Wednesday, July 31, 2013

And the Adventure Begins...

I think I mentioned that my husband surprised me with a trip for my birthday weekend.

I was given an additional surprise when my mom offered to keep the kids a night early.

So we were able to jumpstart our travels.

After a full day of packing, cooking, prepping, and enjoying time with the kiddos, we (Mark and I) hopped in the car and headed north.

As we were driving, I mentioned that we should start our vacation with a waterfall.

So we did a slight (just a few miles) detour to see this...

 Grand Falls on Shoal Creek...

 Did I mention that part of my birthday gift (given just an hour earlier) is a new camera?
And the adventure begins...


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On the Judgment Seat

One thing I have noticed with today's society is that everybody is a self-appointed judge.

I read the editorials in the paper; they are filled with judgment.

Facebook.  Oh, Facebook.  Pictures of those arrested (who haven't even had a trial yet) flash across status updates.  Political and religion (or lack of) opinions posted...not that the opinions in and of themselves are judgmental but the comments that follow are.

TV shows. American Idol. America's Got Talent.  Dancing with the Stars.  Chopped.  All have judgment at their very core.

And then there is just the judgment of the public.  The evil eye.  The snide comments.  The pointed fingers.

It isn't that judgment is new.

I just think it is more "out there".  More acceptable.  Even easier.  With the "anonymity" of the Internet, everyone can be a judge.

The problem?

We forget.

There are people at the end of our pointed fingers.

There are circumstances we can't see or don't know.

That we are ourselves not perfect and in NO place to judge others.

I really believe there is only ONE qualified to judge, and He is reigning above.

The rest of us?

Not so much. 

I was called to be on jury duty late spring.

My husband laughed when he found out.

He knows.

Judging others is not my thing.

Don't get me wrong.  I have those occasional lapses when I see a child standing in a car seat while driving...the flash judgment comes to mind.  Or I read an editorial that goes completely against everything I believe. For a brief moment, there is that sense of judgment, that feeling of "I am right, you are wrong".

But overall, and especially when given time to think and process, I don't judge.

I am not perfect.

Not at all.

I know, I know, don't be shocked. :)

I would love to be and one day will (by HIS grace only).

But for now I am living in this imperfect body and mind of mine.

I have never felt like God rated sins, so why should I? No, I don't smoke or drink or live a "wild life".  But I have my own sins, my own struggles, my own "devils" in my life.  I am certainly in no position to judge another.  (Though if I had been called and required to serve, I would have done my best, prayed a lot for wisdom, and gotten through it)

In my profession, I see some difficult situations. 

I know in my early days, I couldn't understand, couldn't fathom many of the situations I saw.

So I judged.

I mean, I was the "expert".

I knew how children were supposed to be raised. I knew what their needs were.  I knew it all...didn't I?

Now, nearly 20 years later, I look at things...and people...differently.

I know that sometimes you can do all you know to do and your children will still not make the right choices.  I know that sometimes parents are not equipped with the background or wisdom to have healthy relationships much less foster them in their own children.  I know that we all view things differently.  Some situations I deem as dangerous, others wouldn't. And vice versa. 

I am not saying that is a license for ANYONE to treat another human being (particularly a child) badly.  And for those who cannot control themselves whether it is with abuse, drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc, consequences and "fixes" must be in place to protect themselves and those around them.

I am also not saying that there are no "absolutes" in life.  Some things are wrong.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

What I am saying is we need to stop.

Stop the judgment. (Unless of course it is your career...a judge...then judgment is a necessary thing)

We need to look outside ourselves, our lives, our realities, into the lives and realities of other people.

We need to empathize, truly feel for those who are making (what we consider anyway) poor choices in life.

We need to lend a helping hand when needed or requested.

We need to pray for others.  In fact, I try to make a point:  If one of those "flash judgments" comes to mind, I try to stop and instead pray.  Pray for both the person/situation and myself.

We need to remember that "plank" in our own eyes rather than focusing on the "speck" in someone else's.

We need to quit generalizing.  One of the message boards I am on is apparently made up of a lot of homeschooling families.  I respect that. What I don't respect is that if one mentions a poor experience with a school, the whole board turns into a "teacher/education" bashing board.  It isn't fair to judge all teachers based upon the actions of one teacher.  Nor is it fair to judge all lawyers, all police officers, all doctors, etc based upon one person's errors.

No matter which side we stand on politically, we need to remember that their are other opinions.  You can feel passionate about yours but the likelihood of you changing someone else's is pretty slim (especially when using criticism and hateful remarks about the other party).

We need to remember that there are people behind the computer.  It is easy to see a news story and go on a "rant" about it. But there is a person behind that story.  (Not to mention, the media is not ALWAYS an unbiased source...big shock I know)

We need to walk away from judgmental situations.  That may mean limiting time on FB, not getting sucked into an argument (which is different from a good honest discussion over an issue), and sometimes standing up for those who are not there to defend themselves.  

We need to spend a lot more time loving others, not judging them.

I do believe we will all be held accountable one day for the things that we do, both good and bad.

And I do believe it will be a righteous God who makes those judgments, not an imperfect human.

I am glad for that, aren't you?

More soon,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Getting it right...

After a few "downer" posts (not really downer but "real" :), I thought I should write a positive one...

Every night I go to bed, feeling like a failure.

I am not the mom I want to be. I make mistakes daily.  You would think after 14 years of doing this, I would get it right. I haven't yet.  And for a perfectionist, that is a tough pill to swallow.

Yet lately I have been thinking that as much as I do wrong, I actually do a few things right.

So that is what I thought I would share today...a few things I am doing "right" in the parenting department.

  • I encourage my kids' creativity.  I keep "creative" things on hand like markers, paper, stickers, paints, playdough, etc.  I rarely turn them down when they ask to do those things (unless we are about to have company).  
  • We have the bedtime thing down.  We have a good routine.  They are all good sleepers.  (Note:  there are many ways to get to this point...I am just glad we found one of them :)
  • We eat a variety of foods.  We eat shrimp. We eat fish.  We eat Thai. We eat Mexican.  We are still working on variety in vegetables, but overall, we eat a variety of foods which makes my job of planning meals much easier.
  • I have always encouraged reading.  If my children were interested in The Titanic, we got Titanic books.  We have books every where...toy room, bedroom, living room, even the car.  I let the kids "read" during breakfast and lunch (which I often do too).  And thankfully, all four are readers who truly love a book.  If I mention a trip to the library or Barnes and Noble, their faces light up.
  • We have learned to roll with the punches.  I can't say I do it 100 percent of the time, but hopefully more often than not.  Spilled milk?  Well, wipe it up.  Rainstorm ruined our plans? What can we do instead?
  • They know I love their dad. I have a "I Love You Because..." sign (framed) in the bathroom next to my husband's sink.  I change out the answer 2-3 times a week (with a dry erase marker).  Not only does he read it but they do too. They know I love him, and they can see specifically what I appreciate about him.
  • They are learning responsibility through chores.  We have a daily chore chart.  We rotate out emptying the dishwasher, refilling the dishwasher, taking out the recycles, and cleaning the bathroom each night (as well as setting/clearing off the table). The kids also have an extra chore each day which might be sorting clothes, vacuuming their rooms, taking out the trash, etc.  And yes, even the 6 year old does these things (we help a little with the dishwasher but he is almost able to do it himself).  If we start to see "half-hearted" attempts on chores, the offender gets to "practice" for the next three days on that chore. :)
  • I try to instill responsibility. We are all working on that one.  I do take care of school paperwork immediately and establish an "accountability" routine (get your folder out as soon as you get home).  If you break something that belongs to someone else, you get to replace it.  
  • We are (hopefully) teaching financial habits with allowances.  One child was spending a lot at school for lunches. We incorporated extra money into that allowance and now the child can use as much as he/she wants...but if he/she runs out of money before the month is up, that child will have to use his/her own money or pack a lunch.  Another child loves social activities.  We will pay for certain things but many activities come from his/her own allowance.  If they want a toy or a pack of gum, they can get them...with their own money. :)
  • I (hopefully) model service to them with things such as buying for angels off the angel tree at Christmas, praying for friends at dinner or at night, and making meals for others.  
  • I (hopefully) model faith to them.  When faced with tough situations, we pray.  I cannot quote a lot of Scripture, but we talk about God's faithfulness even in the tough times.  I speak openly about my walk with God and often pray for them/with them for their own walks...
  • I model wonder of the world. I get excited about baby birds in our doorway.  I run outside to take pictures of sunsets.  I stop to check out a beautiful butterfly. I see that now in them.  Our youngest child will stop and say, "Look at that pretty sunset, Mom..."
  • The gift of exploration.  We hike a lot. Not all of the kids enjoy it but at some point, they all have fun.  We explore new places and talk about the neat things God made around us.  I hope that as my kids go through life, they will continue that exploration whether it is through hiking, travel, interests, etc.
  • I encourage their interests.  I have never "forced" my kids to play anything.  But if they show an interest (in gymnastics, in baseball, in cross country, etc), we encourage them to pursue those things. No pressure.  Just try them out and see if that is something they want to continue...
  • I hopefully balance the needs of the house and the wants of the children.  I have read those posters about how messy houses mean happy kids. I don't know that I totally agree with that.  I know that I feel unsettled in mess. So I try to keep things organized. We talk about keeping up with our belongings and putting things away.  But at the same time, we sometimes will stop and go for a swim or just play a game.  Hopefully they are learning balance.
  • Honesty.  I try to be honest with them.  One recently asked me if I thought about running away sometimes. I was honest.  "Yes.  But I don't.  But, yes, I do think about it some days..."  When they ask me about death or love or news/current events, I try to be honest (age appropriate). 
  • I look for the meaning behind their behaviors.  It is easy to immediately jump on misbehavior, but sometimes I realize what I really have is a tired child, so we just move bedtime up.  Or a child is really hungry, so we get a snack. I am not perfect at it but I do try.
  • I teach consequences (especially natural).  "Yes, you can wear those shorts, but you may not say ONE word about being cold..."  "Oh, you lost that dollar I gave you? Too bad. I hope next time you will put it away..."  "If you leave that golf club outside, it will rust.  I will not buy you a new one." 
  • I am (fairly) flexible.  I expect the kiddos to keep their room fairly neat but it is their room.  That was evident today when the girls rearranged their room yet again...I let them try things out. If they don't like it, they change it.
  • I encourage independence.  I don't make lunch at all for anyone except myself and the youngest.  If they want macaroni, they can make it.  I do regular laundry but if you just HAVE to have something (and didn't get it in the baskets on time), you can do your own :)
  • I love them.  And I try to show them in a thousand different ways.  I may not be the most affectionate. Or the "lovey dovey" mom others may be. But I hope at the end of the night, they all know how much I love them and how thankful I am they are my children...
How about you? What are you getting right?


Up for the Challenge, Part 2

Just in case you are wondering what on earth I am talking about when I mention "parenting challenges" with adopted children, here are a few we have dealt with at some point...
  • sensory issues (for us, one child prefers limited sensory input while another seeks it out all of the time)
  • trust issues
  • obedience issues (which often have fear at the core of them..."Will they get rid of me if I disobey?"  We deal with lots of "tests" of our commitment)
  • anxiety issues (especially fear of separation)
  • communication issues (especially for international adoptions where English might be a second language)
  • relationship issues (learning how to love...sounds easy, doesn't it?)
  • self-esteem issues
  • sleep issues (we have been fairly fortunate in that one)
  • attention issues
This is not an exhaustive list...just a few that came to mind.

I remember once mentioning some sort of issue on Facebook that we had dealt with that morning.  A (well-meaning) friend who does NOT have adopted children asked, "But isn't that just an excuse for their misbehavior?"

Um, no.

We don't excuse misbehavior.

I have just learned that sometimes there are issues bigger than what we see on the surface.

So, moving on to what I really intended this post to be.

What have I learned from all of this?

I mean, parenting is a challenge, and the past few years I have faced more challenges than I ever hoped to.  I have cried a lot. Prayed a lot. Screamed at God a lot.  Regretted a lot.  And learned a lot.

So all is not in vain.

I have learned...
  • to be a better teacher.  I see kids in a whole new way.  Even children who aren't adopted could face some of these same issues. I understand now. I get it.
  • to have thicker skin. I still don't have the thick skin I would like to.  Words and critiques still hurt me.  But I am learning to shake it off.  Yes, that was my child who just blurted out that in appropriate comment in public...what can I do? I shrug. I can train and teach but I canNOT control that tongue. Trust me I have tried.
  • to not judge.  There is so much judgment in the world.  And for some reason, parenting is fair game for the judgment game.  But I don't play that game.  I have been humbled. I have learned.  Sometimes you can do all you do but ultimately your children are who they are.  Parents handle different situations in different ways.  Who am I to judge your way is better/worse than mine?  We do what we have to do with what we know and have to work with...
  • to be an advocate for my children.  Not an "in your face" kind of advocate. Not abrasive or defensive.  More like "We have found that this works for this child..." or "Here is a little background on this child..."  So far, all teachers and caregivers have been respectful and open to our thoughts and suggestions.
  • to not take things at face value.  Not long ago, one child swatted the head of another child (and a loud protest from the swatted child followed).  THANKFULLY, I had been watching the situation. A bug had flown onto the swatted child's head.  The "offender" was trying to get the insect out. It was not malicious, not intended to hurt.  It was actually an attempt to help (though the swatted child didn't seem to think so :).  I was able to adjust MY reaction based on that.  I am also learning that certain behaviors are often driven by fear.  If I can soothe those fears, no matter how "silly" they seem to me, I am much more likely to get a good response.
  • that it is not all about "winning". Yes, I want obedience and respect but I can't command it.  Even if I get it by commanding it, would it be genuine?   So sometimes I have to approach things differently...I still hope for the same final result but it may look different.
  • to be creative.  For one child, running around the block can help us have a better day at school. If that works, why not?  
  • to pray.  A lot.  Though probably still not as much as I would like to.
  • to be honest. I am probably honest to a fault.  I could sugarcoat things.  Pretend everything is perfect.  But it is just not who I am.  (Please note:  It is NOT complaining or is just being honest. Some days are hard.)  I am thankful for the opportunities that honesty has opened to talk with other parents who are struggling too.  We shouldn't walk alone in this world nor feel like we are the only ones dealing with these things.  If I can get even one person to think, "Wow, I am not alone...", then all of this is worth it.
  • to educate myself. I read more "professional development" books and articles now than I ever have my whole life.  I am doing it for myself as a parent but find that often these same things work in the classroom.  
  • there is hope.  I mean, I know THE Hope of the world.  But I am reminded recently that there is hope.  We see big changes in one of our kiddos (and HOPE for big changes in another :).
  • to celebrate the good days.  Okay, "good' may be relatively speaking but we take what we can get around here.  Even on the "bad" days, I can often look back and remember that we still have come a long way.  And that is a good thing.  For all of us.
  • to do what we feel is right to do.  It may be against what the world, what friends, what strangers, what even family thinks (that one is the hardest for me) is the right way to handle situations.  However, as someone who is IN the trenches all of the time, we just have to handle things the way we see fit. And if it doesn't work, then we try something else.
  • to tag team.  My husband has always been involved, but since I am the one who is home more, I am much more likely to do deal with misbehavior/issues.  And I have always taken pride in the fact that I can.  Except sometimes I can't.  And that is okay. I have learned it is okay to call him and say, "Help me..."  And honestly, there are times he just handles things better than I can/do.  And that is okay too.  
  • to not compare. Okay, I still struggle with that one but I am learning.  It isn't fair to compare these situations to a family who doesn't have any of these same situations. We are going to come out losers every single time.  
  • to just walk away.  Sometimes it is necessary.  That could mean from the child who is pushing my buttons.  Or it could mean from others who feel the need to judge us.  Sometimes I just have to walk away, head held high, and remember, the only one who will ever judge me as I should be judged, is God.  
  • to laugh.  Sometimes my choices are laugh or cry.  And the crying does come on occasion. But more often than not, I choose to laugh.  
Well, I must get to bed because there is a LOT more parenting to do tomorrow.

Hopefully this post gave you just a small insight to where we are in life right now.

We don't want pity.  We don't want judgment.  We don't want advice (unless you are in a VERY similar situation).

We just want prayers and encouragement and empathy...

More later,

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thankful Thursday...

Earlier today, I was gung ho on writing a thankful Thursday.

Now a few hours later, it is a little hit with some hard news on a friend of mine.

But I know that in spite of her difficulties, she is thankful for each day.  So I am going to be also.

Today I am thankful for...
  • the gift of prayer.
  • God.  I don't understand His ways, especially today, but I am thankful He is there.
  • shaved ice with good friends.
  • a "double date" with my parents...a rare treat.
  • a beautiful lightning show earlier this week.
  • rain!
  • late evening walks with my hubby.
  • Stoby's cheese dip (brought home by my hubby after a trip)
  • paid for vehicles (which we hope hold up a while longer)
  • air conditioning
  • sundresses (which make warm summers tolerable :)
  • new air conditioners at school
  • good friends
  • good days which are that much nicer after a hard day
  • a new door handle (the other one was stuck 80 percent of the time)
  • new school supplies
  • watching t.v. with my hubby
  • blog comments
  • an upcoming road trip with my husband
  • beautiful sunsets
  • a husband who listens to my honest heart, no matter what
  • friends who let me be honest and lay it all out on the line with NO judgment
  • opportunities to serve others
  • sleep (which seems to evade me this summer)
  • lazy mornings
  • visiting with family
  • comic strips...they make me smile!
  • cardinals. They have a special meaning to me and lately, I am seeing them everywhere!
  • Youtube videos that make me smile
  • Child 1 who helps a LOT around the house without complaint
  • Child 3's servant heart
  • Child 2's enthusiasm for life
  • Child 4's wit and humor
  • beach pictures from friends
  • my works overtime all the time
  • my parents' has been such a blessing to us!  We can go swimming for just an hour without any hassle.  We are treasuring it!
  • honest "parent" talks with friends
  • full moons (even if they make my kids a bit crazy)
  • a little black dog that curls up with me when Mark is out of town
I better stop for now and get some sleep.

Hope you have something to be thankful for this week...feel free to share!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Up for the Challenge Part I

or not. :)

I really need to do my weekly wrap up before I forget what I did last week (which won't take long :).

But this post has been swirling around in my mind.

I have written some similar posts  (like Gardening RADishes and The Spirited Child in the past.

However, as it is with life, I continue to learn, continue to grow, continue to seek answers. Each and every day.

I want to preface this post with a little background. I find myself on a tightrope sometimes with the blog,  trying to keep my balance. I don't EVER want to embarrass my children or share too much about their lives.  Ever.  At the same time, I feel the need to be transparent for others out there who might be thinking or feeling the same way because that is always one of my greatest reliefs:  "Oh, you feel that way too?"

After I wrote my last post about "coming out of the darkness", I received from very sweet messages as well as some heartbreaking ones.  I cried off and on all day. So many people who said, "I am there right now. I thought I was alone..."

I don't want to hide from these emotions. From these experiences.  From this reality.

It is where I am.  It is where others are.  Sometimes it helps to get together and say, "We are not alone.  We will get through this."

So I am going to share a little here without (hopefully) sharing too much.

I am going to try to stay on that tightrope instead of crashing down into that net below. goes.

I don't think it will be shocking to you if I say that parenting is a challenging job.

At least for most people.

We all know those people with their perfect children who don't have any challenges other than choosing which scholarships to accept or where to put their child's many certificates and awards.

But for me, parenting is challenging.

I am not perfect. They are not perfect.  All that makes for a perfect storm. :)

I am going to go a little further and say (at least in MY experience) that parenting adopted children is even more challenging.

Please don't get me wrong. There are definite blessings to it.  And I am not saying I regret it.

But it is true.  More challenges.

You see, so much of a child's brain is developed in utero.  And so much of what they experience in utero affects who those children become.

When I was pregnant, I took those prenatal vitamins.  I read books to my child (even before he/she was born).  I tended to every need those first few hours of life.

With my adopted children, I didn't get to do those things.  Nor could I control who did.

So by the time my children came to me, they already had some baggage with them.  Some hurts.   Some anxiety.  Some fear.  Some needs.  Some holes in their hearts that I have learned I cannot fill.  Only God can.

I was naive.  I really was. In my mind, we would bring these children into our family, do the parenting thing we have always done, shower them with love, and within days, we would all be on the same page.

Apparently my children did NOT get that memo.

We brought them home, did the parenting thing we had always done, showered them with love, and...


 Lots of challenges.

Challenges I had never faced.

Challenges I didn't expect.

Challenges that quite honestly I didn't want...

I cringe some days when I get on FB. I see people giving out parenting advice through their own words or those cute little "signs".  Advice like "Just follow through..." or  "Say 'No' and mean it..."  or "If I acted like today's children do, I would never have been here to post this..." or "All that child needs is..."

It all sounds so practical.  So logical.  So matter of fact.

And for two of my children, it is.

But for two it is not.

Don't get me wrong.

I am not saying that ALL kids don't need boundaries.  Or need to hear the word "no". Or need to have consequences.

They do.

But what I have learned parenting challenging children (or as I sometimes say "kids from hard place") is that sometimes the road we took with the other kids does not lead us to the same destination with these kids.

Sometimes we have to do it differently, travel other paths.

We want the same results but we have to use different methods to get them.

Recently an adoptive mom I know posted one of those signs on FB.   "When it comes to kids, set the rules and stick with them.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no." Her comment was if only were done as easily as it was said. I immediately commented that it IS difficult in our situations.  She responded that most people don't get that.  And she is right.  Unless you are in the trenches we are in, you don't get it.  Won't get it.  Can't get it. 

If you have read this far and aren't in this situation, you are probably either feeling pity for me or doubting what I am saying.

And I get that.

I would probably feel the same way.

Except I am in this situation, and I know.

I know what I deal with each day.  I know there are hurts and struggles that I want to fix but don't have the tools to fix.  I know that I fail each and every day to parent the way I should, the way my children need me to.

Don't pity me (well, I wouldn't mind a little pity :).

It isn't all bad.

In fact, there is a lot of good.

And that is what I will be sharing in my next part in the next few days...

What these parenting challenges have taught me.

More soon,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Out of the Darkness...

I know a lot of my posts are "light" posts.

I like those light posts.  They are easy to write.  Fun to read.  Happy, happy, happy.

But the truth is, life isn't always "light".

To have light, you have to have darkness.

When I think of darkness, I think of last summer...

Last summer was a tough one. If you know me at all, I LOVE summer.  I do. It isn't that I don't love my job. I do.  But I love that laid back schedule, the time to be at home, the time to rejuvenate my spirit, the time to be with my children.

Except last summer was not like that at all. 

I won't go into all of the details, though I will be sharing a little bit over the next few weeks, but we had a tough time.  I will just say that one of our children was going through a very difficult time.  And if you are a mother at all, you know difficult time for a kiddo means difficult time for you too.

And it was.

I felt alone.  I felt deserted.  I felt abandoned by not only friends but God.  I felt sad. I felt hopeless.  And I felt like I was in darkness.  All day long.

Please know I had to force myself to type those words.

Because there is shame in them.

I am a mom and a teacher who looks like I should have it all together.  And a lot of people think I do.

But last summer was proof that I have nothing together.

Life is messy.

I want to clarify that my darkness was not clinical depression (though I may have been a step or two away from it).  It was more a situational depression.  I was not on the brink of suicide, though I may or may not have considered running away a time or two.  Okay, if I am honest, thoughts of running away (at least temporarily) are always right there on the outskirts of my brain...

This was a darkness from feeling overwhelmed with life.  A paralysis of not knowing what to do or where to turn.  A constant self-doubting of my own worth and capabilities.  And an isolation from the rest of the world.  

Part of the isolation was self-inflicted.

Because of what we were dealing with here, we couldn't get out of the house a lot.  Things were unpredictable.  We needed a very consistent routine.  For several reasons, it just wasn't possible. 

While I am thankful for things like Facebook, a very needed social outlet for a busy mom, it doesn't replace human interaction.

When you are in a dark place, it is easy to feel alone. Completely alone.

And for me as a teacher, without that constant interaction with co-workers and students, summer can feel a little isolated anyway.  Even in the best of circumstances.

But these weren't the best of circumstances.  These were harder times.

So I felt very alone.

The other part of the isolation was probably not intentional but very prevalent. 

Friends I have always counted on didn't really seek me out either.  Though I was careful what I said on FB or through e-mails, enough was said to send out warning signs that life was a little difficult for me.  And while close family and an occasional friend did reach out (and I am forever grateful for those people), a lot didn't. I won't lie. It let me down. 

One of my lowest moments was logging into FB and seeing pictures of a group of friends and their kids having a great time at an event. An event I wasn't invited to.  Even worse, nobody seemed to notice or care I wasn't there. (I realize that it was not likely intentional but when you are in darkness, it is hard to not feel wounded by life's slights)

At that one moment, the darkness was almost suffocating.

I say all of this not for pity.

In fact, I would rather not say it at all.

It doesn't bring back happy memories.  It isn't who I want to portray myself to be to the world.

But for whatever reason, I feel pressed to share. This post has been churning in my brain all morning to the point I felt like I had to type it out whether I wanted to or not.

I share it for a few reasons.

One reason: If you are in darkness, know that you are NOT alone.  It can come upon anybody at any point in their lives.  Doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, Christian or not, an optimist or a pessimist.  I cringe when I hear people say, "How do you do it all?"  I don't.  And at times in my life, I am paralyzed by that.  I believe in God and have Jesus living in my heart. He is always with me through His Spirit.  But sadly, when everything feels so dark, it is hard to remember.  He is there.  And He has people all around you who are there too, many who have been where you are.

Another reason:  Know that the darkness WILL lift.  There will be light again.  And when you are in the light again, you will treasure those moments that much more.  The difference between last summer and this summer (with the exception of possibly today which hasn't been that much fun :) is the difference between night and day...

And my last reason:  Even if you aren't sitting in darkness feeling very alone, there is a GOOD chance someone you know and love is.  You may not realize it but start watching.  Does someone you love smile but painfully so?  Are you reading e-mails or FB messages that seem joking but underneath there is a cry for help?  Or has someone withdrawn from your circle of friends whether intentionally or not?  Reach out to them.  Ask, "Is everything okay?" And be prepared to listen if it isn't.  Even if you get a "Yeah...", ask again.  Sincerely.  Pray for that person.  Pray for opportunities to be a good friend to them.  Even just a short text or e-mail saying, "Hey, it looks like things are tough right now, I am thinking about you" can go a long way.

I am a little nervous to actually post this.  I realize some may look at me differently.  Or conjure up theories and hypotheses of what was going on in our lives.  Or smugly read this and think, "Well, I am so glad this is not my problem..."

But hopefully, if even one person reads it and sees themselves and feels even a little less alone, it will be worth it.

More later,

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

He Said What???

Oh this 4th child of mine.

He makes me tired.  He makes me think about every parenting decision I make.  He makes me question myself and my abilities to be a mom.  He makes me pray. A lot.

And he makes me laugh.

A lot.

If he isn't making me cry. :)

Lately he has been on a roll.

If you are on Facebook, these will NOT be new to you.

So here are a few stories that make me cry out, "He said what?"...

Sunday, as we were listening to the sermon, my hubby received a text from a friend of his who just happened to be supervising Child 4's class at the moment. 

It basically said that our son had said we were kissing at the beach and it was SOOOOO embarrassing.

(Note:  The funny thing is we really don't kiss all that often but the kids always tell us to "kiss" for our together pictures)

A few minutes later, we received another text that said child also shared that we had kissed in his bedroom at the beach house and he told us to cut it out.

When I picked him up, I said, "Honey, you do NOT have to share everything!"

His reply?

"You told me to tell them about our trip to the beach..."


Fast forward a few hours.

Child 4 was "tattling" about something Hubby did (yes, his dad).

He started off with, "Someone you just married did..."

I said, "Just married? We have been married for almost 17 years!"

His response?

"You got married when you were just a baby?"

Okay, I kind of like that one.

The one from tonight, not so much.

At dinner, I was eating when the same child started "jiggling" my arms.  (It is an over 40 thing...I really am not THAT heavy or out of shape)

He said, "I wish I could do that with my arms..."

After a while, I asked him to stop.

He started giggling and asked me, "Why? It is fun!"

Groan again...


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Bucket List...revisited

I am back!

I finally finished up all of our vacation posts on the family blog.

Now I can get back to the nitty gritty of real life.

Since it is mid-summer, I figure I should revisit the summer bucket list and see how things are going...

  • to say "yes" more than I say "no" to my kids. You have NO idea how hard this is for me! Obviously this is a daily one but I can say that I have done this a LOT this summer.  So hopefully it will continue.
  • to nap anytime I want (every day if I want to) without feeling guilty about it  I do this one almost daily and I don't feel the least bit guilty. 
  • to go on a float trip (this one may be happening soon!) Did it, loved it, would love to do it again.  I am looking at a family trip but it is so dry everywhere right now...
  • to eat lobster and shrimp ravioli and Joe's incredible rolls without an ounce of guilt or regret I did this one day when the kids were with my mom, just me (I did take out).  And I enjoyed every bite. In fact, I loved it so much, I may just have to do it again...
  • to dance in the rain with my daughter That would require rain... :)
  • to spend just one day ALL day on my computer whether it is playing games, cleaning out my cache, or organizing my bookmarks I may be doing this one soon but not necessarily for fun. I have some professional development I need to do...
  • to read at least one (if not more) book just for fun...not for parenting or teaching! I did this one over vacation. In fact, I read two books just for fun.  That is pretty much the only time I can do it...when I am in a car and the children are in a controlled environment (a.k.a. their seat belts). :)
  • to wear eye shadow (a little odd but I just don't do that typically) I have actually been doing this regularly this summer. Kind of fun!
  • to get a new camera Probably not going to happen...other expenses prevail. :(
  • to go to the farmer's market at least once (if not more) I haven't yet but it is still on my list to do, hopefully soon.
  • to slow dance with my husband (love to but it is rare) You know, at the beach would have been a beautiful background for this.  But it didn't happen. I am still holding out hope that at some point we will dance...
  • to make homemade ice cream (no, don't have a maker...) A friend has offered me use of their ice cream maker so hopefully soon.
  • to do a random act of kindness I have been doing some acts of kindness (whenever I can) but I am not sure any of them have been "random" yet...
  • to find a shark tooth on the beach (but not IN the shark's mouth) I ended up finding 3 in all!
  • to watch a meteor shower with my husband...even better, outside of the city limits/lights! Not yet but there is a major meteor shower in August.
  • to see a waterfall that takes my breath away  Refer to that "no rain" thing I mentioned before...
  • to watch the sun rise at least once (I am usually snoozing) I did do this the beach no less!  It was beautiful.
  • to visit some local "swimming holes" with the kids I have done this some but right now they are all pretty dry.  Hopefully we will get rain soon and get to visit more.
  • to not set my alarm clock as much as possible I don't set it unless I have to...
  • to make smores with the kids  We did this on the grill on the 4th while at the beach. Oh. My. Goodness.  Delicious.  We will be doing that again.  I know it isn't the same as doing them over a campfire but it tastes just as good!
  • to visit with know, the ones we always say we need to get together with but don't! I am working on this one.  We did get to have dinner with one set of friends, and I have plans in the works with a couple of other friends to visit before summer's end...
  • to ride a bike trail Maybe when it isn't so hot? :)
  • to learn how to grill I did learn a little while at the beach.  I want to try more of it here at home with our grill. The hard part is that I am usually inside cooking "sides".
  • to visit a state park Technically, I have visited a state park. It just wasn't MY state.  We visited Fort Clinch (a state park) in Florida twice. 
  • to pay off something I have wanted paid off for a long time Not looking good for this one but why not set some high goals too? :)
  • to buy a pair of fun summer time pajamas I did buy some that I love.  Even if my oldest child said I reminded him of Minnie Mouse in them...
  • to eat a Chicago pizza Not yet...
  • to feel God's presence in a MIGHTY way, something that can only be experienced, not explained Not yet though I have felt His presence more recently...
  • to go to the zoo Did that one :) 
The unspoken one hasn't happened yet either...

So that is where I am.  

How about you? 

How is your summer bucket list going?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Thankful Thursday...

I am interrupting my vacation posts  (which I STILL haven't finished) on the family blog for a Thankful Thursday.  Even though I am not at the beach anymore, I can still be thankful for a few things...

  • Air conditioning.  Especially this week.
  • Speaking of air conditioning, I am thankful my school is getting new ones!  And I am thankful that we were told to not bother going to work in our rooms until early August due to the installation.  So NO guilt here that I am not in my classroom yet!
  • Lunch with friends today.
  • My firstborn.  He rolls with the punches and helps out a lot at home.  I am thankful for him!
  • The friends of Child 2 who take her to do fun things we can't always do with our crew (like a camping trip mid-week).
  • Watching Child 3 create houses with Lego's.  
  • Child 4...he makes me laugh. Most of the time.
  • Good days.  
  • Snowcones at night.
  • Watching my kids play in the dusk.
  • My parents' new pool...we are ALL enjoying it!
  • Marley, the bug killer.
  • Avocados.  Yum.
  • Not setting my alarm.
  • Getting Child 4 a spot in a free baseball clinic. Even if I have to set my alarm.
  • A safe trip home from the beach.
  • Hubby coming home from a business trip earlier than I expected.
  • Afternoon naps.
  •  Shaved ice dates with my main man
  • Watching Marley and my mom's pups play (when Marley isn't being grouchy)
  • Lightning bugs 
  • Bird watching (we had a cardinal in our backyard tonight...a rarity here)
  • Surprise checks (not big ones but I take them anyway :)
  • Catching up on my newspapers
  • Homemade donuts
  • Hubby's company turning 1!
  • A clean kitchen
  • True friends (another rarity)
  • Good night texts from my daughter (the one who is camping :)
  • Strawberry smoothies
  • A clean refrigerator
  • Vacation pics (to remind me I really had a vacation :)
I know there are others but I am starting to nod off to sleep.

Tell me...

What are you thankful for this week?


Friday, July 5, 2013

Still Around...

I have been madly editing and posting beach vacation pics on our family blog (just e-mail me at the address on the side for an invite), thus my lack of posts here. As soon as I finish those up, I will return. I just know my few followers have missed me. :)