In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.















Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The after math of evil's visit

I have been absent from the blog world since last week because my world has been turned upside down. Last Friday, evil came for another visit and this time evil brought her boyfriend, the father of her newest baby. For those that don't know who evil is, evil is my step daughter, the mother of the children we are raising. They were allowed to stay in our home and even though I was against them staying in our home, I agreed, under the conditions that not only did the rules have to be followed but that if anything happened to upset the peace in our home, they would be asked to leave. This is my husband's daughter, and his home, way before I came into the picture, so ultimately it is up to him.

Last Saturday evening, her boyfriend, blew up at us. He ripped us apart over things that were lies that she has told him...he ripped us apart over things he knows nothing about. He even attacked my daughter because she had the audacity to ask him to talk quieter so that the kids wouldn't be woken up. Up until this point we thought he was a pretty decent person but his true colors came out. He is a big guy and he bullied my husband, my daughter and me. He went off and my husband did not handle the situation very well because he did nothing.

He did not make them leave. He did not defend me. He did not stand up for me, my daughter or even himself. It was like evil had a hold of my husbands mouth and mind. In my husbands defense, he is not a loud, aggressive, or controlling person. In fact, I have never heard him raise his voice. He is not a big guy, while this guy is not only big, but also controlling and aggressive. They are completely opposite in size and nature.

I was scared to death and left my home that night because I could no longer stay here in this situation. I stayed away until this morning, when they left. I left because I could not be here with them. I had to step out of this situation because not only was I afraid of this man but I was hurt by my husbands lack of protecting me and that they were allowed to stay here, in my home. I also couldn't stand to look at this person that has told such lies and who has brought so much pain to my life...and to the lives of our little people. It felt like pure evil in this home. It broke my heart to leave the little ones but I knew that if I didn't leave, I would break. Please don't judge me for leaving.

Evil was allowed to stay here, in what was suppose to be my home. Evil was allowed to bully it's way into my home and take it over. Many things that I thought I was sure of in my life have been ripped away. I am back in a home that no longer feels like mine. I know this is my husband's daughter and that he has a lot of thinking to do and decisions to make. I know that he is sorry and regrets doing nothing. I know that I love him yet I still feel wounded and not sure where this leaves me. Now we have to figure out where we go from here. I can't fight this fight alone. He needs to take a stand. If he cannot, then we need to consider handing these little ones back to their mother. I have poured my heart and soul into them...given up everything to do this and yet, when it comes down to it, the outcome is not up to me. Right now, this feels like it would kill me to give them up, but once again it is not just up to me.

It really sucks to end this year like this. My home feels evil. It feels like evil has won. I am trying to make sense of things that are hard to make sense of. I am trying to catch my breath and get my feet planted firmly in the truth...whatever that is. I am scared...hurt and angry. Somehow, I am not the same person I was before all this happened. Here I sit in the after math of evils visit and it may take some time for me to find my place.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to each one of you and your families. May you have a blessed and joyful Christmas that is full of love and laughter. May your time with your loved ones be a time of relaxation and fun. Each one of you have touched my life in some way this year and made my life more rich...it has been a gift to me...and I thank you...for making me smile and laugh...for broadening my world with your views and opinions...for making me think outside the box...for taking the time to stop by my place here and leaving comments that brighten my days.

I have much to be thankful this Christmas...most of all I am thankful for the birth of Jesus and for the rebel that He was...that He loves the rebel in me.


I have so many blessings, that are too many to count. Highest on my list of blessings is my husband, who continues to rock my world.

Next is my five children, whom are fully and completely gifts to me and have forever imprinted my life with each of their individual greatness and made me the mom I grew up to be today. As much as my step daughter has brought challenges to my life, I continue to be thankful for her.

Next is my five grandchildren, who have brought such joy to my life with their sweetness, from the very beginning. I was blessed to be present for 3 of their births and I cried tears of joy, for each one. Now that we are raising 2 of them, my life is that much more blessed and full of more love then I ever could imagine.

Three of my children and and my oldest granddaughter, live too far to be here with us today. They are each here with us in our hearts and are sadly missed. My Christmas does not feel complete without them here...it feels like something is missing. It is hard to believe that I can feel so joyful and yet have my heart ache, all at the same time.

To my youngest child...This is my first Christmas without you and although it is hard, knowing that you are happy right where you are at, makes me happy too. I know that you are doing a lot of Christmas celebrating and that makes my heart very glad. I know that you are happy to be back there, away from the cold and snow.

To my middle child and her significant other...I should be used to not having you here but I don't think mothers ever grow used to having their children gone...at least I don't. Knowing that you both are doing what you want to do with your lives and that you're happy means the world to me. I picture you two snow boarding and snow shoeing up in the mountains and it makes me smile. I know you have to work through these holidays but I know the lives you touch with your job and that you do it well...and that makes me so proud of you both.

To my eldest daughter, new "son" and granddaughter...I am picturing you having your first Christmas together as husband and wife...and as a new family and this fills my heart with such gladness and happiness. I should be used to not spending Christmas with you but I'm not. I know you are where you are suppose to be and that you have made a wonderful life for yourselves...this means the world to me.


May your Christmas be the best it can be...full of peace, joy and love. Please know you are here in our hearts and that each of us miss you. I am sending each one of you many hugs and kisses from all of us. I love each of you to the moon and back.
XXXXOOOO
Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Things I've been reminded of

Things I have been reminded of this past week...

...That there is nothing like having your first candy cane!

...watching Diego saves Christmas for the umteenth time is only boring for me, NOT the little people!

...Never, EVER leave these 2 little people in a room with wrapped presents. Never underestimate what a 1 1/2 year old and 2 1/2 year old can do it together in less then 2 minutes. Always have a shovel for each child because no matter what else there is to do, they will ALL want the same thing, at the same time. And no matter how much the snow is blowing in our faces or how cold it is, I will always have to force my little ones into the house...and most of the time, there will be tears in doing so.

...it's still fun to play in the snow with your children, even after they have grown up. (My eldest son made it possible for my daughter to come home after all! Not sure if she's too happy about coming home since she's been sick with the stomach flu for the last couple of days.)

...standing in a long line to see a Christmas display of Santa's elves, at a big department store, is not a fun idea for little people, no matter how cute it is.

...that my 3 little helpers here will move every ornament within their reach, as often as they can...and that a Christmas tree is truly beautiful when there are at least 3 ornaments hanging from one branch.

...that my little man loves playing the drums(I have my own little drummer boy!) and so does his sister and cousin...makes for lots of drumming and fighting about who's turn it is.

...that little girls love to dress up and do NOT like taking off dress up clothes EVER...thanks to my son, Tinkerbell, now lives at my house.

...that I am really out of shape...pulling 3 kids in a sled is A LOT of work. I really need to get back to working out SOON!

...that big kids like to play in the snow just as much as the little kids.

...he might get lots of joy out of teasing me and calling me his "little mom"...he might think it's funny to be the instigator of trouble with the little people around here...he might think it's funny to throw snow at his mom...he might be bigger then me and all grown up BUT one thing is fore sure, I am still the Mom!


Between work, my son's visit, the stomach flu, chasing after 3 little ones(or should I say, being chased by 3 little ones?)our wonderful Minnesota weather(it's either been really cold...-21 when I went to work yesterday morning or snowing, like it is today, making school late or cancelled) and my lack of motivation to shop, I have most of my family Christmas shopping to do today and tomorrow. But, first I have to bundle up 3 little people so they can "help" me shovel the snow that is continuing to fall. I think there is some hot chocolate with some peppermint schnapps in my near future!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last moments

A last moment with my son...

He's gone once again. He's flown back to the new life that he's been making for himself. He is doing well and most of all, he's happy. What more could a mother ask for? He is following his dreams...making his own path in life...to fly on his own...after all, this is what I taught him to do. My home feels empty once again and my mother heart is breaking. I miss him already. Every moment, that I shared with him is now etched in my heart and my mind keeps going back to those moments of just seeing his face...seeing him smile...feeling his presence here in my home. These precious moments, whether it be with him or another one of my loved ones, are what gives my life meaning and purpose...these moments are like the glue that connects each one of them together, inside my heart. They are my heart.

He's gone and it will take me a little time to recover from his leaving, just as it is when any of my children leave. He may be gone, but he is never gone from heart.

Very soon I will post more pictures of our crazy, busy, and fun week.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Coming home

My daughter called me on Monday to inform me that her and her son were no longer able to come home as planned. To say that I was sad, is an understatement. She called me back to ask if I would like to have my grandson until Christmas. Of course I said yes but didn't allow myself to get too excited until it was a fore sure thing. He is coming! And I am completely excited! His other grandma is meeting me half ways with him, TOMORROW(Tuesday)!

A little history for those that don't know...this is my daughter and grandson that lived with us, shortly after he was born until this summer(about 15 months)when they moved to another state to live. He and my two little people are so close...he is their partner in crime and they are elated that he is coming.

These are the most recent picture I have of my little honey, that my daughter sent me recently. He is one of the sweetest little boys and has such a personality.



I can hardly wait to hug this little guy and kiss this little face!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Things I love

Recently, Steppin Thu, posted a meme in which she was given the letter L and named 10 things that she loves that started with the letter L. At the time, I was too busy to play along, even though I wanted to because I love playing games. Now, Midlife Slices has joined in the fun and posted 10 things she loves that start with the letter R and she put the challenge out to those wanting to play and since I was able to play this time, she gave me the letter D.

So here it goes…10 things I love, that start with the letter D.

1. Darling…as in my husband.

2. Daughters…this is a given.

3. Dare devils…as in my son’s…both have injuries to show for it. Just about every gray hair I have ever had, has come from them.

4. Dancing…I love to dance any chance I can. In fact, I dance around my house with my little people just about every day. I dance at school with all my babies and they love it. The first time I went out with my husband, we danced all night…that was one of the sign’s that he was a keeper.

5. Differences…I love that we are all different. I love to hear other opinion’s than my own. I celebrate the differences of people and how much I learn from them.

6. Dark Chocolate…as in Dove Dark Chocolates. I am not a big candy or sweet eater but every now and then I love a piece of dark chocolate with a glass of red wine…heavenly.

7. Dandelion wine…My mom made this when I was growing up.

8. Drying clothes and sheets outside on the clothesline…I love the smell…plus it saves money.

9. Daydreaming…it’s my escape.

10. Dependable people…there are certain people in my life, that I know I can depend on. I always know that I can count on them to love me and support me, no matter what. And they know they can expect the same from me. It is very important to me, to be a dependable person to others.

Now, I am adding a twist to this game and naming 10 things I don’t like, that start with the letter D.

1. Drunks…I do not like being around people who become obnoxious, mean, belligerent or bitchy when they have too much to drink.

2. Drug addiction…I hate what it did to me although I appreciate what it taught me. I hate what it has done to some of my loved ones. And I hate what it does to those that suffer because of a loved ones addiction. I hate that it took the lives of people that I loved

3. Dirty diapers…yuck!

4. Driving on icy roads and blizzard conditions with people that don’t slow down. We did this for almost 3 hours today and now I’m happy to be home with my boys, little people and husband.

5. Diets…of course, who likes um?

6. Diamonds…have never liked them.

7. Decaffeinated Coffee…I need all the caffeine that I can get.

8. Depression

9. Dining out at Buffet’s or Smorgasbords…unless it’s a really good salad bar with the really good kinds of lettuces and fresh vegetables.

10. Dentist or Doctor bills.

I know many of you are busy or have already played this game but if you are interested in playing along, post me a comment and I will be happy to give you a letter!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Trying to be happy about Christmas

It's getting close to Christmas and I am not even close to being ready. Haven't done much shopping for anyone as of yet but that's pretty typical of me, since I usually put any kind of shopping off for as long as possible. We bought our tree and will decorate it on Sunday with my sons and little people. We have been talking about Christmas with the little people...reading Christmas stories...working on our Christmas giving projects that I have talked about here and I have even been playing Christmas music(I am not much for Christmas music, please don't hate me for this!)...all these things to get happy about Christmas.

Yet, I am not feeling it. I apologize to all of you that are in the Christmas spirit and love all parts of it...I really don't want to be a downer. And honestly, if you were to see me in person, you would never guess that I am one of those people, not feeling the good cheer of Christmas. I am a real good pretender, not all but most of the time. I just choose to let it out here and try not to in my real life.

The holiday's are suppose to be a time of merriment and good cheer but sadly, for many it is not. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is a sad, depressing and difficult time for some people. In the last two weeks, I have been surrounded by people that feel this way and I am trying to do everything possible to not be affected by them. But, I am human and how could anyone with a heart not be affected by these things?

Last weekend a 34 year old man from our community was killed in a freak car accident. He left behind a wife and 2 young children and a very loving extended family and many friends. He was a volunteer fireman, a bus driver and a great person. Yesterday a huge crowd gathered to say goodbye to this man that had touched many lives. I know other's that have lost loved one's this past year also and I see and feel their grief as they try to figure out how to live without their loved ones, let alone celebrate.

At most schools, the students are happy that it's Friday but not at my school. They dread the time that they have to be at home. Many of our students live in less then ideal home situations...many live in war zones of fighting between parents and total chaos. This is not a merry time for them. Many do not have Christmas trees because the parents don't want them and see no need for them, since there will be no presents anyways. It's hard for these young people to not act out in defiance and anger because they see the choices their parents make to drink, smoke, gamble and do drugs, yet, they cannot afford to provide adequate food and clothing for their children, let alone a Christmas present. These kids see very little to be happy about.

For some of our students, the best meals they will eat in a week, are those given to them at school. For some, the clothes they have, are ones, we as a school provide for them. These kids come to us, hungry most of all, for love, acceptance and to feel important. When I hug some of these girls, and they smell and are so thin, I just want to hang onto them and bring them home with me. When they tell me that they love me, I know that for them this is a big deal because they trust very few people in this world.

I have been mentoring a 15 year old girl, that also gets to help me in my room. Up until a year ago this young girl was in and out of lock ups, hospitals, and group homes. She has completely turned her life around and because of her, her mother has been now getting her life together. She has never known her father, just his name. Today, she was helping me tape up some boxes of old files and we got to the last box and all of a sudden she says, "That's my fathers file." I looked up at her and her face was white as a ghost. There, laying on the top of the pile, was a file with her fathers name. We got the school counselor and she was able to give her a little information but other than that, she knows very little about this man. This young girl has been through more heart ache in 15 years then most people go through in a life time. I give her a ride every day after school and she makes comments about coming home with me. This week, she asked me, if something were to happen to her mother, if she and her little sister could live with me. People, how can my heart not be broken by things like this?

Today, one of my young moms and her little boy, that have been out sick from whooping cough, finally came back to school. She is so thin and worn out from being sick, working and parenting and still trying to do school work at home. I talked to her about getting a Christmas tree and her face turned to such sadness that it broke my heart...she told me that they aren't celebrating Christmas because there is no money for presents or anything like that...that it's easier to pretend it isn't Christmas. She said that she was thinking that maybe she wouldn't come to school anymore until after Christmas because it would just be easier that way. I asked her to please come to school and that we would figure out a way to get through this. I then I reminded her that someone was giving her son some presents and that I was planning to do something special with her and the other mom's next week. When this girl hugs me, it's the kind of hug that says she doesn't want to let go, that she is barely hanging on...but all I can do is hug her and let her go.

These incidents I share with you are just tips of the iceberg. While I am completely blessed in these moments...these opportunities...yet I feel completely lacking in being able to do enough...to love enough...to say what needs to be said...to really listen, and hear what they are saying to me...to have more to give them...these lost starving souls. Yet, they keep coming to me over and over again and if you could hear the kind things that they say to me, that just blow me away at times, you would understand what this does to me. I am praying constantly. I cry out to God and ask why.

Every day I see how blessed I am with so much. Yet, I see how little others have. It is hard for me to be of good cheer when I see so many that are poor in spirit. It seems so unfair for me to have so much, when there are others that have so little. These are the things that break my heart and cause me to cry daily. If you are someone that prays, please pray for these people I have mentioned here.

To end on a brighter note, my baby boy(he's 19)flys in tomorrow. I can hardly wait to hug him and see his smiling face. We are suppose to get hit with a good old fashioned snow storm this weekend so hopefully lots of playtime outside for all of us! I love blizzards...love being snowed in, so I hope my wish comes true! Please forgive me for being a downer and a scrooge...I really am trying not to be!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Out of the mouth's of children

My life has been insanely busy these last 5 days...who am I kidding, my life is always busy with working and little people but add in the holiday's, and it's become crazy. Holiday's can tend to drive me a little nut's...not because I don't like Christmas per say, because I do celebrate the true meaning of it and what's there not to like about Santa? ...and not because I am anti fun. I love to have fun. I know many people...many of you people, love the holiday's. But me, not so much.

So, I am trying desperately to keep my sense of humor through out this season of craziness, in order to stay out of the nut house. It helps that I am surrounded by little people, whom make me smile and laugh quite often...with not only their antics but also our conversations. Now that little man is 3 1/2 years old, and little lady is 2 1/2 years old, we have quite the conversations going on ALL the time. Have I told you that he SELDOM stops talking? And when he's not talking, he's listening to EVERYTHING being said around him, which causes the wheels to be turning inside his little head...so that he can shock me and leave me speechless half the time...the other half, I pretend I didn't hear him.

For instance, on Friday afternoon, we were on our way out of town for our weekend of family Christmas and as we were driving through town, little man exclaims, "Holy cow, I just seen Jesus." Now I assumed he was talking about a "baby Jesus" in a manger scene, so I said, "Oh did you see a baby Jesus back there?" He replied, "Nope, it was the big Jesus and he was busy helping a lady with her car." Of course I replied that it was most likely someone that looked like Jesus but he insisted it was him and that in fact Jesus had waved at him. He then went on to say how nice it was for Jesus to be helping this lady in the snow and cold. It didn't take long for this conversation to lead into how he wanted to shovel snow when we got to the hotel. When we got there, he seriously wanted to shovel snow for the hotel.

Every morning at school, students come to say hello to the little people, during their morning break. Today, the girl that helps out in my room, came in as always, and little man asked her to read him a book before she had to go back to class. To which she replied, "Why don't you read me a book today." To which he says, "Sure, I can do that." He then picks up the book he wanted her to read and starts reading a story to her and a couple other students. This is a book that has the story of Mary had a little lamb in it. He knows the story and song by heart so he starts reading.

He gets to the part where Mary's lamb gets sent home from school. He then goes on to tell the rest of "his" story, which I had never heard before. He says something along this order. " Then Mary met Josiah and they got married...and then they had a baby and called him Jesus...and that Mary had Jesus out in the barn so that her lamb, that had gotten kicked out of school, could visit Jesus...and that Josiah didn't kick the lamb out of the barn, because Santa Claus was coming to see them, because it's Christmas..." Now, I've left out a few details but you get the picture.

This whole time, I was at my desk working and while I listened to him, it dawned on me, that he thought that Mary from "Mary had a little lamb" was the same Mary, that we refer to as being the mother of Jesus and that when he was saying "Josiah" he was meaning "Joseph"....and he just put the two stories together...and since we refer to Christmas as both celebrating Jesus' birthday and Santa Claus coming, he just put it all together with his big imagination. With his loud animated voice, he had attracted other listeners as well, and every one of them, was doing everything in their power to not laugh. When little man finished with, "Right Mommy, isn't that how the story goes?", everyone cheered and finally let out their laughter.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter. You were my first...the one that gave me this mommy hat, that I wear so proudly. You are my girly-girl...my sweet, smiling, daughter that has loved to wear dresses and look "pretty" from the very beginning. In fact "pretty" was one of your first words. You went from here...

...to here, in a blink of an eye.

Here you are all grown up...such a beautiful woman, with a life of her own. I could not be prouder of you. I have been privileged to watch you become a mommy yourself...and not just a mommy but the best there could be. You worked hard to graduate from high school and college, all while you had your precious daughter. You proved to everyone watching, what you are made of. You have shown that there is more to you than a pretty face and that this beauty you have from within, is what true beauty is all about.

I have watched you mature as a teacher...have been privileged to help in your classrooms and watch you with this amazing gift you have to teach young children. I recall the moments that I had to fight off tears, as watching you teach brought back those memories of your days as a young girl, playing school with your siblings. Every day you touch children's lives,not just by teaching them the things your suppose to teach, but by going above and beyond, with all the love and care you pour into your students. Some day when you watch your own daughter, you will understand the pride that fills my heart in watching you.

I celebrate you. I celebrate the loving, giving, caring, kind and beautiful woman, that you are. I celebrate that you have chosen a life of forgiveness and grace over a life of bitterness and hate...and you and I both know, that with everything you have went through, you very well could have chosen that path. I celebrate the path you have chosen. I celebrate that you have never forgotten the One that truly created you..."for I am fearfully and wonderfully made". He gave you to me as a gift and I will never stop thanking Him for the gift of you...for letting me be your mother and now your friend.

I hate the distance that separates us, but I love the spirit that keeps us close. No matter how much time or distance separates us, you are always in my heart. I love you my dear sweet daughter...always and forever. Mom

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coming Home!

He's coming home! This is my youngest child, that goes to college in Florida. He also works for child and family services part time and they are giving him a week off of work so that he can come home. He flys in on the 13th and I get to have him for 8 days! I am so excited! I can hardly wait and my little people are estatic. They have plans of building snowmen and sledding with him and of course, their all time favorite, throwing snowballs at him.


AND these two are coming to visit for a few days, while he is here! This is my youngest daughter and her son, that live in Nebraska. I can hardly wait to see them! My little people can hardly wait for their partner in crime to come back and join them.



I couldn't ask for a better present than this...well, I could and that would be that my daughter and her boyfriend and my oldest daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter were able to come home too and then it would be complete. Still, this is awesome and we are so looking forward to our time with them. We will now wait to put up our Christmas tree so that they can be a part of this. I am counting down the days until their laughter, smiles and voices fill up our home, once again!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Helping Hands Project-Part Two


Thistle of Thistle and Maple Leaves has started the Helping Hands Project to challenge readers in the blogospere to reach out and help others, whether it be globally or in our local communities.

The Rules:

1. Choose some way to give back.

2. Tell us all about it; post it on your blog. Then come back and pick up your award. Choose one badge or the other, or both if you're really in the spirit. And don't forget to link back to Thistles Helping Hands Project post, so we can follow what everyone is doing. If you're doing something already, pick up your badge right this minute!

3. Challenge all visitors to your site to do the same. Link back to the blog where you received the idea. And let's see where this can go!

These are some of the way's we, as a family, plan on reaching out to others.

1. I have been helping my little people go through their toys and they are going to donate some of them, to make room for the new toys they will be getting. They are going to help me clean them and then we will donate them to a women's shelter. We are doing the same thing with clothing.

2. We are going to play secret Santa to a family. My little people will help shop for a gift for each of the children. They will also help me shop for other non-food items such as toilet paper and laundry soap and then they are going to help me decorate a big box for these items to go into. We are going to get a gift card for them also, so that the parent's can buy their children presents from Santa. We will give this to them anonymously so will have to get creative in how we do this. We are each giving up Christmas gifts for ourselves, in order to do this. My little people are loving this idea of giving a family a "happy Christmas" and talk daily about the item's we can put in the "secret box".

3. We have given up ordering out for pizza and paying to rent a movie for our Friday night movie night. Instead we are watching movies we already have and making our own. The money we save from this will go into a "movie night" package for a family sometime in January.

4. Putting on a Christmas party for the parents at the school I work at. I have arranged for a church to provide gifts for all the children.

5. I am putting together a baking kit for a couple of young mom's so that they can do some holiday baking with their little ones.

6. Right now I am in the process of finding out if there are students at my school that won't have a Christmas tree and decorations. If there are(and there usually are)we will put the word out for people to donate unused tree's and decorations, and then set these families up with a tree.

7. I am volunteering to babysit for some mom's so that they can have a break. My husband and I will do something special with the little ones, but not sure what we will do yet. I am thinking of asking around for other's to help with this also. That someone might be willing to buy them movie passes or something in that order.

8. I care for 2 little boys at school and recently found out that they have very few pictures of them, so have been taking pictures of them. I will get prints made and put in a little album to give to them. I am also thinking that I could give them a disposable camera and a gift certificate to get them developed.

9. I am working on planning a late Christmas party(with friends) for late January or February and asking people to bring non-food items (such as soaps or toilet paper)to donate instead of everyone exchanging gifts.

10. Taking more time to slow down and really listen to people. To look them in the eye and genuinely smile at them.

Honestly, telling all of you about the things we are doing is kinda hard. I like to do things anonymously as much as I can and I don't want people to think I am bragging or think I am "so good" for doing these things. I share these things because it can give idea's to others and to show that there are so many things each of us can do. I am really excited to hear idea's from all of you so please share them with me.

My challenge to each of you is this. Take a look at yourself and make a list of things you are passionate about or things you're good at and abilities you have and out of these things, think of way's you can reach out to others. Giving is not just about money or gifts, it can come come in the form of giving you're time or talents or taking the time to slow down and pay attention to how you treat the people you come in contact with. Giving someone a genuine smile and looking them in the eyes while talking to them is a priceless gift.

It could be something as simple as the ability to make people smile, you're love for animals, children or the elderly, cooking and baking, photography, sewing and crafts, computer skills or ability to tutor someone in reading, writing or math skills so they can get their GED or diploma, mechanical skills or maybe you're really good at shoveling snow or mowing the lawn.

Giving of ourselves can be costly because it puts ourselves out on the line and we make ourselves vulnerable to others. I challenge you to step outside of you're comfort zone and reach out. I promise you, you will feel even more rewarded in the end, then the person you're giving to. Reach out and touch someone today!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Helping Hands Project

I am having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit of Christmas. Not sure if it’s because my day’s are so filled up with living or because I see so much need and sadness around me.

There are so many people around me that are struggling with depression, financially, with health issues and with life in general. As a person that cares deeply about other’s, this is hard for me. It’s hard for me to not to take on their struggles but also to accept the fact that I am limited in what I can do. There are things I can do and things we can do as a family but I have to accept that I cannot do more than this.

I think one of the reason’s it’s so hard for me is because I have walked in many of their shoes. I know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. I know what it’s like to not have enough to go around, no matter how simple we lived or how much I cut corners and how it feels to wake up and not know what to do. I know what it’s like to wonder how we are going to buy enough food in the month of December, because it’s more important to keep the heat and electricity on, let alone buy Christmas presents or even a tree. There were year’s we didn’t have a tree and Santa did not come but the fact that we weren’t living out on the street and eating every day, kept us from complaining. We both worked and made enough to not qualify for any help. With no insurance and medical issues that required me to have surgery, we were over our heads with medical bills.

I understand what it means to work hard every day and stay just above water during the regular times of the year, but then things like Christmas and cold weather come and it throws people off. Cold weather brings heating costs, the need for warm outer clothing, and often times vehicle troubles because the cold is hard on them. It’s hard to be happy and joyful when you know that you will not be able to give your children Christmas gifts unless you make cuts somewhere else in your budget. Many of these people that struggle, don’t qualify for any assistance because they make just enough money. These are the people that hurt the worst, at this time of year, because they are the one’s that slip through the cracks. No one knows about them, so they usually aren’t on a list for local charities to give to them. People that are on assistance have a social worker, so therefore they will most likely already be on a list of those in need and local programs will often times provide gift’s to these families. Many time’s(not always) these children will receive an abundance of gift’s from various program’s while children that live in a home that doesn’t get assistance, get nothing. Many of these people suffer in silence and struggle with depression.

Some people qualify for food stamps so they can at least put food on the table but something many people don’t know is that you cannot buy toilet paper, dish soap, laundry soap and other necessities with food stamps.
It is a very humbling experience, to have to be on food stamps. Grocery store clerks are not always nice to people using food stamps. I have witnessed this myself. It’s easy to make assumptions about people getting assistance, because there are people that abuse the system, that was set up to help people in a time of need. The people, I know, that are on food stamps, do not feel good about themselves. I remind them that this is temporary and to help them out while they need it but they still feel badly.

These are the kinds of things that weigh down my heart as I try to figure out what I can do to make a difference…and what we as a family can do to make a difference, not just during the holidays, but all year. I have talked about this here, in a post called Enough is enough, but we have begun to take action on some of these things and are still coming up with more. Tomorrow I will share with you the things we are doing and planning to do as a family and personally. I am really excited about this, since it is something so close to my heart.

Thistle from Thistles and Maple Leaves, has begun a campaign to raise awareness about reaching out to others. It's called the Helping Hands project and you can go here to read about it. She has opened up an invitation to everyone, to get involved by starting to think about the things we can each do in the area of giving and reaching out. It is really an awesome thing, so I hope that you take the time and go check out what she has to say. I want to encourage you to take action, to make a difference in someone’s life. Look around you…at the people you have contact with…look at those things that your good at, those things you are passionate about and have knowledge of and see how you can use those things to make a difference in someone’s life.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who wants to go fishing?

It never dawned on me that some people would not know what a fish house was, until someone e-mailed me asking what this was. Obviously, many of you wisely live where the water doesn't freeze, so you would have no way of knowing about such a thing. A fish house is a small house used for fishing on the ice. Think outhouse...only a little bigger. There are openings in the floor, that are used to fish through. An ice auger is used to cut the holes in the ice. Most use some kind of heater to heat the inside of the fish house, so it’s much warmer than if you were to just cut a hole and sit outside. And no, the heater does not melt the ice. Of course there are the die hard fisherman who brave the cold and will be sitting out on the lake in the cold and wind all through the winter. That would NOT be me. When you’re sitting in one with a heater, it’s warm enough to take off your coat though and really it’s not bad.

I live in the land of many lakes, or I should say, I live in the land of frozen lakes and fish house heaven. Fishing is big here and so are fish houses which come in different sizes and vary in quality. Most are your basic fish houses but many have luxuries, such as beds, TV’s, and little kitchen set up’s. Many people build their own but you can also buy commercially made one’s which can be very elite and big. Seriously, some people have fish houses that are nicer then some cabins. To put a fish house out on the ice you have to buy a license for the house and to fish you need a license too.

Ice needs to be a certain thickness before it’s safe to walk out on and fish, so at first you will see a lot of people out fishing in the open. As the water freezes, it actually makes a growling noise, which to be honest, scared the crap out of me when I was little. The other day, on our way home from the parade, we stopped at a lake and walked out to talk to some people fishing and it was making that noise. Once the ice is thick enough, the fish houses come out. By the middle of winter, people will drive out on the lake in their big trucks. Yes, every year vehicles go through the ice because some people just aren't very smart or careful.

Something you need to understand about ice fishing, is that people are not just fishing in their fish houses. Out on the lake, it’s like they have their own little communities…they drink, play cards, shake dice, drink, talk to other fisherman, grill food, eat, watch tv, did I say drink? Although beer is always a year round drink of choice around here, winter is the time, that hot drinks tend to come out and I am not talking coffee or hot chocolate, unless of course there is Peppermint Snapps added to it. It is a social event out on the ice. I know guys that go out to their fish houses in the winter to get away. They can say they are going fishing and they do fish but they often times are doing other things as well. I remember going with my father and although he caught a lot of fish, he also played a lot of poker, did a lot of talking and drank some beers. I must add that there are a lot of women that like to ice fish too, so it’s not just a guy thing.

Fishing contests are held on lakes all through the winter and many people travel all over, just to partake in these contests. No fish houses are used for these, so it’s all out in the open. Yes, it’s cold. They are very competitive and some people take them very serious. It is actually quite hilarious to watch people running across the ice, while carrying a fish, to reach the judging, weigh station first. Not only do they give away great prizes but it is a big social event or I should say party. The last ice fishing contest I went to, there were over 2,000 people and it was 10 below 0. Yes, I froze but it really is a good time.

On a side note, we also use the ice for skating, hockey, and broom ball (similar to hockey but with a broom that’s been taped up and a ball). There are some lakes that host softball and golf tournaments on the ice each winter, which my son has participated in. We also have this thing called the polar dip, in which people will go in a sauna and then jump in a hole that's been cut in a lake. Crazy. As you see, we have lots to keep us busy on the ice, if we don't mind being cold. And this doesn't even get into all the things we do in the snow...I'll save that for another day.

So, to those of you that were wondering, after yesterday’s post about the fish house parade we attended, what a fish house is, I hope I have answered your questions well enough. To those of you that would like to go ice fishing(or one of our other ice activities...polar dip anyone?) here in the land of frozen lakes, I would be more than happy to take you or least find someone to take you…lol! Just let me know!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving, Minnesota style

Our Thanksgiving weekend, was spent at my sister's, with her and her husband and their daughter's. As far as people go, you will find no better people. They have a home out in the middle of a wooded area, that is breath taking beautiful. It is their sanctuary and they open it up to anyone that wants to come. They are hardworking, fun, generous, laid back, easy going type of people, that have the gift of hospitality. Besides eating lots of good food and drinking some excellent wines, and a few cold beers, our Thanksgiving weekend was spent Minnesota style, bundled up outside... playing in the woods, sitting around the fire outside, going for tractor and 4 wheeler rides, sliding around on the frozen pond next to their house, helping haul and stack wood, sharing lots of laughter and my most favorite, sitting in the hot tub, while it snowed and watching the deer come up to eat.

The only time we left their place, was to go to a fish house parade. The turn out for this parade is amazing and everyone has a good time. The people get pretty creative with these fish houses and some go all out. It was hilarious and my little people had a blast. Here are the kinds of things you see at a fish house parade....

My two little spectators...loving the parade...loving all the candy that was thrown.



Even Santa was one of the spectators!

Try explaining to a 2 and 3 year old how Santa can watch the parade AND be in the parade!







Last, but not least, no parade is complete without roller derby girls.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Counting my blessings

In an effort to focus on all that is good in my life, I took some time yesterday to look at pictures from this past year. My life was certainly blessed this past year and I really do have much to be thankful for. I learned the art of letting go once again, as my youngest son graduated from high school and then moved across the country from me and my youngest daughter and her son moving out and flying from the nest to another state, as well. I gained another grandson. I went to battle for my little people and was able to assure their safety in my home. We went on our first vacation across the country, in a van, with a 2 & 3 year olds, to gain a most wonderful new son-in-law. It’s been a year of growth and blessings.

As much as I miss my children and grandchildren, who are too far away to come home for the holiday’s, they are always at home in my heart. So, I decided to do a slideshow of our past year for them and my heart overflowed with gratefulness for my husband, children and grandchildren. The process of working on this, greatly improved my mood and reminded me of all that I have to be thankful for.

I was almost done with my slideshow and stepped away for a few moments and came back to the computer to find that my post had been published. Little lady was very quick at announcing “Look at what little man made on your computer mommy!” I was going to edit the pictures and write a few more things and low and behold, my little man had apparently made a couple of clicks on the computer. After discussing once again, that we don’t touch mommy’s computer, little man, then informed me that when he get’s big, he is going to work on the computer and write about his children, just like I do! (Many time’s when I am typing on the computer, he will inquire to what I am writing about and most of the time I say that I am writing about him or being a mommy.)

Another thing I did yesterday, was read quotes about being thankful. This too, helped me put my mind in a better place. I want to share a couple of them with you.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

Be thankful for hard time in your life. Try not to look at them as bad things, but as opportunities to grow and learn. Author unknown

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John Fitzgerald Kennedy

And this is the one that made me think of all of you.

In everyone‘s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer

Each one of you have touched my life in the last couple of months. I am grateful for each one of you and the wonderful support and encouragement that you give me. You have each, in your own special ways, helped light the fire inside of me. You inspire me with the things you write and you make me laugh. Thank you.

Today, my heart is full of thankfulness…for my husband, children, grandchildren, family, friends and people that God has brought into my life…for all that I have been given…for this very day…for all that my past has taught me…for all that I was given this year…and for all that is to come.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Greatest Blessings

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I share with you, my greatest blessings on this earth. To my husband, children and grandchildren...I love you to the moon and back...my gratefulness for each of you extends to the ends of this earth and to the highest heavens. XXXXXXXXOOOOOOOOO Always & Forever

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Demon's

Since it is Thanksgiving week, I am trying very hard to be thankful and grateful, in spite of how I am feeling. I have much to be thankful for, so I want these things to be my focus. I don't want negative feelings to steal away my joy.

I have been putting the blame for these feelings on various things...blaming it on these nasty menopausal hormones...on the cold, gloomy weather...work, chasing 2 little ones, missing my children because it's getting close to the holiday's...but, truth be told, at this time, every year, I feel this way.

November is a hard month for me, for various reasons...let's just say that past events that have greatly affected my life...my secret's...my demon's come back to haunt me on their anniversary month. As hard as I am trying to not think upon these things, they are affecting my sleep and trying to pull me down. My nightmare's are waking my husband more frequently, which makes me feel badly for affecting his sleep. He doesn't get upset with me but it does concern him that I am tormented with these things. He wishes that I would talk about these things instead of keeping them hidden.

I am not sure what the answer's are to all of this or if there are any. All I know, is once again, I will ride out this storm. I refuse to let these things push me overboard. I have written to some extent about these things here, in a post called Through the eyes of grace. It's my resolve to continue looking at myself through these eye's of grace but I also need to stop and make sure I am looking at those that hurt me, with those same eye's of grace.

Do any of you battle things like this? Do you have memories of things that you would rather forget? How do you deal with painful memories?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Every Day was a Manic Monday

This past week was a tough week, for some reason and here it is Saturday and I’m still trying to figure out why. It started out with Monday being nothing other than manic Monday and I swear to God that every day since, was just another manic Monday. My little people are in testing mode lately and I am trying to pass these tests with all of my might. There are day’s that it feels like I fail miserably and begin to wonder, how it is that I am allowed to wear this mother hat. My shortcomings and human weaknesses have never been so exposed as they have been with this task of parenting, then any other area of my life. Nothing in my life has caused me greater joy nor greater pain then being a mother. But, then there are other day’s, in which I can proudly say that I arise to the challenges quite well.

Since becoming a mother many moons ago, my goal was to raise these children to someday be good people and while I can say, in the end, my children turned out to be good people, it’s all the day’s from there to here, that I question the kind of mother I was back then and the mother I am trying to be once again. While I know that my children did not get to where they are today, on their own, I cannot take all the credit for the kind of people, that my children are now. Somehow my children grew up to be these amazing people in spite of me…in spite of my lack of being prepared for a task such as this, at such a young age…in spite of the fact, that I didn’t really have a clue to what I was doing. Somehow, along the way, I learned my way through this task and got through the challenges one step at a time. I have always said that I grew up with my children…that my children were my biggest teachers. I read a lot of parenting books and even went to parenting classes, but I think the best education I have ever gotten, has been from the hands on training of life. Parenting is so much more then feeding, clothing and providing for my children, it's trying to teach my children the tools for life and by being the person that led by example, not just by my words.

Raising children is hard work. Raising children to be good people, when all is said and done, is even harder work. Now that I am older and I know what I know, from having done this before, I do have a confidence that I lacked the first time. As I step back in time, to those places I once walked, I know what lies ahead. It’s this knowledge of knowing how much work this is going to be…how much love, pain and joy I will experience, to get to the end result, that I fear....fear, that I am not qualified for the challange. Even though I am using the same parenting philosophy that I used with my children, which was basically reality and common sense discipline, I am still trying to improve upon my parenting skills this second time around. I am still learning every day...and teaching every day, by the way I live and modeling the behavior that I want to see in them.

I am thankful for what I do know, but I am also well aware, of all that I do not know either. I come to this grand-mommy gig with experience and wisdom that you cannot learn in a book. Parenting books can be great guides but they don’t have all the answer’s just as I don’t. I recently, read a couple of books that closely resemble how we parent and I plan on doing a study of these books with my step daughter. I think it’s important that if she is ever going to take these little ones back, that it’s in the best interest of the little one’s, that we all are on the same page, so to speak. These books are very simple and based upon “common sense” and “reality” discipline These books have everything I have tried to tell her and teach her, over the last 3 years, but she wouldn’t listen. (Honestly, after reading these books, I wish I would have written them, because people have tried to encourage me to write a book like this for years.) It is our hope, that now that she say’s, she is ready to listen, that she will listen even more so, since it’s not coming just from me. I fear, that she still won't get it, and then what?

The thing is, can you really teach someone to be a good parent? Isn't parenting more than just knowing which tools to use and how to use them? Can anyone learn how to be a good parent? And, what defines a good parent?

I am feeling tired and weary, after this week with my little ones. I fear, that maybe I am too old for this. I love them with all my heart and even though I know I am suppose to be doing this right now, I am scared of letting them down. At the same time, I am missing my children and grandchildren, that live far away. Knowing that they can’t come home for the holiday’s is hard. Not knowing when I will see them again, is harder. Yet, I count myself grateful for having them in my life, that they are out living their lives like I taught them to do and that they are always in my heart. What more could a mother ask for?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Hump Day!

It's another cold, gloomy day here in Minnesota and I am once again questioning exactly why it is that I choose to live here. Although we have gotten snow, none of it has stayed...but I know it is just around the corner. I actually don't mind the snow all that much as it is pretty and we do have fun playing in it, when it's not too cold of course. It's the bitter, cold wind and the gloominess outside, that gets to me after awhile...that's when I just want to hibernate inside my house. We just got back from shopping for new boots and snow pants and let me tell you, putting two kids in and out of car seats is bad enough when it's nice out, but when it's cold out, it really bites. Okay, enough complaining.

Whenever I get feeling this way, I try to keep my sense of humor by finding funny things to read or look at...like at many of your blogs! Today was my lucky day as my daughter sent me a short little story and another friend sent me a great picture of a men's bathroom. So, in the spirit of lightening my mood, I thought I would share these with you. I hope you enjoy! Happy hump day!

The miracle of toilet paper

Fresh from my shower, I stand in front of the mirror complaining to my
husband that my breasts are too small. Instead of characteristically telling
me it's not so, he uncharacteristically comes up with a suggestion. 'If you
want your breasts to grow, then every day take a
piece of toilet paper and rub it between them for a few seconds.'

Willing to try anything, I fetch a piece of toilet paper and stand in front
of the mirror, rubbing it between my breasts. 'How long will
this take?' I asked.

'They will grow larger over a period of years.' my husband replies. I
stopped.

'Do you really think rubbing a piece of toilet paper between my breasts
every day will make my breasts larger over the years?'

Without missing a beat he says 'Worked for your butt, didn't it?'

He's still alive, and with a great deal of therapy, he may even walk again.
Although, he will probably continue to take his meals through a straw.

Men's Restroom Mural -------- Read before looking at picture

Edge Designs is an all-women run company
That designs interior office space. They had a
Recent opportunity to do an office project in
NYC.

The client allowed the women of this
Company a free hand in all design aspects.
The client was a company that was also
Run by all women execs.............

The result.........well.....We all know that
Men never talk, never look at each other....
And never laugh much in the restroom....
The men's room is a serious and quiet place...
But now...with the addition of one mural
On the wall......lets just say the men's
Restroom is a place of laughter and smiles.

 
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Perspective

I love football. I loved watching my son’s when they played high school football. I think what I loved the most is seeing how much fun they had doing something they loved doing. No matter how cold it was outside, I knew there was nothing that would keep me from being there on the sidelines, watching and cheering for their team. This was the first year of many, that I was not outside standing in the cold and many times, snow, watching my child, playing a game that we both love. I know the pain and discipline that both of my son’s had, that kept them going back, even after major injuries.

I was watching college football on TV this past weekend and during the game, a young man from the opposing team was injured. Whenever I see someone get hurt out on the field, my heart stops because not only do I know what it’s like to watch someone you love get hurt, I know that young man has a mother and a father…has a family that is watching. I have been that mother on the sidelines watching as her son got hurt…sometimes serious enough to need surgery. It has become a habit to immediately say a quiet prayer for the injured and his family. As we awaited the young man being checked out by medical personnel, the sport announcers had some interesting things to say.

They talked about how these young men give up a lot to play football. Football is their life. They live and breathe football with hopes that they will have the opportunity to play professionally some day. It’s every young football players dream. And then something like this, an injury, an injury that could be very serious, with a very serious outcome, comes along, and everything stops. And in that very moment, everything changes…perspectives change. The fact of whether he will be able to ever walk again becomes more important then whether he will play football again. The fact that he is young and has a lot of life to live outside the game of football goes to the top of the list. Being able to walk again becomes more important than football. Perspectives change.

In that moment, it doesn’t matter which team he play for. All that matters is that he is a human being and he is hurt and everything came to a halt. It was evident that people from both sides cared and were concerned for this young man. It was beautiful. It was humanity at it’s best. The game did not go on until he was safely off the field and when he gave the thumbs up while laying on the gurney, both sides cheered equally. It didn’t matter that he was on the opposing side, what mattered was that he was okay. That, my friends, shows that he was on the side of humanity. The side of humanity that we don’t always get to see. Now that is beautiful.

The announcers went on to talk about how this relates to life. They compared the game of football to the game of life. They talked about how we can be going along in our lives and out of no where, something smacks us, right into the middle of our lives and our perspectives change. And this got me thinking…that they are right, because in that moment, that something hits us, those things…those people, that are most important, rise to the top. In those moments afterwards, we find out who is on our side, and who was never really there in the first place. What becomes most important is not whether we can do this or that ever again, but that we are alive. We find out very quickly that there are really important things in life and that there are things that can wait. We find out that adversity can hit us, but it will not keep us down and not only that, it will make us better people, when all is said and done. We find out what really matters.

It’s all about perspective. How it changes when adversity comes and how we arise to the challenge. It’s all about what and who is most important to us when shit hit’s the fan. Right smack in the middle of a Saturday afternoon football game, these men talked about something that was even more important than football. To that I give a loud,” Amen.!“ I don’t know if anyone else was listening but I was.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I am resilient, hear me roar!

Most people assume that my little people are mine instead of the grandchildren that they actually are. This is usually assumed even before they hear them call me “Mommy”. While they are “mine” in the sense that they have been born out of my heart, through this process of raising them, I did not in fact give birth to them. Once people learn the truth and watch us together for any length of time, the most common response is, “ You must be so strong. I could never do what you are doing. “ Those that know of the on going difficulties that we have with their real mommy, my step daughter, pretty much say the same thing. First of all, I disagree, because I think that many people would do “this” if they were in the same circumstances. Secondly, if everyone knew how many times I want to throw in the towel and give up this fight because I get so damn tired, they would know that I am indeed not strong. They should know that the reasons for which I do "this" is because I have fallen madly in love with these two little creatures, that look at me with their big eyes and with the expectancy that I will take care of them.

Now that it has gotten cold here, my pain level, due to my neck and skull injury has increased greatly. When it gets to this point, it is hard for me to mask it. I try hard to not let it show but even my little man can see through the smiles on my face, that I am in great pain. My battle against pain will be life long and it’s a fact that I have come to accept. Those that know how I came to have this injury and see my struggles, have a hard time understanding how I can not only forgive the person who hurt me, but accept this pain as part of my life and then accuse me of being strong because they couldn’t do it. I disagree. I choose the path of forgiveness and acceptance so that I can still have a life, in spite of the pain. They should know that I always choose the path of forgiveness, because it is I, that has needed to be forgiven of so much. If they truly knew how many times I have given up behind the safety of the four walls of my bedroom, they would know that I am indeed not strong.

Last week, I went to see the therapist at the pain management program that I attend and on that day, I happened to be in extreme pain . After determining various factors for my increased pain, the therapist went on and on about how strong I am and how I needed to keep being strong. I cried all the way home because I am tired of trying to be something I am not…tired of taking credit for something I am not.

Later that same day, I had my yoga class and I contemplated not going. I had already missed a month of classes due to being gone on vacation and my pain levels being too high. I am new to yoga but have come to love it. I decided that the pain was not going to win this time and made myself go.

The yoga instructor is this amazing woman that has this gentleness and peacefulness about her. She is a high school teacher and does this class once a week, because teaching yoga is one of her passions. I only know her through this class and have only shared minuet details of my life with her. At the end of class I felt so much better and was thankful that I had made myself go. The instructor came to me shortly afterwards and gave me a hug. She then went on tell me that I had a been on her mind and that there was something she felt that she was suppose to share with me. She said “You must get tired of everyone telling you that you are strong or telling you to be strong.” ( I could not believe I was hearing this because she knows none of my struggles, other than that I am in pain!) She went on to say that she had a word for me and it is “resilient”. She told me to go home and look up it’s meaning. She then hugged me once again and I left. I cried the short trip home…this time for different reasons.

Of course I came home and looked up the meaning of resilient. This is what I found; Resilient: 1. Springing back; rebounding 2. Returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed or stretched. 3. Recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity; buoyant

This, is my new word for myself. I am resilient! In the face of adversity, I have been in this process of returning to my “original form”, for a long time…part of me say’s that I have been trying to get to my original form or position, my whole life. When I have faced my own human frailties, whether it was as a young drug addict, as a pregnant 17 year old girl, or looking into the eye’s of an abuser, I have recovered from these adversities. Those things did not kill me, they made me better…they paved the road for where I walk now. I have been “bent, compressed and stretched” to my limits, and yet I have not allowed these things to stop me, instead I have continued to strive for something more…strived to get to the next place in this journey.

It’s being resilient that will get me through the pain of today and tomorrow. It’s being resilient that will get me through this grand-mommy gig I got going on. I don’t have to be strong anymore. Do you know how freeing this is for me? I just need to keep on being clothed in resiliency. It will get me to the next place. And when I get to the other side of these adversities, I will look back and see that this too, prepared me for what comes next. I am resilient, hear me roar!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My passion in life

I have mentioned here before that I work at an alternative high school, running the daycare. The students who attend this school, attend for various reasons, such as my young moms who need someone to care for their children while they attend classes or they also have to work full or part time and our school enables them to do both. But, much of the time, it is because they got kicked out of the regular high school for one reason or another or they fit better at our type of school then a regular high school.

Many of these teenagers are what a lot of people would call “misfits”, “problem” children or “juveniles”. Many of these young people already have probation officers. Some are in trouble with the law and are awaiting court hearings and fear going to jail or being sent away. Our students come from all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, so we have an interesting mix of students. We have students that come from quite wealthy and high on the social ladder type of families, to those that are practically homeless and have no family. Most of our students fall somewhere between these two groups. The one thing that most of the students have in common is that our school is their last chance or only chance of getting a high school diploma, because they have burnt their bridges else where or like my young mom’s, they have no other choice because of having a child.

Since our school is small, we can meet more of their needs, and they get a lot individual attention. Our school is kind of like a family and for some of our students we are the only family they have. The teachers and staff that I work with, all have a love for these types of kids and are very dedicated to reaching these “lost” children, that come through the doors. Some of them are recovering alcoholics and former drug users themselves and all of them have been teaching for a long time. I have so much respect for them, as they, not only are good with the students, they make less money working at our school.

The main goal of our school is to see these kids graduate and then go on for more schooling or work at a job that they can survive on. Much of the time this does happen but sadly, some even lose their chance to attend our school. While they attend our school, the goal is to empower these young people to make better choices and to equip them for life. Many of our students also work part or full time jobs, mostly out of necessity. This is possible because our school operates at all times of the day.

Working at a school like this is very rewarding, yet sometimes it is heart breaking for me. Many of the students are needy and lack self esteem and they are like sponges in wanting and needing to suck up any attention or love they can get. Many drink alcohol, use drugs, are sexually active, cut themselves and partake in activities that are dangerous. They cry out for attention and they will do anything to get it, even if it’s negative. These are the kids who have fallen through the cracks. They are starving for something more. And we try to give it to them and at the same time, teach them how to get something more for themselves.

At least a couple times a week, I have a student tell me they want to come home with me or that they wish that I was their mother. As much as that might be a compliment to me, it makes me sad that they feel this way. It’s hard to believe they feel this way since they know I am a pretty tough parent and would not put up with their crap. They know they can’t pull the wool over my eyes like they can with some people, because they know I have walked in their shoes or at least shoes, close to theirs. The thing is I see a part of myself or I should say the young person I was, in just about every one of them. They talk to me and tell me things that you hope to never hear from a child…things that they think are normal but aren’t. Sometimes, I have to report these situations to social services since I am a mandated reporter. This is hard, because they trust me, but I always want them to know that they can trust me to do the right thing, which isn’t always what they realize is the right thing.

I think these young people need to know that they matter, that someone hears them and that someone cares about them. They need to know that they can care for other’s too and that it will be accepted. Since I bring my little people with me to work everyday, my little people are well known and well loved by everyone. They are actually called our school’s mascot’s, because everyone that comes to school to work or as a student, knows that they will be greeted by two smiling children every day. The beautiful thing about children is that they don’t discriminate in who they choose to love and care for. My little people show love and care to every single one of these young people, no matter how tough or rough they look on the outside. I have watched with my own eye’s as they have melted the heart’s of those with even the toughest of exteriors. These young people come to school every day expecting a huge smile and hug from my little people. In turn, my little people expect it too.

To be perfectly honest, there are days that these young people drive me crazy. They frustrate me and can suck the life out of me if I’m not careful. Every day that I drive away from the school, I have to leave it all behind. I can not bring it home with me or it would break me. There are day’s I come home exhausted and with my heart broken over their situations and wanting to do more. Some days I think about doing something else, but,it’s my love and passion for young people, that keeps me going back.

Do you love what you do? Are you doing what you always wanted to do with your life? What gives you the drive to keep doing what you do every day? Do you ever want to change jobs? Do you ever think about doing something different? What is your passion in life and is this passion a part of your life?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Before and After





This morning we went to see the doctor, to have my little ladies leg checked and the ex rays showed that her leg has healed! Hip, hip hooray! I don't know who was more happy to get this pretty pink cast off, her or me. The doctor and nurse were quite surprised that she didn't make a peep while they took it off. She just laid there with a big smile on her face. The doctor told me that this has never happened before. They prepared me for her to cry and fight the procedure because the noise from the tool to cut the cast off, usually scares children. The only thing she said over and over, while they were working on taking the cast off was, "I get to wear my pretty Dora panties now." When they had put the cast on, the doctor had told me it was best to put her back in diapers since she still had occasional accidents, as this would prevent it from running down inside the cast. She was not happy about this and I knew that the reason she was smiling so big, was because she knew she would get to wear her pretty Dora panties once the cast is off. Then when they took more ex rays to see if it had healed, she laid perfectly still, which the technician told me, rarely happens.

She actually did very well with having the cast on. After getting the pretty pink cast on her leg, she spent a day crying because she wanted it off and she wanted her Dora panties back on. She no longer thought it was so pretty and was pretty frustrated as she figured out how to get around. Which took all of one day and she has been walking on it and got around quite well these past few weeks. Towards the end, she was almost running! The thing is, I knew that she would, because she is not one to just sit still for very long. The toughest parts for her, were not wearing her panties and not getting to take baths. The toughest part for me, was having to carry her a lot when we went places and with the cast on her leg, she was not light to haul around.

Since it is snowing here and the roads are not very good, we are not going back to work today, so we are going to have a day of celebrating life without a cast. I think there is a nice big bubble bath in the near future for one very brave little lady and of course for one very jealous little man!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm grateful

For the most part, I am conscious of feeling grateful for all that I have and all the people in my life, but today, I woke up feeling especially grateful...for the people in my life. I feel grateful for all of you, that share your lives with me, by inviting me into your worlds, through your blogs and for taking the time to stop by here. Each of you have brightened my world, challenged me and given me insight into lives outside my own. Plus you make me smile and laugh just about every day. Thank you.

I am grateful for my family and friends…for the people I work with…for the young people that I come into contact with daily and all the little people that I get to care for. I am eternally grateful for my incredible children and my equally incredible grandchildren that never cease to amaze me.

Most of all, I am grateful for my husband, who’s love for me, is ever constant…he loves me where I’m at in each given moment…meaning, even when I am not performing at my best. If you knew all of my life…all that I have been through, then you would know what a priceless gift this is to me. I waited 43 years for him…actually, it took me that long to be ready for something so good to come into my life. (I am a slow learner.) My husband is an amazing man…he is gentle, hardworking, loyal, wise, kind, faithful, patient, unselfish, a man of good character. To top it off, I think he is really hot! I never imagined someone this good could be mine…that someone like him could want someone like me. But he did, and he still does and I hope I never take this for granted.

My husband does not shower me with gifts of flowers or jewelry, instead his daily gifts to me are his unending acceptance of me, his uttermost respect for me that shows in everything he does, and his amazing love for me, that transforms even the most mundane day into something beautiful. Words cannot describe the way he looks at me and the way it makes me feel. I catch him staring at me and I will ask him why he is looking at me like that and his most common response to me is, “It’s because I still can’t believe I get to be married to you.” He thinks I am the prize…that he won the lottery with me and honestly sometimes I don’t know how to handle all this adoration…because even on my worst days he still think I’m the prize. He thinks, he is the one that got the good end of the stick, but, I know better.

Tell me, who are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Enough is enough

Since the holiday season is around the corner, with Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, and Christmas to follow a month later, I have been thinking about gift giving, greed, materialism and our abundance of “stuff”. I am thinking about all the people in need, in our world, and here we are with so much. I am battling this feeling inside of me, that is saying “enough is enough” and “what can we do to reach out to those in need?”

We are not rich by any means(at least not financially anyways) but we have done very well at accumulating “stuff”. Quite honestly, our income most likely falls in the government standard of being near poverty but in no way do we live in poverty. We eat very well and don’t go without. We live in a nice modest home. Granted it is nothing fancy and most of our furnishings were bought second hand, gifts, or things given to us. Although it would be nice to have “new” some day, it is a choice we have made, to live simple and within our means. If we do want or need something, we save for it, just as we saved for a year and a half to make the trip to Florida for my daughters wedding. I am deeply grateful for all that we have and thankful that we can both work to provide for our families needs. In many ways, I feel that we are rich and can not help but feel as though we can do more to give to those that have much less.

As I was directing my little people in cleaning up all their toys the other day, it dawned on me that with Christmas coming we need to do something about all these toys they already have….these perfectly good toys, that have nothing wrong with them and that they love to play with. But, you can only play with so many toys. They have enough or I should say too many toys already. Just thinking about them getting more toys sickens both of us. Not just because they already have enough but because of the message given to them in being given too many things. We don’t want them growing up with this attitude of “expecting” and always wanting something more.

We want to teach our little people about giving and not expecting “stuff” or always wanting something more or better…of having to have everything they see or want at the moment. We want them to be aware that we are very fortunate and that there are people out there, that are not so fortunate. With all of this in mind, we have decided to incorporate the idea of giving to those in need, into our Christmas celebration. We will be taking a portion of our Christmas gift fund and using it to give to those in need. I am just not sure where or how we should do that this year.

The thing is my little people’s “other” mommy, the one that gave birth to them, is very materialistic and goes overboard with gift giving, even though she can by no means afford it. Her mother and family are the same way. They go completely crazy for their birthday’s and Christmas. Let’s just say that they give so much that the kids don’t even want to open all of them. Because of this, we don’t always give them anything or if we do, it is something small. We have tried talking to them in the past about this, but they have refused to listen. We will once again talk to them and explain how we feel. We are going to ask them to join in our "giving to others" idea and ask them to contribute also.

When my older children were growing up, we played “secret Santa” to one family each year that we could. They each gave up one of the gifts they would normally get and then I would take them shopping with that money and they would each buy a gift for someone in that family. They looked forward to this every year, that we could do it. So this is one idea of something we could do. But, we would like to search out different options. D’Arcy from Abstraction recently wrote a great post about The Children of Shanti Bhavan and gives an opportunity for others to give. I am looking for something that my little people could possibly understand and get excited about. Please know that we are not trying to take the fun out of Christmas or be a scrooge, we just want to share some of the wealth that has been given to us.
Please share your idea's with me!