ready to ace parenting.


However, they quickly learned that's pretty much impossible. There's no way to be fully prepared for all that comes with having kids.

"Nothing prepares you for the 'emotional component' of being a parent," writes Tremaine in an email. For example, he felt this instant, intrinsic need to protect them from the world's dangers.

Jason and Jaelon Maebry-Locher. All photos courtesy of Tremaine Maebry.

Tremaine was most concerned for his kids' well-being in a large, unpredictable city like Chicago.

In the beginning, he worried a lot about how two biracial (black/Hispanic) boys originally from rural Texas would handle such a lifestyle shift.

"Images and stories on TV of black and brown men and women being shot by police plagued me," explains Tremaine. "So my goal was to get them to respect and understand authority."

That was often easier said than done, considering that these boys were still learning what that means in the Maebry-Locher household.

So Tremaine assumed the role of disciplinarian — he's the one who sets and enforces the rules of their household. However, he always makes sure to talk them explicitly about why he's laying down the law when he does.

"Roland is the fun dad and I’m the mean one," writes Tremaine. "But I like that we have this balance."

That said, they're trying to be flexible with their parenting roles as the boys grow up.

But as any parent will tell you, it's not an exact science; all you can do is learn as you go.

Roland, Jason, and Jaelon on vacation in Costa Rica.

There may be some speed bumps along the way, but they're realizing having a family means approaching those issues together.

"We established an open dialog which encourages them to have an honest and open discussion of all things," explains Roland. "Though we may not like some of the things that we hear, if they come to us with anything, we will love them unconditionally. The important thing is to talk about things and take responsibility."

Sometimes the boys want to talk about their birth parents, and Tremaine and Roland always give them the space to do so. It can be hard, especially when they seem to want to ask why their parents left them, but Tremaine's trying to change their perspective.

"I might say, 'Your mommy loved you so much and wanted you to have a better life, one that she could not give you herself.'"

While it's occasionally about dealing with difficult things, family time is most often about sharing space, new experiences, and — above all — learning from each other.

The Maebry-Locher family ice skating.

That's why they have their nightly dinnertime ritual, which is "when we all check in on each other and find out what happened, what's going to happen, and what needs to happen," says Roland. "It's full of funny moments, teachable moments, emotional moments, and ebates."

And since the boys love to be active, they go on a lot of outdoor adventures.

They've also taken a lot of trips to visit family.

"Family is really important to us, and we want the boys to know all of their new extended family and be comfortable with them," writes Roland.

It was on one of those trips that Roland realized how attached their kids had grown to them. The boys were going off to spend time with his sister in Puerto Rico, and they were legitimately upset to leave their dads. It was both gut-wrenching and love-affirming all at the same time — ironically how many describe parenting in a nutshell.

Sometimes getting through the harder, complicated moments are the best reminders that you're doing all right as a parent.

The Maebry-Locher family knows they're not perfect, but Tremaine and Roland wouldn't want it any other way.

What's more, they want their kids to see their parents' flaws so that they know it's more than OK to have them and that working through them makes you stronger in the end.

"I don’t want my kids to see me as perfect," writes Tremaine. "I want them to see me as I am. I am a flawed human being. I will make mistakes. What I want my kids to see and notice is how I realistically deal with my mistakes."

Parenting, just like life, is a process, and each day comes with new challenges. These dads may not always get it right, but if they work together along the way, there's nothing they can't overcome.

Learn more about parents making their families great in their own, unique ways here:

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Myth: There’s one perfect way to family. Truth: There’s a billion ways to family greatly. Share with the people you think #FamilyGreatly”

Posted by GOOD on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

The year 2018 was a pivotal one in the produce industry, the Red Delicious was supplanted as the most popular apple in America by the sweeter, crisper Gala.

It was only a matter of time. The Red Delicious looked the part of the king of the apples with its deep red, flawless skin. But its interior was soft, mealy, and pretty bland. The Red Delicious was popular for growers because its skin hid any bruises and it was desired by consumers because of its appearance.

But these days it's having a hard time competing with the delectable crunch provided by the Gala, honeycrisp, and Fuji.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."