Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oops, DA Bears...

I am not into football. I really don't care who plays, who wins, or who loses.
My family, however, feels differently.

I was not home for the kickoff of the Bears/Packers game today, but when I came home, I realized I should have stayed away longer.

At one point my 6 year old son says, "Bubba, why isn't Notre Dame playing today?"
Bubba: "They are college."
Tom: "Oh, and college doesn't do football?"

That's about how I feel. I know the difference between college and pro ball. I just don't care.

I don't really get all the hype. I took a nap.

I woke up to "UGH! The Bears LOST!"
Ah, well.

So we know that Packers are going to the Superbowl. I won't care about that either.
I will be miles and miles away from home, spending a wonderful weekend with my second daughter, Jen, in Oregon. My family will be watching football, cheering the Pack (for my son-in-law!), but Jenni and I intend to be soaking in the hot springs, eating out at fancy restaurants, and loving being together. Sooooo much more important than football. I don't care what team you are talking about!

I am trying to get kids settled into bedtime routines, but they are playing football in the livingroom. The floors are shaking, the walls are closing in, and I just heard Mike say, "Anyone whos last name begins with a "C" needs to get ready for bed now."

I repeat, "Kids, it's bedtime. Football is over."
Bella, giggling, said, "It's not football mom. It's college."

Maybe with that spirit all of them will go on to higher education.
But for tonight, football is over. The TV is mine now. All the kiddos are going to bed.

Sigh. Oregon is looking better and better every day.

Sorry Bears. Maybe next year. However, I don't believe it will mean anymore to me then either.

Friday, January 21, 2011



My kids each got at least one new game for Christmas this year. They are doing a good job of sharing them, and they are even taking pretty decent care of them. It makes a mother proud. (grin)

When I was headed to bed last night, I noticed one of the games on the diningroom table, and the little monkey pieces were scattered across the room. I stooped to pick up the tiny, brown, curled-tail game pieces, thinking about how many games we play in our grown up lives.

We dance around sensitive issues with friends. We see things in their lives that disturb us, and at best, determine that our choices will be different. We want to be honest, but sometimes honesty (although the best policy, still)breaks the playing board in half, scattering games pieces (pieces of our heart)across the room. It is sad, and no matter how hard we try, damage is done, sometimes irreparable.

At this time of my life, I have friends who are facing aging parents, retirement years and tragic illnesses. There are funerals of older folks (who were ready to go) and younger folks (who had no business dying so young). We have played the game of life, some scoring big rewards for their labors, and some left holding the cards that had somehow scattered across the floor when they turned their heads. The game of life moves quickly, there is really no "get out of jail free" card. We don't really get the last spin of the wheel. When the game is over, it's too late.

Heavy thoughts like these accompany as I climb the old stairway to my room. I ask myself again, in this game of life, where am I? Obviously, I am not just now jumping off on the first square of life, because even when I don't look closely, I see and feel the wear and tear on my "game piece." I may be mid-turn sliding on the slippery chute or rolling the dice to see if it's my turn to climb the ladder. What awaits me at the top of that ladder, or who is waiting at the bottom of that slide?

A game.

My husband comes to bed, snuggles beside me and says, "Our Meredith wants to be a mom when she grows up."

"Yeah? What prompted that?"

He tells me how she had picked out a sherrif set at the dollar store, complete with gun, holster, and a badge. It was the last thing she was playing with at bedtime, so he asked her if she was going to be a sherrif when she grew up. He was ready to talk about how awesome it would be to catch the bad guy, or help someone who needed assistance. She got out of bed, put her badge on her dresser, and said, "Nah. I want to be a mom. I want to get married and have kids. Yep, that's what I'm gonna do."

Mere' is opening the box to her Game of Life. She's starting to pick out the pieces, just now beginning to play the game. What will her future hold?

I will not be here to see her every move, or watch as she places one piece in front of the other as she moves around the board. Maybe she will make choices that takes her to the BIG finish proudly, or maybe she will choose a path that will have bumps in the road and she'll wish she had another turn.

We all get one life. One game. I pray that when I round the corner of my game board world, and the top closes, my game will stand out as a good one. One that leaves my children proud. One that made a difference in the broad scheme of life.

One that someone else will say, "I'd like to play that game that she was playing."

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." John 11:25,26

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Since my children did not have school, we were able to watch the wonderful, and stirring speech, "I have a Dream!"

By last night, I was more than ready to put my 7 to bed, and get some peace and quiet. At six this morning my hubby gently brushed my hand to tell me school was cancelled again today, due to an ice storm we had in the night.

I am thinking that if that happens again tomorrow, I will personally drag everyone of them to their respective schools on sleds. I honestly think one more day together will be the demise of at least one of us. Probably me.

We rearranged furniture, the younger kids played outside while the older kids fought and aggravated everyone else. We had a cooking lesson of sorts, but that backfired when the Jr. Chef went to his room room while the pot of chili burned. Nothing smells worse than burnt chili, unless it's the popcorn that was cooked too long in it's plastic wrapper. That made me so glad I got some nicely scented candles for Christmas!! The kids want to eat about every 21 minutes throughout their waking hours. Honestly, how do the survive the day at school?

My older daughter, the thirteen year old, has learned the knack of disappearing. She has crafted behind closed doors for most of the day. She comes out of her cave to eat, get a drink, or borrow craft supplies from me. Today she has been painting and decoupaging some boxes. She wanted as many old magazines she could scrounge from me. Of course it would be wonderful if she could incorporate her love for crafting into, let's just say, a tiny bit of time with the Little's, and get them into a project too. No, they mess up her creativity flow.

Since she took my older magazines, obviously she has been reading them, because she just came out and asked me if she could have a heart attack or stroke at her age, because she knows she has had some of the symptoms she saw....I advised her to eat healthy, get more exercise, and eat less salt. Yeah, I read it too.

My oldest boy at home has pretty much been in his room sulking. And reading. He had his PSP taken away for an infraction at school last week, and come to find out, he's too old to go outside and play in the snow, and too lazy to cut and stack wood. Not on a snow day!! I reminded him it's technically an Ice Day, but I guess there is no difference.

The 11 year old has been grounded off the TV for ...well, most of her life. She can focus soooo well on any television show, but as for schoolwork, she can hardly remember her name and class assignment. We figure sitting blankly in front of the TV can not possibly encourage her brain growth, so every time she slinks into the living room today I have had to kindly remind her she is grounded... Apparently their is absolutely nothing to do left from her Christmas craft kits, or books we bought her, or games to play. She almost made me feel sorry for her...NOT!

The youngest 4 have decided that they should be as loud, as crazy and as abstinent as possible today, just so I won't really miss them as much when three of them return to school tomorrow.

Not to be trite, but just like MLK, I have a dream.
And if they are home again tomorrow, that dream will be a nightmare!!

I am praying for spring!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beans, The Magical Fruit

With over two feet of snow just outside my door, today is a perfect kind of day for soup.

Not only does it sound warm, but I love the smell in the house as the soup boils over the bright blue flame, making me feel very domesticated. I am no chef, but somehow a large pot of fresh (or frozen)veggies mixed with spices and a whole onion gives me a sense of profound accomplishment on a cold day.

Today I decided (when I found a hunk of ham in the freezer), was a perfect day for old fashioned bean soup. The kind that I always remember on the back of the stove in this very kitchen when I was young. I thought when gramma lived here when I was a child, that she had invented bean soup. I was really surprised when I grew older and heard of other families that grew up with the savory goodness that I remember so well.

So, I chop the ham into pieces, pour water over the bag of pintos, and realize one bag just won't do it. I have checked every cupboard twice, along with the whole basement storage shelves where extra food is stored, and other than 4 bags of dried kidney beans (yuck), I had just washed the last bag of beans in our house. One bag of beans. That would never work for this hungry group of 9.

What to do...?

The answer came from above.

No, heaven didn't call, but when I looked up on my high kitchen shelf, behold, an antique jar full of mixed beans hovered just above me.

I quickly grabbed a chair, reached up to the jar and....oops, there are also kernels of corn laced in between the variety of beans.

As I stood beside the counter, sorting kernels from viable beans, I remembered the cause of the mixup. Another winter day my children anxiously searched for a remedy to their snow crazed bordem, I handed them glue, a jar of beans, a bag of popcorn and construction paper. The end results are long time gone, but the remnants of their extra supplies lived on in the antique jar.

Now, the beans are boiling, good smells wafting in the air, with the hope of a warm evening meal, and the extra kernels of corn are in the antique jar. I could have thrown the kernels away, but we still have a lot of snow coming in Southwest Michigan, and as far as I know, when my kids are bored they will be asking me for an idea of a craft.

Gee, how about a kernel mosaic, kids?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What makes me the Saddest

Sadness is an emotion that can drag a person to the depths of darkness. I try really hard to be an upbeat person, but there are times in my life where sadness overshadows my optimism and I find it hard to shake the pain that wants to defeat me.

I realize there are alot of things going on around me that is great. My kids are meshing in our home, in spite of alot of things that could be seen as obstacles to that process. They have some struggles from their difficult starts to life, but they also are dealing with normal issues for children their ages, and I love that. They are learning to be "normal" kids ...whatever that means!

My husband works hard, in spite of the atmosphere in our local economy that hit his sales career too. He never grumbles about working harder, longer hours, well after he puts the kids to bed, and before they ever get up in the morning. I am proud of his dedication to "keep on keeping on" and his ability to let negative comments fall away. He keeps his mind on taking care of us, his family, and I am proud of that.

My parents, though aging and dealing with their own issues, are still with us and we love being able to meet them for a breakfast on the weekends, or enjoy a visit when they drop by. I am thankful we both have our parents, and realize these days are numbered. In the broad scheme of life, we all know days are fleeting at best, and we are all aware of just how precious each contact is.

My biggest kids, all doing well and loving life, and my darling grandsons thrill me with every single video, phone call and contact. I am grateful in a busy world that each of my kids still phone and send emails, and find ways to stay connected. I know some families don't have that, and I cherish it deeply.

So what makes me sad?
I read a blog I follow with great interest, of an orphanage in Liberia, West Africa, that is doing its level best to make a difference in the lives of orphans there. One of the children, a beautiful little girl, with Cerebral Palsy (manageable condition with therapy and support in America) has just lost her life due to contracting malaria. She died. She should be living.

I know several people who struggled throughout the holiday season, missing loved ones who left this earth entirely too soon, some with great promise of a productive future, had they been able to live it.

I heard of a young man who just lost his father due to health issues that went unnoticed by his doctor, until it was just too late. Too late for him, and a tragic story of a young man who will miss his father like crazy for the rest of his life.

And then there is the daily stuff that totally destroys some people. Their inability to face their giants, and slay them, or their mindset that life is just too difficult to deal with in a productive way, so they slam their "life is bad" attitudes around, like broken furniture, for others to fall over or get hurt on.

It's normal for people to be upset when life hands them lemons, but sometimes we need to quit sitting around waiting to see how many lemons we can gather, and just get up, get out, and make the positive changes that need to be made to make a happy life for ourselves.

None of us are perfect, and everyone has stuff to deal with. So, it makes me sad when I see people NOT deal with their issues, and I am sad that I keep tripping over their broken furniture and getting hurt, when all I really want to do is see them succeed.

Life is short. I want to see happiness around me. I am not oblivious to the fact that for alot of people, life, at times, is hard. But there are also other times I want to shake some people and scream, "Life is pretty dog gone good for you, so grow up and see real suffering in front of you. Most of us in America are severly blessed. Start to appreciate what you have."

I hate it that I can not make a difference in some sadness.
And I hate it that some people can't let go of it and learn to be happy.
I am sad to be tripping over broken furniture, broken lives. Especially when we don't have to.

Monday, January 10, 2011

oh no, SNOW!

This is the snowiest Monday I can remember, at least since the great Blizzard of '78.
I was 18 years old, my boyfriend was heading back to college, and all I could think of was how inconvenient the snow was at that time.

Today, I am thinking the same thing. I do not like snow. As a matter of fact, I get to the point in winter where I become very house bound.

The airport measured over 36 inches of snow this weekend. I think we have just a little over 2 feet at our house. It's 2 feet too much for me.

The kids, however, are in heaven.

Mike took them outside Saturday and each one of the kids built their own snow fort. He took food coloring and water to spray on the tops of their forts so they could each have a different color house. When I looked out the window, it was a colorful town set up in our front yard!

Mere had a stash of snowballs in hers, to the point where there was hardly any room for her! Tara had chiseled out a hole big enough for her and both the dogs! The cold air kept forcing them inside, but they would drink hot cocoa and go back out. One time Mike even took hot cocoa out to them and they sat in their little igloos and enjoyed it better than any they have ever had in the house!

Me? I did my part by sending the camera outside for Mike to snap some photos! I just do not like snow.

Today, the kids are disappointed that they have to go to school. After the weekend of being snowed in together, I am ready for the bus.

With all the kids in school (except Bella), I think I will enjoy a little less winter mess today...and continue to dream of summer sunshine and NO SNOW!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Teen Times

The little kids are getting ready for school early today. For some reason, they were excited that they may be waking up to snow. They watched the weather report last night, so it seemed likely they were right. Now that the sun is up, they realized there is no snow this morning, but they are ready for it. I have 4 kids waiting for the bus that could be mistaken for fat penguins.

Now the two oldest are entirely different. We had to call Tyler back to the house from the bus stop this morning to take his medication. He saunters in, (attitude all the way) with a T-shirt and hoodie. It is not even 30 degrees out there today.
I have no idea what Nicole was wearing. I may be afraid to know.

I am still trying to figure out why I let them pick out a winter coat, and paid for it, when they refuse to wear them. I think something incredibly wrong happens in a brain when it turns 13. I think science has found this to be true, but not only do they quit thinking, I guess all other sensations cease also. They are too cool to feel cold, although as soon as it's 55 degrees out, Tyler wants to stop wearing shirts around the house, and Nicole is ready to pull out all the shorts and mini-skirts. Maybe my teenagers are just hot-blooded.

I asked Mike why we had teenage attitude this morning. He said the older kids were mad that the younger ones were up so early. What? I guess they feel like they "own" the house in the morning, since they have to be out the door an hour earlier than the younger ones. I am not sure where that was written in our family contract, but there it is, rearing its ugly head in our kitchen his morning. It comes out in curt answers, rolling eyes and stomping out the front door to meet their bus.

However, the younger ones are excited, happy, and not having to rush at all this morning. I like that.

I think tomorrow I will wake them up earlier...just to show the teenagers that they can adapt to the "little" ones just fine.

Oy, the household that shelters teenagers can be rocky. But thankfully, teenagers don't last forever.

Another thing to be thankful for this morning!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Another New Year - Welcome 2011

It hardly seems possible that I am standing at the beginning of another new year. Honestly, the time just flies by anymore.

I decided to start the blogging this year with an update on the family.
The baby always comes first.

In our family this year, we hope to welcome a sweet African boy, just turned 2 years old in November. He has severe delays, but sooooo much potential. I can not wait to add a picture as soon as the details are worked out. He is already a huge part of our hearts and home. Updates to follow...

Then Bella. She is the darling in the house right now. Funny,stubborn and spoiled rotten. We love her personality, and it is a guarantee that no one will ever take advantage of her. She is a wrestling buddy to Tommy, rough and tumble all the way. She sings most every conversation, and has an intuitive streak through her entire body. She picks up on most anything said around her, and can tell me what mood I am in before I can determine it myself. Her biggest leading line right now, is, "Right, mom?" I can hardly believe she will be 4 years old next month. The time really has flown by. In September this year, she will be able to go to preschool. She sure seems academically ready. Her biggest challenge will be leaving me. We have a deep attachment. I love her deeply.

Tommy is next in line. Oh, Tommy. My daughter in law says he's ALL boy. That's the nicest thing anyone ever says about him. We choose to take him off of all the behaviour meds this fall, and are soooo glad we did. He had become an angry, frustrated little soul, and none of that made sense to us. He is much happier now, and back to his mischevious self. He rarely stops moving, although he loves puzzles, building blocks and the bunny, Oliver. He has been making cages out of the set of waffle blocks and carrying the bunny around in them. He likes our teenage puppy, Carl, but Carl mostly likes Tommy for the food he carries around. Tom has gotten "attacked" more than once, while Carl bounces off with the treat. I love Tommy, not so much Carl. Tommy is officially 6 1/2 now, and recently told me he will not be a good big brother to our new baby. When we asked why, he said he doesn't know how to be a good big brother. I told him he was a good big brother to Bella and he said that's different. She's a girl. Huh? We promised to help him. He was cool with that. He's smart, compassionate and sensitive. He usually gets in trouble by being stubborn and impulsive. I love that boy.

Meredith. Wow. What a change this year. She celebrated her 7th birthday two days after Christmas. For some reason, her birthdays always catch us off guard! But this year, she was all about celebrating it, so an impromptu party at her favorite Chuck E Cheese Pizza place was the high time for her. She had picked out a pretty cake at the bakery with a big pink flower and a big purple flower. Perfect. She got a dalmation dog that barks and whines. Like we needed that! But she also got 3 Barbies and a Barbie pool with a swimming dog! Her favorite though was the two hundred tickets at the pizza place and the penny toys that filled the treat bag from there. Amazing. She learned to put her own written sentences together this holiday, a major milestone for her. It said: "sumdogsrnyc an sumdogsrmeen." Or, translated: Some dogs are nice, and some dogs are mean. Good job, my sweet kindergartener! She is girly, and way too worried about being pretty. She loves dresses and baths, but was not super impressed with her manicure/pedicure she got in November. That was just "freaky" to her. Sitting next to her means there is usually a hand or feet under or behind me, and she is always invading my space. She has no personal "bubble" and is constantly hugging someone who would rather not be hugged. She's a love bug. I can not imagine life without her in it. I love her.
She's my preemie turned big girl. What a hoot!

Tara, Tara, Tara. She's just one girl, but enough personality and spunk for 3 gals. She is doing great in the second grade, and loves school. She has been getting occupational therapy at school for the weakness in her hands. It's amazing how much better she's doing. I am thankful for her therapist, Amy, and the work she does with her. Plus, Tara loves it and thinks it's all for fun. She is high spirited, but is more controlled than she used to be. She loves TV and dogs, but prefers the stuffed type. She learned to ride a bike this year, and the freedom that brought her at the campgrounds. She has learned to enjoy her crafts and coloring, now that her hands are getting stronger. She is giggly or whiney, alternating between the two all day long. She is not attached to a specific blankie any more, but always has some sort of blankie with her all the time. She plays best with kids younger than herself, and loves playing Veteranarian. She may just become a Pet Doctor some day. She drew a picture for me today with a frog that says, "Kiss Me." I looked up to her smile, and realized she was waiting for a kiss. I hugged her tight and kissed her. The way she cuddles in now is an answer to our prayers. For a Reactive Attachment Disorder(RAD) kid, she is showing fabulous progress. I love her so much, and we are pleased with her progress. She is a beautiful, blue-eyed blonde daughter.

My Nelly is next. Nelly is going to be twelve this April. It doesn't seem possible. She has a sweet personality, and loves babies and little kids. She has been able to help with my cousins kids this holiday, and really enjoyed her "job" of watching the babies while my niece was able to do some deep cleaning. She wants to become a teacher some day and I can see that happening. She struggles in school so much, but mostly because she won't turn in the work she gets done. I am not really sure why she struggles with it. She tests well. We work hard at home trying to keep her organized and on task. It's definately her biggest struggle. She is known for her ability to make a friend where ever she goes. She fills her life with "I (heart) you" on everything, and she means it. She still likes her Build A Bears and Bratz dolls, a refreshing change from alot of preteens we know. She loves to read, and her favorite stories are mysteries. She reads all the time, and loves cookies and milk. We are constantly relying on her to help the little kids with the homework. She thrives on it. And they respond really well to her "teaching" them. It's a sweet mix. She is learning how to be a preteen, learning hair care and the whole new world of face wash and shower gel. What a fun time! She is a precious girl, and we love her so very much. She adds joy to our home and lives.

Nicole became a teenager this past November. If I were smart, I would stop right there. I don't really like this stage. The good things are there, they just tend to be hidden behind the smart mouth, the attitude of "I KNOW EVERYTHING" and mom and dad have become really stupid this year. She is creative, learning to sew, and draws phenomenally for her age. She sees the world through the lens of a teenager, and when she grows up,it will be fun to remind her how perfect she was at 13 (grin!). What she forgets is that I have "been there, done that" and teenagers don't scare me at all anymore. She is tall, beautiful and funny. Most of the time I want to choke her (lol) but sometimes we have meaningful conversations and I am reminded that she's the one who started this whole adoption thing in our family. I wouldn't change it for anything! She wants to be a fashion designer, and I want her to work hard in school so she's not limited in anyway to accomplish anything she sets her mind to. I love her, I hate the stage she's in, but I am soooo thankful she came to our family when she did. And, thankfully, the teen years don't last forever!

Tyler. Now 14, he has surpassed me in height, but I still have him in weight! (tee hee). He's tall and thin, working on his abs and the infamous six pack in his exersize routines. We joined the local YMCA again this year, and his favorite thing to do it walk around all the equipment, trying his hand at a few things from time to time. He says he can't focus because of his ADHD. I think he has learned to talk like a jock. He definately thinks he is one (lol). He loves sports, talking back, bossing the little ones, and reading. He can kill a book in no time, and loves discussing the story he read. He is super smart, but his grades don't always reflect his intelligence. He still doesn't know why it's so important to turn his homework in. He is taking his SAT this month, a great practice for him. He's in
8th grade,and will enter the high school this fall. He has grown so much since he came to our family at 9 years old, and not just in inches. He is funny, aggravating, and strong. He plans to follow in his big brothers footsteps in the Coast Guard, so that is alot of our conversations. I have had to learn to love him, and at times it has not been easy, but I know he hasn't always loved us either.
We have learned alot about how adoption grows a family. We have all grown.

The big kids are all doing well. Scott and Britt and the three boys have a nice big house in New Jersey, and the kids loved their unusual winter snow fall last week. They sledded and played outside in what they usually get here on a winter vacation! Scott is looking at their options for their last year in the Coast Guard, and should find out soon where and when they will be moving. I, of course, hope it's still in a decent driveable distance! Kaid is 5, Keegy is 3 and Keano is almost 15 months. They are embarking on an Ethiopian adoption journey this year, and we are so excited to see who our next grandchild may be!

Jen and Jer are in Oregon, and I have my flight booked for early next month to be out there for her first art show! I can't wait to go see her space, her haunts and her friends. I am really excited to have the time with just her! She is creative, sensitive and a beautiful daughter. I will have to fill you in on my trip out there when I get back!

Ash and Andy are the ones we see the most of. I love having her close to home. She cleans for me twice a week, but mostly she is responsible for keeping me organized. She is great at that. She's in college trying to get her teaching degree, and the rest of the time she's creating art or raising chickens and ducks.

I love each of the kids and appreciate them for the souls they are. Each one is precious to me. I am so grateful for them all. It's like the ending of Lake Woebegone, when Garrison Keeler describes the residents there. I would say, here, the girls are all beautiful, the men handsome, and we wouldn't trade a single one of them for all the treasures on earth.

I thank God for Mike, who works hard to keep our family together. He loves me at my most unloveable times, and stays faithful to our relationship. He joins me in saying we are the most blessed of all with our children, their children and our lives together as a family.

Happy New Year. I plan to live this year with no regrets.