Monday, April 26, 2010

2 Celebrate U!

Well, as mentioned in an earlier it is! I have switched over to a "reusable" Happy Birthday banner that I can personalize on that special day with interchangeable letters for each person's name. Everyone seems to love it and I hung it this morning for the little girl who comes over in the morning to catch the bus from our house. I think she was quite pleased!

Late last night - as I was finishing - my oldest asked if I had remembered to include the letters of her current boyfriend's name (not his CURRENT NAME)...and I had to think fast to see if - HOPEFULLY - all the letters of HIS name were duplicates of a combination of ours. Does that even make sense? Well - whew! YES - why, of course...I have included him. >wink<

The pennant streamers were the MOST fun! I now know some fun tricks to make my own bias tape and - WOW - you get a heck of a lot of bias outta one 36 inch square of fabric!! I also plan to alter my own original plan (of course - duh!) by adding funky fringe to the bottom of the main banner...which I purposely did not hem in the wee hours this morning. Add some more color! Why not, right? I have to go out and get a dowel to hang it, too!

The mother of the child I watch in the afternoon...who is the mother of the bus girl in the morning...said she would pay me to make one for her - AND - she told a friend about it. That friend said she would buy one also...and she has not even SEEN it yet. Hmmm....I will have to think about whether this could be a worthwhile endeavor. Farmer's Market?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Changing the Recipe?

My mom likes to tease that I always have to change the recipe. I think that goes beyond just cooking for me. I do that with actual recipes, sewing patterns/instructions...and life in general. (Photo here of a doorway puppet theater. Of course, I made... er ... um ... "alterations!")

Is it arrogance? Or the illusion that I can improve on the plan, that I have an even better idea? Naw.

Is it a desire to be just a little bit different from what I have discovered? Hmmm? Maybe.

Is it a challenge to make it "my own?" Possibly. But the funny thing about THAT is that I cannot always duplicate it. Maybe it's a good thing...makes it an "original!?"

Most people I knew when we were first having kids had only two children...especially if they were (what they considered) "blessed" to have one of each right off the bat.

Most people I know do not have children spaced so far apart. But I can tell you that those same people are very often envious of my built-in FREE babysitters!

Most people don't rearrange rooms as often as I do...and they sure don't have the itch to actually move - yes, like to a different house/location - like I do. I keep sayin' that if I could just land in a nice cozy cottage within walking distance to the beach, I would be cured of this moving disease. (Anyone wanna offer a CURE?!)

Most people I know don't bring other people's kids into their homes - children of total strangers - to stay for an undetermined amount of time. Most people I know won't risk letting those same children into their hearts...'cause they might have to let them go. Maybe I just believe the children in my heart - whether I call them "mine" or not - are only on loan to me anyway...and I try real hard to trust the One who has loaned 'em to me!

Friday, April 16, 2010

What Every Family Really Needs to be Really Strong...

My heart...AND MY MOUTH...really needed to hear this today. On my knees asking God to take & tame my tongue...while He fills my heart full of the same grace He so freely offers me...that totally undeserved and unearned GRACE! Please take time to click over and read this...


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Everlasting BIRTHDAY Banner

Not sure how long I have done started when we lived on the lake...I know it was for Kane, originally and he was pretty little...maybe 7 or 8? I was feeling bad that we were not going to be able to do anything real special on his ACTUAL birthday...since it was on a busy day in the middle of the week. Gosh, I am now wondering if Pete was even in town that week? Anyway, I created a BIG sign for him that said, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KANE! (It did say the year...but I cannot remember...7th, I think.) I hung it on the garage door...IN THE RAIN! It was SO much fun because we lived on a fairly busy kids on the bus saw it as well as other friends and neighbors. Needless to say, Kane got LOTS of birthday wishes that year.

Well, from that day forward, it has been a tradition in our family. If you do not wake up to a sign...there will surely be one on the front of the house - somewhere -  when you get home. I HAVE had to resort to hanging the giant signs INside for the kids whose birthdays are in the winter when it is nasty outside....or for the springtime babies whose birthdays battle bouts of insane Chicago WIND.

Now that I think of it...we even had birth announcement signs for the younger kids. I can distinctly remember the one I made ahead of time for Tatum or Fynley. We did not know if they were girls or boys, so there were multiple choice CHECK boxes for Pete and the kids to mark once I gave birth...along with a blank line for them to write the chosen NAME  and actual birthweight of our new arrival. (Yes...we are goofy like that.) I know I have made at least one sign for a little girl I watch after school...and there simply MUST be a cousin on uncle in there somewhere who received this special Smith family honor.

Now I am turning a corner...and I will have to see if it is a HIT or if my children are heartbroken by it. I went to the store today to purchase fabric to create a more permanent Happy Birthday sign. It was so much fun to pick out all the crazy fabrics and I plan to use the scraps for a flappy banner of triangles in all the groovy prints I purchased. I am hoping it will be a classy replacement for the butcher paper and crayon creations I scrambled to hang on each child's special day. I am still working out the details of how I will attach the birthday person's NAME to the sign when it is their turn to celebrate? My mom would smile and shake her head and say something about me never conforming to a pattern or a recipe....but always striking out on my own to MAKE it "my own!" Gee, Mom....who raised me that way?!

Hope to post fabulous photos of a lovely birthday banner here real soon....

As for TOMORROW...Tatum's 11th birthday? Ummm...glad I still have enough left on the butcher paper role...and I will forever have crayons in my house! Whew! I have photos to post THIS week of the sign we made for our wonderful "new" son, Hayley. Welcome to the crazy family, sweetheart!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Kid is on Facebook!

Funny how little things can thrill your soul. My son is now on Facebook. This is not your average teenage son...this is my son all the way over in Ethiopia. Who knew you could be so incredibly blessed by social networking. I am now hoping to get the chance to chat with him online. So far, it has only been emails back and forth. His birthday is April 14th...and I am hoping to put fun messages and pictures on his page for his birthday!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh, MOTHER GUILT...what would I do without you?!

This post is being prompted by a trip to the dentist with 2 out of 5 children ... BUT, it was most probably the proverbial stick that broke this mama camel's back.

Are there enough things in life for us moms to feel guilty beat ourselves up about? I would gamble on MORE than enough!

Let's see:

A trip to the dentist to find that one child now needs a trip to the orthodontist AND the oral surgeon because a baby tooth was not pulled out by the original pediatric dentist. How could I have missed that? Oh heck, I can blame it on the FIRST dentist, right?

Two other children have two cavitities each and need sealants <$$$$>! Don't be tempted to gloss over the PRESCRIPTION flouride toothpaste for the older of the two - the stuff I will feel guilty about if I do not purchase it for $15.00 a tube. Surely this must be a miracle gel. Guilt relief?!

I will admit I am only feeling 1/2 guilty about my creeping decision to maybe ignore the dentist's recommendation (for now) to take these two to the orthodontist, ALSO! C'mon...their teeth are all in straight - at this time. How bad a mom am I if I just wait and see what comes in...rather than use a panoramic x-ray to peek at what is lurking in their jaw $100.00 a pop?!

(Do I eve have to get into the whole cult religion of guilt that surrounds spending the family money? ON ANYTHING....including groceries! Ummm: NO!)

The 96 year old crotchedy dental insurance lady on the phone gave me a lecture on silver fillings as opposed to white fillings. Seems I catch it coming or going on this count: The dentist lords it over me that children psychologically should have the white fillings. Is this so their peers won't know they had a lousy mom who did not thoroughly brush their teeth after each & every meal or snack?

The dental insurance agency makes you feel like you are taking advantage of SOMEONE (not sure WHO?! other than maybe MYSELF) if you don't save money by going with those ugly silver fillings that invaded MY young mouth....cuz, ya know, "they last forever." Tell that to MY fillings - the ones now needing to be replaced. And didn't I hear somewhere that these same fillings are full of some sort of potentially toxic metal that is probably leaching into my aging body wreaking all sorts of havoc as I type this?! Oh no...the guilt of not being the supermom whose health is guaranteed to last through my great great grandchildren!

Don't even get me started on FLOSSING! That subject is enough to get a mom put in a rubber room where they don't LET you have anything as lethal as FLOSS.

And here are so random thoughts:

I have brilliant kids who can get bad grades...because I have not raised them to be motivated? Never fear, I have had school teachers & counselors beat me up about not making them strive for 110% of their ability. Heck, I have even commited the sin of pulling smart kids out of honors the interest of preserving family sanity. Silly me.

I do not read bedtime stories to the younger kids as faithfully as I did with the older two. Might as well factor in that I am sure - if you counted them up - I have not taken an equal number of photos of all 5 kids. PHOTOS?! OH NO! I sometimes lose sleep over the fact that I have photos stored digitally and not printed out and I might LOSE THEM! Could I live if that happened? Oh, Juliet - I feel your desperation.

I skated under the wire of baby books by keeping a 1st year calendar. I figure I can use those to "create" the baby books....if I really need to. Scrapbooking? HA - I refuse to let that one get me. Maybe I know too many people who do NOT succumb to it...and too many who are SLAVES to it. Enough said.

I shamefully admit that I have totally spaced out school picture days, I have stopped buying school pictures once they hit high school and - WINCE! - I never scheduled an appointment to have my daughter's senior pictures done. Explanation:  she was sick and not feeling photogenic when it was time. BUT, I should have pushed for it....especially since she is now finishing her freshman year in college and we had two offers for FREE pictures from real photographers. Is now too late? I think I can blame 1/2 of this on my daughter...but I would feel GUILTY about that.

I have forced my children to move more than any therapist worth his exhorbitant fee would say is healthy. Yes, I took a young boy away from his dream house on the lake. However, if I did not, I am sure I would feel bad about living in a 1,000 SF home with 2+ bedrooms with 5+ kids. So - is that one a wash?!

I can feel guilty about not picking up a crying baby quick enough...but I have been accused of holding my babies "too much." Did I nurse them too long or not long enough? I admit to propping bottles with my foster babies at times. I am sure I do not do enough for the bio moms of my foster kids, either. (Fortunately, their black holes of need prevent too much guilt.)

I am sure I have let a child go too long without a diaper change or a good soak in the tub. I know I have discovered a child whose finger or toenails were too long and more than one child who went out in public with:

  • bedhead...or simply overdue for a haircut

  • no deodorant

  • no snack for school

  • unbrushed teeth

  • mismatched clothes/shoes

  • no underwear?!

  • no hug & kiss?! oh gosh - hope not too often
I have had bio kids and foster kids playing catch up with immunizations. Heck, I actually missed a 4 year old annual check up on one bio kid...and I am not telling WHO! Hey...she was really healthy that year. At least that was a no shot year...less guilt!

Speaking of I get to wonder if - in getting them shots to protect their precious health - I was actually endangering them? Oh please. I cannot even go there. I cannot even begin to tell you about the whole new level of guilt I was treated to when our child was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

I have dogs that are overdue for shots and in need of a trip to the groomer...and, currently, they are out of food. First thing tomorrow....if I can find that coupon.

My laundry is piling up, someone or everyone cannot find socks that match, I felt bad that my child threw up in a not so clean toilet this morning, and I am not sure if I envy or despise the friend who changes all the bed sheets in her house on the same day EVERY week? Hey, I might be changing WET sheets around here even more often than that....but I am not going to keep track!

I have yelled at my kids...with the windows open. (Oh, yes...I have apologized to all of them! They are fully aware of my imperfections.) I have used a glass of wine in order to get through the dreaded dinner hour. I have allowed my husband who worked a full day to come home and change diapers, do homework, make dinner, etc. etc. etc. And, according to my kids, I have failed to make LIFE FAIR for them. *sigh*

I have not saved enough money over the years in order to buy them all the latest and greatest electronics/cell phones/etc. like the ones their friends have. (But, I have to admit, they do not expect these things!) I was not able (or willing?) to buy them a car of any sort for their 16th birthdays - gosh, I did not even throw a sweet 16th for the first two...much less a Golden Birthday party. (I did not even KNOW about such a my guilt-ridden defense!) There are no college fact, I have probably SPENT money that my kids would consider "theirs" over the years....but, of course, I spent it on THEM! (In some way or another.)

The jury is still out on whether or not I honestly feel guilty about the fact that I detest sleepovers and I avoid setting up playdates. I actually enjoyed planning fun, free, silly, creative day trips and simple I really don't think I feel guilty that we have not taken our kids on pricey vacations. Walt Disney can leverage his parental guilt on the Joneses. And, no, I do not covet the cruise the PTO ladies went on with their combined families. Ick.

I do worry about what my kids eat and what they do NOT eat. I feel good when I plan meals (and actually make the planned meals) and kinda sorta bad when I don't. Although....scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast, cantaloupe and orange juice can be a great guilt reliever in a pinch!

In case my kids ever read this...I am not going into feeling guilty about neglecting their father's hormonal needs. That would not be MOTHER guilt....whew! But, then again...I have used motherhood to get a full night's sleep on more than one occasion!

If I get into the whole guilt scenario of not reading my bible enough, not exercising enough, not eating healthy enough, blah, blah blah...I might never recover. I have all but given up on worrying about what I might or might not have said that offended some small minded suburban mother who obviously does not have enough guilt in her own life to keep her busy. Trade me places....if for only one day! Having enough time to know I have been offended might be a LUXURY equivalent to a long hot bath...with CANDLES!

If all that were not enough, I am heading into a self-evaluation process at work that requires me to fill out an 11 page document...inspecting myself inside and out. Inside sources have tipped me off that the 0-6 scale really means you better not score in any area under a 4. I will stress over it, not having the freedom to be honest, trying to figure out what score I SHOULD choose and then being challenged with the task of validating my answer. The only problem with all that is....with all this Mother Guilt...I am afraid I am left with too little healthy self esteem to make myself look good on paper for this highly relational part-time job...that I actually enjoy doing...IN REALITY! (If not for the paper part...)