Sunday, December 18, 2011

All dressed up and nowhere to go

I love Christmas. I love the meaning behind it. I love the decorations. I love the idea of cuddling on the couch with hot tea or hot chocolate. I love good cookies and a good cup of coffee.

I love the Kohl's ad. It has these cute little dishes for a cute appetizer Christmas party. I want that party! Nevermind the fact that a bunch of mini foods would take way longer to prepare than one big meal... And nevermind the fact that since Christmas and New Year's both fall on weekends this year, that means there isn't time to entertain with fun little foods.... And nevermind the fact that I don't have cute little dishes for the cute little food that I haven't made...

But the idea sounds fabulous. Pair those cute little foods with some martinis or other fancy drink and I'd be Good. To. Go. Ahhhhh...

But for now, I guess we're just all dressed up with nowhere to go.








Thursday, December 1, 2011

Now that's homework!

Luke has homework every night. I don't remember ever having homework in grade school. And I mean never. It's not a one-worksheet kind of deal either. He has homework in 3 subjects - plus he studies his vocabulary and spelling words each night.

To be honest, I'm a bit over it. What ever happened to kids being kids?!? I think we are making kids grow up too fast with all this homework and proper behavior and sitting still for hours on end while they write a dissertation about the solar system. Don't ask me - I have no idea what the difference between a meteor and an asteroid are. But my 3rd grader now does.

But I digress.

Like it or not, homework is there. Every night. So we have to make the best of it.

I have come up short in the making-the-best-of-it side of things. But tonight, I hit the jackpot. The kids love to wrestle with their dad. So I told Luke if he spelled his spelling words right, he could tackle daddy. If he got it wrong, daddy would get him.

What motivation!

"Luke, spell pour."
"P-O-U-R"
"Yep! Get him!"
Tackle, tackle. Surprisingly - and quickly, "What's next, mommy? I'm going to get him again!"
"Wore"
"W-O-R-E! Here I come, daddy!"

Daddy got tackled on all 15 words. Yep, Luke didn't miss one.

Score one for the mom who doesn't know squat about a meteor - but who does know (FINALLY!) how to motivate her kid to do homework! Yeah!

Look out, daddy, your life might never be the same.

Uh-oh, I just called my husband daddy. I'm *that* kind of wife! Yikes!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Here Kitty Kitty

We had a visitor for a few days. A kitten showed up at our house one night. We have no idea where it came from, but it literally surrounded our house and meowed like crazy. I felt like a prisoner in my own home! Every time we opened the door, it tried to come in. When the doors were shut, it stared at us, trying desperately to get us to let it in. Front door, back door, round and round.... Meow meow meow.... The dogs were going nuts inside so it was more like: Meow meow meow. BARK! Meow bark meow bark bark.



It was still there the next morning.

At first, I was afraid to let the dogs out. But then I knew I couldn't keep them prisoners forever... so out they went. The dogs and kitten had a round. A round. Just one. The cat hissed, the dogs barked. The dogs chased the cat under a bush. Then - just like that - they were all best friends.



The kids were going nuts. All Emma wants is a kitten. I do not like cats. Repeat: I do not like cats. It followed them when they got on the bus. Waited all day for them to come home.

Eventually I realized this cat was nice and I let them play with it. And maybe, just maybe, I felt bad for it and gave it a can of tuna. Or two. Rumor has it that the kids took a leftover piece of pizza and fed it to the kitten when no one was looking. And they made it a box to sleep in. Emma named it Buttercup and they prayed for this cat at bedtime.





After 2 or 3 days, (just when I was getting used to the idea of having a cat - an outdoor cat!) we left for the day. When we came home, it was gone. Our neighbor said it followed someone who was taking a walk down the road. Just like a dog. Ran from our yard and followed them.

The kids were devastated. Truth be told, I was a little sad. Maybe I even hoped it would come back. Maybe I even checked the kitty bed to see if it had come back. Maybe I even checked more than once. Maybe I was just about to buy it real cat food. Maybe I had even looked on the internet for cat houses.

No wonder I don't like cats. No wonder there is a phrase "catting around". Fickle little things. Don't you like tuna and cold pizza??

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Parent Volunteering

At Luke and Emma's school, they encourage parents to be volunteers. When Luke started kindergarten, of course this was all new to me. But I was happy to parent-volunteer! You betcha I was!! Yep... I'm one of those.

Kindergarten is super fun. Parent volunteers get to be the teacher's aide. Yippee! Yes, I have to make the occassional 20 copies of something, or cut out things, or put up or take down a bulletin board. But I also get to help the kids do their work, interact with all the kids, help at snack time and get to know my kids' friends.

It's awesome.

When Luke got to 1st grade, his teacher told me she was self-sufficient and didn't use parent volunteers. I almost had a heart-attack. I tried again in 2nd grade. She had too many helpers and only picked a handful. I wasn't one of them.

Depression set in. Of course I am kidding. Maybe. ha ha.

This year I've hit the jackpot. Emma is in kindergarten so I am in her class once a week. And Luke's 3rd grade teacher also uses parent volunteers - so I'm baaaack!

I only help Luke's teacher once a month. Today was my day. It isn’t nearly as fun as helping in kindergarten. There is a desk outside her door and she has a stack of papers for me to copy. Today she also had a note for me to take down the monster candy projects on the wall. Oh goody!! I don’t even slightly enjoy standing in the copy room for an hour making copies, but I am in the school and I hope to get a glimpse of my kid.

Am I deranged?? Don't answer that. It is better than sneaking around the school like a super ninja, don't ya know??!!

After I was done in the copy room, I took her stack ‘o papers back to the lovely desk in the hall and I peeked in her room. She has a curtain on her window so it makes it tough. There were no kids, only the teacher and 2 other teachers, talking.

Shoot. So I wasted some time in the hall reading, “How to Cook a Turkey by every 3rd grader in in Luke's school.” I left the hall, saw another group of 3rd graders coming so I went back to the 3rd grade hall hoping to catch a glimpse of Luke.

How pathetic am I???

I read – again – the amazing How to Cook a Turkey art work. Still no Luke. I hear her say to her teacher friends, “I have to go get my kids from library” so I read them again. And again. Finally – here he comes. Right in the front of the line. His friends are waving at me. And get this – he is too - so I waited and when they got to me, he ran up and gave me a hug!! Right in front of all his friends!

SWOON!!!!

It was SO worth it to read the Turkey Cooking Instructions 67 times!!

And I'm quite sure the teacher has no idea I'm not really a slow reader. ha ha ha.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Can I Lysol the Kids??

Not sure if it would be a health risk or if I'd be breaking some law if I Lysol-ed the kids. Hum. I am seriously considering it. Okay, maybe I'm not so serious about that. Maybe.

Finally sent Luke back to school today after 3 days home last week and a good weekend. Emma was very slow to get ready for kindergarten this afternoon. She was fine all morning so I just assumed she was doing what she does best: lollygagging. I finally asked the obvious, "Emma, what is wrong?" and she told me she was so tired and so cold...

Crap.

The quick thermometer is out of batteries so I tried the one that takes forever. She was wiggling around but it still got up to 101.

So today I have a new friend home with me. And I still don't know when I'm going to the grocery store since we had a busy weekend and I was trapped in the house for 3 days last week with my other sick-o.

I've got a busy afternoon planned. Since no one takes care of me if I get sick, I plan to suck on about 20 Vitamin C drops at a time, drink Airborne like water and Lysol the entire house.

Emma and the dogs better take cover.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Darth Vader-ish

Luke had a sick day at home today. When he breathes, he sounds like Darth Vader. Has a cough to go with it. I took him to an Express Health Clinic this morning to avoid the half-day-production at the pediatrician's. Plus I figured if he really was okay, I could still take him to school. The doctor said his lungs are clear and he tested negative for strep (he said his throat really hurts) so the doctor thinks it must be stuck in his throat and gave him an excuse out of school for the next 3 days. Lovely. Not sure which is lovelier - being stuck in his throat or being stuck at home for the next 3 days. ha.

Got the prescription at Target and by the time we finally got back home, it had been 2 hours anyway. So much for avoiding losing half a day.

Luke is my good sick kid. When Emma is sick, she is down for the count. When Luke is sick, well - he is Darth Vader. "Mommmmmmmy!" he says just like Darth Vader as he tries to chase me around. "Luke, you're sick! Stop running!" I say. Then he cracks up laughing and runs some more, which turns into a coughing fit and a dramatic collapse onto the couch.

Mommy might need some margaritas by the time these 3 days are over!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Ending That Was Meant To Be

After months of silence, I finally talked to our social worker today. I asked if the kids we fostered had found a new home or if they were with their mom.

They are with their mom.

Because of confidentiality, she couldn't tell me a lot of details. But she did say that after we decided not to adopt them, a few major things happened to the mom that enabled her to better care for the kids. Our social worker said these things were nothing short of miraculous.

She also told me that she is sure that if we would've said yes to adopting them, that they would still be in our care and not hers. She believes that God redeemed this situation and turned bad into good.

I disagree. I think that God's fingerprints are all over this. Beginning to end. I think He is the one who guided us to say no because He knew the mother was going to say yes.

I still wonder how I could've been so wrong.... I thought I had confirmation that we were going to have 2 children this time around. I honestly thought that confirmation was as plain as day. I still remember how excited - and disappointed - I would be when the mom would show up again - and then disappear again. I remember picturing those kids in our family. I had to, or we never would've pressed forward.

But now when I think - I think that maybe I had to have those feelings in order to bring those kids into our home. I never would've fostered. And I mean never. We have talked over and over again how that would be devastating to our kids (and us) if we fostered and had to give the kids back. How could anyone do that???

Well we did it. And it sucked. But we did it. It was hard before they were here, it was hard while they were here, and it's been hard since they left.

But because we were confident this was a call - we answered. And although it wasn't at all what we were expecting - and something that we said we would never do - we ended up doing it anyway.

It really is amazing how God works.

And so now I can be 100% sure that we really were called for just a short time with these kids. The mom did meet with another family and just couldn't go through with it. She kept the kids.

And so we did our part. We took care of the kids for a short time so she could get her life together in whatever miraculous way.

And, amazingly we have experienced blessings through this as well.

Realizing how blessed we are as a family.

Realizing that even when we tell God "no!" - He is still able to work through our stubborn-ness.

Realizing that God's plans really are better than our own.

Realizing that sometimes it really is good to just stop and smell the roses. Right where I am.

Realizing that endings really are new beginnings.

I'm looking forward to FINALLY moving past all this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

SO Funny!!!

Oh my gosh, I haven't laughed this hard in a long time!! The tears are squirting. I loved this song 20 years ago (okay, I still do - shhhh... don't tell!) and to see this spin on it - well, I'm rolling!!

If I knew how to put in a video here.... Hmmmm.... technologically smart I am not.... Oooooo.... did I figure it out?!?!?

Turn up the volume and get ready to laugh - especially if you graduated high school in 1991. Just sayin'.

video

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One of the wonders of the world

Just how exactly does toothpaste get on the base of the toilet???!!!

Maybe some things are better left unexplained....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

She shoots, she scores!

Emma had a soccer game today. She doesn't like kicking the ball very much. She loves to run around the field - in a big clump with the other girls - but she doesn't get her foot on the ball very often.

Today, she was left little choice when someone else kicked the ball and it landed right in front of her. She took a quick glance around and realized there was no one else who was closer to the ball. "Kick it, Emma!" Joe and I yell. So she kicks it. She got a big smile. "Kick it again!" we both yell, "Keep going!"

And so she kicked and kicked and kicked - right into the goal! Score! She jumped all around and gave us the thumb's up.

At this age, there are no goalies. So she only had to keep it in front of the other girls. And she did.

Maybe this kicking thing isn't so bad afterall!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's been a little over 3 months....

3 months have gone by since we had the foster kids. I think about them almost every day. Emma asks about them quite a bit. This has been a long strange trip for all of us.

On one hand, if we didn't think about them it would be strange. We did take care of them for 11 days straight and a few days here and there before then. We took them in and loved on them. We can't now pretend like they never existed in our lives.

On the other hand, when we do think about them, it is strange. Why are we all pining over what could've been when we all know it wasn't meant to be?

Honestly, I'm scared. I'm scared that I missed out on what could've been. I wonder if we missed God's call to take these kids as our own. That really is the thing I think about most.

The crazy thing is - even though this is my consuming thought.... I KNOW they weren't meant to be ours. I KNOW THAT.

It is the hardest thing to explain to myself. I think about what could've been - but I don't miss them. I know that is a terrible thing to say, but I don't. When we were apart from Luke and Emma while we were waiting to adopt them, every day was devastating without them. Life has gone on without these 2 kids in our lives. We are not devastated. I haven't cried much since they left. I don't dream about them, I don't picture my life with them in it, I don't wonder what they're doing.

It's all so bizarre to process in my mind... why do I wonder if we missed God's call if I have peace about them not being here? We would not have that peace if we missed God's call. Unless we were cold-hearted selfish people - which I hope we are not!!

I stumbled across an adoption website the other day. It was about a disrupted adoption plan and the grief cycle. I found it very interesting. This WAS an disrupted adoption plan. We DID have intentions of moving forward. We DID think these kids could've been ours. We DID pursue this adoption with a future of 4 kids in mind. Although nothing legally said they were ever ours - our emotions let us go there.

And then when it was all "over", we experienced grief of what could've been.

The grief cycle has interesting parallels to me over the last 3 months:

1. Denial - "We never could've done this, I couldn't parent that little girl."

2. Anger - "Well if the mom hadn't drug us along, or if the adoption agency would've done things differently...."

3. Bargaining - "Well, maybe we could've done it. If we had done ____, would it have worked?"

4. Depression - "I suck. I couldn't do it. I told way too many people we had these kids and now they're gone and I'm a failure. Why didn't I keep my mouth shut and not tell anyone? I let these kids down, how will they ever grow up and face society knowing grownups just let them down?"

5. Acceptance - "It really will be okay. The kids will be okay, we were only meant to take care of them for a short time. Our family is fine. Great even. God knows what He's doing and He doesn't make mistakes. I might not understand why we had to do this, but I trust it was for a reason. A good reason."

I'd be lying if I said this has been easy. It has been the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. I don't get it, I have a million questions, and there is that part of me that wonders on a daily basis....

But the bigger part of me knows that God has kept us all in the palm of His hand through all this. He has good plans for all of us - ALL of us. And even though I can't for the life of me figure all this out, I have to trust. And although trust is all I got right now, it's good enough. Better than good actually.

And so I can rest, knowing we answered God's call. And although the ending to this story was not what we were expecting and still don't understand - I know that God has written this story and the ending is just what He wanted.

But sometimes our endings are just His beginnings.... And so I'm looking forward to the next chapter of our lives.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The worst words ever - don't you DARE say them!

Luke got off the bus today and said, "Mommy, someone said the S word to me."

Now I learned a long time ago that these things are never what I expect so I stay calm and ask questions.

"They did? What is the S word?"

"You don't know?"

"Nope."

"Oh my gosh, I can't say it. It's so bad!"

"It's okay, honey, we can talk about anything."

"You really want me to say it?"

"Yes, it's okay. Just say it to me."

Emma's ears perk up.

"I can't say it in front of her, she's too little."

"Emma", I say, "Go ahead up to the house."

She pretends to move out of earshot.

"The S word is... it is..... well, actually, it's the C word. Do you know that one?"

"Nope."

"Mommy! I can't believe you don't know this stuff! Okay, mommy, if you're sure, I'll say it. The C word is.... (long pause)... stupid."

"Except stupid starts with S, Luke."

"I don't know why, mommy, but the really bad words don't start with the right letters. Stupid really is the C word."

"Oh...." I say, trying not to bust out laughing. "That is really bad, Luke."

"I know. And do you want to know the S word? It's way worse than the C word."

"Oh my, it is?"

"Yes! The S word is - (long pause again) Ssss.... C-Russ."

"C-Russ?"

"Yep. C-Russ."

"What does that mean?"

"Mommy! I can't believe you don't know all these bad words. C-Russ means you don't love God. That's the really really bad word, mommy! You don't EVER want to say that one. Do you want to know another bad word?"

He is having way too much fun teaching me all these things and his face is now radiating pure excitement.

"Okay."

"Oooooo.... I don't know if I can say it. It's the really really REALLY bad one."

"You can tell me anything, Luke."

"It's the W word, mommy. Do you know the W word?"

"No, what's the W word?"

"The W word is chicken. It means your hips are really wide and your butt rips apart."

He lets out a big sigh. "Oh man, mommy! I sure am glad Emma didn't hear all that, whew! She is MUCH too young to know all that." And he walks in the house, quite proud of his vocabulary.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's all downhill from here

Emma came home from school and said, "Mommy, I think I have a little crush on Ben."

"Oh! Tell me about it", I said.

"NO!!! Mommy! Stop it!! You're embarrassing me!" and she ran into the living room, away from me. She would've kept running if there wasn't a wall I think. Instead she plopped down on the couch.

I was left standing in the kitchen, all by myself.

Because there's nothing like embarrassing a 5 year old in her own home with no witnesses. Just ask the 5 year old with a crush.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stay-at-home-mom? Yeah, right!

I have technically been a stay-at-home-mom for some time. Even while I was working, I stayed home 99% of the time and worked 1% of the time. That probably explains why I didn't make the minimum production requirements at my old job. Whoops!

But Joe and I decided a long time ago that I would stay home if we had kids. I was 100% commission in my old job, so any money that I made was "fun money" - we always budgeted just on Joe's salary. Joe doesn't make a ton of money - he is just a school teacher. But he is a school teacher on the top of the salary scale already (how is it possible he's been teaching for 19 years already?!?! WHAT?!!), and considering I was a financial advisor.... well, we make it work.

I lost my job not even a year ago. But the timing was all messed up. I trudged through all those years of being a 1% worker but lost it right before Emma started kindergarten. What can I say - my timing is always perfect. ha.

Emma is only half day kindergarten this year. But many people are already asking me, "So what do you do with all your free time?" and "What will you do next year when Emma is in school all day?"

Before kindergarten started, I really wasn't sure. Now that we are a month into school, I am realizing that 'stay-at-home-mom' is a myth. A dirty, evil MYTH!

Where are my bon-bons and soap operas? Aren't I entitled to those?!?!?

I am RARELY home. Lately, it seems like I am never home.

I've gotten involved in the PTO. Oh boy. They keep me busy.

I'm going to be volunteering in both Luke and Emma's classrooms. Kind of like a teacher's aide - for Luke's class, I will run copies and do bulletin boards, etc. For Emma's class, I will actually be IN the class just like a teacher's aide, hands-on with the kids.

I've gotten involved with volunteer things at the church. Chair of one board, member of another. Co-leader of a ministry. I've got big ideas that somehow got approved - and now I've got a boatload of work to do. This is good, though... I get to use my mind again! Yahooey!!

Hockey. Soccer. Joe's football. (He's a coach.) Emma is trying cheerleading.

I babysit the neighbor boy every Thursday.

Running to the schoool for PTO stuff. Target. The grocery store. Going to Walmart - and then SWEARING I'll NEVER go there again.

When I am home: dishes. I swear, the dishes overtake me. Laundry. I'm buried in it. Dog hair. Let's just say it's disgusting if I don't sweep every day.

Homework. School parties. Birthday parties.

Trying to spend time with the family. Riding bikes, playing games, having dance parties. All that memory building stuff. Funny, I don't remember one thing about my mom doing laundry or dishes... I know she did them - but I just don't remember that...

Getting the kids on the bus. Getting the kids off the bus. Making breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cleaning up after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Oh yeah. I'm a wife too.

And lately, I've been a stink bug and spider catcher. Those goofy things want to be somewhere warm for winter I guess. But seriously, do they have to pick my house?? I swear there is an open invitation to all their friends to bombard our dining room.

I'd love to be a *real* stay-at-home-mom right about now. I have big things on my to-do list that are - well, still there:

Steaming the carpets.
Cleaning the windows.
Getting totally caught up on laundry.
Getting the laundry basket out of the family room.
Fixing the dining room chandelier.
Going through the mismatched toys to find out what goes where.
Fixing broken toys.
Getting all the dust off of the bathroom fan.
Eating bon-bons.
Watching soaps.

A girl can dream.....

Monday, September 19, 2011

I don't wear underwear

I took Luke shopping the other day to pick up a few clothes. Shopping with a boy is what I would imagine putting a diaper on a pig might be like. Clothes shopping with a boy - well, there really are no words to describe it.

He was picky about some of the shirts he wanted - or didn't want. But he also wanted to hurry and get himself out of the miserable-ness of it all.

"Can we go now?"
"Almost, you need underwear."
"Underwear?" he asks, almost mortified that his mother just said the word underwear.
"Yes, underwear. Please come over here and pick some out."

After carefully surveying the store to make sure there was no one within several miles that he might know, he went to the underwear aisle. With his mom.

Luke is at a funny stage. He's 8. Some of his underwear still have superheroes and Star Wars on them. But he is 8. He *might* be too old for that stuff. Maybe. He looks at the ones with pictures on them. Puts them back. Picks them up again. Puts them back. Finds some gray and black ones that are boxer briefs. He has never seen anything like that before.

"These are cool. I guess." and he puts them in the cart. Hides them actually, under other things I have in there. Thankfully we were at Target and we had the opportunity to have a cart - I shudder to think if his mom actually had to carry his underwear through the store. ha.

A few days later, we are in the car and the neighbor is with us. The neighbor GIRL. I hear him say, "Guess what? I don't wear underwear anymore."

"Luke!" I say as I almost wreck.

"I don't!" he answers me and a little quieter tells her, "Now I wear underwear pants!"

I guess this whole privacy thing is overrated anyway. Not to mention that they are technically underwear shorts, not pants. ha.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just for kicks

Emma had her first soccer game today. She loved it! She ran around the field with this HUGE smile on her face the whole time. It was too cute. She even got her foot on the ball a few times.

I didn't get any pictures because it was pouring down rain. Which of course made it even more fun for the kids!

This was a tough decision for Emma. The rule around here is that the kids can pick one thing to do at a time. She really weighed her options for some time and had it narrowed down to soccer or gymnastics.

I'm glad she picked soccer after seeing that smile on her face today!

I feel like there should be a punchline here: Soccer shoes - $$, smile - priceless.

But.... the shoes were free so I can't even make that comment. Of course there is a story though....

On Thursdays, the soccer association has a skills session that is open to all players. So of course we wait until Thursday morning to get Emma's soccer shoes. We go to the sporting goods store, she tries on a pair that are one size too big, but says they are comfy and she runs around the store to prove her point. She picks out pink soccer socks and we are good to go.

They get off the bus Thursday afternoon. The neighbor boy gets off the bus here with them on Thursdays. So they were busy playing with him.

It was getting late and his parents weren't here yet so I was trying to get my kids ready to go to soccer practice. I ask them if they want to eat dinner before soccer or after soccer. They both quickly say, "After!" and continue playing with the neighbor.

I call Emma back and tell her to get her soccer stuff. She *got* it - and then dumped it in the living room. I said - a little louder this time - "Get your soccer stuff ON!"

She gets a snack instead. I say, "Emma, get it ON! You wanted to eat after soccer, it's almost time to go! You don't have time to eat now!"

In the meantime, the neighbor comes to pick up her son. As she is there, Luke is making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Emma is eating yogurt.

She leaves. "IT IS TIME TO GO! GET YOUR SOCCER STUFF ON RIGHT NOW EMMA!" screams some crazy lady who looks and sounds just like me.

She tries, but then says, "I can't get it on!"

"Get over here!" I say - admittedly a little too loud, I mean perhaps I was trying to talk to the neighbor who just left and is now 2 doors down??

I help her get the stuff on. At least I *tried* to help.

Well, let me tell you, soccer stuff is hard to get on. I put the shin guards on but when I tried to pull the pink socks up over the shin guards the shin guards would go up over her knees. And I had very little patience left at this point so I was *really* struggling with this stupid soccer equipment.

Not to mention I'm trying to have a persuasive political speech with a 5 year old about how important it is to get to soccer on time and soccer is starting in 2 minutes and we are at least 5 minutes away and we are never going to make it on time and why were you eating a yogurt when you should've been getting your soccer equipment on??!!

I finally get those goofy shin guards and socks on and it's time for the shoes.

"OW!" Emma squirms. "Those shoes hurt my feet!"

"Emma, these are the shoes you just bought today, knock it off. Put your shoes on!"

"I can't!"

Here we go again.

"Let me do it, for crying out loud!"

"OW! They hurt my feet!"

It is then that I realize the stupid soccer socks are thicker than the socks she had on at the store this morning.

Crap.

"Luke, go in the garage and get your old soccer shoes."

Luke goes to the garage for a split second - and I mean, he's lucky if it was even a split - "I can't find my old soccer shoes."

"Luke, they are there, your sister has on your old shin guards which she just got out of the garage and were next to the shoes. GET ME THE SHOES!"

The shoes magically appear from the garage, landing in his hands.

I look at them. They are a size 1. Emma's shoes that are too small are an 11. A 1 will never fit. So being the sane, totally in control mother that I am at this very moment, I throw the shoes.

Now before you call CYS on me, I didn't throw them *at* anyone. I actually threw them down the steps toward the garage.

"IN THE CAR, NOW! BOTH OF YOU!" I scream.

"Where are we going?"

"Soccer practice!"

"But I have no shoes!" Little Miss says between sobs.

"Emma, you are already 5 minutes late to soccer, but we are going to get you new shoes at the store and you WILL go to soccer practice!"

"But what do I wear now?"

"I don't care, get something on those feet and LET'S GO!"

She grabs flip flops. You know this is going to get even worse.

I call the store while in the car on the way there. "Hello, can I help you?"

"I bought soccer shoes for my daughter today and they are too small. They are XYZ brand, black and pink, and I need a size 12. She is already late for practice, so could you please have those at the front of the store, I will be there in 2 minutes."

"Please hold for the shoe department."

"They're not in the shoe department, they are in the soccer department."

"Sorry, ma'am, please hold for the soccer department."

"Hello, shoe department, can I help you?"

Seriously?!?!? I tell him my story. "Sorry, ma'am, I can't help you, please hold for the soccer department."

On hold I go. Again. Nice elevator music, really. But I'm in your darn parking lot now already! I hang up the phone and grab the kids out of the van.

While in the van, my very late soccer girl has taken off her soccer socks and shinguards to get her flip flops on. I FLIPPED!

Now I am trying to have a political persuasion speech with a 5 year old about how important it is to get to soccer on time and soccer started 10 minutes ago and we are at least 5 minutes away and we are never going to make it on time and why were you taking your soccer equipment off when you should've kept it on because it is so hard to get on??!!

IN THE SPORTING GOODS STORE! And let's just say I was not in the mother-of-the-year-tone-of-voice either. I know people are staring me down but I am on a mission to find these %@#&*! shoes!

We march to the soccer department. They have no 12's. Of course they don't. So we hustle to the front of the store. I apologize to the 18 year old cashier and tell her, "I know this is not your fault but I am really mad because these soccer shoes don't fit even though they fit this morning and now I have to return them and you don't have a bigger size and she is already 10 minutes late for practice and I don't know what I'm going to do now! Grrrrrrrr!"

Yes, I think I actually growled at her.

She half way smiles and says, "Then you'd like to return these then?"

Yes. Please. Take me out of my misery, cute little 18 year old cashier girl.

Emma starts to cry. "But I have no soccer shoes! How can I go to practice?"

"OH, we are GOING! You have never played before, you will sit there and watch and learn so you know how to PLAY SOCCER!"

So we get there. Finally. There are literally no less than one million 5 year olds running around on the field. And one coach. God bless that coach, I am telling you what. We sit down to watch.

"Hey!" Emma says, "There's Alex playing soccer over there on that field!" Swoon. Swoon. Alex is the love of her life who is 8 and plays on Luke's hockey team.

"EMMA! WATCH THE PRACTICE ON THIS FIELD, NOT OVER THERE!"

Now the soccer moms are looking at me the same way the people were in the sporting goods store. Oh. Good. Grief. People! Have you never had one of those days??

So we watch the less than 30 minutes that are left in practice and head home for dinner. Joe gets home from football practice a few minutes after we get home. We sit down to the family dinner I had made ahead of time. Of course it doesn't heat up well and tastes like crap. Of course it does.

Later I tell Joe that I am done with these soccer shoes and he's going to have to take her shopping at the other sporting goods store in town. He says, "Hey Luke, go get your old soccer shoes." "They're too big" I tell him, being the know-it-all that I am.

Luke gets the soccer shoes. "Come here, Emma" Joe says calmly. He puts them on.

They fit. Emma says, "Ooooo! They feel so good!" and she runs around the dining room table.

Of course they do.

Of course.

And we all lived happily ever after and Emma had a smile on her face the entire time she played soccer and the shoes fit perfectly and didn't even fall off in the rain.

Oh yeah - and I had a glass of wine and lived happily ever after too. :)

Note to self: Soccer shoes run small. Very very small.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

3 in a Row!

Luke had his first hockey game of the fall session tonight. This is his 6th session of deck hockey. The sessions last about 12 weeks or so and there is one in the spring, one in the summer, and one in the fall.

He loves hockey. It's all he wants to do. He even has mini hockey nets set up in the family room and will play hockey - by himself - for hours. Then he'll go outside and play on the driveway with his big hockey net for a few more hours.

When he grows up he wants to be better than Sidney Crosby. He doesn't realize that means he needs to get out of his tennis shoes and into ice skates. I'm not breaking that news to him since I've heard ice hockey runs $1,000 a session!

But he is doing really well - if I do say so myself. He seems to be a natural. And tonight he scored his first hat trick!

Way to go, baby!

Of course it's not about *just* scoring goals - but it sure is fun when you do ;)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Back-to-School Day!

Remember those Staples commercials where the parents were school shopping with their kids as they were singing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."?

Today's the day. I'm all alone. It's not so wonderful. I'm bored.

I'm walking around the house wondering what to do with myself. Dishes. Laundry. Sweep the floors. Clean the bathrooms. Find that TV remote that has apparently walked out of the living room and is hiding, obviously somewhere really good.

I can hear a pin drop. I'm not used to this. The silence kind of hurts my ears. I can hear the wind blow and the birds chirp. Huh. Who knew.

We've been practicing our morning routine. My kids are not early risers, so I've been waking them up early to 'get ready for school'. But they still stuck around all day.

This morning, they popped out of bed at an unusually early hour. The best laid plans... my morning routine now was backwards.

But we made it.

Luke got on the bus just before 9. He wanted to play sick already. I guess the excitement of school is gone by 3rd grade - or so he wants me to believe. But I know better :)

He was quite silly - and just a bit excited. Shhhh....don't tell him I let that secret out.






Of course I was not allowed to get a picture of him getting on the bus - oh the horrors to have a mother! - so this is the best I got. Still got in trouble for this shot, "MOM! What are you DOING? Put that thing away, what if someone sees you doing that?!?!" I should've picked him up in a big bear hug and slathered kisses all over him at that very moment. tee, hee....



Emma has kindergarten in the afternoon, so she was ready for some alone time. We played Trouble with 2 of her stuffed animals and SEVERAL games of Uno. It was 10:00 and she asked me if it was lunch time yet so she could go to kindergarten. We passed some time, had our lunch (she barely ate -okay, neither did I!), and then - It. Was. Time.

Fear. Her eyes got really big, I could tell she was holding back tears. "I decided I don't want to go to kindergarten afterall. I'll just stay here with you, okay?" I assured her she'd have fun and she'd be home before she had time to miss me.

She got her backpack and we walked to the end of the driveway to wait for the bus. Very slowly. Maybe if she walked slow enough she'd miss the bus.

She was none the wiser, we were 10 minutes early.

Being early is not good when you are nervous. "Where is that bus, mommy? Is it a big bus or a little bus? Who is my bus driver? What if - what if - what if I get lost??!!!"



Then it came. That big scary yellow monster pulled up to our driveway and looked - well, not so scary. Maybe, just maybe, it was going to be okay?






So they're gone. I meant to get the mail after I put Emma on the bus. But as soon as I had that thought, I forgot it. I guess my mind was a little preoccupied. Just a bit. Instead, I walked back up the driveway, fighting the tears that somehow my daughter had passed on to me.

I didn't know tears were contagious.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

World Peace

I found the solution to world peace today. From the back seat of my van, of all places.

As we were driving today, enjoying our last school-free day together, out of the blue Luke says, "Mom, I wish people didn't have to shoot each other."

Me: "WHAT?!?!?"

Luke: "You know, like in the army. It's so sad that they have to have wars and kill each other. I wish they could just talk about their problems instead of shooting."

(From a boy who will make a gun out of a tree branch.)

Me: "Yes, honey, me too."

Luke: "If I were President Obama, I'd tell the people to stop having wars and just talk about their problems."

Me: "Well, President Obama might say that but there might be other world leaders who say no, they don't want to talk, they want to fight."

Luke: "Oh. That's sad."

Me: "Yes, honey, it is."

Luke: "Well if I were President Obama and I said that and people still wanted to fight, I STILL wouldn't fight."

Me: "You wouldn't? Well, how would you protect your country from the guys who DID want to fight?"

Luke: "I'd just say, 'If you don't want to talk about our problems, then let's wrestle. Whoever gets wrestled down to the ground loses.' And we wouldn't have any more wars!!"

He was so proud of his solution. SO. Proud.

So Mr. President.... how are your wrestling skills???!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Restitution

I took the kids to Staples tonight. Luke needed a few school supplies for his open house tomorrow. While we were there, they both asked me for a few things. Luke wanted a silly pen, Emma wanted a pack of pens, and they both wanted miniature multi-colored post-it notes. I said yes to all of their requests and we headed to the other side of the store to look at a few things I needed.

When we got to the register, I told the kids to put their stuff on the counter. I paid, and we left.

Got in the car and Luke asked for his stickies. I said, "Emma, do you want yours, too?" and she looked at me for a second and said, "Yes." I dug through the bag but could only find one pack of stickies.

"There's only one pack in here. Emma, did you put yours on the counter?"

"Yes"

"Oh. Well maybe they're still on the counter or they fell on the floor in the store because they're not in here. Do you want to go back in and get them?"

"No. Let's just go home."

"Are you sure? Honey, let's go back in and get them. I know how badly you wanted them."

"No, that's okay, let's just go home. Maybe we'll find them in the bag when we get home."

"No honey, they're not in here. Wait, let me check the receipt to see if he charged us for 2." I check the receipt. "No, there's only one on here. Let's go back in and get them."

"No, mommy, I just want to go home."

So we leave. We are almost home and she says, "Uh, mommy?"

"Yes Emma"

"Um, my stickies are here."

"What do you mean?"

"My stickies. They're here. I have them."

"Do you mean you have Luke's stickies?"

"No, I have my stickies."

"Emma, we don't have your stickies."

"Uh, yes we do, they're right here in my car seat."

"Emma, how did you get your stickies?"

"Um. Um. I took them from the store."

"Emma, you stole the stickies?"

"No. I just had them in my hand and forgot to put them on the counter."

"Emma, you didn't have them in your hand when we left the store."

"Yes I did. I had them hiding behind my back."

"Emma! You stole the stickies! Honey, we don't steal!"

Luke chimes in: "Emma, you can't steal. The store is going to call the police and you're going to go to ju-ve."

(I didn't even know he knew that word.)

"Emma, we are going back to the store so you can tell them what you did and give them back."

"NO! MOMMY, NO!"

"Yes, Emma. You cannot steal. Mommy was going to buy them for you, why didn't you let me just buy them? If you really forgot to put them on the counter, why didn't you just tell me you had them when I was looking in the bag? Honey, we could've gone back in the store and bought them. What were you thinking?"

Silence.

"Emma, when we get to the store, you are going to talk to the manager."

"NO! Not the MANAGER! What's a manager, mommy?"

"The guy in charge of the store. You're going to apologize to him, pay him for the stickies and then give the stickies back to him."

Silence again.

The stickies were on sale this week. For a whopping $0.50. They could've been a penny. That's not the point. We don't steal. We don't hide things behind our back as we're walking out of the store. We right our wrongs. We admit our mistakes (or bad choices). We apologize. We make restitution.

The Bible has a much harder stance on restitution than the dictionary does. The Bible says we should give the stolen property back - and 20% more. Because Emma doesn't understand percentages - nor did I think that math would make a difference here - I decided she would pay the $0.50 AND give the stickies back to the store.

"But I don't have any money!" She tried to argue.

"You can pay me back when we get home."

When we got to the store, I went back to the register and asked the kid if we could talk to the manager. He asked me if there was a problem and I just said we needed a manager. He paged him. He came to the front of the store and said, "Is there a problem, ma'am?" (How am I a ma'am??? I digress....) I said, "She has something she needs to tell you."

He looks at Emma. Emma looks up at him. "Yes?" he says to her.

"Um... Um.... I forgot to put this up on the counter when mommy was paying."

"And?" I prompt her.

"And I hid it behind my back when we were leaving the store."

"Oh" says the manager, "That's not very good..." and he glances at me. I nod my head and he looks back at her. "Emma, what else do you want to tell the man?"

"I'm sorry," she said. "I forgive you. I appreciate you telling me," he said.

"What else, Emma?" I prompt again.

"I want to give you this money." She reached her little hand up to his and placed the two quarters in his hand.

"Thank you, I really appreciate that," says the man.

"And here are the stickies. Mommy says I can't have them today. Maybe another day." and she handed him the stickies.

"Thank you. You made a good choice coming back here tonight. Thank you so much for telling the truth."

"Are you going to call the police?" asks Luke.

"No, I am not going to call the police, I am just glad you did the right thing. Thank you young lady!"

He shook her hand and we left the store.

My heart was pounding for her. I was a nervous wreck for her. But I knew it was the right thing to do. And I'm hoping it was a lesson learned. I was really proud of how she handled herself, and I let her know that.

When we got home, I called my parents. I told them what happened and they assured me I did the right thing. In fact, my mom said she stole a piece of gum that cost a penny when she was a little girl and my grandma did the same thing with her. She said she never forgot that lesson - and never did it again.

I knew I liked that lady!! Who knew I'd grow up to be just like my grandma. What a blessing considering how much I loved her!

I cannot for the LIFE of me figure out why Emma did this. I said I'd buy it for her!! Why did she sneak it out of the store?!? I may never know, but I hope that she has learned a life long lesson.

Thank you, Staples Guy. You helped to teach an important lesson. Thank you for your understanding of the importance of this - and thank you for the grace you showed my daughter.

That was easy.

Sorry, couldn't resist ;)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Closure. In the Most Unexpected Way.

God certainly likes to surprise me. Not even 24 hours after I was struggling so badly with whether or not we did the right thing, I got closure. Finally. I can now put this all behind me with no regrets.

I found a pair of the little girl's sandals in Emma's toybox. I had no idea if she would need them or not. We are almost out of sandal season, but - if she was still with her mom, I figured she might need them. But if she was with an adoptive family, I figured she wouldn't need them. So yesterday, I e-mailed our social worker to ask if she wanted me to send them to her.

The response I got surprised me:

You can toss the sandals. Things are better in the mom’s world, which trickles down to the kids.

My mind went nuts. Is the mom going to keep them? So I e-mailed back and asked if she was. Then I walked away from the computer and went to take a shower.

While in the shower, a thought popped into my head. 'Maybe she was never going to give them up for adoption after all. Maybe the kids needed to come here so she could get herself back together so she could care for the kids again. Maybe the reason we had to say no was so that we didn't say yes - and then have them taken from us. Maybe God was protecting our family - while helping the kids and their mom.'

I had NEVER thought about things from that perspective before. My thoughts have always centered around, 'What will happen to the kids? Did we let them down? Did we make the right decision for them - and for us?'

Just as I had that new thought, a sunbeam came through the skylight in the bathroom. Not an unusual occurance - BUT - yesterday was a rainy, dreary day. I hadn't seen the sun before then - and I didn't see it again for HOURS after that.

Just a simple, glorious sunbeam. Kind of like a God smile.

At that moment, I said outloud, "I don't know why this all had to happen, God, but you do. You know."

Later I checked my e-mail again. The social worker's response:
Only God knows.

Wow.

Honestly, I could 'what if' this situation all day long. Believe me, I have - for 6 weeks now. But whether I was given some sort of insight - or whether that smiling sunbeam was just to let me know that God IS taking care of us, and things DID have to happen the way that they did, and we ARE under His protection - I'll never know.

But I do know that God does hear our prayers, and answers them in the most unexpected ways.

Walking with God is never what I expect.

But it is definitely always so much more than I could ever imagine.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's been 6 weeks

Six weeks ago, we took the kids we fostered back to the adoption agency. On one hand, it seems like a lifetime ago. On the other hand, it's hard to believe it has been 6 weeks already.

I still think about them. A lot. Mainly, I wonder if we did the right thing. I keep telling myself that we did. Joe keeps assuring me that we did. Emma said to me not too long ago, "Mommy, can I tell you something? Don't get mad. I didn't like her. At all. I'm glad she's gone." Luke hasn't asked about them. I have barely talked with our social worker about them. Not too many people have asked how we're doing. Our family has ignored the subject altogether.

It's almost like someone got a big giant eraser and just got rid of the whole situation.

But then my memories remind me that it really did happen.

There really were 2 kids here. Two kids who had no hope and no future in their situation. They came here hopeful to find that future. We accepted them, hopeful to find our future as well.

Then all those dreams came crashing down when we realized it wasn't going to work out. It just couldn't work out.

Could it?

I push the rewind and play buttons a lot in my mind. I go over and over the situation. Sometimes I replay the good times. Sometimes I replay the bad times. Sometimes I think about how we felt. Sometimes I think about how the kids must've felt. Sometimes I just think about their little faces.

I find myself wondering if things could've been different. Were things meant to be different??? Did we give up too soon? Or was this fully orchestrated by God - every last detail from beginning to end - and we played the part we were supposed to play in these kids' lives?

I am really struggling.

Regret is a terrible thing to feel. Not being sure of something is unsettling. Sometimes feeling like a very real situation in our lives never even happened is unnerving.

But when I stop - really stop - I sense peace. I really do. And then I feel guilty about that. Will they have the luxury of that peace too? Will they get that hope and future they so desperately deserve?

The last I heard, they were back with their mom. She was considering placing them with another family, but was having a hard time transtioning her thoughts to a new family. I have no idea if they are still with her or are with a new family. I'm trying not to preoccupy my time with wondering where they are. But it's hard not to wonder... It's hard not to worry....

Life twists and turns and takes me to places I'd never expect to go. If I hadn't gone to the college I went to, I never would've met Joe. If we had gotten pregnant, we never would've adopted Luke and Emma. If we hadn't met these 2 children, I never would've prayed for them.

I guess I don't give prayer enough credit. Admittedly, sometimes I think of it as a last resort.

Perhaps in this case, it will be the only resort. To pray for them - and to settle me. What more could I ask for right now than prayer? Nothing. I can think of nothing better.

And so I will continue to pray. And trust. And have faith. Even when I don't have any understanding of what happened in my erased past.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

15 is nothing. Welcome to 5.

My mom has often said that she could've thrown me away from ages 15-20 because of my sassiness, disrespectfulness, and just plain rudeness. I say there must be something in the water now-a-days. What used to be 15 is now 5.

Emma gives me a run for my money, I am telling you what.... We fight like cats and dogs. I hate to admit it, but it is true. Don't get me wrong - it is not all the time. Most times she is my sweet little baby girl and I am so glad to be around her!

Other times, well.... not so much. ha.

I realize that all the parenting books tell me it all comes back to me. Yes, I realize that. Why do I go toe-to-toe with a 5 year old?!?! Of course I know better. But in the heat of the moment, well.... I get worn down. Absolutely, positively worn down.

And then all parenting books be damned.

A few weeks ago, we were having one of our heated moments. I told her I was done taking her places. She was grounded. For life I tell you! For life! She looked at me completely seriously and said:

"Well how am I going to get to swimming lessons tomorrow?"

I said (quite maturely I might add), "I don't know, I guess you have a real problem on your hands."

She answered, through her tears, "Well, I guess I'll just have to take my Barbie jeep then!"

Take THAT, mom - I don't need you! Who needs moms when you have a Barbie jeep?!?

Last night was another doozy. She would NOT clean up her toys. This was after she trashed her room and the living room. She didn't do it to be spiteful, quite the contrary. She was just busy playing all day and didn't pick up before she got out the next toy. I reminded her that she would be putting it all away to which she cheerfully answered, "Okay mommy! I will!"

Fast forward a few hours. Time to clean up. The cheerful attitude took a wrong turn. Quickly.

I told her it was time to clean up. After some grumbling, she started cleaning. SLOW-LY.

After a few minutes of cleaning, Emma asked me: “Are you going to check my room when I’m done cleaning it?”

“You betcha”, I answered.

Back to her room she went.

A few minutes later: “I’m done, you can check, mommy! Wait – are you going to check under the bed?”

“Yep. I’ll check everywhere.”

“Okay, I’m not done then.”

And back to her room she went.

Later – “Mommy, I’m done, you can check! Wait, are you going to check under my rug?”

I am not even kidding. On and on every few minutes with different places.

Finally, she proudly told me she was done and to check her room. She followed me to her room.

Her cheerful smile turned nervous when I opened her closet. On top of her toybox I found a TON of toys shoved and buried under clothes.

She disgustingly said, “Well, you didn’t tell me you were going to check THERE!”

I hit the ceiling. And then she had the nerve to say to me, “I really wish we were one of those families that could talk about our problems instead of yelling.”

Oh. Good. Grief. Child!!!!!!!

Where's the chapter on this? Huh? Huh???

Saturday, August 13, 2011

For everything there is a season...

Luke came to me looking a little concerned today.

Me: "What's up, buddy?"
Luke: "Mom, I have a question for you. Please don't get mad."
Me: "Okay...."
Luke: "When is church over?"
Me: "Church starts at 9:45 and is over at 11:15. Wear your watch tomorrow and you'll know how many minutes until it's over."
Luke: "No.... I mean - when is it over?"
Me: "Huh??"
Luke: "When is the season over for church?"
Me: "Oh, ha ha ha, God doesn't take vacations, baby. We have church every Sunday."
Luke: "Oh.... Well because I guess I was just wondering... I mean it seems like it's been going on for a long time now...."

If only his hockey seasons could last this long!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The best vacation we ever had!

I feel like I need a vacation. And then I remember we just had one! Although it seems like an eternity ago, we went on vacation about a month ago. We went on a cruise. We squeezed it in between visits we had with the kids.

I'm so glad we did; I had no idea how much I would be needing that vacation!!

We had never been on a cruise before. And now we can't wait to go again! It was the best vacation ever. And I mean EVER!



We cruised on Carnival - it was the only cruise line we could afford. But it didn't disappoint. It was so much fun for all of us. The kids loved it. We all did. I wasn't sure about being stuck on a boat - but there was enough room to roam around and not feel trapped.

Yes, some areas were quite tight and a bit crowded...



but honestly... we never felt crowded. We really didn't.

My parents went with us. Look how happy we all were!






Who says (way too much!) money and sunshine can't buy happiness? Oh yes it does! ha.

We made new friends....






We saw crystal clear blue waters and soft as flour white sand...





Nothing like a froo-froo drink on the beach, even if it was $10!

The fun just didn't stop. After all, we were on the Fun Ship, weren't we??!!




Dance Parties R Us!





Well, most of us had fun. ha ha ha. Just kidding dad!! (He really did have a good time!)


Luke ate like a king. He had lobster, lamb, and escargot. Emma had a cheesburger and fries for every lunch and dinner. Yep, every one.



Dinner was really stretched out and exhausting. I mean, really, who can eat so much food and not get tired?? Emma didn't make it to the end of many dinners... poor thing missed out on dessert most nights!



But we could have ice cream any time we wanted - and we sure took advantage of that!


Yes, the decor was a bit tacky. Must've been an older ship?? That ceiling looked like an octopus. How about this Grand Atrium? Vegas anyone??? But man, oh man, did the woman at the bar here know how to make strong drinks. They were so strong, they'd last all day. Yowza!!



I'm already checking out cruise fares again. I just can't help it!! Carnival has a slogan that proved to be so true: "Make your other memories jealous."



Yep, our other memories sure are.
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