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


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?"


"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."


"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?"


"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.


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!

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