April 30, 2012

A mother's guide to procrastination

When I get ready to go out of town alone (which happens about 3 times a year) I freak all the way out.  Don't get me wrong- I look forward to the solitude, but the preparation of leaving the kids for four days?  Not so much. Here's a little bit about how it goes down.

*Shoot out of bed at 4 am in a panic that no one will have clean clothes while I am gone.  Lay back down and realize that I have all day to do laundry and that this will not (hopefully) result in the same situation as last time where I just bought everyone new underwear to put on while I was gone.

*Get kids out of bed at 6:45.  Get one ready and console the other one that is crying uncontrollably about a stomach ache.  Take pity on said child and let her stay home and sleep it off while realizing that this means that I will get less done.

*Get the third kid ready for school and drop him off.

*Come home and realize that I have exactly 90 minutes to get a lot of things done before the wild and crazy boys come home.

*Turn on Facebook.  Get sucked in.  Waste twenty minutes.  Chat with a friend about how odd is it that when one's husband goes out of town that husband does not spend days preparing for his departure, cooking meals in advance, finding babysitters, lining out schedules, cleaning the house or any other such activities.  They just throw some socks in a bag and go.  Get confused wondering if this is at the root of all that is wrong with society or if men are just that much smarter than I am.  Hmmmm...

*Shoot an email to the kids' teachers letting them know that a sitter will be getting them off the bus and apologizing in advance for how wonky their behavior will probably be while I'm away.

*Get the sick kid some water and a barf bucket.

* Start sweating bullets about the presentation that I will be giving while I am out of town.  Open a Word Document to write down talking points.  Stare at blank document.  Stare some more at blank document.  Turn on Pinterest.

*See cute ways to organize the laundry room.

*Remember that there is freakin' laundry to do.  Throw a load on.  Take a load out.  Add it to the growing mountain of clean clothes that make their way into the pile to die.

* Answer the phone.  Say yes to a realtor who wants to set up an appointment for her clients to come and see my house 12 hours after I return from BEING GONE FOR FOUR DAYS.  Wonder what in the world came over me.

*Further prove that I have lost my ever loving mind by just deciding to have an open house 12 hours after coming home since I am going to have to clean the house anyway.  Call and have open house listed.  Add loony bin to my list of possible destinations to visit in the near future.

*Sit back down and stare at blank word document.

*Hear the bus come around and run outside to get one off the bus.

*Get kid a snack, talk about his day and listen to him tell me the daily story about how all he can remember about school is that he ate cereal.  Wonder if those people that spend $6000 a year for Montessori are on to something.

*Type out two lines of notes for the presentation.  See a tiny hand appear on my desk blindly trying to grab for a Dr. Pepper.  No kid in sight- just a rogue hand.  It was very reminiscent of that scene from ET where all you see is that alien hand reaching for the Reese's Pieces.  Made a mental note to put "Watch ET with the kids" on our summer to do list.  Look at the clock and realize that it's time for the third one to be out of preschool.

*Drive to school.  Pick him up.  Come home.  Make lunch.  Clean up lunch.  Try to figure out why the guinea pig has gone all monkey and wants to fling his poop out of his cage.  Mention this phenomenon to the children who spend the next 30 minutes talking about poop.  "What do you think would taste grossest:  Poop or diarrhea?" In case you are wondering, the correct answer according to my boys is diarrhea.

*Sick kid finally gets out of bed and needs some TLC.  Other two get jealous and begin to pout.  Pouting turns into punching.  Put one down for a nap.  Problem solved.

* Say yes when the other two say, "Hey!  Let's all crawl in Mommy's bed together and watch Animal Planet and snuggle!"  Watch two episodes of animal cops finding raccoons and cats stuck in walls and nearly puke when they find a dead sheep corpse in a junkyard.

*Realize that one kid is asleep in the crook of my armpit (put deodorant on shopping list).  And the other one is asleep upstairs.  And the third one is still sick and immobile.

*Instead of using that time to tackle the to do list- I decided that I would blog about the craziness that has been this day as a way to further procrastinate.  Lord help me.  At this rate, they will show up nekkid to school and eat dust bunnies for the duration of my absence. On the plus side, if they eat all the dust bunnies it will be less work that I need to do before the open house on Sunday.

*Now- I really must go and do something productive.  (which is probably code for check Facebook or Twitter or watch a movie with the sick kid)  AHHHHHH!  I need somebody standing over me with a whip to get me motivated.  And no ladies- I do not mean Christian Gray.  Although...

  

April 29, 2012

Summit!

I am so stinking excited for next week.  I'm heading to Los Angeles to speak at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit.  Are you going to be there?  YOU SHOULD.  I'll be co-leading a session with the incredible Lindsey Nobles from Project 7 about using social media to advocate for orphans.  It's all about blogging, facebooking, twitter-ing (is that a word?) and using other social platforms to raise awareness for orphans and orphan care.  

Here's what I love about Summit:  It's not just a rah-rah adoption conference.  Yes, adoption is one component of it, but they delve SO much deeper than just the how to's of adopting.  They have seminars on foster care, policy reform, caring for and strengthening families (so kids never become orphans in the first place!) creating church ministries, helping traumatized children, caring for global orphans, indigenous foster care,  and so much more.  Not to mention that Francis Chan is the keynote speaker (along with Rick Warren) and you can't beat that with a stick.  (As hard as I try to keep it in, sometimes the Kentucky just drips out of me)

I truly believe in the message that the Christian Alliance For Orphans is putting out there.  I love that they are looking at the orphan crisis as a big picture and talking about things like micro-finance and ways to alleviate poverty for mom's in the developing world.  I love that they are teaching churches how to wrap around adopting families.  I love that they are helping adoptive and foster families learn how to deal with the very deep hurts that many of the children in our homes have.  I love that they are advocating for keeping families together and discussing reform for adoptions and legislation that affects orphans.  I love that they are partnering with some of the most amazing and influential humanitarian organizations around.

In fact, I love their message so much, that I'm happy to announce that I have a new job with the Alliance.  I am the new Deputy Director for International Orphan Sunday.  Orphan Sunday is a global movement to designate one day (November 4th, 2012) where churches all over the world are praying for, talking about, and coming up with ways to rally around the cause of the fatherless.  Orphan Sunday is such an awesome, inspiring way to show your congregation that the cause for orphans is NOT hopeless, but one that God calls us all to- whether that is mentoring a young mom, or sponsoring a child overseas, or becoming a foster or adoptive parent or any other endless number of things we can do to love on God's children.

If you want to bring Orphan Sunday to your church- shoot me an email.  Our goal is to have coordinators from every state in the US and 50 International countries united on one day for the orphan.  I get excited when I think about the impact that taking the message about caring for these precious children to the masses can have.  We'd love to have you on our team advocating for families and children.  Email me at meganterry01 at aol.com and I'll help get you plugged in. (Please put Orphan Sunday in the subject line)

OR come and say hi at Summit!  If you are going to be there, I'd LOVE to meet you.  I'll be the crazy lady behind the Orphan Sunday table.  Warning- I'm a hugger.  Be prepared!


April 26, 2012

You Are Enough


I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding the Internet to be an increasingly hostile place.  It seems that we’ve all lost our ability to think and disagree in a civil manner and so we resort to ripping other people to shreds behind the relative safety of our computer screens.  We type things we’d never say to another human being face to face.  We spew forth cruelty and disrespect like our lives depend on it sometimes.  We tell people that they are worthless and our words reduce them to tears and anger and insecurity.  I’ve seen this going on so much lately and it is truly heartbreaking.  I’ve watched my incredible friends think that they are terrible people because one “friend” on Facebook decided that they needed taking down a peg.  I’ve seen amazing women share their personal stories and be ripped apart in the comments section.  Heck, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve even been told by some lovely random commenters here on my corner of the Internet that my sweet Congolese son would have been better off dead in an orphanage than to have me for a mother (among many, many other mean spirited and horrific things). I think that there is a major problem when we begin telling people that we don’t really know that they deserve for their children to die.  It's enough to make a person never want to open their mouth again for fear of being torn apart.

I started thinking about why we love to hate people.  I’ll admit- I do it, too.  I read an article about Victoria Beckham choosing a fruit plate over birthday cake and I thought to myself, “Geez!  Just eat the damn cake!  I can’t stand women like that!”  When really, this woman’s personal choice has nothing in the world to do with me.  I don’t know her.  She may just really like fruit.  Or maybe she can’t have gluten and the cake in front of her wasn’t gluten free.  Who knows?  Her choosing fruit does not affect me in any way, shape or fashion.  Really, it boils down to the fact that I’m disappointed that I don’t have the will power to pick fruit over cake and so I want to get mad at someone who can because something in my brain tells me it will make me feel better to lash out.

I find myself doing that with crafters.  I’ve got nothing against crafters but I can’t craft (or cook, or keep a very clean house, or stay organized, blah, blah, and blah).  So I look at women who have these beautiful scrapbooks and these cutesy crafts around their homes and who can throw together a kid’s birthday party that looks like it was all professionally done.  It’s not my gift.  So I spout off and say things like “Uggggh!  I wish I had the kind of time to do that!” or “She is such an overachiever.  Who does she think she is?”  Again, I can’t do it, so I lash out at those who can.  But does tearing down a crafter or a birthday party throwing goddess make me any more able to craft or throw a killer party?  Nope.  Not a bit.  The logic just doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t even make me feel better to vocalize it or type it or stew about it. It’s toxic- for me and for the people on the receiving end of my venom. That woman who is a crafting queen is not crafting to spite me- she’s doing it because it’s her passion and that is how she finds joy in her life.  Who am I to argue with that? 

I think it’s why we love to hate people like Tim Tebow.  Tim is doing a bang up job being the person that he thinks God wants him to be.  Yesterday I saw an article about a website that is offering a 1 million dollar bounty to the woman who can take Tim’s virginity and show the documentation to prove it.  Tearing people down and derailing the path they’ve created for their lives is becoming a lucrative sport.  Does Tim’s virginity affect our daily lives?  Not one iota.  But we for some reason feel like it is our mission to take someone who is living the life they want to live and drag them through the mud.  

It’s why people hate Michele Duggar.  I’ve written about that before, HERE.  The joy that she finds in her children makes us feel inadequate about the joy that we sometimes don’t find in our own children.

It’s why we take someone else’s pain and we mock it because it doesn’t seem to be as great as our pain and so we discount their very real feelings.  We judge each other on a hierarchy over who has the right to be the most miserable.  We think that pain is on a continuum and that we can put people on a sliding scale while we forget that no matter where someone is on our “scale” their pain is very real to them.

It’s why a New York City school system will no longer allow it’s seniors to tell their friends when they get accepted into an IvyLeague school because it makes the other students feel bad.    

We’ve lost our ability to celebrate with others while failing to realize that another person’s success does not mean that we are failures!  I don’t think that I had a friendship until I was about 27 years old where a friend would come to me with good news where I didn’t feel some twinge of jealousy.  Jealousy makes us do crazy things.  Feelings of inadequacy make us do crazy things.  I found myself when we were in the throes of a rough adoption transition with our son, actually being angry at families whose children were settling into a family easily.  It made me pull away from them.  How ugly is it that I was actually mad that some people’s kids were thriving?  It was icky!  It took me a really long time to realize that because someone else’s children were doing well, it didn’t mean that I was a failure.  It didn’t mean that my child was bad.  It didn’t mean that I was less deserving of an ideal family- it just meant that things were going to happen in their own time and that wasn’t in juxtaposition of someone else’s happy, joyful, easy transition.  For us to be happy it doesn’t mean that someone else needed to be miserable.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of hearing Jon Acuff speak at a conference.  He said something that had a profound impact on me.  He said that the reason that we get so down on ourselves is because we often compare our middle to someone else’s ending and our low to someone else’s high.  Last week I asked my friends on Facebook what made them feel inadequate (as a mother and as a person) and every single one of the thirty or so responses was some variation of how we compare ourselves to others.  With Facebook and Twitter and blogs and chat rooms and yada, yada, yada, it is SO EASY to fall into the comparison trap.  We look at an opportunity that someone else got and it makes us feel crappy.  We tell ourselves that we are awful people but the truth is- you are just as deserving of the same opportunity and it just isn’t your time yet.  We look at someone else’s “My kids just ate a plateful of zucchini and they hate sugar” status and it makes us feel terrible about what we feed our kids.  The truth is that it is awesome that today that kid ate zucchini and tomorrow he may hate it and that person will probably never make their status say, “My kid hates zucchini and only wants to eat sugar.” 

With this online world- we compare our mundane day to day with everyone else’s highlight reel.  We are all guilty of it.  After all, nobody likes to broadcast their shortcoming to the world.  We never say “I have 45 piles of dirty laundry and haven’t worked out in 6 months”.  Nope- instead we wait until that one day that we are really on fire and we say, “The house is spotless, the laundry is done, I packed homemade, organic lunches for the kids, had mind blowing sex with my husband and burned 6 billion calories at the gym!  And it’s not even 7 am!”  And then everyone that reads that status who is sitting in their dirty home with the kids eating school lunch who hasn’t even looked their husband in the eye for a week suddenly feels bad about themselves.  We don’t throw a kudos to that woman who is just killing it at that specific moment in time because we see her success as a measure of our failure.  It’s so much easier (and a good defense mechanism) to loath her for having a really good day.

What we fail to recognize is that each person has those times where life just sucks and times when it’s just all falling into place.  It’s just a part of living in a fallen world.  It’s part of being human.  We seem to forget that it’s human nature to tell of our victories and gloss over the ugly parts.  We forget that in being vulnerable there is camaraderie so we want to keep our baggage at bay and only show the pretty side.  Yes- there will always be people who want to tear you down.  Yes, if you are blogger, there will be people who will take your words and skew them and knock you down and attack you. Yes, if you are on any kind of social media site, people will create drama to bring others down.  Yes, if you’ve got a mother, brother, aunt, dad, friend- there will always be someone that seems to be doing it better than you.  But really aren’t we all just doing the best that we can with what we know?

It goes back to the crafter, and the fruit plate eater, and the Tim Tebows.  If I let those people find unadulterated joy in what they love and find comfort in what they believe, I am helping them create their highlight reel.  If I project my inadequacies on them, I’ve done nothing but ruin their joy without adding any joy to my own life.  I have to remind myself of that all the time. I have to remind myself that I am only an expert in my own life, my own story, my own family and my own experience.  Sometimes this means I’m on fire.  Sometimes this means that I need to step away and realize that what is best for my family and my children is not what is right for someone else’s family.  Sometimes this means that even when I’m bitter and critical, it does not give me the right to steal someone else’s joy or to discount their feelings.  We tell our children to keep their hands to themselves.  As adults, sometimes we need to be reminded to keep our venom to ourselves.  We've all been on both sides of the venom and neither side is pretty.

How awesome would it be if we gave an ‘atta girl to our friends when they deserved it instead of letting her successes and joys fuel our own feelings of inadequacy? How awesome would it be if we spent even a fraction of the time we spend gossiping and ripping each other to shreds with our backhanded comments on building each other up and affirming one another instead?  Even when we don't agree with someone's beliefs or decisions, we can still affirm them as people.  How about we let other people be the experts on their own stories without telling them how to feel and minimizing their feelings?  How about I let you be the awesome you that you are- and you let me be me?

How about we each realize that we are worthy?  How about we each looked at the job we are doing with our lives/ our children/ our significant other/ our circumstances and say, “I might not do it perfectly, but I am still the perfect person for this job.”  What if we could find as much joy in watching each other’s highlight reels as we do in putting together our own highlight reels? What if we stopped feeling like our own negative experience with something should dictate the happiness that someone else feels about that same experience. What if we all honestly believed that we were absolutely enough and that our being enough didn’t depend on anything else but finding our own bliss.  What would happen if we realize that we can’t make our own candle burn brighter by blowing out someone else’s.  How about we all make the commitment to fan someone else’s flame today and make them burn brighter.  I wonder how much brighter our own candles can burn when we catch the after affects of fanning someone else’s flame.  I’ll bet it would be amazing.  Let’s do it.  You are enough.  You are enough.  You are enough.

Don't listen to those who say, "It's not done that way." Maybe it's not, but maybe you will. Don't listen to those who say, "You're taking too big a chance." Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most importantly, don't listen when the little voice of fear inside of you rears its ugly head and says, "They're all smarter than you out there. They're more talented, they're taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…" I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you'll be a person worthy of your own respect.--Neil Simon

April 25, 2012

Week 12- Checking In

It's week 12 on the good ol' Nutrisystem plan.  Mr. Terry (Lawd, that makes me sound like a 50's housewife!) is somewhere on week 8.

Here's what he has to say about the state of this journey:  I'm doing really well at breakfast and lunch.  I'm still struggling with my late night snacking, though.  However, I feel healthier, I have more energy and I'm confident that the scale is going to start showing that (even though I'm still stalled at 8 pounds lost).    The breakfast options are great.  I really like all the breakfasts.  I think that this is by far the thing that I'm most satisfied with on the plan.  Dinners are pretty good, too.  I'm getting a little burned out on my lunch options, though.  I think that my biggest complaint is that there's not a huge variety of lunch options.       

Here's what I have to say:  I turned 31 this past weekend.  I had a love affair with some cheesecake.  And some spicy Cajun pasta.  And some Blizzard.  And some peanut butter sandwich that just would not stop calling to me.  And a Mexican buffet with some girlfriends.  And a cookout.  Yeah- I could have made better choices.  But sometimes a girl just needs a break and she wants to celebrate her birthday birth-week with some food.  Sue me.  (Actually, don't sue me.  It's just an expression)  But yikes- I can absolutely tell that my body feels more sluggish and I have less energy without my Nutrisystem meals to help me with portion control and getting balanced meals.  I'm actually looking forward to jumping back on the wagon and getting back to those fruits and veggies and protein shakes.    With all the craziness in my eating, my weight is up one day and down the next. So this week instead of weighing in, I'm focusing on inches lost.  After all, my clothes are finally starting to fit better.  In my 12 weeks on NS, I've lost a total of 15 inches (with almost 5 inches coming off of my hips)!!!!  I'll take that! 

Time to jump back on the NS wagon.  My body can only take so long before it's crying out for something that's not junk!


*Disclaimer: in exchange for this review, we were provided at no cost all Nutrisystem meals.  However, all opinions are completely honest and are my own.

    

April 23, 2012

Duped For Jesus

"Mom", the eight year old said, "Can I start having my friends over on Friday nights so that we can all have a Bible study together".  Yep- she said it.  And for the first time in a long time, I patted myself on the back and said, "DUDE!  I am so winning this parenting thing! GO ME!"  She began pouring over her Bible and planning out her lessons.  She wrote an agenda.  And like any mom who is enamored with their kids and proud of their efforts, I promised her chocolate (by way of s'mores) as a special fun treat for her and her friends after their first study.

I totally took Sadie seriously.  After all, does this not look like fairly complete lesson planning for an eight year old?

I wrote the note for her friend to ride the bus home with her on Friday to her mission field and waited to see how my daughter would do.

Here is how the first "Bible Study" went down.  It's all very "if you give a mouse a cookie".

1.  The girls got off the bus and played outside.  A snake was found in the driveway and was caught and squealed over for many an hour. (until it mysteriously escaped)


2.  The second friend from a different school came over.  This made a total of five kids around.  When the weather is nice and you have enough kids to cover every base and a daddy who will be the permanent roller, naturally a kickball tournament will ensue.


3.  When a kickball tournament is going on in the backyard, the cute neighbor kids will want to come over and run around.

4.  When the neighbor kids come over (who just had a new baby sister born this week) and it's time to make dinner- you will think, "Quick!  How can we make enough food in a hurry so that we can feed the neighbors and they won't have to cook with a new baby?"

5. You light a fire in the fire pit- open up a package of hot dogs, cut up a watermelon and hope for the best. When you hope for the best, a miracle occurs and food that was intended for 7 somehow feeds 13.


6.  When you start to cook the hot dogs, the smell of the campfire ignites nostalgia (and hunger) in more of the neighbors who start to make their way across the back yard to the patio.

7.  When more neighbors come and kids are running all over the place, you think, "Praise God I got a jumbo bag of marshmallows and chocolate bars" and you start roasting some s'mores.

8.  Then you get distracted by the brand new neighbor baby and you give the rest of the jobs to the mister and you stop reminding the daughter that she is supposed to be having a Bible study so that you can sit and hold that precious bundle of baby awesomeness and just stare at her beauty.  You silently say a little prayer of gratitude that holding a baby does not make your womb hurt and you are happy that you do not have to have the "we gotta get us one of those" conversations with your husband again.

9.  You give up on ever reining in the children to get them on task.  Then, when Jesus realizes that you've give up and there, in fact, will be no Bible study and you've turned this little gathering into a neighborhood party, he will decide that it's time to make it rain.

10.  When it starts raining, the crowd will disperse and you will walk in the house carrying the remnants of the "loaves and fishes dinner that multiplied" and think to yourself about how grateful you are for relationships and opportunities for fellowship- even if there was no actual studying of the Bible.

In theory- it was all a very good idea.  Now I know that in the future, when Sadie asks to "have friends over for a Bible study" that it is code for "have my friends over to play outside and roast marshmallows".  A friend warned me that it doesn't end here.  When she's a teenager I'll probably hear, "Mom, can I borrow the car to take these clothes to the homeless shelter?" all while she takes the car and does something else completely.  After all, my "Mom, I'm going on a youth group retreat" was always code for "Mom, I'm going away for the weekend and the parent to teen ratio is totally skewed so I'll be making out with my boyfriend all weekend all in the name of Jesus."  Lord help me if that sweet, little, innocent girl turns into me when she's a teenager.  Can't she just stay 8 forever?  

April 18, 2012

The Price of FREEDOM

If you are anything like me, the stories that have been breaking in the news about secret service agents paying for sex in Colombia probably have you sick to your stomach. Even seeing the headlines (even typing the words) makes my blood boil. Without turning this into a political debate (because these types of behaviors know no party lines) let’s make this a discussion about the culture of the sex trade.


Much of the sex trade is based on power- the person purchasing the service is the one with the power in many third world countries (and even in the US). The person that they are paying (which is most often a pimp) has the power to sell a woman and profit from her body. And the women that are being purchased? Their voices are taken away. They are treated as property. We sit in our Bible study groups and have a chuckle about brides in Biblical times being traded for a dowry of goats, yet we turn our heads and look the other way when women in today’s world are treated as a sexual commodity up for purchase. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not fun to think about- so we don’t.

I recently read Ashley Judd’s book, All That Is Bitter and Sweet, about her time spent teaching indigenous people in brothels about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, crisis pregnancies and about making choices to take back some of the power that they lose when women are forced into being sex workers. The message is wonderful. But let’s be honest- that message will not possibly make it into every brothel across the world. Millions of women all over the world are still enslaved to sexual trafficking. Their bodies are not their own. They suffer health and family consequences as a result of the decisions that they are forced to make on a daily basis.

As people sitting in our cozy homes in America, it’s difficult for us to understand why these women don’t just run away. It’s unfathomable for us to imagine being hunted down like an animal by a pimp who feels that he has ownership over you. It’s unimaginable that we would be forced to perform sexual acts (many to the detriment of our health) while our own children played on the floor next to us because there was nowhere else for them to go. We can’t wrap our brains around the fact that in exchange for our very personhood we are barely given enough money to survive and to keep our children alive.

Now let’s talk about these sex slaves not as grown women, but as children. Yes, that’s right. Children as young as 5 and 6 years old are being traded for sex. Is your blood pressure rising yet? Mine is. I consider myself a fierce advocate for children, yet in the 30 years that I’ve been alive, more than 30 million children (according to UNICEF) have lost their innocence to the child sex industry. This is unacceptable. I think of my own children, skipping rope down the driveway and sitting at the kitchen table working on math problems. Nowhere does sex factor into this equation. IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO. Children are supposed to be children, and yet we let this happen to “other people’s children” right under our noses.

We like to think of this as a third world problem. After all- our government workers are going to places like Colombia for this type of “recreation”. But it is estimated that there are nearly 150,000 enslaved sex workers in our own backyards. Yes, that’s right folks, it’s a problem in our own communities. And if you really want to get good and made about it- let me tell you this. Our government in the last 11 years has only worked to assist about 1000 of these victims in their escape from sexual slavery. Less than 1%. If you want to talk about the 99%, let’s talk about it like this.

I’d like to think that most of us either don’t know that this is happening or we truly just don’t know what to do about it and that is why we allow this to continue. Today, I’m giving you something simple to do about it. Skip your dinner out tonight and eat PB&J at home. That new shirt you were going to buy? Leave it on the rack. The expensive paper towels you just put in your cart? Pick up the cheaper ones and let’s see if we can’t come up with something better to do with the difference of a dollar. That hot new song you can’t live without hearing? Don’t download it today. Turn on your computer and listen to it for free on youtube and watch the power of that dollar you save change someone’s life.

Last month, I told you about FORGO- an app that you can download to your phone and use it to donate money that you save by making daily lifestyle choices. This month, FORGO is partnering with Freeset to help rescue women and girls out of the sex trade in Calcutta, India- the country’s largest red light district. Women and girls are taken out of the brothels and delivered to safety. This precious woman is given medical care. Her loans are paid off. (Many women have to borrow money to pay for things like child birth and medical bills) She is taught a skill so that she can make a living wage. Her children are put in daycare so that they are in a safe place and are being taken care of instead of wandering the streets while mom works to provide for them. Freeset even helps set these women up for retirement.

Healthy, whole moms change the lives of their children. Healthy families make healthy communities. It just makes good sense. But for this to happen, we all have to be a part of it. No one else is going to step in and do it. The cost to deliver one woman from a life of sexual slavery and restore her to a woman who is honored and respected and whole is about $475. It’s hard to think of each life in terms of a price tag. If that was our mother, or our sister, or our daughter, we would move Heaven and Earth to make that $475 happen. These are our sisters. Let’s help our sisters. Let’s show them we value them. FORGO.

This woman is a former sex worker.  A woman who now can hold her head up high in FREEDOM.  Tiny lifestyle decisions do this.  Tiny decisions make an impact and this valuable sister can now make a difference for her family and for her whole community. 
I want to throw down the gauntlet.  I want the Millions of Miles audience to single handly bring a girl out of the sex trade.  I want you awesome people to be a part of helping a woman provide for her family.  I want YOU to be responsible for showing a precious woman that she is worthy and that her children matter.  If you are a reader here and you FORGO something (anything!) at the end of your transaction, you will be given the option to share with the world that you made a difference in the life of a woman.  This is not meant to be "showy" or "braggy".  This is meant to educate, advocate, and inspire others to make small decision to impact others.  If you share your FORGO- please tag Millions of Miles on Facebook. (by typing @Millions of miles) so that we can all encourage one another. If every fourth person that reads this post today decided to forgo a soft drink- we could do this by dinner time today.  LET'S DO IT!  I'm kicking it off by FORGO-ing taking the kids out for ice cream after school.  We have perfectly good popsicles sitting in the freezer.  That's $7 toward the price of freedom for a woman.
To get started FORGO-ing, go to forgo.it from your smartphone.  (this is a mobile app and it only works from mobile devices)  But don't worry- if you've decided to FORGO a smart phone- the technology is coming to do this from your computer.  Be patient :-)  For a full tutorial (and all the scoop) on FORGO- click HERE.  If you want to follow FORGO on Facebook and watch the running tally for how many girls are rescued from bondage, check out their FB page.

Keep spreading the word.  EVERY WOMAN MATTERS.

April 16, 2012

Down On The Farm

I almost feel like I need an airbrushed tee shirt that says "I survived Spring Break 2012".  The kids are all back in school today after Spring Break last week.  They had a list a mile long of things they wanted to do.  We crossed off as many things as we could.  I think we did pretty well considering that we were derailed for a couple of days with a terrible ear infection and ruptured ear drum on Noah.  We went to the zoo, the pet store, walked around Wyatt's Woods, and their awesome Aunt Kennethia took them to Puzzles to bounce twice (and gave me a MUCH needed day off!).  We had lunch with our friends and we went to Gattiland and jumped on the trampoline with the cousins.  All in all, it was a very good but VERY tiring week.  Last night as we were doing our Sunday night ritual of watching The Amazing Race together, Sadie said, "I think I'm going to be real excited about going to bed tonight!"

I think my favorite part of Spring Break (aside from the day that I had off and stayed in my bathrobe until 4pm watching junk reality TV) was our escape to Papaw Johnny's farm last night.  I've talked about my dad's farm a few times on here, but I just can't stress how magical those 20 acres are for my children.  I think that every kid needs a place that they can go to just feel "free".  My dad's is that place for my kids. 

My dad grilled out a feast for us- BBQ'd ribs, corn on the cob, beans, strawberries and whipped cream.  My grandparents came out an picnicked with us.  How lucky am I that I still have active grandparents?  And how lucky are my kids that they get to have strong relationships with their great-grandparents?  I will forever think that this is one of God's greatest blessings in my life.

We ate (and ate and ate) and hiked and rode the four wheeler all over the farm.  We caught crawdads and hunted for tadpoles.  We recharged for the week ahead and just enjoyed being in each other's company.

The spread my dad made.  Four generations of Baxters chowing down.
Yum!  Corn on the cob is the best!

The desert was so good she couldn't stop eating it for five seconds to snap a picture.

Papaw Johnny and his lovies flexing their muscles after hiking over a big "obstacle course".

The crew dangling their feet off the porch of the cabin my dad is building.  Hard to believe this is the same man who couldn't unclog a toilet or hang a picture when I was growing up.  I will never cease to be amazed at how we all grow, learn and change over the years.

My kids and my Mamaw Daisy.

Me with Mamaw.  She is one great lady.   If I can have half as rosy of a disposition and a heart that is even half as selfless and kind as hers, than I'll be one of the luckiest people alive.  I'm so honored that she's my grandmother.

Splashing away.

Miles throwing all the rocks from the driveway into the creek.  If this was a profession, he would be a rich man.  That boy LOVES to throw rocks in the water.

My dad, kids and grandparents.
 
The back view of my Mamaw as we rode full blast through the creek on the gator.  You have not lived until you've done an adventure like this with your 74 year old Mamaw.


The view from the front (which cracks me up to no end every time)  This is Mamaw Daisy hangin on for dear life.  Betty White's got nothin' on her.
Sweet little Noah.

Me and the Mister -oddly looking like we are going to bust out a tango or something.

The deer we saw bounding over the field as we were leaving the farm.
When I put the kids in the tub last night, the water turned into mud almost instantly.  I think this is how you can tell when you've  had a really good time.  Thanks Papaw Johnny for a fabulous close to Spring Break!  Sometimes you  just need a night on the farm to make you feel ready to tackle another week! 

April 13, 2012

Momager

This little lady...


...sometimes forgets that she is only 8.  She and her BFF were playing upstairs today.  I could hear them scheming about which one of them was going to convince their mom to let them spend the night at the other's house.  Sadie came bounding downstairs.

"Mom.  Can Lex and I spend the night together if her mom says it's okay?"

I told her that it was fine with me.  She took off running back upstairs and just as she was closing the door, we heard...

"I just asked my management and she said it's fine."  *sigh*

April 12, 2012

Checking in- Week 10

I'm rounding out week 10 on NutriSystem and Kamron is rounding out week 5.  I'm finding that this is FINALLY becoming a lifestyle. (I wonder if the kind people at Nutrisystem will let me keep doing this forever!?)  Nutrisystem is truly just fancy portion control and I think my body is slowly reprogramming itself to remember what a single portion is supposed to look like.  Even when we go out to restaurants and I go "wild" and order whatever I want to eat, I can't finish nearly what I used to be able to eat.  Something in my brain has finally clicked that I don't need to gorge and I can stop at satisfied instead of overstuffed.  However, I have had to have a few stern talks with myself that sweet potato fries are NOT a vegetable! (It's my current weakness)

I also find that with this plan, we are both tending to lose weight in chunks- a killer week and then a plateau and then another big chunk lost.  Now that I know that this is my pattern, I tend to not freak out as bad when I hit a plateau.  I'm learning to celebrate victories that don't come on the scale- like being able to pull off my favorite pair of jeans (that were tight two months ago) without undoing the button.  That was kind of fun.

Here is the current thing we are both dying over:

Nutrisystem Double Chocolate Chip Muffin- coupled with a protein shake, it's the breakfast of champions! 

Every few weeks I change my mind about what my favorite thing is about Nutrisystem.  I think because I've tried to lose the pounds in so many different ways before, I've got a pretty good grasp about how this plan is so different than the rest.  Here's what I find most helpful about Nutrisystem: it's already here in my cabinet.  If I had a bad day on a plan in the past, that would often lead to a second off day and before I knew it, I was toast and back to my old ways.  But with Nutrisystem being delivered to my house (and a whole month of food at a time) it's just here waiting for me.  And I don't know about you, but if it's already here, than I'm sure not going to waste it.  Essentially, it's the accessibility that keeps me on track.
 
This is our Nutrisystem cabinet.  Seriously- it's so much food, it needs it's own cabinet.  And if this is just ready and waiting for me, then by golly, I'm going to eat it!  This keeps me going because there is no excuse NOT to stay on the plan when it's sitting there calling out to me.  Plus, there is a really cute model who likes to open that cabinet a hundred times a day.

Over the last two weeks, I've lost 1.9 pounds for a total of 15.5 pounds lost.  That averages out to about a pound and a half a week which I am thrilled with.  It makes me confident that I am doing this the RIGHT WAY!

Kamron is holding steady at 8 pounds lost for his 5 week total.  I think he's feeling a little frustrated that it's not falling off faster, but slow and steady wins the race. (And keeps the weight off longer!) I'm so proud of him! 

If you want to join us on this journey to reclaim our health, I'd love to have you!  If you want to shoot me an email, I'll send you a coupon for $30 off your Nutrisystem order.

Disclosure: In exchange for this review, I was provided at no cost, the full Nutrisystem plan. However, all opinions are honest and are my own.

April 10, 2012

Screw The Zoo and Other Parenting Fails

Yesterday was one of those days.  One of those days where every thing was an epic parenting fail and my children acted like they had lost their damn minds.  It was the first official day of spring break.  The day started out with so much promise.  I was up early, went to the hospital and had my gall bladder and other innards ultrasounded (is that a word?) and was in and out of there in no time (which was totally unexpected!).  I came home to three little cuties sitting in blankets and PJ's curled up on the couch watching TV so sweetly.  I took one look at them and smiled.  "Good morning, Mommy!" they all shouted with happy faces.  Then it went south...fast...

"Mom!  Can you get me a drink of water?" 
"Mom!  Will you make me some pancakes?"
"Mom!  Read this book to me!"
"Mom!  I spilled my cereal!"
"Mom!  My bed is all wet from last night.  I don't know what happened!"

And it went on like that- in rapid fire- until I said, "STOP! People, I only have 2 hands!!!!"  Within 2 minutes of walking in the door, I was barraged with no less than seventy eleven requests.  In the words of Alexander, I knew it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

By 9:30 am, I was already feeling like the day needed redeeming.  "How about we go to the zoo?"  I asked the crew.  All were excited and it looked like we were going to turn the day around.

We packed up a picnic lunch and headed off to the zoo.  Now- when I was a little girl, the layout of the zoo went something like this: rhino, giraffe, elephant, lion, camel, zebra, tiger, polar bear, done.  Now the zoo layout goes something like this: enter, carousel, rhino, Spongebob 4D motion ride, giraffe, elephant, playground, snack shop, lion, giant bounce castle, gorillas, gift shop, dippin' dots stand, tiger, water park, another playground, pay to feed the lorikeets, zip line, hot dog stand, blah, blah, blah.  Essentially, it's now like an amusement park with the occasional animal.  Which means that we'd ooh and ahhh over an animal and then they'd spend the next 15 minutes freaking the heck out over me telling them we were not going to ride the 4D motion simulator.  Lather, rinse, repeat for the next 1.5 miles and the next 4 hours at every. single. attraction.  Seriously- if you said yes to all of the "extras" I guarantee you'd spend over $300 to take your kids to the zoo.  Miles was so overstimulated that he had to be "steered" through the zoo by his shoulder.  (Fancy talk for I had to squeeze the dear life out of the kid to keep him in line and keep him from jumping over the fence and throwing himself to the lion)

We were all frustrated.  It was so crowded we had to wait in line to even get a glimpse of most of the animals.  Noah was the only content one.  He was happily snapping pictures of everything he saw.  Sadie was pouting about the penguins being off exhibit (and this girl can hold a serious grudge).  And Miles was just being Miles- nuts.  He was so nuts in fact that Sadie (who doesn't have an aggressive bone in her body) said, "Mom, he's just being so annoying I want to kick him in the face!"  WHAT?  Who's kids are these?  Mother of the year, right here, folks.

I finally did say yes to cotton candy and we all breathed a sign of relief as the sugar went to work.  Even then, though, they still look like a band of tiny thugs.

We had to park in a remote field because there were just so many people visiting the zoo.  When we finally decided to call it a day, it felt like we had to hike about 3,000 miles just to get back to the car.  Which brought on the onslaught of, "I'm tired.  Carry me!"  "I'm hot!"  "Why did they make us park so far away?"  all said in the most drug out, whiny voices imaginable. 

We made it to the car, strapped everyone in and headed home.  I sat there in my seat just filled with rage.  How are we supposed to raise kids who are grateful and appreciative when just about every public place you want to take them is set up with such consumerism that it forces us to play the mean, "no" saying mom all day long?  I lamented all the way home about our horrible day. 

I came home and sprawled across the bed, still in my bad mood.  Within a couple of minutes, Kamron came home and I was replaying the horrible day to him.  "I just don't know why I even try to do fun stuff with them!  It never turns out the way I think it will!"  I was on the brink of tears.  But dinner waits for no hissy fit, so it was time for me to pull myself up and make some food for the heathens.

That's when it happened.  I backed off the bed on my belly.  One foot hit the floor and the other foot?  It plunged down on the heel of the stilettos I'd worn to church the day before.  It was like I was being speared. (My mom would say that this is what I get for leaving my shoes laying around!)  I tried really hard to catch my balance and stand up.  But the pain took me so off guard and threw my balance off so much that I fell backwards, in slow motion, arms spinning in circles.  I fell straight on my butt, legs flying up in the air as I fell the rest of way down and landed on my back on the bedroom floor.  For a split second, Kamron was concerned.  After all, I was flailing about and slamming to the ground.  And then that concern turned into hysterical laughter. 

And still, after all that, there was dinner still needing to be warmed up.  Noah said that he wasn't feeling good and wasn't hungry.  I made the other kids some pizza.  Before I sat down, Miles had dropped his saucy pizza all over my chair and didn't tell me.  Which means that I sat down and got sauce all over my pants.  I tried to let it go.  But then Miles decided that he was going to eat laying down on his chair and then kicked me square in the guts.  And then Noah came in and said, "Actually, I am hungry" after the food had already been made!   That was it!   I had had enough! 

Thank you Lord that I have a husband who realizes that when mama is cooked, mama needs to be ALONE.  I hopped in the car, cranked up my playlist that alternates praise and worship music and novelty rap ('cause that's how I roll) and headed to Target.  We only needed garbage bags, but oh my word.  Shopping for garbage bags was such a treat!  I find that there are very few days that an hour alone at Target with a good cup of coffee and good music blasting in the car can't cure.  It's also made a little better when you are able to look back at the crazy and embrace it and have a good laugh about it.  Oh- and it helps if you circle the block long enough on the way home to make sure the kids are in bed before you even think about walking through the front door.  I'm just sayin'.  Thankfully, today is a NEW day. 


April 06, 2012

Driveway Dancing, Money Making Schemes And An Attack From My Innards

My kids are all going through these phases that are especially cute right now.  This means that they are only driving me bat crap crazy about 28% of the time.  This is major.

Here are just a few of the things going on 'round these parts:

*Sadie and Noah are beginning to learn about money.  For over a year they have been saving and pooling their money to buy a trampoline when we move and actually have a back yard that doesn't slope.  They just about have enough (although it's beginning to feel like we are never going to find a place to move to!)  They are beginning to get creative with their methods of fundraising.  Their latest scheme is charging us for nightly entertainment. As I was doing the frantic 4 pm clean-up (you know, the one you do right before the spouse comes home from work to make it look like you were productive during the day) they handed me this gem of an invitation:
My favorite is the "real money please".  These people have finally gotten smart enough to realize that mama's IOU means nada.  And then they had to go and pull at my heartstrings with the hospital donation.  Love their money grubbing hearts.  They wanted to wait until Daddy got home from work so that they could also charge him $4.  I told them that $8 was unrealistic.  They argued that they would allow Miles to come for free.  How generous of them.  We gave them each a dollar for their hard work and for the rights to their performance(they worked all afternoon on the choreography).  I'm showing you their driveway dancing for free.  You're welcome. 





*Noah is just killing me with his sweetness.  How can you resist this face?

He has been going around the neighborhood picking all of our neighbor's flowers during the day when they aren't at work to stop him.  Sorry neighbors.  One day, I told him that he could only pick flowers out of our yard.  My bouquet looked like this:
Only a mother could love a big cup full of weeds and long pieces of grass.  Mostly I love that he wants to spend his afternoons picking flowers for his mama.  Well, that and being a daredevil with his brother.  This is why I love having boys:

This is why I don't want to have any more of them:



*Spring Break is next week.  We are going to be staying home, hopefully sleeping in (yeah, right) and doing some fun activities close to home.  The kids had so many good ideas about things that they wanted to do during their break from school.  Their list got so big that we had to call it the "Spring Break AND Summer Break Dream List".  We may be working our way down this list over every school break between now and their high school graduations.


* In case you are wondering, we haven't had any foster placement calls.  This is probably a HUGE blessing right now.  For a year I've been battling pain in my abdomen.  All this time, one of my doctors has been blaming my ovaries. "Mrs. Terry, your ovaries are covered in schmutz." has been my favorite medical explanation for my pain. Me and my ovaries have a Hate/Hate relationship. 

This week, I finally got sick of being doubled over after dinner every night and being unable to button my pants because of tenderness in my midsection.  I went for a second opinion.  I was poked and prodded and yelped out with pain when she touched my belly.  And this doctor was all like, "Holy moly!  I don't think this is your ovaries. I can't believe no one has thought to tell you that you probably have gallstones!"  For a FREAKING YEAR!  So she set me up with an ultrasound next week and she said that most likely I'll be saying goodbye to my gallbladder.  If this is what it is, I am going to kiss this woman.  Probably with my  mouth open because I will be so grateful.  I will put my gallbladder in a bag with pretty tissue paper and give it to her as a present. She will not know what hit her.  If you want to gross yourself out (and why wouldn't you) I'd recommend doing an image search for gallstones.  It's so beautiful it will make you vomit in your mouth a little bit. 

*  Our guinea pig will not stop growing.  I think that when we are asleep, Phil the Guinea Pig must get out of his cage and go hunting for large farm animals to gnaw on.  He's enormous.  And very loved.  Since Phil came into our family as a Christmas gift, I doubted my children's commitment to his daily care.  But they have shocked me to death by taking care of him, feeding him, cleaning out his cage and playing with him every day.  This little guy makes the best pet ever.

No, he's not spoiled at all :-)
Now the children are trying to convince me that we need to start a guinea pig breeding farm.  While I do think that this could be a good form of exercise for our fat Phil, I refuse to give in.  They want to sell the babies and start an illegal guinea pig mill.  It all goes back to their scheming ways to make money.  (See paragraph one above).  They want that trampoline BAD.

*  I hope that your Easter weekend is SUPER LOVELY. 

April 03, 2012

The More Things Change...

... The more they stay the same.

Two years ago in the summer of 2010, Miles felt this innate desire to match his daddy step for step as he cut the grass every week.  Miles had only been home for about 6 months and something about this weekly mowing tradition was good bonding and a good way for Miles to establish his place in his Daddy's heart.
August 2010


And now here we are, and the mowing season of 2012 is upon us.  I figured that by now, the fascination with a plastic mower and walking in endless rows up and down the yard would be over.  But still, Miles is matching Daddy step for step all over the yard. It takes about an hour to cut our yard and Miles goes the full hour, row after row, pushing that plastic mower right next to his role model.  He is Daddy's boy through and through. 

April 2012



It's so nice to know that at a time when a million things seem to be changing around here, that some of my very favorite things haven't changed a bit.

April 02, 2012

Adoption Fundraiser Linkup (and a hidden giveaway!)

It seems to have been ages ago since I did an adoption/ministry fundraiser linkup over here at Millions of Miles!

I've got a few things that I'm really digging right now by way of fundraisers that I really want to share with you.  I'm all for grassroots ministries that are on the ground working in partnership with people around them.  One of those is Ekubo Ministries working in Uganda.  They are working with men and women to make shoes, crafts and jewelry that are not only gorgeous, but are helping the village become more self sustainable.  (Hello, teaching a man to fish!)
How awesome are these handmade shoes????  If you scoot over to the Millions of Miles Facebook page, I'm giving away a pair today.  Or, you can support this super cool ministry by checking out all of their amazing stuff.  Also- if you are an adoptive family in need of something to help you raise funds, Ekubo sells their beautiful paper beads at wholesale prices so you can resell to make money for your adoption.


Another favorite of mine is my something that my dear friend Natalie's daughter, Savannah, put together.  Savannah is 8 and has a huge heart for helping others.  She started her own business making and selling bookmarks and all of the money goes to Our Family In Africa- an organization serving orphans in the Congo.
Could she be any cuter?  Yes, you might not need a bookmark for your Kindle, but if we support kids in their efforts to be part of something bigger than themselves, they will grow up to be adults who set the world on fire.  You can check out all of Savannah's creations at her store READ AND REMEMBER.

AND now... on to all of you amazing adopting families.  My goodness there are so many of you!  I know that you are out there hustlin' to raise money to get your babes home.  Maybe you've tapped your circle of friends dry and just need a new place to get the word out?  Link up your fundraiser here! If you  know of a family's fundraiser- do them a favor and link it up!  I do ask that if you link up your fundraiser (or even if you don't) that you please share this post with your friends (through FB, twitter, your blogs or whatever) so that others who are wanting to support adoptions can get connected with families who need their support!  I'm using a new link tool that allows you to post a picture of what you are selling and a link to where you can buy it. This linky party is only for families raising money for adoptions/ministries.  All other links will be removed.  Happy linking and happy shopping!  Let's help some families get their kids home!


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