May 31, 2012

Say Cheese

My hilarious friend, Ellen, lives in Indianapolis, which is a shame because it's almost three hours from my house.  Now, I know that three hours is not super far, but she has three kids and I have three kids, so our dates consist mostly of skyping and texting marathons instead of the "hug your neck in person" type dates.  But when we do get to see each other, I always consider becoming one of those sister wives people because we just have so much fun together that I think living commune style with our families would be a blast.  I just love her to pieces.  I'm so blessed in my life to have such great friends who are not only kind and loving but who also are crazy talented.  Ellen is a phenomenal photographer and she is sweet enough to always take our family pics when she comes into town.  Just wanted to share some of our pics from our family session!

P.S.  After three days of trying to upload these, they still pop up on the blog as grainy.  If you click on a picture, it will open in a window that doesn't look grainy.

P.P.S.  How cute are my children?  They are wackadoos, but man oh man, they are CUTE!

P.P.S.S.  How hot is my husband?  That picture of him in front of his office makes me so smiley :-)

All photos credited to Ellen Joy Photography.  Thanks, Ellen!

May 29, 2012

We Got Cocky And Sweaty And Other Campfire Stories...

Y'all, we got cocky.  We thought that our two successful backyard camping experiences made us experts.  We told ourselves, "We are the freaking camping masters!  We can totally go to the state park and camp for multiple nights.  It will rock our socks off!"  And we booked a campsite two hours away from home for the long weekend. 

Our first clue that the weekend was going to be less than perfect should have come when it took us over two hours to load the car.  In 90+ degree heat.  We wanted to take our bikes with us on our trip and in order to take all of our bikes, we had to get a bike rack for our minivan.  Because our minivan wasn't cool enough on it's own, we had to load it down with spider man bikes and a grown up bike with one of those annoying baby seats on the back.  The reviews of said bike rack said "easy assembly!"  and "only took 3 minutes to install!"  They obviously did not take into account our ineptitude for all things that need to be assembled because one hour later we were still dripping sweat trying to attach that GD bike rack to the car.  We finally got it on, (or so we thought) put a zillion bikes on it and took off.  We went over the hump at the end of the driveway and off it all came.  We figured out how to fix it and got on with the show- only starting to head to the lake/campground 3 hours behind schedule.

The second clue that the weekend was not going to be all roses was that the temperature gauge in the car read 97 and the radio reports said that the heat index was well over 100 degrees.  No problem, I thought.  We were going to the lake!  However, we don't have a boat or any other lake type floating device and therefore the proximity to water did us absolutely no good.  The lake is man made and it drops from the shore to about 60 feet down in no time.  Not exactly what you want to throw your kids into.  Well- I take that back.  After the second day of whining, I would have thrown them all in and then walked away.

I should have also known that I would have stayed grumpy for days when the following two things happened: 1) I left my happy pills on the counter at home and 2) I sweated through every pair of underwear I had on the first day.  Kamron says that I share too much.  Talking about swamp ass would be an example of something he would say is over sharing.  I say it's a common problem that should be discussed at length.  It's just one way that we differ. Potato Potato  (uh, I just realized that the difference in pronunciations can't really be conveyed when you type out potato twice. Oh well.)

We ended up beating the heat at the public pool across from the campground, which we totally could have done at home for free, but such is life.  Kamron and I took books and our music and other such things that people would use to relax and found that by the time we gathered wood, started fires and prepared the food, that there was zero time to relax.  We would have made crappy pioneers.

My phone didn't work and I went three days with no Internet and no email.  I wish that this didn't make me want to pull all of my hair out, but sadly, I'm a little technology dependent.  By the third day, my skin was itching.  Kamron says it's bug bites, but I think it was the physical manifestation of my technology withdrawal coming out of my pores.

But it wasn't all bad.  Not even a little bit.  Yes- it wasn't perfect.  But at the end of the day we still spent three days loving on our kids and spending time together.  We were building memories that will last them a lifetime.  They were smiley the whole weekend, despite having parents who were tired and dying from the heat.  They talked and talked around the fire at night and to be honest- when we are home, I don't always take the time to listen.  It was great hearing their little stories and hear their giggles when we told them embarrassing and funny stories about when we were little.  Here are a few highlights from the weekend:

   Home sweet home.

Proving that spending hours trying to attach those bikes to the van was worth it!  I think Sadie rode a million miles over the course of the weekend. 

Noah gathered sticks in the woods all weekend.  I'm convinced he's the only one of us that would have survived had we born in pioneer times.  I couldn't even stay alive playing Oregon Trail. 

Miles spent the weekend playing in the water spigot.  Like me, he soaked through all of his undies and by the last day, he was going commando.  This resulted in many instances of him bouncing up and down exclaiming, "I can feel my wiener jumping in my pants!"  It's the little things in life that bring us so much joy, no?

We visited the National Trout Hatchery.  It was more fun that it sounds.

We fished for about six minutes before we realized that we were frying like eggs on the rocky shore.  Also- there were no fish. They must have all been at the hatchery. 

When Miles would get overly annoying, we turned him into Cornholio and it seemed to snap him right out of it.  My  next campaign is going to be to get "the Cornholio" written into the therapy books.  It works.

Before we left, I went on a quest to buy the most redneck coozies I could find.  These made me ridiculously happy every single time I looked at them.

We made really good food!

We played countless games of UNO.  Only we called it "Oh-low" because it's way more fun to say.  And we are all about making things more FUN!

  On the way home, we stopped and let the kids climb all over the nation's "unofficial" biggest tree.  If you drive through other states, you get to see the biggest ball of twine or the biggest frying pan.  I think I'll take our Kentucky trees any day.

And today?  Today, I am getting my technology fix in the air conditioning.  In clean underwear.  And eating food that I didn't have to cook on a fire.  It's totally epic.     

Checking in- Week 14

I'm 15 weeks in on my Nutrisystem food program.  Since the last weigh in I am down .2 pounds.  It's taken me almost 4 weeks to loose the latest pound.  But you know what?  THIS IS OKAY!  I actually feel really proud of the fact that I am doing this slow.  It goes against everything that my mind has ever told me to do to take off the extra pounds.  Before, I would crash diet, deprive myself, and feel utterly miserable counting calories all the live long day. 

This time feels different.  I know the options that I'm supposed to eat- and I eat them.  I know that my options are balanced.  This is better for my mind than any other thing that I've ever tried.  And if it's good for my mind- my body will follow.  In fact, it's already starting to follow.  My doctor complimented me on my weight loss and said my blood pressure was fabulous! This is one of those "diets" that doesn't have to take over your life and for me, that keeps me sane and it keeps me from treating my body like a tool that I can put through the extremes.  Nutrisystem is helping me be kind to myself.

Overall, in the 15 weeks, I am down a total of 17.4 pounds.  I know that if I had done this more "hard core" I could be down more.  But I've taken the program and worked it into the life that I actually lead.  If I am home, I'm eating my Nutrisystem meals.  If I'm invited out to dinner- I eat what is fixed for me.  If we go to a restaurant, I try to make better choices.  In other words- for me- Nutrisystem doesn't travel out of my house.  Sometimes this means that I splurge.  It means that if we go out to celebrate the end of the preschool year and everyone else is having dessert, then I'll have a dessert.  Or if it's a special date night, I'll eat my favorite dish at the restaurant that we choose.  Nutrisystem is helping me let go of the guilt of celebrating.  I know that food doesn't always make a celebration, but the deprivation of food can sure ruin one! 

This works for me because the next morning after a celebration, I'm right back on my tasty NS muffins for breakfast.  This gives me hope, that even through some splurges, I'm still able to lose- even if it is ever so slowly.  It helps me know that this program has finally gotten through my thick skull that it's all about balance!

Next stop: 20 pounds lost!  I'm going to get there!

I'd LOVE for you to join me on this journey to improve my health and lose some extra "fluff".  If you'd like to read how other bloggers are doing on NS, then follow the twitter hashtag #NSNATION.  You can also follow Nutrisystem on twitter (@nutrisystem) to keep up with the latest promotions and news.  They are carrying over their 40th anniversary sale, so if you want to get started, you can take 40% of your order.  (It's a steal!)

Disclosure: In exchange for this review, I am provided the entire Nutrisystem program free of charge.  All opinions are my own and are my honest thoughts about the program.

May 24, 2012

Ten Ways That You Can Help Orphans

This post is my 600th post!  Sometimes that seems hard to believe!  Lots of people blog for lots of different reasons.  For me, it started as a way to chronicle how I was feeling about our adoption process.  For some crazy reason (that I still haven't figured out) other people actually wanted to read about it. Then I realized that through this outlet, I could be a voice for orphans and vulnerable children.  Aside from raising my children, it is what makes me feel like I have purpose.  It's more than telling the funny, embarrassing stories that happen to me as a mother.  It's more than a public baby book.  It's more than living our lives out loud.  It's a way to show every mother sitting in her kitchen at her computer, that she has the power to do SOMETHING about the orphan crisis.

We hear it so many times that it's almost cliche: "Not everyone is called to adopt, but we can all do something for orphans!"  And while that is true- it seems that the story almost always ends there.  If this world of orphan care isn't something in which you are daily entrenched, you may not know what is supposed to come after that cliche sentence.  You may be screaming at your computer, "Yeah, adoption is not right for me, but I still want to help!  What am I supposed to do?"

I'm glad you asked! I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate 600 posts than to share a list of several things that we can all do to rally around vulnerable children and families.  They vary in how involved they are.  Some are easy.  Some are hard.  Some take 3 minutes- others are a major time commitment. They aren't all going to be the right fit for you.  That's okay!  We all have different gifts and talents.  Use what you're given, with the heart that you've been given and find the right thing for you.

1. Sponsor a child:  I can't stress this enough.  NOT ALL CHILDREN IN ORPHANAGES NEED TO BE ADOPTED.  As people, especially as Westerners, we see kids languishing in orphanages and our first inclination is to want to put them in our suitcases and bring them all home with us.  But the fact is that MOST children who are currently in orphanages have parents who are ALIVE who LOVE them and just don't have the means to care for them.  Sponsoring a child is one of the best ways to help children remain with their parents and get out of orphanages. Child sponsorships vary from organization to organization but most include things like food, medical care, shelter, and school fees.  Sponsorships typically range from $25-$50 per month.  One other major benefit of child sponsorship is that in most cases, you get to communicate with your sponsored child.  This makes for a great way for your children to get involved in orphan care!

Some great organizations for child sponsorships are:  Compassion International, World Vision, Food For The Hungry, Show Hope

2. Sponsor A Woman:  Just as above, sponsoring a woman helps keep a family intact.  Empowering  a woman through monthly sponsorship provides a way for her to learn a trade, get adequate medical care and provide for her family (thus her children will never end up in an orphanage).  I wrote an entire post on the benefits of sponsoring women all over the world that you can find HERE.  Monthly sponsorships for women typically cost between $25 and $40.  Most women who receive sponsorship are widows, victims of rape, or survivors of war.

The most reputable and widely recognized organization facilitating women's sponsorships is Women For Women International.

In this same vein- support organizations who are working in the developing world to provide maternal health.  In third world countries, women have an exponentially increased chance of dying during child birth- creating orphans on a baby's first day of life.  Organizations that help women have a safe delivery and teach breastfeeding and infant care help ensure that a new family gets off to a healthy start.  Some organizations doing incredible work in maternal health are Heartline Ministries and HEAL Africa and Project Hopeful.

 3.  Become A Foster Parent:  Foster parents are so vital to protecting vulnerable children here in the US.  Despite all the faults of the "system"- when it works, birth parent's are given an opportunity and the necessary resources to change and become better parents.  If parents can meet those expectations, they can continue to parent their children.  Foster parents are needed to stand in the gap while moms and dads do the work necessary to be suitable parents so they can get their children back.  Foster parents are trained, equipped, and compensated through the state department.  To become a foster parent in most states, there is a required 30 hours of training, a homestudy done by the state, and ongoing training to keep your home open.  Foster parents are needed for children of all ages- from infants to teens.

For more info on becoming a foster parent, visit the foster care division of AdoptUsKids.  They can help you get in touch with your local foster care office.

4.  Become a Respite Provider: Did you know that children who are in foster care can only be cared for by state approved respite providers?  That means that the teenager down the street just won't cut it when foster parents need a break or a date night.  Certified respite providers are the only babysitters that foster parents can use.  If you aren't ready for the commitment that it takes to be a full-time foster parent, then maybe providing date night babysitting or relief babysitting while foster mom needs to go to a medical appointment may be the right thing for you.  Having a good respite provider helps keep foster families refreshed and is a great way to make an impact to a child in foster care without jumping all the way in.

Contact your local department for family services office (or click here if you need help getting connected with the right people) for more information on becoming a respite provider.

5.  Mentor A Mom:  I absolutely support a woman's decision to make an adoption plan for her baby if that's what she wants to do.  I also absolutely support empowering that same mom to parent her child if that's what she chooses.  Many women in the US who consider adoption do so because they don't feel like they have enough support to raise a child.  Many crisis pregnancy centers offer mentor matching to help build a support network for the woman who find herself in a crisis pregnancy situation.  They are always in need of non-judgemental, loving women who are good listeners to help mentor a mom through a crisis pregnancy and help her get set up after the baby comes. Remember all those times you needed to call your mom when you first had a baby and needed to know everything from if you can put a bottle in the microwave to what to do when the baby has a fever?  Now imagine that you didn't have that resource.  Mentoring a mom is a way to provide that resource and help a women and her child get the best possible start to parenting.  When vulnerable moms and kids get off to a good start, those families learn to thrive (and those children stay out of the foster care system!)

For more information about mentoring, find your local crisis pregnancy center by googling "crisis pregnancy center" or "pregnancy resource center" and the name of your city or the closest large city.

Are you Francisco and Adolfo's mommy?
6.  Advocate For Waiting Children.  The most vulnerable orphans in the world are those with special needs or those who are older. These children are often called "waiting children" meaning that they are legally free and ready to be adopted and are just waiting for their adoptive families to find them.  Many waiting children are listed on photolistings with with a short bio about their personality and special needs.  If you are a blogger, a facebooker, a tweeter or are on any other kind of social media, consider advocating for one of these children on a regular basis.  Search the photolistings and find a child who "speaks" to you.  Post that child's picture regularly on your desired social media.  You may be the one who has a Facebook friend who feels like that child is the right child for their family.  Or ask your friends to share.  The point is- we all know people.  Sheer statistics say that the more a child's story is told, the more likely they are to find a family.  Be the one to share a child's story.  You never know who's ears that story may fall on.

Many waiting children can be found at Adopt Us Kids (Older Child and Special Needs Adoption in the US) , Project Hopeful (HIV+)   
 8.  Give financially to help offset the financial burden of adoption.  Some are supposed to be adopters and some are supposed to be senders.  Over and over again, people say that the number one thing that keeps them from adopting, is money.  If adoption is not in your family plan, help equip someone who would desire nothing more than to be an adoptive parent.  There are so many awesome organizations that work to give grants to adopting families who also practice responsible giving.  They also give donor's a tax receipt.

Great organizations who equip families through adoption grants: Show Hope, Lifesong For Orphans

9.  Lend Your Voice:  Often times the general public just isn't aware of the breadth of the global orphan crisis or of the needs of vulnerable children in their own communities.  By even knowing that this problem exists, you have a responsibility to share your knowledge.  You don't have to be an expert.  You don't even have to be a very good speaker.  You just have to be willing.  Find a civic group in your town that will let you talk about the orphan crisis and give people a practical way to help.  Ask to share with your small group at church or with your Sunday School class.  Encourage that rotary club or that youth group to sponsor a child.  Or do a formula/diaper drive for the local crisis pregnancy center.  If you belong to a church, one great way to introduce your church to the orphan crisis is through Orphan Sunday.  Orphan Sunday is simply an awareness campaign and is a wonderful, effective way to teach your congregation about the needs of orphans. You have a voice that you can use to bring awareness to the plight of orphans.
10.  Lend Your Name:   The US government offers a tax credit for families who have completed an adoption to help offset adoption expenses.  This credit is set to expire and is in danger of not being renewed.  Without the credit, many families would not be able to adopt.  With just a few clicks, you can sign a petition asking Congress to renew the credit and ensure that more families are financially able to adopt. 

**Please feel free to list more ideas in the comments section of this post!  It's going to take all of us working together to bring about change for the fatherless.


May 22, 2012

"Will You Be Sad When You And Daddy Have To Get Divorced?"

We were in the car, having a fairly quiet drive when she said it.  And when I heard it, my heart nearly shattered.

"Mom?  Will you be sad when you and Daddy have to get divorced?"  Sadie, our eight year old, asked in a very small but matter of fact voice.

A million scenarios flashed through my mind as to why she'd think my husband and I were getting divorced.  Is it because I told him that I'd love him forever if he'd load the dishwasher and he said he couldn't because he had to get the grass cut before the rain came in- and now she thought that I wasn't going to love him forever? Is it because I sometimes go sleep on the couch when the snoring gets too loud and they came downstairs a few times to see me sleeping on the couch instead of next to Daddy?  Is it because they sometimes see us get annoyed with each other and watch me sigh and get all passive aggressive in exasperation?

I tried to figure out why she was saying it so that I could know how to respond.  Finally I said, "Sadie, why do you think that Mommy and Daddy are going to get divorced?"

What she said back cut me straight to my core.  "Well, I just wondered when it came your time to get divorced if you would get sad to tell Daddy bye."  I probed a little further. "I just know that the other moms get sad when it's time for them to get divorced."  I noticed that she kept saying "time to get divorced" and then it hit me.  She thought that divorce was actually a natural progression in life.  Get married, have a few kids, get divorced.

Oh my. I asked her if she thought that everyone was "required" to get divorced.  She said "yes" in one of those tones, like "duh, mom.  Don't you know that's what comes next?"

My husband and I are both children of divorce.  Both of our parents waited until we went to college before they dropped the ax.  And although we were both adults when our parents split up, it has had a profound impact on both of our lives.  Holidays are always hard and now with three kids we find ourselves often going to six different Christmases.  I see some of our parents being happier than they've ever been, and some of our parent's hurting and lonely.  It's a strange dynamic.  Sometimes it's wonderful (after all, I have three stepbrothers that I never would have had without a divorce in my family) and at other times it's just excruciating.  Our children are growing up with grandparents on their second marriages and some single grandparents. My parents are each one of four siblings.  Out of 8 siblings, 7 of those have been divorced and the one other "holdout" has been separated for years.  Kamron's family has pretty close to those same statistics.

Kamron and I have often remarked that out of all of the friends that we hang out with on a regular basis, we can only think of two of our friends whose parents are still together (and still have relatively happy marriages).  Out of dozens of friends- only TWO who don't come from divorced parents?  It blows my mind how in our circle, we fared so much worse than the national averages. Our children are hanging out with other children who all have divorced grandparents.  And now that we are at an age where friends of ours are going through divorces of their own and our kids have friends at school whose parents are getting divorced, our children seem to be surrounded.  We've thought about how divorce has affected us, but I never thought about how this affected my kids.  Since Kamron and I aren't divorced, I naively thought that they were scooting along unscathed.

Now- I am NEVER going to be one of those people who thinks that the idea of divorce is all bad. Life is just not that black and white.  I don't believe for one minute that staying in a really bad marriage is good for anyone. I have girlfriends who have been in marriages that they absolutely needed to get out of.  But I think that they would all agree that it was still so hard, even if it was the right thing to do. All that to say that I don't want you to feel judged if you are reading this and are divorced.  This is not a critique of divorce- it is merely a commentary on how this has affected my daughter. I know that for all kinds of families- different things work and that is okay.

Our circle includes several single, divorced moms- so my children also see us hanging out with kids who have been through divorces and they see those kids only with their awesome moms (even if they still have great relationships with their fathers, my kids don't see it).  I wonder if Sadie thinks that dads just go away when you get divorced and how scary that must seem for her when she is so deeply a daddy's girl.  When I began to play these scenarios and statistics over in my mind, it is no wonder that my sweet, innocent eight year old thought that it was probably getting close to "our time" to get divorced.  I cringed at that thought.  Now- my husband and I can get on each other's nerves as much as the next couple, and we get sick of rehashing the same fights for the three billionth time.  But at the root of it, we are still deeply in love with each other and I thought for sure that our children could see that.  Yes, they see us bicker and disagree sometimes- but they also see us make up, show affection, praise one another, go on dates and show commitment to them and to each other over and over and over again.

And yet- seeing that play out on a daily basis was not enough to combat the message that divorce is the next logical step in the marriage, kids, life equation.  We grew up thinking that lifelong marriage was the rule and that divorce was the exception.  My children (and I think a lot of other children in their generation) are seeing divorce as the rule and they don't even see an alternative.  My daughter is naturally an anxious child.  I can't even begin to understand the anxiety that she's felt over the last little bit as she's laid in bed at night thinking that her time is almost up with her family in tact.

Since this happened a week ago, I've tried to be intentional in having these conversations with Sadie about how marriage is supposed to be forever.  I've talked to her about how we make a commitment and a promise to each other and how we do every single thing we can to honor that.  I've assured her that we love each other.  I've assured her that we'll protect her.  And I've talked to her about how she can comfort her friends at school who's parents are going through divorces.  We're having those talks, but I just wonder if it's enough to drown out that loud message that she's surrounded with that marriage doesn't last.

When I became a mother, I thought that one of the best things that I could give my children, was a happy marriage.  And while we are not all roses here in this house (in fact, very far from it), I think that we have a pretty darn happy family. I thought that I would teach them about honoring a commitment by living it.  I never thought that I'd have to actually teach my children that divorce is not supposed to be the plan.  And yet, here we are and it makes me scared.  I know that if my child thinks that divorce is the logical progression that there are probably so many other children who probably think the same thing and have just never said it out loud.  It hurts my heart for them.  And it hurts my heart for their future spouses and future children.

Maybe instead of just living it- we should be living it out loud.  Modeling not just with our actions, but with our words as well.  Even if it seems hokey.  We spent so many years teaching our adopted son (sometimes in very cheesy ways) that our family is forever.  It was a concept that he didn't understand and he had to be taught.  We would just randomly shout out, "You'll be here forever and ever!  We'll take care of you every single day!  Mommy and Daddy will ALWAYS love you!"  Maybe we should be sending the same messages about our marriages in front of our kids- no matter how silly it seems.  Balm on their hearts is worth the silly.  Now we'll go back to the drawing board of teaching all of our children that this is permanent, because as it turns out, they aren't born knowing that in their core. Teaching permanence in an age of disposable isn't easy. Today's workout in our home includes massive amounts of core strengthening.  And then tomorrow's workout, and then the next day's workout.. because this is one message we can't afford for our children to miss out on.      

May 19, 2012

Quick and Easy Hot Onion Dip Recipe

Last weekend we went to a dinner party at our sweet friends Scott and Sascha's house.  Sascha had made this hot onion dip that Kamron and I could NOT step away from.  I am not even a fan of dips, but this was so fabulous that I just couldn't help myself.  It was the perfect appetizer for us all to munch on while people gathered and talked around the kitchen island.

So today, I'm sharing Sascha's Famous (To Me!) Hot Onion Dip. This recipe had me at "cream cheese".  Why is the world is cream cheese so darn tasty?!

3 bricks of cream cheese
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
One onion finely chopped (or shredded)

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl until well mixed.  Transfer to an oven safe, greased, baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until the top is brown and bubbling. Enjoy!

We used Ritz Crackers for dipping and the combination was wonderful!  I think that this would also taste great on some crusty bread slices or pita chips.

* Be warned- this makes a TON of dip.  The recipe was halved for the party and 8 adults munched on it all night and there were still leftovers.

May 17, 2012

I Just Don't Get It- Part 379

Hello and welcome to the latest installment of all the things that are baffling me as of late.  Let's just jump right in.

*Cords.  More specifically, the cords that are attached to those little ear bud headphone thingies.  I don't understand how I can put them in the drawer all nice and neat.  Then when I open the door, they are tangled up beyond belief.  I think that they mistake the closing of the drawer as my permission to have wild sex.

My cords after their latest sex-capade. Yes, my drawer is always this messy.  I figured if we were going to be friends, you might as well know the truth. And no- I am NOT making a political statement since the pink ear buds decided to hook up with the blue ones.

* Visitors- when my house is spotless, why is it that no body ever drops by?  Why do people wait until the dishes are a mile high, last night's dinner is still hardening in the pans on the stove, and I'm in my robe at 3pm with  no bra on to knock on the door and say, "I was just in the neighborhood!"?

*Why do I immediately come to mind when people have a laundry crisis?  Are you people trying to tell me that I talk about my laundry ineptitude a little too much?  Yesterday, I got this text message.  I die.  This is seriously my favorite part about constantly airing my own shortcoming in public.  If somehow it makes you feel okay about yours- then I am all for it!

* Smoke alarms.  Why do they always choose the middle of the night to begin the constant chirp that signals their demise?  And why are the chirping ones always in the children's rooms?  Just once, I'd like to see the smoke alarm in the kitchen choose to die in the middle of the day.  I would probably rip it off the ceiling and hug it as a way to thank him for his consideration of our sleep.  Is a thoughtful smoke detector too much to ask for?

* Which brings me to my next baffling thought... Why are batteries so expensive?

* And why is the camera cord always the one that goes missing?  Nevermind- you've seen my cords drawer.  It's a wonder I can ever find anything.

* Why did God not make wives with the ability to predict what they will need 20 minutes ahead of time so that we can let our husband's know in ample time to have the task performed in the time that we need it done.  I find that I can say, "Can you do xyz, please" and then 20 minutes later it gets done. (Can't complain too much because it does get done)  However, I suggest that we evolve to see these things in advance and compensate accordingly.  For example, "Honey, in 20 minutes, one of the children will need to go to the bathroom.  Can you start preparing yourself now so that when they need their butt wiped you are there?"

* Why do I want to buy everything in the "as seen on TV" section at Walgreen's?  Even after a degree in marketing and knowing how advertisers work on my brain, I am still drawn to those dumb gadgets like a dog to it's own vomit.  (Also, why do dogs want to eat their own vomit?  Pure nastiness!) I have no need for a personal face hair trimmer but I have convinced myself that it is necessary to my survival.  Much like the perfect meatloaf pan when I NEVER make meatloaf.  However, I might if I had the pan...  See?  It's a vicious cycle.

* Speaking of cycles...  Why can't you just give your body a pep talk and tell it to just stop the cyclical madness when you decide that you no longer want to have any more children?  I've tried this and no matter how nicely I talk to my uterus, it just does not want to listen to me.  This is one time where mind over matter can kiss my butt.

* Why do I allow WebMD to convince me that death is imminent?  The other day, I used it to look up heel pain and by the end of my research, I had convinced myself that my foot was gangrenous and the whole thing needed to come off.

* Why do my children think I'm dumb enough to fall for their antics, thus always declaring three minutes before bed time, "OOOOOH!  My stomach is killing me!  Can I sleep on the floor in your room?"  Ummm, nice try- but for the three billionth time- YOU ARE FINE!  Also- why haven't they figured out that if they want this to work they need to start their campaign at least an hour before bed?

* Why do I feel pure excitement about the end of the school year one minute and pure dread the next?

* And, as always, how is it that these wild, crazy, loud children can also be awesome, wonderful and so darn cute?  I say all the time that it's a good thing that God made them cute.  No- seriously- sometimes it's detrimental to their survival.  Like when they pee on the kitchen floor and I think that they must have a death wish.  And somehow as they are still shaking the pee off they will immediately say something super cute like, "Mommy, you are the goodest mommy and you make the goodest macaroni and cheese and I love you more than all the other mommies."  Survival instincts.  Thank God they've got 'em.

* And why, oh why, are they so eager to find a significant other?  Kids- you must wait until you are at least 28  to couple off.

* Why do I feel that I MUST end this list right here so that this can be the 15th bullet point therefore making a nice, neat list that is divisible by multiple numbers and how come I can't find some way to channel my neurosis into something useful?  That one will just have to continue to baffle me... If only there were always easy answers :-)  

May 14, 2012


Every now and then we feel a little disjointed as a family.  There seem to be programs at school every night or late night work appointments or all kinds of things that keep us from having "down time" together.  I am a HUGE believer in down time- it's why we limit after school and extra curricular activities.  So when life seemed like it was piling up and becoming too scheduled, I declared on Thursday night that on Friday we were going camping. The kids freaked out.  They LOVE camping and we hadn't been in over a year.  As I was packing every blanket that we own, the tent, the paper towels, the snacks, the fishing poles, etc. I wondered if I was nuts.  I'm still trying to figure out why it is so much work to rough it!

Finally after school and work on Friday, we loaded down the van and headed to my Granny's farm for a night under that stars.  We pitched the tent.  Kamron put new sinkers and corks on all the fishing poles and we began our adventure.  It's been years since we'd been fishing.  In fact, the last time I went fishing, it was with my Grandaddy, who passed away two and a half years ago- just before Miles came home.  Being at his pond made me miss him.  But it was incredible to talk to my kids about him and watch them enjoy my Grandaddy's pond and experience the farm in the way that I did as a child.  We had so many fun nights of camping out with my cousins when I was a kid- my Granny reading us stories in the tent and making us homemade donuts for breakfast.   Those memories flooded me and I felt so at home sharing those same experiences with my children.

Sometimes it's just nice to unplug, reconnect, and be together.  And there is nothing like all sharing a tent to bring on the togetherness!  Here are a few of the highlights:

Miles reeling in his very first fish!
He was just a wee bit proud!
Sadie with her catch.  She even baited her own hook.  Something about a girly girl putting a worm on a hook just enlarges my heart about three sizes.

 Fighting a fish is hard work!
Go Noah Go!  Fortunately, the fish were biting at warp speed!
I'm fairly certain he could not get any cuter.  He LOVED being at the pond.  Surprisingly, he turned out to be a very patient fisherman!

Then night started to fall on the farm...

There were glow sticks and lots of running around in the dark- which, I swear, is more fun than Disney Land for my kids
There was a fire.  And s'mores.  And campfire stories and lots and lots of giggling... until midnight when we finally  zipped everyone up in a sleeping bag and drifted off to sleep.

  The little ones slept like logs.  I wondered for a while if the 50 degree temps had turned them into frozen popsicles.

And before we knew it, it was morning.  Noah wakes up positively happy to be alive every. single. day.  If I didn't love him so much, it would probably be annoying.
Hello world!  What kind of trouble can we get in today????

Not as good as the homemade ones my Granny always made after camping, but these donuts were the best this busy mama could pull off.  I didn't hear any complaining!

Then it was back to the pond for a little fishing in our PJ's.  You haven't lived until you've fished in your footed pajamas.

I apparently get very giddy and pose quite awkwardly when I catch a fish.  I think that the fish and I have the same expression.

I'm adding camping and fishing to the activities that go in my arsenal for when I get stuck in mean mom mode.  It was AWESOME!  It was such a great way to reconnect and truly  listen and pay attention to the kids.  I'm hoping that this is the beginning of a great camping season for our family!

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