Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks in the Darndest Places

Life can sometimes become a hot coal walk. You find yourself jump-hop-limping along from one thing to the next so focused on accomplishing your goal that you can forget to step off the coals for a moment and admire your blessings. Thanksgiving gives us an entire day to simply leave the burning coals for a time and be grateful.

There are days when blessings are everywhere and there are days when you feel as though you are searching for Waldo. When confronted with a "Waldo" day the following may be helpful.

~ Stuck in the car for a 20 minute drive with a teen after telling her she is grounded: Reminding yourself that you do adore the mini-hellion child may help briefly, but being thankful that you were able to bust her in whatever offense she committed may actually bring a smile to your face. 

~ Faced with a day of caring for the neighbor as well as your children when you really need to clean: Being thankful you can send them outside is helpful, but using it as an excuse to abandon all work for a bit and enjoy a morning in the woods is truly something to be thankful for! (knowing grounded teen will opt-out of the trip and can stay home and do her chores is a double blessing!)

~ Creating and completing the 10th Thanksgiving craft with your 5 year-old while trying to make dinner and bake for school feasts: You can remember that these moments are fleeting which you may be ardently hoping as the timer goes off and you are covered with glue and paint, or you can stop and listen to her being thankful for everything from "warm coziness" to her family and realize she has learned this attitude from somewhere though her thankfulness has far less sarcasm peppering it

In any event and in whatever form your blessings may take, I sincerely wish you and "warm cozy" and bountiful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Karma It Isn't

The family is gathered around the kitchen, engaged in various activities. Hubby and I are having a conversation while Boy chimes-in, sharing his input. Teen strides into this scene, exclaiming that we "need to see this." Hubby and I look-up, wondering what has her excited enough to: a) leave her room - quickly b) bring the computer & c) interrupt our conversation because she is usually so polite!

Teen proceeds to pull-up and begin playing a video. Hubby & Boy watch the video while Youngest and I work on dinner. There is some conversation about the video and the (much loved) band who recently released an album and apparently a video. In one simple act, she has everyone's attention.

Great. Now, if the world really runs on karma - why do I know so many variations of the next scene?

1. Knock gently, then enter Teen's room. Announce presence, just to be sure. 
2. Watch the book cover (computer screen, sketch pad etc) for signs that my presence has been noted. 
3. Upon hearing the grunted "huh?" respond with request, question, or interesting tidbit to share. 
4. Wait a moment....insist child put down the phone (headphones, IM window) then repeat step 3.
5. Receive large eye roll or WTH look from Teen as she tears herself away to hear the conversation originating in step 3. 
6. Share tidbit, haltingly, because now you aren't too pleased with your reception.

Forget all of the above steps and everytime you want to tell said teen anything, you call her out of her room or away from the computer and insist she give her full attention to you before you start. (must say Hubby is a master at this) It drives her bonkers, but cracks me up. This does fall under legal torture techniques - right?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Change - of Course

It is Friday, so click the link here or the button on my sidebar and head over to DadBlogs to read some wonderful blogs.

Speaking of DadBlogs, I recently (5 minutes ago) read a blog there about whether or not becoming a parent changes your views. It started me thinking rusty machinery that it is. I responded in a decidedly ambiguous manner. But I was changed, forever and markedly by a child. Only he wasn't mine.

While in high school my dad and step mom became foster parents to Joey. He was a tiny thing whose mother was in an institution and father was also institutionalized. Joey was the first foster child in my life. Here I was a high school snot who put herself above most other objects and on a visit to my dad's I meet this little guy. Having nephews & a niece whom I adored, I knew I loved kids. I had been looking forward to a visit with a baby to keep me busy and entertained. But, Joey was different. He was adrift. I adored him.

Over 3 years Joey came and went. He went to his mother when she was well and came back to my dad's when she went crazy. When he was with her my dad and stepmom would babysit and bring her clothes, food, and take her to file for benefits. Because they couldn't just leave Joey. I had conversations on the phone with her, I had seen pictures - she was the mother. She was insane.

Everyone became attached to Joey. He was simply part of our family, my brother. My father would joke that being a foster father is easy "because men become attached after a child is born." Joey was loved.

After these years and many ordeals, that would fill a book. Joey was murdered by his mother. She hung him in the kitchen.

I have no idea what he felt or thought. I imagine that there were angels there to shield and protect him. I hope there were.

This precious little life who would run through the park and say "fick it daddy" every time his radio turned off. The innocent boy who would believe that electronics were sleeping so that we could have some peace with dinner. He was gone. Everyday that fact is with me.

The effects were numerous. My father was changed, there was tragedy and ruin in his eyes. My step-mother threw herself into changing the laws to protect children. The mother was imprisoned and my father went to court to ask for life instead of the death penalty. She was insane. I became an advocate for children. I worked in prevention and education. I made DCF calls on parents and with teens who were abused. I tried to teach parents how to play, care for, and respect their children. Honestly I can't say that I would have made these choices if not for my experience. Life is experience wonderful and terrible and it is the experiences we face that shape who we are and who we become. So, yes - children change us..

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some people call it practical

I call it creative.

Instead of Halloween Youngest celebrated "culture day" at school. An exciting event in which the mother found information suitable for a kindergartner to know, remember, and share child did some research, made a food and dressed in traditional clothing of the location. With a mix of cultures in her blood how was a girl to choose which to represent?

By the clothing of course! We spent time looking at traditional clothes from three cultures and settled on the Ukraine, because their dresses had ribbons, embroidery, and best of all they have princess headbands. Who could ask for anything more?

While looking for the basics of the outfit you didn't honestly think I was going to make the time to sew the skirt and vest did you? we picked-up a pair of scrubs for Boy's costume. He wasn't totally sure what he wanted to be, but he knew it involved fake blood and doctor scrubs. A great start for any haunting outfit.

Under the close scrutiny of Youngest and ample use of stitch witchery, her outfit was completed. Thursday she brought in a poster hastily made by mom she colored in herself, and perogies to share. Grandma came to the event, bringing Ukrainian eggs that she was able to pass around. All in all she had a great day.

The next evening we were having a costume dress rehearsal. The temperature being near 90, I thought it unwise to dress Youngest in the dragon costume formerly worn by Boy not to mention the hours I spent working on a perfectly good Ukrainian outfit that needed some more wear. It was time to improvise. We filled Youngest in on the future telling abilities of fortune tellers and turned her into a lovely gypsy. The make-up was a huge selling point on this costume.
Boy took some unsolicited advice and became Dr. Frankenstein. Complete with dirt and blood smeared arms and face. He was even able to cannibalize an old doll to have body parts in his pocket. It was great fun and brought in much candy. Hmmm, speaking of that I better go check the packaging on a few of the snickers bars. Hope your Halloween was scary and your treats were plenty!