Monday, January 30, 2017

My Bestie

My bestie....

She and I have lunch every week as much as possible.  She is my venting partner in life - I vent joys and sorrows as does she and we are THERE for each other, in the good times and bad.  God blessed me greatly when he placed Dawn in my life as a dear friend.  We "get" each other and accept each other for our limitations.  I'm almost 5' 11" and she is very short.  We go together like total opposites - but the glue of friendship holds us strong.  We do have many things in common too - and over 33 years of friendship allows for much laughter and tears.

I couldn't be prouder of her and her accomplishments.  Here is the latest that has hit the local papers:

She sums up so much of what society is missing - we need more of this mentality:  "Growing up, being a different person, I've learned that you don't judge the book by its cover."

Her words rang true even more so this past weekend.  I shared with her as her article in the news hits the local towns this very lesson hit home for me this weekend.

My eldest son, intentionally drove his first car, a gift from us to use - super hard and blew the engine, then boasted to his friends about all the way he drove it.  In our parental outrage, we didn't let him drive any of our other vehicles and said that was it - buy your own vehicle.  Long story - lots happened as he pulled away from church, made poor choices in his life.....until God returned him back into our nest and informed us despite him being 19 we aren't done with him yet.  So, the often rude, cussing young man came home and we began helping him, encouraging him to get / keep and find work, save money and not spend it all (ongoing) and that we'd help him buy/find a vehicle he'd use until he paid us for it.  So, learning a lot of grace and give/take, we found a mini-van that he amazingly wanted, loaded, older, hadn't moved much in 6 months.  I sent him off on Saturday to have the tires checked due to a low front passenger side tire.  On his way back home, the vehicle's steering quit and he pulled into a parking lot as it died.  "Great" - he thought I'd be angry at him - wrecking another yet vehicle that he promised he'd be nice to this time.   I was busy doing the 100 plus things I save for weekends, moving my mountains on a schedule to get it done....and he calls, telling me of the vehicle woes, not impressed but he needed my help so baking bread and laundry had to wait..  I headed out to him - 20 minutes away, expecting we'd have to get the vehicle towed, thinking of costs we don't need at this time in expensive repairs - my son was worried I was going to yell at him (yes, I do yell from time to time!).  But I was calm - he thought he knew what part was needed, I told him to use his smart phone smartly and find the part and it's cost.

I picked him up, he showed me the serpentine belt that was ruined, we headed to an automotive shop, found the part, rented the tool we'd need and returned to the vehicle which was parked in front of a Hooka Lounge, no less.  Turns out through Anthony's social snap chatting, his friend's Dad was at that very lounge.  He came out and introduced himself and said he could help us get the new belt on.

He is an army mechanic, had worked on many vans like the broken one at a dealership and knew just what to do.  It wasn't an easy job by far.  The motor was quite tightly placed, the man got dirty, cut his hand and told my son how to help him get the new belt on.  45 minutes later, the job was done and he'd literally saved us 100's of $.  I was so humbled by his help, he didn't have to do this.  He was a kind man and when I tried to give him money, he simply asked that we pay it forward.  Wow, it could have been so easy to judge this man from his appearance - but the kindness that poured from his soul, mouth and eyes amazed and humbled me. We talked and got to know each other a little in those 45 minutes. I learned about a caring man who's daughter was my son's friend and that in itself was enough for him to help us.  He told me some of his life.  I listened amazed.

As we all got going and I drove home, I prayed to God thanking him for this stranger who took time to help us.  That we shouldn't judge books by their covers and everyone around us is created by God and loved by Him - this example was that very reminder that sometimes we get so busy in life we forget or don't take the time for people near and around us.  It is hard to verbalize the exchange that took place in all this for me.  With all the recent media bashing, hate, crime in our area and worldwide - kindness prevailed right in front of me. We don't have too far to look for good around us - the reminder that it is there!

My son kept saying over and over he thought I'd be mad at him.  I told him over and over I was proud of him for knowing how to stop, find the part and the help.  His resources amazed me....and I was not angry at all.  A growing time for both of us.

The good Samaritan lived out before us.  I'm always more of the one to help the others - so this was humbling to be the one on the roadside needing the help.  A perspective needed to grow.

So - pay it forward folks.  Pay it forward....I know I will.

Friday, January 27, 2017

First Gotcha Day of 2017

4 adopted kiddos - 3 Gotcha Days.  This week we celebrated the first one in January with the youngest.  A time to reflect on what adoption means, how it has affected our family.
Soph was especially sensitive to it and it gives us opportunity to talk freely.  She thinks we should adopt more kiddos after the teens all leave so she won't be lonely.  Love her big heart!
Special moments - special times!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Mother's Rant on Awards

OK – getting this rant down in ink.    
 Back in good old preschool, as a newly adopted Mom of two rambunctious boys with definite health concerns, learning disabilities and more -  we entered our first realm of Pre-School.  My kiddos loved preschool – it was a learning time, but it seriously stressed them out too – (as did ALL of their schooling!). I loved to see them learn new things and be excited about the papers they brought home – they blossomed as they did enjoy singing and PE activites, the other stuff was hard for them.  The teacher was new, green and energetic – we loved her and were so happy for the opportunity close to home.  Some kids thrive in school, get freaked out if they get B’s instead of A’s and are destined for honor roll and every other award at awards banquets etc.

My kids aren’t these kids.  All 4 adopted kiddos I love deeply – but they aren’t National Honor Roll kids. 

It started for me when at the end of my eldest son’s 1st preschool year – an award was given out with great grandeur called the “Apple of My Eye” award by the teacher.  Clearly as a parent you’d beam if your child received this award – I mean, to have a child singled out in such a way indicates they are superior to every other child only screams “successful child coming through” and “Teachers Pet” all the way!  While maybe jealousy played a part of my feelings – wonder and shock also entered as I realized the school system was already stereotyping children into the “preferred” category by adults through awards. At age 4 the kids don’t understand the significance of these moments.  Like getting better insurance rates for good credit, these kids are the Golden Children riding through the system from Pre-School to High School shining in awards. Their future is pre-determined with expectations.

This continued with best reading awards, best attendance, and so on – clear to High School with Awards ceremonies with meals and watching the SAME people go up countless times receiving every award possible.  Citizenship Awards (which at least looks at the character of the person for kindness and other attributes not measured by the IQ level is sometimes the only award I hold my breath on).  Once in a while a child of mine might get some award, which I’d do my part to be there to watch – despite the pain/proud mixture I’d feel.

As I’ve pondered all this, coming from a Canadian education system that didn’t quite have this level of “preferred students” held up on pedestals, a part of me is unhappy with this system in the USA that I continue to observe.  Yes, I’m very proud of my kids when they do well – and can get sucked into the “proud parent” moments with awards and publication.  I mean – it feeds an ego of parenting we all hold and who wouldn’t feel proud of their child for achieving something they get recognized for? We are naturally wired this way. We’d be guilted into feeling like bad parents if we didn’t feel this way.

When I recently saw another post of a teacher having a special lunch with kids that got the “Best behavior” status….it brought forth some thoughts on what we are doing – I know positive reinforcement and all that is important, I in no way want to discount that -  but I’m worried too about the message this sends to those kids who can’t attain this status. 

So here is my
Buts list….

But what about the child that just can’t sit still and get recognition for good behavior?
But what about the child that is bullied by others because they can’t read or do math like the others so they act out and then get labeled the one that isn’t kind to others when the bullies are the “stars” of the class and get away with it.
But what about the child that has the lower IQ, is ADD or Autistic or has a Learning Disability that these awards just aren’t in the cards for their life unless they have a brain transplant!
But what about the child who is smart, but has NO parental support and a dysfunctional home with abuse on the home front that doesn’t get to achieve their full potential.
But what about the child whose single parent is doing all they can, but can’t keep up with all the emails, posts and expectations the school puts of parents to be that great parent support when they can barely get their work done to pay bills, do laundry and cook let alone sit down with their child at night to help them – feeling exhausted and pulled at in every direction with all their kids -  yet it costs their child.
But what about the child who simply is mediocre – will do their best and remain “average” all their life.

Why do we do this to our children today?  These kiddos know who is smart, who isn’t, who is kind, who does drugs, who has allergies, who has one parent or two or none……

We label and expect these kids to live up to standards that aren’t achievable by all, only recognizing the few that attain statuses created by adults.  I’d like to see the children create the awards….and see what they can come up with.  Maybe it would look very different.  We don’t want our children to judge others, but the current system does just that and teaches that.  It is no different then picking up a teen magazine with “perfect” girls in in.  Do you know that 3 minutes after looking at a teen magazine girls have strong feelings of depression?  Even though they know photoshop has created these images, it still moves them to feel depressed.

I don’t have all the answers – but I know that many children won’t reach award status in their lives, but Jesus loves us all the same.  In a world needing a little more Jesus action– we need to find more acceptance of the different types out there…..including those battling drugs, cancer, poverty… find ways to say we all don’t have to be the same. To say if mediocre is your best today – we’ll accept that, we are OK with that.

Just please don’t make my children feel any less for what they are….created and loved by God.  Each one unique, each one struggling against all odds, each one deeply loved by a Mama Bear who hurts when they are hurt, who is their greatest advocate, who can be proud of their C’s. I simply want them to know they matter, they are loved, they are important and their presence on this earth makes a difference no matter if they get an award or not!

There….I’ve got that off my chest. 

PS:  I’m married to a National Honor Roll man, Citizenship Award man, Suma Cum Laude honor man, Salutatorian man…..and I’m proud of him too.  These awards don’t define him though – his life by example does!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ice Ice

2017 started rough - a dying cousin passed away.  Living 1000 miles from my homeland, I've missed many funerals, weddings, gatherings and family time which is the result of loving my Kansas man!  But I also pick and choose - so this time, when my beloved cousin who was like a little brother to me in many ways, passed on to be with Jesus.
I had to go North.
I took two (half) of the kiddos and we hit the road hard - winter travel when you head to Canada isn't a given and I knew that we would navigate ice and snow.  We safely made it up, only on the day of the funeral a whopping blizzard arrived - I was thinking "I didn't drive 1000 miles to miss going to this funeral!"  Luckily I was staying only 6 miles from the church and was able to make it.  Highways were closed, schools cancelled - but I made it and am glad I was able to be there for the celebration of his life.  Sadly my brother who grew up with my cousin, was further away and couldn't make it - neither could my own Mom as the highways she'd travel were closed.  

I was so grateful to hear how my cousin touched soo many and loved Jesus soo much - his life, like my past brother's was a testimony of faith! At age 44 leaving behind a loving wife and two younger daughters, my heart ached for them all.  We've experienced so much loss lately - and it doesn't stop.  I realize as I continue to age, the losses will continue too - and I view the youth as I once was, not fully getting it - funerals aren't just for the old - they happen to younger people too.  But the reality as I look at loved ones and friends - more funerals will come.  They are the passage of life we all experience at one time or another.

We returned home in a rush - trying to beat the oncoming ice storm forecast for our area.  God kept us safe and I happily spent many hours inside, watching rain / ice form and doing my piles of laundry!

Time is a healer - I'm embracing my time, healing as I can and taking it all one day at a time.
Remembering to pay it forward in the world we live in - when I think I have it tough, I simply look around and there is always someone who is having a harder time.  Giving love and kindness to those around me.  Being true to myself.  Riding the parenting train through these teen years - learning grace, forgiveness and toughing it all out.
Peace - my goal is more inner peace for 2017.  To let go of the things I can't change, accept what is and continue to hold to my morals despite the world around me.

Peace....find beauty in everyday things and cherish them.  May you too!

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