Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thirsty For Each Other

I have a pet peeve.  It's when Howie calls me on his way home...at 5:15 in the afternoon.  You know, the same 5:15 in the afternoon when children scream for no apparent reason.  The same 5:15 when they seem to morph into half-human, half-demon.  The same 5:15 that they can't help from throwing themselves down the stairs or getting a Zhu Zhu pet stuck in their hair.  The same 5:15 when they swarm around me while I'm trying to cook dinner and keep things off of my counters.

I've asked him not to do it.  I've asked him many times.  "I love you.  I really want to talk to you but that is a really bad time for me."  Still, he calls and starts telling me about the mundane details of his day, computer systems and meeting minutes.  I care.  I really do, it's just hard to concentrate when I have three children gnawing on my ankle bones.

I've tried to be patient.  I've tried to be understanding.  I've even tried not answering the phone.  But then he will leave sobby messages on the answering machine and begin an endless stream of text messages that say things like, "WHERE ARE YOU, ARE YOU OKAY, WHAT'S WRONG, WHY AREN'T YOU ANSWERING THE PHONE.  IF YOU DON'T ANSWER IN THE NEXT 30 SECONDS I'M CALLING 911!!!!"  That's when I pick up the phone and reassure him that all is well and that I'm just really, really busy and can't talk.  "Oh, okay...so let me tell you about about that EQC and SSX systems that failed today."  And that's when I take a dinner fork and ask one of the kids to kick it through my forehead.

This happened again a couple of nights ago.  He called.  I didn't answer.  Then the text messages started and I can't scientifically prove this but I swear that anytime I respond to his calls or texts, things start to fall apart in the house.  Like one minute things are chaotic but under control.  The next thing I know, I answer the phone and the whole house erupts into WWIII. "I have to go", I said.  Finally, I  got everything calmed down for a moment, called him back and said this:

"Consider yourself served.  I am officially giving you notice that you are under no circumstances allowed to call me between the hours of 4 and 6 pm unless:
A) You are laying on the side of the road with some of your intestines spilled on the highway.
B)  Someone held you up at gun point and stole your truck, clothes, cell phone and lunch box and you got arrested for indecent exposure and you're standing in a jail cell, using your only phone call while you're getting ogled by fellow prisoners.
C)  You've been abducted by aliens and you won't be home for dinner because they are probing your deep, cavernous, private places.

 If A, B or C have not happened, please do not call me.  If you need me to know something important, feel free to text but do not expect a response.  This in no way reflects my deep love and affection for you.  Please note that I will need a confirmation in writing stating that you are of sound mind and body and do hereby agree to the terms above.  Failure to comply with these rules will result in my calling you everyday at work at the most inconvenient time and demanding that you talk to me for at least half an hour about "my feelings" or about what I think will happen next on "Days Of Our Lives."  Better yet, I'll call you and then hand the phone over to Bear who will proceed to give you a 2 hour monologue about princesses."

He's been officially warned.  Last night he didn't call me.  He texted me to let me know he was picking Birdie up from dance class and I sent him a very small response.  Here's the thing: I missed talking to him.  I couldn't possibly talk to him at that time, there is just too much going on at 5:15 but I do miss talking to him.  Such is the battle of time with busy parents.  We are thirsty for time together, quality time where we can talk like real adults and interact in playful ways that cement our love.  But we end up only getting sips of each other here and there.We have to squeeze out every ounce of time and it never seems to quench that thirst.  I know it'll get better and I know that I get crazy when everyone demands my attention.  Then I get all stressed out and it all seems impossible.  But part of me wants to tell him to scratch the whole thing and call me anyway.  Just because I need to hear his voice.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Blues

Okay, I'm just gonna go ahead and tell you what a good parent I am and how much time I spent trimming toe nails and filing and polishing.  And how I didn't just polish in any old ordinary color.  No, I polished in a sparkly blue hue that says: "look at me!"

I bet these toes will look good in sandals and will attract a lot of attention and might cause people to run into utility poles when they do their double takes.

Because you see, I'm a good parent like that.  Aren't you impressed?

Except...

Those toes you see in that picture? Those sparkly blue digits that scream out for your attention?  They are attached to feet that are attached to legs that are attached to...

This person.

And I was THIS close to the parent of the year award.  Oh well, there's always next year.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why Not?

One of the main questions that we are asked in regards to our adoption is "WHY?"  Why are you adopting if you already have three kids? Why are you choosing to adopt from foster care? Why are you adopting a child with special needs? Why are you putting your family through this difficulty if you don't have to? Why are you waiting so long and not getting fed up? Why?


Here's the answer: we are being obedient.  Obedient to the call to help others. We wanna be part of something big! We wanna change the world! We wanna contribute to the solution, not to the problem.  We know that we can't change the entire world  but we can do what we can do.  We can make an effort and by that small effort effectively change the world, if even so slightly.  We won't do it by reading the newspaper and moaning about rising crime statistics.  We can't reduce crime by adding a security system to our house.  We can reduce crime by helping those who turn to crime.  We won't do it by apathy and the expectancy that the world will become a better place without action.   Why? Why is it someone else's job to help the homeless? Why is it someone else's job to help the orphans? Those are the questions we should be asking.  But the bigger question should be: Why not?


Foster Care Adoption Quick Facts

1.  On any given day, more than 500,000 children are in the U.S. foster care system.

2.  127,000 children in the U.S. are waiting to be adopted - just waiting for the right family to find them.

3.  More children in foster care wait for adoption each year than are adopted.

4.  In 2006, 79,000 children had parental rights terminated by the courts, yet only 51,000 were adopted from the foster care system.

5.  A child waiting to be adopted has been in foster care an average of 39 months (our new son has been in the system since he was hours old- 66 months)


6.  A child in foster care can wait five years or more to be adopted.

7.  The average age of the child waiting to be adopted from foster care is eight years old. Many are older, in sibling groups, are minority children and/or have special needs.

8.  Each year, 20% of children (26,517 in 2006) exit foster care at age 18 without an adoptive family – of those:
2% earn a bachelor’s degree or higher;
51% are unemployed;
25% have been homeless at some point;
30% receive public assistance;
Many end up in prison and many have children of their own who also end up in foster care.

In a recent survey of public opinion, 45% of those surveyed believed children were in foster care because of juvenile delinquency when the reality is that these kids have been abused, neglected or abandoned.

Not everyone is meant for adoption, please don't think that I'm trying to get everyone to adopt.  I just want everyone to open their eyes and try to do your part.  Maybe your part is simply saying a prayer.  Maybe your part is mentoring.  Maybe your part is sponsoring a child from another country.  Maybe your part is giving emotional support to a foster or adoptive family.  I don't know what your part is.  I just ask that you stop and think about it, not just about the 500,000 orphans in our country but also about the 147 million worldwide. What will you do?


“Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.” (Proverbs 24:12)
If you want to learn more, please click I Care About Orphans or 147 Million Orphans.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tip Of The Month

If you are like me, cheap and anal retentive, you will enjoy this month's tip.  This is not my idea, I saw it online somewhere in an article about organization and re-using things.

Anyway, this was so perfect and has been so useful that I have to pass it along.  As you know, I have two daughters.  Two daughters who come home from school or church or pretty much anywhere, rip the barets and/or rubber bands out of their hair and throw them on the ground.  Best case scenario they leave them on the counters but you all know how I feel about stuff on my counters *twitch*.

This was the perfect solution.  It's a used toilet paper roll.  I just keep it somewhere that seems to be the most common dumping ground, i.e., my kitchen.  It gives me a place to neatly store everything until it's time to put it all away in it's own labeled plastic container.  You heard me.  I have a plastic container for rubber bands, one for barets, clips and bows and one for headbands and scrunchies.  Would it make you think any less of me if I told you that I also separate the combs and hair brushes into their own plastic bins as well? Or that today I changed the sheets on our bed and had to make it and re-make it three times so that I could get equal amounts of sheets under the hospital corners?

*Hangs head in shame*

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lesson Learned

Well, there are only ten days left in my life without Facebook.  I'm going back on Good Friday but for a good reason.  That day is national autism awareness day and I want to spread the word.  If I'm your friend on there, prepare for your wall to be lit up blue with awareness.

I've learned a lot during this time without Facebook.  I've learned that I don't need it.  I've learned that it's a dangerous place to exercise my nosy muscle, which has since gone all flabby and weak.  I've also learned that it's kind of nice to be disconnected but the greatest lesson of all happened the first week without it.

I had gone to church the Sunday after I gave it up and as I was walking out a woman said to me, "so...how's it going without Facebook?" My answer was half-way between a word and a grumble.  She giggled and said, "that must be hard, especially for you cause you're the QUEEN of Facebook."  That perked me up a bit and I scrunched my eyebrows,  looked her dead in the eye and said, "why do you say that?"  "Because...you're on all day long.  Every time I log on I see your name at the bottom with a little green light next to it which means you're always on there."

This really surprised me because you see, I'm NOT on Facebook all the time.  I just log on in the morning and walk away, never bothering to officially log off because I will check it sporadically throughout the day and don't want to bother with all the hoo-ha of remembering my password.

So, she was right in one respect.  I was technically logged on all day.  Thing is, she took that fact and added an assumption to it. She assumed that because I was logged on, that I spend all day and night on Facebook.  And on top of that assumption, she added judgment.  So, she had herself a nice little trifle of lies built on a fact that was taken out of context.  This hurt my feelings but as I sat and thought about it I realized that I often times do the same thing.

I will take what I see, what I know to be true and add assumptions and judgments to it that are completely false.  And even though I can prove the initial fact, everything that comes after that is pure conjecture.  What a huge lesson for me.  And here is where it comes full circle.  I often see things on Facebook that I make assumptions about and then make judgments.  I made reference to this before, about seeing pictures of people taking exiting vacations and making the assumptions that they have plenty of money to do so and therefore must be better with their finances than me.  Or that they had a great time and didn't have to deal with the aggravations of travel that always plague me.  Or that their lives are somehow more exciting and fulfilling than mine. Or that they are better parents because they take their kids to cool places.

I made assumptions about them and generally judged myself based on those assumptions that were of course, built on lies.  Now, Facebook isn't the only place I do this but it was what I needed to learn about it.  This means that when I go back on there on Friday I will see things differently.  And I will see things differently in my world as well.  Not everything I see, as factual as it may seem, is the full story.

This principle can be applied in nearly every aspect of my life.  I can't be sure that I know the whole story of what went down when the kids were fighting in the other room because I wasn't there to know the whole dynamics. I can't be sure that what Howie does is wrong without kindly asking WHY so that I can understand his perspective.  I can't be sure that I know much about anything from friends and neighbors to what I see on the news to government health plans.  I can have opinions but I also need to remember that my opinions are pretty much useless because I don't have all of the facts.  Nobody does.  Lesson learned!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Circus

For those of you who have kids, do you remember when you brought home each new baby and for a while, your whole world was turned upside down?  Time seemed to move in slow motion and even the air seemed to have a different weight to it.  Everything you did was out of order because you slept at a different time and bathed at a different time and ate at a different time and you were learning everything for the very first time.

It's like when you do anything for the first time...it's just awkward because you have no stride.  You should have seen me when I first tried to ski.  I went down the bunny slope with my legs wide apart and skis crossed while I waved my hands back and forth and made noises that sounded very much like a constipated wildebeest.  It was terrifying and exhausting but also a little exhilarating. 

I'm saying this because this is exactly what it's been like adding a fourth child.  Challenging doesn't even cover it.  If my torso were how hard it is, then challenging would be the equivalent of a tight fitting tube top that exposes all of my soft underbelly.  Raul was here this last weekend and things went spectacularly...just exhaustively.  It's a rat race because nobody knows what we are supposed to be doing and they all attack me at the same time and demand attention at the same time and fall to pieces at the same time and feign starvation at the same time.  Everything was difficult and required many more than the four hands we had to offer.  You should have seen bath night.  I've never seen so many small naked bodies in my life! And it was probably sheer exhaustion that made this possible but four naked bodies seemed to morph into fourteen and all I saw was nakedness streaking through our house.  It was either the exhaustion or the speed with which they run that gives it the Matrix type effect.  Anyway, it was just a lot.  Like we went through a bar of soap, one bottle of shampoo and a tub of cocoa butter and most of my patience in order to get the job done.

And then let me tell you about the food.  Holy cow, the food.  I am going to have to start selling my blood plasma in order to feed these children.  They will go through a bundle of bananas, half a gallon of milk, a package of Gogurt, a bag of goldfish, almost a dozen eggs and half a loaf of bread AT BREAKFAST.  When I set the food down on the table I have to throw it carefully because they are like a pack of starving piranhas that attack the food and leave nothing left but an overturned fork with bite marks in the handle.

Here's what it's like having four kids: it's a circus.  It's stinky and messy and loud.  Someone is always hanging from the ceiling and there are a lot of moments that make you hold your breathe.  But it's also fun and entertaining and something happens minute to minute that amazes you.  There is so much spectacular going on around you that you hardly notice that you're sitting in something sticky.

We did survive the weekend with relatively little scarring.  Raul was fantastic. He took a shower with no problem and went to bed without waking all night.  He played well, ate well and slept well and we couldn't have asked for anything more.  It went so well that I called our social worker yesterday and asked him to move up the "move-in" date.  He was scheduled to move in the first weekend in May but he's also scheduled to stay from the 16th through the 25th for his vacation and I can't see sending him home for a few days after we establish a routine that week.  It would be a step backward.  So, it's sink or swim now because our social worker agreed with me.  There is no sense in dragging it out longer, especially since he is transitioning so well.  So...the countdown begins.  T minus 23 days.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Candy Land

We've been playing more and more board games as a family.  The kids are all finally at the age where we can play together and here's the more important part: actually ENJOY playing together.

It's become a Friday night "thing" that we hope to continue for as long as possible.  Which is to say, as long as Howie can stand getting whooped by a Kindergartner.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bliss

Close your eyes. Okay, scratch that.  How are you going to read this if you have your eyes closed.  Alright, imagine that your eyes are closed.  Now imagine that you are opening a container filled with frosted cupcakes and imagine that incredible, sweet smell that makes you want to dive head first into the container and smear frosting all over your body.  Now combine that with the feeling you get when you submerge yourself in a bubble bath and the warm envelopes your body and washes a calm all over you.  Then add the feeling you get when you take that first sip of fragrant coffee in the morning and feel the warm liquid warm you from the inside or that first sip of wine after a long day that requires you to do nothing more than take a deep breath.  Combine to that the moment when you crawl into a cold bed on a hot night and you start to sink into that deep and peaceful feeling right before you drift off to sleep and add to that how  it feels when your hairdresser scrubs your head as she washes your hair, gently massaging your entire scalp with sudsy bubbles.  Take all of that and  you would get the same feeling I get when I pull up my driveway in an empty car and walk into an empty house.  Bliss, I tell you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

So, about that trip I was planning to Mexico: Probably not going to happen!

Did you know, that in 2009, over 2600 people were murdered in the city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico?  In contrast, that same year New York city had 412 murders.  In fact, when you take into account the increasing numbers of murders each month, and compare that to last year's top ranking dangerous cities, Ciudad Juarez tops Moscow, Johannesburg and even Baghdad.  Five hundred people have already been killed this year. Many have called it "the most dangerous city on earth."

Now, I know a little bit about Juarez because my dad grew up not far from there and we went to visit quite often.  Back in the 80's it wasn't a really safe to be but it has become increasingly dangerous as the drug cartels have infiltrated the city.  Right now there is a huge rivalry between the drug cartels over the smuggling routes into the United States.  If you don't know this, Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas are a stones throw away from each other.  " El Paso and Ciudad Juarez comprise one of the largest bi national metropolitan areas of the world with a combined population of 2.4 million people."

The Mexican government has brought in over 10,000 troops to patrol the streets of Juarez in a martial law sort of attempt to get things under control and here's the scary part: they've completely failed.  And the fact that the Mexican government is claiming victory over the war on drugs while people are dying at an average of 13 a day, have many questioning who is greasing who's pockets.

Those murdered range from college students to innocent bystanders to a U.S. consulate worker and her husband.  That last murder made the news because the woman was a government worker.  Gang members followed her and her husband home from a children's birthday party and shot them while their 1 year old baby sat in the back seat. But she's certainly not the first American to have been murdered. Just last week, thirteen Americans were killed, including four that were beheaded.


My question is, why don't we hear more about this?  It's in the news, trickled here and there but honestly, had I not dug for it, I would have missed it.  Shouldn't there be more news coverage about the most dangerous city on the earth being in our back door?  Shouldn't there be someone telling us that travel might be dangerous?  Shouldn't there be a public outcry about the safety of our U.S. border?


Hey, does anyone remember that time last year when President Obama got together with the Mexican President Calderon and they talked about making border control a "top priority"????  Yeah.  I think someone dropped the ball.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Patience Pants

I had a bad day today.  I won't bore you with the details because they are inconsequential, stupid in fact.  They are a bundle of petty little pearls that when strung together, fit so tightly around my neck that I can scarcely breathe.  It was a day where I desperately needed my patience pants.  Let me explain...

I have a group of friends that get together for a bible study sort of thing on Monday mornings and we were discussing a part of Colossians that talks about clothing yourself with mercy and kindness and patience. We needed to hear this.  Because we are all stay-at-home mothers who are intimately familiar with fishing poop out of the bathtub and wrestling a 30 pound toddler to the ground with sweat pouring down our faces in an attempt to brush their teeth.  We are also familiar with getting leggos lodged into the arch of our feet at 2am and washing so much laundry that we could separate clothes into colors and whites, adjust the washer to a medium hot/cold wash and  accurately treat a stain while blindfolded with one arm tied behind our backs.

Someone said, "yes, I really do need a pair of patience pants that I could put on every morning."  We all agreed and then emails went back and forth about how someone wore their patience pants and had a wonderful day and how others forgot to wear theirs.  Others inquired whether there are such a thing as patience pajamas. Just in case you need to tend to a child who demands a drink of water at 3:15 in the morning.

Well, today I TRIED to put on my patience pants but alas, they didn't fit on account of the pms bloating.  And I really needed those patience pants today.  Trust me. I really need to get me some patience pants with an elastic waist band.

But then do you know what happened? I was driving back from a town next to ours (for those of you locals I will just say "across the bridge" and you will catch my drift) and I came to a stop on Main Street.  There were about 20 people standing on the sidewalk in front of a building.  It's a common thing for many homeless people to stand there but I noticed that many looked worse off than normal and it made me realize that I'm big whiny ass pansy who is completely consumed with useless, petty, inconsequential drivel. What do I really have to complain about? Me? I had a bad day?? I seriously need to check myself!

That's why I didn't even write what happened to me here in the blog.  Because it's embarrassing how I can try to justify my so called "bad day" to you.  I imagined trying to justify my "bad day" to one of those homeless men on the street and I rolled my eyes at how ludicrous that would sound.  "So look, homeless person with dirty clothes and no place to sleep who probably hasn't eaten today and carries everything you own in a supermarket cart...let me just tell you about my HORRIBLE day.  Yes, me...the woman who has a warm home and clean clothes and shoes that fit and who just had a satisfying lunch and who has healthy children who I'm blessed to stay home with everyday and who will go home and watch prime time television tonight on my flat screen tv....yeah,  I had a BAD day. Because things just didn't go my way.  And I was inconvenienced and I'm tired.    Don't you feel sorry for me? I mean, isn't my life horrible?

I imagine that he would give me the finger.  And he'd be totally justified in doing so.  Because I'd totally have it coming.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stream Of Consciousness

Please ignore the multiple posts showing up.  They're actually not new, they are duplicates, old posts that I edited and are now showing up as new.  I'm doing a little housekeeping with the blog, mainly trying to consolidate my ten thousand labels into a more reasonable 30.  It's not an easy thing when you have three years of blogs to sift through.  Boy, I sure do write a LOT!  It's no wonder my fingers are so muscularly fit and look really good in apple bottom jeans.

It's so easy to just write and forget to reflect, but times like these really remind me that I have such a huge collection of thoughts.  I'm thinking of putting them in a book so I can have them tangibly. I think blogger offers something like that where they will print and bind them for you.  I especially want to have the "memo to kids" stuff put in a book.  If you're new here you're probably like, "what the flagnon is a monthly memo?"  Well, to answer your question, I used to be really disciplined about writing a monthly memo to my kids and it contained every event, milestone, funny thing, annoying thing, every thing that happened to them during that month.  It was really sweet and wonderful and I really need to start doing that again and then continue to bind them.  They are, in my totally biased opinion, some of the best writing I've ever done.  I haven't written one in over a year! It's amazing how fast time can get away from you.

I do have to write one soon because I was asked to be a guest mom blogger for the amazing writer, Maven and I kinda said something like, "I'll do a memo, you'll love it."  So...I guess I should get started, no?  *cracks knuckles*

I was reading the Hartford Courant this morning and there was an article by Jim Shea where he says, "If journalism is the first draft of history, then blogging is the first draft of stream of consciousness."  So, thank you all for wading in my stream. :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Just Too Funny Not To Share

I got this off of what is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs. It's called Stuff Christians Like and it's by a hysterical guy named Jon Acuff.  The blog is refreshing and brilliantly funny and relevant and well written.  Anyway, this video he posted was just too funny not to share.  If you get a chance he also has an entire post on biblical jokes, some in particular that made me nearly pee my pants.  Anyway, without further a do...Things You Can't Do When You're Not A Dog.  I think it's hysterical but then again, I'm a fourteen year old boy stuck in the body of a 34 year old housewife.  Also, I just found Things You Can't Do When You're Not In A Pool.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Foursome


I can't believe I ever doubted that I would love Raul any differently than our other three. I had such doubts with the addition of each child but I thought somehow that it would be different with an adoption.  But my doubts were unfounded.  He just is...our son.  There are times that the fears of such a giant step completely overwhelm me and I start to shiver and panic.  But those times are fewer and farther between because the joy is so much more overwhelming. It takes over and consumes my thoughts so that I'm distracted from the fears and focused on the pure and utter enjoyment of the experience.

I've learned something in this process and that's that you cannot, CANNOT, CAN NOT adopt a child with yourself in mind.  It's impossible to do it selfishly because the process itself has a way of weeding out the weak of heart and selfish.  It would have crushed us long ago, years ago, had we been doing it for ourselves.  No, adoption isn't about bringing a child into your lives. It's about bringing your lives to a child and laying yourselves at the mercy of a bigger calling and taking a leap of faith that requires great risk.

But with great risk comes even greater reward and there is no doubt that we are going to reap the rewards of having such a loving, beautiful, joyful spirit in our family.  I'm excited to see what is to come, for it will be spectacular and we will have front row seats.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pledge Of Allegiance

She is criminally cute in this video.  If you don't think this is impossibly sweet, you have a heart of stone and probably enjoy kicking puppies in your spare time.


Pledge of Allegiance from licha88 on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ridiculous!

Yesterday was a wonderful morning.  The kids woke up on their own so I didn't have the excruciating task of begging and pleading for them to wake up followed by my shaking them and pinching them and threatening them and finally dumping a whole bucket of ice water on them.  Okay, so I don't dump ice water on them or pinch or threaten them but that's probably what the neighbors think when they hear all the blood curdling screams every morning.  Either that or they think I'm slicing them open with a rusty nail file and then pouring lemon juice in their wounds.  Because who would believe that screams like that would come from a mother leaning over her child, gently rubbing their forehead and saying, "it's time to get up, baby." 

But not yesterday. Yesterday they woke up on their own...early.  Then they dressed themselves.  And instead of moaning and groaning and asking me why I'm trying to ruin their life when I place a bowl of oatmeal in front of them or begging and pleading to eat left over chicken nuggets (who am I kidding there are never any left over chicken nuggets mainly because I eat them) they ate their breakfast without incident.  Nope, instead they ate quietly and happily and didn't overall annoy or harass each other.  Then they packed their backpacks, put on their shoes and socks without episodes of kicking and screaming and even brushed their teeth without a knock out-drag out fight.  They were dressed, fed and ready to go by ten of eight. A MIRACLE, I tell you.  It was beyond pleasant, the kind of morning where you start to wonder whether you have finally tamed this beastly lion called parenting.  Maybe you're finally starting to see results from all the blood, sweat and tears.

Today? Not so much.  Today Bear woke up extra early and then whined and cried if anyone so much as looked in her direction.  Bubba refused to get dressed, even after the fourteen millionth time I asked him to do so.  They all crowded around me in the kitchen so that I couldn't walk a step without bumping into someone holding a cup of milk which would then spill all over the floor.  Then inevitably someone would step in that milk fall and feign a broken bone.  Everyone complained about breakfast and declared the eggs not hot enough and then not cold enough.  Then everyone complained about what I packed them for lunch and then about what I am making for dinner.

The morning was consumed by fighting and whining and crying and complaining.  It was the kind of morning that prayer couldn't combat.  The kind of morning that required that I light a candle and then sacrifice a small animal in order to survive.  And even though they were only awake and moaning for about an hour and a half it seemed like much, much, much, much, much, much longer. That hour between waking and bus stop seemed to move in slow motion. 

Finally, they were off to school and you would think that all would be well.  But no!  Because you see, I was already in a bad mood where I was just skulking through the house, waiting for someone else to piss me off and as luck would have it, Howie delivered.  He asked me some random question about when Raul was set to move in and instead of saying, "the first weekend in May", rolling my eyes and giving him the bird as I walked out of the bathroom, I decided to do something much more reasonable: pick a fight with him.  Pick a fight that was much too big to resolve in the 10 minutes before he had to go to work and I had to go to bible study.  Yes you heard me correctly, I picked a fight before I was going to BIBLE STUDY!  Clearly I need such a study to remind me that I'm RIDICULOUS!

Anyway I said something like, "how could you not know when he's coming home? I told you like five times and you don't remember? This isn't really important to you, is it? You're gonna leave me hanging and I'm gonna have to do all the work myself, huh? Don't you care about knowing this kind of stuff?  You obviously don't love me and why did you even marry me to begin with."  And of course, there is nothing to say when someone spews this kind of absurdity so he just stood there with a surprised and blank look on his face to which I then said, "Don't you care enough to say anything?"

Yeah.  I know.  Ridiculous.  Truth be told, he simply hit on a sore spot with me.  I've been scared lately about the responsibilities that will be required to care for a fourth child, a child with very special needs.  And on our last visit, Howie kind of left me to fend for myself with all four kids and I sort of went overwhelmed bananas.  So I took this stupid, mundane, inconsequential little question and morphed it into something that gave me the perfect excuse to explode.  Can you say: doesn't know how to express emotions in a healthy way?  That's what my diagnosis will be when Howie finally drives me to the loony bin, kicks me out of the car and drives away in such a hurry that I choke on the dust and exhaust of his spinning tires.

Of course, I soon realized that I was being completely unreasonable and I told him just that.  "I'm so sorry that I over-reacted.  It has nothing to do with you and all to do with the fact that I am scared out of my mind and don't know how to express that without sounding like a complete pansy.  Help me.  Help me know that you've got my back, that we're in this together and no matter what, we'll get through this."

Believe it or not, this little outburst was exponentially better than what was going down a year ago, which is to say that on the crazy scale, I have come down from a 9.5 to a much more tolerable 8. At least now I can see my wrongs and am not afraid to humble myself and own them.  And I think acknowledging my crazy means that I'm much less far gone than before.  There may be hope for me yet!

Self Restraint

The other day I got a text that said this: "I was going to order two  pizzas for the party.  Do you think that will be enough?"

Pizza.  Yummo!  The only problem was that the text came from a complete stranger.  Who was apparently having a party.  WITH PIZZA! And maybe I should just text back something that says, "remind me again about the party address."

I strained and pondered about who exactly sent the text but was at a loss.  I felt bad leaving them hanging, I mean...how were they supposed to know how many pizzas to order.  The success of this party (even though I wasn't invited) rested solely on my shoulders! Maybe I should ignore it? Inquire as to who they are and then ask if I can attend said party?

"That sounds great", I responded.  *smurk*  But it really took a lot of will power, a whole lot of self restraint not to text back: "definitely not enough, order at least a dozen pizzas.  And don't forget the bread sticks, chicken wings and cinammon dippers."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Age Has A Way Of Doing That

One of the hardest things about losing your parents at a young age is that you never get the opportunity to tell them that you finally get it.  You finally get how much they love you.  You finally get how much they sacrificed for you.  You finally get how you exasperated them.  You finally get how they were looking out for your best interest.  You finally get how all those insanely unreasonable rules they set for you were in place to protect you.

Age does that to you, ya know.  Marriage teaches you the dynamics of relationships and gives you tremendous insight into your parent's marriage.  Things that didn't make sense when you were a child suddenly become understandable when you remember them through the context of your own marriage.

The same happens with parenthood.  It's hard to see certain things when you are a child but when you grow up and have your own children, it all makes sense.  It's like that old quote by Mark Twain: "When I was fourteen my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years."

I'm finally realizing how much my parents had to offer, how much wisdom they carried and how incredibly and mercifully patient they were with me.  I'm understanding the choices my mom made, some of them heartbreaking.  I'm seeing the pain she endured and I have such a growing respect for her.  I wish I could call her and say, "remember that time I..., well...I was a real jackass.  I understand your side of things now and I'm very sorry.  I finally get it."  I think that would have taken our relationship to an amazing level.

I should have been more understanding and loyal to her.  I should have simply trusted that she loved me unconditionally and was always doing things in my best interest.  But I didn't.  Because it was so much easier to fight her for control, to be right.

When I had my first baby, she came to help me out.  She was over-the-moon excited about being a grandma and wanted to help in every way possible.  I was a new, crazy hormonal mother who wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do it on my own.  When she tried to help, I fought her off and even went so far as to accuse her of not having faith in me.  I took her help as a sign that she didn't trust me to do it on my own.  Again...jackass.  Fast forward seven years and me trying to help a friend after she had a baby.  I was prepared to wash dishes, scrub floors, wipe toilets, anything to be helpful for one reason: I love her.  But she rejected me, told me to stay away, that she had things under control when it was so clearly visible that she didn't.  I had to respect her wishes but it totally broke my heart.  Because I could see how much she needed me yet I was useless because she couldn't humble herself to accept the help.

BAM.  It hit me right between the eyes.  There it was, exactly what I did to my own mom, except I was on the other side and it sucked.  I wanted so badly to call her and tell her what had happened and I even felt guilty enough that I would have given anything to hear her say "I told you so!!".

This happens to me all the time, presumably because I'm getting old and wise enough to wrap my thick skull around certain things.  Age has a way of doing that.

The most recent thing is a memory I had of my mother making a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady Of Guadalupe.  You see, she had been battling cancer the year before and had prayed and pleaded for healing so that she could see me grow up and be secure.  I was her only child and she didn't have anyone to care for me if she died.  So she did battle and claim a victory over cancer and once she felt well, we went to Mexico City where she crawled on her hands and knees along the cobblestone in front of the church, through the entrance and down the aisle to the altar where she prayed for what seemed like forever.  She prayed in thanks to God for giving her a second chance at life and vowed to devote her life to others.

She did just that, giving more of herself than seemed possible.  And did I feel thankful for her winning the battle and for her sacrifice? Did I respect that she kept her end of the bargain? Did I admire her for loving me so much? Nope.  In fact, I was resentful.  I begruged her doing so much for others and saw it as her excuse to spend less time with me.  Oh boy, I'm embarassed to even write those words because it's hard to admit that you are a selfish brat.

She never defended herself.  She never threw her hands up in frustration and say, "you ungrateful little piss ant, don't you see that I did and am doing everything for you.  I'm sacrificing and taking on burdens so that you can know me and not be without me?  Don't you see how much I love you? Don't you see that I have given up myself for the betterment of you?"  I have no idea why she never said those things.  Mostly because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself and picking fights with her to notice.  Now, my mom was far from perfect.  She could be unreasonable and difficult...like mother like daughter.  But when it comes to this, she was totally in the right. I just never saw it that way.

I'm just now understanding what she did, what she accomplished and how much she loved me.  I wish I would have embraced that love while she was still here.  I wish I could have seen past everything long enough to see the love in her eyes and for once, be engulfed by it.

That's just part of my personality, you see...to be difficult.  I have a hard time being humble, of feeling vulnerable and needy.  But I have learned my lesson.  I've learned to be softer and vulnerable to my husband and my friends, to readily accept advice and help.  And the hard one? To accept this from God.  Because there is a parallel between my relationship with my mother and my relationship with my heavenly father.  I'm defiant and difficult and selfish and can't stop thinking about myself or complaining long enough to recognize that so much has been sacrificed for me and how much I am truly loved.  There is still so much I don't understand but I'm hoping that age and wisdom will bring me closer to that understanding.  For now  I must do for my family and God what I was never able to do for my mother: to simply trust that they love me and do everything for my own best interest.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

As I Stepped Out Of The Shower

Me: "So...I shaved my legs today." *raising eyebrows up and down*
Howie: "Rawr."
Me: "It was long overdue because there was so much hair in the shower that it left a huge ring and I had to borrow your leaf blower to pile it all up and then rent a bulldozer to get it all out."
Howie: *nervous laughter*
Me: "And apparently, there was so much hair that it actually served as leg warmers because now my naked legs are FREEZING! I should have known that it was too long when I had to comb it to the side and fasten it with a bobby pin."
Howie: "Eww.   You really know how to bring on the sexy, Licha."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rau-Rau

He was here this weekend...for the first time...alone. We picked him up at 1:30 and he stayed until 6:30.

He fit in perfectly and was far from problematic.  In fact, he was better behaved than the other three!  It marked the first Saturday of the rest of his life because from now on, he will be spending his weekends with us.  The first two weeks of March he will be here for full day visits on Saturday.  The last two weekends in March he will be staying for over night visits.

In April he starts full weekend visits with his first friday-sunday visit being Easter weekend.  He'll do that for two weeks and then the 19th-25th, he'll be here the whole week.  That following weekend, the first weekend in May has been set as his official move in date, barring anything goes wrong.

So far so good.  I can't even begin to describe the feeling of picking him up and having all four of our kids in the minivan at the same time.  Let me try...It felt like when you get home from a long vacation and you finally settle in to your own bed and relax.  There was a sense of being able to relax, a feeling of completeness that made me take a long, deep, cleansing breath.

We bought a little coat rack which Howie assembled and nailed to the wall leading to our garage and when we came home, each of them put their coats on their own hook.  And then we sat down to dinner and each chair was filled.  What can I say, other than he fills the empty space in our home and in our hearts.