...because we all have our motley moments!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trying New Things

This past week, we sent our daughter to Sailing Camp so that she could learn how to sail a little sailboat.

First of all, it took me 2 weeks to decide whether or not to send her. There were many factors to consider. Will she be safe? Will she really learn anything? Will she enjoy it? Will she want to go all week? Is it worth the money and time? Do I want to suspend my life for a week while she goes to this camp?

After all of this consideration, we decided to go ahead and take her. It involved staying with family for 5 days because the camp was 2 hours away from home and near my in-laws.

The good things that happened:
My daughter learned some sailing terms and felt the thrill of sailing on her own.
She saw how many other kids enjoyed sailing.
Got great exercise.
Spent time learning how to get along with other kids

The not-so-good things that happened:
Cried every morning when she had to leave a house full of cousins.
The wind didn't blow every day.
She was exhausted by the end of the week
Cried every night when she had to go to bed before the rest of her cousins

All-in-all it was a good experience for all of us. The most painful thing for me was to pry her away from family each morning to spend the day away from us. I had an idea that it would be difficult, but it was harder than I had thought it would be. The other thing was that the kids didn't sail every day. Wind is not guaranteed to blow at a certain time, so the down-time was a bummer. Next time, maybe private lessons would be a better idea.

Well, the week is over and I am spending time decompressing at home. I'm doing laundry, cleaning up, and hanging out with my girls. After spending a week out of our "comfort zones" it's nice to be home doing the usual things.

Have any of you out there done things out of your "comfort zones" this summer?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Judging Alex

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.” 2 Rachel, 27:12. OK, it’s not really from the book of Rachel, that’s just an inside joke from our Circle Bible Study. The verse actually comes from Matthew 7:1, and as a former gossip girl and judger of many, I have often pretended this verse didn’t apply to me. As I grew up and faced more trials, I learned that my rational actions and decisions probably looked crazy to most people: i.e. crying in airports when I was taking infertility drugs. I now understand that God wants us to leave the judging to him because we cannot possible know enough about other people’s lives to accurately judge them.

I say all of this because I am constantly being judged by strangers. Preschoolers draw attention. It is just a way of life for this time in their lives, and my son Alex seems to draw a lot of attention. Everywhere we go, people know who Alex is because he either strikes up a conversation with any given stranger, or they hear me yell his name as I run after him. Alex lives life to the fullest, and pushes the limits whenever possible. Strangers often see Alex as a child whose parent doesn’t make him mind, but that isn’t reality. I know more about him than anyone else, and most of what I know is kept secret.

Denial is the second stage of grieving, and I have been in this stage for over a year now. Last May, we took Alex to a specialist in Chicago because we had some concerns about a few developmental delays. The short story is this: Alex has some adoption-related special needs. They gave us two diagnoses. One I agree with, and one I wish wasn’t true. They are experts in this field of study, so I am sure they are right, but I like to pretend they aren’t.

I was actually hoping they would tell me he had ADD, which they didn’t. I just wanted someone to tell me that Alex has way more energy than any other child ever. The one diagnosis everyone agrees on is this: Alex has SPD, sensory processing disorder. He is a sensory seeking child, who loves to touch everything and always needs to be moving. He loves running and is in heaven if someone is chasing him. If he doesn’t have anything to do, he will chew on anything close. If nothing is close, he will chew on his fingers. Since I didn’t agree with their other diagnosis, I took Alex to another specialist last winter. She said that Alex does have ADD, but she wouldn’t formally diagnosis that until he is 5 or 6. Our family doctor still believes that there is another diagnosis out there, maybe something on the autism spectrum. I think he is probably right.

In two weeks, Alex will have a screening for preschool. I am going to have to share this with them, and I dread it. I am afraid of two things: What if they say there is nothing wrong with him (and all of the unmentioned challenges we face every day are typical, and it’s all in my head)? OR What if they say he does have special needs (they probably will, but I am still in denial!)? I live with a strange dichotomy: I don’t want Alex to have any letters explaining his behavior, but I don’t want to believe his behaviors are typical.

Here is another paradox. I believe people are judging me based on how my child behaves, but if they knew what I knew, they probably wouldn’t judge him. I don’t want anyone to know about his special needs, but they need to know so they can better understand him. I just think he is so great, and I don’t want anyone to see anything less than I see – a terrifically wonderful “perfect for me” kid.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tri-fold card Tutorial

My friend Jeannine and I have a craft blog that we put FREE tutorials on weekly. It is called Fireflies and Jellybeans. Making crafty things is relaxing for me. I also enjoy the challenge of trying to make a new project! Since I love to craft and I am a teacher at heart, I also like to show people how to make crafty things.

I thought I would show an EASY card that you could make! If you have a peice of 12 X 12 paper you can make 3 at a time so it is also cheap to make!

The Tri-fold Card:

This Tri-fold card is an idea I got from my friend Amy, but she does not have a blog to show off her talents. I love it because not only is it easy to make it also does not need an envelope! I have added my touch to the card and you can add yours! If you need a thank you card in a hurry, this is the perfect card to make!

Materials :
12X12 paper
coordinating scrap paper
embellishments (I like paper flowers)
circle punch (optional)
paper cutter (optional)
scoring tool (not pictured) - I use a skewer and a ruler

1.) Cut your paper into 12X4 strips

You should get 3 strips from a 12X 12 paper (great for 3 cards!)

2.) Make scoring marks at 4 inches and 9 inches on the top and bottom of the paper. I make mine pretty light so I can erase them later. If you have a scoring tool you can score at 4 inches and 9 inches.
3.) Line up your ruler on your two marks at 4 inches and use the skewer to score the paper. Do the same thing at 9 inches.

4.) Fold your paper into the middle at the scored lines
The flaps should overlap.

5.) Using the circle punch, punch out a circle in coordinating paper and attach your embellishment to it. Or you could stamp a monogram or picture on it too. Attach the embellished circle to the card hanging off the flap slightly

6.) Cut a piece of ribbon about 13 inches long and tie around the card to keep the flaps together.

Vua-la 3 beautiful cards! They are great to use and give away as gifts, just package three to 6 of them together and it is a great add on to any small gift and it means so much since you made it!

If you liked this tutorial, there are many like it over at Fireflies and Jellybeans!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dealing with Death

Pop Pop passed away on Sunday morning this week after a long decline this year. He and Grammy made it to their favorite place on Earth, Silver Bay, NY, and have lived with us for the past month. This enabled us to help take care of Pop Pop, which was a whole family affair. Our two children (ages 5 and 2) helped get Pop Pop up in the morning and put him to bed at night, raising his bed and moving his wheelchair into place. They brought him water, his hat, clean napkins and tissues, and anything else they could think of that Pop Pop could possibly need. They helped lift his feet onto his wheelchair footrests when he couldn't lift them himself and assisted with pushing the chair wherever we went. Most importantly, these two enthusiastic caregivers provided endless entertainment for Pop Pop every single day. Singing, dancing, telling stories about their day at Wee Woozles (camp), helping build fires in the fireplace (Pop Pop loved a good fire), and generally being happy preschoolers.

Needless to say, losing Pop Pop was very, very hard for them. Our 5 1/2 year-old understood the permanence of death, so he was absolutely devastated. Our 2 1/2 year-old does not understand, of course, and so keeps asking when Pop Pop will come back from Heaven. A friend asked if my husband has been able to process his father's death at all, and the answer is, "Yes and no." We have to process it over and over again with the kids, answering each heartfelt question as simply and faithfully as we can. We are reading lots of books about death written for preschoolers, which was really hard at the beginning of the week, but gets easier as time passes.

Our son will say, out of the blue, "Mommy, I don't ever want you, or Daddy, or (Sister), or me to ever, ever die." How can I argue with that? Life is beautiful and sometimes I feel the same way about death. I just take his comments thoughtfully and talk with him about all the good, fun things we do and how much we enjoy God's amazing creation all around us.

It's been a hard week. This is a big change. Their little world was rocked off its axis when their Pop Pop died. Sticking to their familiar schedule and spending lots of time together is helping to stabilize them, and hopefully, by the end of the summer, their hearts will have healed enough to then go home and handle the death of our beloved golden retriever, Toby, who has lymphoma.

This summer is teaching us about loss, but also about love and the strength of family ties. I thank God for great friends and family, and for our wonderful spiritual leaders who are supporting us each step of the way. One called from Wales when he heard of our loss. Another is retired, but took the time to call my mother-in-law and extend his sympathies. Our chaplain here at Silver Bay has visited, helped make arrangements, and made a trip to a library to find us books about death to share with the children. Friends have sent cards, emails, and even hams. We certainly don't lack for support and love!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Aunt Sheesha

I have the best sister-in-law in the world. And no, she did not pay me to say that. You all know my husband and I went to Maine last week and left the kids at the beach with my SIL, her husband, and my MIL. That in itself is huge. But what you might not know is that she also got Ethan to give up his baba - his pacifier.
Yes, I know he's too big for a pacifier. I know we should've taken it away earlier. But I wanted to get potty training taken care of first and he's just so attached to the dang thing. We had been warning him that baba time was just about over, that before school started he would have to give his babas away to babies who don't have any babas. I thought we would do the Supernanny trick and "mail" them away, then get "mail" in return. Anyway, a couple of months ago my SIL (Alicia, Aunt Sheesha to my boys) said, "You want me to get rid of the baba while you're in Maine?" I said, "Heck, yes!" but then he was really sick right before we left and I told her not to worry about it. It's our job as parents to do the dirty work, after all. But she did it! On our last day, when we were coming home, they had a big conversation about it and she just went with it. She took him to Michaels to pick out the stuff he was going to use to write the letter. They had decided to send the babas to Dora the Explorer's baby brother and sister. He "wrote" his letter, put it and the babas in an envelope, and took it out to the mailbox. He cried for a while that night and has mentioned his baba every day at least once, but he's doing well without them. Yesterday he got a thank-you note from "Dora" and he was extremely proud of himself. He even brushed his teeth all by himself for the first time last night. We keep talking about what a big boy he is. And he is! I can't believe how grown-up he is. No diapers, no baba, he can dress himself and brush his own teeth (with a little guidance). It's amazing. So here's to you, Aunt Sheesha! Thank you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's me, Bryssy, posting for Maria today...she's on a "family trip" this week and I'm her motley substitute for today.

We traveled recently to Savannah for a family wedding where my husband was a groomsman and THE Princess was the flower girl. If you ask her, it was her wedding and the bride was just there to do the kissing. (Her words not mine, I swear.) I thought I would add what I gleaned from this road trip (a mere 6 hours, says Map Quest).

First, you are never prepared enough.

I had prepared lunch and snacks in our car cooler. I had loaded the back seats with the DVD player and some DVDs we hadn't seen in a good long while. I had activities we could work on. I had new coloring books. I even had Old Maid, a favorite game of THE Princess, to spend our time away. The car was clean. We were loaded with pillows, napkins, garbage bags, drinks, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer. Ready to go, I thought.

Second, let the kids indulge in a treat, it's vacation!

Just above Orlando, we got a package of powdered doughnuts. RM ate a few of them and I handed the bag back to THE Princess...powdered doughnuts are her very favorite treat! What a great way to start a vacation (we had started out at 5 am) and the kids were awake and getting hungry for breakfast. I was really thinking I was doing a great

I was enjoying the relative quiet of the drive and sat in the front reading a book. I normally read no more than 2 pages before I am interrupted...so this was definitely a treat for me. And, just as we pass St. Augustine, I hear THE Princess say, "My tummy feels funny."

I respond, while engrossed in my book, "Drink some water, honey, and see if that helps."

Third, whining in the car will be ignored.

Big mistake. It took all of 30 seconds before THE Princess proceeds to HOSE US DOWN. Seriously. Projectile vomiting. All over the DVD player and seat organizer I had prepared. All over the back of my seat, around the headrest, into my hair, down my neck and my seat and seat belt. I, of course, proceeded turn around to help her...the poor dear. She turned her head and hosed her brother, the console, and RM's arm.

Fourth, take a break, you don't have to get there without stopping.

I am yelling to get off the road and RM is hollering that he is going to the rest area 1 mile ahead. THE Princess is still barfing. We come racing into the rest area and we all get out of the car, FAST! I take THE Princess to the family restroom and proceed to give her a bath in the sink (hair and all). I changed her clothes and threw out the barf clothes.

I return to the car and RM had it emptied out. I grab KOTJ and go through the same procedure with him, THE Princess in tow. Awesome. Now, to keep my clean-ish children that way, I find a hose outside and wash my hair with that and have them play the clapping game while we are in the family restroom once again, for me to get changed.

RM washes his arm and pours 2/3 of the extra large bottle of hand sanitizer down his arm. (The man is a germ-aphobe, seriously.) Now, he takes to cleaning the car. I am thankful at this point, that he is a bit freaky about germs, because he would never let anyone else clean up puke, yet they miss a single germ.

Fifth, stop to enjoy nature whenever possible.

I decide a "nature hike" is in our future. We spent some time walking on some paths behind the rest area, finding wildflowers and such, to avoid the puke. The kids are now feeling great and spend some time running around and singing.

We return to the car to find the RM had put just about everything that got hosed in the garbage! He got permission to use the janitor's closet to get cleaning items and a large laundry sink to wash the car seats. Holy crap. All of those activities and books and cards....gone. And, I wasn't going after them. I am amazed he didn't pitch the car seats...thank goodness I had packed two packages of Clorox wipes. He got the hose that I had washed my hair with and washed out the car and followed up with the wipes.

Last, go with the flow, it's vacation!!

Now that everything was clean, it was wet. So, we got out our picnic lunch out and waited about an hour until the scorching heat dried out the car. We have 2 books for the kids to read. No napkins, no wipes, no gargbage bags, no extra clothes, no Clorox wipes, and very little hand sanitizer left. On the up side, my car has never been so clean and the kids were tired and ready for a nap.

Postscript: The kids slept until we reached Savannah, I didn't finish my book (it was a casualty of the barf-a-thon) and THE Princess later fessed up to eating 6 powdered doughnuts....which she no longer likes.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Random Thoughts

I only have a few random thoughts for the day. We did find a house, and we will be moving to western Illinois in a few weeks. Living in limbo is taking its toll on us, but we will soon be in our very new to us rental house. My thought for the day is this: early on in potty training Alex, I bought the cute character underwear for him. I thought that telling him Mickey didn't want to get wet would keep him from pottying in his pants. We had some Thomas underwear and even Nemo. You would not believe how many times I told him to not potty in his underwear because Nemo wouldn't want to get wet. Great parenting logic, huh? :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Teaching Our Children Where to Walk, Not Just How to Walk.

A few weeks ago my pastor gave a sermon on parenting. This post is based on that sermon.

There was a statistic that said that with our generation, those who are parenting are more likely to "wing-it" when raising their children and not teach biblical values. This shocked me! Really? It seems like I have a good community of friends who are committed to teaching biblical values in our homes. It was shocking to hear that it is not the norm. I am lucky to have a good church community (let's not forget our Motley Moms community!).

He also told a a story of a boy in the foster care system who had got hit by a car and could not afford to get the medical procedure to heal his legs. His Social Worker did everything she could and was able to get the boy the surgeries that he needed to walk again. She felt so good about it. She had given this boy a new chance on life. She told the story later to fellow social workers and had them guess where this boy ended up. A few people had guesses: a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher... She said he was in prison for the worst crime you could be put in jail for. She said she had taught him HOW to walk but not WHERE to walk.

This story really stuck me because the week that I heard it was the same week my little king had leaned to walk. And I was so excited about him walking everywhere!

It is important to teach our children HOW to walk. Teaching them how to dress, how to do well in school, how to get a good job, etc. are all important things for our sons and daughters to learn, but we cannot leave it at that! We must also show our children WHERE to walk. Teaching them our biblical values and to love the Lord with all their heart.

From Deuteronomy 6 we see that there are 3 ways to teach our children WHERE to walk. These 3 ways are: Imitation,Instruction, and Repetition.

Our kids all copy us. Sometimes it is so cute to see them want to help with chores around the house, or to follow along with us, but other times it is scary to see our worst traits repeated!
Deuteronomy 6: 7-9
7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Effective imitation requires parents to love the Lord with all our hearts. In the verses above, it says to bind them to our hands (let God direct our actions) to our heads (let God direct our thoughts) and to our post of our house (let God direct the interaction of our homes).

Instruction is not just for Sunday School teachers or pastors. It is our job as parents as well! Moms and dads are the most powerful teachers of God's story and love! We are to look for and prepare for teachable moments with our children. In order to be best prepared, it is important for us as parents to be instructed from God's word, and also from other leaders.

Repetition is a great learning tool. As a teacher, I know that the more times and situations that kids had to practice a skill, the better they would be at it! The same it is true for our biblical values and beliefs! We are told to follow the commands while we are sitting, walking, laying down and getting up... that is a lot! Having our children see us practicing our beliefs in good times and bad will help them do it in the future! Some ways to repeat our values are to pray together before food and bed, read bible stories together, memorize scripture as a family, and listen to Christian music.

This post is more of a reminder for me than it is to tell everyone else what to do. Since it is Sunday, I thought it would be OK if I got a little "preachy".

How are you teaching your children where to walk?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Vision for Motley Moms

Well, it's been a crazy year, girls! I've homeschooled all year, sometimes finding the time to write a decent article, sometimes forgetting to post anything at all.

When I thought of starting a blog for moms to connect and share their adventures, I had some reservations. I do tend to be somewhat of a dreamer, so I wasn't sure if this was really something that anyone else (besides ME) would be interested in writing OR reading. I hated to call on my already busy, overworked and under-rested Mommy Friends to take on yet another obligation. A weekly post seemed pretty do-able, though, so I went ahead and made some calls.

I was overwhelmed by all the positive responses my writer friends gave! They were ready for the challenge of a weekly deadline and an outlet for their creativity, humor, and frustration. We have come to appreciate the value of sharing our motleyest moments as moms...YOU, dear readers, can relate! We LOVE getting comments on our posts, because it just reminds us that we're not alone! And when we write about things we would normally cry about, we can just say, "This would make a great blog!!!" and carry on with the cleanup of bodily fluids or listening to our screaming toddler because we actually DID take candy away from the baby.

Things I'd love to see on MotleyMoms.com:

  • Many of us love to read books, so I'd love to see a monthly book discussion tab led by...any takers? Liz? We could order through amazon.com as a group to get free shipping!

  • A recipe tab for easy, last-minute Motley Meals and things to make with the kids...interested Rachel?

  • A MotleyMoms t-shirt that says something witty on the back, like "I WILL blog about this!" Or "This would make a great blog!" With our MotleyMoms logo/name on the front. We need a good logo design...anyone want to give it a try?

  • And wouldn't Podcasting be fun, girls?

We'll have to get together and do some brainstorming if anyone is interested in growing MotleyMoms.com...feel free to share your ideas in the comments section of this post!

Happy Motley-Mom-a-Versary to all! Thanks to all our regular readers and to our motley writers...you're all awesome!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No brain, no blog.

I am not blogging today. I got up at 4:45 to catch a 6:27 a.m. flight in Bangor, had a very bumpy flight to Newark, flew from Newark to Orlando, and got home about 3. Then I (along with my husband and 2 other guys) moved furniture and went grocery shopping and picked up the cat and unpacked and took a shower and collapsed on the couch and the synapses are not firing so I'm going to eat ice cream and catch up on some episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" on the DVR and go to bed and drive to Siesta Key in the morning to get my boys because I miss them. Good night and good luck.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another Puke Story

Let's see, which puke story should I tell today? Hmmmmm.

It was 1987. We (meaning myself, Julie and Melissa- my best friends) were out looking for a party to go to on a Friday night. I was a senior in high school and we were probably listening to Madonna as we drove around Boca Raton.

We found the party everyone was talking about. The "place" was basically a partially constructed housing development by day and the prime party place at night. Everyone was on the alert to the party being "busted" at any time by the local police. That just added to the excitement. It was a weekly occurrence.

Well, we got there and immediately spotted a guy that looked like Billy Idol's younger brother. He had the blond spiky hair going on and we thought he was just sooooooooooo fine.

The three of us talked about which one of us was going to try to "hook up with him". Now, before you get any ideas about that, it really just meant talk and maybe kiss before the night was over. Shocking. I know.

So, Melissa was to be the lucky girl to first talk to him. She struck-up a conversation and he seemed really nice and cute. Julie and I marvelled at Melissa's tenacity being that she was always quite shy.

Not long after we arrived the police showed up and we all jumped into our cars and Billy Idol's little bro went with us. We now had him in OUR CAR! Very exciting. He was from a rival school and we didn't have any friends in common.

Off we went on our way to Stop & Shop (a convenience store) to regroup with the others and plan the next party spot of the night. Before we could get there, we realized there was some kissing going on in the back seat. You go girlfriend!

All of a sudden we hear:
"I don't feel so good" from Melissa

Next thing you know, there is vomit being spewed from the back seat and through to the front dashboard like a fire hose! Later I heard that it seeped into the air vents.

Then we hear:
"She puked in my ear! I can't hear! She puked in my ear! UGHHHHH!"
over and over again from Little Bro.

Julie squealed into the nearest gas station and the car doors FLEW open and Melissa was left in the car looking very white and green at the same time.

Little Bro was hitting his head with his hand as if he had water in his ear from swimming in the pool. He then ran into the store for napkins.

As we tended to Melissa, we then saw Little Bro hop into a brand new convertible with a cute girl and just drive off. Just like that!

Poor Melissa was completely horrified as she told us what happened. Melissa and Little Bro were kissing a little and he was whispering to her how pretty she was. Everything was going great until her tummy started to act up. She then started whispering to him that she wasn't feeling well. She told him about 3 times before the monsoon hit. The bad news was that her mouth was close to his ear when it hit.

Needless to say, our night was over and so was her short-lived romance with Little Bro. For the rest of the car ride and into the following weeks, she just said that it figured that something like that would happen to her.

Possible moral to the story:
Don't puke in someone's ear if you like them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things I have learned from living in a small space...

As you read this today, my husband and I are going to / in the middle of / leaving the "closing" to buy our new home. We are excited and relieved to be moving on to larger territories, especially one with a kid-friendly back yard, but I thought I would take a minute to share my reflections from the past four years with you.

For four years we have happily lived in a "small space"--a 900 square foot apartment. We have had no complaints about our tighter-than-some quarters, and until our toddler started moving around like a madman we have felt snug as a bug in a rug, or something like that.

I am quite grateful for our experience living here. We have had on-call maintenance and security and wonderful property managers. We have had access to a swimming pool that we didn't have to maintain. Our apartment has been close to shopping and activities.

Living in a small, rented space has taught me a few things that I really needed to know. For instance, I don't need everything I see and can afford. I mercilessly de-cluttered my kitchen gadgets and ousted any "one-trick ponies" from our cabinets so that what we needed could fit there. I discovered the beauty, simplicity, and utility of a good knife. We donated excess linens and clothing, and I earned a fair chunk of change selling books and DVD's online. The big space we had left before moving here seemed to always beg me to fill it. Moving to a small space allowed me to breathe for the first time in years.

I now love white walls and empty spaces. They are a canvas on which we can create the story of our household as it grows and changes. I had always thought that walls needed to be painted in striking colors to match the magazine-shoot-ready decor that we also "needed." Thanks to our lease painting was not an option. It has taken some time, but the white walls I once saw as disgustingly unfinished are now blissfully free of constraint and bright, much like the unfolding tale of our family. Our new home has white walls, and that is how they will stay, for now anyway.

So, am I sad to be leaving this place that has taught me so much? Um, no. As soon as the papers are signed we are out of here faster than you can say, "Go outside and play, honey." We will miss having maintenance on-call, and becoming home owners is a bit scary, especially in an area somewhat prone to hurricanes, but we are ready to make the move. So, thank you, little appartment, for all that you have done to make us better people. I pray that the next tenants will be just as blessed here as we have been.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Dark Night from my Past

It was a steamy hot summer night in mid-July. I was young, but that does not excuse my poor judgement. One rash decision led to a moment I will never forget, visions that I cannot erase no matter how many years pass. I had just turned 20, and I thought I knew it all. I was working that summer for my college as a R.A. for the Upward Bound Program. My husband, then boyfriend, was an R.A. too, and we basically spent the summer chaperoning some really cool high school kids. The day started out harmlessly enough, volleyball and a water balloon fight. That evening we all ate dinner in the cafeteria. They served lasagna, which was actually quite tasty. It should have been a tip-off. Our good luck could not continue. Shortly there after we all loaded up into college vans for a trip to the Gibson County Fair.

This fair was one of the best in the area. The 4-H animal exhibits were awesome, and the fair had the perfect balance of fried food and carnival rides. Our kids were a close knit group who loved to hang out together, so a big group of us went looking for rides we could all fit on at once. At this point in my life, I was still doing crazy things like riding roller coasters and rocko-planes. No ride was too scary for me until now. There before me stood the Kamikaze. Two arms spinning side by side upside down and all around.

In a moment I relive over and over again, I climbed aboard. Charlie and I were on one side, and about ten of our kids climbed into the other. As soon as the ride started, I knew I was in trouble. I had never been so terrified in my life. I can still remember begging, "Please God let this ride end. Please God let this ride end." I was slient in my fear, but I could hear screaming all around me. Over and over we flew defying gravity and all natural laws. Over and over I prayed to live until the end. Ominously, the ride slowed. I thought maybe the operator had compassion for one of the screamers, and I began to thank God for answering my prayers.

I looked over at Les in the other car. He was one of my favorites. Normally laughing and joking, he was now in tears. As they climbed out of the car, graphic details of the horrific tragedy began to unfold. There was an accident. Almost everyone was affected. Chunks of tomatoes and peppers were everywhere. Chuck bravely helped us piece the accident together: "I looked up and saw a great big pink cloud of puke!" Since we were in the other car, we were spared. All of the girls had globs of lasagna remains in their hair. We rushed to the bathrooms, and I tried to help them clean up. We had to wash all their hair in the sink before we could even leave. The smell from the van ride home still lingers. We cheated Death, but he scar(r)ed us for life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hello, my name is Fawnda, and I am a blog-oholic!

I am TOTALLY addicted to blogging. I am constantly checking my blogs to see if I got any comments or to see how many new hits I got. I am compulsive about it. I used to think that I could stop any time I wanted... but then I started to get the shakes (Must. Check. Blog.)

I started with my personal blog. Simple enough. We wanted to inform our family about our adoption process, and we would be updating it when we got any news. Once we brought our little king home we would update with his progress , pictures and videos. I maybe update this once a week... sometimes less if nothing exciting is going on.

Then, I started a craft blog with DIY projects that my best friend Jeannine (you have probably seen her comment here) and I work on. It is called Fireflies and Jellybeans (I know shameless plug!). It has been a really fun outlet for my creativity. I also like the challenge of finding the next project. We are trying to get traffic to the blog, so I submit our projects to other sites to be featured. This blog is a bit more work than my personal one.

Now, I am also writing here. This is also a great outlet and support for my mommy needs. I love the group here, and I like being able to write a post about my experiences.

So, that makes three blogs. It would be manageable if I left it at that, but I don't! I also check several other blogs. I look and comment on other people's fabulous blogs. I can spend HOURS and HOURS blog hopping, completely ignoring my house and child at times. This is not good. It is the first thing I want to do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to bed.

I need a blogging break. I need life to be more balanced. I am NOT signing off here! I am just informing you that I am going to go on an internet fast this week. No internet, blogs, e-mail for a week. I need to cut myself off for a bit, so I can get into a new routine. I hope to go for a bike ride with my son (with my new-to-me bike and trailer), go to the park, clean my house, read more books, finish some projects, take a nap, see some friends, and other fun things. I also want to get into a different morning routine. I think that getting up, putting my kid in the high chair and reading blogs on my computer is not the best thing for him! I also would like to do a better job with my bible study. I am starting a new Beth Moore study tomorrow with wonderful ladies from my church.

I'm not saying that the internet is bad... It is a great place to connect with other people. I have made many dear blog friends (from this site especially). But, too much of a good thing... is not a good thing. I will be back next week (and read all your comments then)! I just hope I don't get too shakey!

*I just want you to know that I scheduled this blog last week so I am not breaking my fast! : ) I love that scheduled option! : ) *

How do you stay balanced?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Help! I need advice!

After witnessing his granddad have what looked like a stroke at the lunch table on Wednesday and the frantic call to 911, I was worried about how our 5 1/2 year-old son was processing everything. He hadn't really said much about it at all. He and I were having some bonding time together reading books and watching "So You Think You Can Dance" later that evening when we talked about it:

Me: "How did you feel about what happened to Pop Pop today?"

His answer: "I felt mean."

Me: "You felt mean?"

Him: nods

Me: "What do you mean, "you felt mean?"

Him: "I felt mean because I couldn't stop it."

Me, trying to hold back the tears for his sake: "Honey, Mommy, Daddy and Grammy were there, too. We're grown-ups and we couldn't stop it either. We just all helped in our own special ways until the ambulance got here to help Pop Pop. Mommy called 911. Daddy checked Pop Pop's breathing and heart beat, Grammy talked to Pop Pop, and You showed Pop Pop your beautiful drawing to help him smile. Then you went out and watched for the ambulance. When the ambulance pulled away, we prayed for Pop Pop, remember? We all did what we could to help, but nobody could have stopped it from happening."

I'm not sure how to help him through all this, but I think talking about it helps. I never expected him to say he felt mean (responsible). He really took it all on himself and never said a word until I asked him about it. Since then, he's had some angry outbursts over little things: a painting that didn't turn out the way he wanted, he refused to go to his children's program, then he got sulky and mad when we had to leave a friend's house after lunch (even though I gave plenty of warning). I think I need to come up with some ways to give him more control, but still stick to the schedule as much as possible. Any ideas?

He loves to do art, and I know therapists often use art as a tool to get kids talking, but I don't know how. Does anyone know of a good book or have some advice for us on how to handle this?

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Vaction... I mean a Family Trip

Hi all, It is Fawnda here doing Karly a favor. Karly is on vacation... I mean, a family trip this week at her cabin with NO internet or phone coverage. She called me while she was on a trip to the small town just outside the mountains and asked me to post something for her. Here is the conversation:

K: Hi Fawny- I am in the mountains, so I could lose the signal at any time so don't worry if we get cut off. (to kid 1) your hand is not bleeding... it is just the red from the skittle.. lick it off. I am back. I forgot to post something on the Motley Mom site for this week. Can you post that I am out of town or something?

F: Sure, no problem (to my kid) DO NOT hit the baby***. You are in time out MR! Sorry about that! Are you having a good time?

K: Yeah, it's been great (to kid 1) No, it is not blood... hold up you hand and let me see... nope just lick it! We should make the post something funny I think.... hmmmmm something about a family trip...(to kid 1) You are not bleeding, you will be fine... just lick it off... there is nothing I can do from here.

F: I will try and think of something... Hello...hello... Karly?

That is where the call was dropped! This is a very common conversation for both of us. It is just like we are RIGHT there in the action! Even though we live hundreds of miles away, I some how feel like we are part of each other's daily lives. I really hope that her kid's hand was not really bleeding...That would have been gross!

***I am not making any announcements here, I am helping a girl with her daycare, since she just had a baby.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Today my husband and I are going on vacation. We are going to Maine for a week, which is the longest we've ever been away from our children. The next longest was in November, when we went to NYC for 3 days/2 nights. We really, really need this vacation. I have been under a lot of stress, some of which is caused by others, but most of which just has to do with life. I don't like saying that I need a break from my children, but I'm going to say it. I need a break from my children. My husband has been under a lot of stress, too, some of which is the same stress as me, some of which is due to his demanding job and to the fact that while we are on vacation we are having the floors refinished in our house, and he and 3 teenagers from church had to move all the furniture out. My kids and I were at the beach with my in-laws while Todd took care of all this stuff and as soon as he got here, Ethan got sick. High fever, sore throat, restless sleep. We called the doctor to get antibiotics and he has gotten a little better, but yesterday Micah woke up with a fever. We shlepped the kids to Winter Haven to see the doctor, who said it's probably a virus (oh, and did I mention Ethan puked on the way to the doctor?), then came back to the beach. We talked and talked and argued about whether or not we need to even go to Maine. I said yes, Todd wasn't so sure. We finally agreed we would and let me tell you, I am downright giddy. I haven't slept in months and my throat kind of hurts, but I am so excited to be getting away. Today we are off to Orlando and then we fly to Portland in the morning. I can hardly wait! I know that we will miss our kids and it doesn't help that Ethan had a meltdown right before nap and Micah woke up screaming, but I am still glad we are doing this. We need this. And our kids need us to do this. I am not a fan of Dr. Phil, but I agree with one thing I heard him say: "A good marriage is the best gift you can give your children." I know that we will turn into different people. We will sleep, relax, laugh. I don't care if I spend the whole time in a deck chair reading. I know this trip will do me, and Todd, good. So now, without further ado, GOODBYE!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Right Now

(This is a little snapshot of what's on my mind right now)

Right now, I am taking a Mommy Break. Nothing exciting has happened today. It's been day filled with errands and minutia.

I have spent the last two and half hours in the kitchen. My feet are sore. I figured I'd go on the offensive right when we walked in the door from a day of errands. I set out some paints and got the kids busy while I made vanilla/cherry/banana smoothies. Since it was storming outside this went quite nicely. I'm even used to the inevitable spilling of the watercolors water and explosion of finger paints. I just threw the $1 tablecloth away. It was worth not having to clean it. I figured that I was worth at least $1.

Now I sit typing while the dog is in hiding from the last hour of torture/pretend playing with the kids. The kids are playing "ballet" complete with Snow White outfits and a chalkboard. It obviously doesn't need to make sense in order to be fun.

After I type this out, I plan to make something for dinner out of leftover noodles. Yummy. I sit thinking about the things I didn't do that I wanted to do today and the laundry both clean/wrinkled and wet/smelly/dirty.

I just read the about the memorial for Michael Jackson. It sounds like it was a great tribute for him, full of famous people, kind words and such.

If I were to die today, what kind of memorial would I have? I can pretty much guarantee there won't be anyone famous there. It would be filled with family and friends. That's good enough for me.

OK. Mommy Break is officially over. I really need to make dinner now and get the kids up to bath.

If any of you want to share your minutia of the day, feel free! That's why I like Facebook so much. It's so mundane yet interesting at the same time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm taking a vacation from the blog this week as we're on vacation, so see you next Tuesday! Hope you're having a great July!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good Morning!

Well, first of all, you might notice that this post is a little too late for the morning. Our computer is tucked safely away in a storage unit, so I have to use my mom's dinosaur-like computer (Is this a Commodore 64?) to check my email and post on my blogs. I recently read Amy Grant's book, Mosaic. I have always loved her music, and I really enjoyed reading about her life. In her book, she says she greets each day by going outside no matter what the temperature, and says, "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." She said that sometimes it takes a few repetitions for her to actually be ready to start the day. She then says the Lord's prayer. I am thinking of copying this idea. Currently, I start each day by praying that I can be nice to my family, and most days I pray for energy to get out of bed. For some reason, having a child has really cut into my sleep. I am sure some of you might know what I am talking about. So, what do you do to start your day?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I LOVE fireworks, but...

I am a HUGE fan of Fireworks. One summer, I went to fireworks almost every weekend for the whole summer... It was my job to find out what city was having fireworks each weekend. It was a blast. I love that it is good old fashion free entertainment. I love going early to find a spot, people watching, eating the yummy treats we bring...and finally the fireworks show!

The fireworks that we usually go to on the 4th are EXCELLENT! They are choreographed to music, and I cry every year. It is in the cute town that I want to live in some day. I look forward to watching fireworks every year. I have always looked forward to bringing our children to watch them with us some day!

But, this year we did not go. We had fully planned on going and bringing our 17 month old with us. It would be our first fireworks as parents. We tried to plan how to keep him happy for the 2+ hours we would have to wait until the fireworks actually went off (10 PM here in the Midwest) and we planned on how we would get out quickly (bring the backpack carrier and not the stroller). But when it came time to pack up all our stuff, our little king had a total fit about taking his shoe off... and then proceeded to have a fit about the fact that his shoe was not on his foot. This is when we started to rethink our plan. He showed many signs of being a tired and cranky baby. My Husband reminded me of our firework experience last year, where we sat in front of a couple who had their 1 year old son along, who cried the WHOLE TIME. We did not want to be those people, so we stayed home. I am bummed, but I know we made the right choice. Hopefully, we will get to go next year!

I agree with Donna's post from yesterday, it is not worth it some times. Do I want my first fireworks experience with my child to be a frustrating one? No, not really!

My Husband did talk me into going up on our roof to see if we could see any fireworks from there. I must have really wanted to see them because even though I am TOTALLY freaked out of heights, I went up! I almost had a panic attack (I found it hard to breath and almost threw-up) and we couldn't see any (some were behind some trees but no clear view). Bummer. But, at least I tried!

As parents, we have to look at "fun events" differently than we did before we had childern. It is not always best to do something that we have always done. It is not about fitting our childern into our lives, but about living a life that will be GREAT for our family! I know that I am happrier here at home (post panic attack) with my son sound asleep, than I would have been fighting the crowds with a screaming child. Plus, I m pretty sure that they are not going to stop doing fireowrks for the 4th of july any time soon so, I will get another chance to see them!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Stick to the Program!

While spending time here at our summer getaway, we have tried several times to take advantage of some really fun, classic evening activities down on the campus of the YMCA conference center: family sing-alongs, campfires, family art night, game night, and going out for ice cream after dinner (they have really yummy ice cream there!). These activities are geared for families with young children, but they don't start until 7 or 7:30 pm. Which is fine if you're on vacation for just a few days with your family, but we live here all summer.

For us, these events (as fun as they are) just make bedtime absolutely unbearable. The behavior the next day is unspeakable. When our children go past their bedtimes, they seem to catch a second wind and a bratty disposition. They do NOT want to go to bed, even though their regular bedtime was two hours ago! So we're realizing that as great as these activities seem, having the kids stay up past their bedtime is just not worth it. Our kids really, REALLY need their schedules to stay predictable. When things become unpredictable, we all end up unhappy. There is usually yelling or threatening involved, from one or both sides. What a way to end a day, huh?

So we have decided that fireworks are not on our list of "Can't Miss" things this year. The kids marched in the "Shortest 4th in the North Parade" with their children's program groups yesterday. One marched with the "Wee Woozles" and the other marched and hopped with the "Crickets." It was classic! Today we might go visit an historic fort, where they do reenactments and cool activities with the kids. We made homemade vanilla ice cream with the kids yesterday to enjoy on this beautiful 4th of July, complete with homemade hot fudge sauce.

In other words, I'm not going to feel guilty about nixxing the fireworks tonight. Up here in the mountains, it stays light until almost 10:00 at night...firworks begin at 9:30. The display is put on by a town about a 1/2 hour away from us. We are SOOOoooo not doing that with our preschoolers!!!! They will still wake up at 6 am (or earlier) no matter how late they stay up, so we're going to preserve our sanity and stick to the regularly scheduled program. I'm gonna miss seeing those beautiful fireworks, though!

(Correction: I just checked the website and realized fireworks begin at 10PM!...seriously, that is WAY too late!!!!)

Happy 4th of July! How are you celebrating with your little ones?

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Last night my husband and I watched this movie. I didn't expect much from it; in fact, the only reason we watched it was because our church is thinking about doing small groups about marriage and they want to use the Fireproof materials, so they encouraged us to watch the movie since we want to lead one such group.
I'm going to be honest here - I hated it. While I respect the filmmakers' effort and agree with the underlying principles of the movie (Jesus can change your life, marriage is hard work), I thought that the movie was poorly written, the acting abysmal, the dialogue weak, and the whole story unbelievable and silly. Plus, it's just too simplistic.
Now, I've had several people tell me they've seen God work in people's lives and marriages through this movie. That's great, it truly is. However, I think Fireproof is drivel.
The truth is, I have a problem with a lot of "Christian" art. For instance, you've probably seen those t-shirts that look like a name-brand logo but are actually a Bible verse or something, like "Jesus" written like "Coca-Cola." It's not "Jesus on a t-shirt" that I have a problem with. It's the lack of creativity. Also, it always annoyed me at youth camp when we would sing secular songs that had been re-written with religious lyrics. What are we saying - that Christians are incapable of coming up with their own songs and t-shirt designs? Christian fiction and music are another area where mediocrity flourishes, although there are exceptions (Frank Peretti and Third Day come to mind). It frustrates me that "Christian" media is so often sub-par. It just perpetuates what our culture already thinks about us - that we're stupid, narrow-minded, and not creative at all.
So you don't think I'm entirely a cynic, I am interested to see the materials that my church wants to use for small groups. I think Fireproof the movie is probably a good jumping-off place for a marriage class, but as a film, it doesn't work. I read one review of the movie that said it's probably great for a Bible study, but doesn't belong in theaters, and I think that pretty much sums it up for me. Well, and this quote from the book Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell:

It is possible for music to be labeled Christian and be terrible music. It could lack creativity and inspiration. The lyrics could be recycled cliches. That "Christian" band could actually be giving Jesus a bad name because they aren't a great band. It is possible for a movie to be a "Christian" movie and to be a terrible movie. It may actually desecrate the art form in its quality and storytelling and craft. Just because it is a Christian book by a Christian author and it was purchased in a Christian bookstore doesn't mean it is all true or good or beautiful. A Christian political group puts me in an awkward position: What if I disagree with them? Am I less of a Christian? What if I am convinced the "Christian" thing to do is to vote the exact opposite?

Christian is a great noun and a poor adjective.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Picnic Caviar (Bean Dip)

With 4th of July coming up, I thought I would also share a great recipe with you.

This is my absolute favorite thing to make when I have people coming over to the house. You can make it a day or two before the event and it just tastes fantastic.

It's a great dip that you can serve with some tortilla scoops. I've also served it as a side along with quiche. You can bring it as a potluck dish too! No mayo or cooking, so no worries about it going bad on you either! On the off chance that I have leftovers, this makes a great stuffing for quesadillas - add a little cheddar cheese and sour cream - YUM!

I also add a little salt and tabasco to it for a little kick. You might even consider making a double batch of it to send home with your guests. They'll love you for it.

Happy 4th of July!