Monday, November 24, 2014

It's Monday Afterall

Kids are off school for the whole week for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I still have to work, at least Monday. I was woken to kids singing along to Sponge Bob.  I pull myself out of bed WAY earlier than I wanted to.  Went to turn on the shower and there were only dropletts.  Go to make coffee...right, no water.  Call the hubby for instructions on how to fix the water pump. I grabbed a broom handle, went outside to the water pump, removed the power plate covered which was covered with ants that proceeded to attack my hand.  I take the stick and tried to get the unit to hit a spark.  It finally fries off millions of ants and I claim victory.  I begin to walk inside where the boys are plotting their first run of the morning on the newly reconstructed Go-kart.  I have to remind them for the ten millionth time not to flip it or run into any moving vehicles.  I proceed to walk in where I'm greeted by Ava wearing a myriad of mix-matched clothes and tell her to keep it simple and put on "jeans".  She doesn't know what "jeans" mean (the things we take for granted).  I go and show her what jeans are and she throws a tantrum that they won't fit. I pull all the button adjusters inside until the pants could fit around my wrist and sure enough, they fit her now. I proceed to go and make coffee again but realize the dogs weren't taken out.  Sponge Bob is still blasting and I realize that this is Monday afterall.  Here's to a better day ahead...sigh!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

IT Happened

When you adopt internationally you learn about all of the possible things you could be faced with once you get home with your child.  Remember, many of these kids spent their entire short lives in an institution and have had no prior training on how to be part of a real family.  Most of their issues and behavior are explained in depth by the agency in order to prepare you.  You also learn from other people who have adopted, adoption classses and the ever so popular internet.  Most of what we learned have indeed happened and some things didn't.  So far we have experienced all of these things with Ava since we brought her home two years ago:

  1. Reluctant to listen and very strong willed.  Uses manipulation to get what she wants (from day 1)
  2. Has to be in charge ALL of the time (from day 1 but getting a little better)
  3. Very sassy.  She always has to say something in reaction to what you're asking her to do or roll her eyes to show her discontent.
  4. Would not eat and for the first year she would make herself vomit.
  5. Preferred Dad over Mom (very normal since these kids never had a father figure)
  6. Can't sit still in school and was and still is hypervigilant (meaning if there was drama in the classroom her attention went right to that action versus staying focused on her stuff)
  7. Was very tidy in the beginning and now the extreme opposite (orphanage was all about routine)
  8. Will interrupt just about anyone so she could be heard and she would talk random jibberish to keep the conversation going and the attention on her...always with adults.
  9. Preferred being with adults.  She doesn't think of herself as a child.
  10. She lies often and doesn't understand why it's wrong to do that.  She also has a hard time following/remembering rules.
AND the number #11 item that finally presented itself just yesterday...she stole and hid from me.  She went into my cosmetics, took a cosmetic bag and filled it with my makeup.  She hid it in her closet and proceeded to put makeup on before school. When I asked her where she got the makeup she said that "it just appeared because she is turning into a witch".   I then asked her again and she said that someone gave it to her at school.  I then asked her again and I asked her not to lie this time because it's a sin, she told me she took it out of my bathroom.  Usually when I can't find Ava, she's in my bathroom getting into my cosmetics.  I have to constantly remind her that she is not allowed in there.  Then just recently several items went missing and I chalked it up to leaving it in the hotel when I traveled for work.

Adoption is not for the soft at heart.  It's tough love and you cannot treat the adopted child like the child you birthed.  This is the hardest lesson for my husband.  I had done so much research and online classes before we adopted and he didn't.  He thinks if you just love the child, they will become a loving child.  Don't get me wrong, they need a whole lot of love but they also need very tight guardrails or else they will slip into their dark past of self reliance and manipulation.  

All and all Ava has come a long way.  Like any child they will fight for what they want but the adopted child will fight ten times harder.  The only thing they know is to trust no one and self reliance will save them.  Besides, their mother rejected them and in Ava's case, her mother rejected her more than once.  Just the other day Ava revealed more to me about the last time she saw her mother.  Word got out that we were on our way to get her.  The mother went by the orphanage and collected all that she could from the few things that Ava had in her little cubby.  Ava told me how she was holding a little toy purse with some toys in it when her mother went to leave and the mother took it away from her.  So not only did this women break her heart but she took every item that this kid ever owned.  This is the stuff that makes trust such a difficult thing with these kids.

People often say that I am too hard on Ava but little do they know how complicated the situation is.  They have no idea how much these kids crave direction and structure.  I know Ava knows I love her and I know she knows that this is the way to becoming a responsible and caring adult down the road.  There's no easy way around it.  They have to know and respect the structure of the family and that we have rules for a reason.  Birth children learn and follow suit from the time they are babies.  Adopted children who come into your life a little later, have to catch up and that makes it a lot more difficult for them.

With that said, we are making progress.  I'm happy that she finally revealed #11 to me because now I know it's over and we can keep moving toward being just a normal American girl.

Here's an early picture of her from the orphanage days:
 Here she is in the first day of pre-school a few months of being home.  Notice how she looks at the other kids and wonders how she will fit in:


  A year later and she couldn't be happier:


Monday, November 17, 2014

It's All About That Faith, Bout that Faith...No Trouble.

When I set out to write this blog I chose not to write about my religious and political beliefs.  Like everyone else, I certainly have them but didn't want to push my ideas on anyone else.  I also didn't want to sound to preachy and promised to just speak from the heart.  I read a lot of different blogs and the ones that really inspire me are the ones that speak honesty about life experiences.  Strange things have happened in my life where they were truly little pinches from God, reminding me to wake up and be aware of all the beauty that surrounds me.  To remind me that this day will never happen again and to cherish the joyous moments that we have together.   This weekend my baby sister organized a long weekend with just the sisters in my family.  Five of us who live relatively close all got together at the beach.  It was a glorious weekend filled with laughter, eating, dancing and singing.  All of the things you could do with sisters and not really anyone else. I brought my oldest daughter Lydia with us and she really got a kick out of what sisterhood is all about.  There we were enjoying some wine, two of us singing to old Billy Joel tunes while my other sister was in constant breastfeeding mode with her newborn, and the other two cheering us on.  We stayed up late and had to force ourselves to get to bed or else we would've stayed up all night.  This is what I want for my kids.  I see how the world is and I see how people behave and it makes me sad.  So many times we're let down by friends and find that it's really hard to trust anyone.  Strings are usually attached and one bad move, the relationship can be over.  This was one of the main reasons we chose to adopt a sister for my daughter.  Women need other women and sisters will always be there for each other.  Brothers are the same way too.  Of course like any relationship, it takes some work and a whole lot of forgiveness.

This weekend really reminded me that all of our life experiences are how we choose to create them.  Yes, we get little pushes from above but for the most part we have to decide with who, what, where and when we want to share them with.  Sharing our stories from the past reminded me of all the times we were challenged by our faith and where we needed to let go and let faith take over.  All of those lessons got us to where we are today.  Amazingly we're all in tact, healthy and happy but it would have never happened if we didn't trust God and each other.  Thanksgiving is just a few short weeks away and to me, it's about be thankful for the faith that we all have had to get us through stuff and to this wonderful place.  Sure, some not so great things have happened along the way but we picked ourselves up and only got closer because of it.  Society today doesn't celebrate the family.  Many families dread holidays like this because they have to tolerate each other during their time spent together.  I think that is so sad and such a missed opportunity.  One day it will be too late to make a change for the better.  I challenge people to embrace their family and trust that love conquers all.  Give people a chance instead of judging or being critical.  Step out and believe that we're all going after the same things for our lives and for our families and that is love and happiness.  Believing it can be better and different is what faith is all about.  Isn't it?

A picture from Thanksgiving last year...


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Wish for the World

I think every person on this planet has a perspective. I think everyone has strong beliefs, and nobody else has to like it, but we do have to respect it.  I think everyone wishes that their voice would be heard. I personally don't care who hears me and who doesn't but I do have wishes none-the-less. It would be great if we all took time to reflect and create our own personal 'wish list' before the holidays begin.  Here's mine (but it may change as time goes on):

You matter
What you say matters.  You will make change in something or someone in some way.
Stand up for something.
Respect what others believe or say, but if you think it's important...stand up.
Practice using your voice.
I was so afraid my voice would fail me and people would judge me.
It wasn't until I hit my forties that I started to believe that I had a voice after all.
Don't follow the crowd, because "they" are just following the crowd.
Listen.  Just stop and listen.  It's amazing what you'll learn and the bond that you will create.
Stop.  Look around.  Gain perspective first before you act or say.
Feed your body and soul only nourishing images, thoughts and food.  You are what you eat.
Surround yourself with loving people, always.
Surround yourself with people that truly care and that want nothing more than just to know you.
Make time for your kids, each minute with them is an eternity into who they will become.
Don't believe everything someone tells you.  Be your own judge.
Trust.  God has a plan and he will remind you often that it's not your plan.
Embrace nature and other beings.  You can learn so much and become more patient.
Don't put material things ahead of what's most important, and you know what they are.
Open your eyes.  One day they will go dark and in that moment, you'll wish a lifetime for one more day.
Simplify your life.  Stuff just doesn't matter in the end.
Love as much as you can.  Even if you can't say it all the time, your actions will.
Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Most people have kind hearts but get tripped up along the way.
Rest and rejuvenate.  Tomorrow's another day and it will always be better.
Be gracious and show appreciation always.
It's better to be humble than to be pompous.
Know that you are doing the best that you can do and that's all you can do.

That's all I have right now but I know I will continue to think about my "wish list".  If we only knew how short our time here on earth is, I think we would do things a whole lot differently.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Wrath of the Candy Wrappers

It's been 11 days since Halloween and my house has been littered with candy wrappers EVERYWHERE!  Some kids get it, some kids don't.  All I can say is that everyday I sweep up at least 30 candy wrappers. Don't get me wrong.  Many times my kids are not guilty because it could be the friends passing through, grabbing candy in pure excitement.

Every night I lecture to my kids why it's important not to litter, especially inside one's home or in neighbor's yards (sorry Ted and Jamie).  And this is why I think Halloween is "for the birds".  That and all the costume boxes sprawled all over my garage.  Kid constantly changing their mind as to "what they're going to be for Halloween" from September 1st until October 30th.  Christmas isn't much better.  Wrapping paper everywhere, boxes ripped open with no meaning (and you pray you don't have to return anything because these toys and packaging are virtually impossible to reassemble).  Don't get me wrong, when October 31st is over and when December 25th is over and everyone is tucked in their beds, I'm thrilled that everyone is happy. I'm just glad they had a fabulous time and I can put life back together.  I really love both holidays but panic a few weeks before at the chaos I'm about to experience.  Believe me, I do love these holidays and I will certainly miss the chaos when they're all grown up.  I just want to make sure that they enjoy these holidays responsibly and don't get too crazy with excitement.  Halloween is really All Saints day but to kids it still fits nicely into their definition of Halloween...celebrating those who have passed.  Christmas is a little easier for kids to understand as it really is about the birth of Jesus...up until December 24th, until we finish midnight mass...really up until 5:45am...That's the time when the parents get woken up painfully early so the wrath of present opening can begin.  Yes, they waited all year for these wonderful holidays but it gets a bit chaotic.  Every year I suck it up, not to upset the spirit of the season but I'm usually perplexed at the amount of trash that these holidays produce.  Just sayin...

I gave the kids a deadline tonight.  If the candy is not gone by the eve of Thanksgiving, the goblins are coming to take it all back. I have already made the investments in the Dentists and the landfills because of this stuff and I'm ready to move on to the next big trash day.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Taking Things and Others for Granted

Do ever say to yourself that "I'm not going to take anything for granted today" and try and go through the day REALLY appreciating everything?  It's really hard to do because by the end of the day you've forgotten to stay focused on the most important thing, which is the one thing that got sent to the back burner.  I have these moments with my family where I say, "man, I wish I could just freeze today and life was always this way".  Then, a kid will start an argument with another and I end up sending kids to time out.  It's only when I'm travelling I can really look back and appreciate all of those moments without the everyday interruptions.

This weekend my brothers and sisters ran a 5K together and then we went camping with the kids.  It was lovely.  The kids ran and played with each other and the parents shared stories of growing up and recipes we recently made that they had to try.  I love moments like this because these people, your siblings, know you better than anyone...probably better than your parents.  They have invested decades in all of your ups and downs and you have done the same with them.  My mom came from a family of seven kids and I came from a family of twelve.  My mom's siblings are starting to pass I think there may be only four of them left.  I unfortunately lost two of my siblings when I was in my twenties and it was horrific and it changed the way my other siblings and I approached life from that point on.  I think about relationships everyday and my siblings are the ones that keep me going. They keep me honest and remind me of who I was, and who I am.  They tell me what I need to continue doing to be a good parent to my kids and when to get grounded again.  Their kids keep my kids in check.  I can't rely on other kids to do that.  We practice a similar faith and know that there's no way we can go at this life alone.  What a gift.  I'm thankful for that gift everyday.  We all have struggles at some point and I couldn't imagine not having my family to fall back on.

The Holidays are approaching and all of the conversations have begun.  Who's bringing what for Thanksgiving?...how long is everyone staying at Mom's?...What is everyone bringing for our big Friday "Fry Fest"? and when can we all get together to make Christmas cookies?.   My kids are always asking to spend time with their cousins, who luckily live close by.  I know it's a gift and I try to stay present when we're all together.  I know my kids will cherish all of these memories someday.  So, when people ask me why do you have so many kids?  I usually respond that I did it for them...so they always had a network.  Friends come and go but family is there for a lifetime.  You can mess things up now and then, but family will be the ones to make it right again.  It's that simple.  My siblings are my best friends.  A week or day doesn't go by that we're not in constant contact.  It's the constant stitching and mending of the quilt.  I know a lot of my friends have similar experiences with their families and cherish that time they have with them.  I think that's why I love Thanksgiving so much.  We all come together because we want to and to stop and really appreciate that we are not taking each other or these moments for granted.




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Time Keeps on Slipping into the Future

I wrestle with this every single day. Time passes so quickly and you suddenly realize that your little ones are no longer little.  Last night Trevor found my You Tube channel which doesn't have much of anything, just a couple of videos.  He stumbled across the picture of his umbilical cord tied in a perfect knot and was so proud.

This then lead to the video I did about his first year in life and how he survived against all odds.  It wasn't even about the cord as much as it was my ability to have a successful pregnancy.  His brother, Matthew, was a stillborn baby born at 25 weeks which happened a year before we conceived Trevor.  Now Trevor is nine and it's so hard to grasp how fast it has flown and how incredible this little boy is.  I'll never forget when I was pregnant with him my acupuncture doctor, from China and a true healer, kept assuring me that he would make it, unlike his brother.  He kept saying "this child will do great things". A day never goes by that I'm not thankful for him and all of my five children.

The last couple of weeks I have been going through all of the kids old toys and clothes and sending them to Goodwill.  It's as if that short chapter of childhood is leaving us with each toy that leaves our nest. It makes me a little sad with each and every item but then I think, I may get all this clutter under control at last.  Christmas is another reminder of our kids getting older.  It becomes less and less about the toys for them, which is kind of nice but I fear the day when the kids sleep in and don't come running to wake us at five in the morning to see what Santa brought.  My older friends assure me that the kids growing up and fleeting the nest is enjoyable and gives you so much more time for the things you want to do.  That little always says in response, "but I don't want to do anything else!  I want my kids to stay little!!".  I guess we all wrestle with this in different ways.  I make deals with myself saying I'm going to be a better mother and I'm going to make more time to spend with each one and I'm going to tell them every day how much I love them.  It may not happen like that but I do think about each of those always.  I guess it goes back to the struggle of being "human".  We have so many interruptions and things that happen throughout our days to blur what's really important.  How many of us truly stop, reflect and thank God for all that we have?  Okay...that will be my next blog post!

Here's a little flower that my littlest boy, Blake brought to me yesterday after school as I was working in my office.  He just gave it to me and said, "Mommy, I love you so much".  Keep these moments close to your heart all!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween is Upon Us

It's happening...two days until Halloween and all is a buzz in our household.  All of the boxes from the attic are down and costumes and decrepit decorations are spread throughout the garage and kitchen. In a matter of five minutes the seven year old has changed his mind seven times as to what he wants to be for trick-or-treating.  The good news is that after my three year plea of not buying costumes, I think it has finally stuck with these kids.  All except for Ava.  She squeezes in the occasional "when are we going to buy my Elsa dress for Halloween?" and I tell her that we are going to be creative this year and make our own Elsa costume.  She doesn't complain but looks a little confused.  As of today, she's going as a "good witch" since I have no idea how to make her look like Elsa.  It all came crashing back to me when I read this blog post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jacqueline-wilson/halloween-for-kids-in-the-70s-vs-halloween-today_b_5932076.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000037

Back in the day, we NEVER bought costumes.  In fact, growing up in upstate New York, you were forced to be really creative incorporating your snowsuit into a costume.  A princess just never seemed to work.  I'll never forget counting the minutes and seconds till the last bell rang at school and we rushed home to get ready.  My Mom would always make us eat a bowl of her famous Halloween chili when all we could think about was juicy fruits packing and pulling at our silver fillings.  It would be pitch dark outside, the smell of burning leaves, a stiff chill in the air and the glow of Jack-o-lanterns on every front porch.  I just loved the smell of burning pumpkins as I would run up to our neighbor's front doors.  Then, when we could go no further, when every house had been picked and every light started to dim, we would head home to count our loot.  My brothers and sisters would study the bag full and study the bag empty.  It was the big dump to the floor where we drew boundaries with our pillow cases or tootsie rolls.  My Mom would collect the apples with pennies jammed inside which would be the makings of the next night's apple crisp for dessert.  The candy trading would soon begin and the hot commodity was Razzle Dazzles (root beer), licorice gum and Reeces cups.  Never did we get full size candy bars but we did get the occasional small paper bag filled with candy corn and hard candy which always warmed my heart.  Somehow we made it to our beds with teeth brushed and the sound of howling owls outside.  I have to say that we may not have the snowsuits and the vintage candy of the past but our neighborhood is able to replicate 80% of what we experienced back when.  I really think that my kids, homemade costumes and all, will have similar memories and tell similar stories to their kids someday.  As much as I dread the rush of pulling a costume together and calming the craziness of my little gremlins, when they're off, running down the street with their buddies while holding their mask in place, I just have to smile and be glad that they're still kids and they can experience the thrill that I once felt.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Furbies are Evil!!!

It's been almost 11 months since Christmas has come and gone and the only toys that remain intact and aren't broken or in some landfill somewhere are...the Furbies.  What the heck was Santa thinking?!  Do you know that there are no off switches on these little Gizmos??!!  Really!?  I think whoever invented these things were trying to get back at their parents.  The non-stop interruptions in the middle of the night got these guys got moved [permanently] to my office closet.  I was curious if they were still "alive" tonight.  I ventured to open the closet door and look!!!
This is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.  They just never shut up!!!  I can't throw them away or else the under 8 crowd will throw a fit.  So, here they live, in my closet, keeping each other company.  I'm sure they're saying not very nice things about me and I really don't care.  What's worse is when I'm on a conference call and they suddenly break out into song...people are like, "is there a party at your house or something?"...nope, just a bunch of freakin' Furbies in my closet trying to ruin me.

In other news, today was the big progress report day.  Oh joy!  The top 4 brought home fabulous reports and even the middle boy pointed out that he over achieved with a 12 out of 8 in reading.  Way to go!  Now, the youngest did NOT bring me that same sort of excitement.  Just a quick reminder, she's repeating Kindergarten for the second time.  This is what her progress report looked like:

I wasn't entirely shocked by this.  I have had many meetings with Ava's teachers and we're working very hard to get her an IEP.  Unfortunately, it can take up to two years.  All I hear is that Ava is "so cute" and that she "tries to charm everyone with her personality".  Today I asked Ava, "Is it better to be cute and liked or to be smart?" ...her response was, you guessed it, "cute and liked".  I had to explain to her that you will go so much further in your life if you achieve academic excellence (in a way that she would understand).  This is so foreign to me because I was never 'that girl'.  I didn't even know that was an option until I hit high school.  I just pray we get this IEP sooner than later.  I called the county...again and shared my feelings about this process.

I'm not really sure if other adopted kids use their charm the way that Ava does.  Everyone is always telling me how "charming" she is and so "candid and sweet".  She is, and that's great, but she's realizing that it doesn't really get you good grades.  Wish us luck, tough love and tutoring ahead!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

"When You Tug At a Single Thing In Nature, You Will Find It Attached to the Rest of the World"

-Quote by John Muir-
I may sound a little obsessed with Tiffany Shlain but I finally watched her film, "Connected" tonight.  Not really sure when she produced it but it was moving, none-the-less (especially for someone like me who doesn't go to movies or watch TV).  In fact, I'm going to make my kids watch it because it captures so much history on why "we humans" have this never ending need to connect and how that has changed how we're designed.  She explained why technology has changed so much the way we live and our desire is driven by the chemical our brains release when we make these connections.  This is no big secret but she artfully tied it back to the Da Vinci's (?) theory on how humans behave and how they will "evolve" in the future.  There was a theory that if honey bees ceased to exist the human race would be extinct within four years.  She clearly explained why this holds true.

I would like to expand on the title of her film by calling it "Connect with What and Who Matter Most".  I really think that's where she was ultimately going.  She weaved in her Dad's death throughout and shared his wisdom so beautifully.  I struggle with this concept EVERYDAY.  I work hard, but that's relative.  I work from home so I'm not getting up super early to shower and brave the crazy traffic on a daily basis.  I get to pack my kids' lunch and kiss them goodbye as they ride their bikes to the bus stop.  I get to take walks through my wonderful neighborhood full of nature and wonder. I'm grateful for that.  I'm home when they walk through the door and though I don't have fresh baked chocolate chip cookies everyday, I do a lot of the time.  I struggle because I know everything she said holds true.  I know what she was going through when she talked about losing someone close and losing your babies...over and over again.  I still deal with that on a daily basis but I'm grateful for the short time I had with each of them.  My Mom always says that all of the babies I lost would run to hug me when I go to heaven (given I do...lol).  That's really the only hope that gets me through those loses. I blame myself for 'doing this and not doing that'.  The fact is, I have a terminal illness that I will always struggle with.  It's not like cancer but if all of my medications I take on a daily basis would go away and I didn't have access to them, I would only last a year or two.

I think we get so desensitized by the news.  I try and tell my husband that those images are not healthy for him and if the kids hear or see any of it, it "changes them".  He just sees it as "life as we know it" and accepts it as "normal".  Is it really?  I don't accept all of that hate and those visuals of people hurting others.  I don't believe that's how we all got here.  I think we all got here because ultimately we need each other to survive.  There, I said it.  I love how Tiffany shared that a four minute hug gives us the brain stimulus we need each day to survive.  If we all chose to live differently, life could be so much more fulfilling.  Choosing to disconnect is what I strive for so I can be more present for my family and friends.  I want to be "all ears" when they tell me their story or when they're hurting about something.  We've trained ourselves to "not care" which puzzles me in so many ways.  Why wouldn't we care about each other? our neighbors, friends and families?  I hear stories about someone's mother who is struggling with cancer but she tells the story as if it's the latest tweet on her phone...no emotion, no remorse for not being there, no feeling. For me, I just want to be a better human, connected to everyone and open to their story.  Mine can wait.  I like my story.  I wish a lot of it didn't happen but it did, and I am who I am because of it.  So, with that said, if you ever have a day where you don't know how to fill it, watch "Connected".  If you don't walk away feeling a sense of ownership to this world that we live...you need to take a long, deep look into yourself to figure out your role in this life.  We all make a difference, if we decide to.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Connected

I'm a late bloomer and I also don't follow conventional films,shows and newspapers. In the last week I've been blown away by a film maker named Tiffany Shlain (watching her YouTube videos...can you tell?). Everything she writes and her own life experiences are so much like mine that I'm drawn to her work. I'm dying to see her film called "Connected". I guess it came out a few years ago but since I'm just "catching on" I figured it would be worth watching this weekend when Scott and the kids go camping. This time is usually held sacred to no devices or media in any way, except for my Sister Hazel playlist. If it doesn't get bumped off Scott's Netflix playlist, I'm sure it will be a treat. Here's a little Tedx talk from Tiffany.


I had no idea she shared a similar journey with miscarriages either (she had 5). I too went through a period that death is all around us and life is incredibly fragile. I still believe that it is, which is why I pump my kids up with healthy home cooked meals each day loaded with all things if they knew about them, would probably not eat them, BUT it's my job to give them the best start. Anyway...CONNECTED. This word keeps me up at night. Look around at all your friends and friends of friends and you can tell pretty quickly who is really connected to the things that matter...to their spouse, to their kids. Tiffany doesn't really go too deep into this with the idea of connections but it really intrigues me. I'm not one to judge but I do believe that that families that are tightly connected have less issues with their kids and much more success with big life experiences. I don't have a magical formula and it's not what you can give them from a monetary or a material standpoint. Yet this is how most people live, all the time.  My own kids are guilty of this too, don't get me wrong.  I think it's impossible to be totally immune to all the "stuff".  They know what's important and deep down, they know how I feel about "stuff".  I guess I just get frustrated by certain things.  Right now, I just want to make sure my kids grow up "right".  I'm always asking them about what they're feeling, if they're happy or sad.  I don't really care if my needs are met but I think they are.  I'm healthy, I still sing each day and walk with my ugly weights.  My kids still give me kisses, share their ideas and I know exactly what to pack for their lunch each day.  They have great souls and will do great things.  Just gotta keep them on the right track.  The time will come for all of us when we will have to ask ourselves some tough, real questions like, were we really present for our kids?  Did we feel that we were whole heartily connected to them?  Were the connections we made with others, meaningful?  How will you feel when it's time to leave this earth?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We Are What We See...and Believe

My new hero is Tiffany Shlain. I think we were separated at birth because she is the first person that I can totally relate to about the world and how I see things...and don't see things. Again, I choose not to watch TV and I haven't been to a movie in years. People think I'm crazy but simply put, I do not like to fill my brain with negative images. That's it. Tiffany's video will explain it further but the more we consume our lives in the negative, horrific stories from around the world, the less fulfilled and happy our lives will feel. I choose to believe that most humans are pretty awesome. Yes, I have little patience for bad drivers especially our beloved snow bird tourist drivers in Orlando. I want my reality to be consumed with positive visuals, of my kids laughing, experiencing joy, the unique sunset each day and the beauty of nature I am so privileged to experience each and every day. My husband, once again, thinks I'm crazy because I don't share his passion for the ongoing noise from the TV. Anyway, here's a great video, again from Tiffany Shlain. She's my hero.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Get Ready to Unconnect with the Technology Shabbat Challenge

Many of you know, I hardly ever watch TV. The most I'll watch is as I'm passing by our family room which usually has the TLC channel blaring. I love this video about taking a Technology Shabbat. For 24 hours the family celebrates no screen time and just enjoys spending time with each other. I think half of my family will be on board but there are select few that will find this extremely difficult. So much of our precious time is wasted on technology. We're bombarded with messages and distractions all day long. This ongoing stress ultimately erodes at our peace of mind and our chance to experience true happiness. I challenge all 6 of those following my blog to try this for a few weeks and see what happens. I know I'm going to do it!

You Can Move Mountains

I saw this video about "How Wolves Change Rivers". It's a very inspiring short film and will give you a lot of inspiration. Watch it now to see what I mean: So, my thinking is if wolves can change rivers, we can move mountains. Not necessarily in the literal sense, although we can certainly influence a change that big but from a willingness to change. I hear stories all of the time how someone's life continues to have failures. I know that many times, it's not the person's fault but much of our life is in our control. If we truly want to make change happen, it must be a willingness that we find from within. I'm typically the type of person where there is no task too large and that every dream is attainable. I fall down and get scraped up but usually get right back into the game. As human beings, we have an incredible power to make things happen for our mind, bodies and spiritual life. Once we decide that it's up to us to make the change, life tends to look a whole lot brighter.

I'm a Dreamer

I figured it out. I'm a dreamer. I was raised a dreamer. My siblings are dreamers. My parents are dreamers. Is that so bad? I just realized this. I love to watch human dynamics and interactions. My husband is always positive and optimistic but he's not a dreamer. He's also not very confident. It's not an insult but he'll always see things in a positive light but won't believe in something he's truly good at or something he's doing. Dreamers. That name always conjurs up something negative but to me, it's about believing there'something more, something so awesome but not necessary attainable. I don't think "dreamers" should be punished for believing they could do something or want something better. If I wasn't a "dreamer" I would never have moved to New York and would have never pushed myself to succeed. I think, as a parent, that's really hard is when you see your kids' dreams come alive and someone squashed them with words. That makes me sad. I think all dreams should be shared if they want to. I think it's okay to have ideas whether you act on them or not. This took me a long time to realize but I think this is what gets me up each day. I see my kids and hear their ideas. I never say, "that's impossible", or "that's stupid", I usually probe to see where they're going with the idea. Most ideas from kids are just ideas, that's what adults don't understand. Kids have this unbelievable survival skill and creativity. Maybe it's about hope and having dreams that may seem unattainable, gets us through each day. I hope my kids keep dreaming and keep those creative thoughts alive.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall

Though it feels more like Spring right now in Florida, it's very hard to tell the difference between seasons. They say that it's cold up north but down here we get to enjoy 70 degree weather and breezy cool days. I'm not sure why but every Fall my body picks up on the cues that Mother nature sends. I really don't do anything different in my routine but for some reason I want to go to bed earlier and sleep later. I automatically gain 5 pounds that I lost back in May and all I want to do is lounge around listening to the Free falling acoustic station on Pandora. Although I would love to see some leaves changing and smell that wonderful smell of a neighbor burning their leaves, it just doesn't happen down here. Still, I don't think I would change it for anything. I love where we live and love that my kids are thriving. I can do away with those everyday surprises, like my son who shot a duck with his BB gun five minutes before leaving for his Lacrosse game or buying a remote control helicopter for my son's Birthday gift to only break on the first day that he played with it. By the way, has anyone been able to keep a remote control anything longer than a week without breaking? Though I thought I got smart about saving the receipt, box and bag, after 2-3 times returning the same broken toy, you kind of have to give up. Little by little, I'm going through the rooms and getting rid of broken, unloved toys. Though it makes me sad to see their childhood slowly disappearing with each toy that heads to Goodwill, I celebrate the simplicity of the empty room. Besides, they rarely realize the toys are gone and it makes cleaning their rooms so much easier. No worries, I don't get rid of everything...just those toys that don't seem to have a place any more or is broken beyond saving. Back to my Fall blues, I will say that I do miss all the real pumpkin patches and apple picking activities that were a big part of our Fall weekends up North. One day, before they get too old, I'll make the journey to the Georgia mountains so they have a taste of what Fall is all about.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's all about the Love

I can talk about this ALL day long. Everything we do, everything we say, every act we make is all based on a decision to love or not love. Our life is a result of every decision we've ever made. This world is made up of people, good and bad, making choices to create the reality that we live. All it takes is for someone to reach deep inside and really look at themselves and figure out what's working and what's not working. Make a change. If you choose to hate and talk bad about someone or try to convince another person that another person is bad...that is not love. If you don't genuinely give another person the time or respect when they're in your presence...that is not love. If you choose to feed yourself the negative news and images that others share with you...that is not love. How do we feed our soul and our bodies with only those things that will promote love and happiness? How do we make sure that our kids share the same values? When you think about it, there are so many forces against us all. How do we keep these waves of hatred and mean spiritedness away from ourselves and the ones we love? For me, I know my faith plays a big role and the values I was taught as a child. I know from lessons learned throughout my life and watching what happens when I don't choose love. This seems like such a hard concept for most people when really, it's very easy. Life is about choosing the direction you want to go. If you choose love, then you will always prevail. Please watch this video to see what I mean:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Choices

Life is all about choices. If you look at every memory, every aspect of your life it was based on the choices you made or that your parents made for you as a child. My cousin is a huge advocate of this kind of parenting. She tells me that every conversation should be based on "choices". You ask the child, "so, why did you choose to not to turn in your homework?" and "by choosing not to complete your homework the result will be bad for your grades". It makes a lot of sense. If everything is truly about choices then we as individuals begin to take responsibility for our actions and realize the result of our choices more clearly. As much as I fought this concept with my cousin, as days go by it has become more apparent that she's on to something. Just thinking about that moment when we face "the big guy", I could imagine that he'll ask choice based questions, like "why did you choose to run away when you were 12?". Okay, I ran away for 20 minutes in my little John boat but what kid doesn't have that moment? Every single day of our lives we're faced with choices like, am I going to work out? What will I make for dinner? Will I be a good witch or the bad witch when I deal with people today. I can argue that every single thing we do is based on a choice...everything. Someone might say, what about illness? I never chose to get sick. I guess this can be true. Some of the healthiest people I know get sick and it's not their fault. What about accidents? You can argue that if that had not made the choice to go somewhere or make a turn when they did, things would have turned out different. The idea of "choice" is enough for us to stop and think about when it comes to everything we do. When I'm problem solving with my kids, I always remind them that they "chose" to take a particular step which got them to where they are. Ultimately, everything we have ever experienced can be traced back to a simple choice...a choice that may have had a lot of thought or not much at all. It was a choice none-the-less that got you to "here". I would love to look at a gant or flow chart from someone's life that demonstrates the path that brought them to the place they are now. I think a chart like that would bring a lot of clarity to people and to help them make better choices for their lives in the future. At least it would bring a lot of awareness into the process of choosing. I don't have all the answers but if you really think about it, my cousin is really brilliant. Every day we're faced with a million simple and complex choices that ultimately shape us and make us who we are. It's all the more reason we need to be there for our kids, provide a good foundation so they can make the best choices as a teens and adults. I think the missing link in this whole game of life is that we feel removed from our choices and that we don't take responsibility for our choices. As they say in many college courses and corporate America..."dumb it down". If you boil it all down...it is indeed about the choices you make.

Things I Wish I Thought Of...

I picked up this LTD Commodities catalog today and flipped through it. I would normally throw this type of junk mail out but I was intriqued by all of the really cool products and gadgets that I found in there. I only wish that I was the one who thought of these nifty things. Take a looksy!



Monday, September 22, 2014

Stick to the Things You're Good At

...and cutting hair isn't one of them. With three boys we typically alternate hair cuts. They'll get a professional cut at Great Clips and then the following haircut, I'll do it. I've been following this schedule for years and it seems to work and save us a little money. One thing I failed to believe is cutting hair after a glass of wine. Not only did I mess up three of the boys hair...I mean, really bad,my daughter was in tears for messing up the waxing of her eye brows. It's incredible how one glass of wine can really mess up your judgement. None the less, they'll move on and forgive me and I promise to cut hair only when I'm sober from now on. Aside from the dramatic close to our weekend with tears coming from everyone, I decided to change the name of my blog one more time. It's not that anyone is reading it anyway so I like to change it up as I see fit. Again, the main reason I'm blogging is to keep a running journal of the kids as they grow up so I won't forget later on. Scott is gearing up to switch jobs again. I might have mentioned that in a previous post. He'll be selling cremation services which is a topic most people would rather put on the back burner until they have to make a decision. This would be pre-paid cremations with the idea of planning ahead so your loved ones don't have to make that call. I have ideas to help him with marketing but I somehow need to find the free time between my job and kids. Life is pretty hectic but I really can't complain too much.

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