Monday, December 24, 2012

See The Reason

Christ is the reason for the season. But, He is so much more. He is the reason for it all. Hope, Peace and Grace. He holds it in His hands and gives it freely. There is no better offer.

May you find joy this Christmas. In all that you see. Take a step back from your everyday view, and See with your soul. Look with your heart at all that you've been given and all that you are. Look closely at those you love and soak those memories down into your skin.

I hope you find purpose and joy this holiday. Merry Christmas friends.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Side Effects Of Holiday Stress

The holidays tend to level up the stress. Don't you think? Well, at least for mothers. I think we absorb all the craziness while the rest of the family kicks back and enjoys things. It's not right. Actually, it's probably ridiculous, but whatever.

All stress comes with side effects. I took inventory of mine this morning:

Child #1 spoke the forbidden words a few days ago, "I think I've changed my mind on what I want for Christmas." I swear to you, I almost full-body slammed the girl to the ground. I had to physically restrain myself. This was Clue #1 that I have reached beyond my normal level of crazy. I honestly pictured all the wrestling moves I've seen on TV in my mind and quickly figured out which ones I could use to get her to stop talking.


Two days ago, I went full-tilt crazy and bought the "miracle cleaning solution" from the boys who knocked on my door. Granted, it is a good cleaning product. I've used it before. But, you want to know why I really bought it? In the boy's sales pitch, he told me I looked like a model. I wrote a check immediately.


Yesterday, I was driving a car full of teenagers. I decided to play the 'What if...' game. So I asked them, "What would you really want to be doing tomorrow if it's the end of the world?" I was greeted with silence. Apparently, my question required deep thinking that they weren't willing to do.

So, I offered them my own Last-Day-On-Earth desire. I told them I would want to go out eating cake. A whole cake. Again, I was met with silence. Then one of the teenagers spoke quietly from the back, almost to himself, "What kind of a pathetic life would you have to have if all you want at the end of the world is to eat cake?"

Well said.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Piano Taught Me To Be

I fought having a piano for years. Why? Many reasons, all of them fairly selfish. I knew they would play it endlessly and the sound would drive me crazy. That, and they take violin lessons. We are violinists, not pianists, darn it! These are the main reasons, silly, I know.

Child #2 has begged for a piano for so long, I can't even remember when she started. Probably the very day she began playing the violin. Several months ago, she took matters into her own hands and decided to teach herself. On my childhood piano at my mom's house. She picked a popular song and sat, and sat, and sat until she worked out the notes. Now when she plays this song, it's lovely.

So, I went against all the demands that I have previously made, and ushered the piano in. I moved furniture, I rearranged, I made a special place for this musical instrument that I have long deterred. It arrived 2 weeks ago.

And, you know? They do play it endlessly. And it does drive me crazy. But, I'm holding my mouth shut and letting them enjoy. It's a very un-like thing for me to do. Patience is something I rarely attempt.

And then. Oh, and then. The other night, I turned the corner of the room and found Child #1 sitting down to sing while Child #2 played. Time became still and the moment felt reverent. I simply watched and memorized each second. I wanted to take the memory and wrap it tight around my skin. It felt that perfect.

But perfection rarely lasts long. Within a minute it was over and done. Everyone stood and moved on to other things. Probably the continuation of an argument. But, I held the moment. I still do.

This is the season for a frenzied pace. More so than regular life. Often times, there isn't a whole lot we can do to turn it all down a notch. Gifts still have to be bought, errands run and Christmas cards won't mail themselves. But amongst all the Doing, we can find a lot of Being. Peace can come amisdt the crazy. We simply need to Be in the moment. To grasp the Quiet and the Still when they arrive unexpected. And when they do, just Be. Hold the moment and let it fill your Being. It just might make you come alive.

You may not need a piano to find your silent night. Or, maybe you do. Regardless, may you find what your soul is looking for. It's around the corner, sitting on a bench, singing along with sweet music.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Something To Think About

I've been summoned. To jury duty. I am not excited. Not in the least. The only bright side I can find, is the $6 I will receive for my efforts. That's more than I make all year.

I've looked over my juror information. I'm not allowed to bring "mace, tasers, weapons, tools or sharp objects (including knitting needles, crochet hooks and knives)." Um, really? Because normally, I carry a knife and a taser on my person.

I've thought about googling what I need to do to be in contempt of court. Why? Then I could sit somewhere and read without having to make dinner for anyone. I might even call it a jail-cation.


My New Year's resolution has been made. I'm going to betroth my kids. Honestly. I looked around at everyone a few weeks ago, and I realized that Fosters are hard to handle. Maybe even impossible. So, pre-arranged marriages might be the only way to go.


I bought myself some skinny jeans. I can't decide if someone over the age of 40 is even allowed to wear skinny jeans. When I put them on, I have an image in my head of shoving a turkey into a denim jacket. A 40 year old turkey.


2 nights ago, it occurred to me that if our house was on fire, I would grab my Kindle first. I'm sure I would scream for Todd to get the kids, but then I would grab my can't-ever-live-without book reader. You can live without a house, but you can not live without books. Amen.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Baby Is 10

When she was born, I knew she was the last. Knowing that made a difference. I held her more, smelled her newborn cheeks, kissed tiny toes. I was experienced enough to know those moments were fleeting. So I tried to hold on to them tighter.

Now she is 10. She's more independent at this age than the others were. Maybe that comes with being Child #3. 10 feels different than 9. I no longer have any children in a single digit age. That makes me feel like time is quicker than I thought it was.

But this day, I look at this girl, and I smile. She is all sorts of Foster Crazy. But, we all are. She is also sweet and giving and loves with a fierceness that captures you whole. I adore her.

Happy Birthday my Addie Bean.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Have A Great Idea

At least a third of the stress in my life begins with a phone call from my sister. As soon as the words, "I have a great idea!" leave her mouth, I know it's all downhill. I think I should start screening my calls.

Great Idea #348: She buys gingerbread houses that need to be assembled at my house. I'm so not OK with this idea.

Part of the problem usually occurs when my Child #2 is involved. She looks sweet, but she has a habit of creating mayhem. Case in point, she took the lid off the sprinkles and handed The. Full. Bottle to the Angel Baby.

Let it be noted that as soon as the houses were made, my sister headed home and left me to clean up her Good Idea. My vacuum is going to barf up blue sprinkles for at least a year.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving My Thanks

Vacations are fickle things. They're unpredictable. You plan, you pack, you expect. The results are often a mix between the good and the bad. But then, there are those rare occasions, where a vacation brings life into silence, and something extraordinary settles in.

We had just that kind of Thanksgiving. The kind that created forever memories. The kind you want to hold and keep and never forget.

Cousins played in waves and water slides, stories were shared, games were played and laughter was a constant. Even the teenager was happy. For 3 solid days. That speaks volumes.

We toured through Christmas lights in Grapevine, Texas. The kids wore matching pajamas and danced to holiday music. I stood back and soaked it all into my skin. It was breathtaking to watch and it felt like magic. You can't buy those kinds of memories, they're just organic all on their own. And for that, I offer my greatest thanks.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Spy. The Foster Edition.

I've come to realize that I have an aversion to most all stores this time of year. It's so crowded and crazy, I can't stand it. Thus, I've resorted to buying online. Much quieter shopping.

The FedEx man has been to my door quite often lately, and I have noticed 2 things:

One- it's really not nice to make anyone wear polyester shorts. It's really not. Why can't they wear something more comfy? Like yoga pants?

Two- I have the best marketing idea ever. Hire Channing Tatum or Ryan Lochte to deliver the packages. Women all over America would double their orders. I myself would order something every other day. Just seeing Channing Tatum in polyester shorts, standing at my door, would make me pay the $30 for overnight shipping. I'm telling you, it's a great idea.


Walmart Fashion Tip #238: If you're a well-endowed woman, never, ever, and I mean ever, wear a shirt that has the words, 'Juice PLUS', written across your chest. I kid you not, you should think twice before wearing it in public.


The Husband was propositioned by a "Lady of the Evening". True Story. He was in Vegas last week for work, and was asked if he wanted his frown turned upside down. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, The Husband started laughing hysterically. I'm pretty sure that's not the kind of response she usually gets. Maybe she even wrote it down in her journal as a first. Todd can now scratch this item off his bucket list.


The Teenager woke up this morning at 8:00 am. The moment she appeared in my doorway and I glanced at the clock, I started screaming that it's the end of the world. Once I finished, she asked for money and the car. I hope the end comes quick, because I'm seriously running out of cash.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Picture That Speaks Words

This is what happens when the Foster's take family pictures. Straight craziness.
Who knew that you could use Sam's hair to make a mustache?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Lesson From John Wayne

I grew up with a Dad who spoke of John Wayne as royalty. There was reverence in the air when the western star was the topic. Any John Wayne movie or Ben Hur rolled on a constant stream in our house. Throw in a serious amount of sports and some Rambo movies, and that was my childhood. Might explain why I'm slightly unhinged.

I tend to have a soft spot for John Wayne. Not because I like him, but solely because my Dad did. As a kid, I couldn't stand when westerns played on the TV. But now my ears tend to perk up when the movie star is mentioned. It's like I can't help it, it's just ingrained into my DNA.

So, imagine my surprise when I stumbled onto a John Wayne quote the other day that pretty much sums up my life. I may have even gasped. I believe my dad was probably looking over my shoulder when I read it and silently said, "I told you so."

You know how some lessons are so painful, you can't speak of them until the dust has settled? Mr. Wayne taught me that kind of lesson. They're the kind I really don't like.

Here goes:

Almost 2 months ago, before the Homecoming dance, we were on a hunt for a dress. A modest one. You can't imagine how difficult that is to find. It's ridiculous.

I found a website that offered lots of different dresses, all with great prices. We ordered 2 with the thought we would return whichever one Sam didn't like. I paid $30 for 5-day shipping.

5 days came and went. No dresses.
I log on to the website and notice that these dresses won't even arrive until AFTER the date of the Homecoming dance. I'm irritated and I cancel the dress order.

I spend 4 solid days in a mad dash to find a new dress. By the time Sam is ready for the dance, I want to scratch my eyes out and cry. But alas, she went and had "an OK time".

The FedEx man shows up at my door the next day with a box containing the 2 dresses I ordered online. I tell the man to keep the box because I canceled my order. He smiles and drives away taking the dresses with him.

Are you still with me? Nice story. This is where it gets interesting...

FedEx then starts calling The Husband explaining that the dress company won't take the order back. The Husband then proceeds to spend days, hours, excruciating minutes talking back and forth between our bank, FedEx and the stupid dress company.

Days pass. We still don't have anything to show for the $300 we spent on dresses.

We ponder.

We decide that we might as well keep the dresses if the company refuses to return them. Sam can eventually wear them. The Husband calls FedEx and tells them he will come pick up the package.

The. Very. Next. Day. The Husband drives all the way to Canada (almost, but not quite) to the FedEx office to pick up the $300 worth of dresses. Woman at the desk tells him he can't have the package. "Why?" he asks. She responds, "We destroyed the package yesterday at 4:30 pm."

Did you catch that? De-stroyed! Todd was speechless.

So, here's the lesson from John Wayne. Are you ready?
"Life's tough. Even tougher if you're stupid."

Well said.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Hallo Of The Ween

When you think about it, Halloween is a funny holiday. You spend loads of money that you need to be using to buy groceries, to buy candy instead. Then you give it away only to send your kids out to bring back more, half of which you secretly throw away. When you step back and look at it, it doesn't really make much sense. Right?

At our house, Halloween happened to coincidence with 'Treat Your Mom Like Crap Day'. I wish someone would have given me a heads up on that one. Because let me tell you, that made for an extra special holiday.

Not one of my kids dressed up. It made me sad. I even threatened they couldn't go trick-or-treating if they didn't fake some kind of costume. They didn't even bat an eye, they just ignored me and headed out for candy. The oldest went to her friend's house because I think she is allergic to her family. Good times all around.

Thankfully, my sister was kind enough to birth twin goodness 4 years ago so that I could have little people to celebrate with.

Who knew that Asian Owls were the cutest things on the planet. And they let me hold their hand door-to-door and didn't roll their eyes at me once or look at me like I'm a moron. The perfect treat on Halloween. I think I'll ask them to wear their costumes again today.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


We collectively claim them. After all, they are Ours. My sister can't possibly think she gets them all to herself. Because she doesn't.

About 3 years ago, I noticed that whenever one of my kids drew a picture of our family, it included the twins. They feel like they have always been a part of Us. These babies have seeped into the skin of this family and settled for keeps. Just the way we like it.

Today they are 4.
And today we celebrate that they are the gift that keeps on giving.
Happy Birthday our Keags and Rys.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Homecoming Is Like Christmas

It's stress and money. That's how Homecoming is like Christmas. Epiphany, no? Because, let me tell you, I stressed. And I spent money. The only thing absent from the whole event was the wrapping paper.

Within a 5 day period, I was at the mall for 3 of them. Shopping, returning, hunting for the right jacket, returning some more. At first, I started keeping track of the number of stores I was going to. On day 2, I hit store #19, and I stopped counting. It made by brain hurt.

But then, on Saturday, she walked down the stairs, hair done, dress perfect. And it really was like Christmas. For me.

Friday, October 5, 2012

She Drives

She is now an official driver. One I can send to the store to fetch me stuff. Like Reese's Cups.

As she drove us home on the freeway and moved in and out of lanes, she said, "Wow. It's just like a cross country meet....But with cars."


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Turning Tide

She calls them 'pasta parties'. They have become a weekly ritual for the cross country team. They gather together a day or two before a meet, and they eat noodles. Apparently "carbs" are good for athletes. When I pointed out that cookies contain just as many "carbs" as pasta, she gave me an eye roll. I'm actually used to those.

Last night I knew she had plans for pasta with her friends. But, I made spaghetti anyway. I think subconsciously I hoped she'd stay. Noodles here or noodles there are just the same, right? No. I knew that. But in a weird way, I hoped I was wrong.

Because I look at her now, and realize the more she steps out the door, the sooner she is off on her own for good. That part of my brain that has always screamed, "Hurry and grow up so I can have some peace and quiet!", doesn't shout as loudly anymore. There are times where I don't even like that voice at all.

The deepest part of my heart seems to whisper, "Please don't ever go away". I can't always hear that whisper. Living with teenagers just doesn't allow for that. But it's there. And every now and then, when she rushes out the door with friends, that whisper is all I can hear.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Find The Funny

I sat in a waiting room this week. That's it's own special kind of torture. At the exact moment I realized I was the only individual under the age of 70 in the room, everyone started talking about their pets. Like names, ages, all that good stuff. For reals. Iphones were passed around so we could all look at pictures.

After the pictures, came the advice. All eyes trained on me because again, I'm under the age of 70. I was first told that I need a dog. That just made me choke on my saliva. Even when I insisted that my kids are too lazy for a dog, I was reassured that a pet would teach them responsibility (not even a miracle from heaven could do that). One woman told me to make sure I'm not my children's friend. "Be their mother!", she stated. She even shook her finger to make her point. That was the moment I started giggling. Honest to goodness giggling.

The craziness continued right into my car where I turned on the radio to hear a guy describe his drunk driving episode with a lisp. My giggling turned into full blown hysterics. Have you ever heard someone explain a DUI with a lisp? I have no words. When I didn't think I could laugh anymore, the interviewer asked the man to say, "Sally sells seashells by the seashore." I started crying and hyperventilating at the same time.

Later that night, after dinner, my sister relayed that her 4 yr. old was telling my kids about her class guinea pig. When she told them that he's black, Child #3 said calmly, "We shouldn't say he's black. We should say he's African American." And just like that, with the visual of an African American guinea pig, I'm undone. I honestly can't handle the funniness. I have to bend over double just to hold it all in. I'm laughing so hard, I'm sweating. I'm either really pathetic, or my life is just crazy on all levels. It's probably a whole lot of both.

Find the funny. That's the goal. My life can't possibly be the only one this ridiculous. Right?

Friday, September 21, 2012

He Carries

For as long as I can remember, fear has been a part of my life. Fear and Worry. For me, those two words just blend into one another. I'm always worried, and in general, always afraid. I don't know why. I tend to think it's just the way I'm wired. But dang, don't you wish some days that you could change your wiring?

I'm a "What if..." kind of girl. I think everything through. I over-analyze. My brain categorizes what amount of fear to assign. Weird, but true. I lay in bed at night and re-work the worry again. Fear has been around me so long, it's now become my sidekick. I wear it like an accessory.

We all have that thing, that one thing (or two, or four), that's always with us. That thing we keep hidden from everyone else. We often try not to even acknowledge it, because we're afraid of giving it a voice. It may be fear, or it could be complacency. What if a lack of fear is equivalent to having too much of it? What if your thing is never feeling good enough? Or even thinking that no amount of you will ever measure up?

We are all carrying something. Aren't we? We all are plowing through despite what tries to hold us back. Big or small, heavy or light. We all carry. No one is immune. And just because the load you hold doesn't look like mine, doesn't make it any easier. We all carry.

But just this morning I had a thought. It's Christ centered. And I had this fear, because that's what I do. "What if I offend someone because I talked about Jesus?" But then my heart immediately responded, "What if you offend Jesus because you don't talk about Him enough?" Well said.

So, here's the thought-- the Lord carries with us. He takes that thing, that one, or four, we are carrying, and He holds it with us. He stands beside and lifts the heavy end of it. The fear, the worry, the hardness of our way does not dissipate, it does not disappear. It simple becomes easier to hold.

What if I looked at fear and worry not as something that owns me and surrounds me like a second skin? What if I looked at it through the Lord's eyes? Maybe He would whisper, "You are good enough. Now. Today. Just as you are, flaws and all. I will help you carry your burdens." If He can whisper that to me, then He definitely will whisper it to you. We just have to be still enough to hear it.

Whatever you carry. Let Him hold it with you. It just may make all the difference.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

For Today

There is nothing in my life that this smile can't cure. It is infectious. So, for today, channel your inner Riley. Against all odds, find joy. Look into the quiet folds of your life and smile. No matter the obstacle, no matter the challenge, this day, this very day, is a gift. Find happiness in it's hours and smile along the way.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sweet 16

She has been 16 for over 48 hours. I'm still not used to it. Yesterday I found myself looking at her more closely. She seems older, more independent. Maybe it's just my heart that sees her that way, I'm not sure.

This age, this birthday, feels different. I can't put my finger on the specifics, I just seem aware of it. It's like some invisible milestone has been reached, and now she has stepped over into territory that carves out her own path. One that stretches her farther away from me. Maybe that's the part that is hard to acknowledge. That simultaneous fear and joy of your child making their own way. All on their own.

She is such an amazing and inspiring young woman. Truly.

Happy Sweet 16 my Samantha.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

We Begin Again

Cross Country season has started. Have I mentioned that we live in Texas where it's still 400 degrees outside? Mmm hmm. It's awesome. It's that time of year when I get down on my knees and plead with this daughter of mine to switch to an indoor sport. Like table tennis.

I have considered pulling my car right up onto the field and just watching her with binoculars. That wouldn't be weird, would it?

Maybe I'll suggest the Chess Team. Or, maybe even Ping Pong. Are there competitive sewing teams? I'm totally going to look into that.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

So Far

The Sophomore announced yesterday that she is considering becoming a high school drop-out. School has been in session for only 3 days. Three. I asked her for a reason. "I don't like people". Sugar sweet, that girl. She gets her surliness from her dad.


I need a new car. I can't afford one, but I need one. Like, yesterday. I really, really want a Smart Car. It can only hold the driver and one other person. One! I would hold a daily contest to see which child was the nicest and that's who would get a ride. Hands down, I bet my kids learn to speed walk to school.


I told The Husband that I wanted a fern. My exact words : "You know, a small, little fern." I even used hand motions to indicate how small. I'm fairly certain I also talked real slow. This is what he came home with:
I wanted a plant to sit on the kitchen counter. Supposedly, Todd never heard the word 'small' (still not sure how he missed the hand motions). This is just more proof that no one in this house listens to me. I don't even know why I bother talking. I'm just going to go sit in my Smart Car.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hyperventilate On Happiness

You really can't appreciate silence until it arrives. I want to gather it all up and bathe in it. I had forgotten what an empty house feels like. Now I remember and oh, how I've missed it.

I honestly think mothers deserve some kind of an award on the 1st day of school. Some large, gold emblem that proves you made it through the summer and didn't harm anyone (too badly). It should just appear on your doorstep that first school day. Like the manna from heaven in the Bible. Except, I want mine to be shiny so I can wear it. Too much?

I'm trying to catch up on all I couldn't do while the children were here. You know, stuff like sitting. All by myself. With no one demanding I entertain them or break up a fight. Sitting is hard work. I may just have to take a nap too.

Happy new school year everyone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

For You

5 years. In a marriage, that's a celebration year. But, what is it when you have missed someone that long? Lived without them present in your every day? I'm not quite sure what you do with that. 5 years feels like some kind of a hallmark. But my mind can't really decipher it.

Grief and Sadness are strange things. Time seems to be the only balm to coat it's edges. When you so desperately miss someone, Time feels slow and cruel. There is no walking around it, only through it.

I've come to understand a lot in the last 5 years. Well, as far as Grief goes. In the beginning, it's all consuming. Time seems to slowly gather it in and tuck it away, only to be unleashed in unannounced visits. The heart ache never disappears. I really don't think it's supposed to. Soul-born love doesn't work that way.

This is the saddest day of the year for me. Not his birthday. Not Father's Day. This day. This ordinary August day. The one 5 years ago that slowed my world and forced it onto a different path. One not of my choosing.

But in the Sad, even within it's darkest depths, there has always been a light. At times, it's been hard to see it. At others, it's so blinding it makes me smile. When you hold Love and Grief together, I guess that's what happens.

My dad would want me to smile today. To chase away the Sad. To look at his grandkids and let them they are cherished. To tell a joke. To Remember Who You Are. And to know, with unwavering faith, that he is here, no matter the distance.

So, for today. I will smile.

And I will remember.

For you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Random And A Little Whine

Survival. That's all I'm doing. It's all I have been doing for weeks. The end of summer seems to suck away all my brain cells. I'm not kidding. I think they leak out of my ears at night.

I can barely recall what we have been doing for the last 2 weeks. I guess that's what happens when you only have half your brain left. I know I took my kids to the mall for school shopping. That event is seriously burned into my memory. Like a nightmare. An hour in to it all I decided that they should have liquid Valium in cups waiting for you at every mall entrance. Even if they charged $1,000 dollars for each cup, I'd pay. Actually, I'd give them a kid in exchange.

We made taffy. For the 4th year in a row. And, for the 4th time, it didn't turn out. I've decided that the failure is now our tradition. But the upside? It stays so gooey, it's easier to eat. Or to let the Angel Baby make a mess with it.

We had a party at my mom's house. A birthday party. For the house. In case you're wondering, her house is 22. It's an odd tradition we have celebrate for as long as I can remember. It strangely brings me quiet joy.

Child #1 turns 16 in a few weeks. I'm slightly freaked out about it. And truthfully, I rarely get freaked out. Stressed, yes. But not freaked out. The reality of her driving away with her friends or on a date, just does weird things to my mind. Actually, it pulls at my heart quite a lot.

I have 1 week until school starts. I don't know how many more brain cells I can afford to lose. A lot can happen in a week. Especially around here. Just a few days ago, Child #2 discovered she can fart on command. She beamed with pride when she demonstrated. I simply closed my eyes and wished I was the kind of person that had access to hard liquor.

Maybe I'll go back to the mall and search for some liquid Valium. A lot of it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hakuna Matata

Every now and then, when I least expect it, love, friendship and family comes together all at once.

There are times where I plan, coordinate and try to force family time to happen. It rarely turns out well and never like I intended. I don't know why that is. It's as if family memories want to surface naturally. Maybe that's how real memories are made. No planning. Just Being.

I guess we did set the date and pay for the tickets. But that simply set the stage. The rest, the really great parts, took care of themselves. Add in a lot of singing and dinner with the people I cherish most, and the day felt like unexpected magic. One to remember.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

By The Very Definition

It's Sisters Day. A Foster-Mandated Holiday. In truth, it's the day I made a tradition years ago so that these girls could look at each other at least one day a year and try to be grateful for sisters. To date, I don't think they've caught my vision. But yet, I persevere and require some form of love to be shown on this day. Annoying, but true.

Keeping in theme with the day, make sure you tell your sister you love her. I told my sister she reminded me of a hillbilly. I'm fairly certain she could sense my love all the way across the room. I can be sensitive and tender like that.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

While I'm Away

The last time I left them alone, I came home to a large container full of very hard, very thick play dough. The explanation was, "We were trying to make a cloud."

Today I was gone a mere 1.5 hours. The moment I stepped through the door, I was informed, "Hey, we made a bubble." To my initial horror, I thought that I would find large amounts of bubble solution everywhere. Instead, I found this:

A bed sheet, tape and a room fan. Put it all together, and you have a bubble. At least, the Foster variety.

Add in a couple of Foster kids and 1 Angel Baby, and this becomes a rather ingenious way to spend the day. No clouds or play dough required.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Only In Small Doses

As a general rule, I try to only take out 1 or 2 of my Foster Children at a time. Unleashing them all together in public is just too overwhelming. To hold my humiliation to a moderate level, I even out the playing field in the number of my kids I take with me.

But there are the rare moments where I lose my sense of self preservation and I focus solely on my time constraints. That's when I lose my grip on reality and I let my kids loose all at once. It never ends well. I'm telling you.

#1 and #2 needed physicals. My rational brain told me to schedule them on different days and different times. My practical brain won out and I scheduled them both together. Mistake #1.

Wanna know Mistake #2? Letting them speak. Because once they did, I couldn't hold them back. I begged them to act normal, but they didn't listen. Vision results, height status, weight on the scale, all became a heated competition. The nurse stared at the scene mutely. Every so often his wide eyes would look to me and I would just shrug my shoulders. That's my usual response to outsiders who are alarmed by any and all Foster behavior.

I'm wondering if there is any kind of an etiquette school I could enroll them in. They just aren't listening when I tell them that you can't burp and fart in front of other people. Do they even teach that kind of thing? Maybe most normal kids already know how to behave. Somehow I have a sinking feeling that my kids are far, so far, from normal. But hey, at least they have good eye sight.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Where My Heart Lives

Home. 4 letters, 1 simple noun. Defining it is easy. Describing it, a bit more complex. But to search for where it lives, is a whole other matter. It's hard. Maybe it's supposed to be. Home lives differently for each person. Figuring out where it lives for you can feel daunting.

For the first few years that we lived in Texas, I often wondered about Home. I lived here, but still felt like I belonged there. I felt like I was living without an anchor. Home carries a feeling, and I couldn't seem to make that feeling move to the same state my house and family were in.

I think I kept waiting for some ground breaking feeling to tell me that Home had arrived here. Weird, I know. Or maybe I subconsciously thought that Texas would feel more attached to me somehow. I honestly don't know what I was waiting for.

For the first time in 5 years, we decided to travel backwards. We went back to where we used to live. We went back to the place we once called Home. It was very surreal.

Getting a chance to see those we love, but have missed, felt like breathing in fresh air. Having a moment to see the mountains and wear bare feet on soft grass felt like awakening sweet memories.

Once our trip was over and we were on our journey back to our regular life, I had a chance to think a lot about Home. The one I have here, and the one I have there. I realized that somewhere along the 5 year path, my heart figured out what my brain could not. Home lives in many places, all at once. It doesn't have to be confined to a house or restricted to a state. Home lives in your heart, whose boundaries are endless.

Home, for me, now feels here. The feeling arrived without fanfare. It has just quietly surfaced. This is where it's grounded. This is where it finds comfort. But parts of me, parts of my Home, will always be far away. Home is not abandoned for one place or the next. It simply lingers more softly once you no longer live next door to it.

I think I shall try to cherish Home more. In all it's locations. I've come to see that Home is a gift. One given and received no matter where I live. Embrace the Home where you are.

Monday, July 9, 2012

58 Hours

Road trips do something crazy to your brain. It slowly eats it away. Like a parasite. It almost feels like the longer you are in the car with your kids, the more your brain cells implode and wash away.

We have traveled from Texas to Utah and back (and many places in between). We have spent 58 hours in the car together. That's 3,480 minutes. No one should be together that much within such a confined space. It's not natural.

By hour 54 I started to feel uber-crazy. All family structure came to a screeching halt and I may (or may not) have yelled. A lot. I considered lighting myself on fire just so I could stop the pain of it all. I traded that thought for eating my body weight in fried food.

Now that we are home, I think I might need a recovery program. Preferably one that doesn't involve me getting into a car. I'm willing to walk. My kids are way to lazy to follow me. That fact alone makes me happy. That may just be my mode of transportation for the next week.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Flaws and Forever

There are times when I hear other mothers tell stories of their children. How they love each other. How well they play together. How cherished family time is. And it's at these moments when I assume these mothers must be lying. There is no other explanation. How could there possibly be a home where siblings liked each other? It's such a foreign concept, it makes my head spin.

But then, there are days, where they fight and whine and rebel at the cruelty of having to breathe the same air as their sister. And when those days come, in the dark corners of my mind I wonder what I've done wrong. Against my better judgement, I think about those mothers whose children get along and never scream, "You're such an idiot!".

Sibling craziness is such a constant, its become the norm. Sad but true. So imagine my surprise when I picked up a pile of discarded papers, ready to put them in the trash.

I don't know which child wrote it or why. It was simply jumbled in a pile that no longer held the interest of the writer. But for me, the deepest kind of resonance came with just 4 simple words.

We tend to save our worst behavior for those we love the most. It's the strangest of ironies. Maybe unconditional love comes attached with exposing our whole selves. Not just the good parts, but the ugly ones too. Forever is a long time, so we settle in, flaws and all. Along the way, I think we forget that those we love are our reason to live.

So, with that knowledge, my mother eyes have started to soften. I'm not as quick to recall stories of perfect children behaving in perfect families. Instead, I'm starting to see that love is learned. It makes mistakes and whispers harsh words, but it never, ever wavers in its strength. It's real, flaws and all. And whether it's written on notebook paper or said loud enough to hear, Sister's Are Forever.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cool Moms Make Rainbows

For 45 minutes, my kids thought I was cool. That's the longest amount of time they have liked me in years. All it took was a white cake mix and food coloring. If I had known that this would make them so happy, I would have done it ages ago.

We baked our rainbow cake in jars. Somehow that made me even cooler. Once cooled and topped with frosting, rainbows are all sorts of delicious. And boring moms transform into all sorts of awesome.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Flying Time and a 13

It feels like summer started months ago. In reality, it's only been a few weeks. Time has flown away from me.

We had a dance recital:

Being the baby of the family has it's pro's and con's. Most of the time, being Child #3 simply means I've run out of energy and money by the time I reach her. A dance recital finally gave her time and space to call her own. We cheered like wild monkeys. It was awesome.

The most noteworthy event of late, I went to Girl's Camp with Girls #1 and #2. Again.:

After last year, I swore, swore, I would NEVER go again. That promise worked out real well. Why does camping always coexist with sweating and singing? Why? I have decided that I am now allergic to camp songs. I'm serious.

I now have a 2nd teenager. Kellie turned 13 today:

When this girl arrived on the scene, she broke the mold I had created as a mother. She shattered it to bits. Everything I thought I knew, every motherhood habit I had formed, no longer worked. This special girl forced me to become a new kind of mother. One that thinks and looks differently at the world. She built me from scratch and stretched me beyond what I thought I could handle. I owe so much of who I am to this daughter of mine. She truly is One Of A Kind. Happy Birthday.

I need some rest. Maybe a bit of silence as well. Do you know where I can find some?

Monday, June 4, 2012

The After Shocks

They follow me. Everywhere. Now that school is out, they somehow have the desire to be wherever I am. It's crazy. Why are they following me?

Often they ask me questions like, "Hey, did you shave your arm pits today?" (true story). They have the incessant need to inform me when they're bored. They deliver their statement as an accusation, as if I'm at fault for their boredom. That one has gone beyond irritating.

Grocery shopping has become the Best. Experience. Ever. They are thorough in their quest to point out every single item that all the other mothers in the world buy, except for theirs. The injustice of not having Pop Tarts in our pantry leads them to madness. It's fun to watch. Even better to live through.

My house is trashed and every drinking cup we own has been used within the first 5 hours of the day. Apparently I'm a mean mom because I won't buy them snow cones every day, and when I forced them to go to the library with me they asked, "What would we even do there?" (another true story).

I used to be good at this. At least I think I did. I can't really remember a time when I had it all together, but I'm sure there was a moment or two, or four. I wish I could recollect what I did then. Maybe I used to regularly buy Pop Tarts and snow cones. And I'm really hoping there was a time that my kids actually knew that books could be found in a library. I'm crossing my fingers on that one.

Just so you know, it's Day 4 of Summer. Seriously. Day! 4!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Status

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous. I keep repeating in my head, "Please don't make me do it, please don't make me do it...." Somehow I keep telling myself that if I concentrate hard enough, I'll figure out a way to make the summer days delightful. I like trying to trick myself like that.

The teenager got out of school early. Seriously. Um, why? Apparently there are ways to be exempt from finals. Again, I repeat. Um, why? She's home and this is where she will be for the next 87 days (don't even wonder if I've counted the days):

When I told her I needed to vacuum this morning she got 100 shades of crazy. She was irritated she couldn't hear the TV. When I was her age, I had a summer job. Why doesn't she have one? Why? Deep down I'm pretty sure that's my fault, but I'm not going to think about it. She is going to babysit for my sister once a week for 3 hours. The teenager thinks this qualifies as a job. 3 hours a week. Obviously Todd and I like to teach our kids how to be delusional. It's funny. Or not.

I'm trying to soak in the last few moments of serenity. When I think about the end being near, I start to hyperventilate. So, for now, I think I'll stop thinking. M' kay?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

When My Judgement Falters

The teenager asked if she could invite her teenager friends over for a party. Me, the adult, the one with a brain and a college degree, said yes.

A shaving cream war. Enough said.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Unexpected Gift

It's been one of those weeks. The kind where you can't catch your breath. The tasks feel endless and time rationed to miniscule amounts. I know you can relate. This is what happens when everything begins to wind down before summer.

Amidst the crazy, I happened to open a set of scriptures I used in high school. It was a random act thrown in between rushing here while needing to be there.

I discovered a set of notes from my dad. All piled neatly together and tucked inside thin pages. My heart stilled and my soul calmed. And for the briefest of moments, I didn't dare breathe.

There was love. Written in a handwriting I would recognize anywhere. A random note card, a piece of paper, the back of his business card. Simple words once left for me. It felt like I was holding heaven.

Life has a way of reminding you what truly matters. Let us be still and use our eyes to see those we cherish most. Hold love in your hands and let it soak deep in your soul. Set the world aside and embrace the unexpected gifts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How She Shines

My oldest child tends to stand in the spotlight. She's the first, so it just naturally shines on her. She is comfortable there. In fact, I think she is successful because of it. We tend to pay attention to those kinds of people. The ones who stand with confidence in that spotlight. They grab it and make it their own. It's just their way.

But then there are those who avoid that light. It makes them nervous. Or, they just simply don't like it. They are the ones we often lose sight of because they thrive on their own.

Daughter #2 stands behind the oldest. She is caught in the middle of the family order. I think she likes it there. Not the first and not the last. Just perfect in between. This girl of mine doesn't like the spotlight. She does everything she can to avoid it. She likes to fade into the normal.

But yet, she is worthy of that spotlight. Every golden ray of it. This learning disabled girl made National Junior Honors Society. That's no small accomplishment. In her world, it's record breaking. And she did it without fanfare, without honor's classes or teacher praise. She did it without a spotlight.

I've come to realize that this girl carries her own light. It doesn't shine down on her, it simply glows from within. She carries it wherever she goes. And there are moments, like when she walks on a stage to receive a hard earned award, that I feel as if her glow could light up the world. She is truly that bright. All on her own. No spotlight required.