Friday, October 2, 2015

My Big Fat Nothing Day

Yesterday was everything I was hoping it would be! A big fat nothing! When I have free time I try to use it wisely. If I have had a lot going on or any kind of busyness coming up I play catch up on my rest. So this morning I dropped my kids off at school early, because apparently the school cafeteria's breakfast options are superior to my fine culinary act of setting a bag of cereal out on the kitchen table. They opted to have breakfast at school.

I stopped at my favorite donut shop. It always speeds things along when the drive thru attendant has your order memorized. That is of course the ONLY reason I stop there, really... I swear!

Got home, climbed into bed, buried my head under the covers and ate my donuts in shame.

I looked for something to watch on television, quickly realized I have way too many options for television viewing, settled on something mind numbing and watched for hours. I ate some lunch, this time proudly out from under the covers - not everything I put into my body is crap, watched some more trash on the tube until time to pick up the kids.

I then listened to children talk over each other for the next 30 minutes trying my best to sort out approximately 15 separate stories between them in order to respond appropriately to each one. "MmmHmm, Oh really?, I'm so sorry sweetie, Way to go buddy, She said what?, You did what?, You left your homework at school again?" You know, the usual responses.

We waited for one of the kid's friends to get here for a short play date. I quickly slipped into fun, super chill mom mode that I only reserve for company. I helped with homework, signed Lord knows how many notes, folders, and permission slips. I pretended I was a rock star while I did this, thanking my fans, smiling and winking as I scribbled my name - this always livens things up a bit. I started dinner, and loaded the dishwasher. By that time Jarrod was home. I sat down on the bed to visit with him and was sound asleep before 7 O'Clock. Seriously I am like a newborn baby, worn out after having Exerted energy for 4 hours.  It's a rough life, but I feel like I live it well!

Honestly though, making it work best for your family, that's really what it's all about, right?! No matter what the circumstances you just do what you gotta do and try to make the most of it. My family rolls with things better than anybody I know. I am super grateful for that!

(just think, if I would skip the donuts I could change the title to My Nothing Day)


Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Graduate

Yesterday I graduated from Physical Therapy. Which I did not see coming. I started going to PT at the beginning of the summer because I had horrific neck pain and major back pain. In just a few short weeks I went from taking 2 muscle relaxers a day - because that was the most I could take unless I woke up in the middle of the night to take one...and I like sleep more than I like feeling comfortable - to taking no muscle relaxers. My physical therapists were my new best friends. We began having sleepovers, braiding each other's hair, giggling and gossiping. Ok, that was just in my vivid imagination. In reality I continued to see them twice a week and they began working on other areas of my ever crumbling body while continuing to tweak my neck here and there. I really did giggle with my female therapists...a lot. But the male therapist, head therapist, boss man, took over with me because, wouldn't you know it I need that much help. Shocker!

Today Mr. Boss Man announced that he believed I was ready to manage things myself. I felt stunned, rattled, slightly betrayed. It was like the time a nurse walked into my hospital room and had the gall to tell us it was time to take our new baby home. We were idiots, I barely remembered to put deodorant on before leaving the house and I locked my keys in my car at least once a week. We had only managed to keep fish living for 2 weeks. How were we going to keep a baby alive?

So I am now therapist free. The advice he left me with was to continue working on my posture. Posture was something we worked on a lot. That is after we overcame the hurdle of maintaining good posture while sitting when your feet do not even reach the floor. This is apparently not something he had come across too many times before. Another thing he mentioned, which I thought was smart stuff, he said with the pain that accompanies my autoimmune issues it is easy to chalk all pain up to that. He said, dig deeper, make sure you know the reason for the problem. There are plenty of things I have no control over, hello chronic illness. SO I need to take care of as many things that I can that I do have control over and be careful not to just assume every "symptom" is being caused by my diseases. Good advise!

I might have a little pity party over being dumped by my therapist, you are all invited to join me...only it'll have to be virtual because, DANG, my house is dirty!!!! But then I will smile because being minus one therapist means I am getting that much better...healthier! Thanks Boss Man!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Your Best Is Good Enough

Pressure cookers, do you remember those, does anybody even still use them? I feel like this is the world we live in. A big vat of stresses, bubbling and boiling, adding more and more pressure until there is nothing left of us but a big pot of mushed stew.

Sadly I don't believe this is just our world anymore but the place our children are finding themselves in as well. As the public school system becomes less about education and more about preparation for a standardized test there is very nearly a demand for high scores. Outside of the classroom, in all of their extra curricular activities, and sometimes even within our homes, it is quite literally all around them. Whether it is perceived on our children's part or not they think they have to perform perfectly for coaches and teachers. They feel the need to outshine the competition, best a friend, prove their worth to an enemy. 

I hope my own children learn soon to be comfortable with one very important thing, something they will always have at their disposal and the one thing I do expect from them, their absolute best...that there is honor in this, that they can take pride in this, that nobody, no matter the end result, can take this from them!

Your best, is a rule in our home! It is also our mantra, one our kids may even tire of hearing, but I feel, cannot be repeated enough. When one of our children comes home disappointed after an athletic competition or with test results they are not pleased with (or a teacher is not pleased with) whether it is a 45 or a 95, we always ask, "did you try your best?" If their answer is yes we assure them that that is good enough and we are very proud. I have recently realized the importance of taking this same course when they are excited about their accomplishments. I want them to understand, our pride is not wrapped up in their success but in them committing all they can to whatever they do. That, is all any of us can do and it should always be good enough!

Your Children's best is good enough. Your best as a parent, is good enough. Your best as an employee, is good enough. Your best as a wife or husband, is good enough. Your best as a daughter or son, is good enough. Your best is all you have got, once you have given that there is no need for more. Have you done your best? Then that is good enough!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

When Strengths Hide It's Time To Go Seek

My Elyse is  absolutely precious. If you have met her you likely know this already. We got lucky with this one for sure.

She is always so very helpful, and when she goes above and beyond I have been known to throw a little cash her way.

This spring break was such a time. She went out of her way to help out around the house and so I gave her a little bit of spending money. This led to a slightly uncomfortable conversation with her, not so much younger brother.

Isaiah wanted to know why the money, and then why her and not him, and then how she was any more helpful than he was... Oy vey, and a slew of other interjections!

How to explain in careful words how very unhelpful your son is?! How when I ask you to do something (that isn't an order just a, "hey would  you mind") you readily say, "no thanks!" How I don't count that as favorably obliging. How your standard of the absolute bare minimum is not what I look at and think, "wow...well done!"

But I tried, I had that difficult conversation. I think he caught on. He reminded me a very few instances where he did indeed lend a hand (all of which, on my mental calculator, added up to about a dimes worth). I could tell that, though he got what I was saying, and maybe even agreed somewhat, he was feeling kind of worthless and I was feeling kind of shamed. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how he was worth less because he did less yet still manage to be my same amazing kid! He wasn't bad! He wasn't doing anything wrong, wasn't breaking any rules, ignoring any orders. Elyse deserved her money, no doubt, it was well earned. But then again, it is her strength. She has a servants heart and she is compassionate to the bone. If she can sense I am not feeling well she will do anything she can to make life easier for me. If I am tied up with one chore, she will run to take care of another one for me. I love this about her. It is her gift, her calling even, and it is so in my face all the time, smoothing my way, taking a load off my shoulders. It can't be missed. Isaiah has amazing strengths as well. So does Elijah, and also Hannah. I could burn up my key board listing them all.

Because Isaiah's gifts don't always lend themselves to relieving my stress, they sometimes go unnoticed, under appreciated. I decided right then and there to take a few moments to encourage him in those very things, to praise him and tell him what a blessing he is. I am not sure if money is the way to go. Monetary compensation for hard work is an age old practice, that makes sense. Money just for being cool... I am not so sure about. But I can certainly find ways honor this little man's pursuit of the talents God has given him.

He is courageous, more so than any young man I know. Though he struggles with embarrassment over his Tourette's and compulsions, he strives to make others comfortable with it. He chooses to believe the very best about people. Where some would feel mocked and bullied he gives the benefit of the doubt, and calls it curious. He possesses a quiet and watchful spirit. He listens, observes, is slow to react.

Isaiah's strengths may not stand out and force me to take notice. Often times our children's (or husband's) gifts may need to be sought out, brought out, and had their time in the spot light. Sometimes they are hidden away, other times they may be messy and even a little less convenient, like with my Elijah, the relentless inventor. But they are all deserving of our recognition and praise, and maybe some creative form of compensation if you think it is fitting. In any case please learn from my mistakes, be careful not to let the strengths that bolster your own life over shadow those that don't. They will be somebody else's pillar one day and the less cracks the better.


Monday, March 30, 2015

A Little Bit About Us

Well hello bloggie world!

I've missed you! I have absolutely no excuse for having not written for 9 months other than I have had the most serious case of writers block. Seriously, I've had nothing! I've tried writing in my head, where I compose a large percentage of my posts long before I have a chance to make it to a computer. I have even sat down at the computer and...nada! I hate going this long without writing. It is my outlet, it is how I do my best thinking. It gets me off my children's backs as I lecture myself instead of them for a change. It's good to be back!

I'll catch you up on the family really quick and then we will get on to all the crazy thoughts in my head. I finally have a few again. I have a short list of posts I want to take a stab at writing...

I am pretty much in the same place health wise. I have had a really long icky flare... but you don't want to hear about that and I don't blame you. My attitude continues  to improve and I think I am starting to figure out this "new life" and how it is going to work for us.

The kids are ALL in school now. Just half days for Hannah, until next year. Yikes! So far everybody has had a good school year. Everyone has a good group of friends, good teachers, and a slew of activities. Honestly what they say is true I feel I spend more time in my car than I do at home. My next invention is going to be a nice fold out drivers seat. I can stretch out and get comfortable as I wait for one child or another to emerge from this building or that. Maybe a mini fridge under the dash board? I seriously think it is a billion dollar idea. Come on moms, you know you want one!

We are sneaking up on my favorite time of year. From May 4-August 24 when somebody asks me my kid's ages I get to rattle off 3 consecutive numbers and watch as eyes widen and jaws hang a little bit slack. For instance following Elijah's birthday this year, the kids will be 10, 9, 8, and 5 years old.

It's only for the summer... but it's kind of cool...I think! People get to think we are just a little bit crazy, something I myself have known (and taken pride in) for years. ;)

Jarrod is working hard as always. His job description has changed somewhat and I think he is really liking what he is doing. That is such a blessing and not something everyone can say. His boss called me the other day to tell me what an asset Jarrod is to him. He told me how much easier Jarrod makes his life and to thank us (the kids and I) for our sacrifice, giving Jarrod up for so many hours each week. Wow! I mean I know pride comes before the fall but does it count when it is pride in your husband? It was such an encouraging call to receive. Nothing he said surprised me, but I was blessed to hear somebody else tell me what an amazing man I am married to.

That's what we have been up to. I am anxious to share some things stirring inside me. Stick around... I promise to be back a lot sooner this time.




Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tattle Tales, Water Trails, and Referee Fails

Friday with Elijah was maddening and hysterical all at the same time. 

Let me take a moment to describe this crazy, precious boy. He is 7 years old but in many ways this hardly seems believable to me. He is naive in all of the right ways, innocent in many ways. He is convinced that deep down all animals are kind and gentle and he could easily be friends with any one of them. He has a beautiful heart. If you cry he WILL join you. He feels everything deeply and is highly emotional. This can be a great thing, causing him to be sympathetic and kind. It can also be exhausting. His feelings are easily hurt, he is easily offended and deeply terrified that anyone and everyone will think he is foolish, always... all of the time. He is my 7 year old baby and I say that with a heart absolutely full of love for him and thankful that he is exactly who he is! 

Here was my evening with him a few days ago. As we were leaving the house to drop the two big kids off at play practice I told the younger two to be sure to feed Bugsy when we get home. 

Arriving back at the house a few minutes later. I reminded them once again. "One of you give Bugsy food, the other give him water." 

Hannah and Elijah, in unison asked, 

Hannah: "Can I do the food?"
Elijah: "Can I do both all by myself?"

I took on the role I play most often as a mother, referee. Thankfully those stripes are a slenderizing vertical. I am confident I have been mentally yelled at by all four of my players on a regular basis.

I made my call, knowing there was no way to please them both.

"Hannah you feed him, Elijah you do the water." 

"I asked if I could do both." Elijah said. Nearly in tears, of course.

I told him I knew that but they had asked at the same time and so this time I want you to do it this way. Telling him if he wanted he could do both tomorrow. 

Then he broke. Through tears he said the words that nearly brought my head to the steering wheel over and over just to make the madness stop! 

"But, sniff, it's too hard, sniff sniff, to do the water by myseeeelfffff!!" 

I didn't say it! I lacked the will power to even ask, in what way giving our doggy both food AND water made it easier than giving him water alone. 

I re spoke my original instructions and stumbled off the playing field into the house. 

Thirty minutes later, Bugsy had been fed (and given water, the floor from the bathroom sink to the deck had been watered, along with a good quarter of the deck) and the little kids were settled in the living room. 

Hannah and Elijah, when it is just the two of them, get along famously. Until they don't. I heard the wail from the living room. I picked up my whistle and penalty flag and braced myself. 

In came Elijah gripping some part of his body and crying. 

"Hannah punched me!" 

My kids are not big hitters but it has happened enough times for me to know there is always more to the story. I have learned to ask questions. 95% of the time he who tattles first threw the first punch, slap, or kick! 

I began my line of questioning and then called in the accused for her side of the story. I admit I was surprised by the results, a twist in the usual plot...

"He told me to punch him!" 
The 7 year old piped up, "not that hard though!"

I was downright impressed by the absolute self restraint Jarrod and I showed, not even a smirk until the kids left the room. 

I am equally impressed by my 4 year old Hannah's critical thinking skills as, a few hours later she punched Elijah in the face insisting, "He told me to!" 

He had not! 



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Business of Being a Grown Up

I was THAT mom today. I try really hard not to be that mom but, I totally went there. My girl wanted something and so I did what I could to get it for her.

Fooey on the system, forget about proper channels and hierarchy... ok, just kidding it wasn't that bad.

But really, I am a rule follower. I am a "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" kind of person. I am trying to teach my kids to be the same way.

When they are not quite old enough to be involved in something I do not ask somebody to bend the rules and make an exception. I tell my kid to wait another year or two. If they do not get the prize they wanted we don't go back and ask for something different. We try to find a way to enjoy what we have.

That is life in the real world. The real world is what I am preparing my children for.

My husband and I have purposed to do something since before the day our oldest was born more than  9 years ago - to raise our children NOW to be the kind of people they should be when they are grown. To start that process early on.

Yes, they get to be children - dirty, silly, loud, and crazy children. Just ask their grandparents, ask our neighbors, ask the poor gentleman that checks us out at Wal Mart after two hours of being confined to a plastic seat.

But we don't want kids so sheltered that they are not prepared to function in this big messy world that, let's face it isn't always fair!

This morning all of that was set aside. At church no less.

My kids have begun the first in a series of several Vacation Bible Schools this summer. Yesterday was day one. My oldest, sweet 9 year old Elyse, had a blast as always with one big hiccup. She was in a class full of strangers watching all of her friends galavant off together in a separate group. All because I fell in love with Jarrod Brooks instead of John Smith.

Somehow my daughter is attracted to friends who's last name begins with letters in the second half of the alphabet. This happened last year. All of the P's and S's and T's were in one group while Elyse was with the loser B's and D's. Ok, maybe not losers. But strangers. And like always, last year I told her what a great opportunity it was to make new friends. See, what a good mom I am? Using every opportunity as a teaching moment. (I can hear my former foster kids barfing somewhere as I type that).

Yesterday my heart squeezed a little, no a whole lot, as she ran down the list of friends she saw... in the distance at VBS.

It has been a very tough few months for my dear girl. She, like her mommy, does not make friends quickly. She is loyal and faithful like her daddy, almost to a fault. One close friend is all she needs and she had it for one glorious year. That friendship ended several months ago, leaving Elyse shocked, confused, hurt. She has tried making new friends, tried moving on. But she loves to give people the benefit of the doubt and has, over and over again the past few months, set herself up for hurt on top of hurt in this friendship.

Honestly you guys, I could not bare another moment of disappointment for my girl. I told her yesterday that I would see about switching her to the other group. It was out of my mouth and in her cute little ears before I had time to think about it.

I hate, loath, despise, abhor confrontation of any kind. I do not like the idea of hurting somebody's feelings even just a little bit. Or worse, them having even a fleeting bad thought about me!

This, I am embarrassed to say, took prayer and a bit of private inner coaching. I didn't even know who I was supposed to talk to about moving Elyse to another group. I was afraid they would say no. I had visions of being laughed out of the church - because I am neurotic that way. {if you people only knew the things that go through my head most moments of most days...}

But I did it!!!!! (Go me, go me, I'm a rock star, I'm a super mom!) The teacher seemed a little hurt. I am pretty sure she too thought, "Oh goody, you're THAT mom!" And for 1.5 seconds I wanted to hang my head and say, "yes, yes I am" to apologize and tell her she could keep my daughter in her class.
(Yes, all of that in 1.5 seconds. I'm a fast thinker.)

But you know what? This business of being a grown up is hard! There are some upsides. So far the biggest one my kids and I have come up with is, you get to eat candy whenever you want!!! Like WHENEVER you want!!!!

But most of the time it is hard. You do have to be the grown up. You do have to yield to others, do for others...

I want my kids to be amazing grownups. I have no doubt they will be. But grown up time is a very long time and it comes up pretty quick. There is no turning back. So from time to time I will let my kids have a kid moment. To enjoy one of the perks.

I am that grown up now, who can put aside fears. Who can, whenever the need arises, NOT care if somebody else thinks I am doing a poor job, not doing the right thing. Because I know my kids better than anybody else. If three days of fun with friends is going to ruin my daughter for the future... then I have MUCH bigger problems!

I am going to do my job, the very best I can, and sometimes that means, I'll be the grown up, you be the kid and we will take those jobs for ALL THEY ARE WORTH!