Friday, July 20, 2018

Five on Friday: The Pole Poll

Everyone’s got those friends . . . you know, the kind who gladly take your five kids and even the dog overnight (sometimes when you don’t even need them to, just for fun!). If you don’t have friends like those, I highly recommend getting some. They make life and parenting so much easier and more enjoyable. These friends of ours also recently stopped by with a super surprise: a creative family project that will be enjoyed by us for years to come.

It’s a DIY directional post! You know, the super whimsical kind with colorful arrows pointing in all directions. BUT WHEREVER SHALL THEY POINT TO? This part might be harder than finding the time to assemble it and get it in the ground.

It came with this card. Apparently they appreciate our assistance and friendship, too.

So I'm conducting a poll pole for suggestions on what to include. All locations will be considered, including nonsensical and fictional. We've already had friends chime in (with some real gems like our friend's 10-year-old suggesting that we add the local chain pharmacy).

It came with eight arrows (because our friends know that eight is great!) but I’d be really happy if we could start with at least five and add on more later. Here are the top contenders thus far:

1. Shindig That-A-Way: I used to have a wooden sign that had those words painted on it. I loved that damn sign and I regrettably have no idea what happened to it. Since we’re fond of hosting a variety of shindigs, this could point directly to the house or backyard.

2. Silver Bell Wedding Chapel 2484 milesThe name of the chapel in Las Vegas where we eloped to.

3. Meme & Poppy’s Lake House, 41 miles: Lots of happy memories are continually made there each summer.

4. East Sandwich, 303 miles: Somehow we're lucky enough to have TWO vacation homes in the family! (This is also highly recommended.) Meme & Poppy's as well as Aunt & Uncle's cottage on Cape Cod. It's specifically located in East Sandwich, which I think would be much more fun to put on the sign than plain ol' Cape Cod.

5. The city where our adopted kids were born & lots of their family still live: This city will always hold a special place in our hearts, of course, so it might just earn itself an arrow!

What do you think? Keep these? Ditch any of them? Any other suggestions? I'd love to hear!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Five on Friday: Sister Week

If there's any benefit to biological siblings not living together, it's that when they do get to spend time together they have so much fun and don't get to the point of getting on each other's nerves. At least that's been our experience in spending time with big sister one week at a time over the summer. It's all giggling and no bickering, which is beautiful music to this Mama's ears.

(By the way, her week with us isn't over yet so I reserve the right to make another post about this magical time next Friday.)

But so far, these were some of the best things about her visit:

1. Our very first meal together was sandwiches. My boys started yelling that their younger sister "likes mayonnaise now!" I immediately saw what was happening: she was constructing her sandwich to be exactly like her big sister's turkey with mayo, onion, lettuce and tomato. When I asked if that was what was going on, little sister saved face by declaring,  "Actually I don't want tomatoes right now."

2. However, the next night at dinner, little sister constructed her plate exactly like big sister's again. She whispered to me, "Don't tell her but I'm only eating it this way to be like her."

3. One night I went to check on the kids before I went to bed and found big sister snuggled into a twin sized bed with her younger brother. (Of course the next morning he was on the floor but it sure was cute while it lasted!)

4. Playing: in sand, water, lawn and house. Decorating each other with hair chalk. Movies. Board games. Just all the silly little fun togetherness that at one time I never dreamed would be possible . . .

5. Recently Facebook reminded me that it was the anniversary of our youngest child learning to walk. I had commented then that it was still magical to witness, even the fifth time around. The next day I brought Sister to meet her Great Grandmother. It was, actually, the fifth time I had the pleasure of witnessing Great Grandma getting to meet one of her Great Grandchildren that she prayed for and loved from afar . . . and it was just as magical as the first.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Five on Friday: The Bickering is Ridiculous

A few years ago, just when I had thought that maybe my kids were freaks of nature that all got along really well, my youngest two children discovered bickering.

Oh how I rue that day.

They're now ages 8 and 10 and still pretty bad with it . . . and so is my reaction. I try to ignore them but it really gets under my skin. As soon as I hear the first little argument of the day, it's as if I've already been listening to it for hours (maybe because I had been, the day before.)

Lately they're really upping the ante, starting to argue about the most ridiculous things ever. Five recent examples that I'm sure will be hysterical some day:

1.  THE TOOTHBRUSH INCIDENT: His toothbrush fell. Nobody saw it happen. They decided to fight about it. Names were called, tears were cried.

2. TABLE TAPPING: She was doing a little game at the breakfast table that involved clapping and then tapping the table. He despised it and told her to stop. I've been trying to teach him about choosing his battles but I agreed with him on this because I didn't want any drinks to be accidentally knocked over. I asked her to go in another room to do it. Victorious, he began tapping the table himself. Teachable moment! Let's learn the word hypocrisy, son! That did not go over well.

3. TAKING A SEAT: Some of you may remember that we have a stupidly big van, Overkill Jones, that's mainly for our epic summer road trips and driving a slew of local kids to the lake. 

Now that our oldest daughter has a license and is frequently driving our other normal-human sized car, John Stamos, I'm using OKJ a lot more. Twice recently I've had ONLY my youngest two in the van and they've argued over seats.

It is a fifteen-passenger van. 


4.  TALKING TO ONE'S SELF: On Wednesday I experienced what can only be explained as a Fourth of July miracle: they decided to play on the deck together making slime. Soon enough, though, she came in asking me if she was allowed to talk to herself, because her brother said she couldn't. He shouted from the deck, "SHE'S BEEN DOING IT FOR LIKE TEN MINUTES. IT'S SO ANNOYING" So that was the end of that.

5. TAKING TURNS: Yesterday they were talking about how they'd spend their screen time. At first they argued over who'd play on what, which was a problem (surprise!) because they both wanted the iPad. We talked through solutions and decided on splitting it up with a timer set. Naturally a new argument was started, over who would get to use the iPad . . . SECOND. Not first. Second.

"Are you really arguing over who gets to use it SECOND?," I asked my daughter, adding, "You realize this is why I'm insane, right???"

She looked at my very seriously and nodded yes.

Proof that they got along once. Once.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Five on Friday: BALLS OF POWER

For this week’s Five on Friday, I’m going to do something totally new: a recipe along with some facts (some helpful, some quirky) about a favorite snack around here, especially in the summer. 

1. THE NAME: Power Balls. We are in the stage where everything “balls” is uproariously funny but for some reason it hasn’t occurred to them to laugh at this yet. I think they’re too used to hearing it, so they don’t hear the “balls” in the name. Like how my friend when he was younger had no idea there were carrots in Carrot Cake. I imagine this bliss will be short-lived, though, and we’ll need a new name soon. I'm thinking "Balls of Power" to up the ante on hysterics around here.

2. WHY THEY ARE GREAT, PART ONE: They have a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips in them so the kids think they are a special dessert-like treat. But every other single ingredient is something good for them so WHO WINS NOW, KIDS? Oh right. You do. Again. You're welcome.

3. WHY THEY ARE GREAT PART TWO: They pack a protein punch, which isn't always easy for me to get into my kids when we're on the go and one of them "likes cheese but only melted" and fun things like that.

4. BUT THE BEST THING ABOUT THEM: Let’s say you packed ten power balls for an outing so each kid gets two. But then you realize you’d like a little snack and they look so yummy but if you eat one someone else wont’ have the same as everyone else and that's not faaaaaaiiiir. Not a problem with these soft little guys! Just pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch a little bit from each one and make your own little snack. The ones you pinched from can be rolled back into shape and the children will be none the wiser. MWAH HA HA HA HA!! Mom wins this one, kids!

5. THE RECIPE: Yes, they’re made with peanut butter. No, I have never tried using another kind of nut butter but I imagine it could also work. Yes, I always double this (and every) recipe. Yes, I have a tip for rolling them: wet your hands when it gets too sticky. Yes, I have a tip for packaging them: put them right into snack containers filled with the number of children you usually dole snacks out to times two. Place in fridge, grab one on the way out the door. Et Voila.

Modified from a recipe found on

1 c oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup chia seeds (which are expensive so I usually use a cheaper yet still good for you flax-chia seed mix and then frequently toss in a little wheat germ for fun)

1. Put all of the ingredients in the food processor and blend until well mixed 
(also possible with bowl and spoon)

2. With clean, wet hands, roll into 1.5 inch balls 
(you may need to wash/wet your hands again half way through)

3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Keep in fridge for up to a week if they last that long.

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."