Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zig-Zag: My Journey Through Parenthood

Z is for Zig-Zag.

There is no cookie cutter model for parenting.  This annoys me.  I wish I could read one book, just one, and that one book would have all the answers for everybody.  This just wouldn't work.  God made everybody so annoyingly unique so that as we all connect to each other and start growing families, each family becomes annoyingly unique.  Okay, annoying may not be the right word because it's actually pretty amazing to think about.  Yet, annoying just might fit...sometimes?

Easter, 2014

Therefore, for our family, it's important that we be extremely flexible.  Roll with the punches.  Zig-Zag when we need to.  I have 3 kids and they are all so different.  The oldest has down syndrome and is home-schooled.  The middle (and oldest too) goes to public school in the town next door to ours.  The youngest is just turning into a toddler.  Each one has their own sets of needs and desires.  Each one has a beating heart that is yearning for love and affection from Mr. Sexy and I.

So when Michael has a school recital I have to relax a bit on the homeschool front.  When Denai isn't feeling well I have to drop everything and run to the doctor.  When Marie is having a bad day I have to allow her and I time and space to move past whatever happened.

This concept is difficult for me.  I like to have an orderly schedule, although you might not guess this if you could see how good not good I am at keeping my room clean.  Even a poop schedule is important to me.  However, this year it seems that every day, every week, every month, shit just happens.  We haven't had very many "normal" days.  Interestingly, Michael tends to be at his dad's house when "shit just happens."  I like to think that God is sparing his tender heart since he is already dealing with two sets of parents and two sets of sisters.

Oh well.  It's all okay.  I'm really learning to let go and accept the chaos that is my life.  Beer and rum help with that, I've got to be honest there!

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yelling and Screaming: My Journey Through Parenthood

Y is for Yelling and screaming.

"about" 18 months old?
Who really remembers these things? 

I remember the first huge, earthquake of a tantrum Michael threw at the grocery store.  Safeway, to be exact.  He was about 18 months old (but as I think about it a LOT of things happened when he was "about" 18 months old).

Thankfully, I had done my research and I was prepared.  Instead of standing around, red-faced and trying to talk sense into the senseless, I picked him and ran out as fast as I could.  And yup, some minimum wage clerk had to put away my full basket of groceries.

I'm not sure where exactly I learned to do this.  I read that I needed to take him out of the situation to show him who was in control.  Weird thing was that it worked.  Over time the tantrums lessened and I was able to console him right then and there.  No running out for this mom!  It was an amazing feeling.  As soon as his head threw back my "mommy tone" came out and he shaped right up.

As he got older, years older, he realized he could still throw himself on the floor even when I was using my "mommy tone."  That wasn't fun.  Thankfully Mr. Sexy had put a ring on my finger and has played a major role in Michael's life.

It just so happens that a big part of our lives involve yelling and screaming.

Still.

He's 6.  I hear that for some kids that's normal and for others it's not.

Who cares.

All our kids are different from all kinds of different families.  I'm proud of Michael constantly because he has a huge heart that yearns to love people.  He doesn't always know how to do that, however.  So he resorts to yelling and screaming.

Oh well, perhaps 7 will be different!

A Valentine's project we did together for school.


What was your worst tantrum experience like? 

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for X-Rays: My Journey Through Parenthood

X is for X-rays.

Michael's first x-rays resulting in a cast was when he was about this old:



He was 18 months or so?  I can't really remember.  I just remember going on the "big boy" slide was scary and he didn't like to do it.  Nanna talked him into it one day and somehow, on the way down, his leg got tweaked.  We ended up taking him to the ER where he got his first x-rays.  It was exciting.  Of course I was there with Mr. Sexy.  Michael's dad was there, too, along with the rest of the family.  Both his parents and a few aunts and uncles.  It was interesting....that's all I'll say.

Michael's fracture was so minimal the doctor wasn't even sure there was one.  He recommended a cast basically to be on the safe side of things.  

For years Michael remembered Nanna, the slide and the cast.  


Apparently boys will tend to find themselves wearing a cast quite often.  So far, though, Michael has stayed "safe." 

Do you have any stories about x-rays resulting in a cast?  


This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

W is for Where's my Water?: My Journey Through Parenthood

W is for Where's my water?

Do you know what this game is?  I learned about it last year from Michael.  He discovered it on a friend's parent's phone I guess and immediately began pestering me about downloading it.  He was 5.  Cell phones weren't mainstream when I was 5 so this was just ... weird.

Eventually I did download it because, why not?  It's free.  And there may be some times when I want him occupied and have nothing else to offer.  However, the fact that I had this amazing game ready to play in an instant was a lot for Michael to handle.  He asked about it daily.  Every time we went in the car, Can I play on your phone?  The answer was usually a big fat N. O.  While I let him play every once in a while, I eventually deleted the game due to his incessant begging.  I still have some reading apps that him and Marie can play with together IF (and that's a big IF) I let them "play" on my phone.

I have gone back and forth on whether or not technology is a bad thing or a good thing.  What I have found (and this is very generic) is that the older a person is, the worse today's technology is.  In contrast, the younger ones can't imagine life otherwise.  I have finally come to a my own conclusion and I'm very happy about it.

Technology is awesome when controlled.  God created it.  He created the ideas and the minds who thought of them.  He knew about technology before any of us did.  He also knows how much farther it can and will go.  I can really rest in this.  If he designed technology then wouldn't that mean it's a positive thing?  Enter humanity.  We can take anything awesome and make it not so great.  Evan bad.  So yes, technology has it's downfalls.

The husband who seems to spend the entire day playing computer games. 

Little kids who know the ins and outs of Spongebob or Hannah Montanna but don't know what a real frog looks like. 

Moms who spend more time texting and instagramming than playing hide and seek with the small ones. 

The teenager who, if left without a computer or a phone, would go into massive depression. 

I have even heard some stories of people who die while playing interactive computer games because they forgot to eat.  So weird.

All the techy gizmos we have nowadays can be highly addicting.  I have a hard time being far from my iphone for too long.  My kids constantly want to watch movies or play games on the wii.  However Mr. Sexy and I rarely say yes.  Eventually we may come up with a rule such as 30 minutes of gaming or tv watching per day.  For now, "no," works on my kids.  We have so much to do all the time.

Puzzles, games, painting, coloring, reading, toys galore, each other, the great outdoors and everything THAT entails.

Interestingly, over time Michael has asked less and less to play the wii and to watch movies.

Is technology to be feared or celebrated?  Or both? 

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Victory!: My Journey Through Parenthood

V is for Victory!

I have been looking forward to this post all month.  Celebrating our victories, no matter how small and insignificant they seem, are worth a woopwoop! and a high five.  At the very least.  Frankly, acknowledging my small victories is what gives me a little more fight to continue on the journey of parenthood.

Learning to be Marie's parent has been a long, dark and twisty road.  It's still long but not as dark and twisty these days.  Thank you victories!  On the big bad days when my tongue was on fire and my hands didn't behave like the Mrs. Sexy God created, I felt wrought with guilt.  One of the things that kept me moving forward was the personal victory of a smile, an I'm sorry or the mere fact that I managed to make dinner that night.

 Celebrating the victories!, large and small, help every day.

Since homeschooling, I have one huge victory! that I want to share with you.  I'm incredibly proud of myself and Marie for our hard work and dedication.

When I became part of her life and started attending IEP meetings for the first time I was completely overwhelmed.  I said yes to every suggestion the teachers had because they knew better than I.  Time passed and I began to have an opinion.  One of my opinions was that Marie's handwriting sucked and needed improvement.  Her teachers agreed.  Then I started hearing, "I can't figure out how to make her write nicely." I heard this many times in a variety of ways.  Towards the end of Marie's 5th grade year her teacher pushed to focus more on typing skills and less on handwriting.  I wasn't happy about this but wasn't sure Marie was capable of decent handwriting.  I had never worked with her on it.  I just checked homework.  Aren't the teachers the ones to teach things like proper handwriting?

Enter me as the overbearing homeschooling mom who has high expectations no matter who you are.

Enter Marie who has not been held to high standards for a number of years.

Put us together and you have a girl who can write legibly, correctly and neatly.  This is a feat I had been told was impossible.

It really makes my blood boil when I think about it.

Teaching Marie how to write appropriately in the lines was (and is) laborious work.  At first we spent an entire hour attempting to write one letter correctly.  One letter.  But that's what it took for her to be where she is now in her writing.

Another thing I do that her teachers didn't do is I make her write correctly all the time.  Not just when we are practicing.  When she is doing math and her 4 (4s are hard) is below the line I make her erase it and write the 4 again.  When she is doing science and her words are all jumbled together I make her erase it and practice correct spacing and good penmanship.

The result: She is getting better daily and I even hear her whispering to herself, "Oh that's a bad 4.  I need to write that again."



What a victory!  I have so much pride in her handwriting.  

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Untruths: My Journey Through Parenthood

U is for Untruths.

Mr. Sexy and I like to always be honest with our kids when they have questions.  Michael has many questions all the time.  It's exhausting.  While I was pregnant we had a lot of conversations about where babies come from.  I didn't make up any stories about magic or storks.  I gave him truths that he could handle and knew he would press the subject more when he was ready.  Later.  Much later.  Years later.

From some of Michael's stories it seems that his other parents take a different approach to his many questions and concerns:

One night Michael was very concerned about the monster that was eating away his stomach.  He said his daddy told him that he has bumps on his tummy from a monster....

yeah...creepy.  

It took a while to figure this one out.  Michael was peeing his bed regularly at this point and had developed a slight rash.  He asked his dad and after that conversation (I don't want to assume here) Michael was believing there was a monster eating his tummy.  

Mr. Sexy is amazing with this kind of stuff.  It took a while but Mr. Sexy explained the facts to Michael using logic and facts and TRUTHS.  Michael isn't afraid of the imaginary monster anymore.  He doesn't pee his bed every night either. 



Another evening Mr. Sexy and I left the kids in the car while we ran in to grab take out.  It was raining and everyone was tired.  Makes sense right?  While in the restaurant Michael ran in, out of breath.  

"You didn't leave the windows cracked!  We will suffocate and die!" 

Deep breath.  Poor Michael.  Again, Mr. Sexy very logically explained how they are safe in the car with the windows shut especially for such a short amount of time. 

"Do you really think mom and I would leave you guys in the car to die?"

That question sounds insane but it had to be asked for Michael's sake.  He was being overrun with fear and thus, not able to trust his parents.  Either set, most likely. 

I have many more stories like these I just told.

I definitely believe in giving real and honest answers to my kids' questions and concerns based on their maturity. I won't get into the gruesome details about child birth or how I got pregnant.  But Michael did ask a lot of questions and he got to a point where he didn't need to know anymore.  That was okay with everybody.  (His stopping point was learning that babies sometimes get cut out of tummies or come out between mommy's legs.  It wasn't a graphic conversation.  It was very short and concise.)

Are you comfortable with off the wall questions from your kids?  Or does it make you break into a nervous sweat?

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Answered Prayer (V Update)

At first, it didn't feel like answered prayer.
It felt like a stab in the gut.
Another manipulative maneuver I had no control over.
Now it's a few hours later and instead what I see is a heartbreaking answer to prayer.
At least, that is the hope.

Today we found out that Voldemort (Marie's birth mother) is giving up all visitation rights so she can have court ordered phone calls with Marie.  Two per week.

Does that make sense to ANYBODY?

For a normal person, no it doesn't.

Mr. Sexy was  the one to give me some perspective: She is basically signing a piece of paper saying she doesn't want to see Marie.  This will help us in the long run as our goal is for me to adopt her.

Voldemort is an incredibly flaky woman.  And that's being nice about it.  Chances are high that she will not follow through on phone calls.  Who wants the constant reminder that their daughter doesn't know who they are?  Marie has no idea who that woman is and will never know again.  In large part this is due to her disability and Voldemort's disappearance three years ago.

It's painful to think about somebody willingly start to give up their parental rights.  In Marie's case, however, it is answered prayer.  The phone calls will be painful as Voldemort tends to talk at Marie or attempt to talk to Mr. Sexy through Marie.  Voldemort says things that are not true which would instill pain in someone who understood.  Marie doesn't understand, though.  She is very happy to see a friend and talk to a friend.

I'm frustrated that sometime soon we will have to allow phone calls to happen once again.

God is in charge.  He's got a plan.  Always has.  So I'll rest in that.




T is for Timothy: My Journey Through Parenthood

T is for Timothy.

Timothy James.

Timothy James Sexy.  ::wink wink::

Timothy James is the name of our next kid.  And he's going to be a boy.  Because I say so.

No, I'm not pregnant.  We are barely thinking about the idea.  But wouldn't this have been a great reveal?  Now I'm sad that I'm not pregnant.

NOT

I'm okay waiting a little longer and see where things are at.  God has been hard at work on our family.  Some days I think we are crazy for considering the idea of a future with more children.  Then there are days where it gets to a point that one or two more is just a party!

Our family plan: 
-Get pregnant sometime in the future.
-Foster
-Adopt
-Kids grow up
-Kids move out
-Parents party in Hawaii

I had a family plan when I was 8:
-Meet and marry Prince Charming (who looked a lot like Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid)
-Have 2 kids
-Get a dog
-Live in a big, beautiful house
-Have lots of money so I could buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted
**I will not be poor

That last thing was very important to my little girl mind.  Guess what.  I'm poor! lol

Plans change and that's okay.  As I grew older I realized there was a very real possibility of being poor which scared me.  It was immaturity on my part as there is so much more to life than having the big house, nice clothes, new shoes and expensive wine.

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Step-Parenting Special Needs: My Journey Through Parenthood

S is for Step-parenting Special needs.

Everyone has a unique story.  This one is no exception.  It's not a story I ever expected to be a part of.  God has is plans, though, and I'm privy to it only as he allows.

I tend to share my journey openly and as honestly as possible.  This leaves much room for criticisms.  I have lost friendships, too.  People I thought believed in the hope and redemption of Jesus turned out to believe there is only hope and redemption for some people.  I am not one of those people, according to them.

In all the struggles that I have shared with friends, family and strangers, I remind myself constantly that I am not alone.  I can't be.  I'm human and a sinner just like the rest of the world.  I have received many emails from people who have the same struggles I have described but have never heard it voiced before.

Just because we choose to have children, whether it's through adoption, marriage or child birth, doesn't mean we are immune to anger, resentment, and even hatred towards those small, innocent hearts.  That doesn't mean we should act on those feelings.  But they must be dealt with.  Otherwise the seed will grow and become a monster.

I have seen this monster in the mirror.  It was a scary thing to not recognize myself.  It was even scarier to see the effects on my family.

The best thing I ever did - and still do - is be honest about where I'm at.

I don't understand Marie.  She does a lot of weird things that seem to yell DOWN SYNDROME in my face.  I am constantly angry at her so she is constantly in trouble.  I have felt a huge amount of resentment and hatred towards her.  It was overwhelming.  There were some days I simply couldn't be in the same room as her.  She has done things that made my entire body shake with rage.

What I was seeing was the behavior.
I wasn't able to see the heart.
What I was seeing was down syndrome.
 I wasn't able to see the girl.

What I am able to see now is that the anger issue has less and less to do with Marie and down syndrome and more and more to do with me.

Where does this anger come from?  Wouldn't it make sense that anger comes from pain?

Now, as the adult, as the parent, it's my job to work through whatever pain I have been hiding from.

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rewards: My Journey Through Parenthood

R is for Rewards.

I have found that a reward system for my kids work great.  It coincides with the idea of consequences.  The key is knowing what motivates my kids.  Some rewards are unhealthy, some they will work very hard for and some they won't give a flying hoot about.

For instance, Marie has an obsession with food.  Therefore, I don't offer her food rewards of any kind.  She does love stickers which is an incredibly easy reward to offer for something tiny like blowing her nose on her own or for getting a perfect score on a quiz or worksheet.  Then there are some bigger rewards she would just die for: The movie Frozen.  Time to make jewelry with her gazillions of beads.  A shopping excursion or a trip to the salon.  Those are pretty big deal rewards for her.

Michael is a little more complicated.  He is moody and broody at times so different rewards engage him.  Today he was not happy about speed walking through the mall.  All we had to do was pick up my wedding ring and then we were done and headed to 5 Guys for lunch.  So we were speed walking - which is close to running for small people.  After getting our ring I decided: "Hey!  Whoever gets to the van first gets a peep!"  We brought some easter loot on our day trip into the "big city" and Michael was most excited about the peeps.  This worked magnificently.  He ran and gloated about winning and then ran some more.  Yup, he won.

What kind of rewards work for your kids?

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quitting: My Journey Through Parenthood

Q is for Quitting.

There was a time, not very long ago, when I told Mr. Sexy I was done.  I wanted to quit.

What does that mean? he asked.

I have no blazing clue, was my response.

The daily struggles of life had become too much and I hit a wall.  A brick wall.  And it was very high.  Everything that encompassed who I am, felt dried up.  I felt empty.  I had nothing left to offer.  I just wanted to be done.

I was exhausted from feeling angry every day.  I was tired of feeling unloved and undesired.  I was burnt out from putting so much energy into trying to understand down syndrome.  Daily I was beating myself up because as a step-parent and therefore, as a parent, I was blowing it.  My heart ached and there was no outlet that would satisfy.

So I wanted  to quit.  I fantasized about running away. I thought about becoming a drunk, too.  I could do it and I wouldn't even remember Mr. Sexy leaving me and taking all the kids.

These ideas I just described to you were extremely short lived.  They were fleeting moments of insanity that came and went.  This is how Satan works, though.  Small, swift pokes.  The minute I give the poke some clout, it turns into something bigger.  Like a nudge.  And then, what were fleeting moments of insanity, starts to become my reality.  I have seen this happen in my life before, and I wasn't going to let it happen again.

That's why I had to tell Mr. Sexy I wanted to quit.

As you can see, I have not quit.  I'm not even sure how I came out of the dark place.  Prayer, I'm sure, although not by me.  I don't talk to God well when I'm in the dark place.  So I'm thankful to those who did pray for me because those people, whoever they are, helped keep my family together.

I don't feel like quitting anymore.  I don't want to become a drunk and I definitely want to keep Mr. Sexy and ALL of my kids around.  At least for a few more years. ::wink wink::

It's my opinion that being honest about life is really important.  I don't like it when I put up a facade whether it's on facebook, at church, my blog or hanging out with my friends.  But it's hard to be honest about the dark place.  It is scary to hear about it from a friend.  It's even scarier to admit when you're in the dark place.

The thing is that we need each other.  None of us are immune to the dark place.  There will be some who call me rude names because I admit my deepest struggles.  Then there will be those, like my prayer warriors and Mr. Sexy, who do all they can to respond in love even though they can't understand the struggle.

Wow.  This was deep for the day before Easter!

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Poop: My Journey Through Parenthood

P is for Poop.

Yes, it's a favorite subject of mine that is long standing.  However I'm more interested in sharing my journey through learning to cloth diaper.  And with that also comes the subject of poop.

One of my best girly pals got me started on cloth diapering when she herself got pregnant.  This girl researches EVERYTHING.  I bet she even researches what kind of underwear is the best (just joking).  But seriously, research is her thing.  So whenever I have questions - about so many things - chances are she has a well educated answer.  Cloth diapering was no different.  I felt like I was literally talking to her ALL DAY some days because it was such an overwhelming topic for me.  Cloth diapering truly is a life style.  And I love it.  Still.  My baby is one by the way.

There are so many crazy hormones after giving birth.  So I blame the hormones on this weird fact: I enjoyed the smell of her new baby poop.  If you read my liebster award post you will remember I enjoy weird smells only if they come from my body.  Well, Denai's poop was my breast milk.  Yummm... I know how weird that is.  Like I said, it was the silly hormones.  Disclaimer: I no longer enjoy the smell of Denai's poop.  Those days are looooong gone. 


This is a one size bum genius.
It barely fit her as a newborn.

Cloth diapering can be very spendy up front which is scary.  As always, Mr. Sexy and I were strapped for cash and needed the baby shower to be "raining diapers and tutus."  That was our theme.  We made tutu invitations and wrote a poem about cloth diapering.  We had a door prize guests could enter into if they brought a diaper as a gift.  We went overboard on the subject and it worked out beautifully.  After
the baby shower we were basically stocked with the diapers we needed!


She did such a great job with my baby shower.
 Those are all her diapers we used as decorations.

In the beginning Denai's diapers went straight into the wet bag.  No rinsing needed.  I was amazed at how easy the process was and couldn't understand why throw away diapers existed still.  We could change Denai anytime, anywhere.  We didn't even need a trash can around because we washed them.  It was EASY.

Then we started introducing solids.  At that point things began to change.  We had to start rinsing them in the toilet and her poop started to smell like normal human poop.  I still considered cloth diapering easy, though.  But I think what made it easy was my resolve.  I also get a really good look at what she is eating and how she is digesting.  I won't go into details, though.  It's pretty gross.  If there is one thing I don't like about cloth diapering, it's the poop now that she eats normal human food.

She doesn't have a butt.
She has a tush.

I think what I love most about cloth is that it saves us money every month because we aren't buying a huge case of diapers and having to throw away diapers that are maybe barely wet.  I can change her every two hours and not feel bad that it's not a sopping wet diaper.

Anyways I could talk about this subject for a long time.  Happy reading!

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Other Parents: My Journey Through Parenthood

O is for Other parents.

Here is the quick rundown of how our family is indeed a family.

Mr. Sexy had Marie with his first wife who is no longer around which gives us full custody (it's a long and never ending story).

I had Michael with my college boyfriend and we currently split custody down the middle.  He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have one child together. 

Denai is the product of Mr. Sexy and I.  Nuff said. 

There are lots and lots of Other parents we get to deal with.

Michael's dad and step-mom: It's really hard to co-parent when the "co" in the relationship feels nonexistent.  Michael's dad is a good guy but he lacks when it comes to communicating.  At least with me.  When I send him a text message I expect a response at some point, particularly when I'm asking a question.  Days will go by with nada from him.  He rarely answers my phone calls, much less calls me back.  The four of us have been able to sit down together at a restaurant which is an amazing feat for anybody in this situation.  We talk about Michael and brainstorm on how we can parent as similarly as possible.  Then later I get a text that says they think our ideas were no good.  It's frustrating when someone says one thing to your face then seems to change their mind the minute you walk out the door.  This may not happen every time we get together but it happens often enough so that it feels like it happens every time.

I don't know much about Michael's step-mom.  Her and I are actually a lot alike which is comical.  We are both blondes and could be considered a bit bitchy and have aggressive personalities.  Interestingly, however, she tends to take a step back in the parenting arena with Michael.  At least that's how it appears when I'm in the room.  Who knows what happens at home.  On one hand it's nice that she doesn't have an overstated opinion since it's a tense situation.  On the other hand I wish she would have an opinion because frankly, she is his parent as much as the rest of us.  Michael calls her "mom" even.  At least I think he does.  So she better damn well have an opinion about how to handle his tantrums and crappy attitude because she is in an important person in his life!

Grandparents: Mr. Sexy's family lives a two-day drive away and we are hoping to visit this summer (fingers crossed)! We just moved away from my family but only by about an hour's drive.  Grandparents have a very important role in the lives' of our kids although I do believe they should be the instigators.  With everything happening at home I can hardly remember where I put my keys let alone worrying about whether the grandparents have called that week or not.

Then we have the friends or strangers who see it as their duty to parent kids that aren't there own.  If they were babysitting or something, well of course they get to make those judgements.  But otherwise this type of "parenting" ruffles my feathers just a bit.  And sometimes a lot.  It's a fine line to walk - especially with friends.  When do you say something - if you bring it up at all?  How do you mention it without sounding rude or making it uncomfortable?  And then after the conversation, that friend has to figure out where the line is drawn on this topic.  Of course if somebody sees my kid running with scissors or playing with a lighter I want ANYONE to stop this.  Other than that, however, the line seems very thin and easy to cross over.  I'm very flippity-floppity on the subject.

So, these are my experiences and thoughts on a few types of other parents.

What are your experiences with other parents? Was it welcomed or just a pain in the ass?  There is no judgement here!

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Number 11: Liebster Award Post


Liebster awards are a fun way to meet new people and find new blogs.  Here's how it works: 

1. Brag about the person who nominated you. 
2. Answer the 11 questions asked. 
3. List 11 random facts about yourself. 
4. Nominate up to 11 other blogs that have less than 200 followers. 
5. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer. 

I was nominated by Courtney Rose at Business Suits & Riding Boots.  Her and I met because we are paired as part of the cara box exchange at Wifessionals.  It has been fun getting to know Courtney in large part because our lives are vastly different!  She lives a busy life close to New York City while I live out in the country in a small town nobody knows exists!  (Don't worry, civilization is 13 miles away.)  Anyways, Courtney's blog is always a nice breath of fresh air!  Go check her out! 



Now for the questions: 

1. How would you describe your blog using 5 words or less? 

Funny
Vulnerable
Flawed
Real
Storytelling

2. What is your favorite blogging topic? 

My journey of becoming a parent to Marie who has down syndrome.  

I wouldn't say this is a "favorite" subject because so far it's a hard journey.  However it is what much of my posts revolve around.  

3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

Hmmmm....

I really don't know since living somewhere is so much different than visiting!  

I want to move someplace where it will only rarely reach above 100 and never snow.  And that somewhere must have fresh water close by like a lake or the ocean.  Where is this place I dream of?! 

4. Where do you see yourself in 3 years? 

Honestly I think my life will be pretty similar to what it is now.  I see myself still living out here in the woods although we hope to have purchased a home by then.  I see myself with another kid on the hip, the process of fostering/adopting started and perhaps pregnant with our last kid together.  I see myself - well, I hope - that I'm still homeschooling Marie although the rest of the kids will be in public school. We will still be snail-scooting our way out of massive debt...and we will still have date night every week! 

Oh yeah, I see myself happily married to the man of dreams. 

5. What is your favorite thing to cook? 

Pork chops. I googled it earlier this year and learned  the perfect way to cook them! 

1. Create a brine by boiling some salt and sugar in water.  Let cool. 
2. Pork chops sit in cooled water for 3-4 hours. 
3. After sitting in brine, allow meat to warm up to room temp.
4. Rub salt and pepper on both sides.  Let sit for about 20 minutes. 
5. Preheat oven to 450. 
6. Heat some olive oil and cook meat for 3-4 minutes on each side over medium high heat.  Once you lay them down don't move them. You can even hold them with tongs and get the fat on the edges all deliciously crispy. 
7. Place entire pan in oven for 7 minutes. (Don't forget to set the oven mitt out so you don't forget the pan will be hot when you take it out of the oven.)
8. Place meat in foil and wrap it up and let sit for just a few minutes. 
9. Serve with favorite sides.

It's a bit laborious but I LOVE cooking pork chops this way.  It works best with bone in, thick cuts.

6. If you could date one celebrity who would it be? 

Kirk Cameron. lol 

He's an out-of-the-closet Christian celebrity and I'm incredibly curious about him and his family and how he was raised.  I recently found out his sister was DJ on Full House and she is on this season of Dancing with the Stars! 

7. If you could be any animal which would you be and why? 

I don't want to be an animal. lol Whatever animal I think of it just sounds terrible!  Although...being a turtle might be interesting. Naw.  They are soooo sloooowwww...

8. What is your favorite blog you can't go without reading? 


She is a great writer and photographer.  She is not afraid of hitting hard topics and standing up for what she believes.  She is also a huge encouragement to other bloggers - like me! 

9. If you won a million dollars what is the first thing you would buy?

Pay off debt.  Every. Single. Penny.  Then go on a fabulous vacation. 

10. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? 

Half baked by Ben and Jerry's baby! 

11. What is one item in your closet that you can't life without? 

Well shoes, duh! lol I love me some cute and wonderful pairs of shoes. 


11 Random Facts

1. I don't mind the interesting smells my own body makes but I can't stand it when other people smell like anything less than pretty.  This includes my kids and Mr. Sexy. 

2. I shower daily but I only shampoo when my hair starts to look and feel really greasy. 

3. I watch The Vampire Diaries.  And it's embarrassing. 

4. I used to watch Gossip Girl.  That is even more embarrassing. 

5. If I didn't meet Mr. Sexy and gotten married I would have continued in school to become a teacher because it's the only job I can think of where I can be a single mom and provide a decent life for the kid.  

6. Family night usually involves wine and/or beer.

7. I can be a bit obsessive (like with blogging) and Mr. Sexy says I am borderline OCD sometimes.  Rude right?! 

8. I didn't cry on my wedding day like I dreamed that I would.  

9. Coloring is stressful because there are way too many color choices and I only want to make the perfect choices.  So I just don't do it. 

10. Blogging/writing/sharing my life is my passion.  Even on the bad days. 

11. I enjoy sorting laundry, hate having to keep up on loads going through the washer and dryer, enjoy the folding to perfection but loathe putting the clothes away.  

Bonus: I secretly expect perfection from people.  I'm working on this flaw.  Admitting is the first step right?




Questions for my nominees.  There are 11 big ones. 

1. What was the content of the worst blog you have ever read?  No names or links please.  This should be fun! 
2. Do you sleep with your socks on or off?  Or both? (It's possible.)
3. Do you ALWAYS wash your hands EVERY time you go to the bathroom?  (I won't judge.)
4. What has been your biggest struggle in the blogging world so far? 
5. What are your top 3 favorite TV shows? 
6. How do you feel now that print books seem to by dying away and technology such as the kindle is taking over? 
7. What are your views on religion/faith? 
8. Do you dream in color or black and white?  (I'm pretty sure this is a thing.)
9. How many hours a day do you spend blogging (including reading blogs ect)?  Hours per week? 
10. Do you sometimes talk about television characters like they are real people?
11. What do you love most about your significant other? 

I want to answer these questions myself now. lol Maybe later. 


These lucky-ducks are my nominees:

(It's kind of hard to figure out how many followers people have so some of these might have more than 200 followers which is "technically" breaking the rules.  I won't tell if you won't.)


Now go give each other some clicky lovin! 

Nails on the Cross: My Journey Through Parenthood

N is for Nails on the cross.

I have 3 kids.

Denai just turned 1 so I think it's safe to say she has some maturing to do.



Michael is 6 and has questions about everything and then some.



Marie is 12 and has down syndrome.



Sooooo when is a good time to introduce the idea of becoming a Christian?

I don't think this question has a cut and dry answer for anybody.  My story in a few lines is that I accepted Jesus as my savior with my parents when I was 5.  I was super duper excited about it.  Then I got older and forgot that it was exciting and being a Christian became quite lame and uncool.  Then at 12 years old I began a personal relationship with Jesus for the first time and that's when it stuck.

Was I a Christian before I turned 12?  I'm not sure.  I think Jesus accepted my child like faith when I turned 5.  But I needed to get beyond that point in my maturity.  As an adult I have no doubts about where I will go when I die because I can remember the moments that Jesus became real to me and I made him Lord of my life.

So far Mr. Sexy and I are allowing the kids to question life and instigate conversations about God and faith.  Well, actually it's only Michael who instigates these conversations.  Denai, of course, doesn't talk yet.  Marie doesn't question a whole lot at this point.

My goal is for my kids to choose to have a personal relationship with Jesus rather than say a prayer and be "safe."  As a mom who understands the gravity of the afterlife this is a scary thing to let go of control of!  However I can often find solace in the fact that I never had such control.  God holds each one of my kids in His capable hands.

And that is where I will leave today's post.  Thank you for reading!

Do you have a story about accepting Jesus or about your kids accepting Jesus?   

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.





Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mommy, Mrs. Sexy then Me: My Journey Through Parenthood

M is for Mommy, Mrs. Sexy then Me.

Isn't that the way it seems to go a lot of the time?

Mommy tends to come first.  Just this morning I was so proud for hearing my alarm at 6 am - even though I didn't actually get out of bed until 6:33 am.  With my 6 am alarm came the happy gabbing of Miss Denai.  It's great that she was happy and remained happy until Mr. Sexy got her up and dressed.  It wasn't so great that she was up so early on the same day I managed to get up early too!  Maybe she has a nanny cam hidden in my room somewhere....that must be why she leaves her toys all over my floor.

Then Mrs. Sexy needs to make an appearance.  Does she always?  Mr. Sexy will laugh and say no.  Why the laugh?  Because I try.  And when I try, well, it's more of a comedy show then an enticement for ::wink wink::  More often than not I feel anything but sexy.  Ironically, it's on those days that Mr. Sexy comes home and immediately wraps himself around me and showers me with kisses.  Sweaty pits, greasy hair and dish soap.  He's great isn't he?

At the end of the day I usually try to find Me.  Lately we have been calling it: brain rest.  Mr. Sexy has been telling me I need it.  Apparently we live stressful lives and our brains tend to get overloaded because of it.  In an effort to find Me I like to go on walks now that the weather is nice.  It has really been a wonderful new little tradition that we have started.  I don't always find Me, though.  After being Mommy then Mrs. Sexy sometimes I don't have room for Me.  Mr. Sexy can sometimes see this which is when he orders me into the bedroom for a foot rub and a glass of wine.  Falling asleep to that is pretty amazing.

If you're a Mommy or a Mrs. how do you find your Me time? 

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letting Go in Love: My Journey Through Parenthood

L is for letting go in love.

I touched on this subject on Saturday's post in the last few lines.

My stomach lurched as I watched Michael tear down the trail with Winnie, our dog, running right along beside him.  All I could see was how easily Michael could lose his footing and go flying over the cliff that was the left of the trail.  Mr. Sexy just laughed at me and continued along with Denai on his shoulders as if nothing was amiss.

So far, I have never been the mom to become overly concerned or afraid about my kids being kids and doing what they were designed to do.  Explore.  Run. Play.  Learn.  Experience.  But something has changed these past few months.  Maybe it's the fact that Michael is finally crossing through some barriers and doing - or at least attempting to do - crazy boyish things.

Underneath the log was a ditch that was a few Michael's deep.
And, just to make fun of me, he pretended to lose his balance! 


As we continued our hike back down the trail Mr. Sexy told me that as a boy he would be all over this manmade trail and biking down the cliff too.  Okay, so cliff is a strong word.  It's more of a really really steep hill and there are lots of trees and logs and brush and other woodsy things.  As a girl you would never catch me on a bike in a place like this.

Perhaps this is a new phase of letting go for me that feels like uncharted territory.  For the past few years I have tried to push Michael into doing stupid boyish things because he was always so afraid or just plain lazy.  Now it seems things are turning into the opposite.

Michael heard our conversation and then, just because he's a smart alec, he got right on the edge of the "cliff" and exclaimed, "I'm going down there right now!"  I freaked out and yelled that he WOULD NOT.  He and Mr. Sexy laughed.  At me.  How rude!

We all decided that hiking (or biking) down the "cliff" would be saved for a man adventure that mom probably wouldn't know about until after the fact.  That's just fine with me.

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kindergarten: My Journey Through Parenthood

K is for Kindergarten.

This year Michael started kindergarten!


It was a strange feeling. I could tell he was nervous as he hung on my hand and meandered towards the backpack drop off.  This wasn't his first morning being dropped off at kindergarten.  We were actually a few weeks into the year already.   

Michael never went to daycare (at least not on my time) and had never even had a sleepover (again, not on my time).  He did go to his dad's every other week but his dad isn't big on communication so I was always shady on Michael's version of the "facts."   

I had five years with Michael to teach him everything he needed to know to be successful.  Well, maybe not EVERYTHING but enough to get him through kindergarten.  Still, leaving him at the playground which was overflowing with small people and teachers I was unfamiliar with, was a little nerve racking even for me.  I had to trust that Michael was succeeding.  

The end of the year is now upon us and the experience has been very good!  I have enjoyed watching Michael grow and change and learn.  He is well liked by his classmates and his teacher.  He looks forward to going to school every day.  He even met his wife (or so he says).  Apparently they are going to get married and have 4 kids.  Two girls and two boys.  'Nuff said yo. 

Michael and his betrothed. 


The decision for Michael to attend public school wasn't really mine to control.  (What is anyways?)  Last summer, Mr. Sexy and I were living an hour and a half away from Michael's biological dad.  Our options were few.  We could fight a custody battle or we could move closer to his dad and maintain Michael's week-on, week-off exchange schedule.  Michael's dad did continue to bring me to court for primary custody even after being assured that we were moving to the area.  We even found a house and were getting ready to put down our deposit.  Talk about frustrating.  And a stupid waste of money.

I would have preferred to homeschool Michael at least through kindergarten.  We could test the waters in the homeschool life style.  We wouldn't have to leave our hometown where family and friends were.  We could also cater homeschooling to our personal lives.  I have seen many wonderful examples of this.  Michael's dad, however, gave us a flat "no."  It wasn't unexpected.  During my 3-year relationship with him he often shut down ideas were unfamiliar.  He wouldn't even try.  As you can see, that hasn't changed.

I'm happy with Michael's experience in kindergarten this year.  Next year will be another major transition: A full school day of 1st grade!  That might be a little weird for me, too, like kindergarten was in the beginning.  We will adjust, though.

The process of letting go sure starts early!  It kind of feels like they start out as babies where we control everything and then as they grow older we have to let go of that control, little by little.

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

What was your experience like starting kindergarten?  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Judgements: My Journey Through Parenthood

J is for Judgements.

I would probably get an A on my report card for how well I can make judgements about other people.  I know, this isn't something to brag about.  I'm actually working on this and realizing how often I really do judge strangers and friends alike for their choices that are different from mine.  Frankly, nothing positive is happening when I'm passing judgements.  Bad blood flows.  In my head I begin to pinpoint their wrongs based on my bias.  This can quickly turn into a distaste for that person and ultimately can lead to a lost friendship.

Sad.

Parents make decisions every day and I have never seen two sets of parents do things in exactly the same way.  There are similarities, of course.  But everyone has different circumstances and different sets of toes and fingers running through their homes.

I'm trying to be better at understanding the differences versus passing a judgement and writing them off.  For example: I'm weaning Denai.  We are down to two feedings: Morning and night.  I can't wait to be done.  I don't understand moms who can nurse into the toddler years.  Personally, I find it weird.  But if I turn my bias off I can see my friend(s) without my judgements clouding who they really are.  I can understand that they are making good choices for their family and for their well being.

I can understand in my non-understanding.  Does that make any sense?  It does to me.


*          *          *          *


I know that I am judged constantly.  Defensiveness pops up whenever I am questioned about any parenting choices I make even if it's over something menial.  I know that I make bad choices.  Nobody needs to tell me that I'm a sinner and I have personal issues to work through.  I also know that there are a lot of people who love me and want to see our family succeed.

But then my best friends called CPS on me behind my back.  Yes, we had family issues.  Yes, it felt scary a lot of the time.  Yes, we were being counseled.  Did my best friends do something wrong in calling social services?  Not necessarily.  What made it wrong was when they snuck around and made a judgement call without consulting a list of close friends and counselors we already were seeing, forget about talking to Mr. Sexy and I.  My best friends got scared.  Instead of talking to me about it, instead of giving me a hint of any kind, they made a judgement call that devastated our family of 3 months.

Then the witch hunt began.  I took up blogging as an outlet to the daily fight of being a decent person.  I was struggling through deep and dark feelings.  The friends I made through blogging were huge inspirations.  They only knew what I shared on my blog and what they had to offer was encouragement and praise for every small victory I had.

But anything positive can be warped into something ugly.  Instead of seeing the progression of my posts and the victories and the smiles and the happy times, all one person saw was every negative thing I wrote.  She put all of it together and showed it to anybody who would read.

Soon I went viral.  My family, my friends and me were all receiving hate mail via facebook or any other social network they were on.  Strangers from across the country called CPS on me.  Multiple blogs and web pages popped up on the internet to discuss me and what a terrible person I was.  "Terrible person" is the nicest word these hunters had to say about me.

Some even requested I give Marie up for adoption.  I guess they thought she would be happy in an orphanage for the rest of her life versus in a home surrounded by love and yes, me, the step-mom who still struggles to find that love.  I quit blogging for a year and it took weeks for the emails to stop.  CPS and the police were very understanding although there was nothing anybody could do.  For the haters or for me.

As you can see I'm back now.  I blog the same why I did before, although I have taken obvious measures to hide identities.  With the internet, however, people can find just about anything.  I understand that what I put on the internet is basically there forever.  It's smart to be careful and to be aware. One of these days I will probably add a copyright to my blog.  I'm not sure what it takes to make that happen but it would be a smart move.

 The difference you will see in  my writing now is that I've grown a lot in the year I took off from blogging.  My family grew a lot.  The way I write is the same, however.  But the heart that I write from has changed and continues to change.

A short while after the blogging mayhem I was confronted by my family pastor.  A few people had called him to express concern for my family.  Once again, judgements were made, actions were taken, and my family was hurt.  My pastor didn't tell me who called him.  I may never know and that's fine.  He did advise them scripturally that next time they need to talk to the person first before addressing a third party.  I'm incredibly thankful he did that.

What if my best friends were able to talk to me? 

What if that one person had sent me an email? 

What if those people from church had invited me to coffee or a play date? 

I can be difficult to talk to.  I often feel defensive.  But give me some one on one attention, ask a question and sit back.  I will talk about my struggles through anger, learning how to love and coping with down syndrome.

This was a hard subject to tackle.  I hope I did it justice.  If anyone does have questions or concerns, please contact me personally.  I can promise you 2 things when you do this:

1.  I will be honest. 

2.  We will both be blessed. 

This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Insecurities: My Journey Through Parenthood

I is for Insecurities.

When Michael's dad married, the nickname that evolved for her was, "Memma."  Needless to say, I hated it.  I felt cheated.  I felt manipulated.  I talked to Michael about calling her by her real name.  I talked to his dad about how I felt the nickname was inappropriate.  I even went so far as to correct Michael when he called her "Memma" during exchanges.

It got to the point where Michael was correcting himself when around me.  I saw the red flag and I took a step back.  Yeah, go me.  In my book that takes maturity.

Over time I realized a name is just a name.  It doesn't matter that I believe Michael actually calls her "mom" now.  It doesn't matter that he tells her she is the best mom in the whole world.  (He told me he says these things.)

The relationship Michael and I have is mine to lose.

He knows who I am.  We have a bond that she cannot sever.  This goes back to yesterday's post on the heart.  If I'm continually aiming to reach beyond what I see on the outside, I don't think I'll ever lose him.  I suppose that was my insecurity.  I didn't want to lose him.

Mind you, Michael tells me he loves me in sweet ways all. The. Time.  He tells me I'm the best mommy in the whole wide world. All. The. Time. He's 6.  He'll figure out eventually that I truly am the best mommy in the whole wide world.  ;)

Helping out in his kindergarten class.


This is the A-Z blogging challenge so go ahead and read the introduction and see a list of all my A-Z posts.