Monday, April 11, 2011

I bet my pile is bigger than your pile.

Often times I forget what is considered normal.

 I forget that not every household has a grocery bill of $300 per week minimum. Don't forget to add at least another $200 in toiletries.

I forget that not every household goes through a minimum of 5-8 gallons of milk per WEEK

I forget that not every household drinks a minimum of 5 gallons of water per DAY.

I forget that not every household goes through 36 rolls of toilet paper not in a month, but in a week instead. That only includes what we wipe with, not what gets watered down and plastered to the ceiling. It also doesn't include the rolls of toilet paper that become Barbie blankets or clothes. It also doesn't include the rolls of toilet paper that the kittens decide to shred into teeny tiny pieces and spread from one end of the house to the other. No, that's just what we wipe with.

I forget that not every household shops at Sam's club, not monthly or weekly but sometimes daily.

I forget that not every household washes 7 pairs of socks, 7 shirts, 7 pairs of jeans, 7 pair of undies, 7 towels,7 pair of pj’s, and blankets and sheets and whatever else may have gotten drug through the mud or used as a batman cape while running through the sprinklers, or need I say it? Much, much worse!

And then I am reminded how not normal it is when I post up a picture of one day’s worth of laundry on Facebook and people are completely in awe at the pile; that mind you, isn’t nearly complete.

It makes me giggle to think how intrigued people are with my laundry pile.  It certainly isn’t intriguing to me. But then again, I sometimes forget what is normal.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

♥ Broken Hearts ♥

My girl came home from school today sobbing with a broken heart.
When I finally got the reason out of her I didn't know how to respond.
I wanted to rip the heart out of the perpetrator, but I assume that this is a normal maternal response.

I tried to assure her that everything would be alright. I tried to listen, without offering too much advice. I am after all just a dumb mommy with no life experience, and certainly no experience with boys. As my life after all only began 14 years ago and I was magically an adult. 

Listening to her tale took me back to my own youth and it reminded me how many times my own heart was broken and how at the time it seemed like the end of the world.

I wanted to tell her that this too shall pass, but I knew she wouldn't hear it. I wanted to tell her that in 15 years she'd look back and laugh at how silly she must have seemed crying over some boy, but I knew that would only make her think that I didn't understand. I wanted to tell her that someday she'd find the boy who instead of making her cry would wipe all her tears away but I knew she wouldn't believe me. I wanted to tell her how much more life there is to experience, but I knew that this moment is all she can see.

I chose to take the delicate route. I chose to just listen and not say much. I don't want to overstep my bounds.
 But all this got me thinking.

Being a parent tends to leave you feeling raw. Constantly questioning yourself.

From the time they are born you begin to question yourself. "Am I feeding her enough?" "Am I feeding her too much?" Eventually those questions subside, only to be replaced with new ones. As they get older you question things like when are they old enough to go into a public restroom by themselves. While you question yourself, it's only for a fleeting moment and then it passes.

But never in my life have I questioned myself like I do while raising a teenage daughter. I feel so raw and unsure of myself as a mother.

I know that we are at one of the most delicate places that we will ever be as mother and daughter.  I know that the choices that she makes right now can very well affect her life for the next 4 years, quite possibly longer. I know that my reaction to those choices will affect my relationship with my daughter for the rest of our lives.

Which way do I go? Which way do I turn? Have I given her the tools that she needs to make the kinds of decisions she is facing right now? Have I shown her in every way that I know how to be a strong and independent woman and not to be swayed by peer pressure and insecurities?

Never in my life have I felt so raw.  Never in my life have I felt such fear.

Time will only tell. I pray that I have shown that she can be strong and that I am always here for her.  I pray that I have given her all the tools she needs to make the right choices. All the tools that I never had.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sisters By Heart

I have this sister, but we didn't share the same womb. We don't have the same blood, but she's my sister just the same. She's the one I call when my sky doesn't seem so blue. She's the one who calls me when hers doesn't either.  She is the one who comes to me when she hears me calling, although I haven't said a word. I am the one that comes to her, when I hear the same.

She is the one who taught me what family really is. She taught me that the word sister doesn't always mean blood. She taught me that I don't always have to be strong, because I have a sister I can lean on.  She taught me that there is strength in numbers and that she will stand with me and face any adversary, right by my side. She is the sister I've never had.

She really is an amazing woman. She smiles through adversity. She always stands tall. She takes care of everyone, never thinking for a moment of her own needs. She inspires me, daily. She takes pride in all that she does. She is no stranger to a hard day’s work. She is the mother that I only dream of being. She has the patience of a saint. In fact, I often wonder where she hides her wings.

It's been said that friendship isn't one big thing, but a thousand small ones. I know that to be true, in sisterhood as well.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

But they're adopted now, right?

I wish I knew which button to push
Then I'd know how to please you
It's sad but true
So I'll just listen in down the line
While you're busy mixing grape with grain
To sedate your pain

Songbird you got tales to tell
How many times can you describe your living hell?

The sweeping gesture creates a fuss
It's only useful when receiving praise
Relieving no-ones pain
If you'd let somebody love you just enough
You'd have everything you'd need to break
Free from all your pain

Songbird you got tales to tell
How many times can you describe your living hell?

I wish I knew which button to push
Then I'd know how to please you
It's sad but true

If you'd let somebody love you just enough
If you'd let somebody love you just enough
If you'd let somebody love you just enough
If you'd let somebody love you just enough

Anyone who has ever dealt with foster kids knows that they come with a completely different set of rules. You can no longer use the term 'normal' and when you do, it must be with a very loose interpretation. You know that "I love you" may never come. You know that "I want to live here" only means, this place will do for now. You know that at some point they will attempt to disrupt, pushing to see how far they can push you before you 'throw them out' and reject them like everyone else in their lives have.   You know that these kids come with certain behaviors and pray that they learn different ways to deal with their emotions, rather than using these behaviors that have kept them 'safe' all along.
At some point though, you settle into a routine with these rules they have set in place and you learn how to maneuver around them and hopefully at some point they learn that they don't have to keep guard over these rules and that you are trusty worthy.

Many times though, the rules stay the same. Even when they get adopted.
Many times though, the behaviors don't go away. Even when they get adopted.

They lurk under the surface, waiting like a monster under the bed to jump up and slap you in the face.
They are always there, just simply waiting.

While life with these kids is as rewarding, many times if not more than most people's version of a 'normal' child. It's not always a walk in the park, even after they've been given the stability of a home and a family.

So many people say to me "But they're adopted now, right?" Or "But they've been with you for 6 years (or 4 years) now?"

Yes, they've been with me for 6 and 4 years, respectively. But how can 6 years or 4 years, change the past? How can 6 years make a kid who never felt safe, or comforted, or full at night, or secure in himself, or loved; feel all of those things, and trust in those feelings?

And sometimes, I have to remind myself of these things.  Sometimes, I have to remind myself that the behaviors are their defense mechanism. It's what's gotten them through the toughest of times and the worst of times. It's like asking them to cut off their right arm and feel perfectly OK.  When it will never be OK.

I have to remind myself as well as those around me, that these are not 'normal' kids. They are damaged, and they are broken. And yes, sometimes they are purposely trying to make me crazy because they want to see how far they can push. Even all these years later, they want to see when I will cast them out with the trash. And yes, they are intentionally trying to manipulate me. It's built into them, it's who they are right now.

I implore you to look up the terms Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Find out what it means and that it doesn't go away over night, if ever. They will always have rules for those of us in their lives to abide by.

As a mother, I don't know how to fix it. I am not sure that it's even fixable. I wish I knew which button to push to make them whole again. I wish I knew which button to push to allow them to let me love them just enough.

And sometimes, when the "I love you" finally comes, for a brief moment in time you forget the rules. You forget the behaviors. And you realize that this is your life. And you accept the "I love you's" as few and far between as they are. And you relish in the days where the behavior's don't sneak up and smack you in the face. You cherish the moment when your little boy can say with the most tender of heart to his sister "I love you and you have pretty hair." Those are things you learn not to take for granted, and while you want to shout it from the mountain tops how proud you are of him for making that one small statement...You don't because somewhere in the back of your mind you remember the rules. So you quietly smile and whisper "that was so nice of you"...

And then you think, but sometimes love isn't enough.
And then you realize, but it has to be.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Super Moon...

We drove up to South Mountain the night of the super moon. South Mountain is one of my most favorite places to take a drive to, especially at night. I love just sitting up there and watching the city lights and I love the drive. 
I love the tracers, I think they are interesting. We ended up getting some unique pics and some really cool ones just by playing with the shutter speed of the camera. They aren't all great pics but I still like them just the same. I wasn't actually looking for the perfect shot, I wanted to see how interesting they would be as I played with the shutter speed.

I wish that the landscape wasn't so blurry, even though I wanted the lights to blur. Oh well, still learning!

I was hoping that this had more tracers but I didn't have the shutter speed fast enough.

I thought this one came out kinda cool!

I think the best ones actually came from my backyard instead of South Mountain.

The clouds look so cool!

Definitely one of my faves!

Hands down, my fave of the entire night. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dear Sister

Tonights post isn't a current one. A conversation I had tonight left me thinking of my little girl we called sister and I wanted to share with you a letter that I wrote to her about a year after she left us. Sister was our foster child and the day she left, she left a hole in our hearts that will never be filled.

Dear Sister,
Its almost been a year since you left. You are never far from my thoughts, but lately it seems you are on my mind daily.

Its been hard here without you. Life has seemed to go on, but it hasn't been the same. You are the missing piece to our puzzle. I miss you so much, sometimes I feel like my heart is breaking all over again.

I cried my heart out that day. I knew what was happening, but did you? Were you afraid? Did you think your mommy had left you? Did you think I was abandoning you?

I pray that somewhere inside you understood that it wasn't my choice. You would have stayed here forever if it was up to me. Did you feel as alone as I felt that day? Did you know that was goodbye?

For a long time, I didn't feel like I could go on without you. I had to because of Morgan and the boys, but I didn't want to. My life wasn't complete without you. Just as it wouldn't be complete without one of them. I missed you so much, I felt so empty inside. I still miss you and sometimes I can still feel the hole in my heart where you belong. There is a little band aid over it, and sometimes like tonight I take it off and let it breathe. But then, because I know it will never heal completely I have to bandage it back up.

It took a long time to be able to look at your pictures. It was just to painful. Now, most days I can look at them because they remind me of the joy that you brought to all of us. Your grin, the way you said Ricky's name, your temper, the way that you greeted me in the mornings, the way you said my name...The little things you did brought us all so much joy. My mornings have never been the same. We were all so complete. We all loved you so completely. You were our baby girl. I think you always will be. No one will ever fill your shoes.

It has been incredibly hard to grieve you. I don't know how to do it. Its not like grieving the death of someone because I know that you are out there somewhere alive and well. But at the same time, I do have to grieve as if I have lost a child.

I just miss you so much. I hope that you remember me. I hope that you remember Daddy, Morgan and the boys. I hope that you know that one time you had a family that loved and cherished you. I hope that you remember that in our eyes, the sun rose and set upon you. I hope that one day you realize that we are the missing piece in your puzzle and you come home.

I pray that you are loved, and cared for. I pray that you are some one's special baby. I pray that you have a complete family. I pray that something will remind you of me. A smell, a song, something so small that you wouldn't otherwise know it. But that it jars a memory of us. And it makes you question and it makes you search. I pray that search leads you home to us. I pray that in your heart you remember your mama and that you miss me as much as I miss you.

I still can't believe how raw I still feel at times. Maybe I always will. I don't know. Its time for me to close up the bandage for tonight, the hole has done enough breathing.
I love you and miss you with everything that I am.
Love Always,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

So I've been slacking terribly. I haven't reached my goal of a post a day for the month of march but the good thing about setting this goal has been that my blog is at least at the front of my mind.

Today is my 33 birthday and special thanks to my family for making it so special for me.

My knight in shining tin foil took me out on Saturday without the kids, with our close friends. We had a fabulous time and enjoyed sushi for the first time!

Today however, was the real party! And a surprise party at that!

After having a yummy dinner of Gorgonzola chicken salad, and a glass of wine the kids shooed me outside and closed the curtains. They brought out a birthday cake and a tub of ice cream.

I really had no idea what they were up to until Steve yelled whispered "She's coming inside!"

And on the table sat this yummy looking cake!

They sang me happy birthday and gave me my cards. Which were homemade, and every mom knows those are the BEST!

All of my cards were touching, but I think the one that touched me the most was Ricky's. He wrote me a sweet little poem, and even told me that I am a special mom. 

 Anyone who knows Ricky, knows that those sentiments just don't come out of his mouth very often.
So all and all, I think that was my most favorite part of my day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears and Sting Rays....OH MY!

So we went to the zoo on Saturday. We had a fabulous time!
We saw koala bears and sting rays, which were my favorite exhibits.
The kids did really well, I totally owe them kudos! We went for my besties son Waylon's birthday. And we got to take my nephew, Dayton. He had so much fun and we were very happy to spend the day with him.

This is a picture of the sting rays. We got to touch them, I even touched one without squealing or peeing my pants!

No that's not Jon's beard! We laughed when we saw this pic, the hair is from the lady standing next to him but it totally looks like his beard!

They are really neat to touch! They kind of feel rubbery and slick, but not slimy.

Aunt Boo Boo and Waylon after looking at the sting ray's.

This was after I tried to talk her into touching one...She was having NOTHING to do with it!

The whole gang, minus Waylon. He was busy exploring!

We'd never seen a Koala before. They are very interesting creatures.

Outside the Elephant exhibit. The Phoenix Zoo has 3 female elephants but only one is allowed out at a time because they don't get along.

Of course we had to do the petting zoo! Stephen is so tender hearted with animals!

Playing on the tractor! Good times!

We rode the carousel.....

He wanted another go but Aunt Jimbo said no!

And then we rode the camels....

All in all it was a fabulous day! The kids were all fast asleep before we got out of the parking lot!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My fave black and whites

I love black and white photo's. I think there is something more honest and true about them.
So for today's post, I'd like to share some of my favorite black and whites of my family.

Morgan 2009
Tia, Avery, Ricky, and Steve 2009

Jon and I, 2009

Ricky and Steve, 2006

Ricky and Tia, 2008

Ricky 2008

Avery 2008
Tia 2009

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Nipple Incident

First in order for you to completely understand the nipple incident, you have to understand the back story behind it. Unfortunately I do not have pictures of the nipple incident because of a faulty hard drive, so you have to use your imagination.

The whole thing starts out as a toe incident. Tia was about 2 years old at the time and after breakfast one day decided that it would be a good idea to wrap about 7 of those teeny tiny rubber bands around her toe. I noticed the rather large, swollen, purple digit about 20 minutes after she did this. I immediately removed said rubber bands and started rubbing her toe to try and get the circulation back, to no avail. So off we trotted to the doctor's office, where the doctor in all her wisdom thought it would be a good idea to lance the toe. All is well for at least the next 24 hours.

The following day started like any normal day in my house, you know chaotic and the daily nip of gin.  It was summer time which meant all 5 of the kids were home to ensure my spot at the funny farm.  I sent the kids out sometime that morning to play in the kiddie pool, which I must tell you is actually a horse trough.  Real kiddie pools don't last around my house, the kids think it's quite entertaining to poke sticks or any random sharp object into them. So we like to go with something a little more impervious to destruction, like hmmmm steel. Anyhow, I had a brain fart moment and didn't think twice about letting Tia swim with her lanced toe. A few hours later she comes in and tells me that her toe is bleeding. I set her up on the counter and 'removed' her band-aid. Only it wasn't her band-aid, it was her toe. Okay, so it wasn't her WHOLE toe but it was ALL the skin from her toe. Needless to say, since all the flesh was gone from her toe it warranted an emergency room visit. Which by the way I should add would be the second of three visits, for three different kids; all within two weeks of each other.

Since daddy was gone playing trains, I had to call my bestie and her sister to come help. My bestie drove me, Tia, and her fleshless toe to the emergency room, while her sister babysat the other kids for me.

Now for the nipple incident.
Auntie Chacha told the boys to get into the shower while she bathed Avery in my bathroom. So off they go to the shower and everything was going well. Until shower time turns into shave time. Low and behold they find big sister's razor in the shower and they decided to experiment. Now you must understand, they are only about 4 and 5 at this point and look something reminiscent of couple of wet, plucked chickens. So when you are 4 and you have no hair to speak of the most obvious place to shave is your brother's nipple. And when shaving this nipple, you don't just graze the nipple. You actually aim to take the entire nipple off; in one swift, downward stroke. And then just like that, with the blink of an eye; that is in fact how you remove a nipple with a razor.

Auntie Chacha had heart palpitations and in that split second she knew she should have taken a night class on nipplectomy. She immediately called me, while I am at the emergency room already to inform me that we were down one nipple in the house. She was able to stop the bleeding with a spot band aid which also doubled as Ricky's false nipple until his new one would grow back.

And that is what we like to refer to as the nipple incident.

Tia circa 2006

Ricky circa 2007

Ricky should suffer no long term side effects from his nipplectomy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Date Night with Steve-O!

So we implemented a date night with the kids once a week.
Each week it's a different kids week to go out with mom and dad by themselves and get some one on one time. They get to choose where we eat, and what we do afterward.

This week was Stephen's week. After some persuasion from mom and dad, and maybe even a little bribery; he decided against Taco Bell and choose Smashburger instead. YAY! 

He wanted to order off the 'big kid' menu, which we obliged.
He ordered the Arizona Smashburger and smash fries.

His burger was as big as his head! He managed to finish it as well as ALL his fries!

He washed it all down with a frosty mug root beer! Yummy!

We learned that his favorite color this week is red.
We learned that girls with black hair and blue or green eyes are pretty.
We learned that he is STILL afraid of lions, which hasn't changed since he was three.
We learned that he has three favorite sports; basketball, football, and soccer.
We learned that he wants to play Pop Warner in the fall (which gives me heart palpitations).
He also would like for us to buy him the new "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book.

We had a great time, and it's great getting to spend one on one time with the kids like this. I hope they enjoy it as much as I do.

P.S. I just have to give myself a pat on the back, as I am 3 for 3 this month! Go me!

This is when I love them best....

At night when all the chaos of the day is done and everyone is tucked into their beds, this is the time that I love them best.

It gives me the opportunity to reflect on the days happenings and think what could have gone differently, or revel in what actually did go right.

Watching them when they are sleeping makes me think about and appreciate who each one of them are.  I think about the qualities that each of them bring into my life.

I think about how different my life would be without them in it and who I would be without them in it.  See, it doesn't bother me to let my children define who I am because first and foremost; I am a mom.  I can be defined by a million other things when they are grown up and gone, but for today I am their mom.

It's this time of day that I realize no matter how crazy they drive me, no matter how angry they make me, no matter how many times I swear I am going to change my name; that I love being driven crazy, I love being made angry by them, I love threatening to change my name because it all means they are alive, happy, and healthy. 

And I'm not gonna lie, I love the peace and quiet this time of day! ;)

I just wanted to add this one for grins and giggles. =)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Madness!

So I've been super busy and overwhelmed and realized that I have been terrible about keeping up on this thing. So my 'goal' for the month of march is to post a picture a day and write about it. And hopefully that will inspire me to keep up and possibly actually blog about our life.

So for today's post.......

We made homemade play-doh. We had a fabulous time with it and it lasted much longer than I predicted before it started smelling like a yeast factory and I insisted it was time to throw it out. Here are some pics of our creations.

 I love that my kids are still young enough to enjoy this. It is something that I used to do quite often with Morgan when she was little, but I guess little things like that slip your mind and you forget about them. I am glad that I remembered this fun little craft we used to do together so that I could share it with the little ones. 

I love making these little memories with my kids. My hope is that these are the things they remember about our family when they're all grown up.

Here is the recipe for homemade play-doh if you're interested.
 1 cup flour
• 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
• ½ cup salt
• 1 to 2 Tbsp cooking oil
• 1 cup water
• food coloring
Mix flour, cream of tartar, and salt in a pan. Mix desired coloring with water, add with oil to dry mixture. Cook over medium heat until thick. Mix in coloring later if preferred.