A Bond Between Dad and Daughter

Today is a special day. Today is my dad’s birthday.  Anyone that knows me knows I am a daddy’s girl, even at the age of 40. 

When I was a little girl I remember telling my dad I wanted to live to be a hundred he would always reply “Well then, I will live to be a hundred and twenty three” In my younger years I thought he just being silly, looking back I think he picked that number so if I were to see 100 he could “be there” to see me celebrate such an achievement.  He is always there for those big moments.

My childhood was not about playing sports.  We did not spend weekends at the ball fields or on the basketball court. We were given more than that. We were given a love for music and for dance. My parents, two uncles, two aunts and a cousin along with my brother and myself belonged to a clogging team. We spent weekends traveling to different festivals in different towns preforming dance routines to bluegrass music. Hey it was the 80’s and early 90’s. We traveled from Indiana to Ohio and everywhere in between. Some of my favorite memories are from those long trips riding in my dads old van. 

If we were not clogging we were playing cards, sometimes we went fishing, or just hanging out at the house watching the Green Bay Packers play some football.  It really didn’t matter what we did I enjoyed spending time with him. Yes we had our not so great moments when I was a teenager.  Now that I have had teenages I know those are hard years to be a parent.  I am sure there were a few times he would have liked to have traded me in on a new kid  who didn’t have a “I know everything attitude” but time passed and we are now closer than ever. Thanks for sticking it out with me dad.

He has always been there for me. If I needed gas money as a teen he was there, if I needed help getting to college he was there, when I needed someone to hug me and not say a word when I was going through my divorce he was there. He is always there. He is still there for me whenever I need him. He drops everything to come babysit the kids, he backed us a hundred percent when we decided to become foster to adopt parents, and he even still calls and texts me during the Green Bay Packers games just so we both know how”our boys” are playing.  He makes the best Santa during Christmas time not only for my children but for countless kids in need though out the years of programs such as The Gift of Love, The DHHR Christmas Party, and the Knights of the Pythians parties.  He is a man of few words but his actions speak volumes.  I am so thankful to have such an amazing man as a role model.
In thinking about my dad I also started thinking about my husband and our daughters.  You see my husband had a choice my dad did not. When Todd and I met my oldest children were already a preteen and teenager.  He did not have to take on the responsibility of being their dad, but he did.  He stepped up when the other stepped out.  He has treated them as his kids from day one. And even though Sie is not his my blood they share a strong bond as father and daughter.  He was there when she decided color guard was life in high school. He pulled props, pulled the band trailer, traveled out of state to competitions and drove her to practices. He wore his “Flo’s step dada” shirt with pride at every band festival.  He helped teach her to drive and gives her advice when she needs to know which way to go. He could not love her anymore if she was is own blood. She is his daughter is every since on the word.  

We then followed God’s plan for us and have welcomed two more girls into our forever family. He loves Elissa and Sadie just as much as he loves Sie.  Both of the girls run (well Sadie crawls)  when they hear the door open in the evenings cause they can’t wait to see their daddy.  He works so hard to provide for them but he makes sure to spend time with them one on one in the evenings.  He is a great dad. For those that say you can’t bond with a child if they are not blood related you are foolish. Blood is blood but love is love, and love is stronger than blood. 

I am so thankful for the bond I have with my dad. And I am grateful that my girls have a strong bond with their dad. There really is nothing like the love between a dad and his daughter.   I may now share the nickname pumpkin with my girls (my dad’s nickname for me when I was little now he calls the girls that) and I’m ok with that (really I am Sie lol) I love that my girls have not just one strong male role model in their lives. They are blessed with a wonderful dad and two amazing papaws (my dad and my father in law) that love them more than words could ever express. They set the example high on what a gentleman should be and how a gentleman should treat his lady. Qualities which are hard to find in this day and time.  Thankful my girls have somewhere to turn to see what a good man should represent. 

From our beautiful chaos to yours celebrate the big and small moments with those you love. Making memories is what it’s all about.


When Momma is Sick…she keeps going

School has been back in session now for weeks and with the weather starting to change over that can only mean one thing. Flu and cold season is upon us.  Having two little loves in two different schools gives us double the germs to be shared around the house.  Let the fun begin.

First it started with diva coming home saying her throat hurt. She was coughing and had a running nose. She was better in a matter of a few days and back to herself.  Next was wild man. He too come home from school said he was feeling bad. His problem was his ear.  He had a running nose as well but his major complaint was an earache.  Both were given medicine to clear up their runny noses and we also cleaned out all the wax out of wild man’s ear.  He was also back to his bouncy self in a matter of a few days.

Kids bounce back fast after being sick. Why can’t husband’s do the same. Why is the same cold that a 5 year old gets and can get over in three days takes a grown man well over a week to overcome? Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband. He works very hard for our family but when he “gets a cold” he is in bed by 9 and its the end of the world.  I am sure you ladies know exactly what I’m talking about.

For the record, I have the same cold. But guess what? Moms don’t get sick days. Heck we don’t even get to go to bed early or take naps. Moms can’t get sick. We learn to function through it. We continue to function with said cold so that our homes will not fall apart. Here at my house if I took a sick day the kids would not get up for school on time, their lunches would not get packed. The husband for that matter would not get up on time for work for I am the alarm clock for the house.  The dishes would not magically load themselves in the dishwasher. Breakfast and lunch for the three youngest Littles would not get made.  Laundry would not be washed nor find its way to the dryer.  The freshly cleaned clothes would not get put away in everyone’s closets by the clothing elves. How else do they get back in the closet anyway? Missing shirts and lost socks would never be found.  The dog would not get to go outside to pee thirty times a day, floors would not get swept and the toys would not be picked up. The kids would not get picked up from the bus stops and homework would never get completed. Dinner would never find its was to the dining room table. Late evening adventures in our backyard followed by bath time and bubbles would be unheard of. If mom took a sick day.  If I took a sick day who would stay up till 11 making one more round checking on the kids before going to bed? Pulling up blankets, tucking in toes and kissing foreheads one last time only to be awakened at midnight by the soft cries of baby girl wanting her bottle. Then back up around 2 because one of our three year olds has to go potty.  Back up at 4 because baby girl still takes a bottle around the clock. Then its back up at 530 because hubby has to go in to work early. No point on laying back down for 6 a.m. is just around the bend time to start the day all over again. But moms don’t take sick days so all of this will still get done.  Because being a mom takes priority over a cold. I am thankful I can still do all the things that need done. I may fuss about being tired and my kids and husband may notice I am a little grouchy  (they may never notice I am sick) but at least it’s just a cold.  Many take for granted their health and what a blessing being healthy really is. I know a few people that would give anything to be able to take care of thier kids or do a load of dishes. There are much worse things than a cold. 
From our beautiful chaos to yours pray for those who have serious illnesses tonight. Pray for those with cancer, chronic pain, broken bones, or other terminal illnesses.  Be thankful for your blessings be thankful you just have a cold. 

The Adoption that started it all….Celebrating Forever Family Day

Today marks the third anniversary of JR and Elissa’s adoption. Our first forever family day.  On one hand it’s hard to believe it’s been three years while one the other hand time has flown by so fast.  When Todd and I decided to become foster parents adoption was only an idea, a dream really. Never would I have thought we would be here 6 years later with not one but five amazing little loves that now call us mom and dad. Adoption is beautiful.

I look back over the last three years and see just how far JR and Elissa have come. We have had our share of wonderful memories and a few times I am sure we would all like to forget. But through them all we have stayed strong, stayed faithful and given God all the glory.  Without His masterful plan none of this would be possible. I owe everything to Him and thank Him daily for allowing me to be their mom.  He could have picked anyone for the task but He blessed me with it and it is my honor and privilege to do so.  

When I think about JR’s journey with us, tears always seem to find their way down my face.  I remember seeing him for the first time such a tiny and very sick little 4 and 1/2 pound almost two month old. From the very beginning he has had my heart. He has fight a long hard battle to make it to where he is today. He still amazes me and the doctors, therapists and his teachers with the amazing process he is making. When you are told early on a child may not walk, may not talk, and may never have a “normal” life it can scare you to death, I will not lie. We even had friends and family ask us if we were sure we wanted to adopt him because of all of his special needs. Seriously? Like I would love him less because he is different. Not even close. The truth of the matter is he had my heart from the moment I first held him. I would go through hell and back for him if I had to. From start to finish it took over two and a half years to adopt him but  I would do the whole process all over again. Yes he has some special needs, but that’s what makes him so unique. He sees the world so freely. He does not judge others on race or gender or social status. He loves everyone.  He gives the best hugs and can make my darkest days bright with that smile of his. And because we serve an awesome God he is now not only walking but running, jumping and climbing. He can say over 200 words now and his new teacher even has him reading sight words. Praise God.  He has had several surgeries and came out stronger everytime.  He may not eat like other kids his age or act “normal” in societies eyes, but if we were all same life would be very boring. He was made special to stand out from the crowd. And I would not have him any other way.

Elissa, my dear sweet diva. She was almost 2 before she came to us. Her life before us was dark and full of neglect and abuse. No child should have to go through that. But she is a survivor and she has overcome her past.  She has come a long way from her early days with us. From a child who could not feed herself or walk she can now out eat the best of us and is one fast little runner.  She is extremely intelligent and loves life.  She has a laugh that can be heard from miles away and she loves helping take care of her baby sister.  So thankful that the caseworker was able to place them together. 

If we would had said no and not taken the call to take a weekend placement for a baby boy, I would not have the family I have today. That one call changed everything. Bringing JR into our home and into our lives has not only blessed us with him but because we had him we now have Elissa, Eli, and Sadie.  Some would call it chance but I know it was all God’s plan for us.   Is foster to adopt for everyone? The answer is no. The process can be long and aggravating. The court hearings, the MDT’s, the birth parents visits, the home inspections, the training, all of it can be a little overwhelming. It takes time and patience. Many give up before their blessing is given. My best advice is don’t give up.  These kids need some one and that someone could be you.  Is foster to adopt worth it? The answer is Yes. Yes it is.  We can not safe every child they call us with that needs a place. Personally we have had the privilege to help and love  over 20 children through foster care. God blessed us by allowing us to adopt 5.  This time last year while we were celebrating Forever Family Day we were also spending time at the hospital getting to know our newest daughter.  Funny how timing works out.  I am forever grateful for the wonderful caseworker and adoption specialist that worked so hard to make sure we became the family we are today. I owe them so much.  

If the thought of adoption has crossed your mind I urge you to look into foster care. Many children in foster care become available for adoption.  There are hundreds of thousands of kids in foster care now and not enough foster homes for them. I ask that you pray about it and consider opening your home to a child in need. Everyone child deserves a forever home full of love.

From our beautiful chaos to yours adoption is beautiful.  What is God calling you to do? Maybe you are also called to celebrate forever family day. 

You Can Find Anything at Walmart…Even Random Acts of Kindness 

Yesterday the three youngest Littles and I were on a mission. Somehow we were down to our last pull up, like the very last, how does that even happen? I know Eli could care less if he walked around in his own filth all day but momma was having no part of that. I loaded the Yukon up, took Elissa to catch the bus, and off we went. We had no time to spare. Shopping with three under three at 745 in the morning should be fun right?

The good thing about Walmart early in the morning is there are hardly any people there. The parking lot was somewhat empty, but so was the shopping cart return areas. I drove around until I saw a return with a few buggies and made my way down the aisle to park. Of course this row had the most cars so I had to park four spots away from the return. Not a big deal to most, but to a mom with three Littles it can be a nightmare. I pulled in and quickly made my way around my vehicle, the boys were already screaming. My guess, they thought mommy was going in the magicial toy filled Walmart without them. But who knows why they were crying. I yell back to them and say “One second mommy’s just getting a buggie” That’s when I notice the lady in the car beside ours, our first random act of kindness.  

She was loading her trunk with punkins of every size. As I ran back past her she smiled.  I go to open my car door as she moves to get in her car. We both slightly giggle and then I tell her to go ahead because it’s going to take me awhile.  She smiles and insist that I take my time because my “cargo” is more important. I start loading the kids in one by one. First Alex, then Eli. As the boys get out she greets them with a smile and says hello. The boys calm down now that they are in the buggie, they know they are going in life is good now. She makes small talk as I get baby girl out and I comment on how I really miss home on days I need to go shopping. She asked where home had been and I told her. She then tells me that she had moved here years ago from Welch WV.  Now the only person I have ever known to be from Welch WV is Steve Harvey, so I say “Welch, that’s where Steve Harvey is from neat” to which she replies “Oh I don’t know sweetie I don’t know anyone by that name.”  I smile,  I had assumed everyone knew Steve Harvey I mean come on its Steve.  Anyway she holds the buggie while I load baby girl in and even helped get the seat belt working. As I walked off she told me to enjoy my day and enjoy my babies because they are only little once. Her kind words made my crazy morning a little more bearable. She could have chosen to be nasty and rush me out of her way but instead she took a few minutes to let this momma know it’s all going to be okay. We just have to take the day one step at a time.

We get in Walmart first thing the boys see is the huge Halloween displays. The screaming starts. “I want this” “I want that” 30 seconds inside the store and everyone in the store knew we were there. The cries echo throughout the store as we move from one item on our list to the other.  What seemed to take forever in screaming toddler time actually took us an hour. And no I did not get everything on my list and yes I caved. As we walked back up front to check out we passed the Halloween aisles again.  Now I did not buy the countless toys or candy the boys had asked for, well screamed bloody murder for, but we would be needed costumes so why not go ahead. Besides it might calm them down enough to get them out of the store. By this point I am sure security was watching our every move on camera wondering why the boys were taking turns crying like a banshee.

Alex picked out a few different costumes: batman, spiderman, superman (for JR), and robin he is really into superheroes if you could not tell. Eli on the other hand did not see what he wanted so he settled for a teenage mutant ninja turtle gadget. All was well until the lady tried to ring their stuff up. The tears started falling again and I wanted to crawl under a rock.  She quickly scanned our items, not bagging half of them to please the children, and sent us on our way. I am sure when she signed up for the early shift she was not planning on dealing with screaming kids that early by the look on her face. Sorry sweetie I wasn’t planning on it either.

I tell her thank you and make my way out of the store with pull ups , costumes and kids in tow. We get to the car and as I am trying to get them in we encounter our second random act of kindness. As I load Alex into his seat a truck pulls in beside us. Because I am a very paranoid person I notice the man getting out. He is a larger fellow covered from head to toe in biker tattoos. He has on his biker vest and his biker boots. I have my back to him but I can feel him looking at me as I get the last of my screaming children into the car. As I am trying to calm baby girl down and give her a bottle my thoughts are something like “He is going to kill me, take the baby to sell off and Lord only knows what he will do to my boys. Why is he standing there?  Fine If it’s a fight he wants bring it on”  I know my mind races but I will admit I am a big chicken and think the worst in most situations. What actually happened is this: I gave baby girl her bottle, the boys their juice and I could still feel his eyes on me. As I closed the car door and go to push the buggie back down to the return, this big biker guy comes over and says ” Hey let me get that for you. You have your hands full with them young ones. Keep your head up your doing great little momma.You have a fantastic day now ya hear”  All I could do was smile and say a quiet thank you. My mind was saying “Thank God I’m not going to die” 

I get in the Yukon and we dive home. My heart thankful for what had taken place.  These past few weeks I have dealt with my share of rude people.  I have been cussed at by neighbors as I wait to get the kids on and off the bus and been flipped off for driving the speed limit down the back road. Some people are just rude and mean.  Today God showed me not once but twice that their are still good kind people in this world. They come in all shapes, sizes, races, and genders. The older lady and biker guy didn’t have to help me but they did. They did in more ways than one. Not only did they help me with my kids but they helped me see not everyone down here is judgmental or hateful. I thank them for that. I know Walmart is famous for having a little bit of everything but who knew I would find just what I needed and not cost me a dime.  Kindness for free in the Walmart parking lot.
From our beautiful chaos to yours take time to smile at a stranger and offer your assistance if you can. You could be that positive difference in their day they need to make it through. 

Looking back over the last 12 months

A year ago we did not know how much we needed you. A year ago we didn’t even know you were a possibility, but here we are planning your 1st birthday for this weekend. What a difference a year makes.

You are the blessing we did not expect. Like a beautiful sunrise your smile wakes me in the early morning light. Your laughter is the song that warms my heart. We have shared so many wonderful memories with you in such a short amount of time. From holding up your head on your own, to rolling over, your first smile and first giggle, to army crawling and trying new foods we have watched you grow. You have filled a place in our hearts that we did not know way empty. We are so thankful for you. 

I did not carry you within me, but I promise to carry you and be there for you the rest of my days. For it does not matter how you came to be you have always been my baby my beautiful gift from God.  He knew we belonged together as a family and found a way to bring you to me.  Adoption is beautiful. 

The last 12 months has had its challenges, learning to be a family a 9 can be a little overwhelming at times. But I would not change a thing. And if I had to do it all over again I would. Getting to share all of your first things such as first sounds, first word (of course it was da-da), to seeing you now stand on your own is something I will treasure forever. You bring some much joy and laughter to our hearts.  

For those that judge us and look down on us for taking in “another kid” let me just say this.  We do not answer to you or your judgmental eyes. We only answer to God. He placed the calling to help those in foster care on our hearts and we are so thankful He did.  Because we followed His plan for us we are now the parents of 7 amazing kids, 5 of which have been adopted. We have been able to keep a sibling group together, so even though they are not with their birth parents they are still together.  They will get to grow up together, laugh together, argue together, go to school, have sleepovers, play sports, go on family vacations together because we were able to keep them together.  They will not have to search or question about lost siblings when they are older because when the caseworker called we opened our hearts and home one more time….everytime.  If we would not have stepped out in faith the chances of these four little ones being placed together are slim to none.  Instead of talking about us behind our backs or staring at us like we are completely crazy, why not pray for us and keep your opinions to yourself. But that’s just my opinion. 

I would not change a thing about being your mommy. The love I have for you and your brothers and sisters grows everyday.  It’s hard to think it’s been a year already time has truly flown by. I am grateful for the early morning wake ups, the late night feedings,to us cheering on our favorite football team (Go Pack Go) and our cuddle time. I know you won’t stay this little for long. I cherish the moments. You will never fully understand how much you mean to me. I love you more than all the moons and stars in the sky. 

What a difference a year makes.

From our beautiful chaos to yours don’t blink. Enjoy today for the gift it is they are only this little once. 

Do You Ever Think of Them?

A letter to our birth mom(s) ….

All the little ones are tucked into bed. I have finished the second round of check-ins to cover them back up, change diapers and kiss them once more. Life may be busy and at times overwhelming but I would not change a thing.

It’s in the moments like this I find myself thinking of our birth moms. Our adoptions were not the typical ones you see play out on TV or like the ones in the newspaper ads. We did not submit our story to an expecting mother for her to look over our file and pick us to be her child’s forever parents. We do not have an open adoption were we(the adoptive parents and birth parents)can share photos and stories about how the kids are and what we both hope their future holds. We do not share stories about our own childhood in hopes to give them the same type of wonderful memories. No our story is nothing like that….so I wonder.

I wonder if on their birthdays do you think of them? Do you ask yourself ” I wonder what toys they like now or how tall are they now?” I wonder if you think to yourself “School is starting soon, will she like her new teacher?” ” Will he ride the bus?” I wonder do you miss late night cuddles and having the magicial mommy kiss that can make the biggest boo boos all better? I wonder if you miss hearing the phrases I love you mommy or Can you tuck me in tonight? I wonder if you even realize what you have lost or have the drugs completely consumed you? I wonder and wait for the next call to come in saying ,”she’s had another baby.” I wonder if you miss them. I wonder do you ever cry yourself to sleep? Do you catch yourself looking in the crowd to see if anyone looks like what you picture them to look like. I wonder if friends or family still ask you about them? I wonder what their lives would be like if the state had not stepped in to save them. A million thoughts and questions run through my mind, especially late at night while I rock our youngest back to sleep or while our son is judged by outsiders on his actions, things he can not help because of the drugs and neglect he had to go through. I get so mad at you and the things you’ve done. You have no idea the damage you placed on their lives because of your choices you made without thinking of the outcome for them. But then God reminds me if it was not for you I would not have them with me. So I wonder what do you think of me?

I am thankful and grateful that I have been given the chance to be their mom. I am thankful for the few talks we had as we waited outside courtroom doors. I am thankful for a system, though broken sometimes, allowed us to keep 4 siblings together and also allowed us to adopted one who had no one. I could not picture my life without them so I wonder what your life is like without them. I wonder if they have your smile, your laugh, or if they have your personality. Does she get her unruly behaviors from you, does he think and solve problems like you? I wonder if they will ask me questions about you later in life. I wonder how I will answer these questions. I wonder if they will thank me for giving them a chance at a normal life or will they recent me for keeping you away from them? How will I handle that? I wonder if you pray for them and wish them well in their new life. Or if once they were removed from your care you never gave them a second thought? I wonder if your ok. I wonder if you are safe. I wonder if you even care.

I know you never planned for drugs and alchol to take over your life. I know that having your children removed and placed in state care was not how you saw things when you were a little girl. I know you must have been angry, scared, and maybe a little ashamed. But I need you to know they are okay. They are better than okay they are great. Know that I love them. All of them. I love them with every beat of my heart. I love early morning wake ups to giggling down the hall. I love story time and playtime and all the times in between. Know that they are happy, sassy, talented, and yes they fight with each other like all siblings do. Know that I vowed to each of them they will always know how special they are each and every day. Know that I am grateful you had them and did not abort them. Thank you for giving them the gift of life. I am blessed to have them here. I am blessed to be their forever mom.

I may never know the answers to these questions. And I guess I will be ok with that. I am thankful God placed each of them in my arms. I am thankful He had a plan for them when life throw them a curve ball. I pray for you and your life choices. I pray things start to look up and help is received.

I will continue to pray for you I know the circumstances where not what either of us planned but because of you I am mom to my beautiful chaos. We are forever connected in God’s great plan.

From our beautiful chaos to yours its okay to question the unknown but dont get stuck there.Someday you may get the answers you are looking for. Until then just have faith in God’s greater plan.

Grandma’s Apron

Have you ever put something away for safe keeping then when you needed it, it was not there?  I have with many things.  It can be aggravating. 

Our youngest daughter’s birthday is coming up later this month. If you would have asked me this time last year if we planned on a seventh child I probably would have looked at you with the “Are you crazy” look. She is a blessing we did not know we needed until that call came in. Now I can’t picture our life without her. She brings us so much joy.  

When deciding on a name for her we thought we would honor two strong women from our families. Sadie Mae means princess/goddess of growth. Sadie was the name of my grandmother on my dad’s side. Mae was the middle name of Todd’s grandmother on his dads side.  Our hope was and still is that she grows up to be a little like both of them. 

When I was 15, my world changed forever. It was August. My brother and I had spent the night at my grandparents like we had done so many times before.  I remember hearing my Papaw yell “Sis call the ambulance call the ambulance” I jumped up and saw my grandmother lifeless. I ran to the phone and dialed the number 2. Back then my grandparents had a speed dialing system which was to make things easier in case of an emergency.  I remember the ladies voice on the other end. I quickly told her my mamaw was not breathing and they needed to send help right always. The lady told me to hang up and call 911. So I did. I got the same woman. Maybe she was just making sure it was a true emergency not just a kid prank calling. I don’t know. Anyway she asked for the address and said the ambulance was on its way.  I run back to check on my Papaw and mamaw. The situation had not improved. I had never seen my Papaw scared I knew this was bad. I can still see the fear in my brothers eyes as well. Papaw told me to run out to the main road and flag down the ambulance. So I did. I ran as fast as I could go out the hollow (country road) till I came to the main road.  My aunt Mary was pulling in. All I could get out in a winded breathe was “Go, Go,Now”  she drove on up. I remember begging God please don’t take her and screaming at him for allowing this to happen. The ambulance finally showed after what seemed like hours, I know now it was not that long. I pointed them in the direction and up they went. I ran behind them.  By the time I got back to the front porch my Papaw was there. Tears filled his eyes. He looks at me and said “Sis she’s gone she’s gone. What am I to do now?”  She was gone. Heart attack. It was the only time I remember seeing my papaw cry. 

As with any passing of a loved one,in time the family has to go through their things and see what needs kept and what needs to be given away. I was blessed with two dish towels, two blankets, a chair and one pink apron. I also still have the original cabbage patch doll she bought me one Christmas a year or so before she passed away.

Now my dads birthday is also in September. So when thinking about what to do for his birthday and baby girls I came up with the idea to do her photos wearing my grandmother’s apron.  It would be the perfect way to honor my grandmother and show off her name sake. I just needed grandmas pink apron from my keepsake box. 

I had placed the apron along with everything else in a tote for safe keeping, or so I thought. I went upstairs pulled out the tote and found the blankets, the doll, the towels, everything but the apron. My heart sank. My mind raced. I started pulling down other totes and boxes. Clothes, blankets and keepsakes going all over the place, but my mamaw apron could not be found. I was devastated. It felt like I lost her all over again. After two days of searching  I sat in my bedroom floor and cried. I begged mamaw “Please show me where it’s at” Nothing.  I had given up hope. I was sure that it had been placed, by mistake, in a box marked for Goodwill when we moved this last time. Nothing I could do about it now. So I put everything away and went on with my day. I went to the garage to get in the car, it was time to go pick up the kids from school. As I got in the car I looked up and saw a blue tote. Now we had placed all our empty totes in the garage for storage so it’s not like this tote just appeared out of nowhere but today for whatever reason it caught my eye. I get out of the car walk over to the stack of empty totes, lift back the blue lid and there completely out of place in a box marked empty was….. my mamaw’s pink apron.   Thanks for helping me find it mamaw. I cried again. Not because I was sad but because I know even after all these years mamaw is still around looking after me helping me in more ways than I ever realized.

Sadie Mae will never get to met the two wonderful ladies she is named after. She will never know how wonderful mamaw’s hugs were or how great a cook Todd’s mamaw was. But they will live on through her. I know she is adopted and not of their bloodline, but that does not matter. She has their fiery personalities and she will know them through the stories we share about them. She is blessed to still have two grandmother’s and one great grandmother here that love her. I pray that when mamaw looks down from heaven she smiles and says “Well done” I hope she is pleased with the way I have turned out. I miss her so much but she will always be in my heart. Thank you for the memories. The countless card games, the movie nights and the garden.  Forever in my heart till we see each other again. 

From our beautiful chaos to yours just because you can not find what your looking for does not mean it it gone. Have faith it will show up just in time.

My Kids got dirty… and I loved it

My husband came home Friday evening carrying in our “Pizza Friday” dinner. Every Friday night is pizza night. JR expects it so we do it. After we had our quick and easy meal we cleaned up and settled in for the evening. My husband, like so many others, had this past Monday off to celebrate the Labor Day holiday. We did not make plans to go out of town or to take in any of the sights here in our new hometown. We decided there was plenty to do at our new house to keep us busy on his “extra” day off. I got up to do a few things like loading the dishwasher and throwing in a load of laundry and came back to the living room. And that’s when I saw it.  My family was not playing together or even watching TV together. They were all playing/watching their phones/tablets. They looked like zombies. My husband on his phone, Alex and Eli on their tablets, JR had my phone and Elissa was on the extra cell phone. All of them had something in their hands and not one of them seemed to notice what was going on around them. It was the scariest image I had seen in a long time. It was not okay with me, not by a long shot.

It was close to bed time so we took the kids upstairs and preceded with our nightly routine. After all teeth were brushed and the Littles were tucked into their beds we headed back downstairs. And thats when I sat my husband down for a nice little chat. If your married you know what kind of chat I am talking about. The one where he has no choice but to listen cause mommas mouth is going way to fast for him to get a word in edge wise.  I told him I did not like what I saw this evening, that he spends so much time away at work that he needs to spend time with the kids not on the phone when he is home, that the boys need someone to wrestle with and throw footballs with, that I wish we didn’t have phones or tablets, how I wish we could just disconnect for a while, you know all of Pandoras box in one conversation. Don’t judge me you know you have done the same thing a time or two. We are all only human.  I spoke my peace and went to bed. He never said a word. God blessed me with a patient man.

Now, for the record he is a wonderful dad. Why things hit me this particular evening who knows. But you know what I am glad they did.

We woke up Saturday morning to the giggles of Eli and JR sneaking in our room at the early signs of daylight.  One of these days I will get to sleep in past 6 a.m.  We made our way downstairs and the boys quickly found their cars and trucks that had not been put away the night before.  My husband looked over at me while drinking his coffee and smiled. Our one-sided conversation had not ended our marriage. Thank you Jesus. I don’t know how but the phones and tablets were not brought up before we opened the door to the backyard. Maybe God knew we needed a gadget free weekend. However it happened, the next two days my kids and were phone free/tablet free. We went outside and played on the swing set. They made roads for their cars in the flower beds, they climbed on the rocks and rolled down the hill in the freshly cut grass. They chased each other around the yard, they chased the dog and their dad around the yard. They wrestled with each other and joined forces to take down their dad, we read stories and played with chalk. They were having a ball. My husband and I even managed to get a few little outside projects done. The boys and Elissa played hard. Really hard. Baby girl was not feeling well so she did not get to enjoy the outside as much as the other kids. Maybe next time. By the time evening rolled around they were dirty. I mean really dirty. They had dirt in their hair, grass on their feet, and sweat on their foreheads. Eli even had leaves stuck to his pull up. My bath tub had to be scrubbed after they were finished because of the ring of dirt they left behind. And you know what I loved it.

They did not even ask for the tablets till Monday afternoon. They were enjoying being kids like kids did before all this technology crap got in the way. It was wonderful.  They needed it. We needed it.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our phones, computers, or iPads that we forget how to just be a family. We are all guilty of it, I know I am at least. It is so easy to hand a child a phone so he can watch videos while you are busy making dinner or if your out at a doctor’s appointment. It keeps them busy and out of the way.  And I love the educational side as well. JR as made great strides in his vocabulary using both English and Spanish preschool apps.  The problem happens when we make them to accessible to often.  What I saw Friday night could have been any family any night. I don’t want that for my kids or my family.  I am not going to lie my husband and I were exhausted come Monday morning, it’s a good thing he had the day off, but it was so worth it.

We have made a commitment to each other and to our kids to disconnect from the high tech world more often. It’s not only good for the family it’s good for the soul.  The sound of my kids laughing and squealing as they play does my heart so much better than the sounds my phone or computer make. It’s about being there for them. It brings everyone closer together just as God intended.  Yes I am sure there will still be days that it’s easier to just hand over my phone than to listen to him or her scream and that’s OK.  Being a mom means we pick our battles one at a time one day at a time.   For now I am thankful for dirt. I am thankful for the cool summer days. I am thankful for giggles and sweaty faces. I am thankful God made a way for me to be mom to these five little ones.

Life is good with alittle bit of dirt.

From our beautiful chaos to yours let life get a little messy. You will be thankful you did.

Common Sense Things We Should be Teaching Our Kids

A few days ago I went on an adventure with my two three year old boys and baby girl. Ok so it really wasn’t an adventure it was a trip to the pediatrician. But in all fairness it is a new pediatrician in a new location and I was alone with three of my Littles. Just them, me and a new doctors office what could possibly go wrong?

Our journey started getting out of the Yukon. After finding a spot to park I managed to unload the children according to how and where they would be placed going into the building. First out was Eli, he is my runner so he was placed in the stroller. Next up baby girl, I pulled on my oh so stylish mom carrying baby sling and load her on my chest. Last but certainly not least comes Alex. He is normally a good boy for me while we are out so he was holding my hand helping push the stroller. One, two, three kids check. We are all out of the car with a diaper bag, wallet and bag of toys for entertainment in tow. I am sure we looked like a hot mess walking across that parking lot.

We get to the door and I am trying my best to open the door and not drop a baby or have a child run off when I see a teenager out of the corner of my eye standing two feet from the door on her phone.  Her mom looks up from her phone and says ” Help her get the door” Then looks at me and groans “Kids these days”  I thank them both even though the teen had already zoned back out on the phone and the mom was still fussing about how it would not kill her to be nice every now and then.   

This got me thinking. We live in a world so high tech and full of social media we have forgotten how to treat people when we are face to face. I don’t want my kids growing up not knowing the basics so I came up with a list of things I as their mom need to make sure they know how to do. It’s my job to prepare them for the world. If I don’t who will?  Here are 10 simple things all kids can learn to do:

1. Open the door for others ~ it takes a few seconds but can help someone more than you realize

2. Smile ~ a simple smile can change the way someone sees their day going. Besides it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown so smile at everyone. It will even make you feel better. 

3. Make eye contact when talking to someone ~ my grandpa always said you could tell a lot about a person by the way they looked at you when they talked to you. It shows that your listening and that you care about what they are saying

4. Say Please and Thank you ~ these two are a must if we want the world to be better place. We have to be kind to one another 

5. Be patient ~  all good things come to those who wait. That coffee at McDonalds will still taste just as good in 5 minutes as it would right now. If God intended on you having it now you would not be waiting in the drive thru. Wait it out 

6. Don’t assume you are entitled to anything~  today’s kids, mine include, seem to have this attitude that they speak it and it shall be done. News flash you have to earn it!!  I was not given things just because it was a Tuesday and a bird flew in the sky. NO I HAD TO…..WORK FOR IT. Guess what? My kids do to, and most days they dislike me for it, but one day they will understand and love me for it…….one day.

7. Forgive others forgive yourself~ live is to short to hold grudges. Been angry all the time can lead to depression and a list of other medical problems. Ask yourself is this going to matter in 5 years? 10 years? Or 20 years? Even if it’s hard to forgive the other person do it anyway you deserve to be free of the stress. Forgive yourself for life’s daily battles.

8. Be a helping hand ~ There are so many people in need right now. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We need to care for His people. If you are able to donate your time or money do so. If you can open your home to foster a child do so. If you can buy food for the local food back or send clothing to the flood victims do so. If you can’t do any of those things then pray. Pray for the sick, the homeless, our nation, our leaders, our cities and states. Prayer warriors are always needed 

9. Love~  love your kids, your spouse, your family and friends.  Love the grumpy neighbor in the house across the road. Love Jesus with all your heart. Let him guide you through the day. I personally want to love Him so much that His light shines through me and others know that He lives in me through my life. Love deeply because tomorrow is not promised

10. Follow the Rules/ Respect elders ~ we have rules for a reason. They are in place to keep us safe and free from harm. We must respect those that give us rules to follow such as: teachers, our parents, our government, our pastor, officers, bus drivers, our boss, or anyone that is in charge. (This one is for my 6 yr old. We are struggling hard with this pray for us) 

I am sure there are more we could add to the list, but it’s a start. I know that mom meant well. I am sure she was taught to open doors, stand up and let older ladies sit down and don’t talk with your mouth full when she was younger. But I think we all have skipped over some of the every basic things for our kids to turn out to be decent human beings. I don’t want to raise a bunch of selfish, bratty, unapprecuative kids who don’t know how to be kind to someone else. No, I want to raise good kids. Godly kids.Kind loving kids that understand money does not grow on trees, and they are ok with that because they don’t mind a little hard work.

.from our beautiful chaos to yours enjoy your long holiday weekend with your little loves.

A Clean House vs My Category 5 Tornado. Guess who wins???

When my two older children were babies I took great pride in keeping a very clean house. I would spend hours upon hours sweeping, dusting, washing dishes, washing laundry and everything in between. In fact many of my friends back then would swear you could eat off my floors. My house seemed perfectly in order. Should make me happy right? As I unpack the last of our boxes and flip through the stakes of pictures, needing to go into photo albums,  I noticed something. If I’m in them (which is not many) I look so unhappy. Did I really spend all my energy on cleaning a house and making it perfect that I missed out on enjoying time with my kids then?  They needed an “in the moment mom” not one who was worried if the kitchen floor needed swept. I wish I had picked up on that earlier, sorry Sie and Dev better late than never. 

Now jump ahead to the present. My house is completely full and crazy 24/7. My OCD did not stand a chance against this category 5 storm that I am blessed to call my young children. The days of been able to eat off my floor are long gone. Well correct that….you could literally eat off my floor now I am sure. From hidden pop tarts to suckers to cheerios and yogurt bits if you’re looking for it chances are you can find it’s on the floor somewhere in this house. The kids have a knack for hiding these type of treasures for me.  And let’s not forget the endless cycle of laundry the Littles create. I mean who knew 7 people would dirty so much laundry in a week’s time?  Our baby girl goes through a clean outfit just about everytime she eats now. She’s hit that “No give me the spoon phase” And our six year old thinks she’s 13 so she’s  changing clothes if the boys look at her and get their “eye germs” on her, it’s a thing ask any little girl in first grade. Oh and I can’t forget my boys, my sweet,sticky, dirt loving, bug eating,potty training, not want to take a bath, I swear I don’t have poo on my hand mom, loving boys. Gotta love them. So thankful our new house has a laundry room.  I average 4 loads(give or take if one of the boys have an “accident” at night) a day  and somehow it seems 6 loads get strung all over the house when I ask the Littles to help carry their clothes upstairs to be put away. Trying to teach them responsibility will be the death of me. 

With this much fun going on my parenting style has changed alittle. With my older kids I worried what other people thought. I felt I needed to go above and beyond because everyone always seemed to be looking down on me for being so young or at least that’s what it felt like. I needed to prove to them I was able to be a super mom. I look back now and realize I was so busy been a super mom I forgot to be just mom. I’m not in many pictures with my kids being silly on the swing set or hanging in the pool. I was always cleaning up after the party or taking the pictures. I’m sorry for that. I wish I would have given the camera to some else and been in more pictures. I wish I would have left the cake on the counter and jumped in that pool. I know they know they are my everything. I made sure, still do, to tell them how much I love them and how proud I am of them but I heard something on the radio a while back that said something like, “Once you’re gone and all they have left are memories make sure you are in the photo” It was for a camera company or something but the slogan has stuck with me.  

I don’t want to be a side line mom. One who is so worried about all the mom stuff like if the car is cleaned out or if the bathroom needs picked up. There will always be time for that. I want to be the mom running on the backyard chasing bubbles and butterflies. The mom who sings, quit loudly and badly my kids would add, along with every Disney song that comes on the TV or radio. The mom who stops folding the laundry to go catch the ghost and zombies under the bed. The mom who stops everything for dance breaks and tickles times. I want to be the mom taking selfies with her kids on the swing set or at the park. I want to be in their life not looking at their life. I just want to be mom. A good mom. Screw this cleaning house stuff all the time. With 7 people living here I could clean 24/7 and it still would not be perfect. I can guarantee it. If you come to my house to see a spotlesd house just save us both the trouble and don’t come at all. I am enjoying life as mommy and wife and if that means there’s dishes in the sink then so be it.  Now I’m not saying if there’s a major bathroom situation I’m not going to clean it cause the good Lord knows I will. But I won’t my kids to be happy and enjoy being kids. They have to grow up so fast these days it seems. And years from now when I am long gone and they look back at the stacks of photos that probably still won’t be in albums (sorry kids I am trying lol) they will be able to see a mom,their mom, who loved them with all her heart in the good times and the not so good times. A mom who didn’t care if her hair was done or of she had makeup on she was just living in the moment. A mom that was just happy being a mom.  

From our beautiful chaos to yours stop doing the dishes tonight it will be there in the morning. Go steal an extra goodnight kiss from your Littles.. .they are only this small for a while