Well Worth the Wait

A little bit ago I officially became a grandmother!

There are SO many things I could write on this subject. So many directions this post could take but I will keep it simple. Or at least try.

Our eldest daughter and her husband tried for almost a year to get pregnant. She had two sisters-in-law get pregnant before her. Then as they all watched their growing bellies together, each of the sisters-in-law gave birth. Each having relatively fast labor and deliveries. After 3 days of being in labor and two hours of pushing…completely natural and drug-free, our Miss Bailey came a day late! Our daughter was so calm and strong through the whole labor and delivery everyone in the room were surprised and one nurse said she should do a video!

IMG_3271Being there and going through this experience, to me, brought my daughter and me even closer. Being on the other side of the birthing experience made me see birth in a deeper way. Women are awesome. We forget so much much of what actually happened during our children’s’ births. I peppered my hubby with questions after seeing what our daughter went through.

IMG_3286Dad did so good and helped our daughter stay calm and strong. So glad to have him by our daughter’s side. His love for his girls is one many pray for.

IMG_3400Our miracles this past Mother’s Day. To truly appreciate a miracle you sometimes have to go through loss and heartache. Without those hard places, none of our kids or granddaughter would be here today.

IMG_3401Grandma and our sweet grandbaby matching on Mother’s Day!

The General

When we set out on our adoption journey I honestly didn’t want a toddler. To start over. I hated potty training and had ZERO desire to do it again. The car seats, the messes, the sippy cups…the time and energy toddlers take. I am an “older” mom. There are 40 years between me and the General. But God had other plans. And we are thankful He knows better.

Our youngest man cub literally longs to be in charge, to be the boss in almost every situation. Hence the nickname, The General. While it has been challenging, we are leaning on God to teach us how to equip The General for the obvious call to leadership God put in him.

IMG_2814Here he is trying to negotiate bedtime with Dad (a former Marine, mind you). While we got a few good laughs, the General’s strategies didn’t work.

IMG_2957  This pose comes naturally to him, as he is ever ready to defend and protect. (Yes, those are flip flops on his shoulders.)

IMG_2974His independent nature overrides any fear or hesitation most of the time. Sometimes his sense of adventure + independent nature + lack of proper fear can = a nervous momma.

IMG_2812He LOVES Jesus and wants to preach one day. He has it all planned out. The general will stand in the back at church with the “Big Guys” who too feel called to preach and make plans to preach in each other’s churches. “I am just a kid” is not in his DNA. Here when we set up our first nativity scene he kept staring at Jesus and Mary. He had questions but most of all he wanted to make sure Mary and Jesus would be alright out there all night. I am telling you the urge to protect is very strong in him. It is so precious and enduring too. He has stood up to people in defense of others. He is also convicting quick to forgive.

IMG_2972Raising a leader is an honor while at the same time, challenging. Teaching when to lead, when to follow. When to be on top and when to support can be tough for a kindergartner, heck, to be honest, for some adults too.

IMG_2711No one wants to raise a dictatorial tyrant. (Seriously, he came out like this. Not even sure if he has ever seen Hilter, but by golly…) Thankfully, God put a sweet tenderness in the General to balance out his need to be the boss. He is ever ready to give hugs, compliment and encourage. He knows no stranger and EVERYWHERE we go people LOVE him. Out of all six of our kids, he is the most social. If you were to look up social butterfly you’d see his sweet face. Cannot wait to see what God has in store for him.

IMG_2712What are your tips on raising independent leaders?

 

Double Digits

Mr. Bubblewrap turned ten at the end of last year. We kept is simple, no party. Overwhelment is something we try to keep out of his life. So he chose to go out for coffee with Dad and Mom. Coffee and ice cream, coffee ice cream to be exact.IMG_2827

Each year for his birthday dessert, he wants cinnamon rolls. This year I was inspired by Mandy at Biblical Homemaking blog and laid the rolls our in the number 10. He thought it was the coolest.IMG_2828

We liked the idea of the birthday dates with Dad and Mom so much that we are going to do it much more often. Parties for the big birthdays…5, 10 (though not for Mr. Bubblewrap), 13 and maybe 16.

These Two

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When it comes to our man cubs (thank you for the phrase, Ruth from Gracelaced), these two are close. Our oldest and youngest man cubs. Though they are very different in personality they connect so well. Their imagination goes way beyond the others. They push each other and yet are each other’s safe place. Each is a leader, yet both are willing to follow the other. 14 years age difference may seem like a big now but I am excited to see this relationship grow. To see what God has in store for these brothers.

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My Absence

Yikes!

It has been WAY too long since I last wrote and I really wish I had a meaningful excuse.

When it comes down to it, it is really a combination of a bunch of things that have kept me from the computer and from writing, kept the inspiration low or non-existent.

  • The holidays. Between, extra school and church activities, out-of-state family visiting, the kids being home, there wasn’t much time for blogging.
  • Appointments!! I ended the year by logging in 167 appointments! That is just doctors and behavioral appointments. I was so hoping for a decrease this year, but I already have 12 this month. Now some of these have been nice appointments like going to see our grandbaby in the ultrasounds.
  • Cleaning. Before and after the holidays always includes extra cleaning, doesn’t it?
  • My mother-in-love. We have my hubby’s 85-year-old mom living in town for part of the year. While for most of her life she has been very healthy and needed practically no care, things have changed. Anyone who has cared for an elderly parent knows what I mean. Life just turns it’s focus a bit. Knowing that our time with her may be shorter than we’d like, I want to cherish her and that time more. Not rush through it all.
  • Refocus. Speaking of focusing. I have really been spiritually refocusing on God and my relationship with Him more. Getting back to the basics, my foundation, my first love.
  • The media fast. Okay, I believe this really led to the shift in my blogging. The time away from the computer and media did shift the way I view my time. I have always tried to be me, to be real on my blogs, yet fell into the trap of getting just the right photo or just the right event to write about. True life is not just right and while I have been open about those areas as well, I really want to enjoy life and my time with my kids and not think “Oh, this would make a great blog post.” I want to and want my family to think, “This is a good time, a good memory.” It has been too easy for me to start structuring my life around my blog and not my blog around my life.

So, for now, I may write less often. But I will try to keep it worth your while to continue to visit my section of the blogosphere. Please excuse post that are more photos than word content. Please, say hi and leave a comment to let me know you are still there reading. Have a wonderful day!

Sticks and Stones

The other night I was reminded of the glaring differences between our family and families not affected by trauma.

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You can buy this adorable print here.

There are many things “regular” (what is regular anymore anyway?) folks joke about and/or just throw out in conversation that no one thinks twice about. Unless you are my family. Maybe I am hypersensitive to certain topics. Maybe I can overreact. But this is where we are for now.

Take the game of cops and robbers. The old-school game of pretend where the “good” kids-the cops protect citizens from the “bad” kids-the robbers. Now imagine it on steroids. Where gang members are involved, along with the robbers. Your kids found chains somewhere and have their sibling’s hands bound in those said chains. No more cops and robbers. Then we have hide and seek. Again a simple innocent child’s game. When things look a bit suspicious you start checking things out and see signs that are more fitting for a horror story than a child’s game posted all over your yard. No more hide and seek. Lots of teaching going on here. You get pulled over for going a bit too fast and the child with you has a look of complete fear on his face. The police officer has to calm your child and let him know he is not taking you to jail. Simply, Mom was driving a bit too fast. Raise kids whose birth parents were in and out of jail so many times that it’s just a way of life. Going to jail is such a huge topic of discussion to our younger kids. It’s like it’s no big deal. You get caught, go to jail and get out. No biggie. Let’s rethink this okay?

Joking about race…really SO many of us do it. Let’s be honest. Yet, when one of your children is drawn to parts of their culture that aren’t the greatest, one tries to steer that child down a safer road. Not everything about each of our cultures needs to be embraced.

Make a joking comment to two of my kids about food and eating and they simply cannot brush it off and enjoy a laugh with you. Going without food and eating rotten food for so long make certain things much less funny. Comedians-need not apply.

Now I am not one of those people who is offended by every little thing everyone says or does but when you have a child with special needs certain words become hurtful. When your child is a different race than you, you become more aware of your own probable racism and of those around you. When your child has been through certain types of trauma and you are living out the effects of that you become more protective of what your child hears and sees.

For the most part, when those around us are made aware that certain words or topics affect us and our children differently they are more than willing to change and are apologetic about it. For that, I am grateful and have been fortunate. Sometimes it just takes a few moments to explain why those things are not appropriate to help someone see things differently and make our world better. Sticks and stones do break bones, but contrary to the old child’s saying, words do hurt, sometimes pretty bad.

Media Fast

Our pastor recently challenged our church to a two-week media fast. He had been preaching on the dangers of media and video addiction. Until we got our younger kids we lived pretty old school, no TV, rarely a movie, very limited time on the computer for our kids and for us. Other than the occasional show on the internet and watching the Red Sox via MLB.TV our screen time was limited. I plan to write a future post about our families reality with video game and technology addiction. For now, I want to focus on the media fast results.

Our pastor introduced us to the Glow Kids book. Let me tell you it is a MUST read, kids or no kids. I simply cannot recommend it enough. We have been reading it as a family with the older kids and individually as well. It will open your eyes in more than one way.IMG_2654

So, the results of those two weeks without media. Well, for the kids there wasn’t much of a negative change. (Again more on this in a future post.)

But here are some of the things we did instead of watching, playing, and/or listening.

 

IMG_2612After dinner wiffle ball.

IMG_2616Sorting through LEGOs from eldest son’s work. This was seriously relaxing and addictive.

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Chalk drawing.

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IMG_2611Just beginning outside. Can’t beat this sky.

IMG_2638Photobombing the tree climbers.

IMG_2639Trust falling from the tree.

We baked cookies. Hung out as a family. Played LOTS of board games. Had friends and family over. Went hiking. Just did more stuff together.

Did we get bored, of course? But boredom can lead to great imagination. Did the kids cheat on the fast? No, they are freed from those addictions. Me? Yes, I checked Instagram here and there. I checked the Red Sox scores. My blog posts were prewritten so all I had to do was push publish. BUT, I wasn’t chained to my phone. Even though I did start cutting back before the fast, I know I could SO easily go back to listening to podcasts, checking this and checking that all of the time. So, for me, I need to keep my phone off of my person and in an out of the way place. I have enjoyed the quiet, though too much quiet made me uneasy. I have enjoyed not being as distracted. I have enjoyed a clearer mind. For Hubby, it was a positive experience as well.

If I could encourage you at all to do a media fast yourself and as a family. It will be WELL worth it. Look around you when you are out. How many kids have devices keeping them entertained? How many people are walking around looking down at their phones? How many people have earbuds in, intentionally disengaging from society? How many times do you look at your phone, computer for non-essential things? How many times do you use the electronic babysitter? You may be surprised at what you see and observe. Also, read the Glow Kids book. I am seriously thinking of buying a bunch and handing them to our kids’ school principals, teachers, to family members, etc. It is just that good, that important, and that convicting.

IMG_2641Saw this shirt while thrifting. Thought it was so fitting during our media fast. If you do this fast, I’d LOVE to hear how it went for you and your family.

That’s IT!?!

Okay, soapbox warning here.

I just ran into a former co-worker. I re-entered the workforce for a short time a few years ago before exiting to adopt. This co-worker and I worked together for an even shorter amount of time. That being said, I ran into her while at two of our kids’ parent-teacher conference. She quickly asked what I was “up to these days.” I replied, “Being a mom.” (She knew we were going to adopt, knew we got matched, she knew were took on FOUR kids ALL.AT.ONE.TIME, etc., etc.) To which she replied, rather condescendingly, “That’s it!?!” (In front of my kids mind you.) “She didn’t just say that” ran through my head faster than Flash himself. I wanted to scream and laugh at her, to stand and defend my stance as a mom. But I knew my efforts would fall on deaf ears. “That’s it?” I simply questioned. There was a third lady in the room and she sort of came to my defense. A very short discussion between the two women, more like throwing opinions out, took place. One of which I was having none of. Again, those deaf ears.

Yet, as three of our six kids and I were leaving, I felt the need to defend my choice to stay-at-home to my kids, especially my daughter.

So, to all of you blessed SAHMs, to all of the girls and boys who are blessed to have a SAHM, and to all of the naysayers this is for you:

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Dear Fellow Stay-at-Home Mamas,

First, I commend all that you do to be home with your babies no matter how old they are. There is no higher calling than to be a wife and a mom. Today I took one for the team. “That’s it!?!” should not be the response we get for making the choice to be the one to raise our kiddos (and sometimes someone else’s kids). It should not be the response we get for running our kids all over the place, to sports, doctors, school, extracurricular activities, clothes shopping, doctors, dentists, shoe shopping, did I mention the doctors (if you have any child with any extra needs you know I could’ve added doctors in a few more times), and or any other place they need to be at any given time. Being the one who comforts our babies, soothes their little hearts, rocks them to sleep at nap time, introduces them to the wonder of books, changes almost all of the diapers, wakes with them in the middle of the night, teaches them the importance of sharing, of getting along should not be diminished by anyone. All of the times you sat in IEP meetings, attending award ceremonies, helped out in their classes, sold fundraiser goodies door-to-door, made sure their clothes and uniforms were clean and ready should make you stand tall. When you were there for their first steps, their first words, their first smile, their first fall, their first heartbreak, their first straight A, or F report card is irreplaceable. Being able to create a safe, unstressed, stable, loving atmosphere for your husband and kids on a daily basis reaps the reward that will only be seen far down the road. Providing structure, creativity, calmness, responsibility serves such a greater picture than ourselves.

When you are standing in old shoes, in a mom bun, looking at yet another load of soiled laundry, wiping another nose and or bum, when you are cleaning up spills off a freshly washed floor, feeling like your days are filled with useless, mundane tasks that no one sees or even cares about take heart. Know it does matter. When you are lonely and in desperate need of adult conversation. Know you matter. When you are fighting that kid for the hundredth time today, know that no one can replace you. While standing over that hot stove making your family a homemade meal, know you and your family are blessed. When the sacrifices you make start to wear you down, know that no one can care for your child the way you can. Even though they often don’t show it your kids need and crave what you provide. Your husband, your marriage needs what you do, who you are. Even on our worst days, our children would rather be with us than a stranger at daycare.

The outside may see us as lazy, as underachievers, sitting on our bums all day eating bonbons. We may have no certificate to hang on our walls, no capital letters behind our names, no paycheck to cash and spend. They may see us and what we do and think and sometimes say, “That’s it!?!” But my dear mama, God is watching. God sees all that you do and give your babies no matter how old. He sees all of the things to lay down so you can give your kids and your husband the best of you. I believe that God has a special place in His heart for mamas. Dear mama, trust and know that you are held in His hands.

Nevermind the naysayers. Nevermind those that belittle what you do. You aren’t doing it for them anyway. Your babies are watching and learning. They will know you cared and know they are important. Your marriage will be stronger and your husband will be blessed.

So look yourself in the mirror, adjust your mom bun and go hug those children of yours. Go enjoy that cookie you made with your toddler. And make sure your kids know how happy it makes you to be their mom. That you don’t need others or an outside job to make you content. And let your husband know how grateful you are for his hard work so you can stay home.

**I realize this is one sided. I know that there are mamas out there who want more than anything to be a SAHM. Rest assured this was not aimed at you.**

FUN Writing Exercise

I want to be a writer, pen my own book/s one day. Yet I don’t have much time to sit down and actually take classes and/or practice. This blog is truly my biggest outlet for my writing practice. But every now and then I steal away a corner of time to hone my craft just a bit more.

Writing Challenges podcasts afford me a (free) class that is ready and available when I am. Earlier this week I was able to sit down and give it a go. This is my second such writing challenge from this podcast. This one proved to be rather fun and invigorating. Here’s how it went.

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Imagine if you will the instructions are spoken in an older British male voice. Here’s your assignment:

*Pick a book of your self, poetry or fiction.

*Close your eyes, open the book and point your finger somewhere on the page.

*Take that word, the three words after and the three words before it.

*Write that phrase down.

*Now you have 5 minutes to write. Don’t think (which is harder than you’d think), try to write as fast as you can. You are not producing a work of art.

This was one of the most fun writing exercises I have done. What I wrote completely ended up different than what I started off with. So I am going to put myself out there, be vulnerable before you, my readers.

My word was OBJECT. The phrase: “…down, examined the object and slipped it…” Here it is, as is, no corrections made or revisions done.

Down, examined it and slipped it back into his pocket and walked away. Away from the dark, away from the mess. Away from the noise that seemed to grip him and not let him go. He walked out into the sunlight. Out into the fresh air. He felt alive. He felt free. With a sense of purpose, a newfound freedom, he looked at the forest before him and he just walked. He walked until he couldn’t walk anymore. Then he sat down and took a deep breath. The years had been hard on him. His hair was no longer deep rich brown. It has started to turn gray. His eyes were no longer sharp and bright. And his heart once broken actually felt like it was coming back to life. He took another deep long breath. He filled his lungs with the dewy freshness of the earth. It had just rained the previous night. He felt the moisture of the ground with his fingertips. Some clinging to… (5 minutes is up)

British instructor resumes his instructions; “After 5 minutes you should have covered quite a lot of pages.” Well, not this mama writer. I didn’t cover much ground at all. No worries though. “Now read what you have written, but read it forwards then read through it word for word backward.” No here’s where I had a harder time, “Underline one phrase that strikes you as possessing any one of the following qualities: it has energy, it surprises you, it has never been written before in your language. The phrase must make a kind of sense. It must possess it’s own inner sense, at the very least. That is it must not be completely opaque in meaning. It might be a whole sentence or at the end of a sentence and the beginning of the next.” I had a hard time finding that sentence or phrase. I need it to finish the assignment. As I need to write either a short story or poem in which it occurs without seeming out of place.

So, can you help me and tell me what sentence or phrase fits the bill? Thanks so much. And thank you for letting me put myself out here all of the time without judging me.

The Clubhouse

IMG_2480Building a blanket fort should be a right of passage for every child sometime in their life. Our kids LOVE building blanket forts or clubhouses as The General calls them.

IMG_2482Sometimes they are very elaborate with a room for everyone. Sometimes it’s a very open space, plenty of room to chat the night away.

IMG_2483Sometimes the “party light” is added for a festive atmosphere.

IMG_2481No matter what, they LOVE the togetherness this brings and reminds them of the good days with their birth family.