Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Well Hello There

I am suddenly getting a lot of hits on THIS  post.  I am not really sure why but Hi everyone and welcome.

That post was written last summer and in the last year and a bit, things have changed.  The girls' mother has moved away and our contact has lessened with her, but our contact with extended family has increased.  We have began contact now with the girls' father's side of the family (although not with him).

There are days that I love the contact and there are days feel like I live in a fishbowl.  Some days are easier.  Some days are harder.

But the girls and the boys are thriving.   They are loved by many and that is good.


Edited to add:  The hits are coming from HERE    Thanks for taking the time to read, and to share.    

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We are fine. In fact we are GREAT.

We are good. We are fine. We are safe. We are happy.

We are just really, really, really busy.

Some of us started dance, preschool and gymnastics.  One of us might be homeschooling a certain 10 year old and directing church nursery.

Some of us are playing Junior Hockey, which is a really, really big deal in some of our worlds.

Some of us are just too cute for words.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Time Before

I don't think about it much.  Those hours and days before.

I try not to think of the cries that went unanswered or the meals that went unfed.  I try not to think of the cuddles that weren't given or the multiple strangers who stood in my place.  I can't fathom the scary times or sad times or even the possibility of happy times.  It is just too much.

I parent in a way in which I hopes help to heal the pain of what wasn't done then and what was lost when she became my daughter. I take countless pictures of every special moment of her life.  Literally thousands and thousands of pictures taken in the last two and a half years.

There are 12 months of my daughter's life of which there was no photo record.  I have asked. And asked.  And begged.  And asked.  This isn't uncommon for many children adopted at an older age but that doesn't make it any easier.  I have been this route before.  We have one photo of our oldest son as an infant and it is a priceless treasure.

But she has nothing.

She notices now, at three and a half  "Where is Baby Taya, Mommy?" as we look through albums of her brothers and sister.  I ask again.

Our "Openness Agreement" has developed into a genuine and easy friendship.  A sisterhood of love for the same children.  Yesterday for the first time, I dropped by unannounced for a surprise visit with an extended family member.  We were out of town, unable to reach them through conventional means and just stopping by was the only option.  We were welcomed and embraced.   We had a picnic together and then a long drive back to town.  It was a lovely visit.  An easy visit.

I asked again.

When I dropped them off, she asked me to wait for a moment as she ran inside her home.  Out she came with a bag of undeveloped film canisters.

"I think there might be a picture on these" she said.

This morning I stood with trembling hands at the photo desk at WalMart.  I tried not to hope, convincing myself that chances were, they were pictures of other people. Other days.  Other times.

And I was right.  The first two batches I looked through were holiday pictures and blurry faces of distant relatives.  One whole roll was completely blank.

I grabbed the last envelope heavy with pictures and flipped it open.   There, staring back at me were the eyes of my infant daughter.

The weight of those missed moments, the weight of the gaps in her story, the weight of her time before us hit me like a physical punch to the chest and I gasped.  Tears poured from my eyes, as the poor teenager behind the desk stared at me in horror.  "Oh it's a good thing"  I explained  "a very good thing!".

They are poorly lit and horribly fuzzy.  They are taken on a cheap, old camera.  We don't know exactly how old she is, or where they were taken.   But they are HER.  They are HERS.  They are a part of her early story captured for her to see.  Captured for me to see.  A tiny glimpse but so incredibly precious.

My baby, our baby.   I am so incredibly thankful for a few fuzzy pictures sitting in a drawer waiting to be discovered and I am so incredibly thankful I was entrusted with them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fresh Air Fund - Give a Kiddo a Summer Experience

Well us West Coasters aren't getting much of a summer, and the East Coasters are melting under the scorching sun  (the sun we haven't seen in two months I would like to point out)  most of us are still getting to enjoy a change of location this summer.   A trip to the beach, a jaunt into the woods for a hike, or a camping vacation with the family are all part of most of your summer plans.  

I remember once having a conversation with my sons' biological father where he lamented the reality that he had no idea how to relate  to the boys childhood experiences.  He had never camped, never ridden a motorcycle, never been in a boat, never seen the ocean and never water skied.  In fact, he had never been out of the general location he was born in.  Ever.  And he was over 30.  Their childhood was as incomprehensible to him as his was to them.

There is an organization that seeks to make sure that ever child gets that fun summer experience, and they are still desperately in need of host families for kids THIS summer from the East Coast of Canada and the USA.  

PLEASE, go check out The Fresh Air Fund and considering hosting a child to give them a summer they will never forget.

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for either one or two weeks. Youngsters who are re-invited by the same family may continue with The Fund through age 18, and many enjoy longer summertime visits, year after year. A visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family can make all the difference in the world to an inner-city child. All it takes to create lifelong memories is laughing in the sunshine and making new friends.

The majority of Fresh Air children are from low-income communities. These are often families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open, outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Multi-Cultural Family

We are in the middle of packing up for our Harambee Camp, which is a celebration of African culture and the highlight of our year.  In the middle of planning for our grand African Adventure, we shook off our jingle dresses, tied up our moccasins and headed out to celebrate and honor National Aboriginal Day. 

I looked at my kids, my African-Canadian-American son, with the head full of dreadlocks,  holding on to his Jingle Dress wearing First Nations sister's hand while his  French-Norwegian-Irish-Swiss-Russian-Canadian brother sat beside him eating an Indian Taco and there was a small part of me that realized that maybe my normal isn't necessarily everybody else's normal.

And I felt sorry for everybody else.

Our life is so RICH.  Rich with culture and history and color.  We are blessed beyond measure by communities that have embraced us and still challenged us to know more, do more, be more for our kids.

I cannot imagine how little I would know about the rest of the world if I had chosen to stay in my world of White Privilege.

Maybe you are reading this and you are considering adopting transracially, or you are the parent of an adult child considering adopting transracially and you worry.   You might worry about the work involved to be a transracial adoptive parent, because there is a lot of work involved in being a GOOD transracial adoptive parent.   You might be scared of the opinions of others, because nothing really hurts more than realizing that someone else either doesn't view your child as equal in value to their own, or doesn't view your parenthood as being as legitimate as their own.  And it does hurt.  You might worry about raising teenagers when you don't fully comprehend what it is like to live in their skin, and it is very hard.   You might find a thousand reasons why adopting transracially has a cost, and there is a cost and probably you can find enough reasons to justify running far away from ever expanding the color of your family.  But that would be so sad, not for the children, who would hopefully find a family willing to embrace them and celebrate them, but for you and your little, tidy world.

I am richer for my kids.  I am richer for being in awe of the Elder willing to teach my children the history of hoop dancing or the kind emcee inviting my daughters to dance at a Pow Wow.  I am richer for understanding racism and culture and the horrors of prejudice.   I am richer for putting their needs before my own discomfort.

My life, my brown, black, white, multi-colored life is good.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On Men and Fathers and having a Daddy

I watch my husband sometimes with my kids and I wonder, in awe, how it is that I knew how to pick a good husband to be and a good father to be when I was only nineteen.  Engaged at nineteen.  Married at twenty.  Parents of three by 25.  Parents of 6 by 35.

And I did pick a good one.  I knew to expect to be treated well.  I knew I was lovable and beautiful and smart and deserving.  I knew that because my daddy had always told me I was.

I was his favorite Jennifer in the WHOLE WORLD.  And I knew I deserved a good guy because my dad showed me I did every single day of my childhood.

The words we heard this week were "terminal"  "limited options"  "aggressive".  And worse, "no cure".   We have some time to try to fight, but no one can really saw how much.  It was bad news. VERY BAD NEWS.

My dad is sick.  Really, really sick. His birthday this year is on Father's Day.  Sunday.

Honestly, I don't really know what to say other than I love him.  And that we need him.  My kids need him.  My sister needs him.  My nephews need him.  My step mom needs him.  I NEED HIM.

I have a hard time right now talking TO HIM.  I can talk about him just fine, but to him?  It is so hard to pick up that phone and say hello.   Why?  Because I know how badly he needs me to be OK.  He has spent his whole life making sure I am OK.  Checking my tire pressure every time I come over.  Topping up the oil, checking my wiper fluid. A quick hug and a glance  "You OK, Jen?".  "Yes dad!" and a smile of relief.

More than anything I know my dad wants us all to be OK.  It is not himself he is worried about.  In typical amazing dad fashion, it is ME.

And honestly, I am not.  I don't feel strong enough or wise enough or brave enough to face this battle with him.  I feel like a three year old who needs to know her daddy is the strongest man in the whole world and will fix anything and everything, always.   I want to hide and shut down and forget.   And he wants me to be OK.  Not to cry or sob or be a little girl scared of losing her daddy, but to be the capable woman he raised.

He has taught me strength.  And fortitude.  And how to be brave and strong and resilient.  He has taught me how to survive this and it is a lesson I never wanted to know.   Because his strength and bravery and hard work have been my foundation.  And can you survive without your foundation?  I really don't want to find out.

Happy Father's Day Dad.  Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you.

And I hate cancer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I guess this means it is summer

Last night hockey finally ended for the season.  We were sad.  We shed tears.  We did NOT riot.

Those that did in no way represent me and my hockey loving kids. Nor my city. Nor my country. Nor my hockey team.

We have been to the beach, dodging rain drops that seem to have never abated this spring.

Two of my kids are still in school until the end of the month, two start their summer holiday today.  Two of the others are just so busy playing in the sand box to care much about school at all.

Things are have been good.  SO good.  I mean still hard and complicated and busy and crazy but good.  Stable.  I am all for stable.  Stable means kids wrestle and it's in FUN not because they are trying to kill each other.

We will travel this summer across the country.  Saskatchewan here I come.  Again. Did I mention 24 hours of driving ONE WAY. I have one more day of paid home schooling.  I think possibly it is one day too many.

Some days I feel like I have nothing left to say.   Others I wish I could share more.  But I am still here.  My kids are still amazing.  And I am beginning to see the light of a fun summer ahead.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Today, I choose to celebrate myself.

I have been pushed to the very end of my mothering skills this year.  I have hung onto my sanity by a thread, pushed there by parenting complicated kids in complicated times.

But I do not PUT UP with my kids.  I love being their mother.  I love the crazy, the complicated, the fun and and the awful.

This whole mothering thing is not easy.  If you think it is, let us know when you have your first child.

And so today I will let (and in fact encourage) my kids to honor me.  I deserve it.  Right?

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's been a while

One year.   That is how long it has been.

A year ago today I stood in a court room and a judge ruled that our daughters would stay with us.  The further away I get from that day the more miraculous I realize it was.  There we were, becoming a family in a way that as close to impossible as you can imagine.

And here we are, a year later.  Things, today, are good.

Our relationship with the girls' mother is good.  Very good in fact.  The angst over visits passed and we have reached a comfortable spot where our friendship is beyond just the fact we both love our daughters.   Our lives, our worlds, are about as different as can be and yet in some strange way we have managed to forge something that feels strong.

This week she moved into a house a block and a half down the road.  We drive by and honk a hello, Taya calls out "That is L mama.  I grew in her tummy and we love her."   And I say yes, smile and we continue with our day.  She will send me a text during a hockey game to comment on a play.   She will call in tears if someone has said something to hurt her and she needs assurance of her place in our lives.  Visits are short and not close together, at her request, but feel completely natural.  Last week we went out to lunch, today we will attend a birthday party together.

We threw a massive bash for the girls' birthdays and for the first time had an event that combined the girls original family and our family and friends.  And we mingled and laughed and everyone was able to celebrate the wonder that is our daughters.  We realize that we, the two mothers, are leading the way way for those that follow us.  Some of her family is not comfortable with the situation, and yet because she is, they follow her lead.  And the girls benefit.

The same problems that were there before are still there.  This is not an uncomplicated situation or an uncomplicated life, and yet mutual respect has gotten us a very long way.   All for the love of two very good girls.

My life continues to be busy and at times insane.  I am home schooling one of my teenagers now, adding to the paid home schooling student that arrives every afternoon.  We are still facilitating the boys hockey , even though it is MAY and now add things like gymnastics and lacrosse to the mix.   My husband turned 40.  IEPs, therapist appointments, counselors, doctors and trying to keep sane fill the rest of the days.  

A friend asked me what I had been up to one day last week, so I emailed her this:

midnight - go to bed
2:30 am - Jayde comes into our bed.
3:00 am - Jayde is doing cartwheels so I move her into the bed we have set up for her in our room.
3:02 am-  realize teen is still up and silently hope he falls asleep soon. listen to him walk to bed
5:30 - as a consequence for yesterday's crazy behavior, another teen woken up to accompany Dad to work today
6:10 am - discuss with Shel that sending teen to work with him this morning won't work because teen has a dentist appointment.  Let teen go back to bed. 
6:20 am - jump in shower
6:35 am - turn on computer check email.  consider making coffee. Decide not to.
6:38 am - Taya up.  Watch cartoons.
7:00 am - Jayde up.
7:10 am - Caden up.
7:20 am - Teens up in theory.
7:45 am - Re wake up teens. 
General morning stuff - breakfast, getting the boys to MOVE by helping out a bit
8:15 am - phone call from school from principal to do an interview about my home schooling student. This is the normal time we leave but we dont today because the boys have dentist appointments.
8:40 - Realize teen didn't take his meds last night.  Ask him to take them.  He refuses.  Give him an ultimatum.  He takes them.
8:45 - put all six kids in the truck, drive to Kids dentist.  Leave G, T and J in the truck, bring in T, C and E.  Leave them there after checking them in.  Promise Dentist I will be returning within half an hour.  I lie.
9:00 arrive at motor vehicles branch with G, T and J.  Check in and pay ... realize that there is a 45 minute wait AT LEAST before Greg can take his drivers test.  Ugh.  Girls running all over acting crazy.  Leave with them and go to Tim Horton's to buy myself a coffee.
9:45 am - recieve call from Dentist.  Some emergency with Eric's tooth.  Solve over phone.  Feel like very bad mother.
10:00 am - go back into motor vehicle branch.  Wait for another 15 minutes for Greg to be done.  Pay again since he passed. While paying Jayde runs away and gets on the ELEVATOR by herself.  Run screaming from the DMV to grab her.  Others laugh at me. 
10:15 - go back to Kids Dentist.  Boys aren't done yet.  Go back to truck and drive Greg home ... going to drop him and Jayde off and to back to Dentist just with Taya.  No way.  Jayde flips out.  So take both girls back to dentist.
10:30 - get girls out of truck and go into dentist office.  E and C are done and want to go to school.  Drag a screaming Taya out of dentist office (its a fun place) and drive E and C to school.  Tell Tanner I will NOT be going back into dentist to get him so he can come out.
10:45 - drop boys off at school, return to Kids Dentist
11:00 - Tanner done.  Drive him to school. 
11:10 - arrive at the Bible study I was supposed to be co-hosting at 10.  Apologize for being late.  Visit.  Field a phone call from Shel who is trying to decide if we are taking Greg driving yet.
12:02 - pack up girls and go home.  Put them immediately to bed after going pee.
12:15 - check email, make sure Greg has his science work done for his tutoring later
12:28 = B (the student I home school every day) arrives. Taya gets out of bed.
12:30 - begin work with B.  He is in an awful HORRIBLE mood. He is an ODD kid at the best of times and today is not a good day. Taya gets out of bed 16 more times.
1:25 - B has completed exactly ZERO work.  I call his parent and ask him to come get him.  Put together the days' assignment.
1:29 - Jayde wakes up from nap.  Has peed the bed and herself. Is miserable and whiney.
1:46 - Parent arrives and takes B off my hands.  Taya is asleep. F I N A L L Y
1:47 - G asks for my help with a project he is working on.
1:48 - Realize I am doing Greg's project for him.  Kick his ass into gear.  
2:30 - Finish G's project while he has a snack = realize I am very late and still doing his project.
2:33 - Wake up Taya, find panties and pants for Jayde, put shoes on girls, quite possible scream HURRY UP we have to go.
2:47 - Pick up D at her Day Care
2:53 - Drop Greg off at his Science Tutoring
2:55 - Pull Eric and Caden off their school bus JUST as it is going to pull away.  I need them to watch the girls.
3:00 - Drop D off at her parental visit.  Chat for a bit so D will be comfortable. Leave E, C, J and T in the truck.
3:15 - drive to Greg's school office where I have to drop of "HIS" work with his teachers.  Pick up his report card and meet with principal, science teacher and socials teacher. 
3:27 - leave Greg's school office and drive to the high school trying to find Tanner ot pick him up
3:33 - got home as Tanner walks in the door.
3:35 - Jayde pees her pants again.  Dogs have destroyed a box of kleenix and ripped a curtain down while I was gone.  SERIOUSLY going to kill the dogs.
3:46 - realize that Jayde is outside on the trampoline naked.  The boys that were supposed to be watching her got distracted with the TREEHOUSE ??? cartoons I had put on to keep the girls busy.
3:47 - turn off TV.  Send one son to get baby, send another to to clean kitchen, another to shuck corn on the cob for dinner.
4:00 - put on chicken nuggets and water to boil
4:12 - Shel home.  He picked up Greg from tutoring for me.
4:30 - Realize Caden is late for gymnastics class.  RACE him there.
4:45 - Put together a plate of chicken nuggets, corn on the cob for girls, Shel and I and Tanner
5:00  - leave girls and G and E at home to eat.  Take Tanner to his parent teacher interviews at his high school.  Make sure he has thrown his Lacrosse Gear into the truck.  Meet with 3 teachers.  REalize our son has not been turning in any homework.  Restrain from kicking his butt.
5:45 - drive him to Lacross practice.  Realize I am out of gas - go get gas.
6:15 - return home.  house a DISASTER.  Girls are running across the front lawn, G and E playing basketball.  Apparently they forgot they were supposed to do the dishes.
6:30 - Shel leaves with G, E and their friend to drive them to hockey training.  Almost forgets to pick up Caden who calls crying because they are late.
6:40 - Put girls in tub.
6:50 - Shel home with Caden. Cuddle Caden whose jaw is hurting from his filling this morning.
7:05 - Girls decide a hot tub party would be fun.  Put on swim suit, Caden does too, Grab girls from the tub and put them in the hot tub with us.
7:25 - took out the girls, put on PJs  Shel leaves to go to business meeting. Turn on cartoons
8:05 = begin bedtime routine. 
8:30 - finish bedtime routine
8:32 - help Tanner organize his binders, go over missing French home work, check score of Canucks game and email.
9:23 - Shel comes home with G and E. 
I collapse on the couch.  And that is why I have a hard time blogging these days. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A First

There have been many parenting firsts in my life but today was another that left me awestruck in how my life has twisted and turned.

Today I took my daughter to ballet. My beautiful princess in her $30 ballet slippers and her $2 tights.  I was the only mom that forgot a tutu.  I will remember for next time.

I would say there wasn't a hockey arena in sight but the class is actually held in a room at the arena.  At least we felt at home there!

Friday, April 15, 2011

99% Mom 1% Jen

That's where I am at.

I know it's not healthy.

I know it's not wise.

I just have no idea what to do about it.

I am sick and tired and keep getting sicker.  Life is crazy and busy and never, ever ends.  I am parenting 24 hours a day seven days a week.  If it's not teenage angst at midnight, it's a toddler who doesn't yet know how to sleep through the night and starts her day at 2:00 am.

I have kids at the most selfish extremes of their lives.  Teenagers and Toddlers.  They  suck every scrap of self out of me, and give very little back.

We have had 5 birthdays in 3 months.  I am homeschooling two now.  I am dealing with therapists and evaluations and hormones and parent contact and regression and just general busy insanity that is life with 6 kids.

And I am tired.  But there is no time to be tired because I have to host a birthday party for a bunch of teenagers today, and drive another teenager to another city so he can play hockey, while juggling 2 toddlers to do it.  Tomorrow is the same.  And then the day after that, MORE of the same.

Monday the cycle starts all over again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Featured Article - Adoption Magazine

I suppose if I am too busy, or too distracted, or too shut in, to bother posting myself, it's awfully nice when someone reposts something I have written on my behalf.

My 'adoption world friend' Sharla has started up an online magazine for Canadian adoptive families, although much of what is written would be perfectly applicable for any adoptive parent, there is a definite Canadian touch to many of the articles, and most of the writers.   Please go check out my article and subscribe to the magazine (it's FREE!).

And yes, I was supposed to do this yesterday.  And no, I did not remember.

Life has gotten crazy and I am choosing to ignore that reality online but I will be back.  I promise.

I think they look strangely alike, don't you?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter Blues

This is my week's predicted weather. Last year at this time the snow was gone the weather was warmish and we were able to be outside.

Five months stuck inside with two ADD toddlers, 3 moody teenagers and a cling on for a tween?  I am so done.  


Send wine.  
And a ticket for some place warm.  If you need me before May, I will be the chanting woman hiding under a quilt.

Thank You Google Weather for ruining my day. 

Chance of Snow
-22° | -6°
Chance of Snow
-31° | -17°
Chance of Snow
-42° | -20°
Mostly Sunny
-22° | -16°

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Not That I am Bragging

But I my Biggest Boy is going to the BC Provincial Championships for Midget Rep Hockey.

Twas a wonderful, hockey filled weekend.  Check THIS out.

A special thank you to Laureen Carruthers Photography for putting this together.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's All in a Name: Epilogue

I wrote HERE about why we were considering changing the girls names, and the options that were before us.  In the end, we chose to change the girls' names to a completely different option than I listed there.

Their original names were First Name * Middle Name #1 * Middle Name #2 * Father's Last Name

We changed to:  First Name *  Middle Name #1 - Hyphen My Middle Name * Mother's Last Name  *Our Last Name

There were a variety of reasons that we went with this name change and in the end we are very satisfied with our decision to include the names we did.  I have felt steadfast and firm in our decision, our request was granted legally by the province of the girls' birth.  It is done.

BUT we had yet to share that decision with the girls' "other mother".

There were many reasons for the delay in telling her, first and foremost the fact she hadn't been around much, and when she was, she wasn't alone.  We wanted her to be the first we told before any other members of the family were informed.  And so I prayed.  Alot.  For the right time, and the right words, to explain to her our decision.

This past week she came by for a visit, the first in several months.  At the end of the visit, after we had tucked our daughters into bed and both kissed them goodnight, I began to drive her home.

"So" she said, "Have you found out how much it would cost to change the girls' names, because I really want you to".

I knew that NOW was the moment I had been praying for.

"It's already done" I said quietly.  "As the girls' parents we had to make a decision that we felt was in their best interest.  We talked to psychologists, and social workers, our kids.  And we prayed.  Alot."

And so I shared with her our reasoning.  A desire to recognize the fact that SHE was the one that stood before the judge and asked him to allow her to transfer her parental rights to us.  A desire to recognize the fact that she is the one that toughs out visits as a mother who isn't a mommy.  A desire to honour her role in choosing the life the girls have when she was all alone and against huge opposition.

And, of course, a desire for the girls to know they always, fully belong in our family too.

And she cried.  And cried. And cried.

With joy.

"Thank you" she said "It's perfect".                            

And a weight, a large one, lifted off my soul.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Snowed In

This was our park last year at this time.  It was lovely. 

This is our park this year.  Not so lovely. 
6 kids, one mom and a whole lot of snow.   

This is Jayde, exactly a year ago, wearing a dress I was buying "for the future".  Not knowing if the future would come for us. 

Here is Jayde wearing that dress this weekend.  
The future came.  And baby got HAIR!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Updates all Around

My Dad, the Super Hero, was discharged from the hospital 4 days after his surgery.   The "inoperable" tumor operated on and gone.  

It is a miracle.  Of this we are certain. 
And we, his family,  are so thankful.

My birthday was hard.  VERY hard.  On the day of the year that the loss of she who was my 'daughter' is the most significant, our shared birthday, I found out news that broke my heart again.  I ache for her and dream that she is experiencing only joy.  And when I catch a glimpse of reality far different I grieve. 

   I know how my story turned out, I know now looking back how she changed us and our family for the better.  I see no "all things working together for good" yet for her.  And it is hard. 

I cried, I sobbed, I screamed at God.  And I came home to an email from a friend containing photos I had never before seen.  She had been sorting her pictures on her computer and wondered if I wanted them.  

There we were.   Baby girl and I. 
I cried again. For our past, and for her present.

My present, the girls, are amazing.  Huge.  Amazing.  Smart. And very, very busy.  The relationship we are trying to build has become very one sided.  Fifteen offered visits cancelled, missed or ignored since the last in  November, September the last before that.  I struggle with how much is my responsibility to force, and my family struggles along with me as we navigate this journey. 

Oh but the girls.  The girls.  Worth every moment. 
Can you believe that Chunk of Love on the left, Miss Jayde, was once a tiny "failure to thrive" babe?  And Miss Smarty Pants Learning My Letters Already Taya was once called 'developmentally delayed'?  
Me either.  Their present is very, very good.

The big boys are growing.  Up and Out.  And with that we face new issues, new challenges, new opportunities.  And I have made a decision that out of respect for their new maturity, and a desire for privacy on all our parts, they will no longer be an integral part of the blog.    They are just as loved.  Just as amazing and just as complicated but they are owed that right now, and I give it happily.  I promise to brag almost as often about how amazing they are.  

My middle boys remain the same.  Growing.  Laughing.  Loving freely and easily.  

I have found this a complicated time.  I am stressed out.  Tired.  Worried. Frustrated.  Questioning.  The future worries me, the past hurts me and the present drags on.

 Hmmmm?  Could this possibly be the mid-winter blues?

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Dad

He has bravely accepted and then defeated 5% survival odds, endured 2 difficult surgeries, never complained once while enduring 22 doses of chemo, willingly gave up his passion of antique cars, and maintained a positive attitude every single moment of this journey while the rest of us screamed at God. 

He loves me, he loves my sister, and he loves all our kids with the passion of an adoring, amazing  grandfather. 

He chooses to put him self through torture because he wants to live, for us.  Not for himself, but because he knows it would be hard on us to lose him.  He is the rock solid center of our universe.  The strongest, bravest, and hardest working man I know.  And oh how he is loved.

If you pray, please say a prayer for him today as he is in surgery #3, on his otherwise deemed "inoperable" cancer. 

This is my Dad, but you can call him Superman.

******** UPDATE *********   My dad came through the EXTREMELY risky surgery with flying colors.  Thank you.

Friday, January 21, 2011


732.  Not that I am counting or anything.  

I wondered in amazement, many years ago, how a mother ever EVER let her children move out or move on.

My perfect, affectionate, loving and REWARDING toddlers.  Living life without them under my roof seemed a night mare of unimaginable proportions.

Now I know.  Apparently there is a reason for the teen years.

732.  Not that I am counting or anything.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Wonder

I wonder how many years it will be before any thought of my birthday doesn't bring me to the brink of tears?  Last year I was so hopeful I was over the raw part.

I wonder if this is something you ever get over?  If acknowledging that this is my reality makes it better? I get one day a year to be ok with missing her.  That God coincided the day of her birth with mine so I would never forget to pray for her?  That in some way, we are tied together for the rest of my life, even if it is never acknowledged anywhere else, God ensured I would never, ever forget.   That on this day her value, her worth to me, is always at the front of my mind.

I have promised a friend, facing the same inevitable,  unfathomable loss, that she will be ok.  And yet, on days like this, it does not feel ok.  Most days it does.  But not on this day.

My digital photo frame holds 1000 pictures and I awoke yesterday to find it had frozen on a picture of her.  6 months old.  Laughing.  She is still frozen there because I haven't the strength or the courage to press play or fast forward.

That's how I feel.  Rewound and paused.

I will be able to press play on Friday.

I  just have to get through tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to me.  Happy Birthday to her.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hmmmm 2011, I think you suck

We had a lovely New Year's Eve Toddler Party.  Yes. Toddler Party.

It ended at 10:20.   This was just fine with the women of the family.

The next day I was admitted to the hospital.  Again.  I am not sure if I have mentioned it on here before but I have been a few times lately with stomach issues.  PAINFUL stomach issues.

And now I am out of the hospital and faced with the daunting reality that food hurts.  Eating food hurts badly enough that I get hospitalized with a large IV and really good medications.

This is not a break.  I have six kids.  It means I come home to a disaster zone.  Its simply easier to stay out of the hospital and quit eating.

Now I LIKE food.  I like to eat food.  I like to smell food.  And although I am not even that overly successful at it, I like to cook food.  If I was one of those "should be shot" Naturally Size Zeros who eats the odd green leaf only to stay alive, maybe this wouldn't bother me.  But it does.

I would write the food list that I am not allowed to eat on here but it would take several pages.  The list I am allowed to eat?

One day, Meat.  Without any sauce, flavor, garlic or onion ESPECIALLY.

Rice.  Plain.  Well maybe a bit of salt.


Broth.  STRAINED broth.  Just to be sure no flavor gets through.

Potatoes and Corn.  Green Beens. Maybe one day when my stomach heals enough.

Exciting isn't it?

By summer I am going to be the grouchiest size 2 around.   Either that or I am taking out a room at the local hospital and asking to keep the IV in.

The real question is a life without chocolate a life worth living?  No coffee?  No diet coke?

*** For those that care, I am on the FODMAPS Diet which specifically addresses people with fructose allergies. I have that in combination with a wheat allergy, and a colon not happy about all the abdominal surgeries in my past and the resulting scar tissue. IT SUCKS.