Dec 262009


School is out!  Sounds exciting right.  Vacation, endless fun, afternoon naps, sleeping in, no pressing commitments . . . end of Story!

But that wouldn’t be REAL Life, would it?  The honest answer is probably a mixture of fun, fighting, boredom, re-learning some “thankful” lessons, messy house, making a million snacks and enjoying the slower moments of life.

Often times I envision something a little more “Norman Rockwell” during the holidays.  Those paintings always captured the essence of the holidays:  Everyone is happy, very little complaining, the meal turns out great, the house is beautiful and clean, except for us, it’s more of a Chevy Chase “Christmas Vacation.”  Traditional food, kids flying down the stairwell in a box or bean bag, and the UPS guy blows his horn as he passes our house, watching one of the kids fall out of a tree.  Our neighbors must REALLY Love Us!!

My dad told me once that I have the “Little House on the Prairie” idealistic mentality, where I think everything should fall into place with little effort, everyone sits down for dinner together on time and so on.  When he brought this to my attention, I felt hurt, as if he had burst my “Bubble of Hope” that one day this could happen.  In retrospect, he was saving me from a life of heartache and let downs. Now that I know this about myself, I’ve made some mental changes.  Changes that prepare me for those sand traps in life that I make for myself, when I hold things to idealistic measures – built-up beliefs I’ve made in my head regarding “Mary Poppins” on Christmas Day.

Life is What it Is!  Its sort of like a house:  It’s sometimes messy and disorganized, often delightful and happy, has its occasional technical mishaps, but for the most part, we wouldn’t change it for the world.

On Christmas day, I envisioned the kids running around, playing quietly with toys, eating the cookies we made, watching movies on the couch . . .

Instead, they were skate boarding through the kitchen, while one was TRYING to play a violin, the other a piano (on disco rhythm) and the baby was being licked in the mouth by the dog.  Not what I envisioned, but that’s ok, We’re all together, happy, healthy and loving one another.  I’m Thankful.

So, now that school is out, relax, be flexible, it’s ok to let the house go for a day or two,  enjoy a little HGTV, maybe some “Mary Poppins” and let Life be What it is!  Be Thankful.

 Posted by at 1:29 am
Dec 172009


Moms work harder than anyone I know. Whether you work in or outside the home, it’s become a 24 hour job. Dishes, Laundry, School Projects, Manager Meetings, Sports Activities, Cooking . . . I can feed my 3 boys and 1 hour later, they’re starving! And those 2am wake up calls – when your child is just NOT tired and they want to share this with you or you wake up to them hovering over your face. That’s always fun!

For some reason, when the kids wake up in the middle of the night, they always come to my side of the bed to tell me they need to “go to the bathroom.” Hello! It’s rare, but even the dog knows that if he has an emergency in the middle of the night, he comes to me, dancing like a jackal, because (though he eats only dry dog food) someone who will remain nameless (my mom) felt sorry for Max and fed him a block of cheese. I’ve never seen a dog hip hop and go crazier at 2am! eh hum! Mimi is sleeping peacefully in bed, while the dog is dancing around me, hollering in a high pitched voice, as if every second counts!

So, plan something fun for you! This is a “Guilt Free” Zone; guilt is NOT Allowed. Write down the top 5 activities on your dream list: Big or small, expensive to least expensive, for a week, a day or a few hours – find time for you.

Everything has a reset button: For example, you wash the car and a week later, it needs to be cleaned out again, the pantry needs to be re-organized and the laundry has to be cleaned, and the garage – well that’s another story. As the world turns, these are the days of our lives: we need to find time for ourselves, in order to keep the “better you” at the top of the list for everyone else’s sake.

When you board a plane, the stewardess comes on the loud speaker and announces that “in case of an emergency” place the air mask on your face first, so you can assist your children. If Mama goes down, everybody’s going down. If you don’t take care of you, then who will take care your kids, your spouse, your community? If you take care of yourself first, then you are just a better version of YOU! What should we expect: Peace, contentment, happiness, patience, a better perspective.

When we live in constant chaos and busy-ness, we’re feeding something that’s gonna grow into a “Venus Fly Trap. It’s gonna eventually snap up its prey. Well, that can’t be good! But if we invest in ourselves, perhaps a weekend retreat, a one hour massage, a long drive in the car with a coffee and our favorite music, a trip to the beach, a night out with the girls, a date night with your significant other, then everyone will benefit.

If you’re really desperate, you may be thinking, a grocery store run, alone is HEAVEN. Ok, that’s pretty bad, but sometimes its the baby steps that get us walking in the right direction.

Heck, your family is probably thinking “Go, please!” Give your “Mom Membership” card a rest, go put on something that makes you feel sexy and confident; find that cute girl inside and be selfish, for the sake of those around you. Get out there and do something Fun, For YOU!!

Here’s to Adventure . . . . . and Cute Heels!

 Posted by at 2:15 am
Dec 122009
Is your mama a llama

Have you ever flown across country with your whole family, to meet someone you didn’t know?  We did, this Thanksgiving.  And this is how it all went down:

In the early 70’s, my husband was adopted by a wonderful mom and dad who couldn’t have kids of their own.  Adopted by people who gave him a great life, full of encouragement, confidence and the tools needed to be the great man that he is today.

At 36 years old, and 4 kids of his own, he began thinking about what it would be like to meet someone in this world that looked like him. Probably more curious than anything, he began a quest that would connect him with people from all over the country:  from private investigators, and Catholic Charities, to loving nuns who took a personal interest in his story.  Those nuns loved my husband so much, they called him after hours, sent emails and letters to make sure he found his birth mom.

This search, like a crossword puzzle across America, sent us to St. Paul, MN, a place neither of us had ever been.  I’m from the South, he’s from the West and with one phone call from our sources, we knew her name, address and that he had 4 sisters.  Wow!

My heart pounded for him.  I was nervous to finally have the answers. But in cool fashion, my husband took it all in stride, was neither too excited or worried, just had a subtle smile on his face.

What would they be like?  Had they wondered about him over the years?  What were the circumstances behind his adoption?  The questions were endless.  Did they know they had 4 grandchildren?

Once we discovered her name, we found more than we expected on Facebook.  It was amazing.  We discovered they had a huge family, much bigger than mine or his, which he now brags about.  One sister is a missionary in Africa, the others, quiet independent and successful in their own right.  We even found his Grandma on Facebook.

They come from a long line of Farmers, who drive huge combines, with GPS Satellite systems and laptop computers.  This was not the farming I knew, hoe-ing peas and bailing 100 acres of hay, when I was a kid.  These guys farm 20,000 acres and sell their sugar to Pepsi and Little Debbie, their Yeast to Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.  This is a smart man’s business.  They have degrees in Agricultural Engineering with Master’s in Business.  And I wanted to discuss 100 acres . . . the length of their driveway.

It was all I could do to not Facebook them and add them as a friend, but my husband had not contacted anyone, so he made me swear not to do anything crazy, just yet.

After sitting on this information for 3 months, we prayed, my husband wrote an incredible letter and with a big gulp, placed a stamp on it and dropped it in the mail.  That’s it, no turning back.  The letter started out . . . My name is John and I was born May 1973.  Whoever opened this letter would for sure, take a pause, reliving that moment, as if it were yesterday.  Waiting for a reply was grueling.  Two days seemed like two weeks, and the letter had not even arrived.  Would they be receptive of the letter?  Did the husband know?  Did the kids know?  Would this turn their world upside down?  Would it turn our lives upside down?  The questions were much longer than the answers.

Within a day of the letter arriving, the sister who was the missionary in Africa emailed to say they had known for several years and always wanted a brother.  Wow.  All guards down, they were receptive of his letter.  A couple of days later, his birth mom wrote and said “I always hoped you would find me.”  Her husband and kid’s had known.  She has 7 brothers and sisters, there are 25 cousins, many are successful farmers in North Dakota and invited us to come up for Thanksgiving to meet everyone.

Oh, Good Lord!  This was exciting news.  Really the best you could hope for.  It’s amazing how God’s timing is greater than ours.  He worked everything out for HIS glory.  Because it was Thanksgiving, many of the family members were able to attend.  One of the sisters agreed to fly in from Arizona.   We booked our flights and chatted via email for weeks, getting to know each other.  It’s funny because my husband is a quiet man, fairly reserved.  The family members had so many questions, he found himself emailing one, while face booking another and chatting with still another, all at the same time.  While he was answering questions on email, the one chatting would say:  Are you still there?  It was hilarious.  He’s never had so much attention in his life.  It was fun to see.

The mom’s husband sent an interesting email, a tale that seemed too far fetched to be real, like a story you would only see on the LifeTime network.  He began to tell us that years after living in another city, they moved back to their hometown to have their 1st child together.  They signed up for a lamaze class and turns out, across the room from the them was the birth father and his new wife who had also just moved back to their hometown. They were all 4 in lamaze class on that random Winter evening.  Uncomfortable in this awkward situation, they headed for the door. And to make matters even more unbelievable, he said the day mom went into labor, the other couple was in the hospital room next door, having their first born, on the same day!!  That’s amazing.  He said, “The entire experience made us think of you.”

Flight Day:

It was time to pack our bags, board the plane and fly to Minnesota, home of the Twins, Mall of America and cold weather in general.

4 kids, 2 adults, 8 pieces of luggage and a partridge and a pair tree.  My 6 year old announced to everyone on the plane that he was going to meet his grandma for the first time.  We had gasps from people sitting near us who thought our kids were a little old to be meeting their grandparents for the FIRST time; but after a little explanation, we were getting congratulatory offers from the crew and other travelers.

Upon arrival, it was like going to meet neighbors, people we didn’t know, but had a fondness for, until 6:30pm arrived and we were heading over to their house.  My hands were sweating.  I began video taping my husband, who thought I was going to upload it to Youtube or something; he didn’t seem to like the added pressure.  I totally understood.  Instead, I took that nervous energy and choose to remind the kids of their manners. Ok, remind . . . slash threaten them.  As we pulled up to their house, the neighbors must have known the story too, because they were standing as spectators on the street, waiting to see the reaction. Her husband, quiet the comedian, helped us all out of the car.

As we walked into the house, the mom and sisters were standing at the door waiting to give everyone a hug.  His mom’s first reaction was: “Wow, you’re tall.”  He is:  At 6. 5″ he’s very tall.  I tried to imagine what it was like to meet one’s mom for the first time or mom meeting a grown son like that.

She was very kind, accommodating and just an interesting person to be around.  It was like we had all known each other forever.  The questions he had regarding the adoption, suddenly didn’t seem to matter so much.  Everyone goes through tough times and while the reasons are private, they were validating and it was all water under the bridge.

Thanksgiving day was full of great conversations, board games, football, eating, drinking and laughing.   There were accents of all kinds, melded together that day, from Southern and Mid-Western to the International students they housed from China, Africa and other parts of the world.

The mom said a few years ago she lost her wedding her ring and her husband replaced it with a 5 diamond “mother’s ring.” She said she thought:  Ok, this represents my husband and 4 girls, until her son came into the picture; “now it represents my 5 children.”

The trip was a success.  Everyone was so welcoming.  We were even invited back.  Mom discovered she had 4 grandchildren, her only grandchildren.  She probably wasn’t prepared for that one.    She went from a mom of 4 to grandma of 4.  The kids enjoyed their new aunts and cousins, especially the older sister who chased them, took them to the park and the Holiday parade in 29 degree weather.  The kids threw around the football with an aunt and played foosball with cousins.  It was a treat for everyone.  The grandma, was spunky and fun, full of life and sharp as a tack.  She reached way up, touched my husband’s face, (her first grandchild’s face) as if she was figuring out who he looked like.  I’ve never seen such acceptance and heartfelt love.  We flew into their lives as strangers, but we left as family.

Thanks to all our Family members (old and new), you’ve invested in our hearts and enhanced our lives forever.  And for those who may be adopted, we pray that your experience is equally as great.  Celebrate Family – Wherever and however it comes!

 Posted by at 7:40 pm
Dec 082009


Run the Race Set Before You

Do you ever wake up and just feel out of whack?  Webster’s dictionary defines “out of whack” as,  well – it wasn’t in there, but the word “unbalanced” was:  and . . . well, you get the gist.  We go to work, to school, do laundry, pay the bills, pay the piper and our list never quiet gets done.  It’s a cycle of sorts, and for the person who likes to see the list complete, done, never to return again, it’s a barrel of disappointment.

Life is a cycle. It ebbs and flows.  There’s highs and lows, kids with good and bad phases, jobs that “Rock” today and “Stink” tomorrow.  Football teams that win big and lose big and this . . . Well, this is Life!

But if we understand this process in life, we’ll understand that when we’re in the Valley, the pain and character we gain from this experience will allow the next train stop to be on the Mountain.  And when we’re on the Mountain, enjoy its beauty.  There is much to learn from all areas of life.  Life is a journey.  The end of the journey is just that, the end.  Usually the planning (all the stuff in the middle – much like a jelly filled donut) is the most exciting part.  Life is not a straight a line with easy answers, but more like a curve chart of “the answer could be this, but it may be that.”

Of course, no one said you have to enjoy the low points: the boss that’s a jerk, crazy employees, sick kids, unanswered prayers and lack of appreciation for those who make sure you have clean underwear, but know that it will get better.  It’s the cycle of life.

Hebrews 12:1 says:  Since we are surrounded by witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders or entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

(Translation:  Start running and never quit)!

 Posted by at 8:10 am
Dec 012009


The 4 year old dressed himself for Church

with one tennis shoe and one Croc.  Didn’t notice until lunch.

I woke up one morning to the sound of all the kids in one room.  Turns out, they were all upstairs in the babies’ crib, where they had gotten a hold of a large Family-Sized bag of Dorito chips and busted that thing Wide open.  Everyone, including the baby was covered in ORANGE from head to toe.  They looked like little mascots for the GATORS.  They were giggling and crushing orange chips all over the place.

As I told my mom this story in frustration, she said:  Did you get a picture?  I’m like . . . a picture?  They made a mess, are you kidding?  She said:  It’s just STUFF.  It can be washed, but without a picture, it’s just a memory.  Huh!  I hadn’t thought of it that way.  I usually thought of myself, how it was more work for me to fix up, wash up and and clean up.  But if I switched gears and focused on them, it would be a funny story for later, and not so much of a downer for the kids living in the moment.

So next time you see your little one coloring their face on picture day or drawing on their bedroom wall, out of creativity and not sheer maliciousness, make a big deal out of it! Take a picture and then show them how to wash it off with Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser.  Memories are great, but a picture is worth a 1000 words.  Start clicking!

 Posted by at 1:46 am