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 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 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 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.
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.'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 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 love say what needs to be really listen, and hear what they are saying 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 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 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 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... 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!