Friday, June 22, 2018

Five on Friday: A Little Kindness

For anyone who has ever loved a child,
For anyone who has ever adored a parent,
For anyone who has ever had to leave under the cloak of night,
For anyone who has never had to imagine what that might be like,
For anyone who has a heart . . . . this week's been rough.

I'm particularly feeling a little ache in that Adoptive-Mom-Happy-Sadness part of my heart with each "families belong together" image I see. Because I believe that, I support that 100% but it drives home the fact that three of my children have experienced that loss. Many times I feel like I carry that pain for them until they're ready to acknowledge it. At the same time I know I'll never truly understand what that pain is like . . . this week's been rough.

These are the weeks I try a little harder to notice the good, the kindness, the sweetness and the love around me. For today's list, I'm going to share some of them with you:

1. Boom! Summer is really here and all the things I love about it, too. A gaggle of kids in the yard on the slip and slide. The gardens are tended too and exploding with color. Grandma's church carnival, an annual tradition, had perfect weather this year. Sparklers and ice cream and dirty, dirty feet. It's good for me to take a moment and feel grateful for these things I love so much.

2. We were recently the recipients of extremely generous gifts from two different families in our community that will provide family fun and entertainment for our entire family. Both were complete surprises that will be very enjoyed by all of us. I'm so thankful for both of them.

3. I was paid a wonderful compliment on my parenting by our family doctor the other day. I'm going to pay a wonderful compliment to someone else now when I can because that felt really good.

4.  Truly feeling like part of the community. From bigger things like easily getting kid care and carpools very easily arranged to little things like loaning mayonnaise to neighbors and catching up with my favorite supermarket cashier on her upcoming surgery. It's good to feel connected to the people around you.

5. On my drive to work, I frequently see an older woman who walks with a walker out with her dog. I always notice her and worry that the frisky little pup is going to pull her right over! On my drive home the other day, I saw her in her front yard. The dog was nowhere in sight, but the mailman was there and he was holding her hose, watering her front plants for her. Witnessing kindness, even when I'm not the recipient, really does feel like a salve to my heart. It's good to see people being good, isn't it?

I hope you've witness some kindness, peace and good this week. Now let's get back to fighting for what's right.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Five on Friday: Summer for the Teens

High School ended on Monday which means summer has officially started for the teenagers in the house (much to the chagrin of the 2nd, 4th and 6th graders who still have another full week to go). I let them sleep in a little this week but they should know . . . that's not going to last.

I want them to have fun and enjoy themselves, of course, but I also have some guidelines. Teens, this summer I need you to:

1. Be Active:  That means wake up before noon. I'm going to say by 10 most days is plenty. Get fresh air. Take a bike ride. Make discoveries. Make art.

2. Make Food: Sometimes when I get home from work you (darling son of mine) tell me that you're hungry. When I ask you what you've eaten all day, you say things like,  "I had some pretzels."
Don't do that.
You pack your lunch every day for school so I know you know how to make it. You also could volunteer to make dinner some nights! I know, right?

3. Be Helpful: If I leave a note about jobs that need to be done, you always do them. Thank you. But now I triple dog dare them to just look around and see what needs to be done and do it! Find some volunteer work to do in the community or just remember to look around for opportunities to help whenever possible (Neighbor's garbage can need to be brought in? Is there trash in the park that could be picked up?)

4. Make Money . . .  and Deposits:  Son, I'm still keeping my eyes and ears open for a job for you but you need to look, too. I'm super proud of you for finding volunteer opportunities that interest you. Daughter, I know you'll be doing some volunteering at some point this summer even if you don't have anything concrete lined up yet. I'm happy you have work lined up but  I just want you to remember that bank account you opened . . . I think it's getting lonely.

5. Be Social: You have friends and cousins, you have access to the car, there are a lot of fun things to do around here. It's summer! You're young! Have fun! Just text me when you get there. And leave. And send a few pictures in between. But otherwise, just completely forget about me and have fun!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Five on Friday: I Lied, I'm Picking Favorites

In last week's list I told you that I never pick favorites. I just start to get worried about the implications involved--like, if I picked an Otis Redding song as my favorite song, would that make me have to automatically pick Otis as my favorite singer? I love him and all but I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to that. If I pick a favorite color, would everyone always buy me things in that color until I was totally sick of it? I refuse!

I also told you that I wasn't going to try to pick favorite responses to my video. But so many of them have been so heartwarming, so special, so unbelievable, I just need to share them with you. So I lied. I'm picking favorites.*

1. #FartAt440 is really the gift that keeps on giving. My kids think it's hysterical. My Sister-in-law came up with the hashtag. People are saying things like: "I was watching this with no sound as to not wake my husband. Had to turn sound on to listen for the fart, then I laughed so hard it woke him up."

2. As a person who enjoys cursing, any comment that drops the F-bomb makes the cut, like:   "Beautiful, just fucking beautiful" and "Fucking impactful."

3. When I was small I thought I'd probably be an actress--maybe on Broadway! Of course the best review a Broadway show could get was "It made me laugh, it made me cry, I want to see it again and again!" 
I changed my mind about Broadway a long time ago but still always loved performing. I did get to perform on a New York City stage the first time I told this story. Now that it's being shared people have been referring to me as a comedienne (me?!?!) as well as saying things like "Good lord. You’d think I was pregnant the way this made me cry" Some people besides my Mom and husband have even watched it multiple times! Who needs Broadway?

4. It's being shared by so many people around the world--12K and counting. That's absolutely mind-boggling and I wish I could  thank every single one of them. I'm especially thankful for the many Adult Adoptee, Parenting, Foster Parent and Adoption pages that are sharing it. Some are adding it to their Foster Parent Training Classes.

But if I had to pick a very favorite page that shared my video, it would be this one: Ison Glasgow, Swedish Hip Hop and things that interest him. You should probably go follow his page now. I did.

5. While I may not ever pick an absolute favorite response, this last one holds a really special place in my heart. It started with a friend of mine sharing that her sister, who doesn't know me, shared my video. My friend pointed out the connection in her status. Then sister chimed in: "I got  in trouble at the airport because I was listening to it so loud (at 4:30 am) because I don’t have earphones and I’m a rude jerk, but then the guy who asked me to quiet it down started listening and then he asked me to make it louder and we were both tearing up!"

I know it's corny but I honestly feel that every single one of your comments and messages is my favorite (Shh, don't tell your brother). They're filling me with so much hope and love. Thank you.


*I may have picked five today but I reserve the right constantly edit this list.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Five on Friday: Behind the Scenes

If somehow you found my blog without following me somewhere else on social media, I'll just fill you in: I told a story for The Moth which was aired two weeks ago. A video of it was shared on Hey Iris earlier this week and has been getting a lot of attention.

View from the stage of the Folly Theater in Kansas City, MO

The response to my video has been mind-blowing. Each time I check on it, the numbers of likes, shares, comments and views seems to have jumped exponentially. An adoptive father from Finland let me know that it was shared on a Finnish Adoption page and a woman from California wants to show it in her Foster Parent training classes. Multiple agencies and support groups are sharing it with their followers.

I was going to make today's list about my favorites of these responses but I am notoriously bad at picking favorites. I claim "rainbow" as my favorite color, okay? So how I think I'd narrow down the thousands (literally!) to just five is beyond me. Fine, this one definitely makes the cut, but after that I'm a total loss:

Also I think I need to make sure credit is being given where credit is due, so for today's list I'm going to shed some light and share a little gratitude, for:

1.  The good, nice, competent, wonderful case and social workers we did have. I realize the only impression I give in my story is that they all were unreliable. Unfortunately that was true for many that we had. But I will always remember  the ones that broke the stereotype, particularly the older woman who spent her monthly visits with us in a Grandmotherly fashion cuddling babies on the couch. 

2. My kids: My biological kids, you didn't know Daddy and I were taking you on a roller coaster ride. Thanks for accepting all of it (the case workers' questions, the siblings you didn't know if you'd be able to keep and all the new extended family we never knew we'd have) without puking.

My adopted kids, for challenging what I thought I knew. For hurling "You're not my real Mom" at me those times when you were really hurting. It doesn't hurt my feelings to acknowledge that you do, in fact, have another Mom. And if you feel safe enough to show me your deepest pain and biggest anger, that makes me feel pretty real as a Mom, too.

3. Jen Hixson, my Director at The Moth for helping me weave a thousand loose strands into a beautiful tapestry. I'm also grateful to Jen for understanding and defending my choice to not add in parts that were too private or not mine to tell.

4. My husband, the half of this partnership that prefers the auditorium seats to the stage.  Just because he's not up there with me doesn't mean he hasn't been right here with me. My life is completely magical and I can trace it all back to that time I met a boy in Freshman Choir.

5. My kids' biological family for welcoming, accepting and loving us. People try to give me a lot of credit for our relationship happening. I tell them all the same thing: "Relationships are two-way streets."
 "Yes," they say, "but you reached out."
 "Yes," I say, "but they reached back."

Friday, May 25, 2018

Five on Friday: She's Crafty

You know how when you're super busy to start with and then two of your five kids are on two different travel soccer teams and there are also track meets every weekend plus a slew of other stuff to keep with . . . but then you keep getting inspired by things so somehow squeeze in time to be crafty?

I do!

Man, I am spinning wheels and dropping balls lately but I also realize I've been making so much stuff! I can't help it--when I'm inspired, I must create. I'm not much of a seamstress, really, my motto is "Slightly fucked up is the charm of homemade" so don't get too impressed with any of the sewing projects. I assure you, they live up to my motto. But they're still pretty from afar and so I'm going to show them off:

1. I told you last week how much I love my job but I failed to mention that it's also a very beautiful building, a wooden red mill from the 1800s. Last year my daughter helped me create a Red Mill hat for the Annual Gala, this year she helped me design fabric so I could sew a dress.

2. Another great fundraiser for work is coming up--the Retro (bike) Ride!  This means I'll get to wear the dress a second time (thank goodness after all of that work). I really wanted one of those fancy and expensive helmets that looks like a straw hat but I figured out how to make this year's hat (pictured above) open up and fit around my helmet! I'm super proud of this one, but you're going to have to wait until after the event for a picture.

3. This vintage bike for the ride has been my muse for so much! It was a super thrift score for me that has not only made me fall in love with biking again but has inspired lots of crafty projects. I used up some of my leftover Red Mill fabric to make a bunting for the basket and also sewed another liner, just for some variety and because I have all the time in the world for sewing up multiple vintage bike basket linings. (We can leftovers for dinner again, right?)

4. A rainbow flag bunting for our patio. A couple of years ago we had accumulated a bunch of small rainbow flags (after a Pride parade maybe?), put them on the patio and dubbed it the "Equali-Tea Garden." Then my amazing husband built this arbor and came up with the perfect name of the "Safe Arbor." This year the wisteria was blooming like crazy and I was enjoying it so much until I realized: we had no rainbow flags left!! I got right on that. (Leftovers again again!)

5.  Years ago when were debating whether we'd put an addition on to the house or move to a bigger one, we found an old piece of pottery in the yard. That wasn't unusual, our home was built in the 1700s and we find pieces of pottery all the time. However, this piece in particular was stamped with the surname of my husband and five children. A friend of mine remarked, "Your family name just came out of the Earth. I think you stay where you are."

We did but I wanted to have a unique way to display the that piece. I decorated a picture frame, mosaic-style, with all the found pieces. I don't know what happened but I guess it got knocked off of the wall one day and then the pieces fell off. I was just starting to work outside of the home again and so the frame stayed bare. I finally got around to fixing it. I think the timing was meant to be because this time I had a brand-new piece to add, made by our youngest daughter:

I suppose now I have to stop being crafty and make a new dinner . . . because at this rate, we'll probably need the leftovers from it tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Five on Friday: I Love My Day Job

When Daddy-O first suggested I try to find (paying) work once the kids were all in full-day school . . . it wasn't that I didn't agree with him, I just couldn't imagine finding work that would be flexible enough to accommodate an extremely busy, used-to-staying-at-home Mother of five.

Not only did I find such a flexible position ("Hey, I'm bringing my not really sick youngest kid with me today," "Hey I'm bringing my three youngest and also a neighbor today but I'm only staying for about an hour") at a local historical site but I also love my work. Some days I'm making candles with 2nd graders, some days I'm scheming up marketing angles or poring though historic photographs, other times I'm helping to plan super-fun events. I have nice coworkers and a rotating staff of characters on the scene (volunteers, visitors, Trustees, friends, etc.)

This time of year is usually the most fun, because the school tours are in full swing and kids always offer up the best commentary.

 1. 2nd grader: "You're getting a lot of grey hair." 
    Me: "Huh. Why do you think that is?"
    Him: "Well, you're getting older I guess."

2. Me, in the one-room schoolhouse portion of the tour: "Does anyone know what this is called?"
     Entire class, in unison: "CONE OF SHAME!!"

3. In the log cabin portion of the tour, I ask the kids what they think people in the 1700s might have used to dye their clothes with. Every single group, regardless of grade, makes the same exact two erroneous guesses. When I asked my husband to guess what they were, he got them immediately. I'm not sure what this says about him. What do you think they might be? Answer at the bottom.

4. Fifth grade boy: "Wow, this place really smells like the 1800s!" (I thanked him for noticing our dedication to authenticity.)

5.  Not only are the human kids cute, there are a lot of baby animals around in the spring, too! Like goslings and gigantic snapping turtles! (My picture of the turtles came out terrible, you're just going to have to take my word on that one.)

* Blood and mud/dirt. Did you guess correctly?

Friday, May 11, 2018

Five on Friday: Joys of Spring

It's finally, finally, really, truly, undeniably spring. The windows are open, the clothes are line-dried, the children are filthy . . . yes, all is right in the world.

Here are some very springy ways we've been spending our days:

1. Bike riding! I scored this totally sweet vintage bike at the thrift shop and my oldest daughter has been working with Chic Cycles and learning how to refurbish vintage bikes on her own. I gladly had her practice on Lucky (yes I named my bike, of course I did) and now I can't stop riding, both on quick rides before work and on jaunts with the kids.  I'm looking forward to dolling her up and riding her next weekend at the Red Mill Retro Ride!

2. Stopping to smell the flowers . . . it's true I may not have found too much time to sit and enjoy the Safe Arbor* but would you get a load of that wisteria? Last year it didn't bloom and I was worried my soil had the wrong acidity or something. It's so beautiful and so fragrant!

 3.  After school play and adventure. Frogs, lizards and mud, oh my! So far only one "accidental" push into the pond followed by one revenge shove back.

4.  Dining al fresco. Have I mentioned that my brother-in-law crafted a gorgeous new dining room table for us? We're finally getting rid of the ancient, sagging. too-small table we'd been using. However, it's spring time now, baby, so we eat outside almost every night!

5. My favorite part about eating outside? It could be that we're enjoying the fresh air, waving to walking neighbors and don't have to worry about the crumbs that drop off the table . . . but really the best part is the spontaneous whole-family play that inevitably starts up as soon as the meal is over. I truly treasure this time.

* I guess we name a lot of inanimate objects around here. We had dubbed our front patio the Equali-Tea Garden (that reminds me, I didn't put the rainbow flags back out yet!) Then my husband built the arbor and put it there. This handy, resourceful and creative guy not only built the arbor from branches in our yard, he also came up with the perfect name for it.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Five on Friday: Things That Are Supposed To Bother Me but Don't

Two weeks ago I revealed that I don't mind being truthful about my age as I get older even though there seems to be a pervasive cultural norm of avoiding answering that question or joking about it (29 Again!!)

I realized that there are a few other things that don’t bother me that seem to annoy a lot of other people around my age, like:

1. Grey hair: okay, this one kind of goes hand-in-hand with the not lying about my age thing, I guess . . . but not only do I not mind grey hair, I love mine. I've always aspired to having one of these hairstyles:

 . . . and much to my hairdresser-sister's chagrin, I am totally getting there.

2. Man buns! I think I am supposed to hate these. I don't. It's about time men had some more hairstyle options!

3.  Being overdressed. I'd rather go to the supermarket in a tiara than show up  in jeans at a party where nobody else was wearing them. I'm fancy like that.

4. Heat! I love it. Even the super-hot and humid summer days when everyone else is melting. I think I'm made for that weather. I never, ever complain about it being too hot (and because of that, feel completely justified in whining about the cold).

5. Wearing shoes in the house. People keep sharing articles and videos on how disgusting it is but the thing is: I don't care. My feet get cold. I own many cute shoes that I enjoy wearing. I'm not a butterfly. I don't want the kids making massive piles of shoes blocking the door. The list goes on and on . . .