Nov 242017
 

Where was the Happy Thanksgiving post yesterday? Why was there no fall colored, Cucurbit inclusive picture ornamenting the website? Why no “100 things I am thankful for” post?

The reason is a pretty good one…I was trapped in the wooded wilds of the Midwest, kept from leaving by a fierce wild cat.  You should have seen the size of this lovely creature of nature! It must have been 5 feet long and close to 200 lbs!

Its rumbling purr was so loud all of its natural predators within 5 miles were alerted to its presence.  I was lucky to make it out alive and in one piece.

Apparently this particular animal is known for it’s skill of climbing and cunningness. I am telling you, it was dicey going there for a bit.

(Due to the angle of the lens, objects may appear smaller than there were in real life.)

Nov 112016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

My doors are open, allowing fresh, cool air to blog into the house.  With the wind comes the sounds of leaves rustling across the ground.  I love fall.  I love almost everything about it.  Okay, I could do without having to rack leaves, though thankfully my kids are getting old enough to begin taking charge of that yard job.

I also love this month’s major holiday.  In contrast to last month’s, I appreciate the focus on being thankful, for the opportunity to gather with those you love, and to watch the kids jump in the leaves and rake them back up.

With family get together’s comes food.  There is always food.  My family presents a struggle, which I have found to be the same across my whole midwestern home state – my extended family has the same exact menu. Every year. No change. (Apparently it is the exact same menu on the other side of the state with the variation of either a turkey or a ham.) Well, you might have different kinds of cookies, but for the most part it is the same.  If you do happen to want to bring a ‘new’ side dish, make sure it is something everyone already knows.  None of this fancy shmancy stuff, like hummus.  “If we wanted beans, we would eat them like God gave them to us, whole.”

Shh. They never guessed the brownies had black beans in them. 😉

Even with knowing what the menu will contain, everyone still eats more than they should, enjoying memories of years past when Grandma, who is now a Great Great Grandma to some, still lived in the country and we were all young enough to play a game of ball in the field after lunch.  Now, most of the aunts and uncles find themselves ‘meditating’ on the backs of their eye lids while the kids go to the park or watch a video.

If you are looking for a lighter fare, something with fewer calories, then it’s time for you to stuff yourself with your next SB Bonus with Swago: Thanksgiving! This month’s Thanksgiving themed board offers a possible 400 SB ($4) Bonus!

What is SWAGO you ask? It’s a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. When you complete a task, watch that square change colors like the leaves of Fall. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great way to learn how to use the site, and it’s a lot of fun!

Here’s what you need to know to get your 400 SB Bonus:

  • Swago will begin on Monday, November 14th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT, make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete.
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • The game ends Monday, November 21st at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

Now, do not be like my family.  If you have never tried SWAGO before, take a deep breath and at least try a bite.  You never know what you might like.  After all, that is how I found I liked Burgoo soup, something which my husband still refuses to even try.  It is a good thing I have a great meatloaf recipe.

Oct 112016
 

pink-cone-flower-bloom

Well, Dear Readers, most of you were unaware that I was actually gone these past several days, but that is what happened.  Last week, I loaded George and Jack up into the car and drove almost half a day to visit family for 6 days (which included 2 days of traveling).  I am pleased to say the trip out was uneventful and actually pretty easy.

The trip back was also fairly easy, if you do not count the side trip where I took way too long trying to find a road with no sign.  All’s well that end’s well, and I got to have a brief visit with a friend who I may not see again for quite some time.

The middle of the trip, though, that was the interesting part.  The plan was to visit family.  Simple.  What happened was visit family and have my body decide to do its own intense cleanse … of all food inside of it… for over 24 hours.  Yeah, not a fun.  Can I call it ‘organic’ as there was nothing chemical about its induction?

Day 1 of the cleanse I wanted to be completely out for the count, but knew that was not an option.  Thankfully the zoo does not take too much effort and behaviors were held in check very well.  Or, at least I thought so.  We have not seen these particular family members for a few years so they did not know what they were potentially missing on the ADHD/anxiety front.  🙂

Day 2 I was able to keep down liquid but not exactly full of energy.  “You want to play on your cousin’s iPad for 6 hours? Sure, go right ahead.”  “You want to play in the (fenced in) backyard unsupervised? Go right ahead.”  Everyone survived and no iPad was thrown.

Day 3 I felt back to normal and we headed back home.  🙂

Today, we are home.  I am exhausted, yet can not sleep.  My brain is moving on to a big event coming up, something for which I need to be preparing in many different areas.  While I have been making vast progress in all of the areas, I am not quite there yet and need to keep moving.  My dad is coming by to help for a few days.  This should aide in knocking off those last few items on my list – I hope.  I really, really hope.

Feb 162016
 

Shutterfly Photo Books 468x60
Today only, receive free shipping from Shutterfly.com on orders over $39.  If there are still pictures on your camera from the recent holidays or even this past year, this would be a great time to print them off.  You can also get order Photobooks, stationery, cards, and more from Shutterfly.  What a great way to relive all your favorite moments!

shutterfly photo envelope

This post contains affiliate links.  I have ordered from this company previously and was happy with the quality of their product.

Nov 232015
 

Count Your Blessings

Last week I made painting a priority, to the detriment of posting here.  And housework. And yard work. And anything past basic meals.

What was accomplished was all of the priming, 90% of the garage (half the ceiling needs painted), and the ceiling in another room.  That leaves one whole room and the stairways to paint.  At this point I am focusing on the ceilings first, so the electricians can come finish their work.  I was able to talk to the HVAC person who made my life easier by saying, “Let me know when the electricians can come out and I will do my best to be there, baring any other meetings I have to be in.”

Once all the painting, and accompanying de-wallpapering, is completed we can look at putting in flooring.  Yes, we will still need doors, baseboard and handrails, but at that point it will feel like it is actually able to be used.  Doors?  Who needs a door?

Home improvement work is such a constant in my life right now, it is not surprise that a lot of my blessings reflect that reality.

  1. When I realized last week that the 4 gallons of paint I was planning to use on the ceilings and some walls was of such poor quality as to not even be an option, I started to see $$ signs.  Finding almost 3 gallons of appropriately tinted paint in the basement was a huge blessing (and cost savings).
  2. Adding to the previous thanks giving, I have several gallons of paint left over from redoing my bedroom closet.  That particular 5 gallons of paint was already marked down at the time, so it was a savings then and now.  There should be enough to do two coats on the ‘old’ upstairs room.
  3. I was ever so thankful, and made sure to mention it several times, that Jack was able to do his (simplified) school work without too much fanfare, fairly independently AND then entertain himself while I painted.  Sometimes he was in the room with me, sometimes he watched t.v., and sometimes he was building things elsewhere.  He has come a long way in this area.  A year ago I would not have let him out of sight as he would have been straight out the door going who knows where.  Having this extra time with him each day is really paying off.
  4. A call from a friend whom I have not seen nearly enough this past year, even though she lives right next door, reminded me of what a blessing she has been.  If it was not for her, I would have gone a few years without a friend after moving here.  It is because of her that I know so many people in Small Town, and how they are related.  🙂
  5. Friends can be hard to make when you are new to a place.  I tried several times without huge success.  My newest friend is also a transplant to Small Town and someone whom, when we first met, I did not think I would get along.  Turns out we have a lot in common, even if that also means we have a lot of differences.  She gets my sarcasm and I get hers.  Her oldest is a year younger than Jack and just as boy-ish.
  6. The sun shining through the window right now, though blinding me, reminds me of the blessing it brings.  If in doubt, ask anyone in the Midwest come February.  Sundshine really can affect your mood.
  7. The light song of the bird outside.  Though there is snow turning to mud, there is still beauty to be found.
  8. My hope is to reuse some of the old doors found in our basement.  I am not sure which previous owner decided to start the collection, but it is something I am been thankful for several times in the past as we have found doors to reuse thoughout the house.  There is one door in particular, an old exterior door I believe, that I am hoping to reuse inside.  It has a glass pain to that needs replacing and some painting or staining.  The first I will need to find someone to do or add to my skill set.  The second step I am fairly confident I can accomplish.
  9. Peanut butter chocolate shakes.  So simple yet so yummy.
  10. It may seem like an odd thing to think of right now, with still so much to do around here and outside, but it is there.  I am thankful for the hope that a new year brings, gardening wise I mean.  I may have not been able to focus a lot of my energy this past year on the garden or the yard, I was able to do several things.  It does not have to be done perfect, you only need to do something.  I have found that movement begat movement.  A second step is easier to take than the first, as you already have momentum.  Next year will be easier because I took some first steps, albeit small ones, this  year.

What are some of the blessings and thanks givings you have in your life right now?  It may be as small as the bird singing outside your window or the sun shining through it, but there is always something there if you look.

Nov 112015
 

Count Your Blessings

In keeping with the theme of things this week, here are the blessings I am thankful for … a few days later than I had scheduled them to be posted.  It does not mean I am any less thankful, but instead that I am thankful for kids who slept in about 20 minutes more so I could finish typing it all up.

It is so easy to focus on all that is going wrong, or seemingly going wrong.  After starting down that road it can be hard to do a U-turn and head the other way.   I would not be able to post something every day, like several of my friends have been doing this month. Writing this list each week has given me the opportunity to reflect on the past several days and see them in a light that may be different than I was feeling at the time.

Whether you post it online, in a journal, or on a napkin while waiting for your meal at a restaurant, I would encourage you to find several things you are thankful for beyond the typical, “friends, family, home…”  While those are definitely things to be thankful for, as they are not guarantees in life, I also want to to stop and look around for things you may not notice in your day, things you may take for granted at times.  If something as simple as being cut off on your drive somewhere can ‘ruin your day’, something else as simple should be able to brighten your day.  Look for those simple things.

  1. I am very blessed to have friends who are gracious enough to still want to come to our house for “cake and ice cream, and a relaxed party” with only 4 hours notice.  On a Sunday.  Yes, even us Moms make mistakes and forget things that are should be on the calendar.  It actually turned out fairly well thanks to cake, ice cream and a pile of leaves outside.  The kids ranged in age from 3 – 9 year old but all seemed to have fun.
  2. My blackberries decided to root their stem ends outside their fence and into the yard.  I could have cut them off and there by “saving my grass” in that spot.  Instead I am looking forward to having transplants next year.  If I get really on top of things I will dig them up this year and put the dirt into a pot, but not cut the stems off.  That part needs to be saved for next year, giving them new starts time to get established.
  3. While gardening some years has been very stressful, as nothing seemed to grow, this year has been very relaxed.  Things grew even without me paying attention to them.  Not only was the weather fairly mild, but I also dumped several 5 gallon buckets of coffee grounds on everything and covered them with wood chips.  What a great combination.  I really am thankful that most of my zucchini did not come up, thereby giving me another job to do.  Instead I have pumpkin and scalloped squash to decorate my table.
  4. My leaf blower, something I agreed to reluctantly, really is a time saver.  In years past I would mulch the leaves, adding them to garden beds and the base of trees.  This year, with other items needing attention I gave up on that particular activity.  Yesterday reminded me exactly how long it takes to rack the leaves of 4-5 mature trees.  It still takes time using the leaf blower, sometimes it would be quicker to rake in certain areas.  I will need to pay more attention and use the appropriate tool in the future.  For now, though, without a neighborhood kid to do it for us, I am using the leaf blower.
  5. Our in home Wifi network took some setting up, but is something we take for granted now.  It enables my husband to do his school work and me to menu plan at the same time.  No need to use the same computer or even be in the same room.
  6. Canned soup has been my supper solution this past week twice.  After forgetting we even had french onion soup in the pantry, 40+ cans of it, I remembered that my husband actually likes the flavor of the Aldi’s brand.  This is an ingredient in the Super Fast Salisbury Steak that we also like, but is a seasonal item at Aldi, which is why we have so many right now.  I often forget it can be just soup.  A few cans of those and sandwiches means supper in under 15 minutes.  It is higher in salt than I like but I also know that our salt intake is not on the high side so I can live with a meal or two having more than I prefer.
  7. Books.  I love that we live in an age where books are even an option for a lowly person like me.  I could not afford to pay two gold coins for them, nor pay someone to write them on parchment paper.  Over the past few years I have grown more particular about the books I read, finding that I am able to say, “I really don’t like this book” more often than I used to.  However, I am also becoming a bit more adventurous in trying new topics on which I am willing to read.
  8. Parents who are willing to help out by later on this month by taking one of my kids for several days.  This may not seem like such a big thing if you live near your parents and see them frequently.  My parents live hours away and this will require them driving a few hour to meet up with us.
  9. A basement is something our first few homes did not contain.  I grew up in a home with a basement, in an area where most homes had one, and assumed every home had a basement.  After not having one till we moved here I am very thankful for a place to keep our out of season items, my canned items, a place to start seeds in the winter and in general a place to keep those items that do not have a place in other parts of our home.  That last part is especially important as we have a lack of closet space in this old home of ours.
  10. Two years ago my parents gave us that gift of a new porch swing.  I love being able to sit on something that we no longer feel like we are going to slide off.  Unfortunately, I have not used it as much this year as I have hoped … but the year is not over yet.
Jul 252015
 

painting car art childSo what have I been up to all week?  (cue music and fade out)

Visiting our nation’s capital with my family and visiting some old friends.   Old as in how long I have known them, not their ages.  How we are blessed to have people we can call friends, who after 4+ years of not seeing them still open their home to us or invite us to come visit.  These are the types of friends I want, the ones who do not view the passage of time as diminishing our friendship.

We left last Friday, drove through the night (time passes quicker for the kids that way) and arrived on the East Coast in time for breakfast.  Hey, once in college … maybe a bad way to start the sentence 🙂 … when I was younger a group of guys drove all night from school to Florida.  It was a surprise destination for them over a weekend, down and back with about 30 minutes spent in the water.  If they can do it, so can we.

In preparation for the trip, I picked up a few new to us DVDs two weeks ago from garage sales and a consignment store  They cost about $2 each and should give us 4 or 5 hours of ‘quiet’ video watching time on the way home.  I also stopped by the dollar store and let them pick out stickers, activity books, and a toy.  I grabbed a few surprise items as well.  To round it off, I gathered up all the small, car friendly crafts from our Art box and put them into a bag for the car.  These are for the trip down and back, as well as during the week if we need a few calmer evening activities.

George was just slightly vibrating with anticipation when he learned that he will get to see where the ‘real’ President lives.  I remember the first time I got to see the White House.  My age had a few extra digits than George’s, but it was still exciting.  A tour will have to wait, as I am not sure I could handle taking Jack through there.  Maybe in another five 10 years.

In addition to visiting friends and seeing the sites I have been trying to catch up on some reading.  As of late I feel a bit unmotivated to sit down with a book and read.  It may have something to do with being kept busy with other areas of life – can we say home remodel, homeschooling, feeding and clothing my family?  So I took this opportunity to down load a few more books.  I will let you know how they turn out.

Garden Party: A Guide to Throwing an Awesome Party in Your Garden is one of the books I am hoping to read.  I have always envisioned having a garden party, though I’m not sure this is the year for it.  Hoping to get the motivation and inspiration to host one next Spring/early Summer.

Staining the deck, reseeding the grass, painting the shed, and finding some patio furniture and lights are at the top of my list of things to do in preparation for next year.  Beyond that, I’m not sure exactly what to plan.  Hence I am reading this book.  I will let you know if it turns out as beneficial as I hope.

Carrots Celery Potatoes in Basket

For now, we are finishing up our trip.  The immediate plans, once we get home, will be laundry and perhaps some grocery shopping.  I tried to use up most of the food in the fridge.  We have a great selection of condiments, but I am not sure what you can make with cordial cherries, soy sauce, carrots and blackberry jam.  Any ideas?

 

Feb 042015
 

Snow Day began the week, with some productive things being done.

Sick Day followed, with very little being done.

And though we were still under the weather, the next day suddenly became Fix The Flat Tire Day as it began with an early morning call that a close relative passed away.  Close in terms of relatedness, not geography.

Knowing that we I was going to have to drive with George and Jack many hours away, I decided it was time to find a place to get a new tire.  (It went flat 2 weeks ago.) Our spare is a full sized tire, but is over 10 years old.  I trust it around town, and to Big Town some.  I didn’t want to test it by going hours and hours away over Interstates and rural roads.  Wanting a different brand of tire than what was on my car currently meant I had to go to Big Town, at least a 3 hour ordeal after all was said and done.

books time planner school

That brings us to today.  This afternoon was taken up by a few hours of at home therapy and the need to wash clothes at the laundry mat, meaning only this morning was really free.  Even then. I knew Jack needed to get back into the routine of school work. We stayed at home and eased our way back into it with four books of read alouds and a lesson on Reading Eggs. I also  introduced a clock, the parts, hours and minutes, and how the hour hand turns.  We played with it some, taking turns turn the dials and having the other tell the time.

Tomorrow is going to be Get Ready To Leave Day.  Not only do I need to pack for me and the two boys, but also make sure the house is set up for my husband to be here by himself for about 24 hours.  He will do homework and get some much needed quiet time while we are away.  There is food here for him to eat, but he needs to know what it is and where.  I went ahead and put out a new package of salami, so he is good for two or three meals already.  🙂  There are even slicing tomatoes in the fridge for him to use, and I found three bottles of sparkling water in the basement today.  So far he will be just fine all by his lonesome.

Then comes the Long Drive Day.  If all goes as I hope, I will be taking George out of school a few hours early in order for us to get to our destination while it is still decent.  I would love to get there by 7 o’clock, but that all depends on when George’s tests are on Friday. I emailed his teachers, explaining why I wanted to leave early.  My hope is that they do not make me stay in Small Town 2 extra hours just so he can take a spelling test.

Saturday starts off a bit early, even more so since there will be a time change involved.  There is also going to be a Mass at the funeral.  Though we are Christians, we are not Catholic.  I grew up with family and friends who are and in an area where it is a part of the culture, to an extent.  George and Jack, though, um, no.  I can almost guarantee they had never been to church before coming to live with us.  It has finally gotten to a point that I can take them both by myself and do okay in our (conservative/traditional) church service.  If my husband goes, which is 99% of the time, Jack is more likely to act up as he wants Daddy, especially if Mom is being mean and making him sit quietly on her lap, which is every Sunday.  (He thinks if he goes to Daddy, then Daddy will let him sit on the floor or crawl around or any host of things that Mommy very much will NOT let him do.  I’m smarter than that and caught on fairly quickly, which is why I’m “a mean mommy”.)

Okay, so back to the Mass.  I am not sure how the boys will handle it, so I will have to prepare them before hand.  I have been to several in my life, some even in different languages, though only one or two that were in a situation where a funeral was involved.  I’m hoping the newness of it will keep their attention and that Jack will (please, please, please) remember to use his quiet voice.

chocolate souffle with mint ice cream

 

(The image above has nothing to do with the text.  I thought it looked happy and yummy, so I wanted to add it in – a chocolate souffle my husband made a while back, topped with mint chocolate ice cream.)

Due to logistics, I think we will be driving back to Small Town on Saturday afternoon/evening.  I had considered staying the night with my parents, then did the math on driving times.  Staying a night at their house would mean 3 more hours of driving and more disruption to George’s and Jack’s lives.  Right now, that is a stress I do not need or want.  They do not always handle change well, and if the holidays were any indicator, even the change of visiting the grandparents will set them off.  Jack regressed almost 3 years by the time we came back from our Christmas visit.  To say the drive home was horrible would be putting it nicely.  I had forgotten just how trying those drives used to be.  We revisited almost every one of our old “pull-over favorites”.

There will also be added stress going on there related to the funeral and related matters.  Not only do I not want to add to my stress level, but I also do not want to add to my parents’.  If we can show up a bit early on Friday night and spend time with them Saturday morning, the interactions all around will be of a much better quality.

IMG_20140808_075213312

I have a post scheduled for later this week, but otherwise it might be quiet on here till Sunday.  My energy levels are pretty low as I am fighting a head cold or something that has drained a lot of my energy.  Between that and the upcoming activities, I am not sure exactly how much time I have to stop by.  This is also why I have been a bit quieter than planned these past few days.  I even skipped meal planning and decided to wing it.  I had meat in the fridge and made a meal around one type of the other every evening.

Tonight, with just me and the kids, I had turkey franks (picked up free with a coupon) and fried potatoes.  Dessert was chocolate milk while I read a story.

Yup, when Mama is feeling wiped out, meals get pretty basic.  When George asked what was for supper I told him hot dogs.  When he complained and asked what else, I told him potatoes.  When he complained and asked what else, I told him hot dogs.  When he started to whine again I cut him off and told him that if he did not like it, he did not have to eat anything and I would be very okay with that.  Guess what.  He ate hot dogs and took seconds of the potatoes. 🙂

 

Mar 132014
 

broken bowl 2

 

One of the jobs around our house with which the kids help with is putting away dishes.  When they were younger they would do things like measuring cups and cutting boards.  Then they grew taller and were able to put the utensils away.

For Mamma here, allowing them to put away breakable things was a leap of faith.  Could they be trusted to carry them to the proper spot, sit them down while opening doors, and then sit them nicely in their places?  It was a great surprise when I found out the oldest could do this.  Not only was this job able to be done once, but repeated itself over and over till the years passed and I grew in confidence with this child.

Then came #2.  Usually #2 is my biggest helper, who actually is a help.  However, #2 is also smaller than #1 and doesn’t like to listen to instruction.  This child seems to have two speeds – fast and asleep.  So with much, much, MUCH trepidation I agreed to let this one graduate to helping with breakable things.  There were limits, like no canning jars or things I really would be devastated over losing.  Otherwise, with a work of caution, I would place my glass baking dishes and bowl into these little hands one at a time to make their way across the room.

The above was a large bowl.  One of the three I own – the only large glass bowl and the only large bowl with a lid.  The bowl made it safely across the kitchen to the appropriate door about 10 feet away. It was safe while the door was opened.  The bowl was within 6 inches of being put away … then the kid got distracted by their sibling in the dinning room, so decided to go check it out with the large bowl held by ONE hand.  The bowl made it safely 5 feet back (the way it had just come) to the doorway from the kitchen to dining room.

All the while I was watching this and reminding child #2 to, “Put the bowl away.  STOP.  Carry it with two hands BACK to where you were and put it away.”  It was a vain attempt but I was hoping child #2 would choose the right thing to do.

When child #2 lost interest in what sibling was doing, the child turned quickly around to go put the bowl away.  Did I mention it was being held with one hand?  The result was similar to discus, the Track & Field event, except with someone not as strong so it didn’t fly as far.

I was too far away to catch it, saying a fast prayer the whole time that it would just bounce.  It didn’t.

Before child #2 had time to even breath I snatched up the child.  Kneeling down in the door way, with the kid on my knee, I calming looked at what happened.  After all, there wasn’t anything I could actually do right then to change what happened so I chose to use it as a training experience.

We sat looking.  I empathized.  I hugged.  I reassured.  THEN, we talked about what happened and why.

“This is why Mommy says to use two hands.  Did you do that?”

“This is also why I say to focus and not be distracted. You were within a few inches of putting this away but then decided to walk all the way back here to look at your sibling.  What should you have done instead of bring the bowl all the way back here to watch?”

Then with very strict orders to “Obey and do not come into the kitchen” I went to get a broom.  It was halfway around the room.  Across the glass.  Knowing the direction the bowl had flown, I stayed against the wall working my way to the pantry.  This location had the least chance of having glass shards.  I made it.  Once the broom made an appearance, I had to remind yet again to OBEY.  I also clarified that this time the child was not allowed to clean up their mess, that Mamma would do it.

You should have heard the start of a tantrum about that, “But, but, but you say we should clean up our messes.  I want to use the broom!  I made the mess!”  Not wanting to walk back across the floor I looked on with a blank face and said, “Go to your room.”  Tantrum stopped.  Apparently if you can’t use the broom the next best thing is to be able to watch someone else use it?

Makes me wonder why we even have Netflix.  We could just give out brooms.

In the end I found glass all the way across the room, under shoes by the shoe rack.  I even found some had gone backwards and into the dinning room.  Thankfully we don’t have any crawlers at this stage.

broken bowlWhile I am sad about the lose of my bowl, I know it can be replaced.  The kid who had the accident has much more of a personality that needs to experience a consequence for it to be real.  No theory with this kid.  It is almost like your reasons or threats are not real until they actually happen.  It is at that point the kid is completely surprised that what you have been saying this whole time would actually happen.  And forget doing something 5 or 10 times and the kid learning.  Thing 100 or 200 times.  Yes, it is tiring.

Raising kids can be a messy experience, not only materially but also spiritually.  I would say I get it wrong about as often as I get it right.  The thing is, don’t give up.  Just because this time was a failure doesn’t mean you don’t pick up the pieces and try again.

How often in the Old Testament do we read about God giving Israel yet another chance to get things right?  To do-over what he asked of them?  Yes, there are consequences for our actions but that doesn’t mean another chance isn’t given.

Sometimes I feel that it is easier to just do it myself.  I get aggravated at kids not paying attention to what their bodies are doing, them not being mindful of their surroundings nor paying attention to the task at hand.

On the good days I give second chances or reminders.  I catch the bowl before it is knocked off the table.

On bad days I cause tears and heartache.

The bowl above is as much a reminder to me as it is to the kid who dropped it: Some things can not be undone.  Words, actions, body language … it can’t be taken back.

I’ve been trying hard to work on this, to choose to not speak instead of speaking in haste or annoyance.  I am also choosing to say “I love you” and give kisses more often, to say “Thank you for helping” when a kid doesn’t need the reminder.  It won’t unbreak what I have done, but it may reinforce what is still there, building a stronger bond so that next time one of us slips the bowl may bounce instead of break.

It seems the kids aren’t the only ones in training.  Thank you, God, for all your second chances.

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Mar 052014
 
Last week while browsing through a few new-to-me blogs, I came across two posts in particular that have remained with me. Not only have they remained in my thoughts, but have also caused personal reflection and changes in my attitude.
The first post was a source of encouragement, a place where I realized just how much keeping something inside can wear you down.  The second was a post about sharing the things God is doing in your journey, to allow others in our faith family to share in the anticipation, joys and trials.  (I can’t find the link to the second post, but will keep looking.)
The journey to adopt can be a lonely one, and very personal.  Add in the foster care side of things and it isn’t any easier , even if you are surrounded by case workers.  If it wasn’t for the supports I have found on the internet, I would definitely be in a darker place.  
It isn’t that my friends don’t care, it is that I find it hard to share.  How do you explain that you got a call this morning and now are a mom of a few more kids?  How do you explain that you said “yes” to this phone call but not the last one?  Or that after being the parent to a teenager for several months a conversation with a supervisor at the foster care office (between your family, your foster kid and the agency workers) resulted in you now being an empty-nester … oh, and you can’t tell them why due to privacy issues?
With others online I can vent to them or share our joys, and they understand because they are going through the same thing or made it to the other side.  However, there is a level of anonymity you have to keep up to protect the privacy of the kids and for your own safety.  You can’t exactly say, “My name is Jane Doe, I live on Mulberry lane and have three kids named Peter, Paul, and Mary. Here are their issues and, oh by the way, can you believe what just happened?!”  In some sense, you are still hiding behind a mask.
Kid in Library
Becca at Milk & Honey Living is the mother of two biological children and on the journey to adopt a third.  Towards the beginning of her journey she thought it would be fun to share a: WAITING Questionnaire…for the Adoptive Mother!  Often expectant mothers will share events along the way.  This may be the first time they felt a kick, or found out the gender of the baby, pictures from their ultrasounds or pictures documenting how their own bodies are changing over time.  When you are an adoptive mom, so such things exist for you.  It isn’t nearly as exciting to say, “We submitted our fingerprints!!!”  or “They found us normal enough after the home study to actually continue on! Next stop, background checks!”
At first I thought this questionnaire would be a cute thing to do.  Then I answered the questions, just for fun.  What I didn’t realize was that at the end of answering these and sharing them in the comment section of her post, I would feel lighter.  It was as if a burden was lifted and I was no longer on this journey by myself.
Below are my answers to most of the questions, which I posted in the comment section of the Day 176 update:
How long have you been waiting? After being foster parents for over 4 years we are now at the point of adopting our kids. It has been 2 years and 50 weeks (1080 days) since they moved in, 21 months (about 630 days) since termination of parental rights.
Any News? Yes! In 17 days we get to finalize the adoption.
How are you feeling today? Excited to finally have the end in sight, nervous that something will go wrong and we won’t get to adopt, and cautious to mention it to anyone we know (see being nervous)
What are your prayers right now? That we will get to the court date without any hiccups. AND that once the adoption is finalized and our home reopens for more foster kids, I will be patient and continue to learn to wait on His timing – that I’ll be content with our family as it is if that is His wish.
What have you done with your kids this week? Great question. It is so easy to lose this focus when being distracted by something ‘looming’ in the distance. Built a tent in the living room that then stretched across the playroom and into a bedroom. Read books. Baked cookies.
Nervous about anything? See prayer requests above.
Dreaming about/Looking forward to this week: Having kids with the same last name as us. No more case worker visits every month (at least for these kids). Sunshine and gardening. Walks to the park. The sound of the lawnmower…as a local teen mows our grass. 🙂
What are you doing to prepare? To prepare for the finalization, I am picking up the house in case people want to come by once they hear about it happening. To prepare for potential new foster kids (we told our agency no new kids till this adoption was finished; the kids really needed the time and are doing so much better) I am decluttering, adding meals to the freezer, and trying to get to all those projects around the house that have piled up.
How are you taking care of yourself this week? Exercising a few times this week and finishing up a book I started.
New Baby Items: Part of the decluttering involved getting out old shirts to make into prefold diapers. There is no guarantee of a baby in our future, but these can always be given to someone else if it turns out we don’t need them.
Did you catch the part about “Any News?”  That’s right, the adoption process is finally about to come to a close.  This is the part where I was very, very tempted to keep the news to myself. “What if something happens (from the state or agency side of things) and the court date is delayed?” “What if someone says something and the agency decides to move the kids?” “What if the birth family call the hot line and makes a false claim?” “What if a new worker comes along and doesn’t like us?” “What if there is a blizzard and we have to wait another month or two?”  – okay, this may is most likely to happen this winter, but for once I’m praying for no snow on this particular date.  🙂 “What if …. what if …. what if …?”
Psalm 19 14 It was at this point that I had to stop myself and remember the second thing I had read and which had made me say, “Ouch.  Yup, I do that.”  I so wish I could find this again, so I’ll keep searching, till then let me paraphrase – by keeping points along the journey to ourselves we are taking away the opportunity for those around us to celebrate with us or to support us in our trials.  Just like we all anticipate the birth of a baby whom we aren’t carrying and rejoice when it is born, so those around us anticipate the finalization of our adoption and celebrate the (official) new members of our family.  They celebrate that these little people will be a permanent part of their lives as well.  Who am I to take away that joy from them?
My concern has always been the part where things don’t always go as planned.  How do I explain it?  We started the adoption phase with these particular kids almost 2 years ago.  2 years! I knew it was going to be a long wait and wanted to enjoy it a bit before telling others.  Surely in 6 months we would be almost there and then we could tell people.  It was somewhere about 9 months later that we told the first person (parents).  Another 6 months before we told anyone else (a sibling).  This part was taking longer than we thought.  The thing was, it was during those 15 months when almost nothing happened in the process.  Zilch. In all honesty, it should have been completed by that point, not just starting.  It did allow us time as a family to find our groove, to calm down and find our ‘normal’.  Behaviors greatly improved and we were able to live day to day without the two steps back due to triggers.
Life isn’t perfect, but we are still growing and working on our character flaws – all of us. Part of me is glad we didn’t tell people right away.  That meant we didn’t have to explain how nothing was progressing.  How frustrated we were with the case workers, the agency, the state.  Most people who didn’t know the system didn’t know it shouldn’t have been this way.   (The .01% who did was a high school friend who I forgot worked with a local state’s child care system and picked up on the time frame right away.) Part of me looks back and wonders if we should have told more people sooner.  Isn’t the truth better than whispers and guesses?  It would have given them time to lower barriers they may have put in place to keep their hearts from being broken if the kids were to return home.  They could have started to think of these kids as a more permanent part of their lives and began investing emotionally as such.
I also realized how much I was not relying on God, how much I was not trusting His timing.  Surely He knew what was best, the reason for the delays and fumblings of human hands.  Who am I to question Him? So now with greater confidence, though not from the street corner as I don’t want to cause an accident, I ask all of you to pray for us as we go to court in a week and a half to finalize the adoption of our foster kids.

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