Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dear Pregnant Mommy,

Dear Pregnant Mommy,

I just wanted to congratulate you on your news...your expecting!!  I am so excited for you!  I'd love to offer you a suggestion on a name.  Krista or Kristopher??  Sounds great doesn't it?  But seriously, I want to take a minute and offer you some tips, unsolicitated yet well intentioned.  So take 'em or leave 'em.

You are busy "making people" as my friend Allison says.  Take some time and enjoy it.  Do some things that you love to do.  You don't have to give them up after the baby comes, but it may be more difficult to find time, finances, or energy to do some of them at first.  And yes, this can include sleeping in or taking a nap.

Grab a simple journal or calendar and jot down things that you are experiencing.  Nine months will go by before you know it, although it doesn't seem to be going quickly for you now. 

Don't study those darn pregnancy books.  They'll scare you to death.  Read them. Be informed but know that everyone's experience can be different.  Remember that usually the "odds" are with you, not against you. 

When registering, I recommend taking a mom with you and your spouse.  Not just any mom.  Take one that is somewhat practical or you will have a ton of crap on your registry (and then in your house) that you don't need.  Buy unisex equipment whenever possible if you plan to have more kids.  You  might not love the pink bouncy seat as much the next time you have a baby.  Oh yeah, bibs that are lined on the back with plastic/vinyl are the best because liquid won't soak through.  The bouncy seat might be the best invention in the world.  Enjoy all of the options to choose from. 

Every person has an opinion.  When you tell someone the child's name, your birthplan, or your decision on nursing or bottle feeding, be prepared.  Sometimes you'd think it was their uterus that you were talking about.  If your doctor/midwife doesn't respect your decisions or your concerns, find a new one.  Remember, some mom's may debate your choices because they want to justify their own choices.  Do what works best for you and your family.  Oh, and people may want to touch your tummy or may comment about your body size and shape.  You didn't know this but you gave up your right to privacy.  (Just kidding.)

You are going to be a great mom.  It is okay to be nervous but remember that so many of us are on your side praying for you and your little one(s).  And don't forget....Krista or Kristopher goes well with most last names.


This is the first of a few letters that I plan to write to moms/dads at different stages.  Things I wish I had known.  New moms need support.  What is your advice for the Pregnant Mommy??  Please share.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Got Something Better to Do

No time to blog tonight.  I just had a date with my husband thanks to his parents for providing the theater tickets and babysitting. 

Pineapple mojito...shared Thai chicken pasta and crab cakes...saw a good play called "End Days"...came home to all of the kids in bed sleeping.  Now it is time for the best part. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Peanut-free Protestors Have Gone NUTS!

In Orlando, there is a group of parents protesting restrictions made in the classroom of a 6 year old girl with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts.  These include increased handwashing, rinsing out their mouths twice each day, and not allowing outside food for class parties.  It is also noted that desks (not students) are being wiped down with disinfectant and a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school over spring break, which was not paid for with tax dollars.  (FYI, I never knew that there was such a thing.)  The article states, "Parents said all the rules are taking time out of the learning process, and they protested Thursday morning outside the school with signs." 

On MSNBC's website, the school's spokesperson stated that some parents believe that the student should be home-schooled.  The article goes onto to report, "Chris Burr, a father of two older students at the school whose wife has protested at the campus, said a lot of small accommodations have added up to frustration for many parents. "If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change their lives to fit my life," said Burr."

First of all, let me state my bias.  Our 6 year old son, PT has a severe allergy to peanuts and treenuts.  He carries epinephrine with him at all times.  He sits at the peanut-free table at lunch with friends who have purchased lunch (which is nut/treenut free) and his teacher monitors all ingredients brought into the classroom and restricts them as needed.  He rides the bus.  He attends public school.  He goes to birthday parties.  However, we do a lot of planning ahead.  We attend or volunteer at a lot of activities. We read every ingredient list and accomodations (more on this in a later post) are put in place to prevent his exposure.  We bring our own cookies or cupcakes when necessary and I organize the snack for his class parties.  Unfortunately, some of those accomodations have been inconvenient to others and we are so very thankful to all of the people along the way that have helped us keep him safe.  Our experience is that most people have went out of their way to make him feel comfortable. 

My other bias is that I am an occupational therapist and have spent a lot of my career working in schools with kids with all kinds of conditions and disabilities.  Every single day, classroom teachers and students make accomodations to meet the needs of children with everything from diabetes, learning disabilities, autism, blindness, giftedness, physical disabilities, hearing impairments, and behavioral issues.  The fact is that reasonable accomodations must be made to provide a free and appropriate education to all students, by law

First of all, I'd love it if my kids washed their hands more frequently at school.  It shouldn't take 30 minutes like one parent estimated.  Kids can read/work independently or in small groups while others take care of this.  Second of all, unlike Mr. Burr stated, you just might ask others to change their life,with "a lot of small accomodations" as he is quoted to say, if it prevented your child from DYING.

Kids with life-threatening allergies DO NOT want to inconvenience anyone.  They just want to go to school, play, and eat lunch like everyone else, safely. They don't want to be different.  They don't want to ask about ingredients. They want to have a cake or cookie from a bakery like other kids.  They just want to go places and have fun like other kids.  They want you to know that if they could, they would never choose to have this condition. 

Parents of kids with life-threatening allergies DO NOT want to inconvenience anyone either.  They want their child to go to school, play, and eat lunch with everyone else, safely.  They don't enjoy reading every single label, carrying epinephrine everywhere, baking every cupcake, or calling ahead/researching before they consider going to a new restaurant or allowing their child to attend a camp or a birthday party.  They don't enjoy asking others what kind of snack will be at the party or after the soccer game.  They would love to jump on an airplane without worrying about what they serve as a snack. These parents do not love asking others to make accomodations for their child so that he/she can participate safely.  They just want for their child to go places and have fun like other kids.  They love their child so much and can't imagine if anything ever happened to him or her. 

Can someone really fight and wave signs and say that a 6 year old child doesn't belong in school because hand washing is infridging too much on their kid's rights and still look themselves in the mirror? If they feel that way about children with peanut allergies, who's next? 

If  "a lot of small accomodations" could save your child, wouldn't you advocate for them too?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Time to Download

If any of you have ever spent the whole day alone with children, especially young ones, you know what it is like to need a little adult interaction.  You know the kind that isn't about poop, time-out, or kids shows.  My poor husband.  Some days, when he walks in the door, it goes something like this..."PT needs a water bottle for practice.  L is in the middle of doing her comprehension questions.  J said the funniest thing today....How was work?  Oh, I have an idea for vacation.  Do you think that I should call your mom to see if she can watch the kids on Saturday?  The computer is giving me trouble.  Let's eat.  Where's JJ's pacifier?" 

We call this at our house, the "download."  It is as if I hold onto every thought I have had throughout the day and they just spill out (not necessarily in any organized manner) when he arrives.  His eyes seem to glaze over a little but he hangs in there until I'm done.  Then he usually gets a grin on his face and I realize what just happened. 

I decided that I needed to do something about this, so now I try to have different outlets if needed. I might send an email, make a phone call, or blog.  Sorry my friends, you are now the newest victims of my "downloads."   Thank you!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Funnies

I was working with a patient this weekend and she told me all about her story of caring for her husband with Alzheimer's disease for years.  Now, four years since his death, she is focused on recovering from her own medical issues.  She was peppy, funny, and motivated.  She teared up a little as she spoke of her beloved husband but bounced back with a witty joke and smile.  She said something that stuck with me..."I chose to laugh even when it really wasn't funny."  I asked her if I could use that one and she said, "Yes, use it over and over."  It works for her and I felt like that is how I cope sometimes too because sometimes if you don't laugh you'll cry (or scream).

On a different note (yet still related to humor), this year I decided that I wanted to do something for L and PT so that they will know that I am thinking of them when they are at school.   As you know, I love puns, although I am told that most of mine are groaners.  I found some kid-friendly jokes and puns on the web and printed them off and keep them in a baggie in the pantry.  When they decide to pack their lunch, I slip a joke into the lunch box.  Then at dinner, they have a joke to tell the family.  Half of the time, they roll their eyes but I know that they love it.  Now that they like to buy lunch, I should probably tape one to their snack. 

Now onto the important stuff...silly jokes.  Today's jokes came from the kids' popsicle sticks after lunch. I can't say that they are good.  Even I groaned at them...enjoy and have a great week!

*Why didn't the sun ever shine on the castle?
                        -It was full of knights!

*What kind of pets does a band have?

*What is an archeologists favorite type of music?

Sharing Saturday Week 5

This week I have started to let go of some baby clothes and equipment by passing them onto to friends and to other foster parents.  Friends and family generously shared their baby items with us so it is our turn now.  I held onto some of my favorites with plans of making each kid their own baby blanket made of his/her own baby clothes.  Wish me luck.  You would think that after parenting four children through infancy, I would be happy to see it come to an end.  Of course, I won't miss the demands of it but rather the sweet newness of it each time a new little person joined the family. 

I also went to my friend's fundraiser for Girls on the Run.  She hosted a "Bow and Booze" party.  We brought some ribbon and a $10 donation and she provided us with bow making supplies and expertise.  Oh yeah, there also was food, good conversation, and booze, of course.  It was a blast!!  You should check out her bows and cute and affordable.

This week's choice maker is the dear husband, H.  For those who don't know, both of our families have a lot of men and women who have served or do serve in the military, including H.  He was in the Air Force after college and now works as a civilian in a similar role for them.  The recent events in Libya have brought further attention to the military's role all over the world.  Whether you agree or disagree with our government's decisions regarding the military, I would hope that we could agree that military families sacrifice so much in order to protect and defend people all over the world.  They deserve our support. 

This week, our family will be donating to the Air Force Assistance Fund.  Their work is described on their website in this way.
The Air Force Assistance Fund (AFAF) was established to provide for an annual effort to raise funds for the charitable affiliates that provide support to the Air Force family (active duty, retirees, reservists, guard and their dependents, including surviving spouses) in need. These organizations are the Air Force Villages, Inc., the Air Force Aid Society, Inc., the General and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay Foundation, and the Air Force Enlisted Village, Inc. These organizations help Air Force people with aid in an emergency, with educational needs, or to have a secure retirement home for widows or widowers of Air Force members in need of financial assistance.

We will be taking time to pray for safety for our troops, support for their families, and wisdom for the leaders and decision makers of the world.  Won't you join us?

Friday, March 25, 2011

We Just Got Toilet Papered!!

This kid is killing me!!!

She totally TP'd our 1st floor when I wasn't looking.  She saw me, squealed with glee, and went running back in for more!  J laughed so hard as she ran after her to stop her....while I grabbed the camera. 

She also loves to grab the clean laundry I am folding or have folded and take off.  She'll stop and look at me until I come after her.  One time she grab L's clean shirt, wiped her snotty nose on it, and put it back in the hamper...and laughed.  It makes her day to give me more work.  I love that kid!

Good times!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

God Jar

Last week, H's mom called back to see what we had decided, in regards to possibly adopting another child.  She sweetly asked, "So have you both decided, or is it still in the "God jar?" 

What's a "God jar" you might ask?  Well, it started when Grandma was told of the concept from a friend and she passed it onto us.  She told me that when there are problems, concerns, and decisions that you can't seem to resolve, you need to put it in the "God jar" and allow Him to take care of it.  This "jar" is theoretical of course, but at our house, we have a tangible one.   This is especially helpful for our oldest, who becomes anxious very easily and has a hard time with letting some things go.  Now, we can write things down and put them in the jar.  (The tupperware is my dad's and L grabbed it out of the pantry.  I am hoping to get something a little more snazzy and leave it out on the counter.)

The "God jar" reminds us that we aren't alone and that sometimes we need to put down some of our burdens and fears that we can't take care of ourselves. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Keep it Civil

Sibling rivalry is inevitable, right? Tattling is normal, right? Bickering, backtalk, and fighting is common, right?  I guess so, but it can make you want to pull your hair out.  I am trying really hard to keep it "civil" at our house, although I have my fair share of ugly moments.  I don't want to allow it to escalate into nasty and hurtful behavior which we tend to save for those we love the most.  You know, the ones that will never leave. 

Over time, I have come across some strategies to help keep it "civil" either at home or at school.  Also, it teaches them to more independently solve their own conflicts...YEAH!  This is especially necessary if you are outnumbered by children.  I thought I'd share some and find out what works for you.

*Tattle Tale Tilly and Tattle Tale Tommy: One of the kid's daycare providers, when they were 3-4 years old, had cute cartoon figures of a girl, "Tattle Tale Tilly," and a boy, "Tattle Tale Tommy" on opposite ends of one wall.  When the kids came to tell on one another (when clearly no danger was present), she'd tell them to go tell "Tattle Tale Tilly/Tommy."  They'd either get it off their chest by telling their side of the story or decide to move on.  Either way, it seemed to diffuse the situation a little. 

*"Don't squeal if it's not a big deal.":  L and I can't remember where we got this one from but it works.  It cues the kids to think before they tattle.  It is a mom's first line of defense.  If no one is in danger (i.e. bleeding), no major rule is being broken, or if something was an accident, it is probably not a big deal. 

*A bug and a wish:  PT came home with this suggestion on his classroom newsletter.  His teacher prompts them to address conflict by saying, "It bugs me when ________.  I wish you would __________." I think it is great because the kids have to verbalize a solution. 

*"Talk to him about it first.  If you can't work it out, then I'll help you both figure it out." 

*Are you being a bucket filler or a bucket dipper:  I talked about this one in an earlier post about our favorite kid books.  Have You Filled A Bucket Today?, presents a simple concept about being kind and caring (bucket filler) or unkind (bucket dipper).  It explains that "dipping" from someone's bucket also "dips" from your own bucket.

*"Is that a good choice or a bad choice?" or " Is that helpful or hurtful?": These questions prompt them to make their own judgment on what they did or said.  Is the tantrum helping them get what they want or does hitting make them actually want to share with you?  You get the point.  When PT was really little, he'd do something wrong and say in his deep little toddler voice, "Bad choice."  It was pretty cute.

When all of this fails and I need to either scream or laugh, I'll make a ridiculous statement like, "Don't make me pick up your brother and beat you with him."  It usually lightens the mood and no one gets hurt. 

Did you come from a big family?  How the heck do you or how did your parents handle family fighting and bickering?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Behind the Scenes- Bye Bye Boo Boo

You know what works for a bump on the head when your kid won't tolerate the ice pack??

A Boo Boo spoon

I know it sounds weird but a long time ago when my kids cracked their heads together, my mom proclaimed, "Get a metal spoon!"  I thought, "Really??  The kids wouldn't tolerate an ice pace or the "boo boo bunny" but they held the back side of the spoon to the rapidly growing knots on their heads for several minutes.  Believe it or not, it worked.  It may have something to do with the gentle pressure applied and the cool temperature of the metal...I don't know.  The point is that the swelling went down a little and the kids weren't uncomfortable from the temperature.

Not too long after that, PT (age 2 or 3) hit his head in a restaurant booth.  He cried and grabbed for the spoon he was eating with and put it to his head before I could stop him.  Unfortunately, it was plastic and covered with food.  While it had no effect on the swelling because of the plastic, he felt that it helped him sort of like a band-aid for some kids. 

Spoons are readily available and easy to use for a minor bump.  Try it next time and let me know if it works.  I hate to say it but sometimes Mom was right although I still don't think Vick's Vapor Rub can cure all things!

What works for you?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Funnies- Potty Humor

Today's "funny" was actually something that I left out of my post about Things I Never Thought I'd Do.  Beware readers, this one has potty humor in it and is not for faint hearted (just kidding).

The other day, J was using the restroom and proclaimed that she pooped and needed a little help with wiping on this one.  I hurried in and began the work.  What I hadn't noticed is that JJ had followed right in behind me while J was completely bent over while still on the toilet.  JJ scurried around the commode, pulled up, and with great excitement bordering on frenzy, dove her little hand in the toilet trying to grab a turd!  I had my right hand mid-crack and the left hand boxing out the 15 month old as she squealed with delight determined to retrieve a prize!  I just yelled, "AHHHH!!"  J started laughing too.  What a train wreck, seriously!

 I quickly brought the cleansing to a quick finish and lowered the other little stinker to the ground without injury!  Most importantly, her little hand never made it to the toilet water or to her sought after poopy-prize.  I consider this one big funny success!  But was I ever "pooped" after that!

Anyone else have potty humor that they wanna share?  It doesn't matter if it "stinks."  I am sure that it'll "crack" me up.  This is the platform you've been waiting for.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sharing Saturday- Week 4

Honestly, I have been so caught up in our own drama this week that I have not taken enough time to think of and pray for the people suffering due to the earthquake and tsunami.  Our kids know of the disaster, yet the news can be overwhelming to my them (especially L) so I have to get most of my information when they aren't around...and they are always around.  It is hard to even imagine what I am seeing.  My husband and I agree that our family will focus on the people of Japan this week in thought, prayer, and donation.  We will be giving this week to the American Red Cross.  I am certain that we will be praying along so many others. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Color Blind?? and Foster Care Update

I was at the park yesterday when another mom started talking to me.  Come to find out, she is an adoptive mom of a child from Guatemala.  She was sharing with me that, at the age of 4, there have been a few instances where children have pointed out to her daughter that her skin color is different.  I remarked that young kids commonly categorize things...he has glasses, she's tall, he's a baby, she has hearing aides, and his skin is darker than mine.  She agreed that is the case sometimes.  Then she continued to say that one time, after an event had ended, her daughter said that the girls didn't play with her because her skin was different.

Any mom's heart breaks when their child is left out or hurting.   I am quite sure that it will be near impossible to help any of my children navigate through childhood without incidence.   This might be complicated because we will also be a trans-racial adoptive family.  I went to hear a speaker talk about his experience as a trans-racial adoptee.  One of his topics really stayed with me.  He said that families must discuss race openly so that children know that it is okay to talk about what they may be experiencing outside the home.  Parents can be ready to help them process.  He said that by overlooking that the child looks different is like ignoring the fact that a child is a girl or a boy.  He said the world still sees differences in people and we all need to keep the conversation open so that our children aren't trying to figure it all out alone.

Obviously, racial diversity within my family feels normal and comfortable and isn't an issue.  I actually think that it has enhanced my family.  But I am going to try to keep the conversation open about all kinds of issues so that we can try to help them survive childhood....and awful adolescence someday. 

But on a lighter note...
People say that love is color blind and in our 3 year old's case, it might be true.  One day a few months ago, J and JJ were dressed in Supergirl shirts and matching hairbows.  J looked really concerned and said, "You know Mom, people might think that we are twins."  I instantly thought about their age difference and completely different looks that they have.  I smiled.  Then I said, "You know, they might."

A few weeks later, the little ones were next to each other in their car seats and J suddenly stated with a little bit of surprise, "Mom.  JJ's skin is different."  I just replied, "Really, what do you see?"  She thought briefly and said, "Well, mine is this white color and her's is sort of a brown color."  I said, "What do you think about that?"  Casually, she said, "It's good."  Then she was off to another subject.  All I could think was, "Really, it took you a whole year to notice."

I feel like we are new in the trans-racial foster/adoption world and therefore not fully prepared for all of what may come with that.  All I know is that, in general, we feel like we have been very supported by others.  Of course, people may look our way a little longer out of curiosity but as long as no one is rude, I'm fine with it.  If they stare too long, I might just say with a grin, "I know.  We look just alike don't we?"  Oh, I'd be lucky to be that cute.

Update on adoption and kiddo #5:  The court will be meeting again to review the case late May and then if the transcripts aren't ready, they might extend the date out another month or so. URGGGG.  We knew that this was probable but I was hoping that it wouldn't take so long.  Oh well, we are moving forward, just slowly.

As for foster/adopting JJ's sister, this has taken a turn. There must have been a misunderstanding. She will adopted by her foster parent, whom she loves very much.  I restated our willingness to adopt her if the circumstances change and offered support and friendship despite the outcome.  We just pray for the best for each child and family.  I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Things I Never Thought That I'd Do

First of all, we are still waiting to hear more about transitioning kiddo #5 into our house.  The frenzy has subsided and now I am just happy and anxious to get an update and to visit with her.  We have been praying for her daily and trying to think of ways to organize this house a little more.  It is like a different version of "nesting."

Did you ever imagine the crazy things you would do to parent your kids??  Here's a few that I might not have believed 10 years ago if you told me them about myself.

  • Be a mom to 4 kids (5 hopefully) of different races.  One with special needs and one with food allergies. After all, the day H and I got engaged, he said "Two.  That's it."  I agreed.
  • Be a foster and adoptive parent.
  • Go grocery shopping with four kids: one in the Baby Bjourn carrier, two in the horrid "car" cart (which is impossible to steer), and one walking and checking off the list.
  • Hit the baby's head (who is in the Baby Bjourn carrier) on the cart not once but twice in one trip.
  • Actually see your dog licking up your child's spit-up, think it is gross, yet be too busy to really care.
  • Hold a baby on your hip as you squat in the public restroom stall. Then you try to pull up your pants and buckle your belt with one hand while the beloved baby laughs as she keeps pushing the pants back down with her foot. 
  • Actually hear yourself say things like "Because I said so!" or "Eat. There are children all over the world starving."
  • Drive a van and have no problem with it.
  • Want a camper so that you can pile the kids and husband in and go across country someday.
  • Catch spit-up in your hand in public...more than once. 
  • Text your husband while he is boarding a plane to see if he'd like a 5th child.
  • Love some little people so much that some days your heart could explode....or your mind. 
I am sure that I'll remember more as soon as I publish this post, but it's a start.  But come on people, tell me what you've done that you never thought you would...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We Have News...

I have been a little distracted lately.  On Saturday, the call finally came notifying us that the court had made the necessary ruling to take the next step toward adopting "JJ".  The new adoption worker gave me a lot of information and I diligently listened and took notes...while on the inside I was jumping up and down!  While we are not completely "out of the woods," finalization feels so much closer now.  Hooray!

Before our news could settle in, I got another call on Monday.  I felt a little cautious, as if something had changed or went wrong with the case.  I listened carefully and didn't believe it when I heard the worker ask, "Would your family be interested in adopting JJ's 2 year old sister as well?"  WHAT??  She gave me some details and told be to take time to talk to the hubby before deciding.

OH CRAP!!  I realized that, at that very moment, my hubby was sitting on a plane to go across the county for a business trip.  I quickly called him, and got no answer.  He sent me a text back, "What's up?  We are boarding the plane." I quickly wrote back with the short story.  His response was, "HUH???"  I laughed a little and within seconds he called.  I spilled the story as quickly as I could and I heard the flight attendant telling them to turn off their "electronic devices."  He pretty much told me not to give them a decision before he landed and that he didn't expect to have this conversation already.  I told him to pray and call me when he landed.

I was excited and nauseous and emotional (and still am) all at the same time.  I was having a hard time processing without having "H" around.  I didn't fully know what he was thinking or feeling, but I knew deep down what my answer was and I didn't want to influence him one way or the other.  I was feeling saddened for a little girl that was going to have a transition that she didn't understand.  And frankly, I was freaking out!  Would five kids fit in the van with all of the car seats?  How would PT deal with having 4 sisters? Can we meet everyone's needs?  What will the sleeping situation be?  Can we afford this?  Will this negatively impact the kids or our marriage? What would be best for JJ and her biological sister?  How would our biological kids feel about it?

What was I afraid of, really?  It was the simple fear of not being a good enough mom to all 5 kids.  But one question just kept coming back...How could I ever say no? 

I wasn't ready to tell the kids anything specific.  I asked the them casually how they'd feel about adding more kids to our family.  L said, "Mom, it's wonderful to give a kid a home."  PT said, "Oh it's a good thing.  If it is a boy, I'll have someone else to play with."  I asked him how he'd feel if it was a girl and he said (with a big smile), "I am a very special boy.  I am the only boy and the only one with food allergies in our family."  J said, "It would be cool if they looked like JJ and were named JJ too.  They'd be like twins." 

Since then, I have tried to keep up with daily tasks.  Bath night with all four kids.  Doing homework.  Going to appointments.  Poor H is trapped in meetings and trying to process all of this too.  He and I have talked a lot, and in much detail.  We have gotten some good advice from friends and family (Thanks!).   Most importantly, we have prayed for guidance and for each person touched by the situation. 

After all of the that, we decided...YES!!

I told the kids tonight and right away they said, "Yes!"  We told them that we are not 100% sure how and when this will happen.  Everyone wanted to share a room with a 2 year old. Crazy kids.  They don't know what they are in for.

Heck, I don't know what I am in for.  Five kids ages 8 and under might just take me over the edge but it will certainly make my heart explode with love.  After all, love multiplies.  It doesn't divide.  Someone told me that God will provide us with all that we need to raise these children.  I believe that too, yet my joking response was, "Does God provide me Lithium?"   Instead, I am under the calming influence of Girl Scout Cookies and Glee on DVR.

We have given the adoption worker our decision and we are awaiting further details and confirmation. We know that nothing is certain yet so I am cautious.  However, we are hopeful and excited.  I know that I love my husband and kids even more for having such open hearts.  I know that our friends and family have been supportive and we are thankful.  We don't have all of the details figured out yet but the one thing I have learned after having four kids is that you can't control everything (even though I wish I could).  Parenting is a leap of faith!

I can't wait to see if we will be a party of 7!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wanna Buy A Candy Bar??

We are hit up all the time for money at school.  Some days I feel  a little "nickle and dimed" to death. Don't get me wrong, fund raising is necessary especially now, and most of the opportunities offered in our district have been tasteful and reasonable and usually, I participate.  However, the other day I walked into PT's open house and the first thing we ran into was all of the kids' artwork framed...and on sale for a mere $30.53.  I felt ambushed but I bought it.  It was really cute although overpriced, and 20% went to the school after all.  I know that PT would have been disappointed but would have been fine if I declined. After all, I don't always say "Yes" but he knows that I also don't always have to say "No" like some families.  But what would that have been like for a mom who didn't have $30 and usually has to say "No"?

They also had CD's and DVD's of the performance on sale (still a fundraiser yet overpriced). Then we have school pictures.  Not one time per year but two times a year, which I only buy once a year.  Oh, and don't forget the whole class picture and the yearbook.  Also, the yearly book fairs (at each of their 3 schools) which my kids love, spirit wear sale, teacher gifts, and class party fees.  We also participate in the Art to Remember program where we can have a piece of our child's artwork transformed into a lot of cool products like notecards, bookmarks, coasters, etc.  We always choose a magnet.

My favorite fundraiser is called "Pass the Hat."  There is NO selling!  Essentially, it is a spirit week when families are encouraged to donate to their child's schools PTO.   You choose what you can give and it goes in a sealed envelope and that is that.  Done.  They also encourage those who are able to add to their donation (~$25) to "sponsor" other children who are not able to participate.  I like this one because it is more private and the child doesn't need to know what you could or couldn't give.  Plus, there is no overhead and no candy bars to sell at a $0.25/bar profit.  It all goes to programming. 

There are also a few ways that we donate that has more to do with reaching out which I really appreciate being incorporated into a public education.  I also enjoy that our schools have a backpack program where food is donated by students and is discreetly issued (via backpack) to the children in need to provide some nutrition over the weekend.  Some of the teachers also have a read-a-thon to raise money so that the class can adopt a family in need during the holiday season.  There have also been opportunities to donate items or write letters to encourage our troops overseas or others in need.  They even have a breakfast for senior citizens where the children serve and entertain the elderly.

So I guess, I am not sure where I am going with this.  I just know that we support the school whenever we can.  I actually don't disagree with most of their choices for fund raising.  I just feel badly when I know that the multiple requests must be difficult for the families in need.  Children usually know when money is tight but watching your friends walk out with their framed art might just be a little too "in your face" for me.

Has your kid's school been discreet or a little too "in your face?"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Funnies- I Didn't Do It...

As my 3 year old "J" played on the floor, I noticed that there was a "Sugar Babies" crushed into to my new carpet right next to her.  I remember putting my hands on my hips and stating, "J! Look!" and I pointed to the evidence.  That little girl didn't even look nervous and looked me right in the eye and confidently stated, "I didn't do it and you didn't saw me." 

What?? I saw the evidence and she is still denying it, really?  Aren't little kids supposed to crave their parents approval?  No, not this kid.  She can be sugar sweet, smart, witty, and helpful.  But sometimes she can be a little sassy and demonstrate a little pre-criminal behavior.  We joke that she'll grow up and go into law...which side is yet to be determined.  Sometimes she will do something wrong and look at us like we have inconvenienced her by catching her.  Her verbal skills are great so she can come right back at you with a response like, "You are really making me angry." or "This is just ridiculous."  Much to my disgust, one day she was so angry at me that she was stumbling over her words until she blurted out,  "Errrr, you are making me sick!!" 

To be perfectly clear, I do not tolerate the backtalk or lying and it is addressed immediately.  However, I also have observed that children are born with very distinct strengths and weaknesses.  Some are easier than other to parent.  I have also decided that as a parent, I need to be very careful not to squash the essence of those gifts.  It is merely my job to help them use them for good vs. evil.  Hopefully, J will be assertive and confident.  Hopefully, she won't tolerate disrespect from boys.  Maybe she'll be a lawyer or CEO or run a "tight ship" as a mommy .  Who knows?  I just can't wait to watch her future unfold.

Sunday  Internet Joke

Church Visitor

Gladys Dunn was new in town and decided to visit the church nearest to her new apartment.
She appreciated the pretty sanctuary and the music by the choir, but the sermon went on and on. Worse, it wasn't very interesting.
Glancing around, she saw many in the congregation nodding off.
Finally it was over.
After the service, she turned to a still sleepy-looking gentleman next to her, extended her hand and said, "I'm Gladys Dunn."
He replied, "You and me both."
- contributed by mbeckygrice

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sharing Saturday- Week 3 "Feed Kids"

First of all, we all know that this week has been devastating for so many due to the tsunami and earthquakes.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected.   Some of the footage that I watched on television was truly unimaginable.   With all of the destruction seen in just a few days, we are trying not to lose focus of our own blessings and how to share just a little with others who need it. 

Well this week, PT finally decided what to donate to the Dragonfly supplies.  I reviewed with him the various options for donations and he finally said, "Stop giving me ideas.  You are messing up my head!"  I couldn't argue with that so off I went to get a few craft kits.  I know that my kids enjoy being creative so I think that he made a good choice. 

This week little J chose to "feed kids" which is very appropriate because this kid, herself, is driven by food.  She claims to be hungry about every half hour.  We will be donating boxed meals and cereal to our church's food pantry.  Also, the church is accepting financial donations that will be given to Kids Against Hunger.  Their website states that "every 6 seconds a child dies from hunger-related causes."  That is a horrible statistic and Kids Against Hunger offers ways to contribute to feed hungry children all over the world.  The average cost of a Kids Against Hunger meal is $0.23, per the website.  It is amazing what that quarter in my pocket can do. We have told the kids that we will match any donation that they choose to contribute out of their own money.  We will see what they each decide to do. 

I hope that this week is good to you all. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Informed Consumers: Starting Young

Recently, a friend posted (on Facebook) a article detailing legislature that would allow advertisements to be placed on school buses.  Check it out at There are certain restrictions yet in some states, such as Ohio, violent media and junk food are not off limits yet political ads, cigarettes, alcohol,  and sexual content are prohibited.  I assume that districts needing to raise cash might take advantage of this opportunity, but should they? 

Well, my personal opinion is "No" and I sent a letter to my representative via the website to state that I am not in agreement.  I feel like I'd like there to still be some sanctuary where my kids aren't being advertised to.  My friend did make a good point though.  She stated that when districts are making such drastic cuts that negatively impact the education of children, "creative" ways to raise funds may be necessary.  She may be right.  If having a McDonald's sign on the buses saves the art program in my district, I might change my mind.  After all, sports jerseys have had sponsors written across them for ages.  Overall, I prefer it to be a last resort and should be strictly regulated and restrict all violent matter as well.  But most importantly, I think parents are now in a position where it can not be completely avoided so they need to guide their children through the commercial world vs. completely around it.  Teach them to be informed consumers. 

I have allowed my children to watch T.V.  There are limits and there is monitoring of programs but overall, I feel like I am a "moderate" on the subject.  I feel like my kids live in a world with diversity of ethnic backgrounds, economic situations, educational level, genders, priorities, and moral convictions.  Sometimes T.V. shows, books, and advertising reflects ideas very different than those of our family. 

When my kids were very little I started talking to them about commercials.  The shoe commercial would come on and my kids would be in awe and say, "I want those!"  I would take the opportunity to casually say something like, "Those look really cool don't they?  But do you really think that they make you run faster?  No.  It is their job to make it look so cool that we'll want to buy it. They can be a little tricky.  But we don't need it.  It is just a commercial."  If something was said or done on a show or in a book that I didn't like (i.e. Captain Hook shoots a pirate from a perch at the beginning of the Peter Pan movie or the damsel sits on her rear waiting for a prince) I'd follow up by saying something like, "Really?  That' is just pretend. We don't act like that, do we?"  or "I love that story but girls don't have to wait for a boy to save them, right? That is silly." 

As they have grow, the conversations have evolved.  There is the conversation we have about food.  We have categorized food by saying, "I love chips too but they are an almost never food."  Fruits and veggies are an anytime food and pizza is a sometimes food and Cookie Crisp is a "dessert" get the point.  We talk a lot about wants vs. needs.  We talk about if we spend money on going out to eat or on toys too often, we won't have extra money for our bills, karate class, or vacation.  We talk about although we are using a credit card to pay for something or we get money out of the ATM, the money is coming out of our bank and when it is gone, it is gone. When we are in the toy aisle and they are spending their own money, we help them compare prices and quality and help them figure how to get more bang for their buck (i.e. one doll plus clothes/accessories for less than the expensive doll of the same size without extras).  We then let them make their own choice. A few weeks ago, L spent $15 of her own money on some cheap quality texting devices.  I talked to her about what quality she might expect from them yet she proceeded and was disappointed.  She barely uses them now but she had to learn. 

As my kids get older, T.V. shows and books get progressively more sarcastic which my kids never hear at home (yeah right!).  There are more boy/girl flirtations, etc as well.  There are more kids with name brand this and name brand that.  Clothes get a little more...little.  I am trying to navigate that now too.  We have tried not to buy clothes with the brand blazing across them.  Frankly, I feel like they should be paying me for advertising vs. me paying them to wear it.  (Except I just bought PT a shirt with a big swish across was soooo cheap.  Hypocrite, I know.)  Also, H had a rule from the words on their butts.  He said that he didn't care if it said "Jesus Saves."  It could only be there for one reason and he didn't like it.  Fair enough.  Also, we talk about showing your whole body in clothes just isn't necessary and doesn't show honor.  I am also prepared to say, "Don't you try talking to me or treating other people like that girl just did on that show.  If you repeat those behaviors, then we can't keep watching that show." 

I am sure that it may only get harder as they grow up and as advertising becomes less subtle and more ruthless and peer pressure escalates.  I can't avoid it completely.  I just feel like I have a short time when my kids actually think I know something about something.   I am going to try to take those opportunities to guide them through the maze vs. around it.  I'll intervene when necessary.  Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won't.  Hopefully, they will be informed consumers some day.  Here's to hoping. 

What works for your family?

*Note: more on school fundraising on Monday

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Tough Questions

"Mommy, why would God give people disabilities, cancer, or food allergies?" 
"What if I get cancer?"
"What are those plastic things (tampons) for?"
"Am I going to die too?"
"So, what's the deal with teen pregnancy?  How's that happen?"
"Do I have to have surgery to have babies like you did?  If so, I don't want to."
"Why is he in a wheelchair?"
"What is Heaven like?"
"Where does the baby come out."
"Why do kids need foster care?  Why can't their families keep them?"

Have your kids hit you with any tough questions like these?  Or have they blurted out something in the grocery store like, "Why is that man's belly so big?"  Well, of course they have.  I have had quite of few of the hard questions come up lately at my house.  Usually, they ask me them when the bus will arrive any minute, we're with a lot of people, or I have too many coals in the fire to even process well enough to give a good answer.  Sometimes they ask questions that I haven't really even figured out myself. 

I have a few strategies that help me survive the ambush and I welcome your suggestions too.  First of all, I tell the kids that they can ask me anything but it is usually best if we talk about it in privacy.  I remind them that people may not like their differences pointed out in public even if we think that it is a good thing. This was true when my daughter stated loudly, "Look Mom!  I think that girl is adopted.  Isn't that great!"   I tell them to "save it for the van."  That way they don't have to bite their tongue for too long, just until we make it back to privacy of the van. 

Strategy two is for the tough questions.  I can especially thank my 8 year old for this strategy being necessary.  She is very academically minded and she doesn't want simple answers.  I have to be prepared not just for the question but also for the follow up questions.  I have had to tell her, "You know what?  That is a great question and it deserves a good answer.  I need to think about that one a little bit.  Can I talk to Dad and get back to you on that one?"  I have also told her that "It is a little complicated so we need to talk about it when we have more time."  She usually is okay with that, as long as we actually get back to it. 

I want them to know that I'll be honest.  I have told them that they will may get confused about a lot of things along the way but they know that no one cares about them more than Mom, Dad, and God.  They can talk to each of us about anything. I tell them that if I don't know, I'll try to figure it out or look it up.  Thank, God, for Google.  I remind them as well that kids their age rarely have a clue either so don't automatically trust what they say.  Otherwise it is like the blind leading the blind.  I have also told them that some of the information we give them (i.e. childbirth)  is not to be discussed at school because "Their moms and dads should have that discussion with them." or "Different families believe different things."

I have also said to them, "What do you think?" or "Why do you think it is that way?" or "What do you already know?"  This way, it gives me a little insight into where they are coming from.  My friend's dad suggested stating, "So what exactly do you want to know?  What is your question?"  Then just start right there.  Good advice Mr. B. 

I am trying to prepare myself for the initial "bird and bees" talk and "having your period" conversation.  I know these are coming someday and I know that I'll be caught off guard.  Any advice?  Any good books for the little academically minded kid?  How do you survive these moments?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Just a Name, Right??

As you know, I am the mother to 3 biological children.  I have also been the foster mom and hopeful-to-be adoptive mom to "JJ."  We have been together since she was 3 weeks old when we picked her up from the hospital.  She is now 15 months old and day by day, and month by month, we seem to get closer to the moving target we call adoption.  Not until the last week or two, did the conversation/question of changing her name come up with some people involved with the case.  I see that as progress because we are getting closer but it is also giving me an ulcer.  There is a lot of differing opinions in the adoption community.  Do you change it completely, just a little, or not at all?  Will she feel that her birth name wasn't good enough for us?  Will it confuse her and all the people that know her as "JJ?"  What is the best way to protect her/our anonymity?

I have been afraid to "put the cart before the horse" because I have had to practice restraint (which is not my strength) due to the element of uncertainty in foster care.   But on the other hand, I also know that no legal document will change my love and commitment to her.  She is my daughter until someone tells me otherwise.  She has a piece of my heart that can never be returned.  She just happens to have a birth mother, birth father, Heavenly Father, and a Mommy and Daddy. I don't own her, nor do I want to.  I just don't know how to love her any other way.

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to discuss baby names. I'll name your kid if you let me. Usually I push for "Krista" or "Kristopher" for obvious reasons but no luck so far.  So why is it so hard this time?  It is because we are used to her name and she is used to her name after 15 months.  Also, I am used to naming a baby that is in my belly and in my dreams, not in person.  JJ has a distinct personality and characteristics and we want her name to match, so some names that I have always loved just don't fit.  Other names are too popular now.  Some just don't sound like a name that would be professional on a resume.  (I know, I am over thinking it.)  Plus, our children have family names or derivatives of family names for both their first and middle names.  By the time we got to the fourth kid, it was harder to fit that in.because we had already used 6 names with the other kids. 

H and I discussed her name in at least 20 conversations and never resolved anything.  So I asked each kid to vote yet prefaced it by telling them that I reserve the right to not go with the majority.  Finally, on Sunday H and I agreed on a name.  It honors family members we love and also incorporates a little of her birth given name.  L loved it!  J plainly said, "No, I'm going to call her JJ."  PT said that he didn't like it until I told him that her initials would be the same as a superhero's girlfriend.  Then he casually said, "Okay."

Poor JJ couldn't vote.  Yet another decision made without her input.  I just hope that she knows that her name was chosen with a lot of love.  It took a lot of consideration.  Now, I need to patiently wait to hear if we are any closer to adoption.  When we get there, we'll be ready!  

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Gym: Acting 101

So I went to the gym tonight.  I know, it's a miracle.  I met up with a friend to take a class called "Strike."  Essentially, it is like kickboxing with a weighted bar as a lovely bonus.  You can even grab some weighted gloves too if you like.  The instructor is friendly and so very energetic. The music is loud and motivating.  My favorite tonight was a juiced up version of "Wild Thing." You get the picture.

I used to dance and play sports...a long time ago and am now not in my fitness prime.  However, I know that something has to change.  After all, I have all of these kids and should probably try to be around for a while to raise them.  I really do not like working out.  I can't stand paying money for the gym.  I hate my workout clothes. You get the point.  

So why would I join a gym when I have a treadmill and go to a group fitness class??  Why is that my best option??  Pure vanity and pride.  I will kick, dance, punch, or zumba for the whole hour at the highest intensity that I can handle.  I do it because I have some fun and want to be healthier, but frankly I don't want to look like an idiot.  You know what I am talking about.  There's a lady twice your age or a pregnant woman in the class doing great.  I feel like I at least need to try to keep up.

Essentially, I fake it 'til I make it.  Really, the workout class is more like an acting class for me.  When the instructor yells out, "Don't your arms feel AMAZING?"  On the outside, I smile and might even give a little cheer with the others.  On the inside I am screaming, "No! They feel like they are going to fall off and if I could pick them up, I would hit you with them!"  So if you see me at the gym and you see me smiling, shakin' my hips, or boxing like Mohammad Ali, you will know the real story.  Underneath it all, while I am having some fun, I am probably wishing that I could just fall over and eat a brownie in front of you. 

I am going to try to keep it up.  Wish me luck.  What's your workout motivation like?  Any fellow actors out there?? 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Funnies: The Very Little Sis

What you may not know is that I am 11 years younger than my sister, Cami.  Now that we are adults, that doesn't seem to matter as much but when we were young, it made a lot of difference.  Picture it...I am just learning to read and she is starting to date.  I am learning to ride a bike without training wheels and she is learning to drive a car.  I am starting preschool and she is taking exams.  Well, today I was thinking of a few times that are funny now but undoubtedly embarrassing to her at the time.

*The waitress at Frisch's noticed that Cami and I ordered the same drink...vanilla coke.  She stated that it was so cute that mom and daughter ordered the same thing.  Wow, that's a young mom but I guess it happens sometimes, right?

*I remember sitting at the dinner table with Cami and her boyfriend.  All of a sudden, I must have decided that I couldn't handle the texture of the food I was eating so I just opened my mouth and let everything fall out onto the plate below.  I thought that she would die of embarrassment.  FYI, he survived.

*I enjoyed playing with the battery powered Hot Wheel monster trucks.  To be a nice guy, her boyfriend let me hang around and play while they talked.  The next thing you know, I had "driven" the truck up his arm and into his stylish 80's hair.  The monster truck wheels spun in his hair and wrapped it up into a terrible mess.  I still don't remember how we solved that one.

*The mailman came and I rushed to retrieve it.  Inside the mailbox I saw a sample sized box of Tampax.  I loudly announced, "Cami, your plugs are here!"

*Cami and her friends used to get me to stick my tongue out and pretend to be a member of the band "Kiss."  Then one of her friends taught me some colorful words.  When I went back upstairs I politely called Mom several new words.  Mom's face changed quickly and she yelled, "CAMI!!"  She still says that I used curse words appropriately for a little kid.

Well she still speaks to me anyways.  Did your sibling ever embarrass you?

Today's internet joke

All eyes were on the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle. They reached the altar and the waiting groom. The bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand. The guest sitting in the front pews responded with ripples of laughter. Even the priest smiled broadly. As her father gave her away in marriage, the bride gave him back his credit card.

Read more:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sharing Saturday- Week 3

This week is PT's choice.  As a wrestler, he was involved in a wrestling event called "PIN Cancer" this year.  One of our district administrators is fighting cancer and this event was a sign of support.  Our family has also been touched by cancer several times, including my mother who had breast and uterine cancer. When we browsed local website for local causes, he instantly wanted to donate to The Dragonfly Foundation.  This organization was recently started when one family noticed that while the young boy that they loved was being showered with support and distraction during his chemotherapy treatments, other kids in hospital were not.  While I am not personally involved, I have a few friends that are and speak very highly of the work that they have already been able to accomplish in a short time. 

It is their mission "to bring comfort and joy to children being treated for cancer and other blood diseases at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center." They go on to state, "We are determined to provide distractions that will help ease the pain and fear these children and their families experience on a daily basis.  With time of the essence, The Dragonfly Foundation is acting quickly to provide comfort and joy to children living with, and sometimes dying of, cancer."

On their website, there is a tab labeled Connect where you can see various ways to become a dragonfly.  PT is currently a little indecisive due to multiple options but is leaning toward buying a toy or new art supplies.  I told him that we'll take some time this week to think about it.  What I didn't expect is that he got choked up.  He said that he thought it was sad that there are some kids that have to go through that.  He even said that it was a little scary when his best friend missed school for an asthma attack.  Then he said that he was afraid he'd get cancer.  I talked to him about that and explained that you can't "catch" cancer and that we are blessed to live in a world with great doctors and treatments.  He perked up and ran off to play.

So in the middle of the stress of getting all four of them fed, bathed and ready for bed, I had to pause and feel thankful.  I am blessed to have healthy children and we all are blessed to have many organizations like The Dragonfly Foundation to help when it is most needed.  So the kids got to play a little louder and longer tonight.  They stayed up a little later and the three oldest camped out in the girls room together.  We took time to pray for the people giving and those needing help and thanked, God, for our health tonight. 

I encourage you to check out their website.  There are great video clips and a clearer picture of their mission. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

I Just Got Told!

Today was report card day.  "L" and "PT" got off their buses and handed them to me.  It was good news all the way around but what happened next was the real surprise.

"PT" met a goal that he had been wanting to meet and he was thrilled.  He danced around and smiled ear to ear.  What pleasantly surprised me was that "L" cheered for him and hugged him and completely stopped talking about her own success.  She declared, "This deserves a ceremony." 

"J" and I were directed to our seats (on the couch) while she introduced "PT" in grand style and had him repeat some words after her.  Then he was directed to show his "moves", which look a lot like break dancing!  After a while, he put on a similar ceremony to celebrate her successes. 

I sat.  I watched.  I cheered.  I engaged.  Then after a while, I messed up. 

I picked up my phone and texted a friend.  "PT" turned around and looked right at me and said, "You are using your phone! You should be watching your daughter."  I quickly replied, "Buddy, it's been like 20 minutes. I was just sending a quick message."  (As if that was justification.) Without hesitation he said, "Well you should just enjoy your daughter for 20 minutes then." 

I stopped talking and put down my phone.  I looked him in the eye and said, "PT you are right.  I am wrong. Forgive me."  That kid started pumping his arms in the air and bouncing up and down like he was the new Rocky and had just knocked his competitor. 

What can I say?  The kid was right.  I was a jerk.  I'll try better next time.

Has you ever been "told" by your kid?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Retail Rants and Raves: Mott's for Tots

Today I made my way to the grocery store.  I found myself in the aisle with juices and something caught my eye. 

  Why would anyone pay the same amount ($3.69) for a juice that is "fruit juice + purified water" as you would for the same brand of "100% juice?"  I don't get it!! That is the deal with Mott's for Tots.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that juice is often diluted with water, especially for really young ones.  I've done that myself.  I also sort of get it that you might purchase the Mott's for Tots juice boxes purely for the on-the-go convenience.  But am I wrong that if you are buying a 64 oz. bottle of juice, you are probably using it at home??  Heck, if I could make my own label at home it would say something like, "100% fruit juice + plain old tap water."  I certainly am not going to pay extra for them to dilute it for me.  It would be like paying more for crappy beer because they had added more water for you.  It makes no sense.

Products that are targeted for babies and toddlers seem to be pricier than similar products appropriate for the whole family (i.e. individual containers with spaghetti-o's).  Has anyone else noticed this?  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Good Grief Part 2: Be Joyful

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of my mother's (Joy) passing.  I can barely believe that it has already been that long.  I blogged about my stages of grief in a post a year and a half ago and feel like an update is warranted.  Lately, I have been concerned about and praying for a lot of friends and family who have been experiencing the 1st anniversary of their loved one's death.  I know that I have always found the anticipation of certain dates and holidays to be a little awkward.  I find that sometimes, the moments when I think I will be a wreck, I do fairly well.  Other times, I am walking through a store without a care in the world and "You Lift Me Up" comes on over the intercom and I am suddenly a mess.  

I remember my first holiday season without Mom.  The feeling of missing her was exhausting me.  How was I going to enjoy Christmas and make it special for my kids with the way I was feeling??  I prayed for relief.  Then on Christmas Day, I found myself enjoying my kids, my family, and the festivities.  I didn't stop missing her but I felt better....and that made me feel guilty!!  I know it sounds stupid but it is the truth.  Finally, I realized that I was blessed and actually had my prayers answered.  

I have also found that I don't feel a greater connection to her when I am at the cemetery.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy visiting and I find it helpful.  It allows me to focus my thoughts on her in a beautiful environment.  We go as a family or I sometimes go alone to pray without interruption.  However, I have discovered that my greatest connection to her was in her living, not in her death.  In some ways, the cemetery represents an end to a stage in our relationship and reminds me of the saddest days of my life.  I feel a greater connection when I read and touch the words she had written, when I think of her life in Heaven, when I hear my kids talk of her fondly, or when I hug my dad.  I want to focus on her life.  Although three years have passed, her impact is alive and well.  In me, my children, and the people that knew her best.  

Nate Berkus talked about dealing with the loss of his partner in a tsunami, on the Oprah show.  Something he said really resonated with me.  Check it out below.
When Fernando's next birthday was approaching, Nate says he felt "horror." But when the day came and went, and Nate felt fine, he wondered what was wrong with him. "What I really realized for me was that the date actually doesn't have any power. The memory had the power," he says. "When I decided that I wasn't going to just automatically be sad in August and just automatically be destroyed in December, all of a sudden August and December weren't scary to me."

This makes sense to me.  I feel like you have to let the memories come when they come.  Feel sad when you feel sad but don't let that feeling stop you from functioning.  And most importantly, laugh and enjoy their memory whenever you can.  The best way to honor my Mom is to live well and take good care of her grandkids (which translates into spoiling them). 

I am also a lucky lady and I have always felt supported by the people in my life.  My husband is so good.  He isn't intimidated by my grief and it's unexpected appearances.  I know that he loved her too. I know that he will talk to me or just leave me alone if that is what I need.  I also get a daily email from the Brave Girls Club blog.  They offer words of encouragement and for some reason, most of them lately strangely seem to be talking about something that I have been dealing with.  It is like the horoscope or the fortune teller that eerily mimics your life.  Today's had artwork with the breast cancer awareness ribbon on it (My mom name is Joy and she was a breast cancer survivor.).  The words stated, "What if the purpose of life was to experience JOY?...What would you need to change in your life?  What would you need to let go, and what would you need to cling tighter to?  Well, life is supposed to be joyful...and it can be.  Hold on tight to what is important and precious, and let everything else go...And have a joyful, joyful, joyful day!"   It brought a little tear to my eye but I knew that the words were for my own good.  My BFF gets the same email and she saw the connection and when I got home from work, I was so surprised to see a flower bouquet from her with the card reading, "Smile and be Joyful today!" 

So how did I handle today? Well, like many days, I felt happy and sad.  I felt a little lonely, wanting to call and talk about the kids.  I found myself calling my dad to tell him that I loved him.  I still had to figure out what to do with those feelings and this anniversary.  Well, I did what Mom would do...I let the kids eat pizza in front of the T.V. (in pajamas) on the family room floor where a tent was enveloping most of the room.  And of course they had more dessert than I would normally allow.  The kids thought that it was a little funny that I was spoiling them like Mamaw.  I wish that it wasn't such a busy school and work night or I would have went all out.  It would have definitely involved her trademark fruit snacks. 

The day was filled with a little more "Joy" and a little less grief. It is just what she'd want for us.  So for those of you dealing with something similar, I pray that you might have comfort and many great memories that will help to overshadow the memory of your loss.