Monday, October 27, 2008

Truly Madly Deeply

         In case you haven't noticed, I adore my kids. I really do. I've had a series of no good, horrible, very bad days and you know what? My kids make me feel better all the time. Sometimes they make an effort to help in their awkwardly inexperienced ways (like grabbing a yogurt out of the fridge and handing it to me so quickly that it splatters all over because they thought that feeding me yogurt would cure all.) Other times they don't mean to help, but just do. Tonight, I really just wanted them to go to bed on time. I'm tired. I'm actually sick and tired. They decided that they wanted to be all Oktoberfest and go bobbing for apples though. So, they snuck a big bowl and filled it with apples and water. I figured it out when I heard the sh-shlup of water overflowing onto the floor amid hysterical giggling. At first, I wanted to beat them (just a little...) but then their faces looked so fresh and clean from the dunking in H20 and their eyes were so sparkly. I can't explain it, but it was cute... and kinda funny.

           I took them to the pumpkin farm this weekend too. I didn't want to. What I wanted was for their dad to be ready, willing, and able to step up & say, "Don't worry, Hon. I know you haven't been feeling well. You stay home and rest while I take them." (A girl can dream can't she?) He wasn't around though and they wanted to go SO badly. So, I sucked it up and we went.

          Once again, they made me laugh. Their cuteness won me over and I forgot I didn't feel well somewhere along the way. I don't know what I'm gonna do when they're not little anymore. Then what will distract me, make me laugh, cheer me up? It's already happening so fast. My rational mind tells me that I can hopefully still have fun with them and that it could possibly be even more fun to hang out with them as adults than it is now. Grown-up kids that I don't have to nag & worry about (as much) and cute little grand kids sounds wonderful. My mom mind panics and worries that they might decide to move far, far away because they don't like me anymore. What if they like their in-laws more than us? I'll miss them so much.

       I just want to savor every little moment that I have with them. I want to remember not to yell at them when they play pranks (rubber band on the handheld sprayer at the kitchen sink comes to mind) and just soak up the spirit that they bring into our home. I found out today that my heart isn't doing as well as I thought it was. I knew it hurt, but I thought that was just from all of the love that I feel for these guys. I didn't realize that if I'm not careful it could cut my time with them short. I so desperately want to get healthy fast so that I don't miss a moment. The thought of not being there for them and not having the privilege of being there to witness all of their story as it's being made almost paralyzes me with fear. Being a parent is just such an amazing gift and I am so truly, madly, deeply in love with my family. Plus, I even like them.

Just a reminder: go hug your loved ones.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elders & Adoption

  A couple of years ago our cat had kittens (a whopping 8.) They were the cutest little things. One evening, the missionaries stopped in for a visit and we entertained them with kitten watching. About an hour after they left to go knock on all of our neighbor's doors, they came back with a little black kitten that looked to be the same age as ours. As they handed it to us saying, "We found this escapee down the block" we were pretty confused since it looked like it could be ours but none of our kittens were missing (or able to get that far yet) and the mama cat hadn't even gone outside since she'd had them.

We joined the Elders in walking around the neighborhood (their second time- if you think people are unhappy to have missionaries knocking on their door the first time you should really see the replay...) and asked all of our neighbors if they knew this kitten. Of course, no one did. So, we took the poor baby who couldn't be more than a week old and wouldn't be able to survive for long back to our mama cat hoping that she would accept it (although the missionaries were all excited about the prospect of her freaking out on it- 19 year old boys, you know.) Thankfully, as she lay there on her side with 8 kittens already fighting over a spot to nurse, she seemed to understand and made room for this little guy.

Tonight I was making breakfast for dinner & enlisted the kids to help out. I usually don't love making breakfast for dinner since the multi-tasking of stirring scrambled eggs, and flipping pancakes, and turning sausage, etc. isn't really my thing. I'm more the throw everything in the crock-pot or in a 13x9 baking dish so that I can do other things while it cooks & only have one pan to wash when it's over sort of girl. The kids are all getting old enough to hold their own in the kitchen though, so we threw caution to the wind and scrambled some eggs. As we cooked, someone said, "Remember that little kitten named Elder that Alley Cat adopted?" and the memory came back to me. It made me feel so sentimental thinking of how we named it Elder after the two guys in white shirts & ties that found it.

Then, I started thinking... why can't we humans be so ready & willing to take in kids that are lost / abandoned / orphaned? I've been trying to talk my hubby into foster care for the last few years. I suddenly felt inspired to go guilt trip him with a reminder of the willingness of our cat to serve the less fortunate. If she could love that kitten as her own just because we handed it to her, why couldn't we do the same? Sure, she only had to nurse it for 6 weeks and then we found all the kittens new homes and the mama cat got her freedom back, but...

Beyond My Control

       So, yesterday I did not one but TWO cheerful, Pollyanna style posts. I guess that means that today it's okay to vent a little. You see, while yesterday was in fact a good day with home improvements that didn't cost me anything and a weight being lifted off of my shoulders after a fabulous parent-teacher conference, there was some major stress inducing stuff too. So stress inducing in fact, that I had a really hard time going to sleep and am sporting a killer migraine and an upset stomach.

      In the AM, what had me feeling spastic (besides the diet pills) was that Lane had told me the night before that he was really concerned about one of his friends at school. Lane was upset because his friend has been talking about suicide a lot & had apparently cut himself with a rusty nail at recess on purpose. He asked me if it was okay to be a tattle-tale if you were protecting someone (which from previous conversations he knows is my rule, but I think he needed permission to ease his mind.) I was so proud of my little man, because he was so insightful and mature about the whole situation. I'm not sure I would have been as capable of handling a friend telling me something like this when I was in the 5th grade. He said, "Mom, I don't really believe he's going to do it. I think he just likes to talk about it for the shock factor, but I think I need to tell the teacher just in case." Then, he asked me if I would be okay with emailing or calling the teacher instead so he wasn't officially the nark. So, I did & hopefully this little boy will be able to get the help that he needs. It's so hard to think that my kids are getting old enough to be involved with this type of thing.

      In the PM, my stress was more associated with my parental units & the fall-out from their rather nasty divorce. Without divulging TOO MANY details, I'll say that I've been trying super hard to not get in the middle of it. I'm a grown-up. They're grown-ups. It should technically be fairly simple. It's hard though, because I see & hear things that just make me want to run in & fix everything (as if that were possible.) Not fix their marriage / get them back together because I don't actually think that's for the best, but fix the pain. I want to fix the hurt feelings & stubbornness that have escalated the situation so severally. I want to erase the financial problems, the worry, and the guilt.

     I'm the oldest child in my family & I have siblings that still live at home with my mom. My little sister is about the same age as my second child. Her world & my kid's world are entirely different though. She knows all too well about the adult world of what happens when you don't have enough money and how you can get attached to people and then have them ripped out of your life. So, when I came home from Cub Scouts & my mom was in front of my house and told me that her car is breaking down, and she lost her food stamp money because my dad said he was paying her child support even though she hasn't gotten any, and now she's getting evicted... It broke my heart. Honestly, there's only so much that I can do though. And when I dropped my kids off at school and I saw my little sister's body language as she bossed a classmate around & I knew that she was feeling like everything was out of control and trying to grasp for some sense of power, it made me feel like I had rocks in my stomach. Not to mention, knowing that someone you love is in pain right on the heels of thinking of a little 11 y/o boy who is hurting isn't really the perspective you want to see it in. While I know that the two situations are different there are enough similiarities to be bothersome.

      The reality is, I have always taken on everyone else's problems and feel like I need to slap a band-aid on everything around me. I know that I can only own myself and be responsible for my own actions though. There's really not a lot of point in worrying myself sick about my kid's friends or even my own extended family further than I can do something about it. That's easier said than done, but really- what else is there to do? If I could, I would... I just wish there was a little less heartbreak in the world. Don't we all?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm Lovin' It

Today I love my life. Why? You ask... Simple really. I feel like a rich person who can afford to hire people for home improvement projects but I don't have to pay for it. That's why. It's flipping sweet. For those of you who don't know, we're live-in caretakers at a county park. I debated on whether to actually say that considering the whole creepy people in Internet land thing, but I decided to roll the dice. Anyway... our roof started leaking this week. We had a pretty good down pour and what do you know? It was raining inside too! If we were homeowners this would have kicked our trash. However, we just called the county and they came out to measure for a new roof pronto. Now, they're up there putting it on & I'm sitting here typing away hoping they don't come crashing through my ceiling. This morning, the lawnmower man showed up to mow. So, between the visit from our "landscaper" and the new roof it's looking pretty decent around here. Our stinking counter tops in the kitchen are falling apart (literally, it's ceramic tile and they keep coming off and shattering when they hit the floor.) So, the county said I could choose the new counter tops. I feel spoiled. Sure, we aren't building up any equity here like we would be if say, we owned the place & these upgrades were going towards raising our property value or something... but it makes me feel so blessed to have all these people slamming out the work on my home. If I owned the place, sadly... it would probably not look as nice 'cause I wouldn't have the time or the money. So, yay for the opportunity to scrub public toilets in exchange for rent!

Hope & Relief

  • I had such a nice conference with Lane's teachers the other day. I really like them. It was way better than I had expected, in fact. I think one of the worst parts of having a child who struggles in school is having the feelings as a parent of helplessness and wounded pride and ultimately guilt that goes along with it (at least for me.) Sure, I'm worried about him & his future and all of that. I somehow suspect though, that he's going to be okay. I know that there is so much more to life than a letter grade on paper & that a lot of people who were poor students end up being successful later. In the mean time, I don't like feeling like I'm SUPPOSED to enforce raising his grades and feeling incompetent to do so.

  • Going in to conferences I always kind of wish I had a rock to hide under because I'm sure that the teacher is wondering what type of messed up family life and poor parenting this child has had to get him to this particular level. I feel the need to explain defensively that we have tried SO MANY things to no avail, that while we're imperfect parents we're making an effort, and that we do have other kids who are doing fairly well in school. Yes, I realize that proving that we have 3 out of 4 kids who are getting decent grades isn't really what the teacher needs to know and that pride cometh before the fall... but I've gotta hold on to a morsel of validation that we're not all together failing our children's educational needs.

  • Anyway... the teachers were terrific. The didn't look at me like a white trash parent at all (or at least if they were thinking it they hid it well.) They told me how great of a kid they thought he was and I got the impression that they really meant it. They acknowledged that we had tried all sorts of stuff and that he was just one of those kids that traditional school didn't work for & that it wasn't his fault. They asked about his interests and talents and said that kids like him always find their niche. They understood that he is very artsy and always off in his own little world and that while that's problematic when you need him to be in the present during math that being a dreamer wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I felt like we were actually a team working together to brainstorm ways to help him and that everything was really going to be all right for him this school year. The things that were said that meant the most to me were:

  • "He's so well-behaved. He's nice to absolutely everybody, even the kids that no one else is nice to and the kids that aren't nice to him. If I had to choose between a kid getting good grades but being a jerk and a kid getting poor grades but being a good person, I'd take the kids with poor grades. So, he has some really redeeming qualities."

  • "Have you heard that students of band continue to outperform their non-band peers on the SAT? Plus, being musical can open up a lot of doors for him too. There are a ton of careers that he can pursue in the Arts and make a fortune. Just think, if he does end up writing a science fiction novel or something how much money he could get. There's nothing wrong with being an extremely creative person."

  • "It's these kind of kids that always find their niche. He might be 35 before he finds it, but he'll find something that he can excel in. Our job right now is to quit setting him up for failure & start making it possible for him to experience success. Whether that be assigning less work and helping him with task completion so he isn't always behind or changing his schedule so that he can do better in the classes that he has, our main priority needs to be to accommodate him & raise his self-esteem."

  • So, I walked out of that conference just feeling such hope & relief. When I got home, I told him how awesome his teachers thought he was & that I was so proud of him for standing out as one of the nice kids. Now, I feel like I have permission to get off his back about schoolwork and to just celebrate his achievements instead. I've always known that he was a great kid and felt like we just needed to "get through" this school thing and that he had enough other good qualities and skills to hopefully compensate. I've heard lots of stories of people who suddenly "got it" as an adult and I've hoped that he would be one of those guys that finally understood what his teachers had been trying to teach him once he got out in to the real world and needed those skills. I've just never felt like his teachers saw that & I felt a certain pressure to prove that there was an effort being made and that he had potential. It's so refreshing to know that his teachers are on the same page & that they're willing to put out the effort to help him realize his potential too.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


   I'm feeling very nostalgic this afternoon. I'm not sure why. I decided to make a digital scrapbook of some of my favorite Halloween memories. The kids are SO MUCH bigger now than even just last Halloween. Scary stuff. Brooke has already started making plans for when she moves out of our house. :-(   We were riding in the car the other day and she told me (again) that she won't be living with me when she's a grown up. Her main motivator? "Girls that live with their parents are fat." Where does she get this stuff? I'm kinda concerned that she worries about the whole fat thing too much for a 6 year old.

 Of course, the other day she was self-concious about her teeth too. She told me, "Mom, I really do have horse teeth. They're too thick like horse teeth are, but they're only midget horse teeth 'cause they're shorties. They're  short & chubby baby horse teeth."  Who knew you could use the words "horse teeth" so many times in only 3 sentences?

Oh, and you should have heard her trying to explain why I shouldn't be upset with her for being awake WAY past her bed time. It sounded like this: "I'm the kind of person who's body just does whatever it wants to. I can't control it, so you can't be mad at me. Just be mad at my body, but not my head. My head is mad at my body too, but I'm not the kinda person who can just make myself go to sleep even if I want to. If my body doesn't want to sleep only God can force it to. I can't force myself to sleep, you know, 'cause I'm not that kinda person."  She really does just babble on and on repeating variations of the same phrases all the time. It cracks me up. I swear she didn't even know how to talk like... yesterday. Now she never stops. Where did the last 6 years go and are the next 6 going to fly by as quickly? I hope not!

 Then, the other day my friend Jenny and I were talking about what our kids prefer to sleep in (because her adorable son Niall was here for a sleepover with Russell) and it reminded me of what Tatton used to sleep in. You see, Tatton decided that he wasn't getting a good nights sleep due to always waking up cold after he kicked the blankets off. He decided it would be best to start getting dressed for school the night before and wearing a coat to bed. To him, this was an ingeniusly effecient plan since he was saving time in the AM and staying consistently warm. I let him do his thing and just chuckled at the way his cute little mind worked & never gave it a second thought. That is, until I went to foster parent certification classes and there was a chunk of class devoted to "what to expect when you're expecting foster kids" as in what problem behaviours were common. They made a big deal out of how a lot of foster kids "prefer to sleep in their clothes instead of pajamas". The reasons that they listed off (being homeless, being sexually abused, having become accustomed to unpredictability/ the need to pick up & run at a moments notice all made sense) but I still felt a little defensive about the sleeping in a coat thing. I didn't want people to just assume that there was something "wrong" if they found out that Tatton slept fully clothed including a coat. LOL  Now, he's a sleeping in boxers man and it seems kind of sad that this is just a memory to be pulled out of the archives for a good chuckle.

Anyway... just thinking. Wow, they're growing up fast. Lane keeps talking to me about how concerned he is about the economy and his views on Obama's health plan and of course, whether or not shaving will help his peach fuzz grow in thicker. *sigh*

Monday, October 6, 2008

Super Cool Contest!!! (Because It's Cheaper Than Therapy)

I've had blog block this week. I've never understood how anyone could get writer's block. My problem has always been trying to hold the flood of words in my head from spilling out in excess. This week, I finally experienced the feeling of wanting to write something and drawing a blank. Craziness. It's not that there weren't things that I wanted to talk about. There were LOTS of things I wanted to blab about, in fact. The only way that I could even fathom sharing those things was if I changed the names to protect the "innocent" and I'm pretty sure all of my readers are too smart for that. What's the point of changing names when all of your friends & family are such smart cookies that they'll figure it out anyway? It stinks 'cause I love blogging (it's cheaper than therapy) but unlike real therapy (where you are protected by confidentiality laws) this sort of blabbing involves the WORLD WIDE web.

Now, I personally don't have a whole lot to work with in the boundaries department. Supposedly, it's not very psychologically healthy to be ready, willing, & able to tell your whole life story to perfect strangers in the grocery store line. That's just the way I roll though. So, if the only thing I blogged about was me, myself, and I there would be no blog block. Unfortunately, most of the really juicy, great for retelling sort of stuff in my life involves other people who are slightly more private than I am. I thought about getting them all to sign coyly worded consent forms allowing me the freedom to disclose their life stories, but you know, they're smart cookies too and I don't think they would fall for it. Anyway, I'm pretty sure using the dirt you have on other people for blog fodder is breaking the less than well known 11th commandment.

So... what DO I write about when the only things I've had on my mind would be way too incriminating for certain individuals? I don't want to fall back on to the safe subjects like my daughter's stubbornness or my trying to lose weight or even how badly I want a baby even though I have self-imposed infertility. I CAN'T write about any one's love lives, brushes with the law, or hilariously embarrassing mishaps that we snicker about behind their backs and cross our fingers that karma doesn't come back to bite us in the rear for laughing about it. Furthermore, I don't really care to touch politics or religion. Not because they're taboo so much as the fact that I'm so on the fence about what I think that you would think that I was the politician talking in circles. When I know what I think you'll be the first to know. So, here's the deal... you throw some ideas my way and I'll reward the creative genius who comes up with the best blog subject with a mystery prize. Believe me, if I can get "Hannah Montana" to send a surprise gift to my daughter, I can send a little sumpin sumpin your way! The contest is open until midnight Pacific Mountain time on Friday. On your marks, get set, GO!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm A Big Freaking Liar

This is the post where I publicly out myself as a liar. It seemed perfectly innocent. Just a little white lie. I was at Walmart yesterday and I saw an ADORABLE little shirt that would look cute on Brookie. Then, out of the corner of my eye I spotted an even cuter headband. I could just picture her in them... AND they were on clearance! Problem: as most of you know Brooke is a very selective clothes wearer. I knew these were exactly the type of clothes that I loved and she hated, so accepting defeat, I put them back so that some other mother could come along and snatch them up for her little girl to look darling in.

I went about my business, gathering up the usual boring necessities: shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste... Then, it occurred to me! "Brilliant!", I thought, amazed at my own creativity. It was so simple. The head band was a Hannah Montana brand and Brooke is a HUGE Hannah Montana fan. I decided then and there that I would buy them and wrap them up in a shipping box. I addressed the box to Brooke and made up a fake address for Miley Cyrus as the sender. I ran out and stuck it in the mail box knowing that Brooke loves to check the mail when she gets off the school bus. I couldn't wait for her to get home & discover it!

All of a sudden, it occurred to me that this plan of mine wasn't quite as flawless as I had originally believed. For starters, I was getting a twinge of guilt for lying to her. That was easy enough to ignore though. I told myself I lie to her about the tooth fairy & Santa in the same spirit of fun & anticipation. The stinker was that I didn't want her to go to school wearing said items and brag that she had gotten them as a gift from Hannah Montana and have everyone call her a liar. My child couldn't get called a liar for her mother's lie, after all! So, I typed up a letter from "Miley" about how she had this new product line and she chose some of her coolest girl fans to send free product trials to. "She" said that she thought Brooke had great taste and was hoping she could wear the shirt & headband to school so that other girls would want to go out and buy some. It was all a great, big marketing gimmick. Somehow, this sounded like a feasible explanation to me. Bonus: every time that I wanted to buy Brooke something & have her actually be excited to wear it instead of fighting me on it I could just send her another "shipment" to "product test". In my lying mind I foresaw all of our wardrobe battles being a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, my daughter is officially smarter than I am. She was skeptical from the minute she checked the mail.
"Uh, Mom... why does she have the same handwriting as you?", she asked.
"Hmmm... that's interesting. It does look a little like mine. That's cool that Miley and I write the same way."
She casually opened the package as if it were a box of canned peas or something equally boring. And you know what she said? "Oh." That's it! "Oh."
So, I played it up. "Wow! That is SOOOO cool! I can't believe that came from MILEY CYRUS!!!"
"I can't wear that to school."
"It's too cute."
"Of course it's cute, it came from Miley Cyrus! She always looks cute!"
"Ya... I'm not wearing that."

So, I guess I'll just return them to the store. My "brilliant" plan was an abysmal failure. The worst part? This morning I tried to convince her to just "be brave & wear it one time for Miley." She said, "Good try, Mom." I guess I may be a liar, but I'm not a very good one.