Thursday, October 29, 2009

Redefining Blessings

I have a tendency to see things in black and white with no gray area. My husband and I discuss this almost regularly as I am unwavering in my stand and judgments and will often not budge. With that comes things like religion and what I thought Blessings were. For years I have felt that we were untouched by God as we don't make money like our friends and we don't live the way we would necessarily like to. Don't get me wrong we are simple and try to keep things as such but a bigger house would be nice along with newer cars and so on. But these are things that we struggle to attain as they are not gifted to us, or readily accessible through our financial means.

So because of this in my mind we are not blessed. Along with that our marriage has seen hard times, our family members have faced serious illness, continued financial setbacks, a miscarriage, job loss and one hard decision after another. Again, I continue to think we are not blessed.

This week I found myself alone (a rarity I assure you) and with that I had time to think (another rare happening.) I found myself reflecting on a conversation with some of our soccer moms at the park and thinking about how much I enjoy talking with them, the encouragement and knowing that they understand my feelings as I struggle with three children (the youngest a newborn) and maintaining a home as well as facing the decision to return to work in just a couple of weeks. From this reflection came more out pouring as I looked back at where this year started and everything we (as a family) have gone through to get to now.

From finding out I was pregnant, to a cancer scare with our four year old son to the birth of our third son. We have seen a generous out pour of thoughts, prayers, gifts, even meals. My boss was wonderful to work with me so that we could save money on childcare, my coworkers were supportive and generously gave me a diaper shower with much needed baby care items. People from our past and present prayed diligently that our middle son would have clean results as we faced the possibility that he might have leukemia. Our soccer team families put together a wonderful shower and then cooked for us the first few weeks as we adjusted to life with three children. Friends continue to reach out to us with support and encouragement and I just now realized that despite my narrow way of thinking and seeing things we have been blessed all along I just couldn't see it.

Blessings for us have not been in the way of things but in people. How lucky have we been to be surrounded by such wonderful friends and family. Through our children our lives have been enriched with wonderful people who provide us with companionship and company as we get older and our children grow up. I can't tell you the last time I felt alone as I have had so many good people in my life for so long (including my husband and my boys.) I don't know how I missed it or even how I got into my very wrong mind set but it felt like a huge revelation to realize that we had not in fact been abandoned by God. He heard our prayers and blessed us in the ways in which we needed to be, not what we expected and not always how we wanted. I would not trade my life for anything or for anyone else's. As I take inventory I am truly overwhelmed not only by His generosity but by that of those around us and how wonderful it feels to be liked, loved and appreciated.

Thank you to all of you who are a part of our lives and for all the little things you do :-)

This is for our friends and family, our Blessings from God.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"I told you so" is easy to say but hard to hear...

That's my opinion anyway. Earlier this week I has having a conversation with my brother updating him on my once again isolated status in regards to our father's side of the family. Three years ago when I "found" my cousin and got myself invited to a family reunion I chastised my brothers for not giving our flesh and blood a chance. A second chance really cause they kinf of blew things the first time around. Deciding that I wanted my children to meet the people that I spend most of my young life with I blindly forgave them for all the heart ache and pushed forward. Alone of course because my brother refuse to let go of the hurt and anger and they stood firm in not wanting anything to do with this side of our family.

Being the know it all big sister and counselor I knew I was doing the right thing and opened myself back up to a group of people that most certainly were going to hurt me again. It's what they do best. Here I am three years later telling him about an email war that I started based on some ignorant emails circulating during the time before the presidential election. I told him about my aunt and how ridiculous her response was not to mention how it had nothing to do with what I had written. I continued to tell him about my two other aunts who have since ignored me because of their Catholic beleifes and narrow view on the election. It seems in this time of crisis the only thing that was worth thinking about was abortion. Must be nice to not have any other cares in the world. Because I would not comform, because I stood my ground I am once again cut off.

His response "I told you so." I am usually the one uttering those words so this was a bit more difficult to take. Having had a chance to process things I relaized how foolish I was to pursue these "roots." This was the family that made fun of me, caused me many tears, compared me to other cousins that I had nothing in common with. I have always been different and I know this but somehow not being a part of one's family is just not easy to accept. I am learning though because I know this is for the best. I am different for many reasons and all of them make me better for it. I keep this in mind as I move forward.

In the mean time perhaps I will be more careful with my quick response to say I told you so.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dear Santa

Please please give us a Wii. Even if Daddy or Mommy eat the cookies.

Love Kamden

P.S. Please give us lots of Wii games.

P.S.S. Are you real? Circle yes or no at the bottom. Here use the pen.

Yes No

Look on back

P.S.S.S. Don't give me the girl stuff.

* The hand written version is way funnier :-)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Suburban Kids in the City

Today Marcus and I took the boys and traveled to downtown Dallas for the annual Neiman Marcus Adolphus Children's Christmas Parade. The train on the way there was crowded but the boys loved being able to stand up while traveling. Once we got to Akard Station we followed all the other parents and children in search of a good place to watch the festivities.

Granted this our first year to make it the Dallas parade. (Typically I take the boys to Plano's which is always on the same day as Dallas'.) So I was not prepared for Myles when he started to whine that he needed to go to the bathroom. Of course where we were there was nothing! We sacrificed our spot and went in search of a public restroom (yuck!) I guess all the stores down there anticipated the crowds and many had signs posted "No Public Restroom." The best we could do was a string of port-a-potties (gross). After that little nightmare we lucked into an even better spot to watch everything right next to where the news people broadcast during the parade.

We got to see the whole thing from start to finish! We met some really nice folks that took turns with us taking pictures of our families and we got to see our first ever televised parade in person, YAY! It really was neat with all the characters and giant balloons. Kamden had the best seat in the house on Marcus' shoulders so he would yell out everything before we ever saw it coming. On our way back to the train the boys gasped in awe at the buildings towering over them (walking around between them is way different than driving around them). The boys had trouble paying attention to where they were going and we had to keep reminding them to watch out as we walked in front of parking garage entrances and exits. My kids know to look out for driveways and alleys not parking garages, lol.

We got to play around waiting for the train home and lucked out on getting a completely empty train. So that meant we could goof off on that too :-) The boys seemed so energetic and excited about the Holidays it inspired something in me. Kind of like magic I guess.

It was such an awesome day. We rounded everything out by spending the afternoon in Commerce with our family. My mother-in-law was very surprised to see us and I think she thought we may not come after all. I know how much she loves to see the boys and since her birthday is on Monday I know it meant alot to her that we came. I seriously have the best in-laws. Tomorrow is Allen's Christmas parade and while it probably won't compare to today's our town has such a cozy fun feeling that I know we will enjoy it none the less. For the first time in years I am super excited about this Holiday Season!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Raising Kamden

There are days it seems where I feel like I am completely failing my children. Today was one of those. This week started off on a weird note to begin with. I was just telling Kim earlier how tickled I was at Kamden freaking out over his very first ever "B" on a test. He missed one question on a reading test and thus his 88. I looked at it and knew that he had rushed and we had the talk about taking our time and checking our work. Secretly I was thankful that my son cares enough about his grades to be bothered by a "B" but I also worry. I don't think perfectionism is all bad but I don't want him to start having panic attacks and freaking out either.

Anyway, tonight is the night in which Kamden prepares his homework folder to be turned in tomorrow. Typically his homework for the week is sent home on Monday nights and he has until Friday to complete it and turn it all in along with a reading log in which he is supposed to read about 20-30 minutes EVERY night. Being a reader I don't think this is asking alot.

Anyway, Kamden usually finishes the worksheets in about 15 minutes once he gets home on Mondays. Then he would read, write it down and turn everything in on Tuesday. After our parent/teacher meeting the assignments became a little more involved (not much cause he still finishes in about 20 minutes) but we keep the folder all week and document his reading as well.

Tonight I sit down and look at the folder. There is only one entry on the reading log and it is from November 20th. I was furious (granted he missed the last two days of school before Thanksgiving and had that whole week off but still). I look over his sheets and discover that he did everything in pen and I can hardly decipher it and his work. I know I have been busy wrapping things up with school and then working like a maniac before my vacation last week but I had no idea that I was completely oblivious. I took responsibility for my absence and then I laid down the law. Kamden is a good kid. Both my boys are but laziness and slacking off are absolutely not allowed. Maybe I was a little harsh but I feel responsible for his future and a commitment to ensure he (and his brother) get the best and the most out of his education. That is after all one reason we chose to live where we do.

I took all the video games away until after Christmas. I forbid him to do his homework in pen ever and then I told him before he touched a snack, a tv or a toy he was to do all his homework and reading everyday as soon as he walks in the door. No more soccer or basketball if things don't improve and I even threatened to tell Santa to not bring us a Wii. Since Marcus goes back to work next week and I will now be picking him up I can personally enforce these rules.

He got upset and I felt a twinge of guilt. I told him that as an intelligent gifted child I would be unfair to just let him be a couch potato and waste his gifts on nothing. I don't understand the lack of desire to read. I don't understand the lack of enthusiasm for school. He likes school but I loved school. I love it so much I have two degrees and plan on getting a third. Kamden is so much like me and I try not to say that out loud. He needs to be his own person, but he is so smart and wonderful I just don't know what to do with him sometimes.

I offered him an arrangement just before he went to bed. For every 20 minutes of reading he could earn 15 min of video games a day with a max of 30 min. He just looked at me. I told him either way he was reading so think about it. At least he didn't go to bed mad.

I kind of thought having a degree in counseling I could decipher my kids and know exactly what to do. Instead I find it easier to help other people with their children while I sit here scratching my head about my own.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tired of Turkey?

Tired of Turkey? I cooked a 22lb turkey this year and thankfully due to a full house and my insistence that family take at least half of the left overs I did not end up with a ton of leftover turkey or ham :-)

But none the less I had just enough for this super easy recipe for those of you who are done with turkey sandwiches or just plain ol' reheated turkey. Anyone up for some turkey pot pie?

3 small to medium potatoes (peeled, chopped and boiled)
1-1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen peas and carrots (carrots sliced or chopped)
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
two pie crusts (I make mine from scratch but you can cheat and buy the rolled dough ones)
Of course left over turkey (or chicken)

*I generally don't cook from a recipes so the above are estimations and can be adjusted to suit your taste.

In a bowl combine the soup, potatoes (already cooked), peas, carrots and turkey. Season the mixture to taste. I personally prefer some kosher salt and ground black pepper but on occasion I will experiment so have fun with it :-)
Lay one pie crust in the bottom of a pie pan. Pour in your pie filling and then cover with second crust. Don't forget to cut slits for venting. Bake at 425 for 30-45 minutes depending on your oven and crusts. I find that I have to cook mine longer due the the homemade crust.

Anyway, it's like a meal all in one and even my kids eat this! Not to mention they like to roll out the dough and mix stuff so you can get everyone involved in this one simple dish :-)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

That Ship Has Sailed

Election 2008 has come and gone thank goodness! I have watched more CNN in the past month than Desperate Housewives over the past four years! Now that things are settling down (I use that loosely) I find myself blown away at the number of people who completely missed the boat regarding the enormity of what took place on November 4, 2008.

I am trying very hard to keep an open mind and understand everyone's views but honestly I am just not getting it. I can't stifle my laughter when I read things like "The country is going to Hell in a hand basket" or "We are really in for it now." I want to ask the people who say and write this "Where have you been for the past eight years?!?" Idiots. I am not even into politics but we are on the brink of economic collapse, our military is depleted leaving us vulnerable to attack, unemployment is on the rise and people are just now worried! Good grief.

Quite frankly I don't care about the groans and gripes anymore. I realized that those people are officially in the minority and whether they like it or not, change is here. I am grateful. I loved telling my boys that yes, they can in fact be and do whatever they want to do. I loved that this election once again showed me the truth about where I come from and while I accept my fate as the black sheep of my family, it is a fate that I openly and proudly embrace as I am thankful that I am nothing like my paternal family. I love the renewed motivation to continue helping people and making a difference in my country. I find my faith stronger and a realization that despite our current struggles I and my family are truly blessed.

It has been a wonderful and exciting week and while some people choose to sit around and complain, I am joining the rest of our country and sailing on the winds of change. It looks to be an incredible journey!