Monday, September 16, 2013

Who is washing the children?

One day my mom called while I was giving Zachary a bath in the kitchen sink. He was a baby so don't be alarmed that I am washing my nine year old son in the kitchen sink. I heard Byron answer the phone and then say "she is washing a baby." I started laughing hysterically. It might not have been as funny as I thought it was, but I was crazy laughing anyway. I had never heard anyone refer to giving a baby a bath as "washing the baby." It is accurate, just not something I had ever heard. Since that day, I have said it myself many times and with a smile. Washing the children is something mom's do. And sometimes mom's forget to buy more soap.

 As I was headed to the shower this morning, I noticed there were only slivers of soap in my shower, so I opened the drawer where I keep soap. No soap. I headed in to Cooper's bathroom and opened the drawer where I keep soap. No soap. I looked in his tub. No soap. I headed downstairs to look in Zachary and Samantha's drawer. No soap. I looked in their tub. No soap. As I stood in the third bathroom and realized there is no bath soap in my house, I had a thought -- WHO IS WASHING THE CHILDREN? Obviously, they are not washing themselves. How long have they been taking baths and showers without soap? Why have I not noticed this? I send them to shower nightly (ok....almost nightly...give me a break!)and they almost always come out of the bathroom wet. Have I been so pre-occupied with just getting through another day that I have not noticed that nobody is washing my children? Parent fail? I would guess that most people would consider this an EPIC FAIL. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, all of my children are old enough to understand that they should be using soap in the shower. Nobody told me they needed soap. In the great big scheme of life, does it really matter? They all have shampoo. I can probably assume that the suds from that soap have slid over their little bodies and cleaned something, right? Am I failing as a parent if I don't check their bathrooms nightly to be sure there is soap and that it has been used?

What if tomorrow I read an open letter posted on some perfect parent's blog to "the mom who does not wash her children.....?" What if that letter is an open attack on my integrity as a parent and makes a ridiculous connection between there being no bath soap to there being no "raising of the children?" That might cause me some grief. I might decide that I am definitely not taking my role as a parent very seriously if I allow us to run out of soap. I could decide that I am such a loser of a parent that I need to re-evaluate how I do it and make some major changes. Afterall, if I am not living up to others expectations for how it should be done, I am just not worthy. OR, I might not. Instead, I will probably be miffed that some self-righteous person has used a public forum to bash parents for not doing the most perfect thing in every situation of their children's lives. I will be more offended that a woman has decided that the best way to use her time is to publicly announce how piss poor of a job I am doing as a mom if I can be so detached from my children that I do not know if they have been washed. I will probably roll my eyes, give a big heavy sigh, slightly wave my middle finger, and laugh. We ran out of soap. So what! I'll go buy more soap. Running out of soap is just running out of soap. It happens. Life goes on.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A year of silence? From me? WHAT?

I cannot believe that it has been a year since I blogged. I have thought about it often, but could not calm my brain enough to compose anything readable. And honestly, anything I blogged would have only been more of the same stuff I posted the year prior. Life is good. I hate school. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. It took me about 20 minutes to remember how to log in and I had to reset my password. Eeeeeek........

So, are you wondering what is happening in my world? I have now completed 5 of 8 semesters of graduate school. Even though I am sure that going part-time is the best option, I am so ready to be done. Four years is a long time to make the kinds of sacrifices we are making to get this done. It has not gotten easier to manage with work and kids, but I have been able to make all A's so far, and I am feeling good about actually finishing this thing! I have decided that I want to continue working in a school setting after graduation. It is a good fit for me with schedules and I really like the varied opportunities for direct and indirect practice with individuals, families, and communities.

We had a really great summer. Our kids are finally old enough that they are fun to take places. We were not over scheduled or rushed about doing anything. We spent lots of time at the lake and various Wichita pools. It is what we love. We spent a few days in Oklahoma City at Frontier City and Oceans of Fun. It may be the most fun we have ever had as a family. We are looking forward to more fun this summer. We have a float trip booked for July and plan to find more fun water activities to keep us busy.

I am currently struggling (again) with defining what friendship means to me. I consider many people to be friends of mine, but when I am wanting to spend time with a girlfriend, there is not one person I can just pick up the phone to call and make it happen. Everything involves weeks of planning, re-planning, and negotiating dates, times, and activities. It is exhausting. I just want to drive over to someone's house in my comfy clothes and putter around their house with them doing nothing really important. And I want someone to come to my house and do the same. We could talk about things that are heavy on our minds, give and get support, laugh, cry, or just work on projects together with no strict conversation pattern. Our kids could play together while we hang out.

Big Daddy and I have also been working to make healthier choices in our lives. It has been a slow journey, but making small changes over time has worked. It no longer feels like an overwhelming task. He is way better at this stuff than me, but he never makes me feel like I am a slacker. I wish I had half of his motivation. I struggle with comparing myself to others and falling in to a belief that there is only ONE way to be healthy. We have found what works for us and that is all that matters. I could post a blog a day about my frustrations with what I see as a lack of tolerance, adult mean-girl behavior, or various other things that get under my skin. The problem with that is people naturally want to insert themselves in to the situation and create drama about whether or not I must be referring to them. That is not how I roll. I do care what others think and using a blog to air silly indifferences is not what I want. I am making a conscious decision to play nice. Some days that is much harder than others.

In other news, I am considering a massive facebook edit or delete. There are many reasons I might share another time, but mostly, I am feeling the need to step away from the electronic socialization and focus on the real stuff. It causes me stress because I insert myself in to every negative situation posted about and try to figure out if it is about me........ and that just makes me crazy.

Thanks for allowing me to share my scattered thoughts. See ya soon!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A good life

Recently, I have found myself reflecting on my life more often than usual. The obvious things come to mind first. I have a strong marriage, three incredible children who call me mom, a welcoming home in a nice neighborhood, a small group of girlfriends I adore, a large family who would do anything for me, and I do what I love for a living.

None of these things have come without tears, sorrow, impatience, and faith. Not all parts of my journey have been fun. Some have been downright horrid! But as I stand here today, I am proud of the life I have and for who I am. I am proud of my heritage and for the roots that hold me strong.

As I reflect, I have been thinking about how my kids will remember these years of their lives. As I think about that, I think about what I remember about growing up. It was not all fun and games, but I find myself connecting how I live my life today more and more with the experiences of those years.

Two personal traits that are easily connected to my roots ....
1) My dad always made sure we were on time. I am a freak about being on time. I am always the first to a meeting or sitting in the parking lot hoping someone else will get there soon so I don't have to walk in alone. It causes me a great deal of distress to be running late. I am not "on time" if I am not 15-30 minutes early.

2) I am always concerned with how my actions will impact others. Both my parents made sure we never did or said anything that would cause someone else to be inconvenienced. There have been many times in my life when I gave up my own dream or desire because I felt it would cause someone else more pain than it would cause me happiness. I am working on finding a happy medium with this one in my life and in my parenting.

As I am writing this, I have realized that this could go on and on and on for pages and pages and pages of personal reflection...... So I will leave it at this. For all of the experiences of my life, and for all of the things I don't do well or as I should, I have decided that I live a good life. A very good life. And if I continue to do that, my kids will have the tools they need to also have a good life. I will not wallow in the "what if they don't" thoughts. That just makes me crazy.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 2012 - Happy New Year!

I was reading my blog from January 2011 this morning and it is still pretty relevant for today. Take a look if you are interested. I don't generally make resolutions, but I do reflect on how things are in my life today and what I can do to change them, keep them from changing, or accept that they will not change. That is how I roll. My life is good. Yes, there are things that I would like to be different. But the truth is that if nothing changes, I am good with that too.

This year will bring the 20th anniversary of marriage for me and Big Daddy. My children will turn 8 and 9 (YIKES!!), and I will continue graduate school.

We will live a good life.
We will treat others as we want to be treated.
We will live our lives with tolerance.
We will not sit in judgement when beliefs of others are not in sync with our own.
We will move on with no regrets when those around us are not kind or tolerant.
We will not compare our lives to others.
We will not feel inadequate when the lives of others appear to be better than our own.
We will be thankful.
We will be kind.
We will love each other.
We will play and laugh.
We will support each other when there are reasons for tears.
We will step up!

Life is short -- Be happy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

My family is spread throughout the house doing various holiday activities. Our main tree is decorated, the mantle is transformed, the kids are decorating their small tree downstairs, and Big Daddy is watching his Detroit Lions! Life is good.

I take lots of grief in November because I also start looking forward to Christmas. It is not because I am skipping Thanksgiving. It is actually just the opposite. These two holidays have always been combined in my family and I have many years of happy memories tied up in this time of year. No matter what was happening in our lives, my mom made sure that every holiday was a big deal! Thanksgiving and Christmas were no exception. It never really mattered what was or was not going to be under the tree. The act of decorating, listening to Christmas music starting in November, and eagerly waiting to spend the day with family WAS the big deal. I moved away from home twenty-five years ago, but even if I am not physically able to be there, my heart is sitting in my parents living room on Carlyss drive on every holiday. So when I start listening to Christmas music in November and put up my Christmas tree on Thanksgiving day, it is because I am thankful for the childhood I had and the happy memories that live in my heart.

And with that, here is a short list of people/things I am especially thankful for today. There is no way to list every person or experience who has brought joy to my life -- so this is just a sample.....
1) Happy childhood memories
2) Big Daddy: 19 years ago we took vows to love each other "for better - for worse." We have tested those vows many times over the years, but today I am thankful for the good times, and for him. He is a good husband,father, and provider. I am thankful every day that my children have such a good relationship with their dad.
3) Debbie: I am thankful that God brought Debbie to our family when we were teenagers. None of us could have ever known that all these years later she would bless us with the most wonderful and selfless gift of all. I always knew that she would give you the shirt off your back if she thought you needed it more, but to share your child is by far the most precious gift of all.
4) Samantha: What a gift! I thank god for her every single day. She is kind and loving and has the most incredible sense of social justice of anyone I know. She finds true joy in doing things for others and there are no words to describe how much I love her.
5) Amanda: 17 years ago we were blessed with a chubby faced crazy hair baby girl. Our time with her has been challenged and varied over the years, but she is always in our hearts.
6) Zachary: What a gift! This child is funny and ornery and loving and just when you think you have seen it all, you have not! I look forward to what he is going to say or do
7) Cooper: This is my most thankful child. He always says "thank you" and is the best cuddle buddy ever! He is also the happiest child I have. A song in his heart and a bee bop in his step. If you need a hug - just find Cooper!
8) Sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and cousins: I miss not living our day to day lives with you but I am still thankful to have each of you and proud to call you family. I am pretty sure there are no other families like ours!
9) Friends: I have a small group of people I consider to be a "friend." I am careful to surround myself with people who are kind and who treat one another with love. There are too many to separate out because each one serves their own purpose in my life. I love them all and spending time with a true friend never gets old.
10) My home: We have lived in many states and many homes over the years. I don't tend to have sentimental ties to physical things, but if I ever have to leave this house, it will be with sadness. Our lives changed here and I am pretty attached to this place!
11)Pampered Chef, Scentsy, Brighton Jewelry, Coca-Cola, French Fries, and Cheesecake
12) Winter, a fire in the fireplace, snow, my Nook Color, my Laptop, and my iphone
13) Good neighbors, colleagues, and the opportunity to go to graduate school

Happy Thanksgiving, Ya'll

Friday, October 21, 2011

For Nichole.......because I love you

A few weeks (errr..... maybe a few months ago.....), I asked if anyone had suggestions about a blog post. Nichole said she would love to read about how much I love her.

This one is for you, Nichole.

About 12 years ago I decided that I had some free time on my hands and signed up to be a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I had no idea how much that decision would brighten my life. I pondered over several files and agonized over who I would pick to mentor. I was pretty sure I did not want to mentor someone who had serious behavior problems. I did not want my free time to feel so much like work. As I looked through files, I kept going back to one of a little blonde girl who by all accounts in that file was going to be a huge pain in my butt! Even though I was sure I would regret it, I asked to be matched with you.

Boy was I wrong!

We met in October and you wanted our first big outing to be a corn maze or some crazy scary haunted house. Ummmm......I HATE that stuff! So I was pretty sure you would never want to see me again. I can't remember what we did on our first outing, but I do remember that I LOVED you right away. We shopped, we ate out, you let me buy you pink stuff (yippeeee!!), we saw some really bad movies together, and we still laugh about the first time I took you to my house to bake cookies. I burned them! I suck in the kitchen. If we were going to have any kind of a relationship, you needed to know this. It is just not something I could hide. We saw plays at Mosley Street Melodrama, Crown Uptown, and Century II.

And not one time were you ever a pain in my butt. I looked forward to seeing you. And I missed you when too much time passed between outings. When I had 3 babies in 1 year and barely saw you, you called to check on me. You brought me the cutest little "twin" shirts for my itty bitty babies and you were the first person other than me and Byron who saw them in NICU.

I know you went through some rough times during those years but we never dwelled on that stuff. We only did happy things and talked about good stuff. I encouraged you to do your best and make good choices, but I never wanted you to have to talk to me about getting in trouble or what poor choices you were making. I wanted you to know that none of that mattered to me. My love is not conditional and nothing you could have ever done would change that. I had no idea if anything I ever said or did made a difference to you. And I knew there was no way you could ever understand how much I loved you and wanted the very best for you.

And then you grew up. And I proudly watched you become a woman. I stood in the court room and watched you marry your best friend, I watched your belly grow and celebrated when sweet baby Raylee was born. And I was so sad that you were doing all of that so far away. But I was also so happy that you had made some really awesome choices in your life and that you created a really good life for yourself. You did it! And I never doubted that you would!

When you send me notes and give me gifts telling me thank you for being there for you, I can't describe how it feels. It only reinforces that I made the right choice in that conference room so many years ago. And I am so thankful that you made the choice to love me too. I should also throw out a great big thank you for not being that pain in the butt I was so sure you would be.

We are full circle now and you are going through an adult sized rough patch. I hope you know that my love for you is still unconditional. While I continue to want what is best for you, I also respect that you have to decide what that means for you. You know where to find me and we can talk about what is going on or not. I am your safe place.

Thank you for letting me love you. You have made a difference in my life.

The End

Monday, August 22, 2011

Accept the "Thank You"

People hesitate to mentor because they cannot imagine what it is they could do to make a difference. Mentoring is not about immediate gratification. It is about planting seeds that may bloom very slowly. But make no mistake, it makes a difference. And what starts out as a mentoring relationship will often turn in to life long friendships that are equally valuable

Over the years I have found myself in friendships and mentoring situations and had thoughts about whether or not our relationships were important or making a difference. Over the past few months I have received notes and gifts that have helped me to realize those relationships were valuable to all of us. It is really nice to have someone say "thank you for making a difference in my life," but it is hard for me to accept that what I have done has made that kind of impact on anyone. I don't think I did anything special. I was just "me" hanging out with "them" in professional and personal situations. There was no agenda for making a difference. Sharing knowledge and opinions about life and jobs and working together on clearing our paths. Having fun and crying if we needed to cry. Nothing earth shattering about that! Right?

Wrong! When you show up for people when they need you, it is life changing. Do you have to agree with the choices they are making or the path they have taken? Heck no!! You just have to be there to laugh, cry, kick in the butt, and sometimes wallow with them in the misery for a while! And you have to be there to pick them up, wipe the tears, and walk with them a while longer.

There is a popular saying about people not always remembering what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. If you think back in your life, you can probably think of people who you feel made a difference. You might not remember every meeting, outing, or conversation you ever had. But you will remember how you felt when you were together. I have a very long list of people who made that kind of difference in my life.

Mentoring done right is easy. It is unstructured and casual. It does not take elaborate meetings with set rules on what to talk about or do. It is 100% about being there! You show up! The rest just comes.

This blog post is not about how fabulous "I" am, it is about how incredibly powerful it is to have a person who believes in you with everything they have. And this is also about how hard it is to accept that "thank you" or those kind words as being "earned." After all, I have incredible feelings of thankfulness for those who have made a difference in my life. Why is it so hard to believe that someone can feel that way about me?

So, I am going to wear my new starfish necklace (thank you, Naomi) with pride in knowing that something "I" did made a difference to someone. A reminder that you never know who or how your actions will impact someone else's journey. I would much rather know that people remember me because they felt good when I was around. I really don't want to be remembered for some of the other (not so nice) things I have done in my life.

Lesson for today: Always be thankful to those who make a difference in your life. And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS accept the "thank you" when it comes your way!