Tag Archives: parenting

Oh crap, sister can spell.

I’m annoyed at my child’s education. Not the lack of education, but the speed at which she is becoming educated. It is really messing up my life. For example, I used to tell my kids to go to bed, and it was inevitable that one of them would say, “But it’s not bedtime.” To which I would respond, “Yes it is.”

That was it. They believed me. Mama said it’s bedtime, therefore it is bedtime.

Not anymore. I say, “Go to bed.”

Someone says, “But it’s not bedtime.”

I say, “Yes it is.”

“No mam, it is not. It is 7:28 and we read at 7:30. Then, we read for 30 minutes. THEN, we go to bed at 8:00!”

Well….thank you Sister Mathematician.

Like most mamas, I need my kids to go to bed early. This is my survival, my sanity. My time to eat all of their Valentine’s Day candy.

It took me forever to get my husband to realize that if he wanted to talk about doing anything even remotely fun without our kids he would have to spell the fun. He used to just say, “Hey you want to eat some candy or ice cream when they go to bed?” Of course, they would start crying, “I want ice cream! I want candy!”

This started many fights. I would storm off, angry because my candy eating was ruined & the kids would never go to sleep with thoughts of mama & daddy eating candy racing through their minds. So, like most men, he finally learned! He started spelling, “Hey, you want C-A-N-D-Y and P-O-P-C-O-R-N?”

This worked for a while. Until recently. Now we spell and suddenly sissy becomes an annoying episode of Seasme Street…

“What did y’all spell? I know. ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘n’ ‘d’ ‘y’…..’can’ ‘dy’…CANDY! Bubba, daddy is talking about candy! We get candy! Yay! Candy!!”

(I guess we will have to resort to Pig Latin, surely that will not be covered by Kindergarten Common Core Standards?)

I love teaching at Sissy’s school. I get to walk down the hallway and see her cute little artwork. All the other mama-teachers get to see the cute little artwork as well. Parents who walk their kids into school get to see the cute little artwork.  Actually, pretty much everyone I know sees the cute little artwork.

I recently walked down the kindergarten section of the hallway and saw that Sissy’s teacher had changed out the display. Their new assignment was to write about Valentine’s Day. Everyone wrote words like, “Love” and “Friend” all phonetically spelled and hilarious of course.

Sister Speller had to take it to the next level. Apparently she thought the assignment was to make your parents look like weirdos.

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I had to fight the urge to scribble at the bottom, “We really only barely kiss in front of the kids, I promise…We aren’t crazy making out….Really! Seriously!”

In all honesty, I am thrilled watching her spongy little brain soak up all of this knowledge! Her teacher is awesome, and Sissy is learning so much! She leaves little scraps of paper and notebooks all around the house with her sweet writing scrawled across them. I found this one yesterday:image

I’m assuming I left my Bible and a container of yogurt on the table. That or she was really confused during chapel this week.

 

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His Favorite Hooker

My son loves hookers. There, I said it.

It started couple of years ago, when he asked Santa for a hooker. (I guess I should clarify, in case you weren’t one of the 10 people who read that post, hooker=clothes’ hanger)

He pulls all the hookers from his closet and plays with them. With his hookers, he can be Captain Hook, an armed ninja, or a giant crane! He can pick things up, hook his siblings, and drag trucks. The hooker possibilities are endless!

I feel you judging! Stop!

We think that four years old is a little too young for a ‘sit down’ about the true dangers of hookers, so we just enjoy the laughs. The two other kids also call these lovely plastic devices by Bubba’s inappropriate name.

I recently walked in on a truly memorable conversation. Sissy was teaching Baby Boy how to clean up. This is the hilariousness I was so blessed to overhear:

Sissy (speaking baby talk): Ok baby, I am going to cover the floor with hookers and teach you how to clean them all up!

Baby Boy: Hookers!

Sissy (full of pride for having taught him a new word): Yes! Yay! Hookers! Now, we are going to pick them up and take them to Bubba’s room because Bubba LOVES hookers!

Baby Boy: Hookers!

Sissy (throws hangers all over her floor): There. The hookers are everywhere! What do we do, baby?

Baby Boy: Hookers!

Sissy: Yes, we pick them up! Sissy doesn’t like hookers all over her room! So, pick up the black hooker.

Baby Boy: Black Hooker

Sissy: Yes! You are learning your colors! That’s the black hooker! Pick it up!

Baby Boy: Pick up hooker…

Sissy: Very good! Now take the hooker to Bubba’s room.

A few minutes later the hookers were all returned to their rightful owner. (My thoughts, “Oh my gosh! Am I raising a pimp?”)

Sissy found me in the kitchen and smiled brightly as she asked for a piece of tape. When I asked why, she told me she was making a surprise for Bubba.

I finished loading the dishwasher then walked to Bubba’s room to see the surprise…

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Bubba walked in behind me and said, “Thank you, Sissy! How did you know that is my favorite hooker?”

Sissy beamed, “I just knew!”

Is it weird that this totally touched my heart? Gah, I love these unique little humans!😃

 

Treasure These Things

Little boys can be frustrating! They do really weird things like… take their clothes off when they walk in the house, pour their milk in the car cup holder without telling anybody, stick foreign objects up their little noses. (I’ve only heard of these things. My boys are angels.) But, oh my goodness, can’t they just melt your heart? Even when they are acting like wild animals, there is something sweet in their mischief.
The other day, the boys were in the bath tub, & I accidentally splashed Bubba with water. He cocked his head, smiled a crooked smile, & said, “Hey, watch it you crazy girl!” Now, a part of me stopped & thought… child, you have lost your mind; but an even bigger part of me thought it was just too adorably irresistible. I couldn’t get mad. It seemed so sweet & funny him calling me girl.

I wonder if Mary experienced those same moments with Jesus? I wonder if she placed her hand on his chest at night to make sure he was breathing? Did she worry about him making friends in carpentry school? Did she get frustrated when he spilled his grape juice and ruined his lovely white tunic? Did she lose her patience when Jesus and James used sticks as swords?

We know she and Joseph worried about Jesus. When Jesus stayed behind at the temple, Mary and Joseph “anxiously searched” for Jesus & finally found him, 3 days later! Yes, THREE days! Can you imagine? If you have ever lost a child, even for one minute, you know that terror. And then, when you find them doing something like playing in the clothes racks… Well, relief, love, and anger make for a fantastic scene in Target. (Again, just a story I’ve heard…not a personal experience.)

Surely, when Mary walked into the temple and saw Jesus teaching away with an audience, she felt all of those same feelings. She actually said, “Son, why have you treated us like this?” Jesus kind of did what Ryder did to me…”Hey crazy girl, I’m about my father’s business!(Not exactly in those words.)
The bible says they didn’t understand, but Mary “treasured these things in her heart.” I love that. Mary didn’t fully realize what was happening, but she knew something was up. Losing Jesus couldn’t have been pleasant. She was horrified! She didn’t mean treasure like a gold coin, but she treasured them… treasure as a verb. She locked it up in her heart to think and pray about.
We can do this. We can be like Mary. All the things we have to watch our children, our friends, & our family go through, all the changes we see in them, the good times and the bad, maybe…we should treasure these things in our hearts.

If they are little happy moments we can savor them and thank God for his blessings. If they are not so happy, and you are in a time of trouble, or you are just confused about life, treasure these things. Stop, capture the moment, hold it in your heart. Change is coming, and when it does, like Mary, you can pull out this moment, look at it closely, and see your savior was in the middle all along.

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Bye, Old Friend

Dear friend,
Once we were so close. We shared everything. (Well, everything I thought you would enjoy.) I gave you my best. I worked so hard at our relationship. When I awoke to the cries of a sick child, I had to take the time to let you know. If my house needed to be cleaned, you listened to my complaints. New book, new hair, new vehicle….you were the first to share my joy. Embarrassingly enough, I sometimes had moments recreated for you! If my children did something adorable, cute, or even stupid, I forced them to relive the moment for my camera. Then I proudly displayed the photo for you.

Oh we had good times, but something has changed. No, no, don’t worry. It’s not you it’s me. I realize I allowed you to control my moods. If we shared a happy moment, I was happy. If we saw something terrible, I felt terrible. I was jealous of your other friends, and I judged myself based on their accomplishments. So, dear Facebook, it is with great sadness that I pack my things; my feelings, my children, my marriage, my family, my friends, my life, and I move on.

I know what you’re thinking, she’ll be back. She can’t stay away. Unfortunately, you are probably right. But until then, I will enjoy my newfound freedom. I will put down my phone and live in the moment. I will endure the confused looks when I fail to realize my friend has given birth. I will laugh and pretend to know what everyone else is laughing at when the conversation moves to ‘that video of the parents who tell their kids they ate the Halloween candy.’ I’m sure it’s hilarious, but I have my own kids and I really did eat their Halloween candy so…
Anyway, I’ve made this breakup letter too long already. I will leave you with a quote from my new friend Jen. (By friend, I mean author whose books I’ve read.)
No one can pull this off. No one is pulling this off. The women who seem to ride this unicorn only display the best parts of their stories.”

Dear friend, I’m getting off the unicorn for now! My story isn’t always happy. Actually, it really sucks sometimes. (I don’t say that in an ungrateful way, I’m very blessed. But, I’m also a human.)

See you soon ole frand. (Probably later on tomorrow, when I ‘borrow’ my mama’s phone and hack her account.)
Love,
Katina

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The quote is from Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love, which I just started reading. Yep, I haven’t even finished the book and I’m quoting it. 🙂 I’m truly responsible. 

To Sissy, on her 5th bday. Love, Little Miss Not-so Perfect

Dear Sissy,

If you are reading this, you are probably old enough to realize I, your mama, have two pretty prominent character traits. I am a major procrastinator. (I know, I probably need to sign some kind of field trip paper that has been sitting on our table for forever!) Also, I am kind of a perfectionist. Not the ‘there is a crumb on the floor’ type, but a more internal perfectionist. I really do not like to mess up! (Something I should probably get over before your wild brothers prove I am an inept mother!)

My perfectionism was never more dominant than when I was in elementary school. I memorized bible verses for fun, loved workbooks, always read, and played teacher. I remember coming home crying, and my mama asking what was wrong. I told her my teacher called me little miss perfect. She seemed confused and asked me to explain. My lip trembled as I told her that my teacher would say things like, “Okay, everybody stop and look at little miss perfect. She has to get ALL of her books and go to her little GIFTED class.” Mama’s jaw dropped. I am not sure what happened, but shortly after that conversation my teacher stopped with the ‘little miss perfect’ comments.

Not too many years later, I married your daddy, and we decided to have a baby. It just didn’t happen. I know it sounds conceited, but this was the first time that I really could not do something that I wanted to do. (Keep in mind, I was still a child.) Not being able to get pregnant was like fuel to some type of fire that had been burning inside me. I really felt lost. I remember talking to a friend of mine, and telling her that I understood what God was all about now. I told her how I felt like a kid again. I had been told as a kid that Santa brought my Christmas gifts. God was like that. I thought he was the one protecting me, clothing me, feeding me. I learned it wasn’t God after all, it was my parents. (This sweet friend, a mother of FIVE, listened and told me I would change, it would be ok.)

So, life went on. People moved on. Friends came and went. Family changed. I grew older. I needed a baby. The perfectionist in me was giving in. I jokingly told your mammy that I would just steal a baby. The look on her face said I think you need to be committed. She actually said, “You need to think about adoption.” The snotty, prideful, perfectionist in me replied, “I refuse to beg for anything.” Mama stared at me. She very bluntly told me that if I wanted a child I just might have to beg.

I thought about that for a while…procrastination…and I knew she was right. Not about begging, but about adoption. I should adopt. I can’t even begin to explain the feelings that went into this decision. I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect. I did NOT expect you! Throughout the whole adoption process, I was brought to my knees. My pride was thrown out the window. I had to completely admit  that I could not do this on my own. Worst of all, I had to ask for help. I prayed, but I didn’t feel it. I felt like I was praying to Santa.

Then…well, through lots of hurdles… there you were. I recently read something about an adoptive mother admitting how she didn’t quite bond with her adopted sissy babychild. She said she felt detached, and I am not disputing her feelings. I imagine those feelings are very valid and totally normal, but…Oh my goodness…Sissy! I just fell in LOVE with you. I tried not to. The perfectionist in me said to be careful, to guard my heart. I was repeatedly reminded that this could fall through. I should try to stay detached until all the paperwork was completed. But, seriously?! How could we be detached from this tiny, sweet smelling, beautiful little girl?

I will never forget the bond your daddy and I felt after meeting you.   We left the hospital to check into our very creepy hotel (thank God for the Ronald McDonald House), when daddy turned to me and said, “How can we ever go back? If this doesn’t work, how will leave?” We knew loving you was risky, but how could we stop? Logical or not, we loved you. You were just amazing to us. In that moment, those silly ‘God=Santa‘ feelings were crushed. God was so real. You were so real. I wasn’t perfect. I couldn’t do the most basic, womanly thing..make a baby. But, in all honesty, you weren’t perfect either. You were early. You were orange. Your eyes were bruised from a difficult delivery. But…Oh my baby, we were meant for each other.

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me sis

 

 

 

Now, of course you know you are adopted. We do not share DNA. You did not grow in my tummy, and I did not give birth to you. In spite of that, there are things I see in you (memorizing bible verses for fun, loving workbooks, always reading, playing teacher) that force me to make the following speech:

Perfect is boring.

God works in the imperfect.

Do not focus on fixing your imperfections.

Don’t compare your body with your friends’ bodies, (skinny isn’t skinny forever…cupcakes beat genetics eventually).

Grades matter.  (I know we should have some type of college fund. Don’t count on it….procrastination) But, you are not your grades. I love you outside of that. Your intelligence is amazing, but it is not your identity.

Your heart is beautiful. But, you are human. You may not always instinctively know what to say or do. You will make mistakes. You will lose friends.

Don’t blame yourself when bad things happen, they just happen.

Don’t blame God when you don’t get what you want. That is immature.

You are you because God made me imperfect. You are you because God made your birth mother imperfect.

Your birth mother’s imperfections led her to me. My imperfections led me to you.
Imperfections can be beautiful!

I love you.

Love,

Little Miss Not-so Perfect

Ariel at desk

 

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Here’s to Strong Women

Here’s to strong women.

May we know them,

May we raise them,

May we be them.

People were trickling out of the swimming pool after Bubba’s third birthday party. He had conned someone into taking off his floaty, and I didn’t realize when I opened the pool gate that Bubba had slid in behind me. For some unknown reason, he sprinted past me, yelled, and jumped into the pool. I just screamed, “Mama!” It was an instinct! I was scared, holding my newborn, and I couldn’t do anything so I yelled for my mommy.

Well, my mama has been known to make interesting spur of the moment decisions, and this was no exception. Before I finished my third syllable of mama, (that’s right…my mama has 3 syllables) she had jumped, fully clothed, cell phone in hand, into the swimming pool. She immediately came up for a side of the mouth swimmer’s breath, as though she were swimming for the gold medal, then began dog paddling like a mad rabid beast. Meanwhile, Michael Phelps Bubba had swam to the side and hopped out clueless to the drama around him.

When mama reached the middle of the pool she finally stood up, the shallow end is only three feet deep, and looked all around shouting, “Where is he? Dear God, where is he?”
I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t contain my laughter. I laughed so hard I was crying and out of breath. It wasn’t the situation, even though it was hilarious, & it wasn’t the sight of her standing there dripping wet while Bubba slid past and grabbed some Cheetos. It was the look on her face, that sideways breath she took, and the dog paddling….oh my gosh! The dog paddling! I swear, it was as though my granny herself had jumped in the pool. Her face with her wet hair and that intense look in her eyes…well, it was no longer her face. It was her mother’s.

I thought about this story recently as my mama and I were riding down the road talking about my granny, how we missed her, and how long she lived after her Alzheimer’s diagnoses.  “It was the fight in her,” Mama said. “She always had those beady, determined eyes. Even in the end.”

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That was true. And it wasn’t always a positive thing. If my Granny decided to do something there was absolutely ZERO chance you could get her to stop. If she wanted to plant a tree, she was planting the tree. No obstacle could stop her, the setting sun, a broken shovel, busted water line, everybody begging her to stop….There was no stopping her. The tree would be planted.

That same determination and strength kept her through the sudden loss of her husband, the realization that she must provide for her family, night school, getting her GED, and the loss of her son. Those beady brown eyes would set, and there was no stopping her.

That was the look I saw in my mama’s eyes that day she jumped in the pool. It was a fierce determination, a strength, a look I have seen many times. When necessary, those big blue eyes will set….and there is no stopping her.

Ok, this sounds so crazy as I’m typing it, but I remember being a kid and hearing my granny say, “Y’all know, I could take a few deep breaths, set my mind in the right place, and, if I had to, I could withstand somebody cuttin’ my arm off.” Crazier still is that she wasn’t lying! She could have done it!

My own mama would say that she is nothing like that. She hates pain. She begs doctors not to give her shots. But, I know, if she had to… I have seen her take a few deep breaths, and survive.

So, I say to you, my friends and sisters who I know or don’t know, to all of you who I love and to you I’ve never met, to the young girl whose parents had an awful divorce, the woman with a mean husband, the young mother who lost her own mother, the women who have survived their children, to you who stays up late each night praying for your child, and to the woman begging for a child; I say, Take a few deep breaths, set your mind in the right place, and you will survive.

Sometimes it takes the really awful things, probably not someone cutting your arm off, but something horrible, to make us realize that we are strong. Women, mothers, daughters, sisters, we are strong. If we had to…

Here’s to strong women.

May we know them,

May we raise them,

May we be them.

The Mama Bear Glare

I remember the first time I met my mother in law. I was sixteen and we had moved to a new church. She was playing the keyboard and singing, and I thought she was just so pretty and had the most beautiful voice. (This is not ‘suck up’ talk, it’s a fact! The lady is lovely and can sing!) Not too long after that first church visit, I started dating my now husband. I don’t think I realized it then but you really can get a good idea about a woman’s personality by looking at her home. The first time I went to their house I came home and told my mama, “I love their house! They have a leopard print rug in the living room.” I guess I should’ve known then… my future mother in law had that mama bear animal instinct!

Like all teenagers, I was quite flippant about love and boyfriends and whatnot. So, at some point, something about my boyfriend annoyed me, and we broke up. The next Sunday, I walked in church and sat with some girls. The music started and I had that ‘somebody’s watching me’ feeling. I looked at the stage and saw my ex-boyfriend’s mama giving me, what I thought was, a big time mama bear glare. I am sure I just imagined it, because as soon as we made eye contact she quickly smiled, turned back to the keyboard, and belted out a beautiful worship song.

Cut to 11 years later. Me lying in a hospital bed, sweating, hurting, and extremely  slightly emotional after having Bubba. My inner mama bear was threatening to come out. (Don’t talk to my mama or my husband. They will tell you some silly story about a cray cray woman screaming at people and flashing everyone. It’s just not true.)  My mother in law walked in and I began to shed a few small tears. (Again, do not get your info. from anyone else! I was not irrationally shouting at my loved ones.) I calmly explained that I was having a difficult time breastfeeding and everybody wanted me to just give Bubba a bottle, but nobody understood how much I wanted to nurse him…Everybody was against me…Nobody loved me…. Why didn’t they understand…. Wahhhhh… (Ok, I’ll admit it. The mama bear may have actually shown herself, and she may have needed a little help dealing with her post partum emotions.) My sweet mother in law looked at me as though I were totally sane, which I wasn’t, and kindly told me it was hard for everyone and babies survive, and he would be ok. I took a deep breath and thought,  I can do this. Somebody is on my side.

Since the day I married her baby boy, my mother in law has always given me that kind of peaceful feeling. When things were sad, or hard; when I thought my situation was hopeless, I would talk to her and walk away thinking, Ok, I can do this…. I can handle this miscarriage. I can make it through my Granny’s funeral. I can survive the adoption process. I know it’s strange to say about a mother in law, but I love this woman so much! She is so many things to me; an example of a strong woman of God, an amazing mama to my husband, such a loving Nina, as she is called by my babies, and…she is my friend.

Katina and Josh's mama playing in the snow!Just the other day, I was talking to my friend, AKA Nina, and we were discussing that mama bear instinct. She said, “You know, I would do anything for my children. And now, with my grandchildren, I feel the same way… I would do anything for them.” I knew exactly what she meant, because my inner mama bear has shown herself many times over the past five years. I try to smile and be that mama who is calm and nonchalant, but often my mama bear is inside screaming, “If you harm one hair on my child’s head I will claw your eyes out.”

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We can’t help it. It is an instinct we mothers must fight against to allow our children to do basic things. They have to go to school, make friends, fight with friends, play sports, and eventually date…. Oh my goodness…. My children will want to date!

One day a girl will like Bubba. She will sit by him in church. She will hold his hand. (If you could see my keyboard now… There are literally tears dripping down on it.) He will think he loves this little hussy. He will ask me to buy her flowers and take them to the movies. Then, out of nowhere, over the silly whims of a teenage girl, she will break up with him! She will break up with MY baby! She will find a flaw in my perfect, beautiful, little man!

Now look who is sitting at a keyboard glaring…..

Wee Ball (it’s a real thing)

Wee Ball: noun. A game played between parents and children too young for sports, the parents must chase the children while smiling and hiding all frustration, the children show their worst possible attitude the object being to drive the parents insane.

I spent much of my childhood taking taekwondo lessons and running around in the woods building fires and treehouses. (It was a cross between Swiss Family Robinson and The Next Karate Kid…ya know…with Hilary Swank.)   Meanwhile, in Michigan, my husband was playing a weird foreign game called soccer. (He also played a few other games I have heard of before like baseball and basketball.) My husband fell so deeply in love with sports that he has become quite rich by coaching high school basketball. (I mean rich in spirit and heart.) You can’t imagine the joy he felt when he found out about wee ball. Our kids no longer had to wait until a reasonable age to begin playing competitive sports. This sport can pretty much be played by anyone out of diapers. You may be thinking, aren’t they only babies? Oh no, my husband would respond, they are fine athletes. Sissy, Bubba, and my sweet three-year old nephew are beasts on the baseball field. Let me describe their skills with a few photos.

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The first game: After spending one million dollars on all of their ‘necessary’ equipment we were ready to play ball. It all started with adorable pictures and laughs. Everyone was on time and happy. Things quickly unraveled…

 

DSC_0071blgThe dugout was insane. I wore flip-flops and my foot was seriously injured by numerous mini cleats. (oh yes….they needed cleats.) It didn’t take long to realize that Bubba might not be ready for baseball. If you will notice, in the photo above, there is a wee ball pile up to the left (They all run like wild animals and pounce on the ball while the daddys scream things like, “Get that ball, be aggressive.”). Sissy is walking away to the right crying because she didn’t get the ball. Who is the kid on the pitcher’s mound dancing? That would be Bubba.

 

DSC_0049blgWe go from dancing to tackling in 2 seconds. Don’t worry Bubba, your cousin is sprinting over to help you attack the kid with the ball.

 

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Sissy gets the ball! And the crowd goes wild…..so do the three boys who pounce on her, snatch the ball, and fight over who gets to throw it to the middle of nowhere. Good thing daddy (red shorts) is right there, ready to help. (or just standing with his arms crossed) Bubba is no longer interested in the ball because he is too busy playing with a piece of gum he got from the other team’s coach. At the end of the year, when trophies are passed out, he will receive the ‘friendliest to the opposing team’ award. He walked over to the other team’s dugout, struck up a conversation, then said, “Hey, you got some gum for me too?”

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Another pile up. (I am so glad Coach Red Shorts was able to help out on the field.)

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I just don’t know where our talented team would be without Coach Red Shorts.

 

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To the right we have Bubba,  who will not leave the other coach alone! I really don’t know what he is saying, but I’m sure it is something embarrassing like, “My daddy, you know…the guy in the red shorts with his arms crossed, sleeps on the couch.” (If you are that coach, and somehow you have come across this blog, I must tell you that my husband and I love each other very much! We just have a bit of a disagreement about where our last baby should sleep. I say curled in a ball against my stomach, he says in something called a crib?)

So, we now have several games under our belts and things are getting a little better. During last night’s game I only had to tell Bubba to quit eating his glove one time! Sissy did cry, but not too often. Once, because she was tackled, and the other because she wanted everyone to follow the rules. I entertained the kids in the dugout by drawing baseballs and bats on their hands. (I bet all the parents love me!) Baby boy ate quite a bit of dirt, but like I always say, “God made dirt, dirt can’t hurt.”

I will leave you with my favorite wee ball picture of all!
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That’s just pure sweetness! “High five, Sissy!”     “High five, Bubba!”  All while old red shorts looks on.

 

 

 

 

Snow brings out the devil

In case you haven’t heard folks, we’ve got some winter weather… here…in Louisiana! And I’m not talking about a little wintery mix! Oh no, it’s a Jim Cantore gets excited kind of snow! Apparently, this massive amount of white, fluffy stuff causes all members of my family to temporarily lose their minds. Let me explain.

We woke this morning and looked outside expecting to see beautiful snow on the ground, but nope… just nasty, cold rain. Meteorologists had predicted snow would fall over night. (Goodness, don’t they know we tell our kids this junk.) Sadly, I have been plagued with strep throat for the past several days. Like always, I used my free time yesterday (ahahaha…. Free time) to browse Facebook, where I was bombarded with the sight of everybody playing in the ice. I saw cute little pictures of their babies frolicking around licking icicles, while my kids put on Halloween costumes, jumped on mattresses, and ate junk off the floor. (Don’t judge, this was a painful strep throat!) I just couldn’t get off the couch, and I felt too much mama guilt for not taking my kids outside to play. I know what you are thinking. Why doesn’t your lovely husband, who you gushed over in the Popcorn Guy post, take them out to play? Well, here’s a little secret; every so often, my amazing husband is a BOB (This is an acronym my friend & I made up before acronyms were cool) Let’s just say it means he doesn’t want to do any activities! 😉 So, when we saw that stupid rain this morning, everybody was a little heartbroken. My throat was killing me and baby boy had kept me up most of the night with his ear infection. I was tired and totally over all this winter weather. We called Nina & Gramps (husband’s wonderful parents) and they gladly agreed to watch the kids so I could sleep off this nagging sore throat. We left their house, and it started sleeting.
My husband asked, “Is there anything you think you could eat?”

“Ummm, yes, I could definitely eat some Counter Culture frozen yogurt!” (or froyo for you cool kids) “Look, they are open! Oh my gosh! I’m so happy! There is absolutely nothing else I could imagine eating!”

“Ok,” my husband said, “I want Captain D’s.” (We were excited, my lack of employment has led to some very interesting at home dinner creations!)
I told him we would get his first, so mine wouldn’t melt. We got in line at Captain D’s and waited, and waited, and waited. As we sat there, small flurries started falling. My husband ordered his TEN dollar fast food meal! (What the heck? TEN dollars for weird, fake fish! Grrrrr!) We got the million dollar meal in a plastic sack and proceeded over to the yogurt place. “Closed due to inclement weather”  This was the point at which I snapped. (Please keep in mind, ‘You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.’) I was going on two days of chicken broth! Chicken broth! I was very upset with the following people in the following order: 1. Husband 2. Captain D (I don’t know what he’s the captain of? … the gross factory where minced shrimp guts are turned into fryable mush… Just a guess.) 3. The lady in front of us, at Captain D’s, who must’ve ordered fifty pounds of fake fish 4. The meteorologists 5. The Counter Culture girls (I know, my list is ridiculous!)

By the time we pulled into our driveway, giant snowflakes were piling up like something from a movie… definitely not set in Louisiana! It was beautiful. Instead of thanking God for this amazing snow, my time off from work, my healthy babies, heat, a fireplace… I was sad. I honestly started crying, just a little. (Disclaimer: I was sick, starving, & still running a little fever.) I had a crazy moment; I started furiously making mashed potatoes. (You know, chopping a little crazily, mashing kind of wildly.) I told my husband he would just have to pick the kids up, because I was about to play in the snow. I could tell by his scrunched up facial expression that he did not think this was a very good idea, but he just said ok. (Still my popcorn guy!)
I stood at the stove, baby on my hip, hair not washed, same clothes as the day before, and shoved mashed potatoes in my mouth while I thought about all the fun other people were probably having. It was in that self pitying moment that I heard an ambulance. This pulled me from crazy land and plopped me back down in snowy Louisiana where my husband had just driven away to pick up two pieces of my heart. I tried to call him while remaining calm. (Do all mamas do this when they hear an ambulance?) He didn’t answer. Two more times, and, finally, he quite grumpily says, “Hello.” I knew they were fine, I truly did. But, I just needed the reminder: be thankful.

So, everyone was home and bouncing off the walls. Bubba cried because he couldn’t find his gloves. “Just put socks on your hands.” I said. Sissy cried because she didn’t want to wear her big mittens. “Here,” I cheerfully replied, “mama found you two little gloves.” Woo Hoo! I was on a role! Everyone was bundled up and ready.

 

I opened the front door and saw my so sweet husband already outside, not being a BOB at all. He smiled a huge smile and began rolling snowballs to make a snowman. The snowman looked awful, and Bubba just had to give him two hookers, clothes hangers, for arms.

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My husband looked so happy as he grabbed a handful of snow and started making a snowball. Then I saw that competitive, masculine little grin on his face. Before I could say no, he was throwing snowballs at the kids. He was relentless. He looked like Jack Nicholson in the shining. It was terrifying. At one point he yelled, “Hey, Strep Throat!” I stupidly turned and got a snowball in the face. Next, he told the kids, “Come here, I have something to show y’all.” Weirdo, I know! He was standing by the truck. The kids slowly walked over to him expecting a snowball in the face. When it didn’t happen they relaxed and looked up at him. It was then that my loving husband scraped all the snow off the top of his truck onto the babies’ faces. Of course, tears started, and they stomped toward the house while their daddy grabbed his stomach and laughed.

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I’m not sure what this says about our life as a whole, but this was truly a wonderful day. How blessed am I?

Adoption & the Scary Teenage Writer

When my husband and I decided to adopt, I went straight to Books-a-million, found the tiny adoption section, plopped myself down, & began devouring all the information I possibly could. I cried as I read story after story of loss, love, & sacrifice. There were books explaining international adoption, open adoption, foster care, what to expect, what not to expect, and so on. Then, I saw a little book, I can’t remember the title, that was written by an adopted child. It explained all the things she wished her adoptive parents had known. As I began to read through this small book, I felt the walls closing in around me. The author said things like,   I wish you hadn’t treated my birthday like a celebration, because all I could think about was how my birth mother lost something on that day. I wish you hadn’t talked about my adoption with other people while I was standing right there. It is my story. I wish you would have openly talked to me about my adoption. You shouldn’t have used cliches like “You grew in my heart…”  I hated it when people said, “You can’t even tell she’s adopted. She looks just like you.” I hate when people ‘forget’ I am adopted. 
My heart pounded in my chest. What was I doing? All those fears I had were true. My child would hate me. What was I supposed to do? Adopt a baby, never celebrate the baby’s birthday, never talk about our adoption with other people, talk about it all the time with our baby, punch people if they said the baby looks like us?!? Ahhhhhh, I couldn’t breath. I peeled myself off the floor, left my pile of books (sorry books-a-million), and fled that store. I rushed home and immediately began ugly crying. (You know what I mean.) I cried for the parents of that adopted girl. I cried for that girl. I cried for all adopted children, all birth mothers, all adoptive parents. I cried for myself.
The next few months slowly passed by with profile books, home study visits, and massive amounts of paperwork. We had a couple of possible adoption situations that didn’t work out. My emotions were crazy. I wanted to be positive and excited, but the author of that book would not leave me alone. For every success her petulant little voice had a negative comeback. When we finished our home study, she said, “Wonderful, you are one step closer to taking someone else’s baby.” When our lawyer called to let us know she would be sending our profile book to another state, that poor girl was relentless, “Great,” she whined, “you are spreading your prospects. Making it more unlikely that ‘your’ (she said that word with spiteful sarcasm) baby will ever get to meet his or her birth family. How wonderful for you…. Baby thief.” (I know, she was getting really mean.)
I started doing yoga. I became vegan (maybe it was the evil meat infiltrating my mind). I tried to push those horrible thoughts away. As the school year ended, the weather warmed and we planned for our beach vacation. I decided I would forget about adopting. My work was done anyway. I could only wait, and there was no point in staying in this constant state of fear over something that might never even happen. Pity party over, vacation on. Well, you know how life is. When you least expect it…

We were driving to Florida when we got a call from our lawyer’s office, “She picked y’all!” I just couldn’t believe it. I was so excited, but also terrified. I thought about that little baby girl. Should I buy her clothes? What about a carseat? Of course, that stinkin’ teenage author snuck into my thoughts, “You know, while you are thinking about a car seat and silly clothes, ‘your’ baby’s mother is thinking about pain & loss.” I tried to explain myself to this girl! I told her I knew about loss. I understood this mother would feel pain. I told her I was sad about that. But, I begged her to let me be happy.

We were at the beach for a few days, when we received more shocking news. The baby had come 8 weeks early. We needed to get there, now! My husband and I threw our things in suitcases and jumped in the car. All I could think about was getting to my baby. I knew she needed me. It was so strange; even though that girl was still in my mind…. She doesn’t need you. She needs her ‘real’ mother. You can’t give this tiny baby what she needs.    I felt powerful enough to take her on. I told her, my baby did need me. I told her the facts. This mother, who had given birth to our baby, had also made me a mama. She went through all the profiles in her state and surrounding states but didn’t find any couple she wanted to be the parents of her baby. She searched and prayed. Her lawyer sent requests everywhere looking for a couple that this mother might choose. Our little profile somehow ended up in front of her. Who knew a teacher and coach from nowhere, Louisiana would be exactly the parents she was looking for? I took a deep breath. (Learned that in yoga.) I allowed myself to imagine the baby, but only for a minute.
We got home, unpacked, re-packed, and hopped on an airplane. Our lawyer called the children’s hospital that our daughter had been transferred to. We had permission to go to the hospital. We walked to the desk and explained our situation. The nurse gave us two badges that said, PARENT. My heart fluttered. Was this real? I was a parent. A small voice said,     You aren’t a parent. Did you feel her kick? Did you grow huge? Did you scream and push? Were you there for that first breath?

I bent my head low. We were in the elevator. Rising up, up, almost there. We were totally silent. Some upbeat music bounced around. My husband and I held hands and watched the numbers climb. The doors opened and we walked out and looked for her room. There. The door was open. We peeked in. Oh my. 100_1776My heart was suddenly filled with a need to hold her. A nurse came in and showed me how to open the incubator and take her out. She placed her in my arms. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, that girl was rolling her eyes at the mushy cliche of an adoptive mother I had become. I couldn’t help it. It was all true! My heart was full! I felt complete! I was this baby’s mama. I wanted to scream, “I love you!” I didn’t dare though. That voice whispered, “This isn’t real. It isn’t going to happen.”

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The next few weeks were crazy! We stayed at the Ronald McDonald house, then moved to a hotel when our baby was released from the hospital. She quit breathing a couple of times, so we had to take CPR classes and she had to wear an apnea monitor. The state’s laws required us to stay there for several weeks. Over a month after we had arrived, we were finally allowed to take our baby home. Six months later we returned to finalize sister’s adoption. Both my husband and I had to stand in front of the judge and tell her why we were there. Of course, I was all trembly. There was that voice, “You are going to say something weird. The judge will slam her gavel and call you a ‘fake’ mama. They will take your baby.” My sane self knew these thoughts were crazy, but it was so hard for me to believe everything would be ok.

The judge gave Sissy a little gavel which she happily gnawed on. We took pictures and floated around on a cloud of happiness.

That voice hasn’t left me. I still have fears. I have learned that this is a part of motherhood. No matter how your family is formed, you worry about them. The book I stumbled upon that day in Books-a-Million wasn’t painfully skimmed over in vain. I kept some of those words and I think about them. I have always told Sissy about her adoption. I made a scrapbook for her and we read it together. We never discuss any details of her birth family with other people. We will honor her birth mother and explain to Sissy what a brave and difficult choice her birth mother made. I could never forget she is adopted. The journey was too beautifully painful. However, we celebrate that little girl’s birthday with a big party, cake, hugs, & love. How could we not? What a special day when she took her first breath. The best parts of life are usually arrived at by way of heartache and pain.